Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Distribution release PocketLinux 1.2 was announced on Distrowatch last night and Tuxmachines was excited to try it out. However, that excitement didn't last long. A smaller download of 370mb doesn't put it in my personal classification as a mini distro and in fact, I can't really see the point. If it's going to be small, then make it small enough to fit onto a 80mb cdr. If it's going to take a full cdr, why not use the space to include enough applications to make your distro attractive.
PocketLinux's claim to fame is its simplified Slackware installer and light version of KDE. However, the simplified installer really isn't any help as the newcomer who might be dissuaded by a Slackware install still must go through the most intimidating steps of cfdisking and/or setting up a root partition. The simplification of not having to pick applications might be welcome if it included at least gcc or the kernel sources. Further, they simplified it so much one doesn't even get to set up a normal user account or their internet connection specifics.
Upon boot, the internet connection is active however through probing and dhcp, then one finds KDE, KDE Light, openbox, or TWM to log into. The full version of KDE is at version 3.4.0 which is a little behind the curve by now and the light version was found to be way too light for my tastes. This might appeal to some whose machine specifications are running a little on the lowside as it uses OpenBox for the window manager and still provides a nice looking desktop. However, this reporter was becoming quite annoyed at the constant konqueror crashes. This occured in the full KDE or KDE Light.
Most of the expected system tools and programs seemed to be included, however it didn't seem to come with gcc. I find this rather inconvenient for a distro without a large repository of binary applications to install. All of this sits on top of a 2.4.29 kernel. 2.6 has been stable for quite some time now and is the standard for the desktop system. In addition, 2.4.29 isn't even the latest in the 2.4 series. Most of my other "extra" hardware was ignored as well, if you consider things like soundcard and tv card extras.
In comparing the full version to the light version of KDE, one can find they apparently met their goal of a scaled down desktop environment. In this first example of the settings/preference menus, one is quite limited in their choices. Kcontrol, ObConf, and panel configuration is included in the light version and that may be adequate for some.
I'm not so sure the same can be said for the tools menu however. One could speculate that menu to be quite inadequate.
For your consideration, further comparisons:
So, I would say Tuxmachines was a little disappointed with PocketLinux at this time. I find the simplifications haphazardly thought out and inadequate. Granted the light version was fast performing, however it wasn't very stable. I experienced enough crashes to dissuade anyone. And what's the advantage of a 370mb download?
Perhaps I'm missing the point of this distribution, but am not inclined to care as even if it was planned a little better, it's too far behind the current technology available from other vendors. Whereas any person who can hammer a distro together that will actually install and boot deserves some credit, I just don't really see the point or any advantages in PocketLinux. Perhaps as a livecd it'd make more sense.
Distroreviews has also published a review of PocketLinux. Although I haven't read it and can't say, perhaps he found it more pleasing.
More Screenshots in the gallery.