23 May 2015

MinistryUSE OS2 Xfce "Covenant"

Towards the end of April, I tried installing MinistryUSE, and then ChristOS on my laptop.  Neither of them would install. One of them decided that despite having both an open, active ethernet connection, and open, active, wireless connection to the Internet, my laptop was not connected to the Internet. The other one didn't just plain didn't like my hardware.

I hate updates to GRUB. I despise them.  Anything else in a distro can be updated, but GRUB.  I have never seen a GRUB update, that has not required me to do a clean install of the OS.  Within ten days of installing Xubuntu 14.4, there was an update to GRUB.  And, as expected, it trashed my setup.

That is when I started the test of the 8 May 2015 release of MinistryUSE OS2 Xfce (http://ministryuseos.weebly.com/).

If it didn't take me 40+ hours to configure Thunderbird, I'd update to the final version, which was released on 17 May 2015.

Unlike previous versions, this re-spin is based upon Makulu Linux, rather than OpenSuse.  You can explore the Makulu Linux home site at http://makululinux.com/home/ , or read a more objective description at http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=makulu.

This is the default MinistryUSE wallpaper. 



Other than shipping with e-Sword installed, and Christian orientated wallpaper, there isn't much difference between MinistryOS, and Makulu, and stock Xubuntu.

Changing wallpaper is as simple as a right click anywhere on the desktop, then sliding the mouse to "Desktop Settings", and selecting the new wallpaper.

I changed the wallpaper on my desktop to this:


Biblical Software

The first time I successfully installed MinistryOS, e-Sword was not properly installed, and my attempts to re-install it failed.  The second time I installed MinistryOS, e-Sword installed correctly, as part of the distro.

I successfully installed a couple of programs for Windows, without having to configure WINE, WineTricks, or PlayOnLinux. Not having to change anything in WINE, for things to install successfully, is a real pleasure.
(This means that there is at least one Bible Study Program that meets the criteria of The 2009 SBL Bible Software Shootout, that successfully runs on this distro.)

For licensing reasons, TheWord is no longer included in MinistryOS.

The first two or three releases of Ubuntu Christian Edition (UCE) included e-Sword. It had to be removed, for licensing reasons. The solution UCE came up with, was script that downloads, and automatically installs e-Sword. Maybe MinistryOS uses the same thing. Worst case scenario is that MinistryOS includes a script that installs TheWord.

I ended up installing Wide Margin, KJV Bible, and Bible Edit GTK. I'm working on translating the Bible, and use Bible Edit for that.  (I'd rather use BibleStudy 2009, but it doesn't run under WINE.)

Wide Margin and KJV Bible are basic Bible programs. Their only virtue is that opening them, displays the KJV. Something that is useful, when following the reasoning in essays such as that describing Simon Magus in the Petrine and Pauline Epistles.

One caveat. Under no circumstances remove the e-Sword icon, on the vertical toolbar.  e-Sword will not start from the command line, nor from clicking open with WINE, when in your file manager.

Office Suite

The default office suite for Makulu Linux is WPS Office. This office suite does not support ISO/IEC 26300:2006/AMD 1:2012 file formats.  It claims to support MSO File Formats. Whilst it could open both Excel spreadsheets I have, (^1) it could not perform any of the calculations on those spreadsheets.  I don't have any MS Word documents, so I don't know how well it handles that file format.

Fortunately, installing Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and EuroOffice is a breeze.  I grabbed the DEBs from the developers' website, threw them all in the same directory, including moving the files in desktop_integration into that directory, and then ran sudo dpkg -i *.deb. It took me around forty minutes to download, and install all three office suites. 

Annoyances.

To install Makulu Linux, one needs to know the correct password.
Then, during the installation process, it asks for the password of MinistryOS.  This is a different password. 

Secondly, MinistryOS creates an administrator account called MinistryOS.  I deleted the account. Had "Guest" status been available, I would have switched it to that, and changed the password.  (I wonder how many people do not realize that there is a MinistryOS administrator account, and proceed to neither delete it, nor change the password.  To me, this is a huge security flaw. Almost as big as the one at a company I worked at, where the password for root, was "root".  (I wish I could say I was joking, but in all the time I worked at that company, the password was not changed.)

Thirdly, SystemD is used. Inasmuch as all flavours of Ubuntu have switched to that, it can be expected. My issue with SystemD is that it gets into too many things, so that when the Zero Day Exploits are widely distributed in the wild, fixing the flaws means switching to one of the BSD variants.

Fourthly, software designed for the Windows operating system, will not, when installed under WINE, create icons on either the desktop, or menu bar. 

  • e-Sword will only start from the icon on the toolbar;
  • Other programs that require WINE, will only start by clicking on "Open With WINE Program" when opened in your file manager;
  • Still other programs that require WINE, will only open from the command line "wine -some -commands program.exe -some -commands";

I've never seen, or even heard of this behavior before.

Replacing Ubuntu Christian Edition

For those whose checklist for an acceptable distro, includes built-in filtering,  MinistryOS won't make the grade. For everybody else looking to replace Ubuntu Christian Edition, it will make the grade.

For filtering, the only viable option, is to run your own DNS server, which returns either 0.0.0.0 or 127.0.0.1 for "undesirable" web hosts, as part of your physically independent hardware firewall and router, which plugs into the third-party pwned equipment that is provided by your ISP.

^1: Both of these spreadsheets are commercially distributed, with an MSRP in the low three digits.
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