Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
In a lot of the same ways I liked Wolvix, I like Vector Linux. On the other hand, there’s enough that’s different that I probably won’t keep it. Part of that might be a sophomore slump having just seen Wolvix in action: It’s a hard act to follow. But there are other reasons I didn’t take to it immediately.
Layoutwise, it’s a pleasant, if unorthodox, rearrangement of the XFCE style.
Start times for the ugly little laptop were comparable to Wolvix, which puts them in the “better than Xubuntu-Zenwalk” category, in my book. From LILO (which has a nice splash screen, I must add) to desktop was 1:47, with the login manager taking the extra step of remembering who logged in last. That’s a nice touch.
Terminals open in under three seconds, which is faster than just about everybody else right now. Thunar opens to the home folder in under five seconds. Firefox opens in roughly 14 seconds on this machine, and shutdown is over and done with in only 29.5 seconds. Those are good times, really. Some do far worse.
Installation from the “Standard GOLD” version was interesting, if somewhat unorthodox. The installer has a less “professional” feel that most. Menu options sometimes have cutesy tag lines. If I remember right, confirming the install sequence has “C’mon mate, let’s start!” or something like that after it. There are others that give it a less staid impression, although for some that might be a turnoff. To each his own.
Overall, setup was acceptable, but somewhat less efficient than others. It seemed odd that I had to configure my keyboard (a Japanese 106-key arrangement) twice; I don’t recall if those were separate steps for different parts of the system, but the options and selection sequence were identical each time.
There were some other quirks in the installation process, so I can’t give it an all-around thumbs up. For one, the installer asks for a 512Mb swap partition, which I didn’t notice until after I had repartitioned the drive with a 256Mb swap, and then rebooted (apparently you must reboot after running cfdisk, which I found somewhat irksome). There was no error message for the smaller swap though; perhaps it was only a suggested size.
Installation said it couldn’t find a network card, so I had a brief depressed moment, but then when the desktop came to life, I was already online and connected with the previously mentioned Xircom Realport. That’s a plus, for me. So far, only Xubuntu, Wolvix and Vector have handled that crucial point without blinking.
There were some unusual aspects to the desktop too. First, I didn’t install Opera, but starting Firefox the first time asked to import configuration files and bookmarks from Opera. Perhaps I overlooked something, but I wouldn’t think Firefox would sense Opera on a clean system that had never seen Opera.
Another point was the wireless icon on the taskbar, in spite of the fact that I have no wireless card in the system. Naturally I can remove that in two seconds, so I won’t gripe about it. Still, it seems odd to add one by default.
Vector takes an unusual approach for external mounted drives too. A USB drive throws up two icons — one as a shortcut to open Thunar in that drive, and the other to unmount it. Different icons for those tasks would be my suggestion; I clicked on one thinking I would get Thunar, but instead the drive unmounted and both icons disappeared. My fault for not looking closer, but still. …
Otherwise, I like the arrangement. The default wallpaper is sharp, the mouse icons are unusual, the themes are clean and glossy. It’s an interesting rearrangement — not strict XFCE, but definitely not ugly. And since all those things are easily changed, it’s not worth complaining if you don’t like the look.
I’m also a fan of the mountpoint icon in the taskbar. I know that’s not common in most Linux/XFCE systems because it doesn’t have a corollary in Windows, but once you understand what Linux is doing and why it’s convenient, the mountpoint icon is very useful.
All the same, I didn’t really take a liking to it. It’s a tiny bit faster than most XFCE systems, but I found installation unsavory and too quirky for my liking. Call me a prude, but I’d rather there weren’t any grammatical or spelling errors in the installer, and I don’t care for the streaming marquee of acknowledgements. That, plus the casual overtone, was just a little too TRL-ish for me.
So it was a brief, but interesting interlude. I’m trying elive next, and that will probably be the last stop before I build a quasi-permanent system on that laptop. It’s mostly because I want to rebuild my Arch system on my Inspiron, and I’d like to have one machine online in case of difficulty. But I also want to peck at the hardware a little bit, and I want to do that under Ubuntu. (I get some strange behavior sometimes that I want to trace.) I might surf distros with it in a few more days, but I need a stable, standing system until then.