Cinnamon Adds Some Spice

One of the big additions to Kororaa 17 is Cinnamon. You probably know that Cinnamon is an alternative interface for Gnome 3. It was developed by LinuxMint to provide a similar usability and experience to Gnome 2 while retaining the technical advantages of Gnome 3. It provides a more traditional user interface that many of us prefer. In the last couple of days Cinnamon has accepted as an official package in Fedora.

I’ve experimented with Cinnamon in a vm for a few days and I must say it is impressive. I can see why it is so popular. Performance is good, even in a vm and it can be made to look good. I found my way around the system without problems and felt comfortable using it something I can’t say for Gnome 3.

Cinnamon is option on the Gnome version of Kororaa 17, you need to select it in Sessions on the login screen. Kororaa 17 beta has been out for some time and if you have it installed you will get the updates to the  final version by simply doing a regular system update. The final version will be officially announced any day now.  See the Kororaa site for more details.

Kororaa 15 Beta released

Kororaa is a Fedora remix that includes tweaks and extras that make it much easier to use than many Linux distros. As it is based on Fedora it includes the latest versions of most software. Kororaa adds the extras that many people need or want. Currently the stable version is based on Fedora 14 but a beta of 15 is now available.

The second beta was released yesterday after a few users, including me, had problems with the first beta. This was a quick response from the developer, Chris Smart. There are versions for both Gnome and KDE. The Gnome version comes with Gnome 3 and the KDE with 4.6.5. Both are the latest versions. The kernel version is 2.6.38. Both come as live DVDs which can run from DVD, usb drive or be installed on your hard drive. Instructions are on the download page.

I tried the KDE version both as a live usb and installed in a vm. The live version worked fine on my laptop but I have had some problem getting it to boot on my desktop. It appears to be a graphics card issue with my nvidia 250 that has been difficult to set up in previous versions. With the older 8400GS graphics on my laptop it worked fine. For the first time I was able to run Desktop Effects from the live boot using the included nouveau driver. Previously it required the proprietary nvidia driver for 3d to work but the latest version of nouveau has solved this problem.

This is a fully featured Linux system with software to do just about everything you can do with a computer. Included are LibreOffice, video editor kdenlive, blogging client Blogilo, micro blogging client Choqok, image and graphics editors, a number of media players with VLC as the default and many other applications.

One special feature is the Add / Remove Extras utility which will install proprietary graphics drivers and Flash. This simplifies something many new users find difficult.

After less than a year in existence in its current form Kororaa has built up a small but friendly community. No doubt a lot of this is due to the willingness of the developer to respond to user’s questions and suggestions.

If you are looking for a Linux system that can do everything and requires little set up before it is ready to go check out Kororaa.

Kororaa Released

After a few months of work the final of Kororaa 14 has been released. Kororaa is a Fedora respin that includes all the extras many add to Fedora. After a number of beta releases the final was released this week. It includes all the latest Fedora updates and is available with a choice of KDE or Gnome Deskto environments. As it is based on Fedora 14 it is a stable release. Work will now start on Kororaa 15 based on Fedora 15 which was also released this week.

For the full details see the Kororaa Site

Kororaa Updated

I posted a short time ago about Kororaa, a Fedora Remix. Today the beta 2 was released with some big changes.

I quote

“Kororaa 14 (Nemo) Beta2 has been released for download.

This release includes several fixes, updates to all your favourite applications, as well as the following major changes:

Download it today! :-)

Enabling Desktop Effects

Here are some notes on enabling and using Compiz Fusion to add desktop effects in Linux, more specifically Fedora although most comments will apply to other Linux distros.

Why would you want too?

It goes without saying that desktop effects have a real wow factor. When you first start using them you may find yourself just playing, sorry experimenting, just for the fun of it. However if you need a further reason see this Lifehacker article on the efficiency gains you can achieve. You may even make up for the time you spend “experimenting”.

Some Useful Information

For some interesting details on installation and operation of Compiz Fusion on Fedora 8 including keyboard shortcuts to make the best use of your new features see here. The same page has links to HowTos for other distros including Ubuntu. However don’t install the packages listed there. They are from the Fedora repositories and have some problems and some features are missing. The Fedora forums have a link to updated packages which don’t have those problems.

Update: One of the problems referred to above seems quite common. That is the titlebar disappears after enabling effects. The updated packages solve this problem.

A search on Google for your distro and Compiz will probably turn up many more pages. However view quite a few to make sure you are getting the right information. Initially I was under the impression that my low end video card wouldn’t work. I have an ATI Radeon 9250 which was recognised by Fedora and uses the radeon driver. Following the above links I was able to get it working in KDE and Fedora 8. No doubt it would work on other distros and with Gnome.

Starting Fusion Icon on Reboot

Actually this will work for any application you want to start automatically when your system starts.

Fusion Icon starts Compiz as well as putting an icon in the System Tray that has options for changing the Window Manager, setting Emerald and Compiz options. Once you have it set up you will want it to start each time you log in. In Gnome this can be done in the Sessions Manager. Type fusion-icon as the application to start.

In KDE open Konqueror and select Go from the menu bar. Go to Autostart, this puts you in your Autostart folder. Anything in here will be run when KDE starts. Right click in any blank area and select “Create New”“Link to Application”. Under the Application tab enter fusion-icon in the “command” field. When you leave that screen a new entry will appear. Restart to make sure everything is working.

New Life for Old Laptop

I’m writing this on my Thinkpad T20. Nothing unusual in that you may say and you would be right, sort of. This old machine hasn’t seen much use recently as it was showing its age. It has a P3 700 and used to run W98SE on 128meg Ram, all on a 12gig hard drive. It seemed its days of usefulness were over.

I had been considering replacing it but it doesn’t get a lot of use, mainly as a terminal for Internet use and occasional use in meetings etc. and it is in good condition. I couldn’t really justify the cost of a new machine. There is not much available under $800 to $1000 here in Australia. So what other choices did I have?

I found a dealer selling used ram, important as the new Ram was very expensive if you could find it. I had been quoted $220 from an interstate supplier. For $50 I had an extra 256m installed and tested.

The hard drive was the next to go. I was going to get 80 gig but on a dollar per gig basis 160 was much cheaper so I splashed out. My old machine now had almost as good specs as a machine selling for $1200 or more. All for an investment of under $200. All it needed was a modern OS.

I have been using Linux for a number of years on my desktop but the hassles of getting WiFi working on the laptop meant I hadn’t used it here. I have read reports of much better support now so decided it was time to give it another go.

I had a few different distros on disks laying around so I tried some. The older ones still had wireless problems and some of the newer ones had other hardware issues, the video card is a problem. The DVD drive is a bit fussy too, some disks that work fine on my desktop wouldn’t load on the laptop.

After a couple of experiments I installed Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn. WiFi worked with WPA (when I found the correct password) on my Netgear WPN511 card out of the box. But no sound and video was a problem.

With the Savage driver X refused to load. I set it to vesa and it worked but wouldn’t allow resolutions greater than 800×600 and 1024×768 is the native resolution of this screen. The screen looks terrible at the smaller resolution too, but that is probably the driver. I spent some time on Thinkwiki (a recommended site for Thinkpad users) and the Ubuntu forums trying many suggestions without success. A live CD is handy here, it allows editing of messed up files, I found it the easiest way of restoring the last working setup. Finally on the forums I found a way of editing xorg.conf that worked. Now I have 1024×768 on a good clear screen.

I wasn’t too worried about the sound as I often work with it turned off so as not to disturb others but a chance find on the forums mentioned a similar problem solved by pressing the volume keys next to the Thinkpad key. So simple I hadn’t tried it. I’m embarrassed to say it worked.

There have been other issues too. I spent some time trying work out why ACPI won’t load. Every time I rebooted I got a message that I needed to force it to load, which I had done. Then I realised it was loading. I still get the message but it seems to work. The battery life is not as good as it was previously but that will take some fine tuning. The battery icon works well as does the wireless one.

With memory of 384 meg, which is less than the recommended but more than the minimum for Feisty, I find some programs slow to load but work well once loaded. I wouldn’t try using too many programs at a time but I have had no problem so far.

This is the first time I have used Gnome. All my Linux experience has been with KDE. So far so good. Of course I could install KDE and thereby make my system Kubuntu if I want but at the moment it is fine.

The result is a usable laptop for a minimum of expense, around $A200 and an investment of several hours of my time. Would I recommend it to others? Not unless they are willing to invest the time to make it work but I am pleased with the outcome.

UPDATE. One small problem has come to light since I wrote this. As this is an old computer the bios doesn’t know about big drives. It doesn’t handle anything over 33 gig. However Linux overcomes this problem except in one area. Linux can’t do anything until it is running. Consequently the boot partition must be on the first 33 gigs. I tried adding another copy of Linux as a dual boot but as the new partition was added on the end it wouldn’t boot. Not a big problem but worth noting.