|Main Screen + Xfce Right-Click Menu|
Salix OS is a derivative of Slackware that comes in a multitude of versions; it has installable and live editions with Xfce, KDE, LXDE, Fluxbox, Ratpoison, and other DEs. According to its website (which, while very slightly more on the technical side, is pretty nice to use), Salix OS is meant to be fast, easy to use, and fully compatible with Slackware packages.
I tested the live session on a live USB made with MultiSystem. I did not test the installation because although this edition is installable, it has really been optimized more for usage in the live session, so I am going to stick with that. Follow the jump to see what it's like.
After the boot menu, I was greeted by a scrolling wall of text. Booting took a moderate amount of time, but after that I was greeted by a nice-looking login screen. Unfortunately, I didn't know the username/password, so I had to reboot into my installed system to look that up and then reboot again into the live USB. After doing so and entering the username (there is no password for the normal live user), I was greeted by the desktop.
Mozilla Firefox, present at version 10, is the default browser. It seems to come with some multimedia codecs included, as YouTube and Hulu worked fine. As is often the case with Xfce (except in Xubuntu), my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts were not recognized.
|LibreOffice Writer + Xfce Panel Menu|
There are two GUI package managers in Salix OS. The first is GSlapt, which I have seen before; it is the front-end to what is essentially a port of Debian's APT to Slackware, and it works basically like Synaptic Package Manager. I was able to install some packages like the Xfce volume management tools successfully and quickly (though those tools unfortunately didn't seem to do much).
The second is Sourcery, which is a front-end to the SlackBuild repositories. I think a good analogy is that Sourcery is to the CCR in Chakra what GSlapt is to AppSet-Qt; the SlackBuild repositories are mostly user-generated. But the great thing is that there are so many SlackBuilds; the repositories are huge! I saw that I was able to install Skype, Google Talk, and Compiz all through this method. Unfortunately, none of these would install or run correctly due to dependency/installation errors. The crucial issue here is that while Sourcery provides a convenient front-end for installing these SlackBuild packages, it does not solve fundamental issues like the lack of dependency management, and it is frankly pretty easy to be misled to think that. What I would like to see is greater integration between Sourcery and GSlapt to pull in any required dependencies, although that sort of runs contrary to the way SlackBuilds are meant to be installed.
|GSlapt + Sourcery|
Google Talk also did not install correctly, but I found installation instructions for a SlackBuild package of Google Talk meant for Slackware, and I followed them. Google Talk installed correctly then, and Gmail recognized the presence of the plugin, but while the troubleshooting section seemed to recognize my mic and laptop speakers fine, my webcam was just showing a black screen. Then, when I tried having a conversation with another person, the opposite happened: my own video worked fine, but after a few minutes both the incoming and outgoing audio stopped working. That was quite strange.
Xfce has its own minimal desktop effects, and those worked fine. I tried installing Compiz just for fun, but it didn't work due to dependency issues which I basically could not resolve. Also, according to Htop, Salix OS used about 270 MB of RAM at idle, which is quite high for an Xfce distribution based on something other than Ubuntu, but is still tolerable. Salix OS generally was very stable and felt pretty fast, though for some reason the terminal displayed a small but noticeable amount lag time between my typing commands and said commands appearing on the screen.
That's where my time with Salix OS ended. Objectively, it has done better than the other Slackware derivatives I have tried, in that both Skype and Google Talk worked to an extent. Plus, it includes a whole bunch of useful programs without skimping out on important things (e.g. LibreOffice is included rather than the Abiword/Gnumeric duo), yet the ISO image file size is small enough that it can still fit on a CD. Yet, subjectively, I feel rather let down here. The vast repository of packages in Sourcery seemed so promising; I thought I could install things like Skype, Google Talk, Mupen64Plus, and other useful programs with one click and that they would work out-of-the-box once installed. But as you have read, it was not to be. So Salix OS is in the end quite user-friendly compared to other Slackware derivatives, but the huge amount of user-friendliness that initially appears turns out to be more of a façade than anything else; Sourcery makes the installation of SlackBuild packages easier, but it doesn't do dependency management, and I think that one thing that would go a long way in terms of fixing that would be better integration between the SlackBuild package repositories and the normal Slackware/Salix OS repositories, so that Sourcery could use GSlapt to do dependency management if necessary. In the end, I would not recommend Salix OS to total newbies, but it is still a good distribution; I would recommend it to Linux users who may still be relatively new but who are comfortable following and typing simple commands in the terminal and fiddling around with configuration options to get things to work.
You can get it here.