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Venture into the Fox's Den

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Finally an old fashioned install iso to break the chain of livecds. Fox 0.8 was released on the 24th, and I've decided to venture into the Fox's Den. Based on Fedora Core, FoX Linux's claim to fame is it's Smart package manager, a custom application for installing and uninstalling software in FoX Linux. Also touted is their revolutionary graphical utility for checking and installing security and bug fix updates. Called FoX PowerUp, this utility installs directly from Fox Linux servers.

According the changelog, new this release:

  • Based on Fedora Core 3
  • KDE 3.4
  • SELinux
  • Firefox (1.0.4) can be enabled with pango rendering support
  • Kernel (2.6.11-1.14_FC3) and e2fsprogs support
  • Support for NTFS Microsoft filesystem
  • Smb4k
  • KOffice (OpenOffice moved to the Pack)
  • FoX Control Center
  • Smart 0.30.2 package manager
  • FoX PowerUP 0.2 install/uninstall/update with a click!
  • SuperKaramba 0.36
  • Kdebluetooth 1.0_beta 1
  • KdeAddons

One is given a choice of methods for install, text or graphical. I chose graphical and could tell right away this was based on Fedora, an offspring of Redhat. It was dressed up and prettier version with Fox graphics of the anaconda front-end I remember from my last Redhat install. It seems quite polished and professional looking. It included all the choices one needs to install Fox Linux in short order with little fuss including root and user setup, network setup and lilo. I think it took 20/25 minutes from boot to boot.

Upon login, one finds an attractive professional looking KDE desktop. "Kicker is divided in two parts: the first at the top with three menu to fast access the application, some link to the most used applications. The second with the systray and the clock." I find the menu at the top a little more work having to move my mouse a couple inches to reach it, but it does make for an attractive layout. They also separate the traditional KDE menu in 3 submenu that is reminiscent of gnome that can be unsettling at first, but after a few minutes of clicking around, one can acclimate sufficiently. The default theme: icons, wallpaper, colors and window decorations are quite attractive. Also included is this cool pager application.

My usual first order of business of any operating system test is to install the Nvidia graphic drivers. Even if I'm not interested in gaming, under default xserver drivers I usually get a nice hour-glass shaped desktop that can be made usable with fiddling with the monitor adjustments, but something I prefer not to do. As punishment from the gods of Linux for choosing package groups instead of individual packages during install, the installation of the graphic drivers was hindered by the absence of a compiler. What's up with that? I did choose the development group and it did install the kernel sources. No matter, off to apt-get to get it installed. Fortunately after setting up a repository, gcc installed with no fuss or muss and I quickly had my nvidia drivers installed with no further errors under the 2.6.11-1.14_FC3 kernel.

This lead to a reminder of the main petpeeve I find in redhat and derivatives: starting the users and groups with id 500 instead of 501 like every other linux I regularly use. I wanted to pull up my fox linux article file saved on another partition, but didn't have proper permissions. So, I set off change the -uid and -gid of my usual username. This was hindered because I forgot redhats don't set up secure binary paths in root's PATH (another petpeeve). teehee, so I didn't find the usual user tools. I employed the graphical user manager. Then a few minutes later, when using modprobe & friends, I remembered about the path thing. I guess it's a good thing security-wise. <konk>

Knowing the smart package manager was Fox Linux's main claim to fame, I was kicking myself for not having used it to install gcc, and set off to test it and grab some screenshots. First thing one needs to do is update the sources. Click the refresh looking icon and it goes to work. After updating the package cache, one can choose to install software packages. Hmmm, just like a package manager huh? Big Grin One can hide installed and other groups, which can make choosing packages easier. Also luckily for the user, there is a search tool (find). Double-click your package, click okay to the dependencies, and click apply changes, and the packages are fetched and installed. So, in summary, with Smart Package Manager, one can be watching their favorite tv programs in just a few clicks. Smile In essence, it works.

Fox's PowerUp is their security and bug fix tool. Oh great, an update to the kernel 10 minutes after I build the nvidia drivers for 2.6.11-1.14_FC3. teehee I think I'll pass. But let's test it by letting it upgrade the flash plugin, windows codecs, and the rpm-gpg-keys. The upgrades seem to go smoothly, however, it appears you must do them one at a time. One can click "back" to get to the list, but this could be tiresome if there were too many updates. It seems to function well, but having to click "download" and then "install" is another drawback. I think this application should allow choosing all desired updates at once, one click to download and install, and one final click when it finishes to exit. In addition, perhaps the updates should disappear from the choice list after install, however it does prompt you that the update is already installed and gives you a choice to uninstall it. Second thought, perhaps that might be good in case you needed to back out of one or more.

I played around, changed a few settings, edited a few files and opened and closed applications. I basically put Fox Linux through it's paces and it held up well. It seemed stable, responsive, and fairly complete. Although some kde applications were missing and not listed in Smart Package manager. All in all Fox Linux is a nice dressed-up more ready-to-go version of Redhat/Fedora and can be a suitable starting point for the newbie or a nice desktop for the Redhat/Fedora fan.

Screenshots in the gallery.

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