Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Reviewing OpenLab myself

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

[A regular at] TuxMachines.org has asked me [the lead developer] to do my own review of OpenLab, I won't deny that it feels rather odd to be doing so. After all, I am obviously biassed. But the request does justify the idea very well, so I reckoned I would give it my best bash. I'm not going to try to be dispassionate - any attempt at that is unlikely to completel succeed anyway, but more than that it would feel dishonest. So rather, I will try to explain how we were thinking at various stages of the system, what motivated certain decisions over others and what is really happening sometimes. Such a review will actually be usefull to people trying to make a decision, without being either too much like false marketing or too modest.

So let's start at the beginning, the CD-bootup screen. This screen has drawn praise from other reviewers as it shows one of the things we spent the most time on - trying to be explanatory at all times and give newbies an easy point of departure with lots of help and tips. We did do that but it's not all you can say about this screen. The text color there actually needs a bit of work, this is already on the list for next time, the colour we chose is nice but on some screens hard to see. A bigger thing is that since you cannot test on all pieces of hardware, I really wish I could rewrite the troubleshooting page now - as I now know two more entries that I wish I had known about when we first wrote that.

One little thing here that I'm very proud off is that if you do need to follow any of the troubleshooting things to boot the LIVEcd, and you then install - OpenLab will automatically make sure your troubleshooting lines are in your lilo.conf file so that you won't need to worry about adding them later.

Full Review.

about openlab

it was quite interesting to read a review from developer's own perspective - this was a good idea! However there are still a few questions none of the reviews I've seen so far addressed, for example:

- what is the state of multi-media apps and codecs in openlab? For example, will it play mp3s, avi's etc out of the box, or does it follow the big names in not including these apps and codecs? I realise the focus of openlab was on education market first of all, but I do consider multimedia applications and codecs they depend on an essential part of my system, and I'm becoming increasingly unhappy about having to install them myself...

- what tools does openlab offer to keep the system up to date or install additional software?

- how compatible is openlab with Slackware 10.2?

- what about installing binary nvidia/ati drivers?

Finally, I have to comment on your decision to 'not explicitely give the option to install lilo in a partition rather than an MBR...' While I understand your desire to simplify the installation, unfortunately it makes life very difficult for those of us who are multi-booting several systems, already have a perfectly functioning bootloader, and do not want to replace it or mess with it in any way! We might be few, but we are the early adopters, and writers of the reviews... Smile
So I think an 'advanced' option would be useful, and hopefully not too confusing for those who don't need it.

Re: About OpenLab

Let me try to answer your questions.

- what is the state of multi-media apps and codecs in openlab? For example, will it play mp3s, avi's etc out of the box, or does it follow the big names in not including these apps and codecs? I realise the focus of openlab was on education market first of all, but I do consider multimedia applications and codecs they depend on an essential part of my system, and I'm becoming increasingly unhappy about having to install them myself...

*Well one advantage of developing in South Africa is that we are not subject to US patent laws, so we can and do include every codec with a license that allows redistribution. OpenLab is meant to be free software except where important things simply do not have viable replacements (yet). So three non-free things are include. Java JRE, Flash plugin and windows multimedia codecs. We ship with totem as default video player, enabled for all the codecs I have encountered, and mplayer is in there as a fallback as well.

- what tools does openlab offer to keep the system up to date or install additional software?

*OpenLab uses slapt-get and gslapt for this. Our default package sources are all fully dependency tracked and this makes for quite an easy to use update system which we work hard to keep up to date.

-how compatible is openlab with Slackware 10.2?

*100% compatible, but I need to qualify that. Out of the box, a large number of 10.2 packages will complain about missing dependencies this was caused by slackware 10.2 being released after we did, on our update mirror however (which is preconfigured in OpenLab), has been an updated and installable elflibs package for some time, if you install it, you will instantly be able to install any slackware 10.2 package you wish again or even do a dist-uprade.

- what about installing binary nvidia/ati drivers?
I am an nvidia user myself so firstly let me assure you they do work.
That said we did not wish to ship non-free drivers in the base system, so the Nvidia drivers specifically is shipped on the KARMAcd, that package is self-installing and largely self-configuring as well.
To install the package from nvidia.com you will obviously need the kernel sources, which if you don't purchase the disk set you will need to install yourself.You don't need to configure it though, you can get the .config file from /proc/config.gz

As to the lilo locations, in fact the advanced options are already in front of you, it is just not explicitely said on screen. All the drop-down menu's in the OpenLab installer are editable so that if at any point our detected lists were wrong (which I have never seen happen) you could enter a corrected value yourself. In the same way when the lilo install screen come up, if you type /dev/hda1 as an option it will install to the partition rather than the MBR.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

GNOME and Fedora

  • RFC: Integrating rsvg-rs into librsvg
    I have started an RFC to integrate rsvg-rs into librsvg. rsvg-rs is the Rust binding to librsvg. Like the gtk-rs bindings, it gets generated from a pre-built GIR file.
  • 1+ year of Fedora and GNOME hardware enablement
    A year and a couple of months ago, Christian Schaller asked me to pivot a little bit from working full time on Fleet Commander to manage a new team we were building to work on client hardware enablement for Fedora and GNOME with an emphasis on upstream. The idea was to fill the gap in the organization where nobody really owned the problem of bringing up new client hardware features vertically across the stack (from shell down to the kernel), or rather, ensure Fedora and GNOME both work great on modern laptops. Part of that deal was to take over the bootloader and start working closer to customers and hardware manufacturing parnters.
  • Fedora Atomic Workstation: Works on the beach
    My trip is getting really close, so I decided to upgrade my system to rawhide. Wait, what ? That is usually what everybody would tell you not to do. Rawhide has this reputation for frequent breakage, and who knows if my apps will work any given day. Not something you want to deal with while traveling.
  • 4 cool new projects to try in COPR for February

Why You Shouldn’t Use Firefox Forks (and Proprietary Opera)

  • Why You Shouldn’t Use Firefox Forks Like Waterfox, Pale Moon, or Basilisk
    Mozilla Firefox is an open source project, so anyone can take its code, modify it, and release a new browser. That’s what Waterfox, Pale Moon, and Basilisk are—alternative browsers based on the Firefox code. But we recommend against using any of them.
  • Opera Says Its Next Opera Release Will Have the Fastest Ad Blocker on the Block
    Opera Software promoted today its upcoming Opera 52 web browser to the beta channel claiming that it has the faster ad blocker on the market compared to previous Opera release and Google Chrome. One of the key highlights of the Opera 52 release will be the improved performance of the built-in ad blocker as Opera claims to have enhanced the string matching algorithm of the ad blocker to make it open web pages that contain ads much faster than before, and, apparently than other web browsers, such as Chrome.

Graphics: Glxinfo, ANV, SPIR-V

  • Glxinfo Gets Updated With OpenGL 4.6 Support, More vRAM Reporting
    The glxinfo utility is handy for Linux users in checking on their OpenGL driver in use by their system and related information. But it's not often that glxinfo itself gets updated, except that changed today with the release of mesa-demos-8.4.0 as the package providing this information utility. Mesa-demos is the collection of glxinfo, eglinfo, glxgears, and utilities related to Mesa. With the Mesa-demos 8.4.0 it is predominantly glxinfo updates.
  • Intel ANV Getting VK_KHR_16bit_storage Support Wrapped Up
    Igalia's Jose Maria Casanova Crespo sent out a set of patches today for fixes that allow for the enabling of the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension within Intel's ANV Vulkan driver. The patches are here for those interested in 16-bit storage support in Vulkan. This flips on the features for storageBuffer16BitAccess, uniformAndStorageBuffer16BitAccess, storagePushConstant16 and the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension. This support is present for Intel "Gen 8" Broadwell graphics and newer. Hopefully the work will be landing in Mesa Git soon.
  • SPIR-V Support For Gallium3D's Clover Is Closer To Reality
    It's been a busy past week for open-source GPU compute with Intel opening up their new NEO OpenCL stack, Karol Herbst at Red Hat posting the latest on Nouveau NIR support for SPIR-V compute, and now longtime Nouveau contributor Pierre Moreau has presented his latest for SPIR-V Clover support. Pierre has been spending about the past year adding SPIR-V support to Gallium3D's "Clover" OpenCL state tracker. SPIR-V, of course, is the intermediate representation used now by OpenCL and Vulkan.

Security: Updates, Tinder, FUD and KPTI Meltdown Mitigation

  • Security updates for Friday
  • Tinder vulnerability let hackers [sic] take over accounts with just a phone number

    The attack worked by exploiting two separate vulnerabilities: one in Tinder and another in Facebook’s Account Kit system, which Tinder uses to manage logins. The Account Kit vulnerability exposed users’ access tokens (also called an “aks” token), making them accessible through a simple API request with an associated phone number.

  • PSA: Improperly Secured Linux Servers Targeted with Chaos Backdoor [Ed: Drama queen once again (second time in a week almost) compares compromised GNU/Linux boxes to "back doors"]
    Hackers are using SSH brute-force attacks to take over Linux systems secured with weak passwords and are deploying a backdoor named Chaos. Attacks with this malware have been spotted since June, last year. They have been recently documented and broken down in a GoSecure report.
  • Another Potential Performance Optimization For KPTI Meltdown Mitigation
    Now that the dust is beginning to settle around the Meltdown and Spectre mitigation techniques on the major operating systems, in the weeks and months ahead we are likely to see more performance optimizations come to help offset the performance penalties incurred by mitigations like kernel page table isolation (KPTI) and Retpolines. This week a new patch series was published that may help with KPTI performance.