Linpus Linux Lite 9.4 – Review and Screenshots

Linpus Linux is a Fedora based distro that was designed to support the Asian market with Unicode support.  However, Linpus is available in English, as well as several other languages, from their website.  The Linpus Linux Lite version reviewed here is designed to be a simple to use and low memory usage for the Netbook and light-computer user community.  Some Acer Netbooks come pre-installed with Linpus Lite.

The version reviewed here, Linpus Lite 9.4, was released in December 2007.  Many of the installed packages are outdated, however once you’ve installed the OS, you can easily update any required application by accessing the RPM Repository.

Installation

Linpus Lite came as a 700 MB download from their website.  We had to jump through a few pages to get to the actual download file.  The download itself was quick and the bootup for the Live CD installation was quick and painless.  After the OS loaded, the initial desktop display is in simple-mode.  After the initial loading, we did not experience any CD churning including during heavier memory tasks, such as loading Open Office and Firefox.

First Impressions

Linpus Lite is actually two Linux OS in one.  There’s simple mode, which is easy enough for children and total computer newbies to navigate, and the more standard Fedora desktop which is fine for most users.  We liked the choices provided, and the simplicity of the setup in both environments.

desktop
Simple Mode

Full Mode
Full Mode

The Simple mode is super-intuitive.  There are five menu tabs on top, each opening a new screen of applications represented by big icons in squares.  The layout is not only pretty, but also very functional.  I did not see a way to add or edit the icons or paths to the quick links.  That would further add to the usefullness of this menu structure.

The Full mode is actually a full-power Fedora Desktop.  If you never knew that the simple mode existed, Linpus would exist in its own right as a capable Fedora-based distro.

There’s a little icon on the bottom left corner toggles between the simple and full modes.

Toggle Desktop
Toggle Desktop

Installed Applications

This section is a bit dated since this distro version was launched in late 2007.  The aging Open Office 2.2 and Firefox 2.0 are shining examples of packages that require immediate updating once you’ve got the OS running.  The good news is that with Synaptics Package Manager, you can select the afore-mentioned RPMs and easily update, as well as install everything Fedora has to offer.

Gallery of Screenshots

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Zenwalk 6.01 Live CD Review & Screenshots

Zenwalk 6.01 is a Linux Distro that aims to modern, user-friendly, and fast.

They offer four versions for download on their website:

  • Standard desktop OS
  • Core version – for minimal installation.  This can be used as a server, or as a starting point for desktop users to then install whatever packages they need rather than going with a standard installation.
  • Live Edition (reviewed here) – Try out Zenwalk Linux from your CD drive without installing to your hard drive.  Includes a full complement of programming tools, disk and partitioning management, and more.
  • Gnome Edition – Gnome Desktop installation.

Download and Install

Developers love Zenwalk.  It’s fast but has frills too.   We downloaded the Live CD iso file, which was approx 687MB, one of the larger Live CD distro downloads we’ve seen thusfar.   The download was quick and painless.

First Impressions

The live CD boots quickly and without problems.  The default Xfce desktop is clean and easy on the eyes.  There’s a handy menu bar at the bottom for quick links to most used items. The menu tree expands from a start button on the top left of the screen.  We instinctively knew where all elements and items were to be found since everything was placed exactly where you’d expect.

Desktop
Desktop

It Ain’t Fancy, But It Works Well

Zenwalk follows the Mies Vander Roe school of thought that “Less is More.”  There are few gadgets and widgets to get in your way here.  Lack of fancy does not equal a reduction in usefullness.    Zenwalk Live CD comes installed with a full aray of your favorite Linux apps, with a nice and well fortified repository for you to add more programs after installation.

Modular Approach

Zenwalk focuses on a modular approach to application processing, while allowing only one application per task.  This modular processing approach makes things work fast!  Many users have configured Zenwalk in its minimal state (core download) and use it as a thin client or fast server for gaming or application handling.

Installed Apps

The Live CD comes with a fine assortment of installed applications.  Development tools included are Heany and Hex editor.  For graphics, Gimp is installed along with Evince.  Multimedia tools include Brasero for CD/DVD burning, Exaile, Media Player, and others.  The full Open Office 3.0 package is installed (which you’d expect with a nearly 700 MB download).   Zenwalk shines with a nice list of network tools, including SSH and VNC browsers, Icedove, Iceweasel, Pidgin, Bittorent, and more.  See screenshots for the Live CD menus.

Gallery of Screenshots

Conclusion

Zenwalk 6.01 Live CD is a worthy distro for users looking for a straightforward and fast OS with access to a full range of apps, particularly for the developer community.  Zenwalk is on version 6, which attests to its longevity, and for good reason.  Zenwalk (formerly minislack) has a dedicated community who actively participates in the forums on their website.  The fast Xfce desktop coupled with a good smattering of installed apps and an full repository makes Zenwalk a good choice for many Linux users.  There’s always room for a distro that just works.

ArtistX Linux 0.7 – An Ubuntu Alternative – Review & Screenshots

ArtistX 0.7 http://www.artistx.org/site2/

ArtistX is touted as a “free multimedia live Gnu/Linux distribution for audio, 2D and 3D graphics and video”.  It’s based on Ubuntu (Intrepid 8.10) with Gnome and KDE desktops and featured literally 2,500 software packages in the media, graphics, and video space.  In fact, ArtistX claims to have included all currently available Linux software in the multimedia space, and therefore can turn your computer into a full multimedia production studio.

When I read the blurb from their website, my initial reaction was, why not just stick with Ubuntu and toss in whatever apps from their distro looked interesting.  For starters,  how much time would it take you to carefully select and add 2,500 new apps (many that are not available on the Ubuntu repositories)?  There is an amazing number of useful tools all packaged up nicely here into one distro.  Have a look at the gallery below to see the screenshots of the menu categories.

Here’s the main desktop.

Artisitx Desktop

Pleasant, neat, very Gnome…  The desktop background is a bit too much in my opinion, but we get the idea of what they are trying to accomplish.   ArtistX has a KDE desktop as well, but the real action here is in the multimedia packages.

Live DVD

The download is about 3.3 GB, which I decided to take from the Torrent listed on their website.  The iso file download is then burned to a DVD, and voila, you have a Live DVD to either run ArtistX or install to your USB drive without ever touching your hard drive.

Is ArtistX the Uber Linux?

The menu structure is very pleasant, and well organized.  It’s actually easier to use than Ubuntu.  Considering the large number of applications to choose from, you can see that they gave a lot of thought as to how to display them and make it easy to access all your favorite (and never seen before) tools.

This distro really has a lot of good things going on.  ArtistX is based on Ubuntu (which itself is based on Debian), so you know you’re starting with a solid base.  The polish of the site is evident.  Likewise, they have compiled an enormous amount of software tools into one flavor of Linux.  It would take many days (and weeks) to go through all of the thousands of tools included in ArtistX.

Despite their ‘calling card’, ArtistX is not just about an enormous number of graphical and multimedia tools.  Have a look at the Games and Education section.  It looks like they tossed in Edubuntu as well.  There’s also about 50 internet tools, 30 office tools, 40 programming tools, and needless to say, a seemingly unending number of graphics, sound, and media tools.

Conclusion

ArtistX is still in the early stages and may not be your workhorse desktop distro just yet (they are still on v.0.70), but there’s a great potential here.  If you are interested in using Linux as your multimedia workstation, then you’ll definitely want to give it a try.  The only question that I have is, what can they add for the next release, since everything is already included!

Slax 3.5 Minimal Linux KDE – Live CD – Quick Review & Snapshots

Continuing on my search for a Kubuntu replacement as I wrote about in my earlier post.

Slax 3.5 Minimal Live CD
Here’s a nice KDE 3.5 Linux distro with a minimal set of applications and only a 180 MB download. The Live CD took about 5 minutes to fully load and the CD was constantly churning throughout the entire time I demoed the product.

Since it’s a minimal distro, there’s no Gimp, no Firefox, no Open Office. Instead, you have Kplayer, Kopete, K3B, Konquerer, ,Konsole, Kword, Kspread, and Kpresent. Everything worked fine (except for the excessive CD churning).

The desktop is aesthetically pleasing with the tux background spread over the continents.  The menus are set pleasingly to the eyes.  The folks at Slax have decided not to jump to KDE 4 yet, and I think that’s a great move, until the kinks have been ironed out on the plasma desktop.

Although Slax was pleasing, it didn’t tickle my Linux bone enough to give up Ubuntu in my search for a Kubuntu replacement. The search continues…

Slax Live CD Screenshots


Open Suse KDE Live CD Quick Review – Snapshots

Looking for a KDE replacement for Kubuntu…

Open Suse KDE with Live CD

Novell has got this baby hopping and it’s a serious contender for the Kubuntu replacement that I’ve been searching. Although it’s running on KDE 4.1, they seem to have put the pieces together nicely.

Plasma Desktop – like it or not
The plasma desktop, which is the new interface for KDE 4, is one of the ‘like it or not’ kind of things.  I personally do not like it one bit.  The tab menus are confusing.  The lack of a simple “desktop” metaphor that we’ve become accustomed to, and the hokey clicking on arrows to get to sub menus, just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me.

Loading took a long time

Loading of the live CD took about 3 minutes, which seemed like forever.  The CD was quiet once the loading stopped.

Beautiful Desktop

The default desktop is a very pleasing green with nice menu colors.  The tools are all there as you’d expect.  No surprises.  You will have to install Gimp on your own.

Screenshots

Open Suse KDE 4 Screenshot
Open Suse KDE 4 Screenshot
Open Suse KDE 4 Tab Menus
Open Suse KDE 4 Tab Menus

Knoppix 6.01 Quick Review – KDE Alternative to Kubuntu

I’m reviewing KDE distros of Linux as part of my ongoing series, searching for a replacement to Kubuntu, which I have been running for three years but decided to leave after their upgrade to KDE 4.x

Knoppix 6.01 Live CD

Knoppix 6.01 is running LXDE, that’s a good start in my opinion.  I remember using a much earlier version of Knoppix about 8 years ago as a Live CD version of Linux.  It was one of the first (correct me if I’m wrong) to push the outer limit of Linux distros and show that you can run an OS from a CD.

Having not used Knoppix in so many years, it was quite nostalgic to hear the nice lady say “initiating startup sequence”, like a 1950s sci-fi TV show.  The OS loaded rather quickly and once the KDE main window was up, the CD stopped churning and it didn’t churn again through the entire review.  They probably have the best memory-load of the live-cd distros.

Annoying Animation Effect

Someone made a design decision to make the windows and menus have animation.  It was cute for about one second.  No more.  Obviously, this is a configuration option that one could change, but why would you include that as a default?  How many people, regardless of age, really want their Firefox browser exploding into blocks when they close the window?  I set a capture screen on delay so you can see what I’m writing about.

Knoppix 6.01 Screen Shots

snap1
Knoppix Main Screen

Knoppix 6.01 Animated Window Close
Knoppix 6.01 Animated Window Close

The desktop itself came with no other major surprises. The software selection was a bit different than I’ve seen in other distros.  They had Gnome mplayer as the default music tool.  Gimp was included, as well as Open Office, and Korganizer.

When I shut down the CD, the nice lady said “Initiating Shutdown Sequence”.

Well, I’ve already left Kubuntu.  So far, Mandrive has shown promise.  Knoppix is not for me.  Onward the search for a replacement continues …