Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
It's been over a year since I tested the origins of SaxenOS, but when rc2 of version 1.1 was announced I thought it was time to see what was new. There have been changes afoot within the SaxenOS project, some major changes. Yet some of the fundamentals remained the same. It was easy to see the roots of Saxen while appreciating the new.
When last we visited SaxenOS it was known as STX. It was a small lightweight distro, based on Slackware and designed for low-spec machines. The iso came in a mere 390mb download and featured the cute Equinox Desktop environment. It was fast and stable and featured its own STX Control Center for setting up some hardware and other basic configurations.
Today STX is SaxenOS. It is still based on Zenwalk 4.2 (which is based on Slackware 11) and it is still perfect for older hardware. The iso has grown to a full 614mb but now features the wonderful XFCE 4.4 desktop with the Thunar file manager. It's still fast and stable and features lots of great software choices. However, missing is the STX Control Center. There seems to be individual utilities to accomodate those configuration chores now.
The installer is still the same slackware derived ascii-graphical, somewhat simpified and super-fast. The whole install took about 15 minutes here, although your mileage may vary dependent upon your hardware. The installer itself couldn't be much easier unless it read your mind as to the partitioning. This could be the most difficult step for newcomers, but cfdisk is included should resizing and making partitions be necessary. After that it is a cakewalk. ADDSWAP, pick TARGET partition, sit through the INSTALL, set root password, (optionally) install bootloader, and it's over.
Despite the change in desktop environments, it still looks very similar to STX 1.0. The background is blue with the "pill" logo in the upper right corner. There's a panel monitor-width at the bottom with a few quick launchers next to the menu button on the left and some task indicators on the right. Active windows have their buttons in the taskbar. It's a practical and utilitarian setup with the added bonus of being familiar to previous users of STX or even Windows.
SaxenOS 1.1 rc2 is using a 188.8.131.52 kernel, gcc 3.4.6, and Xorg 7.1.1. Some of the software choices include SeaMonkey webrowser/email suite, TextMaker & PlanMaker, Gaim, gxine, streamtuner, Ace of Penguins (games), The Gimp, gThumb, gedit, gFTP, Transmission, Realbasic 2006, InstallJammer, and VirtualBox. There's a whole menu of configuration tools as well. They include utilities to install wireless windows drivers, add users, customize your login screen, manage your disks and partitions, setup the bootloader, activating services, and search for files or apps. Also noteworthy is gslapt. It is your choice for package management with repos already setup.
Hardware detection was quite good. Upon first boot one is asked to configure some of their hardware like sound, video, and keyboard. For me, all was detected and offered as a choice. All I did was highlight the correct option and click ok. My netcard is detected and the correct module loaded, but I did have to manually run dhcpcd after boot to connect. My scanner was detected and configured correctly, all I had to do was open xsane to scan. The printer configuration was just a matter of two clicks confirming the auto-detection.
Another thing that hasn't changed with the new and improved STX/SaxenOS is how much I like it. It is quick and nimble without sacrificing stability. All apps opened quickly and functioned very well. I found the software choices ample and intuitive. I think it could be "prettied" up a bit more, but as it is, it isn't distracting and leaves plenty of room for personal customization. I congratulate Stibs et.al. for the wonderful progress and 1.1 looks like it's going to be a great release. I encourage all to try it out, especially if you are a slack or xfce fan.