Episode 4 Show Notes

Show Notes for Distrohoppers’ Digest

Episode 004

On to this month’s ramble: My Adventures In Laptop Land and Feren OS.


I run a Lenovo ThinkPad T430 with 8 Gb of RAM and a 500-Gb hard drive (Intel chips), and I just purchased a Lenovo Ideapad 110-15acl-80TJ with 4 Gb of RAM and a 500-Gb hard drive (AMD chips), each of which I keep partitioned into 4 partitions, each with its own distro, with an external hard drive for my data and backups.

I’m going to do things a bit differently this month and try to go through what I went through with my old and new computers with setup and installation.

I have begun to worry that I’m under qualified to be a host for this show, as I only seem to be able to get Debian/Ubuntu-based distros to work plus a few outliers, have zero interest in Arch or Red Hat, and have some really limited viewpoints. But on the other hand, new users are more likely to relate to my experiences than they are to those of other shows’ super-experienced users, as I go for distros which would be welcomed by new users.


I think that all linux users can share their experience of using it on a daily basis, which we both do. As you say Moss in some respects those of us a little less technical bring a different viewpoint about our chosen OS than someone who is used to working on the backend of servers on a day to day basis and running linux as their daily driver they may understanding the nitty gritty of how the kernel works, but we are on the other side of the street but we are still looking at the same street, from a different vantage point, so bring a different perspective.

So Moss lets get on with the reviews this month….

This month I really had wanted to review OpenMandriva Lx 4. I have loved Mandrake/Mandriva in the past, and OpenMandriva Lx 3.03 was *so* close to perfect that I was salivating waiting for 4 to go stable. So I attempted to install OpenMandriva Lx 4 on my T430, but it locked up when I set my external display, a 32” Magnavox TV connected as a VGA monitor. The mouse pointer was not frozen, but everything else was and I only had a black background. I installed it successfully without using the external monitor (very hard on my eyes) and then switched displays, and it locked up again. I reported the bug. Much more recently, I received a MiniDisplayPort to HDMI adapter cable (needed to send HD output on a T430) and tried to install it again. This time I got the pretty wallpaper *and* the mouse cursor. Period. So I still have not successfully installed OpenMandriva Lx 4 on my T430.

I looked at Feren OS Next some and decided it wasn’t what I was looking for, and, after reporting a few things to the developer, I installed KDE neon 18.04 on it just so I had *something* with Plasma. Everything is running fine.

So on to business, and Feren OS with the standard Cinnamon desktop. I will first talk about my installation experience on the ThinkPad T430 first.

In 2016, Feren OS had a new trick, a program called Themer which could, with a couple mouse clicks, change your entire desktop to resemble whatever you wanted it to, from various Windows desktops to MacOS to any of dozens of Linux desktops, all within Cinnamon and with a solid Linux Mint base. In 2017 it was changed, the Linux Mint base was dropped for Ubuntu Gnome, and it just wasn’t the same. (The Wikipedia page for Feren OS did not describe this period.) In 2019, they reverted to Linux Mint and Cinnamon.

Calamares installer has a bug I had earlier discovered in OpenMandriva Lx 4 and have reported to the Calamares team. When you try to install over an existing partition, it formats that partition and creates a new one — and then creates an imaginary partition of the same size, and has trouble deciding which one to write your installation to (see figure).

Note that the blue and grey partitions are exactly the same size, and BOTH replace the blue partition in the “before” shot, all other partitions being identical to those in the “before” shot.

The first time I did this, I allowed Calamares to ignore the imaginary partition if it would and write itself to the correct area. Things did not go so well. It appeared to be installing parts of the operating system to the correct drive while dropping chunks into the imaginary partition. This happened to me with OpenMandriva Lx 4 as well (although the bug was not in OM 3). So I had to do it again, and used manual partitioning (checked “Something Else” when prompted which partition to use). Installation went well after that.

After installation I tried to load additional software and was informed that the mint store was not installed. Ok, that gets installed by running updates. But the Feren OS repositories were not to be found. I contacted the developer and he pointed out that the bug had been reported and gave me the fix for it.

This distro uses Vivaldi as its default browser, which is a security-based version of chromium. I’m not fond of Google of late, so I installed Firefox and reminded myself to delete all instances of chromium to my list of things to do. I usually do that for LibreOffice anyhow, since I use SoftMaker Office. “sudo apt –purge remove ***”.

I got Mullvad and the printer installed without any problems. I then made sure I had Audacity, Mumble, and HexChat. Smooth as silk.

I’m not a Cinnamon fan, and this distro depends on Cinnamon to do its special theming trick, which is the main feature of Feren over Linux Mint. (Feren OS Next is an attempt to substitute KDE Plasma 5 to do the theming).

On Day 2, I tried to run Stacer and couldn’t find it. I went and got the old edition, 1.0.9, and it installed over 1.1.0, then informed me there was an update. I installed the update, just to see what would happen, and once again could not run Stacer. It turns out to be a known bug with Stacer 1.1.0: versions 1.0.9 and earlier work fine.

I did check out the Accessibility controls, as suggested by a listener. The High Contrast works well although the icons are considerably different, the Zoom feature sets a static zoom level rather than letting that be adjustable, and the scroll feature works.

In terms of updating, I found that the Update Manager defaults to Automatic Updates. This gets in my way, as I’ve learned over the years to do my updating in Terminal. Automatic updates seize control of all “apt” usage until they are complete, resulting in gobs of error messages and a feeling like you’re back using Windows. Turning it off is easy, and you can find that information on many sites on the Internet.

After a few chats with the Feren OS Dev in Telegram, I decided to reinstall Feren OS yet again, still on my T430. Installation went smoothly after selecting manual partitioning. I then Installed restricted codecs, chose a layout with panel clock, and was good to go. So my 3rd installation went the way my first should have.

There is a nice selection of other layouts to choose from: Windows XP, Windows 7/8, Windows 10, macOS, or Linux Mint layout, with more available later. You can check Light or Dark and pick a desktop background color, then select whether to enable (default) or disable animations.

And then you get the “Thank You for choosing Feren OS” page and click the “Enjoy” button.

I then set my displays, did my updates, and ran into the bug of not being able to update.

I then went to attempt to fix the update bug according to the instructions I received from the developer. The fix worked, updates are installed. There seemed to be quite a few QT/KDE5 programs being installed now, which brings into question, why Cinnamon? (Answer: Because he’s getting set up for Feren OS Next with Plasma.) Then I went to install my usual software and my printer.

There are also extensive keyboard shortcuts included, and you can configure them to your heart’s desire.


When running Timeshift, I noticed that Timeshift reported the distro as being Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, not Linux Mint Tessa.

After installation and before configuring my applications, I had to log out and back in before the menus would work.

And a new issue. I got everything installed and backed up, rebooted, and I get the black screen with the message, “:unable to launch “cinnamon-session-cinnamon” X session — ‘cinnamon-session-cinnamon” not found; falling back to default session’

Whereupon nothing happens. I had to do a cold boot. Then I used Timeshift to reset the machine to what it was before running updates. Thanks to 0lzi for putting up with me, I was in pretty bad shape during this. Now I have everything installed and booting and another Timeshift.

RAM 717.0 MiB

Disk 8.3 GiB

Boot time 0:55/1:10

Boot down 0:12

Themes are easy to select at installation time, but trying to figure out how to do them later may be a huge headache (or I’m simply not smart enough to figure it out). I felt like I was banging my head on a brick wall when I was in the Theme window.

July 5, On the T430, I copied my Kodi ~/home directory from Linux Mint, and reauthorized Trakt and Real Debrid. Kodi is good to go in minutes. All (5 of) my games were found in Synaptic and installed with zero issues.

July 6 – Kodi is working fine. Indeed, everything is except Telegram-Desktop. I got into chat with the Feren OS dev again, and he was astonished to learn that the version he has in the repo is several versions old, and gave me the address for the newest version and updated his repos. I purged the old one, installed the new one (I was told by some nanny feature that I should install the older one due to support issues), and it works. At this point, only Audacity and Mumble have not been configured.

July 13 – This is the second time I’ve tried to mess with Themes. Roadblock after roadblock. The Default theme appears to be Windows7, which is interesting. I had no idea I hated that menu system so much. But the standard Mint menus are much easier to navigate (which, in Win7 theme, I can get to just by hitting “All Applications”). So I managed, after much struggle, to get the basic desktop back to Mint or something like it. But I downloaded a Theme to get the menus a tad different, and the app can’t find the downloaded theme to load it no matter what I do and won’t apply it. So I’m still stuck with the base theme, just a base Mint theme. I’m good with that, but the whole raison d’etre of this distro appears to be theming the desktop. I’m sure there is something really, really simple that any NORMAL person would have automatically done to make this work. But a few years ago, it worked with just a couple mouse clicks, period.

Actually, there ARE some simple ways to change your theme, but, unlike the earlier version of Feren, you probably would not get lucky and choose the right thing. I guess I need a screenshot of this screen.

Stacer showing Feren resource usage on my ThinkPad T430

At this point, I was comfortable enough with the setup of the T430 and decided to begin to set up my new laptop. I had sold some old computer equipment and bought a cheap laptop, a Lenovo Ideapad 110-15acl with all AMD chips (I’m looking at you, Michael Tunnell). I wiped Windows 10, set up the hard drive to disable secure Boot and use Legacy Boot, and installed Linux Mint 19.1 on it, creating sda1. Then I divided the drive in half and installed Feren OS on sda2.

Stacer showing Feren resource use on the Ideapad 110

I then divided that drive in half and installed OpenMandriva Lx 4 on sda3. I just had to try. This time, I got a complete installation, but when I rebooted, there was no boot. Waiting for a disk to show up. My best guess is that it wrote the boot to a sector not in use or not recognized. I tried installing it again, with the same result. So, to prove the partition itself was good, I installed Feren OS Next, about the same thing as Feren OS but with a Plasma desktop, on sda3. I then went for Distro #4, dividing the Linux Mint partition and creating an Extended partition (sda4) and a partition on it (sda5), and put my much-loved Bodhi 5 on the new partition. After playing a bit with Feren OS Next, I decided I didn’t like the desktop experience it provided, and, as I wanted something KDE on that partition, I installed KDE neon 18.04. Everything is just fine now. The installation of Feren OS went much more smoothly. Remember this is the third time I’ve installed it this month, although the first time on this machine, so if it didn’t go smoothly there would have to be something wrong with me. There were no further issues to report.


As you can contact the developer directly via a number of Telegram groups or through his GitLab reporting system, the lack of a large community is a minor issue. He was always friendly and helpful, and even when I had a strong disagreement with his choices, he asked me what I would rather see rather than get offended. This was especially true in the case of Feren OS Next, where I found the desktop to be an ugly combination of Windows and KDE 4, and he just asked me for suggestions on what he could do better.


Grub-Customizer is available via PPA and helps make this distro an easy co-resident with others.


Other than occasional issues reaching the repos, this is as stable as Linux Mint or Ubuntu. The Feren OS Dev is on top of the issues nearly all the time, and is reachable via many Telegram groups. Sadly, he can’t seem to decide on one page or another whether he is using GitHub or GitLab for his bug reports and community forums. I would suggest setting up on LinuxQuestions.org, as Bodhi has done successfully.


This is Linux Mint Cinnamon plus, and you can probably do the same things’ with that distro if you work at it hard enough.


Ease of Installation new user friendly install scores 6/10

experienced Linux users 7/10

Hardware Issues 9/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web) 9/10 if you know where to reach the developer

Ease of Use 6/10

Plays’ Nice With Others 9/10

Stability 9/10


This distro has been better and will probably be better again. The developer is a community wunderkind who is extremely motivated to get this done right. Some theming things, if you stumble across the right buttons, are easy to do, but you should expect to find a lot of “you didn’t do that right” type messages. Is there a tutorial on using the theming engine? Honestly, I haven’t looked. But the developer is young and motivated, and has kept this distro going for several years already. It should just keep getting better.

DISTRO NAME: Debian Buster.


So for information this months installation was done as a sole install on a Toshiba Portege Z30 the specification is as follows:

Intel® Core™ i5-4210U CPU 2cores and 4 threads @ 1.70GHz to 2.7GHz

128Gb M2 SSD and 8Gb DDR3 Ram.

So my first issue was finding the correct ISO to do the installation with, the Debian website is a nightmare to find things, you click on the getting Debian tab and the page has numerous options all in text which in my opinion would be quite confusing to a new user, also there is nothing to point you to the non free iso which as it turned out I needed as my WiFi card is not recognized by the standard live iso I first chose. I eventually found the download page for the non free ISOs (which is not part of the official Wiki) and downloaded the install image, which has the option to install as many DE’s as you wish during the process although this does mean you are not able to use a live environment prior to install. Another disadvantage is with this image you also get the more traditional Debian installer and not the more friendly Calamares installer.

However despite these issues the installation went fairly smoothly, at the boot screen you get the option to pick a voice guided install using the accessibility software built into Debian, however those with no sight at all would still need assistance to access this option as it only activates when you select it as your install method. Once into the installer you get the opportunity to pick your language and keyboard layout from a large selection of languages so this can be used by many for whom English is not their first language. Once you have done that the non free iso detected my WiFi card and I was able to connect to my network, then the process of selecting Desktop Environment and a few other software choices, such as was it a server or desktop install, I chose to install the Mate DE and after a few more tick boxes the installation started. One thing to note was that I left the install to get on with it but unlike other installations when I came back I found it had stalled as it needed me to select what to do in respect of grub and a couple of other things, this means you do need to keep an eye on the instillation to be there when this input is needed. It may be different with the instillation using the live install iso and the Calamares installer.

However within about 15 minutes the installation was completed and I was ready to restart the PC and boot into the installation.


First thing to note is that everything worked hardware wise, including WiFi, which as it had worked during the install this was not a surprise and over the last few weeks before recording the show I haven’t had any issues with the laptop as far as the hardware is concerned.

One software issue is that the Advanced MATE menu with the ability to toggle between favorite applications and all the software categories, and a search bar, is not the default menu as I am accustomed to with Mint 19.1 MATE. It is not actually installed, so along with my workflow software I had to install it and add it to the taskbar which for me are positioned the wrong way so the 2 taskbars get swapped so the menu bar is at the bottom of the screen and not at the top. I’m old school and the traditional windows 95/98 workflow still works for me.

Apart from those few niggles and installing my regular software to make podcasting on the PC possible and any other software that I prefer that is not installed by default and the usual updates, everything was fine from the first boot. One thing to note is that if you set up a Root account during install your other user will not have sudo privileges, and you will need to drop into root in the terminal using su or for those programs such as Gparted and synaptic, when prompted for the password it is the Root password you need, if you don’t set up a Root account the user is added to the sudoers list during install. To change this you need to add the user to the sudoers list as Root.


As I have spent most of my Linux life for the last 12 or so years on Debian based distros, Debian is very easy to use as an OS, as I said the installer for the ISO I used is not the most friendly, but if you chose to install from one of the live iso’s available, the Calamares installer, will be a more friendly experience. But Debian has all the software for package management and software installation that I am used to so no problems there, also as you would expect no issues with dropping into the terminal as all the apt commands are familiar.

You will notice that most software is a little behind the current release from the software maintainers as Debian closes the ISO to new software at a fairly early stage, and once the release has been frozen the only updates will be to correct bugs. This means that Audacity is still the 2.2 release and LibreOffice is, while the current DEB from the document foundation is 6.2.5. But unless you want to risk destabilizing the install which has been built to be used with the packages installed or available in the Debian repository, you are already running outdated software. If this is an issue for you then Debian is probably not the Linux you should be considering.

Memory and Battery Use:

As you can see from this image system memory of first boot is around 500-730Mb depending on which utility you trust, but for a modern system this is not excessive and I was running a terminal and system monitor when taking the screenshot. Boot time from pressing the power key to a working system even with inputting username and password is a respectable 30s so no issue there.

As with all my mobile systems I install the TLP utility to manage battery life and in Debian 10 at Idle the battery monitor shows this laptop as having a whopping 15Hrs remaining at 100% battery

When active this reduces dramatically but was still 7-8Hrs, so with general use this makes this laptop an all day machine for using on the go. This is about 1-2Hrs more of active battery life than with some other Linux Distributions I’ve used on this hardware.


The Debian Wiki has lots of information but it looks very outdated compared to many modern support sites, but as there are many distros based on Debian if you search the web for solutions to your issues or just for general information there is a wealth of support for help out there.


This greatly depends on the installer used and also I didn’t do a dual boot install this time, but if you install Calamares installer I should imagine it shouldn’t be too much of an issue, maybe Moss could jump in here….


Solid as a mountain


Ease of Installation new user friendly install scores 4/10

experienced Linux users 6/10

Hardware Issues 9/10

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

Ease of Use 9.5/10

Plays’ Nice With Others Not tested.

Stability 9.5/10


LMDE3 currently based on Debian 9 but 4 will be a Buster base

Deepin OS

MX and AntiX

All the Ubuntu flavors

Basically any recent Debian based Distro of which there are many.


My thoughts when I think of Debian 10 is that this is the Black coffee of Distros. Black coffee depending on your personal preferences, can be brilliant or very bland but all coffee starts this way. Add in some flavor and frothy milk and you get you get a different drink. This is what I think Debian is, the developers give us a great and very stable base that can be used perfectly well as it is and for the next 2-3 years you will have a rock solid workhorse that will do everything you will probably need it to do until the next stable release, with very stable applications that are already a little dated when you get them.

Would I use it as my daily driver? If I was running it in a mission critical environment or as my personal PC that I needed to be confident that it would be as stable as this is, the answer is definitely, but you have to remember that as soon as you install something from outside of the Debian enclave, you risk sacrificing that stability unless you use a containerised software solution such as Snap’s or Flatpak and even then that is not perfect.

However if you want the latest and greatest, head over to one of the Distro’s that use that base but release every 6 months you can have much of the greatness of Debian, but with the latest software, however you may be sacrificing some of that stability to get this. Moss any comments?


HardenedBSD • 12-1200059.2

Slackel 7.2 “Openbox”

Deepin 15.11

Oracle Linux 8.0

BSD Release: OPNsense 19.7

SparkyLinux 5.8

Network Security Toolkit 30-11210

Univention Corporate Server 4.4-1

Proxmox 6.0 “Virtual Environment”

Q4OS 3.8

Feren OS 2019.07

Clonezilla Live 2.6.2-15

Tails 3.15

FreeBSD 11.3

Debian Edu/Skolelinux 10

Debian 10 “Buster”

Whonix 15

NuTyX 11.1

Mageia 7

Project Trident 19.06

Linux Kodachi 6.1

Raspbian 2019-06-20


From YLee re Episode 3

Decent fair minded review 🙂 As to the ARandR issue, I modified the code to address the issues you note as well as added some minor improvements. You can try the new version if you wish, it is in our testing repo. Haven’t noticed the taskbar issue but will look into it. And I know there are various issues with multi monitor setups, we are looking into some of them but I am unsure if they all are going to be addressed in time for our next release.

Moss responds: Well, I’m not really using multiple monitors, just an external. Anyhow, I love Bodhi, right now I wouldn’t live without it. I should probably mention another bug or two on the forum. Great work!


Our next show will be recorded on August 28, 2019. Visit our website at http://distrohoppersdigest.blogspot.com and follow us on MeWe, Discord and Telegram at our mintCast groups, and we can be contacted at [email protected] .

If any of our listeners have suggestions for our music or transitions, or which distros you’d like to see us try, please contact us.


We would like to thank all those who make this project possible, starting with Joshua Lowe and the mintCast team for allowing us to use their Mumble server; Archive.org for storing and helping to distribute this program; Audacity, which we use for recording and editing the show

Joshua Lowe for work on our logo, All those who work on the teams which are creating, adapting, and maintaining the Linux distros we have reviewed this episode. Mid-Air Machine, creators of the song, “Streets of Sant’ivo”, used as our music under Creative Commons license.

Thanks to Linus Torvalds for the Kernel, Richard Stallman for the GNU Toolkits, and all those who have worked behind the scenes on Free and Open Source/Libre Software. And thanks to the rest of the mintCast team, for letting us use their Discord channel and lots of encouragement. We are deeply appreciative of the warm welcome we have received in many other Discord and Telegram channels. We shall be back next month. Thank all of you for listening.

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