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Mate Makes Robolinux Raptor Soar

By Jack M. Germain
Oct 14, 2015 1:29 PM PT
robolinux

Robolinux Mate Raptor v8.1 is a stunningly gorgeous and well-tuned operating system that soars with unmatched functionality. This release of the Robolinux distro line runs the newest iteration of the Gnome 2 fork desktop Mate. It is fast and slick.

The integration of Mate as a modern desktop environment is growing on me. This assessment becomes even more true with how Mate is paired with the really cool features in Robolinux.

MATE interface in RoboLinux Rapture
The Mate interface in Robolinux Raptor is easy to use and very familiar. Even the virtual desktop switcher applet is preconfigured.

Raptor is a long-term support release that will keep you flying fine until 2020. It is loaded with 12 privacy and security apps.

Robolinux Mate Raptor 8.1, released this summer, requires less memory (210 MB less) than Robolinux's Cinnamon edition. Another innovation is the custom scripts you can add to the Caja file manager to speed up productivity.

What sets this Linux distro apart from all the others is its built-in ability to run Windows XP, 7 and 10 in preinstalled virtual machines. This allows the user to install and run the Windows operating system seamlessly alongside Robolinux. This is an optional add-on that must be purchased from the project's online store.

Buying add-on services may not be valuable to individual users, but for small shops and growing small businesses, this feature can save money on IT consultants.

Robolinux remains free, but the add-on features are a monetizing mechanism to fund the open source project.

Highflying Performance

Robolinux Mate Raptor v8.1 is based on the Debian 8 stable source code using the 3.16 Linux kernel. This kernel has much better graphics quality, boots up and runs much faster than the Debian 7 versions, and is compatible with newer hardware and drivers -- most notably the Intel Haswell chipset.

Not only that, Robolinux is fueled with a supply of drivers not often available out of the box in Linux. The main menu has a separate category for drivers. All it takes is one click to install them.

The driver support raises the bar for Linux convenience and ease of use. The supply includes dozens of custom-built and printer-specific drivers, and dozens more essential video drivers for AMD ATI legacy and Nvidia proprietary and open source hardware options.

This release runs on a cadre of boxes that nearly always balk at undersupported Linux distros that failed compatibility with various Intel and BCM WiFi devices. It even has solutions for USB Prism and Ralink devices.

That said, the driver selection is not endless. Some computers with video cards manufactured prior to 2008 are not supported in the Robolinux Raptor series release. So if your hardware needs predate this offering, you will have to settle for the Robolinux series 7 operating systems, which still support these older video cards.

Powerhouse Product

As mentioned earlier, Robolinux Mate Raptor 8.1 requires less memory than Robolinux's Cinnamon edition. Earlier versions of Mate on other distros left me clamoring for my Cinnamon preference, but I found Robolinux's integration of the latest Mate variety very satisfying.

Robolinux comes with everything a user needs and then some. The menu includes a dozen specialized installers with a slew of special programs. It comes with Skype and Firefox and Google Chrome.

It is fully stocked with the LibreOffice suite. It has numerous sound and video applications, along with several mainstream graphics programs.

RoboLinux Control Center
The Mate Raptor release has a stunning collection of background images (right). The Control Center panel makes it very easy to set up Robolinux your way.

Satisfying Software

Privacy and security apps include the newest Invisible Internet Project, Tor browser, TorChat, Uncomplicated Firewall and ClamAV -- packages that typically are not provided out of the box. I usually see them in a few of the special security-enhanced Linux distributions.

Other titles provided by default installation include user applications such as Popcorn Time, Netflix, Firefox, Thunderbird and Kazam Screencaster. Plus you get Google Chrome, Google Earth, Skype, VLC, Plex Media Server, Kdenlive Video Editor and VirtualBox.

RoboLinux MATE Raptor Synaptic Package Manager
Robolinux Mate Raptor uses the Synaptic Package Manager in lieu of a distro-specific repository. It also has special package installer scripts in the main menu (left).

Special privacy features include a VPN for private Internet access with no saved log files for the NSA to snoop on. Support is attached for dozens of worldwide gateways with up to 190-Gb speeds per gateway.

More Secrecy Tools

The Invisible Internet Project is an implementation of an anonymous, decentralized network. All communications are encrypted end to end, and four layers of encryption surround the sending and receiving of messages.

RootKit Check searches the local system for signs that it is infected with a rootkit. Another preventive tool is BleachBit. It deletes unnecessary files to free valuable disk space, maintain privacy and remove junk. It removes cache, Internet history, temporary files, cookies and broken shortcuts.

Tor Anonymous Browser is a globally distributed network of relays that prevents anybody watching Internet connections from learning what sites you visit. This app prevents the visited sites from learning your physical location. A companion tool, TorChat, is a peer-to-peer instant messenger providing strong anonymity.

The Robolinux Stealth Text Vault app uses Steghide, a steganography program that hides bits of a data file in some of the least significant bits of another file, concealing the existence of the data file.

Safety Online

The accumulation of 12 privacy and security apps in one place makes this Robolinux distro worth adopting. Especially in the workplace, these features turn Robolinux into a security distro in a class of its own.

Enigmail, an OpenPGP extension for Thunderbird, allows users to access the features provided by the popular GnuPG software from within Thunderbird.

Gufw is an intuitive Linux firewall management tool. It supports common tasks such as allowing or blocking preconfigured, common peer-to-peer or individual ports. Otherwise known as the Uncomplicated Firewall, it provides a command line interface with syntax similar to OpenBSD's Packet Filter.

Clam AntiVirus is an antivirus toolkit primarily integrated with mail servers and has a bundle of tools based on libclamav6. These can be used by other software.

Also included are the KeePass password manager JonDonym, which protects privacy on the Internet through anonymous Web surfing.

Look and Feel

The desktop works much like it did in earlier Microsoft Windows iterations. The majority of stock applications are well integrated into the Robolinux desktop, giving users the impression that the system is well designed and unified.

MATE interface in RoboLinux Rapture
The Mate interface in Robolinux Raptor is easy to use and very familiar. Even the virtual desktop switcher applet is preconfigured.

One user interface feature missing from the Mate version, as well as earlier versions of Robolinux, is a quick and handy search window connected to the menu to easily find a program.

It is nice to be able to right click on a menu item to add it to the desktop or panel, but a search tool is sorely needed.

Bottom Line

Robolinux will impress both newcomers and seasoned Linux users. The Mate desktop version is an excellent starting point. Its user interface is easy and familiar.

Robolinux is an impressive traditional Linux desktop distro. It could be an ideal vehicle for both enterprises and small and home offices to make the migration to Linux.

Download Robolinux Mate Raptor here.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you'd like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

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Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him on Google+.


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