I had a lot of time available to myself over the past week, as you might have guessed by my relative proliferation of posts. Some of that time was spent distro-hopping, although I had plenty more things to write about than just the flavor of the day. For future reference, here are a few of the distros and tools I had the chance to experiment with, in the past week.
- Out of curiosity, I downloaded the Debian-Hurd ISO and threw that into my system. Results were mixed; it would start but couldn’t find the external DVD drive, and I had my doubts about a lot of the other hardware on this machine. I may try it out on another, older and more “established” machine, but I have a feeling I would be sacrificing in other directions (no PCMCIA support, I think) so I might not get much farther than that.
- The latest version of FreeNAS, on the other hand, works beautifully on the X60s, which is actually a bad thing. I would like to run a machine with FreeNAS constantly (and probably ought to), but that’s the fastest machine I have and the one I need for other purposes, like compiling or distro-hopping. It works great and is probably a fantastic computer for that situation … but it is otherwise engaged.
- This one is not really a distro; boot managers are always helpful to have around, and PLoP Boot Manager is a very good one, for what I have seen of it. I used it to trick the NEC Celeron into booting to a USB stick a few days ago, which it otherwise can’t do. It was ignored by the Thinkpad, interestingly enough. But that machine has always been a little finicky about its startup, and so I wasn’t surprised that it hung with a blinking cursor there. No demerits for PLoP.
- ttylinux is the distro I would be using, if I was really fanatical about trimming away everything. Starts up lightning fast, takes up no space, and works like a standard, regular, modern Linux distro with no cut corners. The available prepackaged software is so slim that I can guarantee you’ll be building your own. But on the other hand, if that style appeals to you (and in many ways it appeals to me too) you probably won’t mind building a few applications for your own use.
- Xubuntu deserves more attention than I am giving it here, and to be honest I will probably be coming back to it in the near future. My neighbor’s 2.2Ghz Celeron is now running it, and the word is that performance is night-and-day between that and Gnome Ubuntu. Perhaps Xubuntu has unwittingly dodged the memory-hog bullet that hit its pure-Gnome cousin. I’ll have to investigate more later; my experiences with it this week were exceptionally short-lived and too superficial to make an assessment.
- Last but definitely not least, Slackware. Ah, Slackware. Slackware is the distro I really want to like, but every time I use it I am frustrated and befuddled and left feeling like a newb again. My run-in with Slax the other day was both the cause and the effect of trying out Slackware 13: I started with the Slax ISO, decided I wanted to build it from scratch with Slackware, became frustrated and then went back to Slax again. I know I need to try harder on this one; I shall have to look for some sort of howto that illustrates how to start at the command line and build up to a graphical environment, because that’s what I ultimately would like to do with Slack.
That’s about it for now. I have more on my list to try, but I might have to wait for another week-long national holiday to get enough time to put them into motion.