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What's New in Symphony OS 2006-12

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The Symphony OS project released a new version of their unique system on December 13 to the surprise and delight of many in the Linux community. Many feared the revolutionary new desktop might be doomed due to a lack of funding, but developers chugged along through hard times and presented us with the culmination of months and months of work. Their labors show through in this release. As we're fans, Tuxmachines took Symphony OS 2006-12 for a bit of a test drive. So what's new this time?

For those new to Symphony OS, their site describes Symphony OS as follows:

SymphonyOS is a whole new type of Operating System, based on an advanced GNU/Linux base system Symphony provides Linux's renowned stability and immunity to Windows viruses along with what we consider to be the easiest to use interface out there, our Mezzo Desktop Environment. Installing applications is also a snap with our OneClick software store (we call it a store.. but everything there is free). You can see the latest news weather and other important information at a glance on your desktop with our desklet system and breathe new life into old hardware as all of this is designed to work on much lower end hardware than KDE or Gnome.


        

However, that's a bit outdated as One Click has now been replaced by Synaptic and is listed on the Programs page under Tasks as "Install Software." Synaptics is a wonderful program for installing software, usually. I didn't have a lot of luck with it under Symphony today. Errors varied, but I wasn't able to complete an install of anything. Perhaps it had to do with running off the livecd.

The Settings menu brings a lot of new abilities to Symphony OS this release. Previously, we only had Desktop Manager and Configure Login Screen listed, but this release we have several more. Other than those mentioned, also listed are:

  • Network Connection
  • Manage Users
  • Manage Disk Drives
  • Manage Services
  • Time & Date
  • Manage Share Folders

During my limited testing, these modules performed well and completed their intended function, except Manage Sharing Folders. This applet gave the error of needing Samba or NFS installed. Some of these apps were fairly complete while others were a bit minimalistic, but all add to the user experience and show the system is beginning to grow toward a viable desktop option.

VLC has been renamed to "Media Player" in its menu this go 'round, but unlike last time, it didn't function very well. In fact, it wouldn't open. Trying from the commandline found errors about modules and skins missing.


        

All in all we were quite pleased with the progress despite a few glitches here and there. This is still considered alpha code, so bugs are not only tolerated but expected. I love the new wallpaper and was glad to see all the new functions in the menu. Firefox has been updated to 2.0 and Synaptic is a wonderful choice in software managers. I didn't fully test the harddrive installer, but few posts seen on their site mention problems with dual boot setups and sata drives. If you've never booted Symphony OS, then you really should see it for yourself. It's definitely different from all the others. If you're a fan and haven't tested it as of yet, then again, you should probably see the new features. As always, we anxiously look forward to their next release.

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It uses UnionFS

This CD's built on Slax's framework, and uses UnionFS to overlay the read-only filesystem in memory (like Knoppix does since v3.8, and other live CDs). (The UnionFS overlay can also be done from a loopback image saved on a hard drive or USB key.) So the filesystem acts as if it's completely read-write.

The problem with Synaptic seems to be related to a buggy package management system. The same error occurs using apt-get from the command line.

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