| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 263, 28 July 2008
Welcome to this year's 30th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! There's been a lot of activities in distribution releases this past week and a bit in developmental releases as well - openSUSE and Ubuntu developmental versions created a bit of buzz around the Web. In the news this week the Mandriva distribution celebrates 10 years, Foxconn Electronics has angered Linux users, and openSUSE is giving away PromoDVDs. Steven Lake is back with us again this morning with a look at NimbleX 2008, I took Parted Magic for a wee spin, and Caitlyn Martin dissects VectorLinux 5.9 SOHO in Reviewed Last Week.
All this and more in this week's DistroWatch Weekly - happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in ogg (14MB) and mp3 (13MB) formats (many thanks to Russ Wenner)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
Review: NimbleX 2008
(by Steven Lake)
About nine months ago I reviewed NimbleX 2007 and found it to be quite an enjoyable compact distribution with a number of unique features. The first of those was that it is designed to run from a CD, a USB pen drive or even from the network rather than a hard drive. A combination most other distributions don't do. Or for that matter, any that I'm aware of. NimbleX 2007 was also very fast with a lot of great tools. It set quite a precedent when it came out. So what's special about 2008 that sets it apart from its predecessor?
Well, there are several things actually. Starting with initial bootup of the livecd, you're greeted by five basic boot options in the grub menu. They are as follows:
Now honestly, these choices both intrigued me and confused me. KDM is the KDE Login Manager, and rarely have I ever seen a distribution that actually suggests you should boot from either KDM, or raw KDE. Selecting the first option boots you into a generic, raw version of KDE, complete with a basic list of software. Booting into KDM however, gives you a wide selection of 8 operating systems. You have a choice of E16 (enlightenment), EDE, Enlightenment, Fluxbox, IceWM, KDE, Openbox, and TWM.
- NimbleX 2008 - Boot in KDE
- NimbleX 2008 - Boot in KDM
- NimbleX 2008 - Command Line
- NimbleX 2008 - Safe Install
- Boot from the first harddisk partition
The command line option allows you to boot into a basic command line, perfect for troubleshooting hardware issues on your system. Safe install allows you to boot in a basic, semi-gui environment should your hardware have issues installing NimbleX via a gui environment, or if you choose to just take the quick and dirty way around it and go directly to the installer without first booting into the livecd. Either can be done, and is entirely up to your own personal preferences. The last option on the boot menu obviously boots you into your regular PC hard drive so you can use whatever OS is already installed there.
Depending on which window manager (WM) you choose will go a long ways towards what you have at your disposal. I say this because not all of the WM's have access to all of the programs. KDE seems to be the most complete out of all of them, having access to what appears to be every available application on the disk. And there's a lot of them. What's even more surprising is how small the NimbleX iso is compared with
what's on it. It weighs in at a humble 199mb. That's like packing an elephant into a British Mini.
But somehow the developers of NimbleX 2008 managed to get an entire OS that could easily fill up an entire CD into a very surprisingly small space. That's impressive to say the least. Speed wise, the livecd loads amazingly fast, and even on a machine with very, very humble specs, the cd loads very quickly and gets you where you need to go faster than most livecd's out there.
Upon loading up the computer and reaching the desktop (using KDM) I was surprised that you had to login. I was even more surprised to realize that they don't tell you what the login is. A little bit of rebooting and digging revealed that the default login is "root/toor". Why they have you login as root is beyond me, but I guess it's alright for a livecd environment, so long as you don't go running around trying to play god or anything.
Once you're onto the desktop (depending on which WM you use), you will find a wide range of different, but similar eye candy experiences, all of which look quite nice. Each of the WM's appear to be untouched for the most part, leaving them in nearly original condition. There are a few oddities, tweaks and preferences set down by the developers, that I found to be quite curious. For one, it is impossible to adjust screen resolution if you're using KDM to load your WM, but if you boot into raw KDE, you can. You also don't have to login to KDE if you boot straight into it from the boot
The list of software available in both the livecd and installed version is quite impressive. Present are popular programs such as Firefox, XMMS (I'm pleased to see this one added), Mplayer, Gimp, Xine, K3b, and several others. Gone are a lot of the "fluff" extra programs you wouldn't use or which are not used often enough to warrant their inclusion. There are a few games, some of the more popular secondary
applications, such as Kmail, Kword, some very useful utility applications such as a bluetooth monitor, a firewall, and a number of other useful applications.
The livecd interface is clean, snappy, and while simple, is very practical for everyday use. It's also obviously very lean, despite the impressive list of applications. In other words, just as I mentioned above with all the "fluff" applications trimmed out. Now once you're ready to shutdown, doing so is a bit odd. Instead of actually shutting everything down, it just gives you the option to end the WM session, and then dumps you to a semi-graphical (ie, console with a pretty graphical container) console session that you have to login to. In order to completely shut down the PC, you have to kick out the CD, then power down the machine by holding in the power button.
That's a bit dumb in my book, but it's what you have to do. On the flipside though, you can easily pick up and restart X at this point and start working in your livecd again. You can also do some jockeying in the console if you so choose.
Installing NimbleX is a bit like playing a game of dice. In order to succeed, you have to do everything perfect, and pray the installer doesn't get heartburn in the middle. It uses a text based installer (nxinst) to do your installation, so it isn't all pretty and nice like other installers, yet it's still simple enough for even a newbie to do. Well, mostly. The initial menu includes two things. An option to install either to USB or hard drive, and the ever famous warning disclaimer.
The NimbleX Installer
(full image size: 78kB, screen resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
I tested first with the HDD option, which ultimately failed, despite my best efforts. Interestingly enough, the developers included a warning that this is "a work in progress" and it may have a few issues. Now while I'm not partial to having a flaky installer in a finished product (the distro), at least they were kind enough to come out and mention that it's still a beta, rather than a finished product (the installer), and that some issues might occur. If you tell it to install to USB, then select the primary HD as the installation destination, you can still install NimbleX to your hard drive.
One thing to note however, if you install to a pen drive, or even your HD, NimbleX will install the system to a single ext3 partition, and all configurations are, curiously enough, saved to a fat32 partition that it adds in first. I don't know why it does this, but I suspect there's some crazy reason behind this. Either way, it's part of the install, so don't be surprised by it. Also, when creating the fat32 partition, allow at least 25 megs for system configurations, upwards to 500mb depending on how much
data you plan to save.
Installation time from start to finish is 10% installing time and 90% choosing your configurations. It's not that the menus are excessively time consuming, because they're not. In fact, you only need to make a few choices and you're done. The whole install from start to finish (assuming you're not a slow reader) is at most 2-3 minutes long, maybe as long as 5 minutes if you have a slow pen drive or a slow machine.
One other thing to note. When the installer gets done and you boot into the installed system, you'll find a "Install NimbleX" icon on the desktop. Don't panic about this. It's not something the developers missed, but is intentionally there so that you can install NimbleX to another device if you want to, even after you've installed your system.
Boot time on the installed system is blazing fast. It's easily one of the fastest bootups I've seen in a while. I even tried to hinder or cripple it's boot time, and even on a dog slow pendrive or an old as dirt test machine, it still booted amazingly fast. The desktop and applications are also very fast.
The NimbleX KDE Desktop
(full image size: 178kB, screen resolution: 800x640 pixels)
One thing I was very curious of this time that I didn't test last time was booting across the network. Oddly enough, it works. Well, for the most part anyways. You can actually boot the machine over a 10/100 network from another machine, and it will run pretty darned good. One thing that helps to aid this is that NimbleX comes with six basic servers, including a pre-configured PXE boot server. That is how it is able to allow you to boot across the network. Just setup a dumb terminal with PXE boot, and away you go.
One thing to note though. You'll need to make sure that you have one unconfigured network card in order to turn the machine into a PXE boot server. If you have two nics, disable and remove the configuration of one, then leave the other for standard network access. If you don't need that, and would just like to use the machine as a PXE boot server, then all you'll need to do is have one nic card that you've removed the configuration on. It takes a little hacking to do that, but it's not a big deal if
you're adventurous enough.
The bright side to PXE booting is that you can have dumb terminals setup all over the house (or your office) running simple touch screen monitors and a small computer (Like the Linutop) with some kind of simple kiosk program. Doing that will allow for quite an interesting, yet simple use for NimbleX. It also has great applications for school or office or home or wherever, where you need a lot of machines all running the same configuration, but don't need or want to have HD's in them due to cost or security issues. It would also reduce the amount of system issues you'd have to deal with on a software level.
And if PXE isn't your thing, there's also five other servers to chose from, including a web, ftp, ssh, dns, and dhcp server. Configuring wireless is also pretty easy and painless. In fact, by itself NimbleX makes a great basic web surfers OS. You could setup your grandma with a computer running NimbleX and she could more or less login, connect to her internet (if she has dialup), and browse away, or get her mail.
For the power user there's also things like LinuxDC++, RSS feeds, IM's, SSH and more. VirtualBox is even included with the system, so if you want to emulate other distros or OS's, you can do that very easily. And for the paranoid, there's ClamAV antivirus and Guarddog firewall. Another interesting tool I found was the "Kshutdown" tool. It's available in any of the WM's and allows you to click it and shut down your machine. It sure beats doing it the NimbleX way.
For those wanting to add extra applications to NimbleX, you'll need to use Gslapt for the graphical interface, or slapt-get from the command line. Almost all advanced administrative functions have to be done via the command line. So if you want to add another user (and I very highly recommend you do, as the system runs as root by default) you'll need to do that from the command line.
Another thing that stunned me about NimbleX was its surprisingly small install footprint. After having worked with several distros recently that have anywhere from a standard 1.5gb install footprint, up to a mind blowing 9gb footprint, seeing that NimbleX only used a humble 372mb with all the bells and whistles was impressive, to say the least.
Also, there's something else I found while digging around in the installed system that may interest a lot of people. If you open up Firefox and click on the "Custom NimbleX" link, you'll be greeted by a website that allows you to actually build your own custom version of NimbleX. I kid you not. It's complete CD remastering right from a webpage. The site even tells you how big your ISO will be when you're done, and it changes as you make changes to the ISO configuration. When it's done it gives you a custom packaged, ready to use, build to order version of NimbleX 2008 for you
to use! It's rather nice if you ask me. :)
Overall I'm rather impressed with NimbleX 2008. It's got a little something for the minimalist, something for the new user, and something for the power user. The entire system is very clean, very stable, and exceptionally well done. I'd easily give this my two thumbs up as I really couldn't find much of anything to complain about. Admittedly the installer still needs some work. But aside from that, I'm very pleased with what NimbleX has to offer. For more information about this distribution, you can check out their homepage, their distrowatch page, or if you're ready to dive in, you can grab a copy of the installation ISO. Of if you're really adventurous, you can even make your own install cd exactly to your liking.
Mandriva's 10th Birthday, Fedora 9 Re-Spins, openSUSE PromoDVD, and Foxconn Crippled BIOS
Mandriva quietly celebrated their 10th anniversary this past week. In May, they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the company in Paris at the Eiffel Tower, but this past week saw the 10th anniversary of their first release. On July 23, 1998, Mandrake 5.1 was released based on Red Hat 5.1 featuring KDE 1.0. Linux Weekly News has retained the original announcement for posterity here and Google has the original thread from fr.comp.os.linux here. As I look back I wonder how differently my life would have been without Mandrake Linux. So, it tugged at my heart strings a bit when I saw Gaël Duval wishing them a Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday Mandriva.
In other news, Mandriva announced a new partnership with Precedent Technologies developing a new low-cost desktop. With Intel Atom CPUs and Mandriva Linux preinstalled, they estimate retail prices to be 399.99 USD. Also, howsoftwareisbuilt.com published an interview with Mandriva developer Helio Chissini De Castro.
* * * * *
Speaking of Gaël Duval, he is continuing development on his newest project, the Ulteo family of online desktop services. The Online Desktop received updates on July 16, 2008 and last week brought a new Sirius stable and Virtual Desktop Beta3. Some experts believe that Software as a Service and Cloud computing are the future. What do you think?
Ulteo Online Desktop features popular applications
(full image size: 347kB, screen resolution: 1277x926 pixels)
* * * * *
The Fedora Project announced their ISO Re-Spins of Fedora 9. These include all updates released as of July 18th, 2008. The main issues addressed were Bug #445517 where Anaconda crashed during selecting packages and some Russian translation issues, and Bug #445974 where minstg2 install failed. The full changelog is available here, and download information is here. The full announcement is here.
In other Fedora news, the results of the recent FESCo election were posted last week. Bill Nottingham, Kevin Fenzi, Dennis Gilmore, Brian Pepple and David Woodhouse were elected to FESCo for a 2 release term. Jarod Wilson, Josh Boyer, Jon Stanley and Karsten Hopp were elected for a 1 release term as of July 24, 2008. The full announcement has further details on that. The first meeting under the new team was held July 25, 2008, all present except Dennis Gilmore. Brian Pepple was chosen to be chair of the committee. The full minutes of that meeting are here.
* * * * *
The FreeBSD Project recently held their core team elections as well, and announced their results last Monday. Murray Stokely posted, "Peter Wemm is rejoining the team after a 2 year hiatus, and Kris Kennaway is joining the team for the first time. The remaining 7 slots were filled with incumbents Wilko Bulte, Brooks Davis, Giorgos Keramidas, George V. Neville-Neil, Hiroki Sato, Murray Stokely, and Robert Watson". His full post here.
* * * * *
openSUSE received their 11.0 Promotional DVDs this past week. The installable PromoDVD contain both a KDE and GNOME live system. If you are planning an installfest, a LUG presentation, or something like that; the pertinent information is here.
* * * * *
Perhaps the biggest story last week concerned Foxconn motherboards that are (allegedly) deliberately crippled for Linux. A tech-savvy user at the Ubuntu Forums posted that the BIOS of his G33M-S contains different reference tables for various operating systems, and that the one for Linux "points to a badly written table that does not correspond to the board's ACPI implementation" causing "weird kernel errors, strange system freezing, no suspend or hibernate, and other problems." He goes on to say, "After looking through the disassembled BIOS for the last several hours, rebooting it, and tweaking it more, I'd say this is very intentional. I've found redundant checks to make sure it's really running on Windows, regardless what the OS tells it it is, and then of course fatal errors that will kernel panic FreeBSD or Linux, scattered all over the place." Apparently Foxconn has been known to be hostile toward Linux support for quite some time before this incident according to Phoronix.com.
However, Matthew Garrett, respected Linux developer, stated he sees nothing especially sinister in the code he's examined. "There's no evidence whatsoever that the BIOS is deliberately targeting Linux. I can't find any way in which the code Foxconn are shipping is worse than any other typical vendor. This entire controversy is entirely unjustified." It's reported that Foxconn plans to make a statement sometime today on the matter.
|Released Last Week
DragonFly BSD 2.0
Matthew Dillon announced the availability of DragonFly BSD 2.0: "2.0 is our eighth major DragonFly release. DragonFly's policy is to only commit bug fixes to release branches." Changes in this release include: the HAMMER filesystem featuring crash recovery on-mount (without fsck) and queueless incremental mirroring, numerous kernel changes like native fairq-queue implementation and native connection state recovery, various hardware changes like added drivers and better USB survivability, userland changes like blacklist for weak Debian-generated SSH keys and improved manual pages and documentation, a lot of contributed software like new versions of BIND, OpenSSH, tnftpd, and GCC. Fortran was removed from the base system, along with other old stuff like legacy device drivers. See the rather brief release announcement and the detailed 2.0 release notes for more information.
Following version 0.6 just four days ago, a new version of xPUD was released today, boasting "same features, 20% smaller": "xPUD is a small and fast booting LiveUSB, usually boots into X within 15-seconds, and starts an easy-to-use UI as soon as possible. Being a Ubuntu derivative with APT/dpkg system, the rootfs is quite small: only 67MB of core image, including Ubuntu 8.04 compatible kernel, Xvesa as xserver, web browser (firefox), media player (mplayer) and input method (scim). This project is under heavy development, and we're looking forward to any kind of feedback, please visit http://xpud.org/ for more information." Read the release notes for more.
Bogdan Radulescu announced the availability of the final version of NimbleX 2008, a Slackware-based mini distribution: "This version gets significant cleanups since NimbleX 2008RC, Bluetooth finally works OK, some improvements to the USB installer, significant changes on how NimbleX boots from remote locations (PXE & HTTP), several bug fixes, updates and several other things. I managed to make NimbleX a little slimmer and I also managed to squeeze in the latest VirtualBox so that people can run/test other OSs inside NimbleX. Partimage was added so you can easily clone disks and partitions with NimbleX thus resulting in some mass deployment functionality when users know their way around Linux. I guess here a small tutorial will be posted at some point..." Read the full release announcement for more information.
Ubuntu Muslim Edition 8.04.1
Ubuntu Muslim Edition (UbuntuME) 8.04.1, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring Islamic software, a Quran study tool and a web content filtering utility, was released, in the form of not just an update but a full new DVD with tons of software: "The Ubuntu Muslim Edition team is proud to announce the release of UbuntuME 8.04.1. This release is only available as an installable DVD. Highlights: WebStrict (parental control tool) enabled by default (so as browsing the Internet is safe); Zekr 0.7.0 (Quran study tool) installed and configured to play Quran recitations; Minbar and Firefox "Pray Times" addon installed; Monajat (display Islamic prayers) Thwab (encyclopedia); UbuntuME artworks: usplash, login screen, Islamic wallpapers, theme etc." See the complete release announcement and release notes for more information.
BLAG Linux And GNU 90001
Jeff Moe announced a bug fix release of BLAG Linux And GNU labeled as 90001, a single-CD desktop distribution based on Fedora: "It comes on a single CD (684 megs), is easily installed, and user friendly. This release follows quickly on the heels of BLAG 90000, as there were a few annoying issues with that, some of which have been sorted, such as some broken dependencies. A number of packages have been added to the CD, some of which appeared in earlier blag releases, such as: bittorrent, freej, gcc, gqview, gthumb, thunderbird, vnc-server, xchat. The CD has 97 package updates including a new kernel-libre-184.108.40.206-86.fc9.1, firefox 3.0.1, gnome/gtk2/nautilus packages, pidgin, xorg and more... Known issues with this release: Use yum instead of apt, or uncomment GPG line in /etc/apt/apt.conf (or install those keys); Automajick kickstart installs are not currently available; On some installs you have to hit ctrl-alt-f7 after firstboot when you add a user; this is only needed the first time." Read the complete release announcement for further details.
A new version of IPCop, a user-friendly firewall distribution geared towards home and SOHO users, was released: "Update is split into two parts because of a kernel update to accommodate free space limitation. 1.4.19 contains some packages updates, most notably a dnsmasq update to be immune on recent dns advisory. 1.4.20 installs the second part of the kernel update and configure the new kernel. 1.4.19 could be installed separately from 1.4.20. A reboot is not needed after 1.4.19 installation... Changes summary: Upgrade openssh to 4.7p1; Include lzo binary so, it will match openssl version if openssl is updated; Update dnsmasq to 2.45; Update tzdata to 2008d; Update pcre from 7.4 to 7.7; Update apache to 1.3.41..." Read the detailed release notes for more.
Ulteo Applications System
Gaël Duval announced the availability of Ulteo Application System, code name "Sirius" Stable: "The Ulteo Application System is a FREE installable version of Ulteo, that ships with hundreds applications and innovative features that include: Global Ulteo authentication; Automatic data backup/synchronization to/from the Ulteo Online Desktop; "My Digital Life" panel to organize your digital life easier and better; Automatic system and application incremental upgrade; Very fast to install, very easy to use." "Sirius" Stable is an installable liveCD that offers a Windows alternative; it comes with a lot of applications by default, including Firefox 2.0 and OpenOffice.org 2.3. Learn more here.
Also announced is Ulteo Virtual Desktop Beta3: "It allows you to use the best Linux applications on the Windows(TM) operating system. It's been designed for individuals and corporate users who want to have Linux and Windows applications together on the same desktop without the hassles of dual booting or virtualization. It already got great feedback from the IT press during the past three months. If you would enjoy Ulteo Virtual Desktop on a preloaded USB key that wouldn't require any installation, please let us know!" Learn more here.
Foresight Linux 2.0.4
Paul Cutler announced the release of Foresight Linux 2.0.4, an rPath-based distribution showcasing the latest GNOME technologies: "The Foresight project is excited to announce the latest release of Foresight, the Foresight GNOME Edition 2.0.4. This release features a brand new theme, and a number of minor updates and bug fixes, notably a problem when trying to install on certain RAID setups. This latest version also introduces the Foresight GNOME Lite Edition. For the first time, Foresight is available for installation on one CD, and features Foresight's lightning fast tar-based installer. This edition does not include OpenOffice.org and is English only to reduce installation size. Users who choose to install the Foresight GNOME Lite Edition can easily upgrade to the full version." Read the full release announcement and release notes for further details.
Parted Magic 3.0
Patrick Verner announced the 3.0 release of Parted Magic, a specialist live CD distribution designed to facilitate hard disk management tasks: "This new release of Parted Magic has the most aggressive changelog of any release to date. Almost everything has been updated and redesigned while doing our best to maintain the same user interface. The most significant changes are the additions of HAL and dbus, new Xorg server, basic wireless detection, FireFTP, udpcast, Linux-2.6.26, and many other updated and new programs. Parted Magic also has a new GRUB version of the iso and the USB version is GRUB-ready. People have been asking for a "Save Session" function and we added it." Visit the project's news page and check out the latest changelog for a complete list of fixes and package updates.
Heiko Zuerker announced the release of Devil-Linux 1.2.15, a live firewall and server oriented distribution. "Devil-Linux 1.2.15 is available for download. The changes include lots of program and security updates. See the Changelog for details." Among the changes are: ImageMagick can now correctly identify file types again; added arping tool; added dev86 to build environment; added hotfix to allow ntop links against net-snmp; added missing LSI fusion scsi drivers to initial ramdisk; corrected dhcp compile; corrected motion compile; downgraded iptables to 1.3.7 (due to missing extensions, i.e. connlimit, time and others); increased compatibility of strongswan for windows and cisco clients. Read the brief release announcement and the changelog for more information.
GoblinX Premium 2008.2
Flavio Pereira de Oliveira today announced the availability of GoblinX Premium 2008.2, a Slackware-based desktop distribution and live CD: "Main upgrades since last stable release: Upgraded all packages. Upgraded Kernel (220.127.116.11), AuFS, Linux live and Squashfs. Added Bookmarks to GoblinX Panel. Added extra folders to be used as package repository. Added media package repository to Slapt-getrc. Added package upgrade check to Xfce panel with Xfce4-smartpm-plugin. Added interface to build module with Slapt-get help. Added initrd.img to be used by Suspend/Hibernate after install. Added Isolinux option to not load customization during boot..." Visit the project's news page to read the full announcement.
Absolute Linux 12.1.05
Paul Sherman announced the release of Absolute Linux 12.1.05, a light-weight, Slackware-based distribution featuring the IceWM window manager: "Big change is with the installer, "Autoinstall" option that takes care of drive partitioning along with the Lilo setup, making install much easier for new-comers to Linux and/or text-based installation. The usual options for installation are also still available. Documentation (HTML instructions for the install) have been updated both online in the ZIP that contains the iso. Here's the changelog: Redesigned installer to include an "autoinstall" option; Corrected internal "name" of links2.desktop file; absgamma.py (utility to adjust gamma of monitor) updated; Java updated to jre-6u7; gnome-icon-theme added for compatibility with some apps; Svgpage moved to CD2." Check the release announcement, changelog, and the package list for more info.
Debian GNU/Linux 4.0r4
The fourth update to Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 is available: "The Debian project is pleased to announce the fourth update of its stable distribution Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (codename etch). In addition to correcting several security problems and a few serious defects in the stable release, for the first time in Debian's history an update for a stable distribution also adds support for newer hardware by giving users the option to install newer drivers. Existing Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 installation CDs and DVDs can continue to be used to install this update. After installation, upgrading via an up-to-date Debian mirror will cause any out of date packages to be updated. However, users of the network-console installation method are strongly encouraged to update their media, see the "Debian Installer" portion of this announcement for more information. Those who install updates frequently from security.debian.org won't have to update many packages and most updates from security.debian.org are included in this update." Read the rest of the release announcement for a detailed list of all changes.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Parted Magic 3.0
This weekend I booted Parted Magic 3.0 to grab a screenshot for this week's Distrowatch Weekly and it was so neato, I thought maybe I'd share a bit about it. The name implies that it's a great tool for partitioning drives and with GParted, it is. But I guess I was just surprised to find a lot more.
It comes in a 44MB zip file and when uncompressed, it is either a 45MB ISO or approximately a 45MB directory of files for a USB stick (depending upon which you've downloaded). So, it's small. Now, I didn't have much luck with the USB method even though I followed the directions to a "T." However, the regular ISO burned and booted just fine.
It boots up into a basic Xfce 4 desktop either under Xorg or Xvesa. Its Xorg couldn't seem to do much more than 800x600 with my on-board NVIDIA chip and cheap VGA monitor I was using, but under Xvesa I could get 1280x1024. Parted Magic comes with X configuration tools in case you run into similar issues. Interestingly, it did boot my HP Pavilion laptop in its optimum resolution of 1280x800 under Xorg with similar graphics chip. I suppose it just didn't like that cheap old monitor.
Parted Magic comes with Conky configured and running on the desktop with lots of handy information. There is no main menu, but on the panel are several smaller categorized menus. In the Networking menu Firefox 3.0.1, XChat, GRSync, and lftp are found. Also included is a "Start Network." Since the internet connection isn't brought up at boot, you'll probably need that.
There is a help menu with some links to various parts of the Parted Magic website such as for the Changelog, list of programs, and the Parted Magic Documentation. Another nice touch in this menu is a list of Bash Key Combinations.
Parted Magic's Main Purpose - GParted in action
(full image size: 777kB, screen resolution: 1200x1024 pixels)
Then there is the Utility menu full of great tools. Some of these include Xfburn, Xarchiver, ISO Master, Partition Image (backup or restore), a couple of tools for trying to rescue lost data, a tool to make a LiveUSB of Parted Magic (that does indeed work), and more. Some other stand alone panel buttons are for screenshots, a terminal, and GParted.
I tested GParted on several filetypes I rarely even think about. These include JFS, XFS, NTFS, and Reiser4. It worked fine, so these in addition to the more commonly used are supported. The resulting partitions were readable as such from an actual install.
Then there's the Quit button. From it you can reboot, exit X, or shutdown. All in all I thought it was pretty cool. It's something every distro tester (or computer user for that matter) should have around their workstation for those occasional slips of the mouse and it'd be a handy way to partition those new drives or do backups of your main system that work better if not mounted. 45MB. There's always room for Parted Magic!
|Reviewed Last Week
Along with the in-depth review here this morning by Steve, Softpedia and the Red Devil gave NimbleX 2008 a test drive last week as well. Caitlyn Martin looked at an update to one of her long time favorites and Ericsbinaryworld took Puppy Linux 4.0 for a little spin.
* NimbleX has always been impressive. The main advantage is its amazing speed. Softpedia gives a complete introduction to all the software and features, but they were most impressed by the amount of graphical environments included in the 200 MB download. They said,
And here is the strong point of NimbleX 2008, that it uses no more than 7 (seven) desktops/window managers in 200 MB! Amazing, isn't it? In conclusion, NimbleX works very well, contains a lot of useful applications and window managers (desktops) for all tastes... and that's the most important thing.
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* Red Devil's Tech blog said,
NimbleX runs beautifully on my Dell laptop in live CD mode - my Intel/Pro wireless NIC was automatically detected and configured, requiring just my ESSID and encryption key to get me online via Wireless Assistant. Sound was working, the resolution was almost correct - 1280x768 instead of 1280x800 - my touchpad worked fine, USB memory sticks were automounted, and I had a battery icon in the panel accurately reporting my power. [But...]
* * * * *
* VectorLinux is a very capable system with nice looks and lots of useful applications. I've always like it. Ms. Martin examined 5.9 SOHO with a fine tooth comb and found a few issues, but in the end she admits it's still a favorite. She concludes:
Vector Linux 5.9 SOHO isn't free as in free of cost but the price is modest and there are no restrictions on use. It is probably worth the price of admission for those who know and like Vector Linux already and for anyone who is looking for a Linux distribution that is optimized for performance and who doesn't mind an occasional foray to the command line. Despite the caveats I've raised Vector Linux remains one of my favorite distributions for the desktop. SOHO is the flavor of Vector Linux that has the most to offer in terms of ready to go software for those who like KDE for their desktop environment.
* * * * *
* Puppy is one of my favorite little distros because it packs so much into such a tiny package. And it works so well... for me. Eric stated,
Once I finally got it working, I was surprised at how well it worked with my wide screen monitor. They don't have nice, glitzy GUIs. But if the newbie didn't care or if it was their only choice because someone donated an old clunker to them, I think Puppy Linux would serve them well. I like Puppy Linux and I think they continue to create a good lightweight distro with lots of programs.
Ladislav is still on his vacation this week and I'm still filling in. Again, if you'd like to share any good distro news with me and the Distrowatch Weekly readers in the next couple of weeks, you may email me at srlinuxx at gmail dot com. I want to thank Steven for the wonderful review and Dr. W T Zhu for his invaluable assistance.|
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next installment will be published on Monday, 04 August 2008.
|• Issue 555 (2014-04-21): Robolinux 7.4.2, Ubuntu release day stats, Debian security, Porteus update|
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Issue 518 (2013-07-29): MidnightBSD 0.4, Razor-qt, Ubuntu Edge, mounting infected drives|
|• Issue 517 (2013-07-22): Zorin OS 7 "Lite", Slackware turns 20, UbuntuForums compromise, Raspbian as home server, Tor|
|• Issue 516 (2013-07-15): Review of Fedora 19 "KDE", Shuttleworth on Mir, Seth Vidal, Kingsoft Office for Linux|
|• Issue 515 (2013-07-08): Whonix 0.5.6 and Deepin 12.12, MintBox, processor capabilities, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 514 (2013-07-01): Peppermint Four, Mir, Mandriva forks, ThinkPenguin on libre hardware|
|• Issue 513 (2013-06-24): Look at ROSA, PC-BSD updates, Xen4CentOS6, Slacko vs Precise, Mageia interview, shells|
|• Issue 512 (2013-06-17): Trisquel 6.0, RHEL 7 with GNOME Classic, from Linux to FreeBSD, first look at Wayland|
|• Issue 511 (2013-06-10): Mint 15 impressions, GNOME Classic, Ubuntu Community portal, Absolute OpenBSD|
|• Issue 510 (2013-06-03): Impressions of aptosid 2013-01, Wayland comes to Raspberry Pi, maintaining DNS settings|
|• Issue 509 (2013-05-27): Mageia 3, Debian GNU/Hurd, RebeccaBlackOS with Wayland, ports|
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Full list of all issues|
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