Monthly Archives: February 2009

Slax – Tiny, beautiful, functional

I had downloaded Slax a few days ago. But due to work commitments, I could try it out only today. I should say, I am

Slax

Slax

very impressed with this little distro.  Slax is a Live CD distribution meant to run from a CD or a USB drive. The default package is just 190 MB and the site offers iso images for those wishing to run Slax from a CD or a tar archive for those wishing to run it from a USB drive. An iso image can also be made from the tar archive and the iso image can also be used to run Slax from a USB drive. It works both ways and it is pretty convenient.

The best feature of Slax is Modules. Modules can be added to the default pacakge before download. Modules include additional programs, tools and utilities. Modules can also be added or removed at a later stage. This makes the distribution very versatile. Slax makes for a very good recovery or emergency OS.

Live CD

I tried the Live CD flavour of Slax. It booted up quickly on my laptop running an Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 processor with 1 GB RAM. I did not time the boot sequence, though. Another nifty feature of Slax is it can be loaded and run completly from RAM without the CD in the drive. This is very useful for people who have just one CD drive on their desktops or people using laptops.

Included Software

Slax is a KDE based distribution and it runs KDE 3.5.10

Other packages include

K3B
KolourPaint
Kopete
Konqueror
KOffice

plus other utilities a couple of games and tools for the Internet. The packages are not bleeding edge and this helps greatly in the stability of the distribution. There is no OpenOffice.org or Firefox in the default package. I figured out that Firefox can be downloaded from the modules, but did not check on OpenOffice.org

Conclusion

After running this distribution for a while, I immediately thought it would be a great fit on my very old PIII 1.1 GHz with just 256 MB of RAM. Currently this machine is chugging along with Win XP and Ubuntu with Ubuntu replacing Mandriva since the drive containing Mandriva failed. It is a stop gap distro and I was searching for something light to replace Ubuntu. From the time I discovered Slax, I have been researching how to install it on a computer. Since it is a Live CD distro there doesn’t seem to be a direct way to install it. All in all Slax is beautiful, minimal and functional.

I am still trying to empty my flash drive to run Slax on it and to see if my other files can happily co-exist. If I manage to do that, I will do another post.

Screen shots

Here are a few screen shots of beautiful Slax

A new look

I have always had a fascination for blue as it looks cool and professional at the same time. However, there has been a big itch inside me to try something new. Unfortunately, I ended up with something blue.

This time I decided to do a makeover of my blog and to keep away from blue. I tried various themes and finally choose the Cutline theme which is all white. The themes is clean and simple and I like it. I have retained the custom header for now while I get something good to replace or even try to make a custom header myself.

As for something useful, I had tried Slax a while back and would write about it in the coming days.

Hard disk – dead, DVD Burner – clinging to life

Saturday was rather a bad day as far as my aging home computer was concerned. My 8 year old, 20GB Seagate hard drive started making strange clicking noises that got louder with time and broke Mandriva’s ext3 file system. I tried for a while to desperately recover it since this is the drive that had the boot manager. I was not willing to re-install Windows XP on my new hard drive but preferred to install Linux which would not only install the boot loader but happily add Windows to it.

So, I formatted the old hard drive and removed it. Then I made a new 10 GB partition on the other 80 GB hard drive. I proceeded with Ubuntu Intrepid installation from the DVD. It failed a couple of times showing no activity. I then jumped to the text installer which took almost an hour to install. This was the longest Linux installation I ever had on this computer.

After the install everything looked good. There was a new GRUB by Ubuntu and Windows was right at the bottom of the list. Both Ubuntu and Windows had no problem with booting. More importantly there was no loud clicking from inside the cabinet. I heaved a sigh of relief and went to bed at 1 AM

Happy that I had saved myself time by not reinstalling Windows XP, I proceeded to burn a few DVDs. To my horror I realised that the LG Dual Layer DVD burner could read but not burn. I tried Brasero and Nautilus burner to no avail. Brasero gave a huge error log. Google did not help. So I rebooted into Windows and tried burning with Nero. Nero too gave out a huge error log but crisply added a line “Invalid Block Address”. I searched online for the next one hour in vain.

I am not sure what happened, I just dont want the DVD burner to die. If anyone has had such issues and sorted them out, please drop a line.