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VaKo's Crap Linux Review #0


VaKo
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Today I decided to replace the broken suse 10.1 install on my laptop. Since there are a few distros I was interested in for a general desktop linux I could dual boot XP with, I had a play.

My laptop is a Dell Latitude X300, 1.4Ghz Pentium M ULV, 640mb ram, 855GM chipset, 40GB HD, Dell Truemobile 1450 abg and bluetooth. So nothing special, really small but has a crap battery life. For todays test I chose openSUSE 10.2, Ubuntu 6.10 & Kubuntu 6.10, FreeBSD 6.1, Arch, Sabayon, Gentoo & Fedora Core 6. And I'm going to review it as a casual user. I like windows, because although it has problems its user interface is very well developed IMO. Its well thought out and works. (this is my opinion, I'm not claiming it as a fact.) I want a linux distro for my laptop that will just work, and be a general browse the web type OS. I've got other machines for tweaking and server tasks.

openSUSE 10.2

The first thing I see is Christmas Penguins. This does not bode well. Suse was always one of the more professional, polished distros, and for someone who likes the windows 2000 style its a plus. (The problem with community projects is that usually the graphic design lacks a professional or even skilled touch) The install was pretty good, found my wireless card fine, gave you a lot of control over what gets installed. No AIGLX though, only GLX which is a problem given the limited hardware I have. Installed in about the same time as windows, but felt a little kludgey. I chose KDE as my GUI, but the suse rendition is fugly as hell, so I tried to change it, only to find that Kwin wasn't registered as a configuration util or something.

Its better than 10.1, but its buggy and lacks the polish that Suse used to have. Feels liked a rushed beta.

K/Ubuntu 6.10

Its everyone's amazing new FOSS friend, and its better than sex according to Digg. This should be good. I'm still on my KDE trip, so I try Kubuntu first, see's both my wired and wireless network connections, but won't get an IP. Try Ubuntu, and the same thing happens. Spend an hour trying everything I can, checking everything I can but nothing. Try installing it to the hard disk, same thing. (The installer is crap, why do I have to boot the entire OS to install it? Its light weight but why not make a installer like Suse's?) If Ubuntu won't work for me without pissing around, not going to try using it.

FreeBSD 6.1

Installed fine, updated fine, did everything fine, but a hassle free laptop OS it does not make. Has the best install method, its the fastest one of the lot and the best designed (the ports system is by far the best thing about FreeBSD). I love it on servers but it needs more work to be an easy to use desktop OS. I intend to give it a try on a regular PC as a desktop OS.

Arch

Its kinda like a cross between gentoo and freebsd, but I don't know enough to use it, or if it will be around in a years time. It looks like a lot of good ideas, but I'd like to see it develop more before I use it. Plus, its complicated as hell, and I don't have time to play with it. Might make a good server OS though.

Sabayon

Horrible.

Gentoo

/me reads documentation

/me puts CD back in its wallet

To much effort, not enough gain.

Fedora Core 6

Install was very easy and hassle free, very clean as well. Although it was a 800by600 window in the top left corner of my screen. Gnome loaded compiz out the box, (i had learnt that KDE is a POS during this adventure, especially if you want compiz) and AIGLX ran on my 855GM Intel graphics really nicely. It found my wireless card out the box and it loaded so quickly. All in all, fedora core 6 is the best desktop linux for me there is out there. Its the most windows like, and requires the least amount of effort to work. It looks professional and most importantly, Just Works.

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I too like FC6, very easy to use. I have it dual-installed with WinXP on my media box in the basement, and I love using it.

I currently have Ubuntu installed on my laptop (2001 Sony Vaio) and I haven't had any troubles with the wireless, but I'm just one case.

All in all, good overview. Has anyone tried running DesktopBSD? It seems pretty interesting, but I've run out of HDDs to install on.

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It was me friendly, few console commands, nothing complex, although with KDE you will need to crank out vi for the beryl setup. (Bare in mind that a gui on Linux is kinda new for me, I've only used Linux on headless server style setups.) With gnome its just a case of clicking a button for the compiz stuff, and one CLI command for beryl. So not n00b friendly, but anyone who's installed windows on there own a few times , can use a CLI and follow instructions should have no problems with it. Athough use gnome.

Ubuntu's still troubles me, mainly because it just feels unfinished despite the praise it gets. And its installer is shit.

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I too Love Fedora Core 6, and the Ubuntu installer is utter crap.

VaKo you need to install and use the YaKuake package if you love to use console. http://kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=29153

(Thank me later =D)

and SomeoneElse you can get Aptrpm for Fedora Core 6.

http://apt-rpm.org/

Thanks for the reviews VaKo!

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I personally thought that the Kubuntu installer (assuming Ubuntu is very similar) was REALLY easy. As in, if you can't get it installed you should be shot so that you're defective genes cannot further contaiminate humainity.

I actually think that booting the entire OS can be useful since you may want to go on irc or do some other crap while it's installaling. Since your computer is supposed to be able to boot the OS that you're installing it shouldn't really be a problem.

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Ubuntu is almost to easy in some respects, it kinda trys to hard. As for the installer, I just want a light weight install only option which allows me to chose packages, and if I want a gui or not. Why make 5* versions of the same thing when you could just have one disc that gives you a choice of packages? That's where the suse install excels, and FreeBSD rules. I know ubuntu is ment to be simple, but it makes it very hard to setup a system during install.

A good link for people thinking about FC6: http://www.gagme.com/greg/linux/fc6-tips.php

*Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xbuntu, Edubuntu & Server Ubuntu

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I have had strange problems with Kubuntu, particularly with the sound. Well, one of the strangest problems I'v had (that related to sound) was when KDE (after a fresh install) tried to play a sound the computer would lock up for 10 seconds, then display a message saying "Sound system shut down due to over loading the CPU".

So I reconfigured KDE (just KDE) to not play sounds, and suddenly it's fixed, and all other sound things work... strange...

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hmm, do I really want to trust Linux reviews by a noted BSD fanboy.

At any rate I’m a suse boy myself (or was before the Novell Microsoft thing).

Although it can be a little slow, its easily customisable and the yast and sax tools are almost indispensable.

I used to use the kde, I found it relatively configurable and fairly pretty. However of late I have downgraded to the windowmaker.

The main problem I found was the aggressive disk caching that caused slowdowns and ate ram, once this was addressed it was fast and stable.

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Gentoo is really easy, assuming your hardware is supported. I spent an entire weekend trying to get Madwifi and WPA-supplicant to play nicely with each other, it still doesn't work. I'm going to try ndiswrapper once I have another weekend to fiddle with that stuff. But that was my only problem with installing Gentoo. The Portage system is amazing, it makes compiling any package, including the kernel, from scratch easy, time consuming, but easy. Try that with RPMs!

The installer is crap, why do I have to boot the entire OS to install it?

First off its a great way of checking if all your hardware works. Second, if anything needs configuring you can do it right there, in the installer, then copy the config files to a USB drive, boot in to the newly installed OS, copy the files back and voila, config is done, and you don't have to worry about screwing up the installed version on your hd just reboot and try again. Lastly, and most importantly, to play games while the OS is installing.

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That's what I mean, it looks like someone's had a good long productive think about Linux, and Arch Linux is the end result. But it also needs a bit of research before you install it, particularly the partitioner. And this was aimed at a XP style one disk, zero config and boom Linux install. Arch Linux looks good, but it doesn't fit that bill.

Out of interest how do you find the speed of the Arch Linux package management system? I've heard that pacman is running into trouble as the database grows, have they fixed the scalability issue? And how does it compare to FreeBSD's ports system? (it was my first serious non windows OS, so all the package management systems I come across get compared to it).

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Does anyone anyone know some good live distros? I need to go to my friend's house whose computer won't boot. I was going to run off a live cd, mount the partition, and put the files on a USB drive.

Is knoppix the way to go, or is there a better distro for this sort of use?

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I love gentoo too. The installation isn't so hard but could be long because of the compilation of all packets.

The most difficult part is the compilation of the kernel if you want to make your own. It was a pain for my new laptop at work. I spent few hours during the evenning to get the perfect config for my kernel.

After the installation, the O/S works like a charm.

Does anyone anyone know some good live distros? I need to go to my friend's house whose computer won't boot. I was going to run off a live cd, mount the partition, and put the files on a USB drive.

Is knoppix the way to go, or is there a better distro for this sort of use?

knoppix is fine for what you want to do.

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