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emerge -p litrix 6.0

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Litrix 6.0 was released a few days ago and as a big gentoo fan, I was very anxious to test this livecd and install. Tuxmachines tested version 3.0 and figured 6.0 would probably be the cat's meow! Despite many pros, I'm afraid the cons overtook our experiences with Litrix this time. Here is our report.

Litrix is a Linux live CD based on Gentoo Linux. This release is a start of a new series based on Gentoo 2006 and developed during the past seven months. The new release includes support for MMX and 3DNow!, offering a major performance boost to multimedia applications. This is further enhanced by the addition of new KDE-based multimedia applications, such as amaroK with its excellent archive organising abilities and intuitive playlist features, and Kaffeine, which offers playback of both audio and video files.

When one boots the livecd, they are given a list of "cheat codes" to use for a more customized boot/runtime experience. However, I found that vesamode=1 renders X inoperable. I tend to choose vesa still as usually it's a safe bet over "nv" drivers for when the X -version isn't known offhand. However, nvidia drivers are included and letting it auto-detect my card resulting in the use nvidia went ok. I input xresolucao=1280x1024 and that seemed to have the desired effect. However, LANG=en_US was ignored. This leads to other problems such as a foreign keyboard layout as well as the Portuguese language in the interface.

Fortunately if your graphics card is detected well enough, you will autologged in as root, which is good, because my usual good luck in figuring out livecd users or passwords failed me this time. Once you are in KDE 3.5.2 graphical environment, one can experiment to find the extra keys needed to open and edit files in konsole. I edited xorg.conf for my locale and language and hit control+alt+backspace and found myself at a login. Well, as stated, the passwords must be the head developer's wife's birthday backwards or something and I was left to reboot.

This time, I edited the xorg.conf file, adjusted the language choice in kcontrol and edited the kdmrc to allow for root to be automatically logged back in and that little obstacle was overcome. But it was just the first of problems to arise in this new offering.

        

The next glitch reared its head when using Firefox. First I found the internet connection wasn't established as litrix seems to use some incorrect static ip and route. Bringing the eth0 interface down and issuing dhcpcd got me connected. Then the actual firefox bug was revealed. Firefox seemed to render my site (tuxmachines.org) ok even if the default fonts were tiny. I adjusted the font size and moved on to gmail.com. Well, the gmail web interface was ...messed up. The frames were cut off and askew as were many of the options. It was unusable. I use the gmail web interface in every system I test and this was a first. This lead to my biggest complaint.

        

With firefox unusable for gmail, I decided to use konqueror. However konqueror could not connect to any site. I closed it and attempted to restart it and it could not even launch. At that point, many kde apps closed and would not restart giving the error message that launcher could not be started. I killed the X server so KDE would restart and moved on to the next task.

The next thing I was to explore was the Litrix Center. This is a control center of the same ilk as the PCLinuxOS Control Center or SuSE's Yast Control Center. From here you can adjust a few configurations, call up kpackage or kuroo (or some kde portage front-end), and install Litrix to your hard drive. This was my main goal. I wanted to test the installer and the installed system. I wanted to see if it could be updated and perhaps be recommended as an easy Gentoo starting point.

        

        

    

Well, that's not going to happen. The installer of 6.0 is a simple gui installer. One picks out their target partition (or can set up new partitions if necessary) and the install begins. The only other option given is some bootloader configurations. This is one of most simplified installers I've tested. Too bad it don't work.

After the installer exits, I experienced more problems with the system. Some open applications like my konsole had disappeared and would not restart. Instead it shot an error about permissions for the ptty. xterm would not start and kde file manager could not read a partition I had mounted in order to save screenshots. I could not move my screenshots of the installer from the litrix ramdisk, but that was not the weirdest part. Only the first and the last of the installer screenshot series was found anyway. Ksnapshot appeared to be saving my screenshots, but apparently it could not. Weird, weird, weirdness.

There was no option to skip the bootload section of the install process, so I chose to install it onto the / (root) partition of what was to be my new litrix install. I rebooted and sighed with relief that my partition table and lilo setup remained intact. But upon entering my everyday desktop environment to edit my lilo for the new system revealed nothing installed onto the chose Litrix partition. I mounted many partitions in search of my illusive Litrix. It was not found. Litrix was not installed.

I've seen this before and theorize due to some quirk with the livecd filesystems, some systems install into the ramdisk. I surmise this was case this time.

So, all in all, I'd take a pass on Litrix this release. It's a beautiful setup with a lovely wallpaper and window decoration. They have dressed up the desktop with transparency and superkaramba themes. The verbose boot splash matches the system wallpaper and is great looking. But their system, particularly KDE, is buggy and their installer was inoperative here. Hardware detection is average, but the net connection will need to be established by hand for most people. In addition the boot option to use English is ignored and most people won't be able to overcome the result. Perhaps Portuguese speakers can find the root password on the site and that'd help some. But overall, it's just not worth the trouble. Litrix 6.0 was pretty, but an otherwise disappointment here. I can't recommend it at this time.

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