Episode 35 Show Notes


Distrohoppers’ Digest Episode 035


Hosts: Moss Bliss, Tony Hughes, Dale Miracle

Monthly Foibles 

Updates: Mint, Debian, Ubuntu Budgie 22.04.1, GhostBSD

Beautiful Failures: Mint 21 upgrade (Tony)

Reviews: Spiral Linux and Makulu Shift

New Releases 




Errata: at 36:15, Moss said Makulu was based on 22.04 Ubuntu; it is 20.04.


MONTHLY FOIBLES …wherein we discuss what we did this month…

Moss: I had a short bout with covid-19 but seem to be over it. I am still having some stomach trouble, but I think that’s related more to problems with blood pressure meds, although I could be wrong about that. 

I got two new UPSes and a new keyboard. The UPS story is too long to go into here. The old keyboard, a Fellowes Microban which has served me for years, has a sticking key. I would have to take it completely apart to fix it and I didn’t want to be without a keyboard. FYI, my new Perixx Periboard looks exactly like the Fellowes Microban Natural keyboard, but it just isn’t. 

I’ve been fiddling around with a few distros, but haven’t settled on something for next month. 

Daniel Richter has created a new PPA for Ubuntu 22.04, so my many complaints on that issue are now dropped.

Tony: Well on a good note I’m over COVID which I’m very pleased with as you can imagine, although I have been having some other health issues which I’m currently undergoing tests for and awaiting hospital follow up. 

On a sad note I found out that a Friend of mine and the Linux community Olly Clark passed away with COVID at the end of last year, but as his family had been unaware of his wider network of friends we only heard of this a few weeks ago. Olly had been part of the Full Circle podcast with myself, Les Pounder and Jon Chamberlain when we were all members of Blackpool LUG here in the UK.

We were also known as the Screaming Penguins and used to attend Linux events here in the North West. We would do “install fests” of Ubuntu and Linux Mint and also demonstrate hardware, including the Raspberry Pi, running Linux. Last Saturday 10 of Olly’s friends, including the Full Circle podcast team, met up for a meal to celebrate his life and friendship over some very good times at such events. Olly was a true friend and a great person, and we will miss him. RIP my friend.The only Linux stuff I have done I will talk about in updates and my failures section.

Dale: Everything in my new apartment is put away, at least out of sight out of mind. I will do some more organizing later. Next on the list is to decide how and where to mount and connect my modem, router, and switch. They have been sitting on a wooden chair since I connected them. I have already decided to mount my access point to the ceiling outside my computer room, I think industrial strength velcro will do the job. I have an idea where I want to put my modem, router, and switch. It is just a matter of routing the cables along the wall in the living room and through the doorway to the computer room. I have some RG-6 and a spool Cat 5E, so I can make my own custom-length cables as I had where I lived previously. That makes for a very organized and clean installation.

In an attempt to save some money on my mobile phone bill. My cable provider Spectrum through an agreement with Verizon Wireless started to offer mobile phone plans. I thought I covered all the requirements for life on the road, except I didn’t. I was told that I would have 30 GB per month with Hotspot included in my plan. A Hotspot is a feature of Android that provides WiFi to your other devices. For some reason, my Verizon phone wouldn’t work on their network despite the fact that it was Verizon’s network. It was a Motorola One 5G UW, so I bought a Motorola G Stylus 5G 2022. At least this phone had a descriptive model name instead of random letters and numbers. I watched many reviews for phones they had in the price I was willing to spend. I actually like it a little better than my One 5G UW. What basically happened is I found out that I only had 5GB of Hotspot data. That lasted about 6 days before I got a notification stating that I have used 80% of it.

I checked on Verizon’s website to see if my new phone was compatible and it is, so it wasn’t a total waste of money….just an expensive one. So it is back to the overpriced Verizon I go, I don’t want to buy yet another phone with a different provider.

This made doing my distro evaluation and my entertainment less convenient. I watched YouTube on the 6.2” screen of my phone and used free WiFi when available. I did pay $6 for 24 hours of WiFi once and it was fast enough to update my devices and use Google Docs.

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

Moss: Mint 21 is out. I have installed it fresh on my TV box, and did the upgrade for my other machines. Seems to work fine, although Bitwarden scared me by being down for maintenance when I tried to log in to the Bitwarden plugin in Firefox. My first installation failed to load the live desktop, so I got another copy from another mirror, put it on my Ventoy stick, and everything was fine. All our machines have been upgraded (the TV box got a fresh install), and I did have a few kinks in the system, different for each machine. But it’s all fixable and fixed, and Mint is a breeze.

Tony: Mint 21 dropped as Moss said and I did install on one of my laptops which was as usual a total breeze. However due to a hardware issue totally unrelated to Mint I’ve not had a chance to play with it much. I will talk about my attempts to do the inline upgrade in a moment.

Dale: The Debian Project celebrated its 29th anniversary. The first version of Debian (0.01) was released on September 15, 1993, and its first stable version (1.1) was released on June 17, 1996. It continues to be one of my favorite Linux distros.

Ubuntu Budgie 22.04.1 LTS was released. These are a collection of updates since the 22.04 release. Some notable updates are more translations for the Budgie Welcome updates including a lot more translation updates. Various bug fixes to the core budgie-desktop, along with various bug fixes for the budgie-applets known as budgie-extras. A fix to GNOME Software to allow uninstalling of packages.

GhostBSD released 22.06.18 which is a fix to their 22.06.18 release that addressed two bugs. Installation error Device busy #203 and cannot install on Dell PC Legacy or UEFI #204. The updates for 22.6.18 are too numerous, so if you are interested, you can read more at www.ghostbsd.org/news

If you are curious about the BSD operating systems, GhostBSD is a good choice coming from Linux. It uses the Mate desktop and is easily installed using Calamares. I reviewed GhostBSD in episode 17.

Xero Linux announced they will switch to a quarterly release cycle and will be focusing on stability and fixes.

And lastly, Voyager updated the Ubuntu-based ISO to 22.04.1 and named it the Explorer Edition which includes both Gnome 42 and Xfce 4.16 in a single distribution.

BEAUTIFUL FAILURES – What we tried, and failed, to install or run this month

Moss: Things either didn’t install at all or installed perfectly this month, so no complaints.

Tony: So I tried to run the inline upgrade on both my desktop and laptop and was quite frustrated as after doing a time shift the installer found some packages it was not happy with, but said I could add them to the disregard list in preferences, but it does not populate this list to allow you to chose the packages you want to keep. and unless this is done it will not continue with the upgrade. So the Desktop will remain on Mint 20.3 until I have a couple of hours to play with doing a full reinstall as I will need to back up my email folders and once installed I will need to install a ppa with the Juno drivers for the PC to get full graphics.

The laptop is not urgent and will only take about an hour as it is not used as my main PC so any data can be backed up quickly and I have a Firefox account so browser data is backed up automatically, and I use my ISP’s webmail server when using this PC. 



DISTRO NAME: Spiral Linux

INTRO: Spiral Linux is a customized Debian Stable distribution, currently at version 11 Bullseye. It is maintained by the same person who created Gecko Linux, a customized openSUSE Leap, and Tumbleweed distro. It is built using the Debian Stable packages and uses Backports to enable newer hardware support. In Debian, Backports are updated packages and kernels from the Testing branch. The packages are recompiled to support the libraries used in Stable.

Since Spiral is built on the Stable release, it is fully upgradeable to future Stable releases, including upgrading to the Testing and Sid (Unstable) releases.

Spiral has the following editions: Cinnamon, Xfce, Gnome, Plasma, Mate, Budgie, LXQT, and Builder. Builder is an unthemed base consisting of a bare IceWM (Window manager), a web browser, a GUI text editor, and a few GUI configuration tools using the Calamares installer.

Here are a few changes made to the Debian Stable base.

BTRFS by default with a custom subvolume layout using Zstd compression and snapshots using Snapper. Bootable snapshots are available in the Grub menu.

Flatpaks are enabled by default and available in the Gnome Software app.

TLP is installed for optimizing power management on laptops.

Uses zRAM swap by default for better performance on lower-end hardware.

Font rendering and color theming preconfigured.

The aim of Spiral is to allow the user to operate and administer the installation without the need to use the terminal. Spiral uses the Debian repositories to be 100% dependent on the Debian project for updates. The name Spiral was inspired by the Debian swirl logo.


The laptop I used is my Lenovo ThinkPad T460.  It has an Intel Dual Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz CPU, 14″ display using Intel HD Graphics 520, 16 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD.


I decided to install the Cinnamon edition.  This is mostly because other than my LMDE 5 review, I haven’t used Cinnamon much in my reviews. The other reason is Cinnamon is the most recent other than Xfce compared to the others in the current Stable repository. Once Testing releases Debian 12 to Stable, all the desktops will be recent versions.

Unfortunately Spiral uses SourceForge to host their ISO files.  It took about 5 tries to download the ISO, failing at varying completion percentages. Because of this, I definitely wanted to compare checksums on the file, the ones provided were md5. Surprisingly the file was ok, so I wrote it to the stick using Popsicle again, it is odd that I tend not to use dd as much as I used to.

The Grub screen appeared with a nice somewhat cloudy green image of water sprayed onto glass. The choices were Live System and Safe mode for both Kernel 5.10 and Backported 5.18 Kernel, along with Utilities and UEFI Firmware Settings.

Spiral uses the Calamares installer, it was a very minimal one. It only asked about Location, keyboard language, partition, user, and lastly the summary. I chose the replace option to install over the previous Xubuntu 22.04. Once completed, I was prompted to remove the USB stick and press enter. This is a nice option because some computers will not boot off the internal storage with a USB stick connected. This would loop you back into the live USB session.


I didn’t have any hardware issues.


The same green image shown in the Grub menu is also used as wallpaper. I saw an icon on the desktop labeled Language Support. I clicked on it and it showed options of Set system languages and install language packs. I was prompted for my password. After scrolling through the list I noticed that English was already installed. So this is a good thing to have if English is not your preferred language.

Cinnamon is version 4.8.6 and the Kernel is 5.18 Backported from the Debian Testing branch, as Stable is using 5.10. Firefox is the ESR (Extended Support Release) version 91.12 with version 103 available via Flatpak. LibreOffice is with version available via Flatpak. I thought these were some interesting version choices, especially the choice of Firefox ESR instead of the regular Firefox. I stayed with Firefox ESR because I already signed in and configured it before I realized it was the ESR and not the regular release. The maintainer apparently chose the Deb packages over the Flatpak newer versions. Speaking of Flatpak, they are enabled with Flathub and the Gnome Software add-on is installed. That allows for searching, installation, and removal of Flatpaks from within Gnome Software. I also noticed that Synaptic is also available.

When I had updates to install, I used the GUI updater to see how it did. After downloading, it showed a button to reboot and install, so I rebooted and had an animation similar to Windows showing the progress. Once completed it rebooted again and I was able to log in.

The update notifications functioned like they normally do with Gnome Software. I did notice some odd errors that popped up while using Gnome Software but they didn’t affect the use of it.

I did need to disable window tiling because it annoys me. I try to move a window to the top of the screen and it maximizes. I like to control the size and placement of my windows.

The only other settings I changed were the screen timeout and screen lock. Otherwise, everything was left at the defaults, I even kept the default wallpaper, and I think it would be a nice addition to Linux Mint’s wallpaper selection.

I think the user experience is quite nice even without the tweaks that Linux Mint does with Cinnamon with their additional packages.


12 GB of space was used on the SSD though it did climb to 18 due to the BTRFS Snap Shots.

795 MB of memory used was reported by free –hm.

EASE OF FINDING HELP: Needless to say I didn’t need to seek any help.  With that said, this is Debian with its 29 years of history.  Finding support from the Debian forums or various Linux forums are among your numerous options.

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS: With the Calamares installer multi-booting is easy.

STABILITY: This is Debian Stable, that is all you need to know.


Debian Stable which is currently Bullseye

Linux Mint Debian Edition

Linux Mint Cinnamon

MX Linux


Ease of Installation             new user                 10/10

                                            experienced user    10/10

Hardware Issues                                                 10/10

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

Ease of Use                                                         9/10

Plays Nice With Others                                      10/10

Stability                                                               10/10

Overall Rating                                                   10/10


I didn’t know what to expect before trying Spiral Linux. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was well themed and it reached its goal of not requiring the terminal. Even though Debian does use the Calamares installation on the official live ISO, what you are missing is the little refinements that Spiral provides. Sure you could do them yourself since everything was sourced from the Debian repositories. Though this requires the time, skill, and desire to do so. I think this is one of the best out-of-the-box Debian experiences I have seen in recent years. I would say it is in the running against MX Linux and possibly LMDE.

I am going to keep this on my laptop and try upgrading it to Debian Testing. I will report my success or failure next episode.


DISTRO NAME: Makulu Linux Shift 2207

INTRO: This Ubuntu-based distro has some features similar to Zorin OS but handles them rather more intriguingly. It offers you a choice of 8 different desktops with only a couple mouse clicks – and 8 more if you want to Go Pro. I looked at a different Makulu spin in the past but thought I’d give this a shot. The dev is Jacque Raymer, originally from South Africa but, as of my latest information, currently employed in Viet Nam.

MY HARDWARE: I installed on sda2 of my Lenovo ThinkPad T540p, with a 6th gen i7-4700MQ at 2.4 GHz, Intel and Nvidia GeForce GT730M graphics, with 16 Gb of DDR3 RAM. sda2 is half of a 256 Gb Samsung SSD. 

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES: The Installer looks like Ubuntu but some things look like Calamares; I think it’s a themed Calamares. It gave me no problems installing on sda2. Unlike most Ubuntu-based distros, when you finish installing and go to reboot, it does not prompt you to remove the USB stick, but it boots without a hitch with or without it, ignoring the stick totally as it should. The completed installation boots kernel 5.15 with X.org, although I can’t find which of my graphics cards is used by default. I assume it is using Intel.

POST-INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES: It opens with a faux-woodgrain hippo and a bunch of tildes in two rows running opposite directions, then presents a nice slideshow of what the distro offers and how best to make use of it. After you’ve seen the slideshow, it opens on a nicely laid out starter screen, with eight boxes inside the main box, and the first box suggests you look for drivers. I did, and it easily installed the Nvidia 470 driver and prompted me to log out. When the starter screen opened again, I went to the second box, which is “set firewall”. Again, easy peasy. Then you run updates from the third box (unless, like me, you first check to see what is installed you may not want to update). There is little to no bloat in here, program-wise: No office, no GIMP, nada. You will probably skip the other boxes, unless they appeal to you.

While they missed the bloat on programs, there are 8 complete desktops included, and — except for Plasma, which appears to be an emulation using Cinnamon – they are not emulations but full desktops you can switch to with a few mouse clicks. If you pay for the pro version, that increases to 16. The wallpaper changes, the icons change, the theming, everything changes. Many of the desktops are not named by what they are based on, so I’m not sure what desktop it is, but the one I selected is called Simple on the Desktop Manager. Other options on the Free version are LinDoz, Flash, Core, Dash, Unity, Gnome and (pseudo) Plasma; sending a few dollars to the dev will get you 8 more, called Docky, Panel, Runner, Remmy, Pop, Eleven, Flipped, and Roller. Upgrade is a $30 one-time charge, which also gets you the Pro version of MakuluLinux GameR Edition. The availability of various desktops appears to be the cause of most of the disk space and some of the RAM usage.

I changed my desktop wallpaper. Except it then started cycling through all the wallpapers. You have to go to “Wallpaper Preferences”, one of four or five buttons you get when you right-click on the desktop, to make it keep a single wallpaper; easy enough to find when you look for it. There really are a lot of nice wallpapers here.

Grub Customizer is pre-installed. Ubuntu-restricted-extras, also preinstalled. Most of the things I usually have to add are already here. The browser is real Google Chrome, so I got rid of that and installed Firefox. Synaptic is included, and I did not check the actual package manager. Leafpad is the text editor, which I’m used to from Bodhi. Discord is included, although it needed updating.

Touchpad is easy to turn off, in the Mouse & Touchpad settings box. There is a bit too much Compton in the Simple desktop, I need to find a way to decrease the transparency as the boxes are dark but not solid enough. I know a lot of people who like this, but I like seeing what’s on my menu without something behind it making it unreadable. Fractional scaling is available in all resolutions and on all desktops.

The default cursor, easily changed, is large and different from most, and I find it quite nice. You will not lose track of your mouse cursor with this baby. The X to close any box is virtually invisible until you hover over it, in the top right corner of the box, and then it shows up quite large and hard to miss.

It takes maybe 7-10 seconds to load each desktop, but that gives you a complete new desktop with different icons, themes, wallpapers, and layout. Unlike some other distros which try this, it keeps all your added icons intact (for instance, the text file I started to report on these issues was saved on my Desktop, and it was there no matter which desktop I used). Is that a problem with Gnome? I didn’t try it, so I don’t know. It also does not close open files to change desktops, so this file stayed open as I Shifted. The one oddity was that, when the desktop is done changing, your mouse cursor automatically jumps to the bottom right of the selector box, and you need to move it back up to the top right to close the box. 

Security-wise, once you are logged in you may never need to give it your password. The system just assumes you are in the right place, a lot. I had a chat with Mr. Raymer about that when I reviewed Makulu LinDoz several months ago, and he seemed to think I was crazy for thinking any more security was needed.

The workspace switcher is just a small box in your taskbar with a number in it, indicating which workspace you are in. Click on it and it brings up the menu to select a different workspace. Rather than setting the number of workspaces, it always gives you one more than you currently have open, so you always have a blank workspace to move to. I assume it renumbers the workspaces when you close out of one.

To add a program to your taskbar, you select it in the menu, rightclick, and say “Add to Favorites”, much the same as ZorinOS.

EASE OF USE: I felt instantly at home. During installation, it runs you through a short slideshow to tell you what to expect, and you get exactly that. If anything, it may be a bit too easy to use, as you are almost never prompted for a password; the dev thinks you don’t need any.


Conky reports 829 Mb RAM, 13.9 Gb disk space. Conky takes several seconds to load at boot, so it’s almost a surprise if you weren’t expecting it.

While the ISO I downloaded was dated July 2022, Conky reports the version date as October 2021.

EASE OF FINDING HELP: I have chatted with the dev in the past. Maybe I triggered him wrong, but he wasn’t as patient with me as I needed him to be, but that was over a year ago. There are forums and social media groups if you need more help.

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS: As I said, this distro even comes with Grub Customizer installed. You can include any Grub-based distro and it will play well.

STABILITY: I haven’t noticed a problem, and it should be every bit as stable as any other distro based on Ubuntu 20.04.



Ubuntu pick a flavor

Feren OS


Ease of Installation     new user                  10/10 

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                                             10/10

FINAL COMMENTS: I expected to have a few issues with this, but I just didn’t. It is smooth, fast, beautiful, and more customizable more easily than any distro I’ve ever used. The only reason not to switch to this as your main distro would be if you’re really happy with what you’re using, or maybe if you don’t trust single-dev distros. But Jacque has been doing it for a while – Distrowatch dates it back to 2014.


from 07/13 – 08/16

Kodachi 8.24

T2 SDK 22.6

Rocky 9.0

PCLinuxOS 2022.07.10

GParted 1.4.0-5

Artix 20220713

Garuda 220717

EasyOS 4.2.7

Live Raizo

Alpine 3.16.1

Archcraft 2022.07.18

Qubes 4.1.1

Q4OS 4.9

NuTyX 22.07.0

OpenMandriva 5.0-tp

Tails 5.3

SysLinuxOS 2022-07-26

Snal 1.20

Absolute 20220724

OPNsense 22.7

OviOS 20220729

EasyOS 4.3

4MLinux 40.0

Mint 21

Q4OS 4.10

Emmabuntüs DE4-1.02

Tails 5.3.1

Bicom 6.6.0 “PBXware”

Peppermint 08-02-2022

Slax 15.0.0

Hyperbola 0.4.1

NetBSD 9.3

Robolinux 12.07

Arch 2022.08.05

SystemRescue 9.04

Rescuezilla 2.4

Garuda 220808

Alpine 3.16.2

Kali 2022.3

EndeavourOS 22.7

YunoHost 11.0.9

TrueNAS 22.02.3 “SCALE”

all Ubuntu flavors 22.04.1

KDE neon 20220811

SmartOS 20220811

openmamba 20220812

SparkyLinux 6.4

ExTiX 22.8


Bluestar 5.19.1


Thanks to Londoner for letting us know there was a problem with the RSS Feed. This was down to Feedburner changing to HTTPS: but not letting us know of the change, this has now been fixed.

Moss: For chatting with us further, you may choose to join our Telegram group or our Discord channel.

Josh can be found at @joshontech on most social networks or email him at [email protected], Also you can find him on the CrowbarKernelPanic podcast.

Dale: I’m @Dale_CDL on Telegram and Discord. My email is [email protected]

Tony: You can contact me at [email protected], http://hackerpublicradio.org/correspondents.php?hostid=338, Twitter @TonyH1212

Moss: And you can hear me every week on Full Circle Weekly News and mintCast. My email is [email protected], and my social media info can be found in the show notes, [Moss Bliss on Telegram, @MossHippoLinux #3616 on Discord, @bardictriad on Twitter, @[email protected] on Mastodon,] or you can find it, as well as me, Dale and Dylan, at ItsMOSS dot com

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