Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
A new project has come to my attention and it sounds really interesting. Well, I say new, but I actually mean "new to me." Apparently the UTUTO project has been around since 2000. The site states, "Its first version, massively distributed in October of year 2000 in Argentina by Diego Saravia of the National University of Salta, was very simple to use. It worked from CD-ROM with no need of installation. It was one of the first "lives" of the planet." Distrowatch tells us, "Ututo GNU/Linux is a CD-based Linux distribution developed by Diego Saravia at the Universidad Nacional de Salta in Argentina, based on Gentoo Linux, and designed to be used by home/office users, developers, organisations and government users." What's more, it appears they develop versions for several architectures, install or livecd, available thru ftp, http, or bittorent. Their community consists of forums, irc channels, and a mailing list. Their site and irc channels are available for IPv4 or IPv6 and the site is available in five languages. They even have radio and tv broadcasts. This is either a large project or these guys never sleep! They released test version 2 of 2006 for the i686 on January 1 and we thought it'd be a good time to take a look-see at this exciting project.
The installer is similar in appearance to the slackware installer that I like to refer to as ascii-graphical. It first asks which language to use and then it walks the user thru the configuration setup of their soon-to-be new Ututo system. It doesn't bother with starting the network for the install nor allows the user to set it up for their system. It will connect thru dhcp upon system boot if you have that available. Otherwise, you'll have to set it up thru the Configuration Menu. One isn't asked to choose packages or set up a root password or user account. However, one is given the login information for the default user during the install and then again before it exits. You can setup a normal user if you wish after install thru their Configuration Menu. Root is disabled by default it says, and many of the applications normally requiring root privileges work for the normal user, I assume thru sudo, except for webmin. In webmin's case, you are given the root password to use for it. Alternatively, one can always re-enable the root account by simply setting a root password. The summary screen where one can change some defaults is a bit muddled and not really newbie friendly. After configuration, the actual install took very little time, probably 15 or 20 minutes.
Ututo doesn't set up your X server either. One could probably use Xf86config or something, but I just manually edited the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.sample file and edited /etc/inittab for runlevel 5. Then upon boot, I get a nice graphical login.
Other hardware detection seems to be only fairly accurate. Sound is set up and modules loaded, but it only works in some application and not in others. For example, I had sound thru xmms but not xine. Xsane is provided, but my scanner wasn't detected. One can set this up by editing the /etc/sane.d/file I'm sure. A lot of unneeded modules, in my case, are loaded by default as well.
The desktop itself is comprised of the gnome desktop, nautilus and friends. I'm not usually a gnome fan, but Ututo has customized their offering to the point it's very pretty. The cursors are real nice, a set I haven't seen before. Too bad they don't show up in screenshots. They have used a real pretty theme that accents the windows with a nice blue decoration and the menus with a great looking highlight. The widgets have a cool 3D-effect as well. Many of the icons and some of the applets were very KDE-looking. It was a strange yet very attractive mix.
The menus aren't exactly bulging with applications, but they include at least one for most popular tasks. For many they provide two or more. For example, one can use Scribus, Abiword, or OpenOffice.org for creating or editing text documents. They provide Thunderbird and sylpheed for mail, although Thunderbird wouldn't start up here.
Being based on gentoo, one could probably set up portage for their updating and package installation uses, but Ututo provides a package manager that accesses their server(s) and installs their packages. Found as "Install new packages available for Ututo-XS" under the Configuration Menu, it's a nice setup. The application itself seems to function quite well, even if the connection is bit slow to my part of the world.
The other configuration items seem to function as designed as well. There are entries in the Configuration Menu for setting up a firewall, configuring your start up services, setting up user quotas, and time zone selection, just to name a few. It's a really handy application. In addition, as mentioned previously, there is Webmin as well if you prefer that.
Many extras weren't included such as java, flash or media plugins. Installing mplayer & it's browser plugin still didn't allow watching web-based movie files. Mplayer didn't work too well stand alone either. Xine is included with the default installed packages and it did seem to play videos on disk, although as mentioned, it didn't play any sound. Most other applications functioned well other than those mentioned.
One really nice little extra was the Xnest application. It's already all setup. Just click on the menu item and log-in. It functioned really well and amazing fast with an added bonus of stability. I thought that was kinda neato.
So, all in all, it's a very respectable project. The installer is not exactly the easiest in the world, but the desktop is nice looking with some handy tools and adequate applications. I'm left with mixed feelings about it, having started out quite excited. But it was still nice to try. If you are a gnome or ubuntu fan, you should really check it out.
More Screenshots here.