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Kurumin: From Brazil with Lov^H^H^HLinux

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According to DistroWatch, "Kurumin Linux is a Brazilian run-from-CD Linux distribution based on Knoppix. Its main features are excellent hardware auto-detection, support for Brazilian Portuguese and small size." Version 5.1-alpha4 was recently released and tuxmachines took it for a short spin.

The problems I had with kurumin wasn't so much it being an alpha. Although some things didn't seem to work at all such as Mercury and others crashed from time to time like Firefox, my main problem was that this offering was just released a day or two ago and it's still using such old versions of applications.

The most surprising was finding KDE 3.3.2 as the main desktop. KDE 3.3.4 was released a month ago and now 3.5 is at release candidate stage. KDE 3.3.2 seems a bit of a let down for an alpha released yesterday.

In addition, they are still using linux-2.6.11. Linux-2.6.14.1 has been stable for a week now, they should be up to some version of .14 or at least .13. They are still using Xorg 6.8.2 that is widely known to have nv issues, but one can forgive distros for that as it is the last stable available right now and X servers are one area developers are still quite shy about running betas/rc/cvs. They are still using gcc 3.3.5 as well, but again, that's not as big of a disappointment either. To the average Joe, me included, that's one area I don't rush to run the latest and greatest. Their Gaim is also quite dated as well. On the plus side, Kurumin is offering OpenOffice 2.0.

Of course they start with the wonderful foundation of Knoppix. The leader in livecd implementation and hardware detection, knoppix is a wise decision. There were no boot or hardware detection problems.

Upon boot one is greeted by an automagically starting KDE. The wallpaper is a colorful customized offering establishing the mood, look and feel, of kurumin. Featuring what can only be described as a silhouette of a true-to-life Brazilian Indian aiming his bow off the oversized Kurumin "K", the wallpaper is an unique experience of trace cut displacement at its finest. Also true to the theme is the use of a really cute Indian-tux through the splash screens and such.

MSN is purported to be a "the" messenger service in eastern Europe and South America (please don't make me hunt down the reference), and this is oftentimes reflected in a distros' choice(s) of instant messaging clients. Mercury is a MSN client and an icon is prominently offered on the kde panel (launcher). However as stated above, it did not function here, but the older gaim seemed to work. It's not usually a big deal if an application or two won't start up, especially in an alpha/beta, but it becomes more of an issue if it's one of a 1/2 dozen icons featured in the launcher. They will probably fix that by and by. However when coupled with Firefox's dismal performance, it's starting to look like a thrown together job, especially considering all the old versions of things. As if they hadn't even bothered to update most of the big foundation applications and the supporting apps they did update are broken.

Firefox was flakey. Sometimes it would start. Sometimes it would start and crash. Sometimes it would surf a while before crashing.

One problem that keeps rearing up in these debian-derived knoppix-based distros is the partition number limit. As Elive, arabian, and a few others, I can not access my /dev/hda21. This is a pain for me as that's where my video files are stored. As such, I can either reboot some other system and copy some rather large files or not report if the distro can handle different video formats out of the box. They certainly can't play 'em if they can't see 'em!

        

Other than Kurumin's Control Panel, I didn't see any noteworthy application additions or things that would set Kurumin apart from the masses. However, they do offer that Control Panel. Attractive and uncomplicated, that piece of software was a thing of beauty. Similar to arabian's, from here one can configure their system and even desktop settings in one convenient place. For example, one can configure their net connection and set up a firewall, one can set up a lamp server, or adjust their X resolution, desktop color theme or fonts. One can setup software repositories and install packages, and perhaps most importantly, one can start a hard drive install from the Kurumin Control Panel.

        

        

The hard drive installer is familiar too. It reminds me of the one found in Symphony based on kanotix. I don't know which came first the chicken or the egg here, but with it being familiar and my high school spanish classes, I could almost read the Brazilian language as it walked me through an install. (Sidenote: booting with lang=us had no effect, but KDE offered the US locale.)

As stated, the installer walks one through the install and it seems to function very well. I accomplished a hard drive install of Kurumin without losing any other partitions or readjusting/rerunning lilo later. Even in the Spanish/Porteguese/Brazilian language it was a cakewalk to this English-only speaker. To someone of that tongue, I can surmise it'd be even easier. The only drawback, possibly, could be the use of qtparted or cfdisk to repartition one's harddrive. If a newcomer could get passed that without losing their other data, they shouldn't have any trouble. As this is one of the goals of Kurumin, they hit pretty close to the bullseye there.

        

All in all, Kurumin was found to be an adequate system with pros consisting of its Control Panel, hard drive installer, rare language support, and custom graphics, but cons found to be the older versions of the kernel and kde. Considering the team of developers consists of about 1 person and he is bringing a wonderful distribution to the Porteguese speaking world, I'd say it's a worthy/noble effort. Since this is an alpha, we won't hold the unstable/inoperative applications against this distro at this time. I will say that once this goes rc, I'd like to take another look and suggest that perhaps you should too.

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UPDATE, 11/19/05: Please see the update to this article HERE.

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