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Sidux 2007-03 'Gaia' -- a quick look

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I come from a Mandriva/Mandrake/PCLinuxOS background. I'm a KDE guy who also installs gnome apps. I've not ever installed Debian, and I've used Debian derived distros very little. So, how does Sidux measure up for me?

Yes, I have installed various releases of Kubuntu over time, but I've never been able to stand the way Kubuntu "dummies-down" the KDE desktop. Yes, I know, more polite people say "simplifies" the KDE desktop. While I may not use every feature/capability of KDE, I prize its flexibility.

And I loathe that "sudo" crap. Consequently, a Kubuntu install has never lasted on any of my machines more than 2 or 3 days.

I hear good things about other Debian derived distros, namely Mepis. However, I decide on a whim to try this just released version of Sidux. They have KDE "light" and "full" versions, so I download the KDE full i686 version.

I boot it into the Live CD version. On the Desktop is an icon called "sidux manual", that contains some installation and usage instructions. Typically I plunge ahead and immediately begin the installation, but I'm not familiar with the Debian way of doing things. So, I launch this manual, and take about 10 minutes to read parts of it. Mostly, I'm looking at how to install NVidia's proprietary drivers, and some other stuff.

On with the installation--nothing much to say here, the basic installation is fairly simple.

After the install, I do as advised in the manual to install the NVidia binary drivers. I fire up a konsole, become root, and type:

install-binary-gfx -a

A little tinkering and I've got a desktop with NVidia drivers at 1680x1050 resolution on my 22" LCD display. After setting up a few of my desktop wallpapers, my desktop is gorgeous.

Time to install lots of software that doesn't come on the iso. I'm used to a graphical package installer. I search through the menu system -- can't find one. OK, I know just enough apt-get to be dangerous. I fire up a konsole and do:
apt-get install adept
apt-get install synaptic
Now I have 2 graphical installers.

Via these 2 graphical package installers, I install loads of other KDE apps, as well as gnome.

I look for libdvdcss so I can play some of my movie DVDs. Can't find it in the repositories, so off to google where I search on "debian libdvdcss" and find a link to a deb file. I download it and install it with kpackage. I then put in my Wallace & Gromit "The Curse of the Were Rabbit" DVD, and it plays just great.

I have a lightscribe capable DVD burner in this machine, so I decide to install the Linux lightscribe libraries and applications and see if I can get those to work so I can burn some custom disk labels onto the top of my CDs. Again, google is my friend, and helps me find some "debs" to install. I decide I want Lacie's 4L program, which allows you to select your own image to burn as a label. However, this exists only as an RPM. I download it and use "alien" to convert it to a deb, and then install it with kpackage. I convert a nice cd label image (for PCLinuxOS 2007) to a greyscale image (lightscribe won't burn colors), and try to burn it onto a CD. It works perfectly (except I have to run it as root). Wow! Very professional looking CD.

So far, I'm impressed with all this. Sidux is running with the smp preempt kernel. It's very responsive. Most everything I've tried seems to work. The number of Debian applications available is incredibly vast.

Now, would I give a Sidux CD to a Linux "newbie", with the expectation that they could get all this stuff running and working? Absolutely not. Sidux is not yet nearly turnkey enough for that. It will stay on my machine for a few more days as I exercise it some more. I think Sidux holds real promise.

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