Wolvix: Leader of the Pack
A new distribution is in our midst and it clearly deserves some attention. Wolvix is a Linux distribution livecd based on Slax and is available as a 456M download. The site says, "It's a desktop oriented distribution made to fit the needs from regular to advanced desktop users." When the head developer wrote and asked me to take a look, I said, "sure." But I was not expecting quite what I found.
To quote the site, "With Wolvix you can: Surf the internet, read email, chat with friends over ICQ, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, IRC, etc. Watch movies in various file formats including DVD. Listen to your favorite music. Create graphics and webpages. Hook up to Windows networks with Samba. Transfer files over FTP or BitTorrent. And the best of all. It's free.
Along with the applications you'll get some of the best free Linux games. (No 3D gfx card required) - All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. =)"
Indeed I found Wolvix 1.0.2 to be this and much more. It is based on the 143MB Slax, so this means it is derived from Slackware. Using Linux Live boot scripts, all hardware is detected and appropriate modules loaded. The boot is a fast text boot and being based on Slax, it comes with several nice boot options. Some include: gui, which tells it to boot straight into X without stopping at a console for login, nohd, that tells it not to mount all your partitions automagically, and copy2ram. Copy2ram is a nice feature that loads the entire cd into ramdisk for faster operation. The options screen states that it requires 256 MB of ram to work, but this is the only option or feature found in Wolvix that did not work for me. At 512 MB ram, I still ran out of memory when trying that boot option. However, I found in the default mode as a livecd, the system functioned quite well and responsively. The desktops and the applications performed fast and was stable as well. The nohd option is worth the author's weight in gold. And the gui option is rather nice as well.
When either using the gui option or booting to the console for logging in, one has only a root account to use. I suppose in a livecd environment and as long as coupled with the nohd option, it's not entirely a bad thing. The only application that had a problem with it was Xchat that warned one shouldn't hook up to irc network as root.
One of the options at the log in screen is xconf. This is as it looks, a configuration for X. One can set up glx through this option if desired. Left alone, X uses vesa as default and I always find that a wonderfully sensible choice for developers. As such, there were no problems encountered when starting the x server and gui. Even in vesa mode, the 2D games functioned quite well. In fact I wasted almost a 1/2 hour playing Lbreakout.
Other log in options include: startx = which starts the default Xfce4 (4.2.2) window manager; flux, which starts the fluxbox (0.9.13) window manager; and ice, which starts the icewm (1.2.23pre1) window manager. All the light and fast desktop choices are unified by using the same wallpaper, very similar looks as well as a very consistant menu. The wallpaper is this tasteful background in a grayish hue embossed with a paw print. I'm guessing that is a wolf paw print. Coupled with that is tormso in xfce4 and what looks like a calender adesklet across the board. Fluxbox comes with a nice monitoring application setup as well in the form of the dockapps wmcpuload, wmmemmon, wmclockmon, wmix, and fbpager. The menu is almost identical across the board. All desktops feature a quicklaunch to a transparent aterm - another feature adding consistency as well as similar windec for each as possible. These few little added details give the whole system a more polished and planned feel. It adds to the user experience in such a manner as to promote comfort and ease of use.
Aside from the window manager choice, comes a whole plethora of software for productivity, entertainment, and internet. Not only does Wolvix come with some nice gui applications, it also includes a whole suite of useful commandline/console applications as well as menu items to start them. Some of these include mp3blaster, mc, centericq, and mutt. Neato!
Well, if console apps aren't your thing, have no fear. Wolvix comes with a whole stack of wonderful and useful graphical applications to complete your given task. It features abiword for word processing, gnumeric for spread sheets, and the firefox/thunderbird team. It has a real nice selection of games as well as several applications for image viewing and manipulation. One of them being blender, and of course another, the gimp.
Wolvix also includes applications to make your internet experience complete as well as mucho multimedia enjoyment. It comes with gaim, XChat, Audacity, Beep, mplayer and xine. ...really just way to much to list.
Speaking of mplayer, it comes all nicely equipped with all the libs and codecs to play just about any media file you throw at it.
Another wonderful feature of Wolvix is the inclusion of gslapt (slapt-get). This is a package manager for the slackware distribution in the same strain as synaptic. It comes with repository already set up to download and install from a slackware 10.1 mirror. Although I'm not sure of the uses of it in a livecd environment, perhaps this is an indication of a harddrive installer in the near future. I didn't see one as of yet, nor any mention of it on the Wolvix site.
Wolvix is in its third release, the original 1.0 only released August 31. Wolvix 1.0.2 was announced yesterday, September 20. The changelog can be viewed HERE, and many version numbers are reported there. Wolvix comes on a linux-2.6.12-2 kernel and with Xorg 6.8.2.
In summation, Wolvix is all that it claims and more. I found the entire experience quite enjoyable and easy. Despite its small size, it's complete with wonderful assortment of included applications and utilities. It's fast and stable! I didn't experience one lockup, freeze, or crash. The unified desktop experience gives it polished look and feel. I was highly impressed with this offering and can recommend it to anyone. In fact, I suggest you download and try it out for yourself today. It is definitely at least a 9 out of 10!
Distrowatch has added this distribution to is lineup as of this morning.