Three middleweights

It’s time for the bait-and-switch again. For anyone who came here today hoping to see a mysterious and esoteric console program, or a distro sculpted to fit on the head of a pin, I will disappoint thee.

Truth is, for every distro I find or that is suggested, I get two more suggestions for distros I wouldn’t put on a Pentium III, let alone on a lowly 120Mhz Pentium.

I mean that with no disrespect, and I certainly don’t turn down any suggestions I get. But it does mean that some people have different understandings of “lightweight” than I.

In that sense, here are three distros that I would call “middleweights:” Too big to compete with us lowly basement dwellers, but not necessarily in the same bracket as the juggernauts out there.

Fuduntu Linux

This one is pretty to look at, has a familiar feel and doesn’t seem to run any heavier or hotter than the distro it tries to look like.

I can’t really find anything to complain about with Fuduntu, a Fedora Gnome desktop arranged to look and feel like Ubuntu.

Nonetheless I can’t help but wonder if the distro will draw flak from either side of the Fedora/Ubuntu divide. After all, if there’s something you dislike about Ubuntu’s arrangement, you’ll probably dislike it in Fuduntu.

And if there’s something at the core of Fedora that you loathe, you’ll probably loathe it in Fuduntu too. So getting beyond package managers or desktop integration might take a little while.

On the other hand though — and this might be where the distro wins back some points — the converse of that is true too. If you happen to prefer one distro over the other, but like how one looks or works, it’ll be a winner.

So if you like Fedora’s mechanics, but prefer Ubuntu’s aesthetics, you’ll probably be in hog heaven for this. And my suggestion is to enjoy it as you can and will.

I see it is supposedly optimized for netbooks and portable machines; there may be a tool here that you find attractive and want to employ too. I had a few minutes of fun tipping the screen display on its side. Call me superficial.

Beyond that though, Gnome is Gnome to me, and there’s not much I care to do with it beyond twiddle with the screensavers or tap through a few themes. You might see more here you find attractive.

P.S.: A distro that actually offers a survey on its defaults and direction?! Infidels! Are you mad?! Never let the mob have their way!

Vatlator Linux

I am tempted to use the phrase “the future of computing” when I introduce this next one.

To that you might smirk or scoff, and you’d be well within your rights to do so. Truth is though, when I call it “the future of computing,” I’m not highlighting its technical achievements or post-modern urban desktop theme.

No, unfortunately it’s something completely different.

I try to remain as apolitical as possible on this site — I see no need for the whims and whimsy of real-life drama to intrude — but the fact of the matter is, the world is increasingly an oppressive place.

I fear there will come a time when you will need to take matters into your own hands, to guarantee your own privacy and security on the Internet. If you don’t already.

And probably — sadly — it won’t be the credit card thieves that are chasing you. It’ll be something that resembles Orwell’s fables. To some, life does already.

To that end there is Vatlator, which is certainly not the most paranoid distro out there, but is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to security and privacy.

I say that while admitting a certain measure of naivete when it comes to online security (security on the whole isn’t interesting to me … I know, it should be πŸ™„ ), but knowing enough to recognize a few things.

Tor support is in here, as well as a few add-ons for ease of use. Privoxy is installed. The home page is Logos have been stripped. You start X from the console. And more.

On the whole, and to be fair to other “reviews” I’ve done, Vatlator does feel a little incomplete. Or perhaps like a “work in progress.”

Shutting down requires a root password. The GTK theme is stuck on Raleigh (or is it Redmond? I can’t tell the difference sometimes). And so forth.

On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I used fvwm-crystal, and it’s just as pretty as it ever was. Can’t complain about that.

Memory use, for a distro that is intended to run live, is good … although in my experience Ubuntu taxes memory more than other distros might.

It might be easy to remix Ubuntu, but you’re implying your audience work with at least Pentium III-era hardware. And the target audience might not have access to that. (Laugh if you must, spoiled first-world children. If you didn’t laugh, it wouldn’t be the Tao.)

In fact, if I could suggest one thing to the Vatlator designers, it would be to build future versions on a distro that requires less memory to run. There are lots out there that would work, and on less memory.

But otherwise it will be interesting to see how this one matures. I can only hope I never have to rely on it. 😐


I really had no idea what to expect when I started up aptosid. I think I expected it to be something based on Debian’s hairy side, and I remember (but don’t think I ever tried) Sidux.

I probably should have though. For as much oohing and aahing as I am guilty of, when I talk about Linux Mint Debian, it’s important to remember that LMDE is not the only distro with its toes in Debian’s deep end.

This version is marked from September, which is a long time back in terms of Debian’s leading edge. Arch has the reputation for being the fresh-off-the-boat distro, but Debian is no bottom feeder, that’s for sure.

But all in all, aptosid — particularly this KDE version — reinforces two thoughts in my mind. Not new thoughts, but bear with me.

First, that no one in their right mind, with even the faintest faint strand of aesthetic appreciation, should be using Gnome. I use neither, so maybe I have no space to talk.

But for as clean and beautiful as a KDE desktop looks, and as droll and limited as the Gnome equivalent is, there should be no contest.

Second, that you can do things with Debian you never thought possible. You just have to get past the mental block that says it’s a fixed release distro with software frozen two years back. πŸ˜‰

In any case, and before this turns into a Debian love-fest, let me just say this is a very attractive KDE desktop, and you’re getting very fresh software out of Sid.

KDE doesn’t appeal to everyone — I like it, but I use it even less than Gnome — but considering how good it looks, and how easy it is to tinker with it, everyone probably should.

And that’s all I really have to say about that. These three are all unique in their own ways, and offer one slant or another on the greater Linux spectrum.

Repeat after me: Freedom of choice, freedom of choice. … :mrgreen:

10 thoughts on “Three middleweights

  1. anon

    What distros are suggested?


    But for the s***s and giggles you should run DOS or Windows 95 on them.

  2. Dmitry

    I have not got much of idea to choose between KDE and GNOME. I like KDE. But I prefer KDE3. I like Kubuntu, but since it has KDE4, I prefer to use Ubuntu with GNOME.
    Everybody is in his own right what to use…

  3. CountDuckula

    Unfortunately there seems to be too much choice out there now especially with all those *buntu’s and clones. The freedom really comes from the source distro (Arch, Debian, Slackware etc) and the ability to build your machines software from a base install and add what you want!

    I personally stay away from KDE now as I think it’s slow compared to Gnome. XFCE is faster than Gnome, but for me Gnome is my favorite DE as it offers a balance of features and ease of use plus eye candy if you really want it.

    My favourite build scenarios are Debian with Gnome or, Arch with Openbox.

    But that’s me and maybe not you…

  4. Pingback: Three middleweights | Latest Softwares in the Internet Today

  5. Kathryn

    When I get a free moment, I’m going to move my daily driver over to aptosid. I haven’t gotten Fedora to install since 10. When I tried the latest Kubuntu, it was the same thing. I’m not sure if it’s a weird kernel panic or something with my bloody video card.


    Aptosid happened to run right off the CD and nicely. It’ll take some getting used to doing things the Debian way, but hey, change is good for the soul.

  6. Pingback: Links 8/12/2010: GNU/Linux Hits 5% Market Share in W3schools, Tour of Diaspora | Techrights

  7. Litho

    Big aptosid/sidux fan here, but I recommend the XFCE version for it’s speed and lightness. As fast as any ArchLinux or Slackware setup I have configured in the past, in fact. I love some of the aptosid specific console tools included as well. It also installs to hard disk very fast, sometimes less than 5 minutes.

  8. Caesar Tjalbo

    aptosid, formerly sidux, is a live CD with installer and based on Debian sid. There’s more, like aptosid kernels, maintenance tools and a support structure but it comes down to Debian sid.

    The distro itself doesn’t weigh much, but I wouldn’t call it lightweight either compared to the really small distro’s. However, if the amount of packages available in the Debian repo’s and therefore to every aptosid user, still only make it a “middleweight”, you really need to explain to me what those “juggernauts out there” bring to the table because I’m genuinely curious.

    The “version” you installed is a snapshot; you typically install the latest available and it’s rolling-release from there on.

  9. ReggieM

    Hello, K. Mandla,

    Vatlator’s link []
    seems to be gone today. The new link should be here:


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