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Because Beauty is Basic

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GoblinX Mini 1.2.0 was released yesterday and it sounded very interesting to me. It's described as "a son of GoblinX and contains only XFCE as windows manager and GTK/GTK2 based applications," while "GoblinX is a Live-CD that is based on the excellent Slackware distribution." The most intriguing thing to tuxmachines however, is the small size. Many of you might know of my soft spot for mini distributions, GoblinX Mini Edition weighs in at 150 mb. This is my first look at GoblinX. Let's see whad'up.

I downloaded and burnt GoblinX, then booted the livecd to find a distinctive splash screen. Featuring a silouette of a goblin, it gives a haloweenish macabre feel. The booting progress splash is predominately yellowish-orangy in color, it sets the tone for the whole theme, as we will soon discover. However, the verbose background, while quite attractive and obviously original, doesn't seem to fit in with the theme of the system.

        

After accurate hardware detection and setup one is presented with a login screen and given the instructions to start X. Login as root with the given password and start X in one of several ways. This is a wonderful feature as some folks' video cards may not yet be supported by xorg/XFree86, and some livecds can't work for them. Fortunately for nvidia graphics users, GoblinX comes with nvidia drivers and after it detects an nvidia chip, sets up nvidia as the driver. The window manager chooser must be a left over from the full sized livecd as it contains several choices including KDE and fluxbox, however xfce is the only one available on the mini.

    

The desktop is a unique experience due to the original theme and color scheme chosen by the developers. The color scheme could almost be described as pumpkin and the default theme is dominated by a yellow-orange hue. The default wallpaper contains enough yellow to compliment the theme and colors accomplishing continuity probably intended. There's a convenient launcher located at the bottom of the screen, containing shortcuts to popular apps and useful utilities, while a taskbar resides at the top autohide. The overall look is effective yet refreshingly different.

The menus contain many carefully chosen, useful, and popular applications for accomplishing any number of day to day requirements. I found most if not all of the applications quite stable. Some of the highlights include Firefox, gimp, gaim, xmms, and abiword.

    

The internet connection isn't enabled by default although a firewall is. There is an adsl and dial-up configurations in the menu. I didn't see an entry for dhcp, although the binaries dhcpcd and dhclient were available. In executing dhcpcd on the cli, I obtained a lease and was surfing as desired.

    

One drawback I encountered was the mounting of all partitions on my computer. I've mentioned several times in past reviews that I think this is not the best practise of livecds. Although GoblinX is stable and I encountered no problems, it still could result in data loss due to any number of reasons.

GoblinX ships with a hard drive installer and the interface is simple and user-friendly. I tried the installer a few times over the course of the past two days and never did get a hard drive install. It seemed a little buggy, as sometimes I would be given a xdialogue debug looking screen instead of the second step of choosing a partition. Sometimes it just skipped right to the unpacking and coping the image to some alleged partition. I did complete a full install routine (while getting screenshots), however, the net result of several attempts was no hard drive install. I was able to ascertain that the installer was installing the system to the booted ramfs. I gather this is perhaps a bug of unionfs or could even be perhaps in the installer code itself. I didn't investigate any further.

One seems to be able to save any user settings to a file on a partition or floppy and although the booting livecd declares its search and application of user configurations, it does not ask where the file is nor does it seem to actually access the default locations. In any case user settings are not restored.

Also in the menu are applications for installing and uninstalling packages as well as the conversion of one package format to another, presumably for installation. However, seems moot for the livecd mode.

Overall, this livecd is rich with inimitable characteristics making for a refreshing user experience. The solid foundation found in Slackware makes this experience pleasant and fun. The included application choices are adequate to perform everyday computing needs of the general user. It's a treat having nvidia graphic drivers included. I dare recommend to the developers not mounting all partitions at boot, removing menu items for inoperative functions, and perhaps adding dhcp internet connection during boot.

        

For these and other full screenshots, please visit the gallery.

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