Tag Archives: OS

I just Slax’d my USB drive

After trying out Slax yesterday, I did the obvious. I wanted to carry it around with me and so I Slax’d (did I coin a new term? 😉 ) my almost three year old Kingston Data Traveler 2GB drive. I emptied the drive contents on another drive and installed Slax on it.

I extracted the TAR ball to the drive and executed bootinst.sh but there was a problem with the installation. I moved the /boot and /slax directories to the root of the drive and then ran bootinst.sh and this time everything went well. I booted the Slax from its new home and voila I had an OS with the most necessary tools at my finger tips.

However, there were a few hiccups. I downloaded two modules, Firefox and Amarok. The modules came with warnings that they may not work properly but I still went ahead and installed both of them. Amarok refused to start but Firefox behaved well. I set the network IP as mine is a static IP and played around a while. I was really curious about the settings getting saved. So I rebooted with my USB drive again.

Firefox was nowhere to be found. Amarok would still not start. Well, these modules are add-ons and may not work well and I was indeed warned ahead. But what surprised me was the static IP, Subnet mask and Gateway addresses had disappeared leaving only the Primary DNS IP intact. I am not sure what is wrong but I am definitely going to investigate. I could live with Konqueror, if, I was only going to use Slax as a recovery/emergency OS but since I am planning to use it as a regular OS on my older computer, Firefox becomes a necessity. I also need a good music player and JuK by no stretch of imagination is comparable to Amarok.

I still have to try the other included programs. Will keep posting about my discoveries on Slax 🙂

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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

Mandriva One 2009 – Kaptivating KDE

It has been a couple of days since the Mandriva team released Mandriva Linux 2009 in KDE and GNOME flavours. I decided to try Mandriva and see for myself how it has improved over Mandriva Linux 2008.1. So, I downloaded the One version based on the KDE desktop. The One version is a Live CD and helps to see how it all works without installing it on to the computer. So lets get started.

The test system is my year and half old Dell Inspiron powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.73 GHz. It is supported by a GB of RAM and the graphics support is provided by an Intel 945 GMA. It has bluetooth and an Intel 3945 a/b/g wireless chip. That is not really a cutting edge configuration but enough to get work done.

As for the Mandriva Live CD, the first thing it reveals is its new artwork. Blue is out and black is in. There are fine lines of various colours on a black background. Mandriva has moved to KDE 4 and this version packs KDE 4.1.2. Other goodies include Mozilla Firefox 3, OpenOffice.org 3.0, Amarok 2 SVN version. There is no Flash or Java support out of the box but MP3 files were played without any complaints.

This is how the desktop looks right after booting. Mandriva has chosen to use its La Ora theme for the controls and the window decoration than go with Oxygen. I think this is a good move. I personally like the window decoration to be distinct from the work area. There are some pretty themes for both the desktop as well for the Plasma engine. The wallpapers are pretty refreshing too.

I can easily say that this is one of the best KDE 4 distros out there. openSUSE has the KDE 4 desktop as default for a while now, but I should say that nothing comes close to the polish that one can see in Mandriva Linux 2009. The OS is a pleasure to use. Another area that has received more attention is the Mandriva Control Center and this is apparent from the new sleek design. Another important thing – Plasma is quite stable and crashed just once when I tried to change the wallpaper. Not sure what went wrong but at second attempt things worked as expected.

There are a few areas where things are still to be improved. For example, when I wanted to check the amount of free space in my hard drive, there was a question mark in the place where the drive icon should have been. I know, this is minor, but does not reflect well on a OS which not so long ago was considered the best linux distro out there for anyone to try. Icons were missing in a few other places as well.

I did not have a wireless network so I could not test that. I know this is really important but I just did not have a hotspot around to test. Another thing that did not work was the front audio control. This one is also quite important and I would like to know if there is any way to get it working. But that apart, almost all the other components worked. The display was set to the correct resolution at 1280 X 800.

Initially there were some redrawing issues, especially on the window decoration, but once I turned Compiz off, everything was smooth. I guessed that an Intel 945 GMA is not sufficient to run Compiz and Plasma together. I tried booting the CD on my brother’s fairly recent desktop powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 processor with 2 GB RAM and an Nvidia 9500 GT with 512 MB RAM. The same issue was visible. However, I tried to boot with the CD again and this time there was no such problem. I am not sure what is wrong.

My conclusion is I am going to install this as dual boot with my current OS and try using it for a while and then decide which is the one OS that I am going to retain for daily use. I have got used to GNOME apps and I may be critical of some KDE apps. I would just like to tell everyone that I started with KDE with Red Hat but have come to like GNOME. I am not going to start a flame war here but Mandriva 2009 has made KDE 4 Kaptivating enough for new users. I sincerely wish Mandriva goes back to be one of the best Linux distros for anyone wanting to use it.

I have a bunch of screenshots here. So let me know what you think.