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Friday, October 1, 2010

Salix OS 13.1.1 LXDE | Desktop Linux Reviews

Salix OS Live 13.1.1 LXDE

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Salix OS is a distro based on Slackware. Slackware, as you probably already know, has not had a reputation as being the easiest distro to use. Salix OS makes Slackware accessible to more users by making it easier to install, configure and manage. You can get Salix OS with the Xfce or LXDE desktop environments. For this review, I decided to use the LXDE version of Salix OS.

Before I get into the review, here’s a brief bit of background on Slackware and Salix OS from Wikipedia so you understand the differences between the two:

Slackware is a free and open source operating system. It was one of the earliest operating systems to be built on top of the Linux kernel and is the oldest currently being maintained.[1] Slackware was created by Patrick Volkerding of Slackware Linux, Inc. in 1993. The current stable version is 13.1, released on May 24, 2010.
Slackware aims for design stability and simplicity, and to be the most “Unix-like” Linux distribution, using plain text files for configuration and making as few modifications to software packages as possible from upstream.[2]

Slackware was originally descended from the Softlanding Linux System, the most popular of the original Linux distributions. SLS dominated the market until the developers made a decision to change the executable format from a.out to ELF. This was not a popular decision among SLS’s user base at the time. Patrick Volkerding released a modified version of SLS, which he named Slackware.[5] The first Slackware release, 1.00, was on July 16, 1993.[6] It was supplied as 3½” floppy disk images that were available via anonymous FTP.

Salix OS
Salix OS retains full backwards compatibility with Slackware. This enables Slackware users to benefit from Salix repositories, which they can use as an “extra” source of software for their distribution. However, while in the KISS  principle that Slackware adheres to, “Simple” refers to the system design, Salix OS applies it to daily use as well. It aims to be simple, fast and easy to use.[2]

To paraphrase the words of a journalist: the target audience for Salix OS might well be described as “lazy Slackers”, users familiar with Linux in general and Slackware in particular who don’t mind having additional tools to reduce their workload, while maintaining the maximum compatibility with Slackware possible. Salix OS adds automated dependency resolution, enhanced internationalization and localization, a larger repository of applications, and a well equipped suite of native administration and configuration tools for both the GUI and the command line. In so doing it is making the system more user friendly than vanilla Slackware to newcomers as well.[3]

What’s New In This Release
This release is actually a maintenance release. The last major update for the LXDE version was Salix OS 13.1, which was released back in July. Here is the announcement text for that release.

Salix LXDE edition 13.1 has been released! Based on Slackware 13.1, it features the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, “an extremely fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment”, with a clean look and feel. The main applications that complete the LXDE experience are the lightweight and fast PCManFM file manager and the popular Openbox window manager.

As with the standard, XFCE edition, this iso allows installation to be performed in three different modes, core, basic and full. The core mode installation is identical to the one you get from the XFCE edition. Basic will only install a minimal LXDE desktop with only midori and gslapt installed as extra and full will install everything that is included in the iso. That includes the lightweight Midori web browser, that uses the powerful webkit engine and the Claws-mail e-mail client, along with the Transmission torrent client and the Pidgin instant messaging client. Also included are the Abiword word processor, the Gnumeric spreadsheet and the epdfview pdf reader. The Whaawmp! Media Player is used as the main media application and is accompanied by the powerful Exaile music player/manager and the Brasero disc burning application. Viewnior is the default image file viewer and mtpaint can be used for editing them. The full set of the Salix system tools are of course included in this release.

Users are able to use the Gslapt package manager, or the command line equivalent slapt-get, to install extra software in their systems from Slackware and Salix repositories, with complete support for dependency resolution.

On the next page, I’ll take a look at the hardware requirements and the install routine.

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