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Pinguy OS 10.10.1 quick review – even more mainstream than Mint?

by Russell Barnes

Pinguy OS 10.10.1 offers an optimised build of Ubuntu with an even greater focus on ease of use and functionality for the home user. Russell Barnes takes it out for a quick spin to see how it performs…

This article originally appeared in issue 96 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Pinguy OS 10.10.1 quick review - even more mainstream than Mint? Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

Pros: Pinguy’s maker has scoured the open source world to find amazing apps and tweaks. It’s one of the sexiest and most functional desktops we’ve seen
Cons: The desktop and application drop-downs are ultra busy, which risks confounding the less tech-savvy user. The ISO is well over 1GB
Homepage: Pinguy OS

Pinguy OS 10.10.1’s developers clearly set out with the goal of finishing what Ubuntu started in respect of a highly polished and usable desktop, but it’s also something of a case study into the average home user. On the project’s homepage the creator mentions listening to friends and family to note what they use their computers for, in an effort to track down the perfect combination of pre-installed apps to best suit their needs.

Pinguy OS 10.10.1 quick review - even more mainstream than Mint?

We’re pleased with the findings too. The iPod generation is catered for with gtkpod out of the box for easy music, video and picture syncing, and mvPod takes care of video conversions. Facebook and social networking addicts will be pleased to see Shotwell – also now the default image app in Ubuntu  – making it easy to get your pictures out to the wider world without too much fuss. With codecs pre-installed too, Pinguy does essentially everything Mint offers, but in a considerably sexier package.

Those looking for bling will be pleased to see the likes of Docky and GNOME Do are installed by default, with the luscious Apple-esque app-launching bottom bar also complemented by a vertically standing sidebar complete with shortcuts to storage locations. The desktop itself is largely clean apart from an attractive translucent system monitor reporting all manner of storage, networking and processing details on the right.

Pinguy OS 10.10.1 quick review - even more mainstream than Mint?
Updates are handled by the streamlined and usable MintUpdate and networking is pre-configured with Samba, requiring little more than a right click on a folder to share

While additions like shortcuts to the system monitor, Granola, GNOME Do and much more in the top panel are welcome, this combined with the desktop system monitor makes the desktop appear quite busy – surely not the most appealing prospect for the average user. For the general Linux geek, though, it’s a great way of getting all the best desktop effects and functionality without the manual chore of setup itself.

The default software selection is very sensible, with the likes of Firefox, Thunderbird, VLC and Rhythmbox taking care of the essentials. Elsewhere, Handbrake, OpenShot and even Wine are all in attendance. Another thoughtful touch on the part of the development team is that file types have been married to suitable applications, meaning there’s no more re-associating ISOs with burning apps and so forth. If nothing else it’s one less stumbling block for the home user to trip over.

Pinguy OS 10.10.1 quick review - even more mainstream than Mint?
Pinguy OS even supports UPnP support courtesy of pms-linux, allowing you to share local files with compatible players and games consoles with next to no fuss

Verdict: 4/5
Pinguy OS really leaves no stone unturned for the average home user, though it occasionally falls foul of the pitfalls of putting too much on your plate. That said, the apps are well chosen, thoughtful touches like file type association and behind-the-scenes fixes are all very welcome. We look forward to what the next next version might bring.

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    • macias

      Any not rolling release is a no-go. I don’t know what the developers are thinking, but I feel pity for anybody who has nothing better to do than upgrading entire system every 6-8 months.

      Linux (operating system) is a tool. If you have to upgrade every bit of your tool so frequently than maybe this is not a good tool at all? Fortunatelly at last (XXI century!), rolling release distros are becoming mainstream — there is no longer a need for forced upgrade.

    • eselma

      I am not using any *ubuntu derivative anymore for this reason. Now (after Mandriva and Kubuntu) I am using SimplyMEPIS. Yes, the last stable release was back at 209, and now MEPIS 11 is in beta stage. As Debian, rock solid and stable, but with ease of use as well. During all this time, I get periodical updates to included (or backported) software, including the kernel if necessary.

      I think this is a good compromise between “bleeding edge” and “stable for servers”

    • Ken

      Looks very cool, I’m gonna try it.

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    • Jingaling

      @Macias – PinguyOS is a rolling release distro. The developer cycles the releases in line with that of Ubuntu and released a new version every 6 months around 2 months after the equivalent Ubuntu release.

      Having used both Ubuntu and PinguyOS long term, I have to say that PinguyOS takes the best of multiple distros and combines them to make an excellent linux distro to rival any MS or Mac installation any day of the week.

    • wcarter4

      @Jingaling Ubuntu and Pinguy are NOT rolling releases. They are so called stable release distros which build and a new release every 6 months and a LTS every 18 months. Their upgrades are minimal. A rolling release is a “snapshot” release every few days to a week. Anything and everything can change in those.

      As for Pinguy, I don’t know why so many people are giving it fanboy reviews except that they are either a: the same person working on behalf of its developer or b: don’t actually try to install it at all and don’t use the thing in live mode for more than a few seconds.

      Yes it has a lot of shiny stuff. Too much shiny stuff. I installed it and tried to run it for a few days. I didn’t have to spend hours adding anything that’s true. I did have to spend hours uninstalling repetitive applications or apps with broken dependencies (I think the developer is a newbie at large scale compiling, but in his defense there is so MUCH stuff anyone was bound to miss something). Worse though was the things that I could not change. That stupid system monitor kills half your screen space and getting rid of it is not something a newbie could EVER figure out how to do without having to go through more trouble than it would have been to simply run Linux Mint.
      It’s slow, it has an ungodly huge footprint on the hard drive, it doesn’t adhere to root best-practices (though neither does Mint) and it runs the risk of overwhelming a new user with to much stuff causing them to run back to the “safer” Windows.

      If you want an easy to use out of the box for anything distro try Linux Mint. For anything else go with another flavor.

    • Isthmus

      Pinguy is a one man show. The developer is a gem of a guy, but the staff that runs his forums are dicks. Sadly Pinguy is one of these distros that takes ubuntu, throws everything but the kitchen sink in it (how many applications does a distro need to have preloaded for doing the same thing?), hands it to the User preconfigured and then says gets passed off as beingthe latest and greatest thing. In reality it’s a mildly gussied up version of Ubuntu and it’s only real benefit is that if you like this configuration, or something close to it, using Pinguy will save you an afternoon of modifying Ubuntu how you want it (then again, you might have to spend some time getting rid of some of the choices Pinguy makes as well).

      The big claim here is that everything works right out of the box, which is largely true. However that is mainly because if Ubuntu. another big plus that Pinguy gets a lot of props for is the use of Mint tools. I agree, they are awesome, but again they were developed by Linux mint and Mint’s integration is far better executed and much much deeper.

      I like what Pinguy is attempting to do, but it is still rather rough around the edges. Personally I think Mint is a FAR better OS, is truly original and really does improve on ubuntu. If you want a much better integrated version of Pinguy without all the added bloat ware, just use Mint, add the global menu package and add the dock of your choice.

      That and the Mint community is actually friendly and very helpful.

    • joelinux

      I’ve been using various flavors of Linux for the past 5 years. I’ve used Mandrake, Suse, PcLinos, Ubuntu, Kbuntu, Mint and a few others. Pinguy OS is the one I am using now and it is the best one I have come across to date.

      Hey, it’s not perfect but WHO and WHAT is.

      Hat’s off to the developer. Keep it coming.

    • Tertitten

      Personally I think Pinguy is one of the worst linux distributions I have tried in a long time….
      First of all, it’s lodad with crapware; yes crapware in form of all the firefox extensions that are preloaded that ether tries to get you to buy something or to add other extensions that you don’t really need, the definition of crapware in other words..
      Second: The installation got borked after installing nvidia drivers from jockey-gtk, I was able to solve it pretty quickly as I know what to do when problems like this occur, but as it also happened on my girfriends laptop wich is a completely different computer I would hardly call Pinguy userfriendly..

      Third: This distribution doesen’t fit well for notebooks at all, the screen is cluttered with the huge Docky (docky sucks compared to other options btw) and basically it takes of to much of the screen, OK one can use intellihide, however I don’t think it’s very userfriendly.

      The art is pretty decent though, and it is obvious that Pinguy can become a real option sometime in the future, but as it is today I would not reccomend it to anyone.
      Mint is still a better option..

    • wcarter4

      There is one other thing I forgot to mention. Did anyone else notice how many 3rd party repositories are enabled by default?
      It’s one thing to want all your apps up to date, but with so MUCH stuff piled on to this distro, having things constantly update from so many different sources is guaranteed to break something’s functionality eventually.
      That’s not even going into the potential security risks, although admittedly, they aren’t quite as bad as they would be on say Windows or Apple.

    • After releasing my own Ubuntu derived distro iGolaware Linux 2.0. I gave Pinguy a try in a VM. I think this developer has put in some great work in his remix (although it feels very minty), and addressed some failings in Ubuntu itself. But where I think he has missed the point, is to address what the user at home REALLY wants. That is a stable fast PC, packed with apps what the average home user (Mom, Dad, Kids) need or want which will run “out of the box”. I’m not patting myself on the back, but I do think I have done a better job at that (and judging by my download logs, thousands worldwide agree with me). Just check out the revue I got from Ow and I didn’t even mention the live CD experience.

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    • Ariya

      Actually, none of these are operating systems, but distributions of one’s own and other people’s software. Even the new Debian 6 is a distro, rather than an operating system. The question is which one could be an operating system with GNU/Linux?

      The bloated in GBs, Windows 7 too is really a minimalistic operating system, or a bit of a distro too. We have to buy other software to use. So, if Linux also has a operating system with a decent GUI, and that operating system directs us to a place where we can download the software we really need, then such a GNU/Linux operating system would appeal to the end-user, also to mom, dad and grandparents too.

      The problem in the Linux world is the “geekiness” and the inability to get out of that status of mind. All the ‘developers’, including the 29,000 packages owner-Debian should relax and understand that! What the use of having 29,000 packages, if 29,000 people won’t use it, for example?

      All these say, we have 29,000, we have more than 20,000, we have the best 15,000 packages, etc, etc, but what the use, if the owners or whatever of these packages won’t come out from their shell and give a end-user a chance to use at least few of those packages, without thinking of some ‘additional’ problems?

      Pinguy OS, hmmm, actually a distro appeared to be good, but is full of crapware, just like some of the mainstream distro (OS?) makers! Won’t be using it, because if I want a dock, I’d simply download it…

    • john

      I think people are being a teensy bit unfair. This is rather a good respin of Ubuntu, coming with a very great deal of what many people would want. I installed it and removed a lot of the biing. I don’t much care for docks, but that’s nothing more or less than a meaningless matter of taste, since they’re easily removed. My principle point, though, is that one simply subtracts from this distro to achieve what one wants and requires, whereas with Ubuntu one must add and add.

      I believe that for a young and little known distro, this is a fine effort. I’ve since added Firefox 4 and traded OpenOffice for LibreOffice.

      I’m something of a MInt fan, but I do think this gives it a good run for its money in terms of usability, though there clearly is nothing like the same degree of development going on here. That said, I was moved to try this after being unable to get Supertuxkart and glchess working on the recent XFCE Debian edition release. I even tried installing the Gnome desktop, which worked fine, but not so the aforementioned programs. They work well on Pinguy – as, of course, they also did on the main edition of Mint. What’s our common denominator? Ah, yes, Ubuntu.

      I think the moral of the story might be that Ubuntu, despite the controversies and occasionally dubious decisions, is doing something right, and has contributed a great deal to the Linux world.

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