Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Released over the weekend, aLinux 12.5 is looking good. Not only is it looking good, but it's fast, stable, and 'just works'. There are many distros I like, but only a few excite. Tuxmachines is extremely excited about aLinux 12.5.
aLinux is a wonderfully integrated desktop experience. The first thing I noticed was all the eyecandy in aLinux 12.5. From the install background splash to the desktop wallpapers, windecs, and assorted goodies, aLinux is "Pulling all the stops".
One can't help but notice all the extra handy dandy applications from securing your system to enjoying the full internet experience to playing media to graphic work. And what's more handy than containing many of them in a nice central menu location?
Under the hood is a 2.6.12 kernel, installable gcc 3.3.3 and xorg 6.8.2 from April which brings a nice compromise between bleeding edge and stability. aLinux features many extras to make your computing experience completely enjoyable. One of the things not included in most other distros is the ready-to-go mozilla. I could click on movie files and actually watch them, I could browse ecards without having to download and install flash first and the java tested out perfectly.
In addition aLinux has multimedia covered as well. They offer several audio players, tv apps and movie players. Mplayer handled any movie (demo) files I threw at it, albeit one looked as tho the scaling was off which probably could be adjusted by someone with the desire to review the options. At default I was quite please although I had to install the nvidia drivers to get the correct playback speed.
Installing the nvidia drivers required a bit of linux voodoo on my part. Fortunately the required packages were available thru synaptic/apt-get to install in order to accomplish this. Oh how I wish I had seen aLinux's offering of nvidia drivers prior to coaxing kernel sources, gcc-devel, binutils-devel, and glibc-devel on there. However, these tools are quite important and will be needed in the future. Too bad aLinux doesn't have room to ship with them.
Once you get the system installed it's a eye pleasing treat. It ships with KDE version 3.4.1 and comes with many extra KDE apps and eyecandy not included in the basic tarballs.
The installer works wonderfully, however I found it a little less intuitive than desired. I'm an old hack at installing Linux distributions, but I had to pause and think about some of the options in the installer. It looks a bit like Slackware's, but it's a little less friendly in spots. For example the screen with the choices for parted_magic, stage_1, or re-configure. Now I know, but it took pressing on all three before I figured out that stage_1 was what I was looking for to just pick an already prepared partition to name as root, and I didn't seem to find a way to back up. Each desired "back" ended up being a restart for me. So, I think the installer could be a bit more user-friendly.
The hardware detection was accurate, save that same bttv card with which all distros have trouble, and the later configuration was easy enough. The given choices of auto-detect/set up of a few things, intermediate to allow the user to set up a few other things, and the expert to set up most everything on your system work well. Then finally the choice of installing lilo was presented.
The little personal issue I had with the installer is not enough to detract from this wonderful distro. Having started out a mini at about 200mb (if memory serves), it is now a full size ~700mb download. But in the 700 megabytes is a plethora of beautiful eyecandy, useful applications and handy utilities. I was really impressed and as stated previously quite excited about aLinux. They have done a wonderful job!
Some improvements this release include: