Tag Archives: Linux

Removing the Laptop for an Increase in Productivity

Anyone whose in college probably has a very strong relationship with a certain inanimate object, their laptop. You carry it to class, take it with you to your internship, use it to stream Netflix, and in general you keep it no more than a few feet away at any particular time. This was the case for me, but since then I’ve seen a certain disintermediation of the most expensive computer I’ve ever purchased, my 2008, aluminum uni-body, Macbook and it’s been a very positive change.

My primary computer is now a desktop Compaq Presario SR1150NX (circa 2003) with a 3200+ AMD Athlon Processor with 1 gigabyte of ram, a 160 gigabyte hard drive and integrated VIA graphics card running Linux Mint 12, Cinnamon desktop edition alongside the latest long term release of Ubuntu, as well as Slax 6 and 7 on separate USB drives. Any Windows applications such as Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010, I run on any Linux distribution utilizing Crossover for Linux or Wine. It’s by no means a powerhouse, but it does everything that I need it to do and it’s a testament to the value of Linux.

To get back to the point at hand, whenever I intend on doing any intensive work, such as typing anything past 500 words, I turn to my desktop. It’s a habit that really forces you to focus because unlike working on a laptop in virtually any location, the action of sitting down at a desktop flips a certain switch in your mind. It’s the same reason why people who work from home or telecommute, still get dressed up in the morning. It’s a mental cue, a heuristic.

Whenever I’m not on my desktop, I’m on my tablet. On my tablet, I’m limited in what I can do. I use to consume my news, read through e-mail, update my calendar, and to keep my contacts organized and for what it’s worth, the Blackberry Playbook is really great for those uses. Everything syncs up to Google, which syncs over to my desktop. The bottom line is that even when I travel, I don’t take my laptop with my unless there’s a specific reason why I would need it. My travel bag typically consists of my Android smartphone, my Blackberry Playbook, and a notepad. In conjunction, I also take a spare battery for my Android phone, charging cables, and video out cables. That’s it. With the Blackberry Playbook, I have Documents to Go as well as a micro HDMI cable out for displaying video on an external monitor or projector as well as Powerpoint presentations.

It’s interesting because for the longest time it’s sort of been accepted that traditional desktop computers would be replaced by laptop computers, but I predict that desktop computers will continue to thrive because of legacies, multimedia professionals, and gamers. Further, tablets will continue to take away from the share of laptop computer users. My two takeaways is, number one, that forcing yourself to use a desktop can lead you to be more focused and increase your productivity. Secondly, a fully functional tablet can lessen your travel load. Whenever possible, simplify your digital life to the bare essentials.


Slax Linux: The Pocket Operating System of 2013 (Review)



The Ultimate Portable Distribution

Slax Linux is a distribution of Linux which is created and maintained by Tomas Matejicek. I’ve posted about it before. At the moment, it is my favorite distribution of Linux and have virtually nothing, but positive things to say about it. The concept behind it is to be an extremely streamlined, but fully function Linux distribution that is meant to be run from a USB drive. It succeeds in every way. At 200+/- MB, it is one of the smallest Linux distributions out there. Sure, such distributions as Puppy Dog Linux and Slitaz are smaller in size, but they compromise a great deal in the user experience. Slax comes pre-installed with essentials such as a full KDE 4 desktop, Firefox web browser, music and media players, and modules which can be sideloaded or installed on the fly in order to provide users with extensibility. For example, you can install the ever popular Wine module in order to be able to run Windows programs. With the ability to install Microsoft Office or your favorite streaming music service, such as Spotify, Slax is an extremely compelling distribution. This is all looking past the fact that it runs from USB drive, which means that you can take your OS with you everywhere. It takes your portable files to a whole new level. Why simply take your files with you, when you can take your favorite Linux OS with you anywhere.


The Installation

As if Slax needed anymore praise, it deserves more just because the ease of the installation and this is really a testament to Tomas’ coding. Slax’s modular design makes the barrier to entry for current Linux users nil and low for Mac and Windows users. You simply have to go to Slax.org and download the zip file for your particular language installation. Slax is also available in both 32 bit and 64 bit, as well as, virtually every language from A-Z.1 The download should take only a few minutes. Once your down you’ll have a zip file. Extract the files and inside you find your Slax installation folder as well as a Text file, created by Tomas, detailing how to move the files onto your thumbdrive and, of course, make Slax (The USB drive) bootable. You simply have to take a an empty USB drive (make sure it’s formatted FAT or FAT 32) and move the Slax installation onto it. For the next step, you either have to be on Windows or Linux. You have to navigate to the bootinstall.bat file in the boot folder of your Slax installation and this will either launch the command line on Windows or the terminal in Linux and run a script that will make your USB drive bootable. That’s pretty much it. Reboot your computer and make sure to alter your BIOS in order for you to boot from the USB drive. Click through and your Slax OS will boot. With a little luck you’ll find yourself at your Slax desktop. It’s really that easy. You can install software from the Software Center which is limited right now to Linux Firmware, Chrome, Abiword, Gnumeric, and Printer Support. Updates in the future will make all modules available on Slax.org available through the Software Center. For now you just have to download a module and move it to the modules folder on your Slax USB drive. From there, it will be installed and available on your Slax desktop. I installed Wine, in order to run such applications as Microsoft Office and Spotify, and Libreoffice.

The Experience

I’ve already talked about the elegance of the coding and size of Slax, as well as, it’s portability and extensibility, but something also has to be for its adaptability. By default, Slax comes with most of KDE’s desktop effects enabled, but with a simple combination of Shift-Alt-F12 you can turn them off. Aside from this, you can go into desktop settings in order to make Slax run smoothly on whatever system your using. Depending on your CPU, ram, and video card, Slax’s performance can vary, but the fact is that it’s meant to run virtually on any system and it does. The one exception is the Mac. It’s not impossible, but needless to say, don’t expect your Slax OS to boot from the Mac OS X bootloader. All of that aside, Slax is a visually appealing OS with a small footprint, that still performs in every way. If you want to further support the Slax project, you can purchase a Kingston USB drive directly from Slax.org for $25 or more. It comes with Slax pre-installed.  Slax is freely available though directly from Slax.org for download.


1 It’s important to note that depending on the language, the size of the Slax zip install varies.

Why Every Linux User Should Check Out Slax

Why Every Linux User Should Check Out Slax

So What is Slax?

Slax is a distribution of Linux that is designed from the ground up to be a portable operating system. It is meant to be run off of a USB drive, though you can run it from a LiveCD as well as manage to get it onto a hard drive with a little bit of tinkering. The reason why a hard drive installation requires tinkering is because the creator does not include an installation tool and I think that is to is credit. Before going an further, please check out Tomas-M’s blog (http://www.tomas-m.com/blog/). He is the creator of Slax and even offers the purchase of a USB drive that will contain the next release of Slax, Slax 7 (more on that later).

You admire the coding of Slax. It’s a full KDE Linux distribution with a base image size of less than 200 MB. That is simply impressive by any standard. Though you should support Tomas-M by purchasing a USB drive, it isn’t necessary. The download and installation of Slax to a USB drive, depending on your connection speed, should take somewhere on the average of about 10-15 minutes. It’s that easy.

Another brilliant part of the coding, is that it runs completely from system ram, which makes Slax one of the speediest Linux distros I’ve tried. No, it’s not on the level of lightweight distributions such as Puppy Dog Linux or the up and coming Slitax, but given the fact that it does contain a full KDE desktop install, this should be a negligible fact. The new Slax 7 is definitely something to keep an eye out. Though the final release has yet to be announced, Tomas-M has released three different release candidates on his blog. Please check these out. They have the new KDE 4 desktop and it simply looks great. The glass interface and simplicity starts to make Mac OS X and even the classic windows desktop feel dated and sluggish. If you download the current version, Slax 6, from the website and complete the installation you’ll end up with the standard Slax desktop which looks like this:

The default wallpaper just makes you feel at home, if your a Linux user. It comes pre-installed with a lot of great software and most if not all of the KDE application suite. The other notable mention about Slax is the modular design. It simplifies the process of installing new applications. Modules can be found on the Slax website which can simply be downloaded and dropped onto the USB drive or simply through the included installer. Once again, you can see the brilliant coding behind Slax. It’s a project worth supporting and operating system worth checking out. It’s especially ideal for those who switch computers frequently in everyday life. You’re desktop, your operating system never changes. It also has obvious security advantages. Everything is stored on the USB drive and you can always encrypt your data. With excellent design, coding, lightweight-size, and full KDE desktop, Slax is a must try.


I’m giving Slax a 4.5/5. Check it out.

Slax: Pocket Linux Operating System


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