SLAMPP 2.0 Linux Server on your PC in Minutes – Review and Screenshots

An Instant Home Server

SLAMPP 2.0 is a “simple solution for home server” based on Zenwalk 6.0 and using the Slackware package repository.  Slampp is released as a Live DVD that can also be installed on your hard drive.  Slampp claims to enable users to install an ‘instant home server’.  Slampp v.2.0 – (Kalinda) was released on July 28, 2009.

Slampp download mirrors –  The 1.9 GB download went rather smoothly.  Slampp currently has a handful of mirror sites, and I expect that will grow as the popularity of the distro increases.

Installation

The live DVD booted up but didn’t recognize my keyboard at first, and went to a default boot after 30 seconds. The installation is the same as Zenwalk, and if you are familiar with that distro, you will feel at home here.  The installation asks you if you need to install any proprietary software drivers.  I said No, and the computer hang.  I then rebooted, got to that screen again, and said Yes, and the installation continued with the X11 session manager.  After about 3 minutes, the Xfce desktop appeared.

First Impressions

desktop

Slampp looks alot like Zenwalk, which makes sense, since it’s based upon it.  The Xfce 4 desktop is clean and quite easy to navigate.  Slampp is loaded with many installed packages (see gallery screenshots) which adds to the bulk of the download.

The quick launch menu bar at the bottom center is user-friendly and there are quick luanch icons on the left bottom for network settings and file manager.  Slampp borrows much of its good looks from Zenwalk, and its power from Slackware – both of which are worthy bases from which to draw.

Who Needs This?  New users or webmasters?

Slampp’s website says this distro is intended for first-time Linux users to experience a non-Windows OS from the Live DVD.  However, the headline of the website is that Slampp is for an easy home server implementation.

Those two goals seem to collide.  Most Windows users looking for a Linux joy-ride would not also want to implement a server from a live-DVD.  It seems like they are trying to cater to two distinct user types.

I was initially turned on to the easy home server setup concept.  I was somewhat dismayed to realize  what that meant is there are server tools in the networking section.  I did not see the expected quick-link icon on the desktop telling first-time users to click on this button to  “Create a Home Server”.

Packages Installed

Slampp is like Zenwalk on steroids.  This is a 1.8GB download, and they’ve stuffed a whole bunch of packages into this distro that aren’t usually added due to size restrictions.  The networking section is loaded with server tools, such as SSH server, NX Session Admin, DHCP server, etc…  The application toolset it filled with goodies, including a full open office installation.

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.

I’m Back with Kubuntu Linux (and Happy as Ever)

It was an uneasy breakup.  Kubuntu and I had parted about two months ago rather abruptly after I had installed 9.02.   After a nearly four year love affair between us, I felt that I had been jaded.  The new KDE 4.1 Plasma desktop was awkward and things just didn’t seem right.

Numerous crashes.  Not knowing where things went.  Applications acting strange.  It was as though I had returned from a vacation to my home and all the rooms had been redecorated.  After much soul-searching and investigation, I decided not to leave the Ubuntu “family” just yet, but to forsake KDE (as I felt they had forsaken me with Plasma) and to move to Gnome with Ubuntu.

From the get-go, Ubuntu seemed familiar and easy to use.  All the elements were in the right place.   It was as though the stars had aligned.  I was happy again as a Linux user.  I was sold on Ubuntu.  I wrote off KDE and Kubuntu.  Sure, there were plenty of pleasant KDE implementations, many better than Kubuntu, like Mandriva and SUSE.  Even Mepis 8.0, with it’s KDE 3.5 was appealing.  But, I had decided to stay with Ubuntu.  It was inertia, and it felt fine.

After about a month of using Ubuntu on Gnome, the cracks in the foundation started appearing.  Where was Klipper!  Amarok didn’t work well.  The Gnome tools felt different than KDE.  The Alsa sound drivers were having problems all the time.  Come to think of it, I missed KDE…

So, after two months, I’m back with Kubuntu.  This time, I’ve installed KDE 4.2.  Many of the kinks of the original Plasma version have been worked out.  I’ve been reunited with all my favorite KDE apps in their native desktop environment.  Even the sound card is working again.  I’m happy to be back.  The only real holdover from my Gnome days is Evolution.  I’ve left Kmail, and for now have taken a real liking to Evolution as the best email app for my needs.

KDE is working on releasing v.4.3.  They are up to RC2, and there are details on the Kubuntu website on how to upgrade your existing KDE desktop within Kubuntu.   If you are still struggling with KDE 4.1, I strongly encourage you to check out at least v.4.2, and/or leapfrog to 4.3.

My next hill to conquer is whether to leap with KDE to another distro such as Mandriva or Open Suse.  There are so many choices out there for Linux users.  But the old adage still rings true – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Let us know about your KDE vs. Gnome vs. Xfce experiences.

Xubuntu 9.04 Linux – Official Ubuntu Lite Review, Screenshots & Comparisons

Xubuntu is Ubuntu’s official “Lite” version.  Their tagline “Linux for human beings” sort of makes me chuckle – as if the other flavors of unix are for monkees and aliens?  Xubuntu has set out to do what a number of comparable distros are also vying for, ‘the minimalist’ side of Linux.  They claim that Xubuntu is  “that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. It contains all the applications you need – a web browser, document and spreadsheet editing software, instant messaging and much more.”  We set out to see for ourselves.

Being that Ubuntu is a big organization, the download mirrors for Xubuntu are quite vast. Xubuntu 9.04 is a ~600 MB file and downloads rather quickly assuming you choose a nearby mirror.

Installation

For a lite distro, I was hoping for a much faster installation.  From start to finish, the install took nearly 45 minutes.  There may have been specific hardware factors that slowed it down, but the installer never complained, it just took a lot of time.

Our reviews of other “lite” distros have proven to be much quicker to install.  The amount of install screens and questions to be answered is the same for Xubuntu than for example, Mepis, and Vector, yet both of those distros installed in a fraction of the time that Xubuntu required.

First Impressions

The Xfce desktop is neat and clean.  There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but the things you need are readily available.  Xubuntu is meant to be a “lite” version of Linux, and on that promise they deliver.

desktop
Desktop

Installed Packages

You’re a click away from the Firefox browser and your file manager.  The folks at Xubuntu settled on Mozilla’s Thunderbird for your email client.  This is an interesting selection since although Thunderbird is quick and competent, and there are plenty of plug-ins to choose from, it is lacking the off-the-shelf integration with calendar and other desktop tools.

Xubuntu has a sparce smattering of installed apps.  The heavy tools like Open Office and Gimp are missing, but what you are left with is just enough to get your work (and some play) done.  By comparison, other lite-linux versions, like Puppy Linux, have foregone Firefox prefering the less-memory hogging Sea.  Xubuntu lacks a comprehensive multi-media app, such as VLC Player, which is included with Vector Linux.

Competition

Vector Linux is a fair comparison to Xubuntu since it is targeting a similar user audience, and both distros have chosen the Xfce desktop.  We liked the speed and power of Vector very much.  Vector is built on the Slackware frame, whereas Xubuntu takes its roots from Debian.  Vector’s installation went quicker, but it was bit less fool-proof than Xubuntu.  Vector includes the useful VASM, for powerful configuration options in an easy format.  The Vector landscape is filled with useful tools, while Xubuntu has only a few.

Puppy Linux is also a good distro to compare with Xubuntu.  The Puppy runs exceptionally fast as the entire OS is loaded into the computer’s RAM at bootup.  Puppy Linux manages to get everything done in only a 100MB download.  The installation from a live CD is a cynch that any non-techie could easily accomplish.  First-time Puppy users may get spoiled with the speed of their OS and never want to try another lite distro.

It boils down to user preference.  There are many flavors of ice cream at the shop too, and they all seem to get eaten.  There is a whole sub-category now of Linux distros for older machines and lite installations.  Xubuntu is less of an invention in its own right, and more of an adaptation of Ubuntu.

Xubuntu Screenshots Gallery

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Vector Linux 6.0 Gold – Review and Screenshots

Vector Linux is a popular Linux Distro whose motto is “speed, performance, stability”.

Version 6.0 was released in February 2009.  Their stated goal is to “Keep it simple, keep it small and let the end user decide.”  Having said that, this end user decided to see what was cooking at Vector.

Xfce Desktop – GNOME packages

The modest but pleasant Xfce Desktop is complemented with a nice array of GNOME packages.

Download

The 700 MB ISO download directly from their website http://vectorlinux.com/downloads was fast and without incident.

Vector also offers a deluxe version, which includes installation support and costs $22.99, available for purchase online at their website  (Note: We are not associated with Vector in any way).

Vector also comes in a KDE version.  The Xfce version reviewed here is targeted at the power user and at users with older hardware looking for a fast Linux that will work without bells and whistles.

Tricky Installation

There is no live CD, so you’ll have to install Vector Linux to begin testing its capabilities.  The installation screens are pretty straight forward for active linux users.  First-timers and users new to Linux may find the installation a bit daunting.  Vector has been around for about 10 years, and the process is polished, however, it’s roots are in Slackware (A Linux distro for advanced users), and it sometimes shows.

Install 3

Most of the questions should be familiar to users who have installed Windows, such as configuring your time zone and language.  You will have to configure a Linux partition on which to install the OS.  There is an automatic configuration option for those who find it too confusing to configure it manually.

Pleasant Desktop, Nice Selection of Installed Apps

Desktop
Desktop

Installed internet browsers include Sea Monkey, Opera, and Firefox.

Open Office is not installed on the basic version (it is included in the Deluxe edition). Instead you’ll have Gnumeric Spreadsheet, Abiword, and Calendar.

Multimedia includes the great VLC player, Mplayer, Xine, XMMS, and others.

Configure your system with the VASM Control Center.

Gallery of Screenshots

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Dreamlinux 3.5 Quick Review and Screenshots

Dreamlinux 3.5 is a Debian (Lenny 5.0) based popular Linux distro from Brazil.

Dreamlinux can be run directly from a CD/DVD/USBStick or to a Hard drive. Dreamlinux comes with a selection of the best applications designed to meet most of your daily needs.  Dreamlinux ships with the XFCE desktop, which is pleasant and easy to navigate.

This distro is really suited for a USB disk on key install, and the installation disk offers several easy step installations depending on your intended media (USB, CD, Hard drive, etc…).

In pursuit of the perfect Linux Distro

The folks at Dreamlinux have a goal, to make a distro where ‘dreams can come true’.  The idea is to take a solid core Linux distro, Debian, make it look pretty, add the coolest and most-needed apps, then make it easy to install to just about anything.

The distro lives up to the magic of easy to distribute and pretty looks.  As for the most-needed or best apps, I guess that’s a matter of personal preference.  I for one would have liked to see Gimp, for example.  But then again, with Linux, you are always just an install away from your favorites that may have been left out from the start.

Bottom line

Dreamlinux is a good distro and looks great.  Do they have the stamina for udpates and consistency of the larger distros?  Maybe users with more experience on this distro can chime in here.

Let’s take a walk through the OS with screenshots.

Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen
Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen

Nothing fancy here, but wait, the good stuff is soon to come.

I’m running this in a virtual machine (VMWare) so you can see the VMware menus straddling some of these snapshots.

Dream Linux 3.5

Nice looking desktop with easy to navigate menus.  Here’s the Office menu.  No suprises here.

Dream Linux 3.5

A matter of personal taste.  Many users like the menu bar with the Mac look.  As you mouse over the icon enlarges to give the 3d effect.

Gallery of Screenshots

Here’s a gallery of screenshots, including the nifty compass that appears as the default homepage on the internet browser.