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Linpus Lite 2.1 review

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Linpus Lite 2.1 review is a review of the latest release of Linpus Lite, a desktop distribution based on Fedora.

The distribution is published by Linpus Technologies, Inc., a Linux/Android software solutions outfit based in Taiwan. This is about the only Linux provider that does not have a defined release schedule. Whether that’s a good or bad practice is not something I’m going to address here.

This article is all about my experience installing and testing the Linpus Lite 2.1 desktop on real hardware and in a virtual environment. A problem I’ve always identified with every release of Linpus Lite is that the installed and available applications in its repository tend to be at least three or more revisions behind the latest editions. And from my experience with this latest release, nothing has changed in that regard.

According to the official announcement, a few highlights of Linpus Lite 2.1 are: Support for dual-booting with Windows 8 on computers with UEFI and with Secure (or Restricted) Boot on, a new easier to use login window, and support for native (GTK+) as well as HTML5 applications in a desktop layout known as Icon mode.

Like virtually all Linux distributions, the released installation image is a Live image, with a graphical installer that can be started from the Live desktop.

The Linux Lite 2.1 Installer: The installer is a graphical application that’s a customized version of a much older release of Anaconda (version 17.29), the graphical installation program of Fedora. The screenshot below shows the options on the installer’s Partitioning step. Aside from the two automated disk partitioning options (“Use All Space” and “Use Free Space”) and the manual option (Create Custom Layout), it also has an option (“Do you want to install recovery?”) that, if enabled, will create a recovery partition. I don’t remember ever seeing that option on any version of Anaconda or in the installation program of any other Linux distribution. In one of my test installations, I enabled that option and got a recovery partition of about 2 GB. Whether it will work as intended is something I’ve so far not tested.
Linpus Lite 2.1 Install Partition methods

This screenshot shows the default partitions created when the first automated partitioning option is selected and a recovery partition is created. The last logical partition (sda6) is the recovery partition.
Linpus Lite 2.1 install default partitions

The second automated disk partitioning option (“Use Free Space”) indicates that the installer could free up unused space from the partition of an existing OS on the target disk, but in a couple of my test installations, that did not quite work as advertised, even though there was enough free space on the /home partition of the existing OS. This screenshot shows the installer’s error message from those installation attempts.
Linpus Lite 2.1 partition error

This screenshot shows the manual disk layout window. It shows possible support for RAID and the Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM), but when I clicked the Create button to create a new partition, the standard partition type was the only option available.
Linpus Lite 2.1 partition types

And this (screenshot) shows the supported filesystems. Btrfs is not supported.
Linpus Lite 2.1 installer filesystems

On the user account setup step, password strength is enforced, but as you’ll discover in the next section, the user password specified at this step does not work.
Linpus Lite 2.1 install create user

Automatic timezone detection is not supported, a feature that’s now standard in the installation programs of many popular Linux distributions. Aside from that, there’s no facility to specify a hostname for the computer and also no support for custom bootloader location. The latter is not a problem for computers with UEFI firmware, but will be when attempting a dual-boot setup on a computer with Legacy BIOS.
Linpus Lite 2.1 timezone

Adventure at the Login Screen: This screenshot shows the GRUB boot menu. GRUB 2 is the version of the GRand Unified Bootloader used. The last entry in this screenshot is the recovery option that I did get to test yet.
Linpus Lite 2.1 Boot Menu

And this is a screenshot of the login window that the release announcement claimed to be “easier to use.” That claim turns out to be false, because on all my test installations of Linpus Lite 2.1 on real hardware and in a virtual environment, attempting to log into the new systems was the most difficult time I’ve ever had with any login window. I just could not log in using the password I specified for the user during the installation process.
Linpus Lite 2.1 login screen

And I made sure that I was using the correct language and correct keyboard layout.
Linpus Lite 2.1 locale

The error message was always “incorrect username or password.” And it didn’t matter whether the Caps Lock was on or off.
Linpus Lite 2.1 login error

So just to be able to login, I had to switch to one of the virtual terminals and tried to log in from there. Interestingly enough, I still could not log in using the standard user account (reason: incorrect password). Note that this was not just with one installation, but several. However, I could log in as root. Once inside, I changed the user password, switched back to the main terminal and then was able to log in with the new password – using the same keyboard.
Linpus Lite 2.1 console

Linpus Lite 2.1 Desktop: The Linpus Lite 2.1 desktop presented a much better experience than the login window. The desktop environment used is said to be the Cinnamon desktop environment, but at first glance it appears to be modified GNOME 3 desktop. It’s actually a highly modified version of the Cinnamon desktop. However, like most applications installed and available in the distribution’s repository, this is a very old version of the Cinnamon desktop. How old? How about Cinnamon 1.6. The latest version of that desktop environment is Cinnamon 2.0.

This screenshot is that of the default desktop. It is the easiest-to-customize desktops available on any Linux distribution I’ve ever used. The stack of widgets to the left edge of the desktop can be switched off.
Linspus Lite 2.1 desktop cinnamon

And the layout of the desktop can be switched from the standard mode (the default) to a mode called the Icon mode.
Linspus Lite 2.1 desktop

This is a screenshot of the desktop in the default mode.
Linspus Lite 2.1 desktop standard

And this is of the same desktop in Icon mode. The stack of widgets to the left edge of the desktop is available regardless of what mode is in use.
Linspus Lite 2.1 desktop icon mode

The top-left and bottom-left corners of the desktop are Hot Corners. When activated, the top-left corner presents an Expo view of the desktop, which shows that there are two virtual desktops or workspaces enabled out of the box.
Linspus Lite 2.1 desktop Expo view

And when activated, the bottom-left corner presents a Scale view of the current workspace. The problem with the Hot corners, is that the utility used on the Cinnamon Desktop to configure them is not in the System Settings or in the Administrative, Preferences, or System Tools menu categories.
Linspus Lite 2.1 desktop scale view

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3 Comments

  1. John says:

    I tried it out it is not bad really. My biggest complaint was lack of apps. I wanted to install wine to play a couple of games and I can’t find it in the repo and I couldn’t find a compatible version that would work.

  2. Albin says:

    Thanks for informing that Linpus is alive and well. I recall it as the Linux system installed on first generation Acer netbooks. It was such a PITA for the consumers who bought it that Acer went pure Windows after that. From the screen shots, it still looks crude.

    • finid says:

      Actually it looks a lot better than previous editions and much better than many popular distribution. It’s just the outdated software packages that’s the biggest drawback.

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