Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

When Choice Matters: VectorLinux SOHO 5.1 rc2

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
-s

"VectorLinux is a small, fast, Linux operating system for Intel, AMD and x86 compatible systems, based on one of the original Linux distributions, Slackware." The developers unleashed released candidate 2 of the small office - home office edition on Jan. 4, 2006, and since we've never tested any Vector, we thought it was time. The soho edition, "as its name implies, is a distro aimed at Small Office and Home Office users."

Some of the features of the Soho version include:

  • OpenOffice productivity suite.

  • Business applications for personal information, finances, and database work.
  • Powerful web development tools, including a local server.
  • Graphics editors, from simple to advanced.
  • Complete Internet applications pack, including Firefox web browser with preconfigured PDF, MPlayer, FlashPlayer and Java plugins
  • Multimedia and entertainment, for music and video playing and even web content streaming.
  • Internet and local Network connectivity.
  • Support for peripherals including printers, scanners, digital cameras, fax/modems.

The Install:

The installer appears to be based on Slackware's ascii-graphic installer. If not, it certainly shares a similar appearance. The installer worked flawlessly and walked me through a complete install and setup. It includes some great extra configurations, such as specific keyboards, without overkill or adding confusion for the user. The only problem I saw with it was during choosing from a list of a few extra packages of libraries and drivers. This list included such as rt2004 and zd1201. As I didn't know what they were, I figured I didn't need them. Whereas this method works for me, it may not work for a new comer who hasn't heard what their drivers are called or what libraries they'll needed for their given needs. Otherwise the installer was straight-forward and can practically guarantee a successful install. One of the cute extras I observed was at the start of the system/package installation phase, a message was offered stating, "You may leave if you want." teehee But if you do, you'll miss the scrolling message above the progress bar first giving the forum ip addy and then the nicks of the developers. The rest was fairly standard giving the user a chance to setup a hostname, root password and user account(s). Given the opportunity to install lilo, make a boot floppy or skip this step was appreciated here. It appears one is given the choice of two kernels: a 2.4.29 or 2.6.13. I chose 2.6.13.

During the install you are given your choice of type of login:

  • Text Server
  • Text Desktop
  • Graphical Server
  • Graphical Desktop

First boot stops to check the filesystem, or it did in my case as I chose ext3. Then I looked away to make a note and the system rebooted. I expected a failure. Second boot it updated libraries and did some last minute configuration, then I was taken to my chosen graphical login. At that point I surmised the initial reboot was normal.

The System:

The graphical login is quite pretty with a theme that I will come to discover matches the desktop. One is given a choice between KDE and XFCE4. Both desktops were quite pretty, although KDE defaults the plastic theme and default kde colors. Xfce4 was plain gorgeous, using the same VectorLinux wallpaper as KDE and utilizing a lovely theme. The default wallpaper is a pretty yet professional looking background in shades of blue featuring the Vector logo. Included are the standard kde wallpapers as well as at least a couple variations of the Vector background.

        

        

The menus are quite healthy with many application for most all of your small or home office needs. There are text editors, word processors and desktop publishing. There are image viewers, photo viewers, and image capture and manipulation. There are finance applications, spreadsheets, and mobile device synchronization. And of course there are plenty of internet and multimedia applications as well.

        

        

There are quite a few system tools as well. Besides the usual SysV editor and popular system monitoring applications, one finds gkrellm, gslapt, and Vasm (Vector's own Administration System & Menu). Inside this Vasm one finds a plethora of modules for configuring hardware, services, and system setup.

    

Upon the desktop is an icon labeled vector-help. That opens firefox to a local index file that can lead one to local help files, online documentation or the vector forums for example.

        

Multimedia isn't neglected in this office version of Vector. In the menus we can find ogle dvd player, xine media player, and xmms. Ogle played an encrypted dvd here with no problems and xine did a wonderful job playing mpegs and avis here. Xmms had no problems with music cds either. You may think this is a given, but I've tested several distros in which xmms refused to work. Mplayer is in the package list, although I didn't see it in the menu.

        

And true to their claims, browser plugins worked out-of-the-box here as well.

        

Some little problems encountered here include a lack of mysql (although sqlite is listed in packages as well). I figure a distro for small office and server use should probably contain mysql. In fact, I couldn't even find it available in slapt-get. Speaking of server, I wasn't able to find this small local web server mentioned as included either. That doesn't mean it's not really there somewhere, I just gave up looking for it before I found it. My scanner functioned only after editing the usual /etc/sane.d file. Gslapt is listed in the menus and a binary is available in /usr/sbin, althought I could not get it to open here (cli slapt-get worked fine). As root I got display errors and as user I got permission problems. Bearing in mind this is still a release candidate, I have high hopes this matter will be resolved before final.

Some version numbers of interest include:

  • gcc-3.3.4
  • alsa-1.0.9
  • xorg-6.8.2
  • kernel-source 2.6.13
  • kdebase-3.4.2
  • xfce4-4.2.0
  • gimp-2.2.1
  • openoffice-2.0
  • mozilla-firefox-1.5
  • gaim-1.3.0
  • perl-5.8.6
  • python-2.4.1
  • rp-pppoe-3.5
  • rpm-4.2.1
  • Full list

My Conclusion:

I liked VectorLinux very much. I found it to be quite stable and functional with great performance. The desktops were very pretty, polished and professional with limited but very nicely rendered fonts. The list of included applications was more than adequate for just about any generic office needs, or at least a solid foundation. I can envision my small office running Vector on a daily basis. I thought it was a wonderful binary distribution and I don't hesitate to recommend it for a second.

More Screenshots HERE.

    

Re: desktop

sennachie wrote:

hey, which desktop are the screenshots from? kde or xfce?

Both. Mostly KDE, but I threw some of xfce4 in there too. Easiest way to tell is the panel. Big Grin

They're both nice huh?

Comment viewing options

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

More in Tux Machines

ROSA Fresh R9

ROSA is a desktop distribution that was originally forked from Mandriva Linux, but now is independently developed. While the company which produces ROSA is based in Russia, the distribution includes complete translations for multiple languages. The ROSA desktop distribution is designed to be easy to use and includes a range of popular applications and multimedia support. ROSA R9 is available in two editions, one featuring the KDE 4 desktop and the second featuring the KDE Plasma 5 desktop. These editions are scheduled to receive four years of support and security updates. I decided to download the Plasma edition of ROSA R9 and found the installation media to be approximately 2GB in size. Booting from the ROSA disc brings up a menu asking if we would like to load the distribution's live desktop environment or begin the installation process. Taking the live option brings up a graphical wizard that asks us a few questions. We are asked to select our preferred language from a list and accept the project's warranty and license. We are then asked to select our time zone and keyboard layout from lists. With these steps completed, the wizard disappears and the Plasma 5.9 desktop loads. Read more

More of today's howtos

Software: Linfo, EasyTag, Simple Scan, Albert, VLC, Remote Desktop, Frogr, Brisk Menu, and OpenShot

  • Linfo – Shows Linux Server Health Status in Real-Time
    Linfo is a free and open source, cross-platform server statistics UI/library which displays a great deal of system information. It is extensible, easy-to-use (via composer) PHP5 library to get extensive system statistics programmatically from your PHP application. It’s a Ncurses CLI view of Web UI, which works in Linux, Windows, *BSD, Darwin/Mac OSX, Solaris, and Minix.
  • 2 tag management tools for organizing your music library
    These days, EasyTag seems to be my go-to tag editor. While I can't claim to have tried them all, I have mostly stopped looking now that I have this one. Generally speaking, I like its three-panel layout: file system directory on the left; selected tracks in the middle, showing file name and tags; and specific tags and cover image on the right.
  • New Simple Scan Designs Emerge; Seeking Devs to Implement Them
    Simple Scan is one of my personal favourite and perhaps even one of the "essential" apps on the Linux desktop for me. It does what it says on the tin: it's simple and it scans, with a nice preview system and enough options to be decently functional. Some new designs for the app have emerged and they are looking quite nice indeed. GNOME UX designer and Red Hat Desktop Team Member, Allan Day, showed the new mockup designs off in his blog post. Simple Scan has a pretty sparse and simplistic interface already, and I mean that in a positive way, but Allan believes that "just because it's great, doesn't mean it can't be improved" and that most of the improvements are simply "refinements", rather than major overhauls, in order to make some of the app's functions a bit easier to discover and navigate.
  • Albert – A Fast, Lightweight and Flexible Application Launcher for Linux
    A while ago, we have written about Ulauncher which is used to launch application quickly. Today we came up with similar kind of utility called Albert which is doing the same job and have some additional unique features which is not there in ulauncher.
  • 5 Tricks To Get More Out Of VLC Player In Linux
    In fact, for the desktop, VLC is much more than just a tool to play videos stored on your hard drive! So, stay with me for a tour of the lesser known features of that great software.
  • 5 of the Best Linux Remote Desktop Apps to Remotely Access a Computer
    Remote desktop apps are a very useful group of apps because they allow access to a computer anywhere in the world. While the simplest way to do this is via a terminal, if you don’t want to have to type commands but rather want a more advanced way to access a remote computer, here are five of the best remote desktop apps for Linux.
  • Frogr 1.3 released
  • Brisk Menu 0.4.0 Is Out with Super Key Support, Adapts to Vertical Panel Layouts
    Solus Project founder and lead developer Ikey Doherty is today announcing the release and immediate availability of the Brisk Menu 0.4.0 application menu for Solus and other supported GNU/Linux distributions.
  • OpenShot 2.3.3 Open-Source Video Editor Released with Stability Improvements
    OpenShot developer Jonathan Thomas is announcing the release and immediate availability of the third maintenance update to the OpenShot 2.3 stable series of the open-source and cross-platform non-linear video editor.

CloudReady - Chromebook re-experienced

I haven't done any extensive testing, but then, how much testing is really needed to run a bunch of Web apps. The whole idea is to have this cloud-based operating system, with easy, flexible access to your data anywhere you go. So if you judge this from the perspective of a typical desktop, you miss the point. But that is the point. When I install something on a desktop-like form factor, I expect its behavior to match. CloudReady takes you away from that experience, and the transition is not comfortable. You feel very limited. This makes a lot of sense for schools, for instance, where you do want to lock down the devices, and make them simple for reuse. In a home setup, why would you go for just cloud, when you can have that plus any which desktop application on a typical system? After all, nothing prevents you from launching a browser and using Google applications, side by side with your desktop stuff. It's the same thing. The notion of reviving old hardware is a bit of a wishful thinking. My eeePC test shows that it gets completely crippled when you run HD content in either Firefox or Chrome. An operating system based on Chromium OS will not drastically change that. It cannot do that. Maybe you will have better performance than having Windows there, the same way I opted for a Linux setup on the Asus netbook, but there are physical limits to what old hardware can accomplish. And then, there's the whole question of cloud ... Most people might be comfy with this, after having used smartphones for a while, but I don't think this is anything novel or mindblowing. CloudReady works as advertised, it's a very cool concept, but ultimately, it gives you a browser on steroids. Google and Neverware have their own agenda for doing this, but for home users, there really isn't any added value in transforming their keyboard-and-mouse box into a browsing portal. So if you ask me, am I ready for the cloud, the answer is, only when it becomes sophisticated enough to match my productivity and freedom of creativity. And for you, do you want a simple, locked down, secure and entirely Google machine that isn't a mobile phone or a dedicated piece of hardware? The answer is 42. Read more