The Linux graphical user interface (GUI) system may be very different from what you are used to if you are coming from a Windows or Mac OS X background. The GUI of an operating system is commonly referred to as its shell. While virtually all versions of Windows since Windows 95 have used variations of the same basic shell (explorer.exe), there are numerous shells available for the Linux GUI. These Linux shells are called window managers and desktop environments. The term window manager is used to address the simple core user interface of a shell, while the term desktop environment is much more inclusive, covering the shell itself in addition to the various other programs that are integrated with it.
Due to the vast number of window managers available for Linux, many new users often feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to learn their way around them. We must emphasize that many people experiment with several window managers before settling down with one that feels right for them, and there certainly is no need to learn all of them. Due to their modular nature, it is common to have several window managers installed at once.
Much like part one of this series that dealt with choosing a distro, this guide will help you to choose a window manager/desktop environment by introducing you to several of them and addressing their strengths and weaknesses.
Time for another price and parts guide! The $1000 parts guide we posted earlier this month garnered much discussion and debate among readers, so we wanted to a better job explaining our choices in this edition. Compared to the pricey decked-out systems from OEM builders like Falcon and Digital Storm, $1500 is still technically in the "budget" range. But for many people, that's still a lot of money to spend on a PC. We catered this build for gamers, and anchored our picks on the GPU and CPU, while judiciously choosing the other parts and brands to fit into our budget limits. The results were pleasantly surprising, and recent price cuts and rebates across the board really helped. Of course, your own configuration may vary wildly from ours depending your own needs, priorities, or brand allegiances, but we think this is an awesome configuration for something building a new gaming PC.
Read on for our parts and price list, and contribute your thoughts and personal configs!
The newest version of Ubuntu (9.04, codenamed “Jaunty Jackalope”) is set to be released on April 23, 2009. While there are some noticeable differences, much of the improvement in 9.10 can be found under the hood.
Every Ubuntu release comes with new software, and Jaunty is no exception. Jaunty comes with GNOME 2.25.92 (in Alpha 5) and many other packages like OpenOffice.org 3.0, GIMP 2.6.5, and much more. Jaunty will also include X server 1.6, which includes new features like X input 1.5, predictable pointer acceleration, and RandR 1.3.
Also, Jaunty introduces the “Computer Janitor”, a new administration utility meant to help clean up orphaned packages. Although there are no orphans on the LiveCD or in a new installation, this tool will help maintain old installations that have been around for awhile and have been upgraded a few times.
Read on for the scoop on all of Jaunty Jackalope's other updates!
I just picked up a new netbook the other day. And you know what that netbook had? A lot of things, but "optical drive" wasn't on the list. So there I sat, staring at a stack of CDs all full of my most critical applications, games, and movies. Then I had a brainstorm: Rather than run down to the local electronics store to buy a lame external optical drive, I figured I would convert all of my optical media and slap it onto one of the external hard drives I have sitting around.
To do that, I turned to a suite of applications to rip, burn, encode, convert, and create all sorts of image files. It was a daunting task at first, but it sure beat shelling out for more hardware. Based on my troubles, I've come up with a list of five of the must-have applications for your CD manipulation needs. And these aren't just a list of applications for new netbook enthusiasts. These free apps have a universal appeal for anyone who's ever had to interact with their optical drive at any point. I would assume that this would make up 99% of all computer users--the one percent being anyone who just bought a new netbook without any kind of secondary system in their house. Whoops!
Click on the link and check out the five free apps for CD manipulation mayhem. Trust me, it's just that exciting.
So you've just downloaded that hip new open-source replacement for your favorite paid-for application and you're ready to crack it open and unleash all the awesome community-driven features contained inside. Well, if this application is Songbird, you might want to hold off for a moment. A recent blog post by the application's developers has revealed that the media player's iPod add-on does more than just transfer music to your device. It also has the potential to corrupt or otherwise delete music straight from your hardware device. Yikes!
Bugs are the bane of any software, but they can especially affect the open-source world in unpleasant ways. Read on to find out what we mean -- but first, unplug your iPod!
The competition between open-source projects and retail applications is a never-ending struggle. Even when two products aren't in direct competition -- like Adobe's Photoshop versus the GNU Manipulation Program -- there's still an underlying push and pull for your attention and resources. The struggle only deepens when the retail version of the two programs approaches an inexpensive or free pricing model. Open-source is an alternative, but when is it the better alternative?
Open-source software developer Patrick McKenzie wrote a post recently about the various ways retail software developers can out-develop open-source alternatives to their products. While it was geared toward the perspective of an open-source creator, he nevertheless gave some good insight as to what differentiates quality open-source projects from the muck. And a number of his points apply to some of the very applications we've recommended in our weekly freeware/open-source roundups.
Click the jump to find out how the best open-source applications get their crowns!
Dell teased us with a brief showing of their new Adamo laptop line at this year's CES, but after that first peek, we were all left hanging with only a mysterious website to satiate our curiosity. Today, Dell has finally officially announced the Adamo notebook line, which they call a "luxury brand notebook designed for the luxury conscious consumer." We got to play with the Adamo at a recent press preview meeting, and can confirm that this beauty is indeed luxurious -- easily worthy of envy. We have a ton of Adamo unboxing and close-up photos after the jump, but here are the technical details that you care about:
Adamo's launch models are 13.4" inches (screen resolution is 1366x768) , priced at $1999 for a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U9300 with integrated Intel X4500 video, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, and 128GB SSD running a custom skinned Vista 64-bit. Dell has also custom skinned the Bios to match the Adamo aesthetic.
External hard drives (up to 500GB) and Blu-Ray drives are also available, both of which match Adamo's styling.
Dell told us that Battery life rated at 4 hours, even though the press release states 5+.
Physically, the Adamo measures only .65" thick (thinner than the Voodoo Envy), and weighs in at 4 pounds. Aside from the Dell and Adamo logos, the notebook's rigid surface --made from aircraft grade aluminum -- bears no other unsightly marks or stickers. Even the Windows authenticity sticker is hidden in a magnetic cover in the back.
Built-in ports include 2 USB (with power share, so you can charge devices even when Adamo is off), one eSATA/USB combo port, Display Port, RJ-45 (Wireless N is included), and a SIM card slot for mobile broadband. The Adamo has no Express Card slot nor microphone jack, though a tiny mic is embedded to the left of the keyboard.
The Adamo is now available for preorder, shipping March 24th in Pearl and Onyx colors. A $2700 model is also available in foreign countries, and sports a 1.4GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a built-in 3G wireless card.
Read on for our large gallery of unboxing and hands-on photos.
In the past year and a half, solid state drives have come from nowhere to take their place as the Next Big Thing in storage, especially in notebooks. The MacBook Air and the Asus Eee PC and OLPC XO-1 (One Laptop Per Child) netbooks were among the first consumer notebooks to utilize solid state drives. While SSDs are still most popular in netbooks, they have begun appearing in more mainstream notebooks and even high-end desktops.
SSDs have much higher read speeds than traditional drives, and with no moving parts, they’re more durable. They’re not susceptible to magnetic interference or vibration, and they use less power and run much more quietly than standard magnetic hard drives. Best of all, they come in standard 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch formfactors with SATA connectors and emulate traditional drives, so they’re compatible with existing architecture. Unfortunately, they’re also orders of magnitude more expensive per megabyte, thus limiting widespread adoption, at least for now.
Although the fastest solid state drives use DRAM for storage (with a battery backup to preserve data), this White Paper will focus on flash-based SSDs—the variety most commonly found in consumer gear.
The beauty of a Live CD is that it gives you a chance to access your computer or a batch of alternate applications without actually having to load up your operating system. You only need to pop the CD into your optical drive and boot it up from your BIOS -- this self-contained environment runs independent of anything that's located on your drive partitions, even though you can still perform a variety of tasks that manipulate the data on your drives.
For example, you can test our new Linux distributions using a Live CD, saving you the time and hassle of blanking an entire partition just to see if it's the right distribution for you. You can also manipulate the partitions of your drives using a Live CD, expanding and creating volumes to create alternate locations for new operating systems, files, or whatever it is you'd use a separate volume for. Live CDs are great for troubleshooting your system (or saving your data) when your primary operating system won't boot, and they can also be used to break through Windows installations that you've lost the password for.
All that functionality... and you don't even have to install a single program on your machine! Click the link to check out some of the best Live CDs that you should have sitting on your desk.
For more than a decade, Adobe Photoshop has been the de facto image-editing program used by professionals and art students alike. But there are plenty of casual users who only dabble with Photoshop for simple tasks, such as photo resizing and cropping -- oblivious to the sheer power of Photoshop's graphics manipulation abilities. These decidedly non-power users (and we know some of you are included in this group) can do so more with this versatile program -- and we're here to show you how.
Whether you've just installed Photoshop for the first time or know your away around a the Tools toolbar, we put together a few of the most essential Photoshop skills to get you started on your photo editing endeavors. Before you know it, you'll be fixing up your grandmother's torn-up black and white wedding photos and airbrushing the heck out of yourself for your Facebook photo.