Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Phaeronix is a "gentoo love-sources RR4 CD with reiser4 enabled grub, auto hardware detection with nvidia 3D support , ready for multimedia, internet, and arabic. It is optimised for i686." Once upon a time it featured a harddrive installer, that option has been pulled for at least now, although one can still manually install it very much like a stage 3 gentoo install. Since the site states on about every page that "This is not the final version. Please don't attempt to install it on your harddrive" we looked at Phaeronix today in its intended livecd format.
The livecd boots up to an custom grub splash featuring a graphic of a cd with the words "Pharonix it's a live" imprinted. I'm supposing 'Pharonix' is a misspelling as it's spelled Phaeronix on the site and at distrowatch. We are invited to press F1 for help, but not too many cheatcodes are given there. We learn on the site that if we use "linux xgl" and our video card is supported, we can get a nice xgl desktop. The remainder of the boot phase goes very well with little or no weird errors and one can choose to watch the lovely gentoo 2006.0 silent or verbose splash. Hardware detection seemed fairly accurate in the areas that it detects, and a lot of unnecessary modules (for me) are loaded by default. They state on their site that this is done so that support is available for booting from just about any type of drive device. I tested only on ide dvd and cdrw drives.
The site warns it may not work, but in my case it did. It worked wonderfully and performance was quite acceptable. Minute delays after mouse clicks were rare, and the functionality seemed as complete as is available as of now. As always, this is a fun option with which to toy.
Otherwise one will find themselves in a regular, but nice, gnome 2.14 desktop. It too features gentoo graphics for it's default background, and dressed up nicely utilizing understated desktop and cool cursor themes. Performance of the regular desktop environment is equal to that of the xgl desktop, in that only minor delays were experienced on occasion after mouse click.
In the menus one can find many applications for everyday tasks, and not your usual standard fare as well. Some of the 'must-haves' are available, but Phaeronix also features some applications not encountered in every linux distribution. Some of the must-haves include gimp, gaim, OpenOffice, and Mozilla-Firefox. Some of the differing choices include blender, sweep, meld, newton, gtkpod, Grisbi, Drive Journal Editor, Ekiga Softphone, and many more. Phaeronix seems quite full-featured for a one cd download.
All but just a few of applications functioned as desired. The CD Player didn't work at all, Rhythmbox wouldn't open, the sound recorder shot an error, and TVTime could not read my tvcard. The Gentoo Installer and Setup Phaeronix menu entries are inoperative due to the missing scripts the developers pulled.
Under the hood we find kernel 2.6.15-archck7, xorg 7.0, gcc 4.0.2, squashfs and reiser4, and nvidia 3d acceleration graphic drivers.
Overall I really enjoyed working in Phaeronix and truly wished for a hard drive installer. Other than the few applications that malfunctioned, the experience was quite pleasant. The system had adequate performance with only occasional lag and it's stablity was surprizing even in xgl. As this release is a beta version, little bugs are expected, so Tuxmachines found this livecd to be a remarkable and fun option. We will be keeping an eye on this distribution and you posted.