Episode 10 Show Notes


…wherein we discuss what did and didn’t work for us this month…


I installed Ubuntu Cinnamon 19.10 this month, because that’s what we did for the most recent episode of mintCast. I didn’t care for the color scheme, but others on our team did, so if you’re into brown and orange, you may like it. I currently have Mint Cinnamon, KDE neon 20191226, and the new Feren OS, which also came out right around the holidays, on my Kudu test machine. For some reason, my main Mint Mate 19.3 installation on my Galago Pro 2 main machine stopped giving me a taskbar and then stopped giving me a boot, so I did a reinstall of that and also reinstalled Ubuntu Budgie 19.10 and Mint Cinnamon 19.3 just for fun.  I just about have my machine back to what it was on the main partition. I don’t know what triggered the issue, as I had not changed anything other than updates for at least 3 weeks prior to this happening. I’ve never had this happen before, and I blame UEFI, which I had rarely used until I got these System76 laptops. I’ve tried to use it before to no good end. I was tempted to try out Nitrux, until it became apparent that you don’t actually install it — it’s all a single file, and all programs are appimages. 

On February 3, I received a response to an email I sent, and found I have been named Editor and Marketing Strategist for Ubuntu Budgie. I guess we know what I’m reviewing next month.


Well I started out to review Ubuntu Studio until I heard the sad news regarding Mark Greaves and we both thought it would be a fitting tribute to review the OS he loved and worked on for many years. My neighbor, who has been on Linux Mint since I introduced him to it to revive an old laptop several years ago, knocked and asked me to look at his current laptop as it had stopped updating due to a previous failed update. I went into the terminal read the error message and the fix it proposed. Ran the command and about half an hour later the issue was fixed, it needed to refresh a Kernel module in the 4.15.xx kernel. Once done I ran updates and they worked just fine and I was able to return his laptop. He has asked me to do the upgrade to Mint 20 later in the year and at the same time install an SSD into the laptop which will greatly improve the performance. 

In non PC related things I have been making sourdough bread with a sourdough starter that a friend at my LUG gave me, the result is very tasty indeed. 

On a sadder note I found out that a friend of mine from church who I had lost contact with was in a local hospice and receiving end of life care as he has end stage cancer. I was able to visit the hospice yesterday and met his children and Grandchildren and spent some time with Barrie, who despite his illness is in good spirits and I was able to have a short conversation with him. His Family are very loving and caring towards him and that is very evident. So if I seem a little less exuberant in this episode it is where I am at the moment.   

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)


Have we reviewed KDE neon yet? I don’t think so, but there is some doubt in the community whether it is really a distro. I’ve been using it lately, and all the issues I have been aware of in the past seem to be completely dealt with. If you like Plasma, check this out.  If I don’t find something better to do, I may post a written review on Distrowatch.

Also, OpenMandriva LX 4 has an update, to 4.1. I haven’t looked at that yet, and I wish it all the best.

DISTRO NAME: Peppermint 10 Respin


So this month I have moved on to one of my Dell E7440 laptops the specs are as follows:

CPU – Intel Core i7 (4th Gen) 4600U / 2.1 GHz

RAM – 16Gb DDR3 at 1600Mhz

SSD – 2.5” 128Gb 

Installation is a breeze, the Ubiquity installer is a joy to use and I had no issues during the installation process. You get the usual options to select language, keyboard, layout, etc., and a choice to install alongside another OS if desired. The whole process was quick and was over before I could think about it, updates didn’t take much longer.    


So on reboot you are presented with the LXDE desktop Environment which is clean and lightweight. Checking hardware all seemed to be working, WiFi was recognised and my screen resolution was at the correct full HD of the laptop. So far no other issues in respect of hardware have surfaced.


The DE layout is the traditional bottom task bar with a menu on the left side which when activated gives you a very familiar layout to access all your applications, although until you start to add stuff you will not find many of the applications you may be used to in a Linux install. No Office suite just a link to the online version of MS Office applications for ‘Word’, ‘Excel’ and ‘Powerpoint’, more of that in a moment. This is the same for many of the applications you may expect to find, they are either absent or links to an ‘Online’ application. If you want to be browser based this is fine, but if you prefer to have off-line applications this is also not an issue. PeppermintOS is a Debian/Ubuntu based system so all the software you wish to use is only a few steps away either in a terminal or various other software applications such as Synaptic, or the software centre. 


This was where the online application link for MS Office applications fell down, I could open up the link to the login page through the menu but when I tried to enter my login details it kept crashing me out and returning me to a blank form. I could open a browser and log in to my outlook account in the normal way but not through the menu link. I have reported this through the bug tracking system, having created an Ubuntu one account to access Launchpad.   


At first boot the PC is reporting 370Mb of RAM usage and it barely troubles the 4core / 8 threads CPU so this is a very minimal system indeed. Although I have not tried, I suspect you could happily run this on a core2Duo with 2Gb of RAM.   


Peppermint OS has a very active forum and from what I hear they are a very friendly group and have an active code of conduct so feel free to go and ask questions. Also as many of the issues you may have are Ubuntu ish then you may also get help by searching for solutions on the ubuntu forums, although if you ask a direct question and say you are on Peppermint they will probably redirect you to the Peppermint forum. I did not try either of these so cannot comment directly on how friendly any response maybe, but there is a lot of support out there.


Sorry I didn’t get around to trying to dual or multi boot this OS this time, but I do not envisage any major issues with this.


I’ve not had any issues with the base OS since installing so I would say this is good.


Ease of Installation    new user friendly install scores     8/10

experienced Linux users                                                 9/10

Hardware Issues                                                             10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                        9/10

Ease of Use                                                                     9/10

Plays Nice With Others                                                   9/10

Stability                                                                            9/10

Overall Rating                                                                 8/10


Any lightweight Ubuntu based system, there are many.


Peppermint is a very good spin on an Ubuntu/Debian base. It is very lightweight so will support older hardware including at the moment 32bit systems, I have installed it on an old Acer Aspire One netbook in the past, and while slow it did run and was able to be installed to the 8GB SSD the Netbook had as standard. Any Core2Duo system with 4Gb of RAM is going to run this fine and as I said before you could probably get away with 2Gb, as my Netbook only had 1.5Gb. The only issue I have at the moment is that I couldn’t log into the online MS Office system as reported earlier, so if that was sorted I would give a massive thumbs up to Peppermint, but it is still a fine OS, and I could have created my own shortcut to the Outlook login screen if I had wished to. So if Mint ever went away it is a contender for my daily driver.  

So now, on to Moss’ distro for this month.

DISTRO NAME: Feren OS (again)

I know I reviewed Feren OS just a few months back, but it was at a changeover point in its development, and I hate being negative, especially for the wrong reason. I loved this distro in 2016, and want to love it again. Feren now comes in two versions: Feren OS features KDE, and their previous Cinnamon version is still being supported as Feren OS Classic. I’ll be reviewing the KDE version.


I run my test distros on a System76 Kudu 3, with 16 Gb RAM and a 256 Gb SSD, with an i7 and Intel graphics chipset. 


For me, an installation includes the full installation and all updates. If I can manage it, I then replace LibreOffice (if provided) with SoftMaker Office, install my preferred VPN (Mullvad), and set up Grub Customizer (if available) or other Grub management, and then install my printer (Brother MFC-J491DW), a simple matter on .deb and .rpm distros, not so much on others. I usually try to install Stacer so that I can get good stats and a few extra controls.  Everything went in smoothly. I had no issues on my Kudu; I tried it later on my Galago Pro and discovered that the machine does not like KDE (confirmed with neon and Kubuntu, it’s probably a hardware issue). While this distro is based on Mint and Ubuntu with KDE Desktop, it’s getting more and more eclectic. Installation is done with Calamares, and when that works it’s a dream. It worked for me this time, but you’ve heard me talk about the imaginary partition bug so don’t be upset if you run into it.


What issues? Everything is as close to perfect as it can be. 


This desktop has been redesigned from the ground up. It looks like KDE, but it uses the Mint File Manager instead of the much-maligned Discover. Every choice the Feren manager has made, with the possible exception of defaulting to Vivaldi Browser, has made this distro work better. And it has a Browser Picker built in, where you can choose your browser from a large list. I was dismayed to see that they did not include Midori, but even so, this facility is well-designed and has been fed upstream to other distros. The whole desktop feels like Windows 10, more so than any I’ve yet seen, so perhaps it will appeal to people who have been working with Win10 for some time.

If there is one thing I would change about Feren OS, it’s shutting down. You click the usual tiny icon, and get a small tray with tiny type and tiny icons to choose whether to shut down, reboot, logout, etc. After you do that, then you get the usual large KDE icons to confirm.  Also, I tried to install the KDE Sweet theme, and it downloaded and disappeared (three times).


While Plasma is a relatively light desktop, apparently all the theming Feren OS does takes a toll. My Stacer says I’m using 1.5 Gb of RAM and 15.6 Gb of disk space. If your system has only 4 Gb of RAM, you may want to try something a bit lighter.


You can get direct messages to the developer, and yes there is only one dev on this project at this time, at several Discord and Telegram groups and by other means. He responds quickly. But there is no user forum, which is a negative in my view. Even so, it works kinda like Mint and kinda like Ubuntu, and you can get nearly all of your questions answered by users of those distros or by searching the Net. This is an easy distro to use, unless you want to get deep into the theming and configuration in which case it’s as deep as Plasma.


Not an issue. But the GRUB menu could stand to be customized; on high res screens, it’s pretty tiny and just like Ubuntu’s.


Also not an issue. It has good roots.


KDE neon




Ease of Installation    new user                           9/10

experienced user                                                10/10

Hardware Issues                                                 10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)            8/10

Ease of Use                                                        10/10

Plays Nice With Others                                       10/10

Stability                                                                10/10

Overall Rating                                                      9/10


I have no idea what could be done better other than what I said about shutting down. Unless you really have a distinct hatred of all things Plasma, this could be that perfect distro you’ve been looking for. If you like the old, Mint-ier Feren with Cinnamon, that is being maintained as Feren Classic.


from our January 9 show to present

Simplicity 20.1

Ultimate 6.5 “Gamers”

KDE neon 20200204

Arch 2020.02.01

Duzeru 4

Nitrux 2020.01.31

OpenMandriva 4.1

OPNsense 20.1

OLPC 13.2.11

FreeNAS 11.3 (BSD)

Kali 2020.1

ExTiX 20.2

Solus 4.1

Volumio 2.699

Robolinux 10.8

Live Raizo

KDE neon 20200123

Qubes 4.0.3

Lakka 2.3.2

GhostBSD 20.01 (BSD)

GPartEd Live 1.1.0-1

CentOS 8.1.1911

Linux Lite 4.8

SuperGamer 5

AryaLinux 2.1

IPFire 2.23 Core 139

Archman GNU/Linux 2020-01

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