Review: aptosid 2010-02 "Keres" KDE

Main Screen
What's aptosid, you ask? I had reviewed sidux 2010-01 "Hypnos" before, and unfortunately, that review didn't turn out so well; it refused to load after booting in VirtualBox. So why am I bringing up sidux? Well, sidux, due to various legal and financial issues, has changed its name to aptosid (but otherwise continues the release naming/numbering system as well as the fundamental base (Debian's sid (unstable) system)). Let's see if this one works. (NOTE: I have reverted to allocating 1024 MB of RAM in VirtualBox.)
Boot and startup are very fast. The first thing I see (in terms of non-terminal graphics) is a cool animation of the word "aptosid" appearing on-screen. The theme is the classic sidux KDE 4.X theme, though the wallpaper is more gray than red; I actually kind of like the Grand Theft Auto-style wallpaper (because that is what I am reminded of when I see the wallpaper). KDE here is at version 4.4, so while tabbed windowing is supported, the better-integrated system tray icons are not present. The KDE menu is a KDE 3-style menu, and it integrates nicely with the overall theme; the menu items themselves also don't look cluttered and are well-labeled.
The application selection is fairly sparse. Konqueror is the only web browser available, though it works well. As far as I know, no proprietary codecs are included. Unfortunately, the sound didn't work for a while (as I didn't hear the KDE 4 startup sound), and it took a bit of fiddling in the system settings manager to get sound to work.
As aptosid is based off of Debian (and is tied even more closely to Debian than Ubuntu is), I am rather shocked that for all the odd networking tools included, Synaptic Package Manager is not included; there are 0 GUI tools for installing packages. Given how good Synaptic Package Manager is and given that aptosid is closely tied to Debian, even if this is a distribution meant for more advanced Linux users, I think this omission is inexcusable.
System Settings and KMenu
Well, that's really all there is to aptosid (installation procedure (which I did not test) aside). It's clear from the start that this is a distribution for Linux users with intermediate or high levels of experience, but I still think it's a shame that Synaptic Package Manager is not included.


  1. apt-get install synaptic...et voila! Don't have to be a expert to remember three words, do you?

  2. @Anonymous: Yes, but it's also nice every now and again to have a graphical package manager tell you in a neat and well-sorted out manner what packages are installed/need/upgrading/et cetera, is it not? Considering the KDE-lite version (which I tested) is 600 MB (which is still 50 MB below the limit for putting it on a CD), space probably wasn't the determining factor for the inclusion or exclusion of Synaptic, methinks. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I am glad you have given aptosid/sidux another shot.
    I shan't get into the politics of the rename (in no small part because I don't understand them).
    I'm not a KDE user myself but KDE is stuck at 4.4 in both sid and testing until debian end the freeze and release Squeeze.

    The decision not to include synaptic is deliberate and explained in the aptosid manual
    "Installing a new package" and "The Reasons NOT to use anything else but apt-get for a dist-upgrade".
    Because aptosid is based on debian unstable packages move fast (when debian isn't in a pre-release freeze anyway) upgrading (which should always be a dist-upgrade not an upgrade) or installing anything that touches X should not be done from a running X session because breakages can and will occur.
    You can if you wish install Synaptic or Packagesearch and use them to search for packages in a gui (I use synaptic for this) but the official way to do this is using apt-cache from the command line.
    The official guidance for actually dist-upgrading is to do it in init 3 - that is why you have the "odd" networking tools, they allow you to configure your network in init 3 if something breaks.

    Aptosid is intended for users (or admins - if you have a multi-user system then the users dont need to know anything about what happens behind the shiny screen) who are comfortable with linux and the command-line (I'm not going to say advanced, I am not an advanced user but I am fairly comfortable with linux, APT and bash/dash).

    Also you should review the install - its ridiculously fast.

  4. @T Beermonster: I usually just test live systems because (and this is also why I value a distribution's aesthetics/appearance almost as much as its stability, speed, and included applications) I feel that first impressions (especially for Linux distributions, which are new and foreign territory for new users) can make or break the distribution. Also, thanks for the information on why KDE 4.5 and Synaptic have not been included; that really helps. Thanks again!

  5. aptosid? wow... that's a bad name change imho... surely they'd get something better from a random name generator :P

  6. @Anonymous: Well, it is based on Debian sid with a strong focus on apt, so I guess it's very functional. Anyway, as I know now, it's not a distribution that even tries to attract newbies, so people who use aptosid know exactly what they are getting into. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Nice review, nice answers and a very nice distro too.
    I think aptosid is one of the best debian/sid based distro's. It's very fast, up-to-date and it has a very friendly community. As it is apparently not for newbies, it certainly is the distro of choice for newcomers to learn what GNU/linux is all about. No appearance/eyecandy/ubuntu kind of thing, but a pure GNU/linux experience. In my opinion aptosid fits in the category of excellent distro's such as Archlinux and Sabayon.

  8. @HPB: Thanks for the support! I do agree that for a KDE distribution, aptosid uses eye-candy fairly sparingly (the only eye-candy to speak of are the glossy windows, taskbar, and buttons). That said, your example of Sabayon isn't the greatest as (as I have said in my previous reviews of Sabayon) Sabayon is full of eye-candy and graphics-intensive applications and processes (and does try to reach out to new users by included good documentation and applications to the extent of everything and the kitchen sink). Thanks for the comment!

  9. I think that depends on which window manager you use and the installation type. For me that's mostly a very basic one with Xfce4. I don't know much about about all the stuff which comes with a full KDE installation or live CD/DVD (Sabayon comes with a XFCE Spin and a CoreCDX).

  10. @HPB: Yeah, but I've only tested the KDE versions of aptosid and Sabayon (though I may get around to other DEs at some point). Thanks for the comment!