EasyNAS 1.0.0EasyNAS is a network attached storage (NAS) operating system based on the openSUSE distribution. The latest version of EasyNAS uses openSUSE 15.3 as its base. Apart from mentioning the updated foundation the project's release announcement does not talk about any specific features or improvements. There is mention of some increased stability from openSUSE Leap. The project's documentation is also a little vague on specific features, other than mentioning EasyNAS can work with Btr filesystems and share files across a range of network protocols.
The latest version of EasyNAS is available for x86_64 machines exclusively and is presented in a single edition. The distribution's ISO file is relatively small at 378MB.
After confirming the ISO file's hash I booted from it and was presented with a menu asking if I'd like to load an existing operating system from the hard drive or install EasyNAS. Taking the latter option loads a menu-based installer on the terminal. When running EasyNAS in a virtual machine the installer reported there was not enough space on the available hard drive to install the distribution. The project's documentation says 3GB are required, but my virtual disk was 16GB, so the documentation and installer are not in sync with each other. Upping the virtual drive space to 32GB coaxed the installer into proceeding.
The installer really only has one step. It asks if it should wipe the entire hard drive and then, once we confirm it may proceed, it formats the drive and the EasyNAS image is copied over to the disk. The distribution then reboots.
My fresh copy of EasyNAS booted to a console interface. A welcome message says we can connect to EasyNAS through a web browser by visiting the address "https://:1443". (Note the lack of a domain name or IP address in the URL.) We are then automatically signed in as the admin user. The admin user is not the same as the root user in this instance, they have different user identification numbers and permissions. A menu is then displayed which prompts us to perform an action. The available actions are: reset the admin password, restart the network interface, reset the NAS to its default settings, check for updates, restart, shutdown, and run a shell.
Resetting the admin password turned out to be awkward. The new password must be complex, long, and not based on a dictionary word. Sometimes what qualified as a "word" was a bit flexible. For instance, the password "wtf123" is rejected because it's "based on a dictionary word", but "wtf123#!" is fine.
Since it seemed the NAS did not yet have an IP address I tried resetting the network connection. The system appeared to hang for about 20 seconds and then returned to the menu without displaying any status update or asking any questions.
The menu option to run a shell presents us with a bash prompt. A quick check of the command line environment revealed EasyNAS runs Linux 5.3, uses systemd as its init software, and offers the standard collection of GNU utilities. There are no manual pages included. We can perform actions as the root user by prefixing commands with sudo, otherwise the admin account appears to act like a regular user.
EasyNAS reportedly had an active Internet connection, but could not find a route to the Internet or perform DNS lookups. The EasyNAS documentation does not appear to address how to configure the network and the openSUSE documentation says to use YaST for configuring network and DHCP options. The YaST tools are not installed on EasyNAS. I then tried the backup method using wicked, which is mentioned in the documentation. I still came away with no valid IP address or route. I had the same result after I tried assigning an IP address using the command line ip command: I could not ping other machines and other computers on the network could not reach the NAS web interface, despite having an active network interface and a manually assigned IP address.
This experience is in contrast to five years ago when I reviewed EasyNAS 0.6.2. At the time the installer did not have strict hard drive size requirements, IP addresses were assigned easily from the console menu, and it was painless to connect to the web portal remotely. With EasyNAS 1.0.0 these things did not work and every time I rebooted the operating system EasyNAS would fail to load properly, dropping the user to a rescue console. Rebooting a second time always worked to bring up the usual console menu.
EasyNAS five years ago was not a mature project; it had limited functionality. However, it worked and provided some simple storage options. Version 1.0.0 barely installs and has a number of issues relating to password reset, minimum requirements, and networking.
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Solus 4.3Since my experience with EasyNAS got off to a rocky start, I decided to take a look at the latest snapshot from the Solus project. I already reviewed Solus 4.2 earlier this year and I was not expecting any huge changes. However, I was curious to see if there were any clear improvements or adjustments, especially with regards to a few issues I ran into when running Solus 4.2.
The Budgie edition of Solus hasn't changed much in its size. Version 4.2 was approximately a 1.7GB download and 4.3 is 1.8GB. The live media worked well, showing off the Budgie desktop which has a pleasant, dark theme. The Solus installer worked well for me this time (as it did before). In fact, I'd venture as far as to say the Solus installer is one of the nicest looking, fastest installers currently available. It makes for a very nice first impression of the distribution.
Solus 4.3 -- The Budgie desktop and application menu (full image size: 465kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
Comparisons between 4.2 and 4.3
When I ran Solus 4.2 earlier this year the Budgie desktop would sometimes spike its CPU usage. This usually wasn't noticeable on physical hardware, but it could cause the desktop to lag when running in VirtualBox. During my time with Solus 4.3 the Budgie desktop behaved itself, not consuming too much CPU. The desktop remained responsive without any hiccups, even in a virtual machine. Budgie also appears to be using slightly less memory now, compared with five months ago. Solus 4.2 consumed about 575MB of RAM when logged into Budgie while the latest version used about 535MB.
When I ran Budgie earlier this year the screenshot utility sometimes wouldn't respond. Pressing the Print Screen key would sometimes simply not work, other times a screenshot would be taken but no shutter sound effect would play, and sometimes a screenshot would be taken with the accompanying sound as confirmation. This time around the screenshot tool always worked and always notified me with the shutter sound. Both the memory consumption and screenshot fixes are small, but it's nice to see progress.
Solus 4.3 -- The Budgie settings panel (full image size: 190kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
My biggest issues with Solus when I tried it earlier in the year revolved around the software centre. I mentioned previously that the software centre often locked up when prompting for a password, and sometimes failed to install new packages. In total, 75% of the actions I tried to take with the software centre in Solus 4.2 failed. I was hopeful the experience would be smoother this time.
Things got off to a good start. I installed a handful of applications from the official Solus repositories. The password prompt always worked properly and each package installed without any problems. It seems any software coming from the official repositories will install and work as expected.
Solus 4.3 -- The software center (full image size: 153kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
Last time I tried to install a few third-party packages from unofficial repositories and these tended to fail earlier in the year. I mentioned in my previous review especially that Slack and Spotify would give me errors when trying to install them, so I tried these again. Here the experience still has some rough edges.
This time when I tried to install Slack the software centre showed it was working, but then nothing appeared to happen. The progress bar kept up its steady slide back and forth while the top system monitor showed no disk or CPU activity related to package management. I closed the software centre and when I re-launched it the Slack package was shown as installed. Slack was also present in the application menu. In short, the software centre had successfully installed Slack, but never reported it had completed its task and its interface had never unlocked.
When I tried to install Spotify the package did install and the software centre reported it had finished successfully. Spotify did not show up in the application menu though as other programs had. I tried to close the software centre and Budgie locked up. In fact the entire operating system stopped responding to keyboard input, preventing me from using the terminal or killing any processes. A hard reset was required. When the distribution had been rebooted Spotify showed up in the application menu.
In short, the software centre performed better, but only when installing official packages. There were still serious issues which arose when trying to acquire third-party software. This is a lot better than what I experienced earlier in the year, but still not ideal.
In my opinion, Solus 4.3 is a evolutionary improvement over version 4.2. The performance feels a little better, the installer felt faster, the memory consumption was a little lower, and the software manager was a little friendlier. None of this is a big leap forward, but it is a sign of progress and an indication the Solus team is working to polish their distribution.