Screenfetch vs. Neofetch, You Decide!

Should you use screenFetch or Neofetch? That’s up to you to decide. This article will share some info about both of them. This should be a pretty short article.

I also confess that there’s not much of a “vs.” here. The screenFetch app hasn’t been updated in a long time and Neofetch is the clear winner for most folks. But, well, it seems like people have forgotten that screenfetch exists and that it existed well before neofetch was conceived. That’s why I’ve picked ‘History’ as one of the categories.

See, the thing is, screenfetch (I’m tired of capitalizing the F, and the N, just to be right!) still exists and still works just fine. In some cases, you might get the wrong information from it, especially with newer distros, so why use it? Well, you use it because it shouldn’t be forgotten – and ’cause it still works most of the time.

So, you decide… Screenfetch or neofetch? Or maybe both?

Screenfetch:

The screenfetch application was was created to gather system information so that it could be presented in a screenshot format. In fact, their GitHub page clearly states the purpose as:

Fetches system/theme information in terminal for Linux desktop screenshots.

Though it’s old, it’ll almost certainly be available in your default repositories. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it isn’t still useful! (Perhaps I’m having some sort of crisis, ’cause I too am old and part of the purpose of this site is to be useful!)

Assuming you’re using a distro with apt, it’s a mere install command away:

Then, well, you use it. You could just run it with ‘screenfetch’, but you can also actually use the -s switch and create a screenshot of your full screen, making it easy to take and share a picture of your desktop to show others in forums and social media sites.

This is an edited down screenshot, ’cause the rest of my desktop isn’t all that interesting right now.

screenfetch
See? Screenfetch in action. I like the ASCII art better, actually. That’s a matter of taste.

As you can see, that was with the -s switch. It happily generates a screenshot of the entire screen, but I edited it down to just the terminal. There’s nothing interesting on my screen right now. Just a bunch of open windows, largely with text in them.

Screenfetch still works, and I like the ASCII art better. I suppose I could probably customize neofetch to make it do the same thing, but I’m way too lazy for that. Either way, it works – and it works just fine. It still does the task it was designed to do, even without any recent updates.

Neofetch:

Neofetch is newer and probably better in every single way. (Though I do have some issues with it on some systems, as it won’t create its own screenshot! That’s a ‘me’ thing, I suspect.) It’s also familiar to many people, and indeed has been mentioned on this site multiple times.

It gets regular updates and has a ton of options. It’s also able to be highly customized. In pretty much every single way, it’s the superior solution. It’s described by the authors like so:

The overall purpose of Neofetch is to be used in screen-shots of your system. Neofetch shows the information other people want to see. There are other tools available for proper system statistic/diagnostics.

It’s a much newer application. Screenfetch last had a release in 2019, while neofetch had a release just last August (at the time of writing). It should be noted that there have been some commits at the screenfetch repository, but they’ve not yet been released. The project isn’t dead. It just isn’t as active as neofetch.

Again, it’s easy to install. It’s in the default repositories for most any distro out there, at least the major ones. There are some distros that include it by default, including Lubuntu! Again, assuming you’re using a distro with the apt package manager, it’s installed just like screenfetch:

And, like screenfetch, you can just run it as ‘neofetch’. However, check the man page for it and you’ll see there are a ton of other options. It’s seriously highly configurable. It looks like this:

neofetch in action
This looks a lot like screenfetch, doesn’t it? The art is different. The output is also different!

For whatever reason, on that system the neofetch doesn’t seem to want to take a screenshot. I’m probably missing scrot or something like that. I’m too lazy to figure it out, but it’ll likely work just fine on your system. It’s a great way to gather a bunch of presentable information about your system, with the end goal being to show it to other people.

So, is neofetch the one for you? Is it really any better?

Screenfetch or Neofetch:

Sure, there hasn’t been a screenfetch release in a long time – but there’s sure to be one eventually. There’s activity in the repository at GitHub. That’s usually an indicator that there’s still more to come. I wouldn’t count it out and it’s pretty much feature complete.

Neofetch? Well, it’s much newer and has more consistent releases lately. It’s also highly configurable. You’ll be able to customize it all you want. You’re encouraged to edit ~/.config/neofetch/config all you want, making neofetch your own. It’s also a mature application, with a large install base and likely also feature complete.

Either one works. They do spit out different information. If you examine both screenshots above, you’ll see the data output is different. Not gonna lie, I ain’t gotta clue why they’re different. The areas where they’re different are trivial and I’ve made no effort to find out which is correct. 

What? It’s a blog. I have finite time for these things, you know! 😊

You can decide between screenfetch or neofetch – or you can use both. They’re both very similar and neither should be used for anything all that serious. They spit out some system information in a form that’s convenient for screenshots so that you can show off your system to your forum friends.

Closure:

Here’s another article in the books. It’s not really about a ‘vs’ anything, but the title seemed appropriate. It’s a good time to expose some of the newer Linux users to the venerable screenfetch tool, as choice is always a good thing.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Finally, an Answer to What is The Best Linux Distro?

Finally, an attempt to answer to the age old question: Which Linux distro is the best?

This question has been asked time and time again and debated from the moment more than one distro existed – so, pretty much since day one. It has been so hotly debated that it has caused true animosity and people rage-quitting entire sites. Some people have high conviction that their distro of choice is the best distro!

Hint: It’s not.

I’ve been using Linux exclusively for more than a decade.
Many years ago, I used Unix extensively.
I have dozens of virtual machines of current distros.
My Linux ISO folder is 250 GB in size.
If you can name it, I’ve probably installed it and used it.

I think that makes me pretty darned qualified to finally put this question to bed.

So, what is the best Linux distro?

There isn’t one.

There is No Best Linux Distro:

The best Linux distro is the one that is best one for you. It’s the distro (perhaps even plural, ‘distros’) that suits your individual needs best. The best Linux distro the one where you’re most able to get your work done, because that’s what an operating system is for. An operating system is a tool to help you accomplish a computational goal.

The best distro the one that’s suited to your personal workflow. It’s the one that makes you the most happy, and the one that best lets you use the applications you need to use. Basically, it’s the one that works for you.

You can look up Linux distro benchmarks.
And can check their popularity.
Or you can test them out virtually online.

You can download the images and use VirtualBox to test them for longer periods. You can download the various .iso images and test them on bare metal by using them live – without making any changes to your currently installed operating system.

But, at the end of the day, nothing beats experience.

It May Take a While:

The reality is, it may take you some time to find the right distro for you. Maybe you’ll start with something easy to install and maintain, and maybe your final destination ends with Gentoo. Who knows? Only you. Only you know.

When someone attempts to tell you the best Linux distro, what they really mean is what is best for them. That may not be the best for you. It could very well be, but you won’t know until you try. You still might not know until you’ve tried many distros.

There are many things to consider. Do you want a stable release? Maybe you want a rolling release with the most up-to-date software? Or, perhaps you want to use Aptitude or Zypper, or maybe no package manager at all? Which desktop environment do you want? What default software do you want? Which window manager is right for you? Do you want a fancy desktop or just the bare minimum? How about something in between?

TIP: You can do some really refined searches at DistroWatch.

Do you want a distro that comes with just the basics so that you can add your own software? How about a distro that comes with the software you’re most likely to use? Maybe you want a specialist distro that comes with the tools you need, like Springdale Linux? Do you want to work with multimedia as a creator with Ubuntu Studio?

Then, what computer architecture are you using? Are you trying to keep your old 32 bit computer running? You can do that!

Do you want to use your SBC (Single-Board Computer) as your HTPC (Home Theater PC)? You can do that!

Do you want to set up your own router and firewall? You can do that!

Do you want to set up your own NAS (Network-Attached Storage)? You can do that!

There are unique Linux distros to do all of those things!

So Many Choices:

There are many, many choices. Odds are great that there’s a distro that’s just right for you. And, if you can’t find one that’s just right, you can make your own. On top of that, you can make pretty much any distro do the same thing that another distro does. So, you can start with one distro and turn it into whatever you want.

The choices are so many and so broad that you have practically limitless choices. That’s one of the things that makes Linux so great. You have a say in what your operating system does (and what it doesn’t) do. It’s your computer, you get to decide.

And that, that’s the answer to this age-old question. There is no right distro, there’s only the right distro for you.

Me? I’m old. I want stability and an environment that gets out of my way to let me get my work done with the smoothest possible workflow. The distro that does that is the distro that’s right for me. You do you and you decide what the best distro is for you.

Most of all, enjoy the wondrous journey of discovery, as  you too find the right Linux distro for you.  

Closure:

This article has been pulled over from the old site. It may look familiar to some of my readers. I cleaned it up and moved it, formatting it to match the current site. 

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

NOTE: This article was updated on 06/19/2021.

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Review: The SpaceFM File Manager For Linux

Let’s try something new! Let’s take a look at a different file manager for a change. Specifically, let’s look at SpaceFM, a multi-panel file manager for Linux. It’s worth looking at and has a ton of useful features.

I figured that it’d be fun to sometimes review stuff and added the category when I was building the site. I haven’t used it until now, mostly because I had more pressing things to write. Alas, I’ve committed to write articles every other day for a year (or as close to it as I can get), so I might as well try out this review thing.

On with the article!

Wikipedia has an article about file managers, because of course they do. Simply put, it’s an application that lets you more easily manage files and directories. It’s usually a graphical application these days, but that wasn’t always true. If you’re coming from a Windows background, the Windows Explorer application was a file manager.

File managers often add other features, as does SpaceFM. Not only does it have multi-panels, it also has tabs, and more! So, let’s see how this ‘review’ thing is actually going to work. It’ll probably be a little rough, as this is the first one I’ve written for the site.

Getting SpaceFM:

SpaceFM is actually the default file manager in a few (seven, it seems) distros. It’s also almost certainly possible to find SpaceFM in your default repositories. It’s literally packaged for pretty much everything. Literally! Click the link and you’ll see that your distro is probably supported and it’s already available in your package management tools. Unless you’re using a pretty obscure distro, it’s readily available.

Given that it’s so readily available, I’m surprised that so few people use it. It’s so well documented, that I really don’t need to tell you how to install it. But, for example, you’d install it like this with Ubuntu:

It’s as simple as that! Well, it should be. Just adjust that command for your distro’s package management tools and be sure to use ‘spacefm’ – and it’ll likely be there and installed without a hitch. If you don’t have it available in your default repositories, you can actually use a ‘net installer’ found here. It’s truly one of the most accessible programs I’ve ever seen. 

One of the great things about installing SpaceFM is that you’ll also get a nice GUI SpaceFM File Search application. It’s pretty self-explanatory and it looks like this:

SpaceFM Find Files
See? You can find files with it, as well! Alas, it doesn’t search *in* files.

I use that with some regularity, as I have a whole lot of files and am not the greatest at organizing them. I find it processes the search pretty quickly, though I am not sure how well it will perform on older hardware.

Why SpaceFM:

I think a picture is worth 1000 words, or that it can be. So, let me just share a picture with you and we’ll see where we are after that. Be sure to click on the picture, as it will expand to a larger image that’ll let you see more clearly.

SpaceFM in all its glory!
I realize that’s a pretty busy picture and that there’s much to digest.

As you can see, I have three different panels open. It’s possible to have up to four panels. In each of those panels, you can also have tabs. If you’re looking to manage your files in a complex fashion, this is definitely one of the best tools to do it.

Helpfully, SpaceFM describes itself as this:

SpaceFM is a multi-panel tabbed file and desktop manager for Linux with built-in VFS, udev- or HAL-based device manager, customisable menu system, and bash-GTK integration. SpaceFM aims to provide a stable, capable file manager with significant customisation capabilities.

The above reasons are all pretty good reasons to at least try SpaceFM, but there’s more! See, there are also a bunch of plugins for those people that want to extend SpaceFM even further. There are plugins for GPG, bulk-renaming, auto-mount, image tools, and more! Take a look, there are quite a few!

So, what you end up with is a complete package. I realize that many folks will prefer to keep some of those things separate (the ‘Unix philosophy’), but it really does make for a light, responsive, intuitive, and effective file management package. I’m really surprised that so few people take advantage of this.

Closure:

There’s not much more to say. It’s there. Give it a try. As this is a review, I’ll rate it a solid 9 out of 10, with one point being taken off for not having an easier way to install plugins. I’ve used it extensively and never had so much as a crash and the plugins have always worked as advertised.

As mentioned above, this is my first review for the site. I made the category at the start, without really putting any thought into what it’d look like when I wrote stuff to fit that category. I’m not terribly pleased with how this one came out, but I know that I’ll try a few more things in future reviews and they’ll improve over time.

I’ve said before that the goal is an article every other day for a year, which means I’ve got plenty of time to get better! Please leave any feedback below, as I’d like to make this a regular feature. It’d be great to expose people to some alternatives – and to learn of some alternatives along the way. There’s some great software out there that’s still relatively unknown.

As always, thanks for reading. If you want to help, you know how to do so! I’ve told you this before! You can donate, register, write an article, buy hosting, rate the article, share the article on social media, leave a comment, or sign up for the newsletter! Bandwidth is again creeping up, but it’s below my new level. Again, thanks!

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Get Some Prettified CPU Information in Your Terminal With ‘CPUFETCH’

This brief article will help you get ‘cpufetch‘ installed and running. cpufetch is like neofetch, except it’s for your CPU. It’s probably not the greatest information-gathering tool, but it is kind of neat and worth playing with for a little while.

Basically, it’s like neofetch but for your CPU. All-in-all, it’s not the most useful tool. What it is, is interesting – or at least I think so. I saw it on a Reddit post a few days ago and decided to play around with it. I liked it well enough to write this article. 

When I check the cpufetch man page, cpufetch describes itself as this:

Simple yet fancy CPU architecture fetching tool

That seems to be an accurate description and that’s good enough for me! You’re not going to be doing a whole lot with it, but it is fun to play with. It simply outputs CPU data formatted to look a lot like neofetch and that’s all it does. In fact, it outputs data that looks like this:

cpufetch in action
And, yeah, that’s all it does. Neat, huh? No? Well, I think it’s neat! Sheesh!

So, yeah, that’s all it does. As you can see, I used the -s switch with retro to change the styling. You probably won’t be too interested in anything beyond that, which is fine. After all, this article is really about just having fun.

Using cpufetch:

Well, first you’re gonna need cpufetch if you want to use it. So, you should probably do that first! There’s a chance that it’s already packaged for you, and you can check that at this link. If there’s a package for you, go ahead and install it like you normally would. Otherwise, you’re going to need to build it.

Building it isn’t too hard and I had no issues doing so a couple of times on different systems. The directions are right there on the GitHub page, but I’ll recreate them here:

You can, of course, copy the built ‘cpufetch’ file anywhere you want. You can use the following command to make it so that you can use the program from anywhere you want.

Having crammed it into /usr/bin means it’s accessible even when you’re in a different directory. You can just run ‘cpufetch’ and it’ll work.

Speaking of which, that’s all you need to do to run it. You just use:

However, you can go one step further and install it. This isn’t listed on the GitHub page, but you can actually install it to have a man page entry for it and the likes. To do that, instead of moving the cpufetch binary like above, you just tell make to install it. It looks like this:

With that command, it’ll be fully installed and run just like any other application that runs in the terminal. And, as mentioned, it even adds the man page so you can use that. That’s probably a better option than just stopping at the ‘make’ directions from GitHub.

The way the output is formatted takes up quite a bit of space, so it’s prettier if you make your terminal large enough to fit the formatted output. You can also check the man page to learn the few other options. From the few other options, I’ve decided that I prefer the retro style. To do that, it’s simply:

I found the formatting much nicer with the retro logo applied. You do you and decide which one you like best as you play with your new toy. It’s merely a matter of taste.

Closure:

And that’s it for today. You’re probably not going to need cpufetch in your day-to-day operations. In fact, there are better tools than cpufetch – and they’ll give you far more information about your CPU. In this case, I don’t think that matters. It’s just a fun way to see some of the information about your CPU in the terminal. It’s perfectly okay to just have fun!

As always, thanks for reading! Thanks for the feedback! The traffic has slowed down, which is fine by me. If you’re interested in helping, you can donate, write an article, buy cheap hosting, register to help, scroll down and vote or sign up for the newsletter down there, or you can leave feedback in the comments! Any/all of those are truly appreciated and either help keep me motivated, show me what you like, or help the site stay up and running. Until next time…

EDIT:

I found an ancient AMD box to try it on, just so I could generate the AMD graphics. It took a bit to remember I had that old computer, but it looks like this:

cpufetch with an old AMD CPU
You can click on these to make them larger and easier to read.
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Repair Your Linux Boot Process With ‘Boot-Repair’

META: Over the past few days, the site has kinda blown up. The bandwidth allotment was shattered for the month of May – in just the last few days of the month, meaning I had to upgrade my hosting account. 

Whichever of you visitors it is that has been sharing this site’s articles on Facebook and Twitter, I do appreciate it and I hope you continue doing so. The additional traffic is pretty awesome. Worst case scenario is that I’ll just keep buying more bandwidth. We’re doing okay with regards to disk space usage, but we go through bandwidth like a fat kid goes through cake! 

Now on to your regularly scheduled article!

Linux Boot:

There are any number of reasons why Linux will refuse to boot property. In most instances, you can easily fix your boot with ‘boot-repair‘. The boot-repair application is a handy, mostly automated, method to get your Linux boot-up process squared away.

It may be that you installed Linux improperly, or an update has somehow broken your boot. You could have a complicated boot process that has multiple operating systems configured and that has broken. There could be all sorts of reasons why your Linux system isn’t booting properly.

It’s for this reason that ‘boot-repair’ was created. Not only does it have an automated repair process, it has an advanced process that will let you create a diagnostics report to share with your favorite support forum, where you can get help with manually repairing your system.

Because of the many variations that are involved in the manual repair process, this article is only going to cover the automated boot-repair process. There are simply too many variables and brevity is important.

With that in mind, please continue reading…

Getting ‘boot-repair’:

The first thing you’re going to need is a Linux USB or DVD. There are a couple of ways to do this, but you probably still have the media from which you installed Linux in the first place. If you do still have that, you can just boot to the live instance.

As boot-repair isn’t necessarily installed by default, you’ll need to install it. That’s going to vary and depend on your distro, but it’s easy if you have Ubuntu or an Ubuntu derivative. Just use your keyboard to open a terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to add the ‘yannubuntu/boot-repair’ repository, like so:

If you’re using a modern version of Ubuntu, it will add the repository and then automatically update the database of available software. If you’re not, or if you want to be extra careful, you can simply update it yourself with:

Next, you’ll install ‘boot-repair’. Seeing as you’re already there in the terminal, let’s go ahead and do it there:

Now that you have it installed, you can go ahead and open it from the menu.

Or Use the ‘Boot-Repair-Disk’:

If you don’t have any live Linux media kicking around, you can actually download a special distro that will get you sorted out. There’s a basic ‘boot-repair’ image that you can download from Sourceforge and you can use that instead.

If you’d like to download the ‘boot-repair-disk’, you can do so at this link. It’s a small distro that’s based on Lubuntu and has the tool you need for this. It also contains ‘OS-uninstaller‘ which, while interesting and handy, is beyond the scope of this article.

Once you’ve downloaded it and written it to USB or DVD (it’s just a whisker too large to fit on a CD as of the time of this writing), you can just boot to it and proceed from there. If you’re curious, it will look a little like this once you’ve booted and opened the ‘boot-repair’ application:

boot-repair-disk
That’s boot-repair-disk in action. You can use this instead of your regular distro.

Repairing Your Boot:

At this point, you have booted into a live instance of Linux and you’re ready to repair your broken boot. You can just open ‘Boot Repair’ from the application menu.

Once you do that, it will take a moment to collect information about your system. This is important, as it will use that information to repair your boot. As I mentioned up above, there’s too many variables to cover with the advanced options and there’s already a solution in place for that.

So, the simple thing you now do is use the automatic boot-repair and hope that it works. It usually does the trick and it’s pretty obvious how you do it. Still, have an image, just in case.

boot-repair in action
Just click the button! It should do the trick – most of the time.

All you need to do is push the button. Once you’ve done that, just go ahead and reboot. When you’re prompted, remove the installation media and let the reboot finish. The very next boot should be fine, as boot-repair will have done its job.

If it is not fixed, then you have a bigger problem than can be resolved automatically. In that case, click the bottom-most button and share the resulting report with your favorite support forum. Many Linux support forums have people who are used to seeing the output of boot-repair and they’ll get you sorted. If not, anyone at your favorite forum may still be able to read the information and help you get your Linux boot repaired properly.

Closure:

That’s it, really. This article only covers the automated repair. If it’s more complicated than that, it’s more complicated than a blog post and you’ll need assistance from someone who is familiar with how Linux boots.

As always, thanks for reading. Your readership and feedback make this task all the more enjoyable. If you feel like you can help, or that you want to help, just let me know and I’ll be able to find something for you to do.

Like normal, you can donate, sign up for the newsletter below, share the article on social media, leave a comment, register to help, or even write your own article. It’d also be pretty great if you unblocked the ads so that the site has a chance of making some revenue! If you have any questions, just contact me.

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