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

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.

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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.

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.

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 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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