Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
When I read of this Windows site working on their own Linux distribution, not only did I wonder why, but I also wondered what it might be like. It was stated that it was based on Morphix, so that was a clue, but I still wanted to take a quick look. I share my quick look with you.
Shift Linux is a 337 MB download. It's only a livecd at this point, but a hard drive installer is in future plans. The story I read (and linked to) mentioned a version 0.3, but looking at the site, it seems it's not ready. I downloaded 0.2 Flux edition, (and I understand a Gnome version to either be available or in the works). It boots up to what I think would be the familiar Morphix grub splash, but it didn't render properly on my machine. It did show up well enough that I could pick out a boot option that worked. The grub menu contains all of the options found in Morphix and Morphix based distros, but some of them don't work. For example, choosing "Boot using NVIDIA proprietary graphic drivers" doesn't work because those drivers aren't included.
The system boots with a few non-lethal warnings here and there and automagically starts X with the Fluxbox window manager. Shift uses what I assume to be an original wallpaper, tho it kinda reminds me of one I had seen in Linspire. It consists of a medium blue background with a logo or graphic of opposing arrows. The theme used in Fluxbox is the default Fluxbox theme of Meta. Booting into X using a resolution of higher than 1024x768 left one with black space to the right and bottom of provided png wallpaper. I'm not sure if this is a limitation of Fluxbox, but I don't recall ever encountering it before.
The menus are sparsely populated, but contain a few applications for common tasks. For example we find Abiword for word processing, XMMS for audio enjoyment, and Firefox/Thunderbird for internet surfing/email. Also included is kb3, The Gimp, and Synaptic. Most of the applications seemed to open, but Aptitude and Synaptic both opened phantom windows and did not work. The synaptic window would not close for anything short of rebooting. There are a few system and administration tools in the menu, but many are no good really unless you know the livecd root password. That's probably posted somewhere on the site. Running many applications requiring root privileges is possible with sudo at the command prompt.
Hardware detection was probably passable considering the applications provided. I had to run dhclient manually after start in order to activate the internet connection. Fortunately, that was all that was required. Performance was again passable. It wasn't anything to write home about, but it wasn't overly slow either. There is the option to load system into ram at boot, but I didn't test that feature to see if it was one of the boot options that worked or not.
All in all, it was merely an ok experience. Shift isn't impressive, but it did boot and work. At this point I know what it looks like and what it offers, but I'm still left to wonder why.
That story with all the Links to the site.