2010-11-14

Review: GNU/Linux Utopia 12112010 (Idea by Manuel)

GNU/Linux Utopia Main Screen
Reader Manuel kindly asked me to write a review of a distribution he has created called GNU/Linux Utopia, and I am doing that right now. Available on SourceForge, it is a feature-packed Slackware (64-bit)-based distribution tailored for Spanish-language users. As I do not know Spanish, it was interesting for me to see just how well I can navigate a (literally) foreign environment using only what I already know about Linux DEs. Plus, this is my first experience testing a distribution based on Slackware, the oldest surviving Linux distribution today. I wasn't really sure how this modified or built upon Slackware, so it also gave me an opportunity to possibly see what it's like to use Slackware. Follow the jump to read about the rest of this experience and to see if it really is a GNU/Linux "utopia".

Mozilla Firefox (IceCat)
I went into this thinking that there may be a live mode, but I was mistaken; in the boot menu, I was sent directly to the installer. The installer is the same text-based ncurses program that Slackware has used essentially since its inception in 1993, except almost everything is written in Spanish; this means that I had to deal with both an unfamiliar installer and an unfamiliar language. Thankfully, things like the partitioning is all written in English, and even otherwise, the partitioning step isn't too hard because everything is laid out well. There were a few points of confusion (because I couldn't make out what was being said in Spanish), but I survived the installation procedure; speaking of that, the procedure itself was kind of slow, but I guess I should have only expected as much given the wealth of programs installed. At the end, I was asked a few questions regarding the root password and the installation of GRUB and then I was asked if I wanted to restart; I did. (Side note: I'm surprised that this distribution uses GRUB given that Slackware still uses the original Linux Loader (LILO).) I was really surprised (not in a good way) that nowhere in the process did the installer ask me to create a default user; all I typed in was a root password (whose username in Spanish is "root" as well, thankfully). I don't know if that's a Slackware quirk, but given that this distribution is supposed to cater to Spanish-speaking Linux newbies (I think), this doesn't bode well because there will probably be a lot of people logging in as root for lack of other options who will also likely mess up their systems in some way by doing so.
Abiword and OpenOffice.org Calc
After restarting, though there was a boot menu, there was no boot splash, so after seeing a bunch of boot-related text appear on the screen, I was presented with a pretty nice-looking login screen. It reminds me of the screen used in Linux Mint 7 "Gloria" GNOME; in fact, I think it's just a redone version of the same GDM theme. I logged in as root and found myself at a pretty standard-looking GNOME desktop. There were a couple of things that bugged me about the setup which I immediately changed, including the overly large top panel and the plethora of shortcut icons on the top panel.
This distribution is one that packs everything and the kitchen sink. (Side note: there appear to be inconsistencies in the panel item tool-tips, as most are written in Spanish but some are in English.) Looking into the "Internet" category showed the following applications present, among others: Transmission and Deluge, Pidgin, Empathy, Ekiga, aMSN, Gajim (seriously? FIVE IM clients?), GNU IceCat, Liferea, and Seamonkey. IceCat is a rebranded version of Mozilla Firefox, similar to Iceweasel. I was happy to see that most codecs are included out-of-the-box.
Even in the "Office" category, both OpenOffice.org and GNOME Office (Abiword and Gnumeric) are included (though this is a bit more common). While these programs do work, I'm a bit confused as to how Writer/Web is different from Writer. I tried both, and the former just looks like the latter without the dark-gray border around the page.
The "Sound and Video" category is really the epitome of the "everything and the kitchen sink" mentality, as there are Audacious, Audacity, Avidemux, Audio Converter (I'm not sure what the actual program name is), DVD Styler, Cheese, MPlayer, Goggles DVD player, a CD song ripping program, Handbrake, Kino, MeTV, VLC, and Xine. Whew!
Other than that, this is a fairly standard GNOME distribution (though there are other goodies like Emerald, Compiz Fusion, and other utilities). That said, there doesn't appear to be any graphical package management tool. How about gslapt-get (a package manager for Slackware based on Synaptic with dependency management (something Slackware lacks out-of-the-box))? Would that be too hard?
Logging out, I saw options for KDE and Enlightenment (another very pretty WM). I tried both, and unfortunately, for some reason (written in Spanish), neither worked. Oh well.
I think this is a great way to introduce Spanish-speaking users to Slackware without shocking them with the nasty manual configuration stuff (although the installer is still pure Slackware). That said, I would like to know exactly what the issue is with KDE/Enlightment for future reference. Overall, I think it's a good distribution, and it's certainly given me confidence to try out more involved distributions like Slackware (and maybe even Arch, because that's supposed to just be a harder version of Debian Standard, which I've already used successfully (I guess)). Thanks for the tip, Manuel! I hope you enjoyed this!

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for review i agree in a lot of things, i think is coming a newer version soon, anyway it's slackware, whats in minds no dependencies control, no language selector, no user selector, if normally i use Debian/Ubuntu with apt-get and similars slackware looks strange

    Tip:
    For add user: type en in the bash :adduser
    We working in a tutorial and screencasts.

    Thanks fro review, nice job! thanks!

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  2. @Manuel: Thanks for the tips!

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  3. Why on *Earth* would you think you have even the slightest ability to produce a decent review when you don't even speak the language the entire distribution is designed in?

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  4. @Anonymous: To that, I have an honest question: how much worse was this review compared to others that I've done? I thought it would be an interesting thing to do, and it's another way to see how well I know the GNOME desktop (without needing to look at text in English). More importantly, what exactly does the language of the distribution have to do with the quality of this review? I'd love to know, so thanks for the comment!

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