BunsenLabs Linux does a bang-up job of picking up where CrunchBang Linux left off. Developer Philip Newborough retired the popular minimalist distro earlier this year. In a world of feature-packed operating systems and bloated Linux distros, he felt his CrunchBang alternative served no further purpose. BunsenLabs is one of three CrunchBang replacements that mimic the lightweight but functional OS.
The Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 version is a disappointing release. It seems sluggish and unimpressive right from the start. Linux Picks and Pans last reviewed Netrunner in 2013 and gave it five stars. This was the standard Netrunner edition built upon Kubuntu, Ubuntu’s KDE desktop version. The Netrunner Rolling edition, released in 2014, is based on packages from the Manjaro distribution.
Vinux 5.0 is a striking example of the flexibility and usability of the Linux OS. Vinux is a fully functional Linux distro that caters to blind and partially sighted users. It’s based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr 14.04.3 LTS and gives users support through 2019. The latest version was released earlier this month. It greatly improves on the usability features of other Linux distributions.
Ubuntu Studio 15.10 is a one-stop Linux OS shop for most creative people. It bundles a nearly full range of multimedia content-creation applications for workflows involving audio, graphics, video, photography and publishing. The developers describe this distro as a multimedia content-creation hub for all five creative workflows. The last element — publishing — is the weakest link.
The combination of custom-made hardware paired with a tweaked Linux OS makes the Librem laptop lineup a unique offering with several innovative security features not offered in any other computer. The Librem line is a work in progress. The operating system just reached version 2.0 and comes preinstalled on the hardware built with the modified Linux kernel in mind.
GALPon MiniNo is one of the strangest and most distinctive Linux distros to grace the Linux Picks and Pans computer screens. Those two traits make it an almost ideal option for anyone looking for a reliable operating system for youngsters and educational facilities that cater to early education students. PicarOS Diego 2015 is the latest in the GALPon MiniNo family of Linux products.
BackBox Linux 4.4 is a great Linux distro for IT and other techies who want to do their own penetration tests and security assessments. The latest version, released this month, is an Ubuntu 14.04.3-based distribution that’s speedy and simple to use. It’s a fully functional Linux distro that comes well stocked with standard software and runs a desktop environment based on the Xfce window manager.
KaOS is an efficient Linux distribution built around a refined KDE desktop environment that just keeps getting better. The KDE integration is more controlled than other Linux choices. I reviewed this distro last year, and I was impressed then with the solid performance of KaOS. The latest version takes it a step further, adding a calming, cleaner look and feel to the user interface.
MuseScore is a complete tool to help musicians and songwriters write musical scores, play them back and print the sheet music. It is available in a variety of Linux distro packages and comes in versions for Windows and OS X. It is fully open source software licensed under GNU GPL. The user interface is similar to a word processor or text editor for entering notes on a blank score sheet.
Liquid Lemur offers a new twist on the usual Linux desktop environment experience. Developer Edward Snyder recently released the second alpha version of Liquid Lemur Linux 2.0. It offers a hybrid desktop experience that combines the Window Maker window manager with elements of the Xfce desktop. Liquid Lemur has been around for a few years, but it has gone through several directional changes.
Robolinux Mate Raptor v8.1 is a stunningly gorgeous and well-tuned operating system that soars with unmatched functionality. This release of the Robolinux line runs the newest iteration of the Gnome 2 fork desktop Mate. It is fast and slick.
Slackel is a Linux distro a step away from the mainstream Debian-based Linux OS line. It is based on Slackware and Salix. Users already familiar with that lineage are more inclined to like Slackel. Slackel offers a few advantages not usually found with the Slackware Linux lineup. The main difference is that its repository includes the current version of Slackware and the latest version of KDE.
LibreOffice 5.0, The Document Foundation’s latest open source office suite, deserves to top the list of contenders for best performance in this category. The foundation last month released LibreOffice 5.0 for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. It is the 10th major release since the launch of the project, and the first in the third development cycle. The release coincides with the rollout of Windows 10.
The latest release of ExTiX offers a new spin on an old desktop environment and exhibits a passion for speed and ease of use. ExTiX 15.3, a fusion of the LXDE and Razor-qt desktop environments, has the economy of working in the LXQt desktop environment. LXQt is lightweight, modular, very fast and user-friendly. It is based on the popular LXDE — that is, Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.
The latest Android-x86 Project release takes us one step closer to using the Android OS on a desktop or laptop computer — but the project suffers from stability and reliability issues. If you want one Linux-based OS to run on all of your devices, Android-x86 could become a viable alternative. The major advantage would be keeping all of your settings, apps and Google services on an equal footing.
Point Linux 3.0, dubbed “Agni,” combines a solid operating system with a traditional no-frills approach to performance and reliability. In several ways, Point Linux belies the criticisms of Linux desktop newcomers who find that Linux not simple and straightforward to use. Point Linux is easy to install. It has a clear interface. Everything works out of the box.
MyNotex is one application I keep revisiting for my note-taking and project management tasks. Italian Developer Massimo Nardello releases one major update per year. MyNotex keeps getting better and better. Version 1.3.1, was released in June. Nardello took what was a near-perfect locally stored note-taking program and made it better than using cloud-based services such as Evernote, Box or Dropbox.
The Solus Project is a rebranded and rereleased Linux distro trying to regain its former popularity. In a field of Linux distributions cluttered with look-alike offerings, Solus brings something simple and something new. Solus has impressive potential for being uncomplicated and different. Based in the UK, the Solus Project is the latest iteration of SolusOS, which morphed into Evolve OS.
Mangaka is a not-so-traditional Linux distro with a gorgeous look. After gaining some traction among fans of the manga and anime communities, Mangaka fell dormant in December 2009. Developer Animesoft International regrouped, and the latest Release Candidate version came out on June 20. The Mangaka Project — the name means “love” in Japanese — started out with the code name of “AngelOS.”
The special release of Makulu 9 Aero edition might seem like one flexible Linux offering too many. However, anyone hankering for a Windows-like operating system and the best of what is easy about using Linux could not make a better choice. The Linux OS is notorious for its great variety of distros. Linux is also infamous for having far too many choices.