The DistRogue

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Intrepid Ibex

I don't think I need to explain the title. It's been officially announced here, and it's on the Ubuntu Wiki.
So what's an ibex?
An ibex, commonly called by its French name: bouquetin also called Steinbock in German, is a type of wild mountain goat with large recurved horns that are transversely ridged in front. Ibex are found in Eurasia, North Africa, and East Africa. The name ibex comes from Latin, borrowed from Iberian or Aquitanian, akin to Old Spanish bezerro "bull", modern Spanish becerro "yearling". Ranging in height from 27 to 43 inches and weighing 200 to 270 pounds (90 to 120 kg), the ibex can live 20 years.
20 years, but don't expect 8.10 to be an LTS release...
During the 8.10 cycle we will be venturing into interesting new territory
The release after an LTS release (or 3 releases before one) is usually an unstable one (4.10, 6.10, 8.10, and probably 10.10), as the developers find new technology to incorporate and wait for it to mature over the next 2 releases. Expect 8.10 to have KDE 4, among other interesting stuff, maybe even Avant. But it's not going to be stable- remember all the horror stories of people who couldn't upgrade to Edgy? Don't let it drive you away from Linux, though, if you're really interested in testing Intrepid, just keep an eye on Slashdot and be ready for the worst. Let's hope the Ubuntu devs learned a lesson from Edgy (and they probably have).


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!

After over a year and a half, several articles featured on Tuxmachines, and over 100000 hits, I may have to shut down the Distrogue. There are several reasons. First off, as you may have guessed from my hiatus, I've stopped reviewing distros. There's something wrong with my partitioning layout that's preventing GParted from seeing any partitions at all. Seeing as Fedora, Ubuntu, and Gentoo all use GParted for disk partitioning, and they're far from the only ones, this is preventing me from installing most distros. In addition, I'm running out of blank CDs and I can't find any that will boot from my computer's disk drive. My 1G USB key also refuses to boot. This leaves me stranded on PCLinuxOS (which runs into a kernel panic every time I try to boot it, no matter what my GRUB setup is) and MEPIS. Great. But there's a chance of fixing my partitioning problem (maybe having to back everything up and clear all the partitions) and finding some working media. Until then...
From MEPIS 7.0,
The Distrogue.

  • I now have a less limited supply of blank CDs.
  • I may buy an 8GB USB key in the near future.
  • Thanks to testdisk, the partitioning problem is gone and I can (and have) installed other distributions.
  • A visual redesign is coming soon, but you'll need Firefox 3 (Safari and Epiphany work too) in order for it not to look ugly because it uses a fair amount of CSS3-only features.
Thanks for your patience.
From Ubuntu 8.04,
The Distrogue.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Why I Really Hate Linux: Substitute Applications

On Windows, most people manage their music libraries via iTunes, the nice, user-friendly music manager that everyone knows about. But here on Linux, we're expected to use some program called Amarok that nobody's heard of. And it sucks. I mean, here are the features:

Tag DatabaseNoYes
Lyrics LookupNoYes
Artist Info LookupNoYes
MP3 Player ManagementiPod OnlyYes
Album Artwork ManagementYesYes
CollectionNoYes RadioNoYes
Music StoreYesMagnatune Only
Plug-in SupportMac Only (via Applescript)Yes

Kidding aside (I know I'm 3 days late), Amarok seriously does have all these features. In addition, I'm running 4 scripts (911tabs, Tag Clouds, BPM Calc, and amaKode), and it still takes up less RAM than iTunes did on Windows. Plus, it has support for dynamic and static playlists like iTunes, along with a tagging system. Everything in it is very tightly integrated, as well. With version 2 (to go with KDE 4), they're going cross-platform, releasing an official Windows port.
Someone said that Amarok's iPod management is better than iTunes's. Not true. Whenever you add a song to an iPod Shuffle in Amarok, for instance, it's appended to the end of the playlist. Even if you drop it into a certain place, it will always be on the end. Maybe I'm just bitter about this because I use a Shuffle, but it's annoying enough to make me use GTKPod instead. On the other hand, Amarok can be used to submit plays from your iPod directly to, which iTunes can't.
The context browser on the left-hand side is also undeniably cool. It has tabs for an online lyrics search, song/artist/album information via MusicBrainz, and Wikipedia-based song/artist/album lookup. Through MusicBrainz, it can even guess the ID3 tags for songs you don't know.

A word on the music store: Amarok has built-in support for the Magnatune Music Store, which sells DRM-free MP3, FLAC, or OGG files, which you can re-download later if you delete them. You can pay $5 or more per album, depending on what you feel like giving them- $5 if you're a cheapskate, $10 or more if you feel generous. Of course, there's a catch- they have a *tiny* catalog. Still, there's something for everyone- I found a great album by a metal band called Utopia Banished and paid $10 for it after hearing the full-length previews.

Of course, if you want more, there's always's music store, which has its own Linux client and also sells DRM-free files.
Thanks to features like tags (which can be assigned to songs), collection browsing, auto-tagging, and an automatic track-scoring system, Amarok is ideal for people with huge music collections. Windows users, when Amarok 2 comes out, try it. You probably won't ditch iTunes, but you might end up not using it for anything other than buying music, if even that.
From SimplyMEPIS 7.0,
The Distrogue.

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