On-Disk.com Review: (Feb 23, 2015)
SiNG one.zero is the first 64 bit desktop operating system release I’m aware of designed to maximize speed, and efficiency, while minimizing power consumption to extend battery life. Even more impressively, it’s not a minimalist release, but built specifically for modern 64 bit PCs, Laptops, and Netbooks with widescreen displays.
How good is it? I’ll just say that it’s now the operating system running on my work development PC, my personal laptop, and a family Netbook. Here’s why.
The SiNG desktop is derived from JWM (Joe’s Window Manager). It’s impressively lean, yet beautiful. Something anyone who ever used JWM wouldn’t expect to find.
The desktop is characterized by the huge application launcher (start button) in the upper right corner. At first this seemed to be overkill, but then I discovered the genius behind it. You can quickly launch the application finder without precision pointer control…great when using a touchpad.
All of the desktop controls are contained in the control bar on the right. This not only maximizes vertical screen space, but makes switching between virtual desktops, selecting minimized applications, and moving applications quicker and easier than I’ve ever experienced before. I even noticed that you can right click on a window in the virtual screen selector (sometimes called a pager) and drag windows from one virtual screen (virtual desktop) to another. I found this to be faster than using the menu option under the window icon decoration menu.
I was a initially concerned new users may not catch on as easily until I saw my 11 year old doing homework research on the netbook with SiNG. Since I hadn’t had a chance to show him how it works, I asked if he had any problems using it. He looked up at me as if it were a stupid question and just said “no”.
The desktop background is different than most. It consists of whatever picture you want to put on it, and nothing more. No icons, or fancy desktop gadgets which are normally covered up as soon as you open an application. If you just click anywhere on the background a quick launcher pops up for starting common applications.
Another feature I found helpful was that you can right click on taskbar entries to launch corresponding window menus. I found this a lot faster and more convenient than needing to give a window focus to move it somewhere else, or close it.
Notable Internet Apps:
The betas played with various software options which were outside on what I’d consider main stream. The final contains a more familiar software set, including:
- Mozilla Firefox which is modified not to auto-play flash or html5 content. Mozilla is the only fuly functioning browser at the moment. Since Google Chrome no longer supports mozilla plugins, including Java, but Mozilla does still have the ability to use Google Apps, Firefox is a must-have browser.
- Thunderbird complete with calendar support (lightning), and VLC media player with bluetooth control support for use with bluetooth headsets.
- Google Chrome is installed, and Chrome apps show up in the application launcher. The cool thing is that each app can be launched in it’s own window from the application launcher just like any other installed application. It comes with the standard Google Apps installed, as well as Netflix. I ust say, Netflix in it’s own application window is pretty cool.
- Skype is installed, sort of. The skype launcher is installed. If you want to use skype it’ll automatically download the software and walk you through entering your account settings.
SiNG uses VLC for playing both movies and music. I hadn’t realized how good of a music player VLC had become since I had previously only use it for playing downloaded videos or DVDs.
SiNG also allows includes a bluetooth remote control system for computers equipped with Bluetooth or WiFi. It allows you to control the VLC Media Player by switching to the next, previous, or any other media within your current playlist, as well as browse your media library, activate your other playlists, rate your media, adjust volume, and more. On the mobile device, it can information about the current media, including cover art (depends upon the ability of the mobile device).
- Some time back Mozilla had an HTMP editor also available, which is still present in the Mozilla Seamonkey build, but not available independently. SiNG allows the direct editing of HTML documents and text input fields with the Xinha Here! Plugin, something I hadn’t seen before, but quickly fell in love with.
- The SiNG desktop theme is shared by all GTK 2, GTK3, and QT applications (Gnome and KDE apps), allowing SiNG to use incorporate some of the better applications across the board instead of sticking to either the Gnome or KDE side of the tracks.
- The newer versions of Firefox and Thunderbird tend to look out of place on other desktops, but fit in nicely within the look and feel of SiNG one.zero.
- VLC Media Player – Incorporating VLC ins’t unusual, but how well it fits SiNG is.
- Kill, yes, Kill. Every once in a while we all do something that immobilizes an application. I mistakenly opened a huge archive file in the text editor which it wasn’t designed for, and would never be able to load. of course it froze up and wouldn’t respond to closing it, but it was easy to kill by just right clicking on the corresponding taksbar entry on the right and selecting “kill”.
Office: The pre-installed office lineup consists of:
- The standard LibreOffice Suite
- Scribus for desktop publishing
- Kibikaboo is an application to help writers organize their notes, sources, etc.
- Calibre is an E-Bbook manager and reader. It allows reading most e-book formats.
- Evince, the obligatory PDF reader.
SiNG uses the standard connection manager. To access it, click it’s small icon below the application launcher, and above the virtual screen manager. This allows for standard connections such as ethernet, WiFi, mobile broadband (WWAN), and PPPoE devices, and provides VPN integration with a variety of different VPN services.
The custom SiNG desktop screams, and definitely out performs all other 64 bit desktops I’ve used. Yet it’s in no way a minimal operating system. The most powerful applications are included, you just have a little more oomph to run them.
I’ve mentioned the background is just an image you select. Video memory can often effect the speed of any desktop, especially on systems with shared video memory. Instead of wasting video RAM, SiNG lets you use it for running graphical applications. One way this is done is by using the standard SiNG background image, which is just 145 bytes, not Kbytes, that’s 145 bytes.
Extended Laptop Battery Life:
The high contrast, bright windows, and default background make for a very bright video display. I found myself being able to turn the brightness way down on my laptop, which gave me hours of extra battery life. In testing I was getting nearly twice as much battery time under average lighting conditions. Inn a bright sunlit room I was still able to turn down the screen brightness by 1/4 to extend battery life.
SiNG is designed to be the only operating system installed, and is expected to install to a bare hard drive.
However, SiNG uses the Ubuntu ubiquity installer that is capable of installing along side other operating systems, or instead of currently installed operating systems. There is however a particularly odd install quirk.
During installation the Ubuntu installer will make you to enter new user information and a password during the install. This information is not used at all, but the installer won’t continue with the installation until you enter something.I just presses the same key a few times to get something in the spaces and pressed the continue button and it began copying files.
Once installed, you can initially use SiNG with an admin account (username “admin”) and a password of “password”. These can, and should, be changed from the users option in the “System” category in the application launcher.
Other system users can be added if you wish, or you can just use the admin account as I do. The admin account uses a standard sudo option to run privileged applications, but is a little more efficient than I find on normal system user sudo setups.