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Distro reviews

Wolvix-2.0.0beta2

Review of 2.0.0 Beta 2 - Slackware based Linux distro.

Review of 2.0.0 Beta 2 - Slackware based Linux distro.

This distro was brought to my attention in the BN IRC room, and whilst my distro hopping machine had difficulties with it (its a little anti social at the moment) I gave it a run on one of the many machines dotted around my house and found myself very surprised (pleasantly) by the results.  Its a Slackware based distro, and in these days of MONO uncertainty and the ever growing popularity of about 4 or 5 of the “big name” distro’s, its nice to break out of the mold and take a look at a lesser known option (sans MONO I hasten to add).

INSTALLATION/LIVE CD

I hope this is not taken the wrong way when I say that the installation process is very Ubuntu’ish, meaning very simple and straight forward.  There’s a rather off putting message (for any users who may not have much experience with Linux) although I can see where they are coming from.  As I will explain, I don’t think Wolvix is for the brand new user, and in my opinion these users are always better catered for with Mint, Ubuntu, Mandriva, et al.  The Live CD comes in at around a 680mb ISO which can be downloaded via bit torrent (which personally I would recommend, firstly because the d/l speeds of the other options were poor and secondly because I am helping seed it at the moment!)

Wolvix in action.  The default backdrop has been replaced with a more colourful one to reflect my mood today.  A great distro if you have been using Linux for a while and are comfortable with the command line.

Wolvix in action. The default backdrop has been replaced with a more colourful one to reflect my mood today. A great distro if you have been using Linux for a while and are comfortable with the command line.

FEATURES

The default DE for Wolvix is Xfce 4.6.0 and what a great choice that is, I am rapidly becoming a fan.  For fear of starting a series of angry emails, I can’t warm to KDE.  Whilst KDE does everything it says on the tin and is pleasant to look at, its just far too Vistaesque for my liking and for that and a reason I cannot put my finger on, I just don’t feel fully in control of my distro under KDE.  Thats going off topic though since Xfce 4.6.0 is whats being talked about here, is very similar to Gnome in looks, with a reduced dock at the bottom and is far faster operation.

Whilst I always state that I’m not a fan of flashy visuals and “bling”, it had to be said that the default desktop theme(s) are very attractive.  Simple, bold and clean I especially like the Wolf howling at the moon backdrop.  These backdrops are not the usual ultra high resolution. memory sucking images that we see with some of the bigger name distros, so it appears that even in looks, the ethos of providing you with as fast a system as possible is at the forefront of what Wolvix hopes to achieve.

Out of the box compat was very good and although Nvidia drivers needed to be installed as first port of call, this is par for the course on most distro’s anyway.

Wolvix again, simple clean and a great distro!

Wolvix again, simple clean and a great distro!

SOFTWARE

Personally, its nice to see AbiWord included as default.  Whilst I like OpenOffice and believe its a great piece of software, I have no need for any of the other supporting packages.  My distro installation always involves the removal of OpenOffice to replace with Abiword, so that to the creators of Wolvix, thats one less job.  The version included is the latest (2.6.8) and the new features of which can be found on the Abiword homepage.  To give an example of the speed of this distro, the LiveCD barely even gave you a chance to read the logo window of Abiword prior to the program loading that’s forgetting the speed once the distro is installed to your HD.

Web browsing is via Firefox 3.0.8 which was released 27th March 2009.  Whilst this is not the current version, its certainly stable and offers the same Firefox experience that I am sure I do not need to describe to you for the purposes of this review.

Other packages of note include Python 2.5.2 (hooray no 3!), Gnumeric, GIMP and quite a comprehensive out of the box collection that should cover your main tasks.  Thunderbird is in control of email duties here, running a 2009 version (2.0.0.21), its a great all in one (RSS/email/Newsgroups) and really removes the need for any other mail package.  I have heard from others that RSS is slow within Thunderbird compared to that of Claws, but personally I have had no issues and have yet to test Claws as an alternative.

Software is handled by the package manager slapt-get in terminal or by a GUI (gslap) on the DE

CONCLUSIONS

With every distro I have installed, there always follows a removing of software (for differing reasons, mainly duplication and personal choice)  There are some more guilty than others.   I always remark that the worst offender in my opinion would be #!CBL (Crunchbang Linux)  A few things strike me as strange (although this is probably due to trying to please everyone) Liferea and Thunderbird?  Is Liferea just duplication? Great package but I’m not sure of its value in addition to Thunderbird.  Xchat and IRSSI? obviously one provides a GUI the other runs from the command line, but I would suggest that the Wolvix creators choose a path and stick with it to avoid duplication (Personally I think IRSSI is far better)

My big issue was no Binaries newsgroup grabber, the absense of Transmission (although I will give Deluge a run).

With Wolvix being a Slackware derived product and the absence of the Ubuntu “hand holding” I cannot recommend it for a Linux user with only a small amount of experience (contrary to the implication on the site that it can be)  However, for the seasoned Linux user it excels and I’ve been looking for a reason to switch my main Gentoo distro.  Wolvix is such a reason and I think I will be very happy with it.  The packages on offer are a mish mash of experienced and new user although I’d suggest that if this distro is aimed towards the more experienced, some of these packages are really not required.

*Note – There is no issue with Gentoo, merely that I enjoy distro hopping and have to have a good reason to do it on my main rig.

I don’t think Wolvix would stand up as a newcomers distro (nor does it seek to be) when you hold it up to products such as Ubuntu/Fedora/Mandriva et al and I don’t think Xfce DE will be an attractive enough option for people when they are coming from Windows and looking towards KDE.  Thats no bad thing by the way, and Wolvix for me sits very comfortably in a more seasoned Linux users hands.

It is very obvious that much work has gone into Wolvix, my expectations of a perfectly packaged distro are not unreasonable but a little selfish and since this was the only issue I had with the distro, its of no matter since removal of unused packages takes no time at all.

As with any new installation there are a few teething troubles that need to be ironed out, that for me is half the fun of a Slackware distro and the issues I came across were very minor.

The first problem I found was with the mouse wheel, which although recognised refused to work as a scroll.  This issue is now resolved.  Next issue I had was that the master volume was not found on the dock (its in the multimedia menu) due to its default setting being low (and my speakers being set on low for fear of nieghbour complaints) I spent around 1/2 hour trying to work out why the sound wasnt working.  Too much to ask to put it on the dock?  The only other issue of note was Wolvix’s refusal to allow me to set the keyboard to UK permanently, and it insisted on switching back to US.

Those issues caused very little trouble.

When talking about the speed of this distro, “Punchy” is the best way to describe it.  Its these type of distro’s that people should be supporting in any way they can.  Aesthetically, what with its fancy site and logos, Ubuntu is about 10 years ahead and Wolvix is no competition, however “under the hood” where it matters and I’d say on my test machine Wolvix outperforms any of the mainstream distros noticeably.  Projects like Wolvix are where the exciting things are happening and I wholly recommend anyone who is familiar with Linux to give this speedy, tight and highly functional distro a try.

You can visit the Wolvix homepage here: http://wolvix.org/ although the beta 2 is available on LinuxTracker here.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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About Tim Sparrow

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturalism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

11 thoughts on “Wolvix-2.0.0beta2

  1. Thanks for a great review :)))

    A few oddities
    The screenshot shows the old previous 1.1.0’s wallpaper – the new one is a little over this ones 16Kb, but not by much.

    Keyboard stays set if you change it from the menu rather the taskbar. I found that curious and annoying but now its done it’s ok :)

    The package versions, was this after updating or straight after install?

    Deluge is lighter and has more features than Transmission, i think?

    Also it really depends on the noob. Serious artists and programmers have said they found it easier, more intuitive, less patronising than the big-hand-holding names.

    The older stable Wolvix Hunter 1.1.0 does have OpenOffice right from the start along with some unusual games, not just cards and ‘mahjong’.

    Wine is faster? Someone noticed a 15% increase in frames/sec (heavy gamer) over Wine in Ubuntu

    Posted by Tom | July 14, 2009, 8:18 am
  2. Ohh, and one of the fun things with the new betas is changing the DE and window-managers to even lighter (or just different) and unusual alternatives. In the Wolvix forum people shared a lot themes and all to give things like PekWm and enlightenment a wolvix make-over. Artists and programmers egging each other on lol

    Posted by Tom | July 14, 2009, 8:26 am
  3. Hi Tom!

    Let me address your questions and appologize for the late reply (just returned from work)

    1. The screenshot was my error and taken from the Web, due to the fact I had already changed it (my Twitpic account shows the desktop wallpaper I settled on) I wanted to represent Wolvix in its original theme, but I also wanted to show it with a colourful one as I felt people who judge on bright aesthetics may wrongly overlook it.

    2. Completely agree, it was very difficult to find any issues to write about and the “teething” issues are found with many distros. The problem was easily solved (as were they all) and whilst a little odd, Ive experienced some real odd ones with even the big name distros in the past.

    3. The package versions were straight after install from the linuxtracker torrent of Wolvix beta 2.

    4. Deluge v Transmission, having not really a great need or requirement for BT (Im a newsgroups and IRC fan) I really only had a superficial interest in Transmission, it was a familiar package to me, that is all. Having now used Deluge in the same way, I can report its just as functional for my needs.

    5. Quote “Also it really depends on the noob. Serious artists and programmers have said they found it easier, more intuitive, less patronising than the big-hand-holding names.”

    Completely agree, although a new user covers such a wide spectrum in my experience however advanced a linux newb is, the command line can be a little daunting. Ive always been an advocate of the bigname distros as a starter and then “mature” onto Wolvix et al. Having said that, as I stated in my review Wolvix was very Ubuntuish in that the install process was very simple. I just think that unless you have an automated process for installing the NVIDIA drivers for example, its going to throw up a few issues for the new user.

    I hadnt used the older version (which although you said is stable, I have yet to see ANY evidence of instability in 2.0.0beta…good work!) As I said in the review, I was recommended it by a user in #boycottnovell on freenode.net and I must admit am guilty of never hearing about Wolvix before….my loss, although its corrected now.

    Wine is a package that is flying under Wolvix, since I hadnt tested my usual of WOW, I didnt want to comment, however since then Ive been running a few Windows binary emu’s and a few demo scene title (with some nasty DX hacks) all of which are noticably faster.

    The Wolvix distro and community appears very nice. The one thing I noticed when briefly looking at the forums was the lack of snobbery (or silly questions of others, such as “why doesnt the spinny cube thing work that I saw on youtube?”)

    Whilst I’ve got you here (and you will regret visiting now!!!) I have a few idea’s that I would like to see (or suggestions)
    (I am assuming from your tone that you have involvement in the Wolvix development?)

    1. Cut back on the duplication, aim your packages towards more all in one solutions i.e thunderbird. In the next beta, consider chrome, I shudder to think how fast that will be under Wolvix and now it has flash compat its certainly a viable package…

    2. Maybe aim your distros package towards emulation? I am currently working on a A500 emu project (which is a second love of mine) but on my dock at the moment are icons for Xspect (ZX48k) Zsnes etc etc. Whilst Im not a gamer, theres a real demand for retro, and as a coder there is a real need for me to have emu’s for my silly little retro coding work.

    Finally thanks for visiting, thanks to Wolvix for a great distro and I hope to spend some time in its great community…

    All the best.
    Goblin.

    Posted by openbytes | July 14, 2009, 7:42 pm
  4. Ooops, sorry but i’m just a fan of Wolvix and someone pointed out the link to this article on the front page of DistroWatch,

    http://distrowatch.com

    Wolven and Oithona are the main devs for Wolvix, if you could copy your comments into their forum then they are pretty good at responding within a day or so ;) I think the package lists for the LiveCd is probably still up for a lot of discussion, everything else will be in the repos of course.

    Your review was enjoyable and informative so really it’s thanks and apols from me :)
    Regards from
    Tom :)

    Posted by Tom | July 14, 2009, 9:27 pm
  5. Nothing to appologize for. Im happy to meet another Wolvix user….as I say I intend to get involved in the Wolvix community and I will (when I get some time this weekend) look at the package list…I’ll probably see you on the forums.

    I just wish I could remember which #boycottnovell user recommended Wolvix to me, I would like to credit them.

    Posted by openbytes | July 14, 2009, 9:51 pm
  6. Very good review, though must comment on the distro not being suited to newbies. Same old story, after numerous crashes, and feeling i had little control of my machine (XP) i decided to take the plunge and try some linux distro’s, in fact i tried half dozen or so, most including Mint and Ubuntu had trouble detecting some hardware….for whatever reason, still i do no know the answer there, but after downloading and installing Wolvix Cub 1.1.0 (took 10 minutes ha,ha) and perfect install. Everything out of the box worked, and i mean EVERYthing. Thanks to the Wolvix Forum members, the developers, and Wolven himself, my life using Linux has become incredibly comfortable. My only real wish is that i migrated over several years ago. Recently i have installed Wolvix 2.0.0 Beta 2 over the top of Cub 1.1.0 and once again install took about 10 minutes.
    One of the major advantages of this distro from a newbies point of veiw is the absolute simplicity and reliability of installing or removing softwares. Slapt-get achieves this remarkably. As far as desktops go, i found xfce4 very intutive and easy to navigate. The most difficult area in the migration process really was about learning the linux softwares…for example: the name Slapt-get gives absolutly no idea to the newbie what it actually performs, the same could be said with other linux apps, so one really has to go through a whole new learning curve in that respect.
    Wolvix is great, i would recommend it to newbies!

    Steve.

    Posted by LoveDogs | December 25, 2009, 6:34 am
  7. Yeh, we hear that a lot in the Wolvix forums. While Wolvix is very easy for many noobs to linux i would still recommend people try Ubuntu 1st.

    Mostly simply because there are more magazine articles and printed material outside of normal linux circles. Windows users often find it quite easy to get some help with Ubuntu. Once you are used to online forums tho, especially the official ones and perhaps

    http://www.linuxquestions.org

    Then it might be good to venture beyond and experiment with other distros. Trying a LiveCd version of a distro is a good way to see how easy you are likely to manage to get a particular version to work on a particular hardware setup = without going through “all the hassle” of installing. Also LiveCds are a great way of trying out distros so you can see differences/commonalities between them = learn linux faster with less effort.

    LoveDogs, is slapt-get the command-line or the gui package manager? If you can try the gui one. The search features usually look in package descriptions as well as package titles so you do not need to know the names of packages. I found this hugely useful but no-one told me about this until after i had stumbled around in the dark for ages. Sorry this link is for Ubuntu but many of the packages are the same or at least give you an idea where to start looking

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwitchingToUbuntu/FromWindows

    If you are using an older Wolvix then hit the “Update all packages” and also install the newer “Wolvix Control Panel” or “WCP”. I tend to prefer the older versions of Wolvix although usually in linux it’s better to get the newer stable version and the Wolvix betas are really quite stable.

    Thanks for trying my favourite version of linux and i am glad you enjoyed it too :))
    Many regards from
    Tom :)

    Posted by Tom | December 25, 2009, 11:07 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: László Torma (toros) 's status on Sunday, 12-Jul-09 21:17:40 UTC - Identi.ca - July 12, 2009

  2. Pingback: Goblin (openbytes) 's status on Sunday, 12-Jul-09 23:43:43 UTC - Identi.ca - July 12, 2009

  3. Pingback: s5h.net » Blog Archive » Reviews of Wolvix 2.0 (Second Beta) and Vector Linux 6.0 Gold - July 19, 2009

  4. Pingback: Wolvix 2.0.0 beta Build 56 « OpenBytes - April 18, 2010

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about.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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