Arch-based Bluestar Linux Makes Plasma 5 Usable
Last week I mentioned that I liked Bluestar Linux very much and was probably going to go ahead and take the leap to it and Plasma 5. I had been testing Plasma 5 on various distributions in 2016 with poor results until I tested Arch-based Bluestar 4.8.13. Preliminary tests indicated it might be possible to migrate. So, I learned a bit more about Bluestar this passed weekend and thought I'd share. I've also rounded up the best Linux tidbits from today's headlines as well.
First up, yes there is a graphical package manager. PacmanXG to be exact. I'd run into PacmanXG a few times over the years, but it appears it too has matured and seems to work rather well. The sort by groups could be better, but otherwise it's quite capable complete with history, log, and the command-line outputs. Updates come fairly routinely in Bluestar, although most are from Arch. I've been applying the recommended updates without any negative side-effects as of yet.
PacmanXG Package Manager
Secondly, I've had to break down and learn some systemd. I almost feel like I need a shower, but... just kidding. I'm becoming well acquainted with Arch's Basic Systemd Usage wiki page. I was able to make a couple new unit files, one to start a basic firewall, but I can't get xscreensaver to start automatically behind the scenes. I'm still working on that (cause KDE decided no one needs screensavers anymore). Systemd thinks it's started and reports as much, but no screensaver until I start it manually. Additionally, at least this implementation has a rc-local service unit which starts /etc/rc.local. I don't know if that's standard, but it may prove useful. These are my first baby-steps trying to learn how to use systemd. I still think it's trying to do too much, but at least it's becoming customizable/usable. Thanks to the Arch wiki writers for their work.
As stated last week, I did change the default desktop a bit. At first I moved the default Cairo dock to the top and put a standard KDE panel at the bottom. Then when I wanted to test sans compositing, it had to go. Cairo dock always seemed a bit shaky and I didn't really like using it. The only thing I ever did with it was move my cursor over the icons so they'd do their little zooming effect anyway. Its menu wasn't as usable as KDE's either. So off with its head.
I finally moved into Plasma 5 Kontact. It was a bit buggy and unnerving importing and such (since we can't just cp directories anymore). I kept having to close the application after every import so the messages would be usable. Nevertheless, I got them all imported and am pulling in new ones. I'm not sure I like some of visual "improvements," and most have no configuration. I fiddled around with Konqueror trying to get it to work as I like, but alas, I admit defeat and put it back as delivered. Surprizingly, embedded videos work fairly well.
Another obstacle was the loss of Kdict. How was I going to live without Kdict? I used it constantly, and not just for work but as my all around dictionary. Do I have to dust off the old paperback Webster's? Well, no, I didn't have to resort to that as Xfce provides a nice little dictionary app that is quite usable. There are several dictionary apps out there, but most just left me wanting (and, at times, confused). But Xfce Dictionary is an acceptable replacement even if not visually integrated well.
In summary, Bluestar is a great shortcut to Arch and I like it a lot, obviously. The Arch/Bluestar Plasma 5.8.5 has helped me to make the transition to Plasma 5. After six months, I bid a fond adieu to my beloved Slackware. I will be sure to keep an eye on the project and bet I will be using it again next release.
As an aside, I did test OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 and its KDE Plasma never would finish loading. It seemed hung, but not completely locked up. I didn't really go much further with that. Mageia 5.1 is still on KDE 4, so I just looked around a bit and decided to wait for 6.0. I also tested a recent Sabayon release (a week or so ago), and its Plasma 5 was still unstable/unusable for me, as was Mint 18's a month or two ago. I don't know what Arch & Bluestar have done to theirs, but I guess I'm home for a while.
In other Linux news:
* LinuxBSDos.com had better luck with OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 than I, but not much.
* Jesse Smith looked at some of the smallest Linux distros like SliTaz, Tiny Core, and RancherOS.