Stuff

We are officially taking part in #NaNoWriMo 2013!

Now, before people jump on me and scream “Why would I care about you doing NaNoWriMo?  Where is the Simplicity 14.1 Alpha?” – we’re working on it.  But we love books, and we love writing, so NaNoWriMo is perfect for us, and the fact that it supports literacy charities appeals to us.

So, we have come to a decision.  NaNoWriMo is hard.  Writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days was never going to be a walk in the park, but you often get distracted by “stuff” online.  So we created a stripped down version of Simplicity 14.1 Desktop Alpha specifically designed for NaNoWriMo participants.  It has a browser, a link to the Write Or Die Web App (scary but amazingly useful), a link to the NaNoWriMo site, and LibreOffice.  It also features a calendar wallpaper to help you stay motivated during the 30 days.  And that’s it.  It’s designed to be an environment to help you win, rather than anything else.

All we are asking for in return for this software is a donation, however big or small on our official StayClassy page – the money goes straight to NaNoWriMo, and we do not get a cent.  We’re not claiming this version is amazing, or groundbreaking, but it might just give you that push you need to win NaNoWrimo.  At the very least, it will give you a distraction free writing environment.

We will post the ISO tomorrow, just in time for you to download and pop onto a USB key for NaNoWriMo.  And good luck to anyone else taking part in NaNo!

100th post and musings after the #Oggcamp party

So, just had a lovely evening at the Oggcamp party, spending a couple of hours with Phillip Newborough, and his wife and stepdaughter.  Obviously I knew Phillip because of Crunchbang, but I’d never spoken to him.  Lovely guy and lovely family.  It’s one of the reasons I go to Oggcamp.  There are giants in the Open Source field there who you can approach and talk to.  Try doing that in the Closed Source world with folks from Apple or Microsoft.

But, when I got in I was looking over stats (I’m a geek, I like numbers and pretty, pretty graphs!), and saw that 50% of the downloads from the last 3 days have been Linux users.  That is a shift, because almost every release until now, the majority of downloaders have been Windows users.  I even wrote a post about it here at the beginning of the year.  This time however, 50% of the downloaders are Linux users.  So, that must mean a couple of things

1) People using other Linux distros are trying Simplicity and
2) People using Simplicity are staying with Simplicity

For those thinking I am getting big headed, you have me wrong.  I’ve never been in this for money or notoriety. I like Open Source.  I like Puppy.  I just think with a bit of polish, Puppy can look better and be more appealing.  The cartoony look and single click didn’t appeal to me.  But that is part of the Open Source ethos, if you don’t like something, make it the way you want it to be.   I’m just glad that I can call myself an Open Source developer and be a part of this incredible community.

We are at #Oggcamp

Being massive fans of the open source community, we are at Oggcamp!  We arrived yesterday a bit soggy in Liverpool and decamped to our apartment about 15 minutes walk from the event before heading off to explore Liverpool and then go party with a lot of geeks at the launch party.

So, if you’re at Oggcamp and you want to say hi, come find us.  We’ll be the ones walking around in the Simplicity Linux t-shirts and hoodies.  You can come talk to us and although we can’t promise to be able to fix any problems you may have with Simplicity, we can give it a try!

Plus we have a netbook running a very, very rough version of Simplicity Linux 14.1 if you want to see how all that is taking shape!  And if you’re at the Oggcamp party tonight, we’d love to chat with you about anything!  We’re quite friendly and we don’t bite, so come over and say hi!

Simplicity Desktop 13.10 pre-alpha screenshot

It hasn’t been a week since we released Simplicity 13.7, and Simplicity 13.10 Alpha is already starting to take shape!  We’re planning to release Simplicity Alpha 13.10 on 26th August, but for now, we have a screenshot of Simplicity Desktop 13.10.

image-1Click to see a larger image

We think a lot of people are going to be surprised when Desktop launches, because it’s defiantly has a few tricks up it’s sleeve!  For a start, there is no browser.  For a long time we’ve heard people asking for Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Iron, etc.  We’re not about bloat, so we’re not going to include every browser people ask for.  Instead, we’re using Quickpet, so you can just pick which browser you want.  Secondly, Tor is integrated into Simplicity Desktop.  It runs on boot silently in the background.  If you don’t want to use it, don’t.  If you do, just set your SOCKS proxy to 127.0.0.1 and port 9050 and you’re good to go.  We’re including this because we know some people are worried about three letter organisations spying on what they do online.

But the biggest surprise you might find is the size.  We’re expecting it to get a little bigger (not everything has been added), but right now the pre-alpha is 260.7mb.  Including LibreOffice 4.02.  And Dropbox.  And LXDE.

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As we said, it’s not finished.  We’ve got to add some eye candy, an online games store, and fix a few bugs.  But right now, we think it’s looking really good.

Replying to the critics

So, I stumbled upon this on the Puppy Linux forums: http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=87159.

Let me set a few things straight.  I did not pay to be on Distrowatch.  I waited 4 years to get onto Distrowatch.  I am not a member of the Puppy Linux forums, active or otherwise.  I am not affiliated with the LXPup project – I mention them heavily on this site because I was using LXPup as a base for Simplicity Linux because they had a very good implementation of LXDE and I felt that crediting them for the awesome work they did was the right thing to do.

I also want to point out that Sneekylinux plays no part in Simplicity Linux’s development.  We are friends.  He reviews us, that’s it.

The reason I am not part of the Puppy Linux Forums is because when I started, I saw a lot of fighting amongst developers.  I see little has changed.

And to those who are upset that I used their distro as a basis for Simplicity, yes I take other distros and do things with them.  It’s what happens.  Mint is based on Ubuntu.  Ubuntu is/was based on Debian.  Right now, Simplicity 13.10 will be based on Raring Puppy.  Simplicity 13.7 was based on LXPup, and before that we used Carolina and Saluki for a long time.  And if I was making revenue, I would share it with the original distro developers.  But since I don’t, I can’t.

Simplicity Linux 13.10: The journey starts here

So, we released Simplicity Linux 13.7 yesterday, which means today the work on Simplicity 13.10 starts in earnest.  We’ve made rough base image using Slacko 5.5.71 and LXPup by SFS.  We also tweaked the UI fonts and look quite a lot, replaced Firefox 17 ESR with Firefox Aurora 24 and made a few changes to Firefox’s UI too.  Nothing too major or drastic, but enough to make it now look less like a Fisher Price Linux and something more professional.

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There is still a lot of work to do on it to make it the Linux distro we want it to be.  But this is a start.  And for those wondering, no, the base image won’t be released.  However, you’ve got just over a month to wait until we release the Alpha.

Simplicity Linux’s views on Ubuntu Edge

First up, we love Open Source.  We love Linux.  We work on an Open Source Linux project, so of course we do.  But I don’t like the Ubuntu Edge.  We have thought about releasing our own hardware too.  Right up to the point of sourcing a manufacturer.  But in the end we abandoned those ideas because we didn’t think we could make it as good as we would want an Linux device to be.

And that is the problem.  I don’t personally think that the Ubuntu Edge is that good.  I don’t think it looks good, I think the corner buttons will grow to be a pain in the ass if you want to do anything.  Just think how annoying the volume buttons can be on the sides of a phone.  I think that the UI is more style than substance.  And I have been following the software development of this device.  The apps they hail as amazing progress are things like Sudoku and silly little touch games.  They were hailing it as a great thing that it had a stock tracker.  I have never used a stock tracker on a smartphone, and I have been using smartphones for 10 years.

The other issue I have is the price.  $600 today is a lot of money.  $830 is a massive amount.  And for a phone?  Really?  Yes, maybe in the UK we’re too used to subsidised phones.  But $830 as of tomorrow is too much for a mobile phone.  And please don’t give me “But it’s a convergence device!”  Bull.  Doing meaningful work on a tablet is bad enough.  But on a phone?  I’ve never thought full Linux on a mobile was a good idea.  Maybe on a 10″ tablet.  Definetly on a netbook.  But a phone is just too small.

Speaking of the phone itself, I don’t love the way it looks.  It looks like a fat iPhone with it’s legs cut off.  Honestly, I truly believe my Sony Xperia Tipo looks better than that phone.  And probably thinner too.

And this is not sour grapes.  I personally just think that the phone and the software on it isn’t as good as the hype.  If it was, I’d be tempted.  As it is, I’m not even the slightest bit tempted.  Not even if it came out on say £30 a month with a ton of data.

A word on Windows vs Linux

So, about a week ago I bought a Fitbit.  I eat too much junk food, and despite being quite active, I am fat.  But what does that have to do with Window v Linux?  Well, there is no client for the 2nd generation Fitbit devices.  And I have one of those.  So, I’ve had to dig out an old Windows Vista laptop which dual boots Ubuntu.

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed about Simplicity on this machine vs Windows on this machine.

  • Youtube will not full screen in Windows.  It does on Simplicity
  • Windows takes a LONG time to be ready to use.  Simplicity doesn’t.
  • Videos are jerky on Windows.  They don’t “judder” on Simplicity.
  • Chrome takes a while to open on Windows.  It takes a second or two on Simplicity.
  • System Info takes a long time to show me anything.  Hardinfo takes hardly any time.

That might not be big for some people.  But I use Youtify a lot, so if Youtube is performing badly, then I can’t enjoy my music so well.  I also watch videos like SneekyLinux, PewDiePie,  Marble Hornets, and My Drunk Kitchen.  Plus the live shows of Linux Outlaws.  I don’t want my system to be ready to use in 5 minutes.  I want it ready to use when it has booted.  Simplicity gives me these things.

Having had to use Windows occasionally for a week – I now remember why I moved to Linux.  Because it was this laptop with Vista that made me move from Windows to Linux.

What can you run Simplicity #Linux on?

I’ve seen searches have been performed on Google for what are the minimum specs for Simplicity Linux.  We have a Dell Mini 9 which has an Intel Atom N270 / 1.6ghz processor with 1gb RAM.  We run Simplicity 13.7 Obsidian on that with great results.  It’s fast, stable, and we can do all the online things we need to do on the road.

Then we have a couple of test machines that we run Desktop on.  They 1.73ghz Pentium dual core machines with 1gb RAM.  They run Desktop pretty well.  They’re not the fastest in the world, but they’re enough for browsing, working on a few bits and pieces, etc.  They run a lot cooler than our production machine, and given that it’s been in the mid 20s for a month (give or take a week) this summer in the UK, we’ve been using them.

The production machine uses whatever we’re working on via USB.  It’s a dual core 2.73ghz machine with 4gb RAM.  It handles whatever we throw at it, and it’s used for making Simplicity.  It gets used for movies, powering the launch parties we hold amongst the team, we take it on the road with us to conferences, and many other use cases inbetween!

As for minimum specs, we’re not sure.  We know Desktop runs relatively slowly on the Dell Mini 9, and we know that on our ancient 800mhz machine with 512mb RAM, pretty much nothing but Obsidian runs, and even that struggles because Firefox is just too much for it.  Although Midori does make it barely useable (if you don’t want to watch videos etc).

We hope that helps those looking for specs!  And one other thing – as yet Simplicity doesn’t work on any other processor except x86 or 64 bit machines.  We’re working on a respin for the Raspberry Pi and possibly other architectures, but until then, it’s just regular PCs.  When more architectures are available for use with Simplicity Linux, we’ll let you know; because we want the most people possible to be able to use Simplicity!

Simplicity Linux release date brought forward!

There’s a shocking headline to see from a distro :p  Because of work commitments and the real world being dull and boring, we’re bringing the release date of Simplicity Linux forward to 25th July.  So, you only have to wait 12 short days and the new release versions of Simplicity Obsidian, Desktop and Media will be out.  We have quite a few kinks to work out in Media, but we’re pretty much there with Obsidian and Desktop.  We’re resting Netbook this release because we think it’s very similar to Obsidian, and once you’re using Obsidian, you can put all your favourite cloud based apps in speed dial in Firefox.  Or Chrome if you want to use Chrome!

We are really looking forward to delivering something amazing to you, we hope you all enjoy it as much as the recent buzz around Simplicity suggests you all are!