REVIEW: Salix 13.1-rc1 (Live LXDE)

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A pleasant pastel theme greets you on first boot. A slackware distro that spares a thought for someone who might be after something other than Ubuntu or one of its derived variants. Picture source: http://easylinuxcds.com/blog/?p=3741

Salix, a slackware distro, is one I’ve looked at previously on Openbytes.  It has a history with Zenwalk, but not in just the fact that they are two Slackware offerings, it was reported that a group of developers left the Zenwalk project and created the Salix project, lucky for us as Salix has matured into an accessable product and yet another option for those looking for a different distro.

So here is release candidate 1 of a distro which from previous experience offers a punchy performance (and is here in an LXDE flavour)  Whilst the plethora of Ubuntu based distro’s continue with them ranging between unique and more of the same, its refreshing to have a chance to take a look at another Slackware distro (and especially one which I was pleased with before)  The features listed by the developers on Salix’s homepage state:

  • one application per task on the installation ISO
  • fully backwards compatible with Slackware
  • optimized for desktop usage
  • high quality package repositories with dependency support
  • incredibly fast package tools
  • simple & fully localized system administration tools
  • nice artwork
  • installation ISO fits on a single CD
  • supports 32-bit and 64-bit architectures

and they say:

Based on Slackware Linux 13.1, it features the lightweight X11 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 CD image allows installation to be performed in three different modes – core, basic and full. The core mode 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 on the CD image. That includes the lightweight Midori web browser, the Claws-mail e-mail client, the Transmission BitTorrent client and the Pidgin instant messaging client.

Compatibility wise, Salix had no problems detecting anything.  The test machine for this review was an AMD Athon II x4 635, with 3gb of memory and an shared/integrated Nvidia 9200 graphics card.  The liveCD booted far faster than my current distro of choice did when I was installing.  The fresh, clean and aesthetically appealing wallpapers for Salix are a testament to the effort being put into it and the “little things”.

Installation was offers three options –  Full, Basic and Core.  You’re probably not going to opt for core unless you have a beard, so for many the option will be Basic or full.

The .iso clocks in at around 526mb which is hardly going to challenge anyone’s connection and as commented on by many, Salix LXDE has a blisteringly fast install time (around 10 minutes)

Whats packaged as default?

So lets look at some the packages you expect to find installed as default on this distro.  For the complete list of whats packaged, you can check here.   It’s refreshing to see none of the play once games included, if you really have a desire you can fill your boots in the repo’s and Ive long said that the “time is up” for the generic games of solitaire, snake et al on a distro.

Abiword is present here as default in version 2.8.6, which is the latest release.  This for me is welcome since I don’t need an entire office suite packaged as default and I find AbiWord fits the bill for an all purpose word processor.

Theres plenty of help to be had on the liveCD and if you are coming to Salix from a more “nannied” distro such as Ubuntu, help is on hand should you require it.  The liveCD has a desktop link to a web-based Freenode IRC client (and the Salix chat room)  The installation of multimedia codecs is a case of merely clicking an icon.

I’m pleased to see Transmission included since I’ve not been convinced by Deluge and it’s “busier” GUI.

Midori is the browser packaged with Salix, which whilst I’ve always liked and found to be a very punchy, solid experience, I’ve never replaced Chromium with.

Gslapt handles package management and I think its a given that this is a rather user-friendly, simply way to handle your package needs.

Conclusions

As I say, Ive deployed Linux quite extensively, from friends and family to friends of friends and our local computer club.  Most of these people have no clue what an operating system is or how to install one and merely want an escape from their Windows desktop.  When looking at a distro for OpenBytes, I consider two things  – would I want this on my main rig? and; How easy will this be to deploy and provide support for to a user who may not have any experience of Linux.  In both cases Salix received a favorable answer.  Little things like a package that installs the multimedia codecs is very welcome as if I am around a friend’s house installing it on their desktop, I want things handed on a plate, so that I spend as little time as possible.

The speedy install times, make this a very attractive distro for me to deploy to others too and with the one click installation of all the codecs I could wish for also appeals greatly to me  (although is not unique to Salix and Sabayon 5.3 (currently on my main rig, offers the same feature at install time)

The installation itself was simple and I think shows just how far Linux on the desktop has come.  Not so long ago, there were only a handful of distro’s that truly offered a user friendly installation, now it seems a “minimum standard” of any new release.

Salix (thanks to its LXDE flavour) is very fast.  Whilst some will find LXDE too simple looking and would probably migrate towards KDE or Gnome, LXDE affords even the lowest of specs a very fast, functional performance and a great introduction to a Slackware distro.  If you are after a Slack distro that spares a thought for the new or inexperienced user, give Salix a go.  Either way, seasoned Linux expert or Linux newbie, Salix LXDE is a great release and very worthy of a look.

Links

Salix has its Distrowatch entry here: http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=salix

You can download (directly) from here: http://downloads.sourceforge.net/salix/salix-lxde-13.1.1.iso

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Robotron 2084 says:

    Reading yet another Linux distro review is as exciting as pulling splinters out of your dick after a night of bedpost humping.

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