My real-life projects are complete (in a sense) and that should give me a lot more time in the coming days. I have a lot of catching up to do.
So I’ve been left with only the X60s as a guinea pig, and I’ve been in the mood to try out some new flavors of Linux — some of the heavier ones. Or at least they’re heavy for me.
A couple of years ago, one of my first distro-hopping experiences was to tinker with DreamLinux, which (if I remember right) was one of the earliest distros to include Compiz and accelerated graphics by default.
At the time it was quite impressive, and to be honest, it still is. Here it is in its 3.5 rendition for CD.
There are a lot of pluses to be seen here, particularly if you’re fresh off Ubuntu and looking for something … bluer, or XFCE-based, or with Debian at its core instead of Ubuntu.
I joke, but the things I read about people installing immediately — like a bouncing, throbbing dock application, or the spinning Compiz cube — are here from the start, along with some nice touches.
For example, much in the same vein as many other contemporary distros that boot from live images, you can set this up to run from a persistent home, recast the ISO for your next reboot, or install straight from the live desktop.
But even better is the installation tool — one dialog with all the settings right in front of you, partitioning, passwords, file formats and Grub options all at once. Press one button, wait 10 minutes, and it’s done.
So if you’re into shiny desktops and you want to get one without too much work and you’re an XFCE fan and you like blue. … Give it a try. (I should mention that there’s a 4.0 beta that appears to be close to release.)
From another side of the camp, here’s Absolute Linux, which I think someone mentioned here as a decent “starter” Slackware-based desktop.
That’s version 13.1.42, for the record, installed in full because there is no live CD that I could find. Very clean, very neat, nicely arranged and with enough quirks and surprises to keep you intrigued for a while.
In a larger sense, this sort of validates my mental image of Slackware — clean, neat, well arranged — even if it has some eccentricities.
For example, it has two file managers available by default (ROX and PCManFM) and both have slightly modified interfaces. There is also the inclusion of XMMS and IceWM alongside a crop of KDE applications. OpenOffice.org is bumped up against NEdit.
But everyone has the software they like, and there is absolutely no rule that says you have to stick to one or the other application, just because of the first letter of its name is g or k. What’s here is what the Absolute Linux team wants.
So if you see some strange pairs in this one, or a few unusual applications rubbing shoulders, think of it as an opportunity to try something new, not the pollution of your desktop environment of choice. Change is good.
For the most part, both of these will require a rather strong machine to run, although I say that knowing that a high-end Pentium III with a decent graphics card would have no problem with either. That, to me, is a strong computer.
Of the pair, Absolute is probably going to tax your system less, even if it does pack as much into an ISO of the same size. Spin them up and see what you think.