Sunday, December 14, 2014

Black Lab Linux 6.0 SR1 Released

Today we are pleased to announce the release of Black Lab Linux 6.0 SR1, which is Service Release 1.  The purpose of our service releases is to focus on security and application updates rather than new features.  Service Releases are provided every two to three months in between our 6 month release schedule.  Black Lab Linux 6.0 is based on LTS technologies so users can be rest assured that you will receive feature and functionality updates until 2017 and security updates until 2020.

With Service Release 1 we have tweaked the user experience per user and customer feedback to move from a Unity type look to a more traditional GNOME/Mate experience.  You also have all security updates from October to December 14, 2014.  These include.

Linux kernel 3.13.0-43.50
Linux kernel 3.17.6 for kernel 3.17 users
Firefox 34
Thunderbird 31.3
GNOME 3.10.4
GTK 3.10.8

All together there are about 200 updates to the  system.

Users who dont need a new ISO can simply update their systems with the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Users and new users who would like to get a new ISO can download it from our Sourceforge page, 64 bit only.

Black Lab Linux 6.0 SR1 x86_64

If you would like to support the Black Lab Linux Project you can purchase install media and preinstalled hard drives from us.  Our holiday pricing is still in effect until January 3, 2015.

Buy It Now

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why we include DWM in the Professional Desktop release

Somebody asked me recently why do we include the DWM (Dynamic Window Manager) in Black Lab Professional Desktop.

First what is DWM?  DWM is whats called a tiling Window manager.  Every app that you open creates its own tile on the screen vs creating a layered environment like XFCE, GNOME or KDE.  Tiling managers use very little RAM or resources so they dont require the overhead of traditional Window managers.  DWM uses 96mb of RAM and the cool thing is that you can launch GTK, QT and even Wine apps under it so that you can use whatever app you want and the app gets 92% of the CPU and RAM on the system to use.  So tiling window managers are great for certain functions.

When I first started working full time Linux development back in 2004 I noticed that when I went to compile a kernel or any software package that my WM would take up ALOT of RAM and system resources.  So like most developers I utilized command line only and as my responsibilities grew I had to do more.  I had to write documentation, I may want to use the web to find information or use GAIM (Pidgin) to talk to other developers.  Being a poor college student I couldnt afford two PC's at the time.  So I hunted for an extremely lightweight Window manager that I could use graphical tools, run a few apps at the same time, and still let the compiler utilize much more of my resources.  At first I used AmiWm (Amiga Window Manager) which had a  workbench type interface.  I liked it and when i didnt use GNOME or KDE, back in 2004 XFCE was not as usable as it is today.  I let AmiWm coexist with KDE 3 which i used in those days.  I always set my own machine up with AmiWm up until 2008 or 2009.  Then I switched to 9wm, which was based on the Plan 9 OS window manager.

In 2012, when we started Black Lab Linux, one of my clients had the same idea that I did because he used Black Lab on an automation computer and didnt need a full desktop environment.   So from then on I included 9wm as the alternate Window Manager until I heard of DWM and I liked it, started using it and started including it as a secondary window manager.

So what can you use DWM for?  Most of my clients use it on developers workstations or on systems where they dont want the overhead of a full fledged WM.

If you are a developer, or just curious I recommend you try it. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Specials

Today we are starting our Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials.  This sale runs Nov 24 - Dec 2

Black Lab Linux 6.0

Black Lab linux 6.0 on installable USB key, SD card or Live DVD.  $35.00 USD $25.00 USD + Shipping

Black Lab Linux 6.0 preinstalled Hard Drive SATA interface.  $99.00 USD $75.00 USD + Shipping

Black Lab Linux Boxed Set
Install Media

Preinstalled Computers

Black Lab Consumer Hardware

Black Lab Professional Hardware

Black Lab Refurbished Hardware 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Black Lab Linux 6.0 Released

Today we are pleased to announce the immediate availability of Black Lab Linux 6.  Black Lab Linux 6 is the fruit of over a year of labor and brings about many exciting new features and some big changes to the Black Lab Linux platform.  In Black Lab Linux 6 we focused on a few core improvements.  Usability, by changing to a UI that has strong features, accessibility, and speed.  We also have improved driver support and multimedia features that set Black Lab Linux apart from the rest.  Black Lab Linux 6.0 has also improved how we deliver updates to our users.  Being based on LTS technologies Black Lab Linux 6.0 is supported until April 2020.  All incremental updates will be released via apt-get.

Black Lab Linux 6 has the following new features:

Ubuntu 14.04.1 Base
GNOME 3 replaces XFCE as the default desktop
Thunderbird 31.2
Firefox 33
AppGrid - an alternative app store available for Black Lab Linux
TimeShift - A system restore feature for allowing full system backups
Linux kernel 3.13.0-37, Kernel 3.17.1 is available as an easy to install script
Steam Integration
GNOME Tweak tool integration
Arista Transcoder

Among these we have built in all security updates up to October 23, 2014.

Get it now

You can download Black Lab Linux 6 from our Sourceforge page

Download Black Lab Linux 6.0 (64 bit) ISO

If you are under bandwidth restrictions you can order a copy of Black Lab Linux on installable media or on preinstalled hard drives

Purchase Black Lab Linux 6.0

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kernel 3.17 for Black Lab Linux 5.x/6.x released

Today we are very pleased to bring you the latest stable kernel, 3.17 for users of Black Lab Linux 5.x and Black Lab Linux 6.x.  While Black Lab Linux ships with an LTS kernel by default we do provide our Kernel Enablement Kit for users that include the latest stable kernel as well as the header and source files.

Users of proprietary video card drivers and VirtualBox users will have to reinstall those drivers and applications.

So whats new with kernel 3.17?

  • Radeon R9 290 “Hawaii” GPUs finally play nicely with the open-source AMD Linux driver.
  • Microsoft Xbox One controller support.
  • Improvements to the Sony SIXAXIS support
  • Toshiba “Active Protection Sensor” Support, a driver to detect if Toshiba laptops are in a free-fall.
  • Open-source NVIDIA driver improvements.
  • DMA-BUF cross-device synchronization support
  • Broadcom BCM7XXX-based board support
  • ACPI 5.1 activity and other power management improvements.
  • Audio support includes Wildcatpoint Audio DSP on Intel Broadwell Ultrabooks.
 You can download the Kernel Enablement Kit from Sourceforge available immediately.

Kernel Enablement Kit 3.17

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 2 Released

Today we are pleased to announce the availability of Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 2.  As we march on to the release date of November 1, 2014 we have introduced a few new features for Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 2.

First, this is a build of our XFCE version.  We have modified XFCE so that it looks completely different different then what we have done with Black Lab Linux in the past.  It has a unique deskbar feature that makes the desktop more intuitutive and functional as well as the app dock at the bottom. 

The following fixes have been introduced in the new release:

1.  Fixed full screen Youtube
2.  USB drivers for Sun keyboards
3.  Erratic mouse behavior in virtual machines
4.  We fixed the installer crashes that were happening with previous releases
5.  Fixed HDMI flicker on Intel Based Macs
6.  Initial support for Steam machines

This will be the last beta before the release cadidate on Oct 15, 2014 which will be a feature complete release.

You can download the Beta from Sourceforge.  It is 64 bit only

Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 2 XFCE

If you would like to donate to the Black Lab Linux project.  You can view what we need help with at the Fall Fundraiser Page

Friday, September 19, 2014

Why we went with GNOME 3

Over the past few days since I made the announcement that we were switching to GNOME 3 as our primary user interface we have been e-mailed, called and publicly spoke against. We made this decision based on 3 very important factors. 1) XFCE development has slowed to a crawl. Its pretty much non-existant and there hasnt been a release since 2012. 2) customers and users kept telling us that they wanted certain features built in.  So we were faced with a dilemna.  Wait for the XFCE team to wake up or fork the XFCE desktop.  Now I dont like forking a project. I will do it as a last resort and when a project has been totally abandoned and when it makes sense. I dont like forking because it leads to resentment, hurt feelings and an all out internet flamewar which I have no desire to participate in. Forking also has a tendency to incorporate incompatibilities between the fork and the mother project when the mother project has not been abandoned. So I dislike forking. 3) We had to make the tough choice of either staying stagnant and falling behind or move forward.

Now we looked at several desktop environments and we had a list of 30 criteria. The top 3 on that list are the most important to us. 1) Stay compatible with the mother project. 2) Build in the features our customers and users wanted. 3) Not break everything when an update was released. The fourth one was also essential to me which was avoid Mir like the plague. Out of all the desktops we tried over the last year, there was only one that matched all 30 criteria. That was GNOME. We changed it, made it better and reduced resource consumption and the most important thing when we bolted on our changes and performed an update nothing broke. We stayed compatible with all extensions that came released for GNOME 3.

I understand as a developer that other developers dont like it when we put a bullet in the head of something you are working on. I get it, I feel your pain. But at this juncture, I had to take the leadership role and being a leader is not knowing when to say yes its knowing when to say no. And when you say no, you piss people off. They then go out and bash you in reviews they make a video or podcast and tell the world you dont know what you are doing, etc. etc. But I roll with the punches, I can take my lumps. I have been taking them for the last 8 years.

So with that said. We will do one XFCE release for the free release, in 64 bit only. The GNOME release will be the default we ship on our hardware unless otherwise notified. Enterprise users who subscribe to custom builds will continue to have XFCE as an option because at that point you pay me and I give you what you want. In education, they will continue to get XFCE as the primary because that is what they want and GNOME will be an option.

Try the Public Beta. Dont bash an idea. Try it out, if it sucks tell me why it sucks and I fix it. You may like it and you may find it needs just a few tweaks and tell me what I need to do to make it more to your liking. Feedback. An endless rant of why you dislike the idea itself doesnt help me do what needs to be done which is ... fix it. To those that dislike GNOME just in principle alone, Im sorry. but I encourage you to download the product and help us make it better. For those of you that like what we are doing and are supporting us. Thank you for the support and we thank you for your feedback.

Moving forward.