CentOS stands for Community ENTerprise Operating System. As a group, CentOS is a community of open source contributors and users. Typical CentOS users are organizations and individuals that do not need strong commercial support in order to achieve successful operation. CentOS is 100% compatible rebuild of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux, in full compliance with Red Hat's redistribution requirements. CentOS is for people who need an enterprise class operating system stability without the cost of certification and support. CentOS is currently ranked #12 at distrowatch
Pentium D 3.4 GHz with 2 gig of RAM, Nvidia 7300GS with 256 meg RAM and 19" wide screen monitor. For this review I am using 64 bit edition.
The installation DVD does not come with a Live environment. A separate Live CD is available for people interested in checking the environment first.
Fedora and CentOS are amongst the earliest distributions to correctly bring 1440x900@75Hz desktop resolution.
CentOS uses Anaconda as the system installer. As with the other distributions that use Anaconda; it is really simple to install CentOS without actually burning a DVD. User can install the system from the hard disk containing the ISO image. For detailed description see the installation section in my earlier post.
Anaconda asks for the language, keyboard and allows you to configure partitions. The network configuration tool has been updated and user can separately configure IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Earlier it was not possible to assign static IP to one and leave the other one on DHCP, but thats not the case now. Anaconda then asks for time zone, root password and the packages to be installed.
User can select additional repositories during package selection, but I did not try that out. The package selection categories made me laugh. Emacs and Editors are different categories :). Seems like Emacs is not an editor any more, but far more better/superior than editors. And even though the fact that Emacs is not in the latest 22 version.
CentOS comes with a light blue theme and the theme is very well integrated(even with Compiz). The default font set was "Sans" (I personally do not like Sans), which I changed to "Dejavu Sans". For a Sever/Workspace oriented distribution, the look and feel is nice.
Being a DVD install there are a huge number of applications. I would say that I was really disappointed by version of applications used by CentOS (Red Hat). Firefox is in version 188.8.131.52 and Open Office is in a really old version 2.0.4. But this rant is more appropriate for Red Hat. Pirut is again disappointing as it fails/hangs a lot.
Additional applications can be downloaded from the repository. But the repository seems to be stagnant. There is not even a single application in the main extra repository. Some applications are present in extra testing repository but they are not sufficient. The repository for CentOS 4 is full of all kinds of useful applications.
There is no out-of-box multimedia support in CentOS, and hopelessly the official repository lacks the required binary packages. So if you are looking for multimedia functionality, you have to look of other unofficial repositories or compile the applications/codecs from source.
Compiz is installed by default and provides basic eye-candy. But for enabling it, proprietary graphics card drivers need to be installed and /etc/X11/xorg.conf needs to be tweaked.
CentOS is just a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and really a good clone. But it seems to be going into dangerous waters. The most disappointing aspect was the lack of good and complete official repository(which is not the case with CentOS 4). It is a really good distribution for server/workstation users who do not want to pay extortion money to Red Hat. But for casual desktop user, I advise to stay clear.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Things are becoming frugal...
Frugalware is a general-purpose Linux distribution, designed for intermediate users, who are familiar with command-line operations. It is based on Slackware, but uses a different package management system, Pacman. Frugalware's developers attempt to make Frugalware as simple as possible while establishing a priority based on comfortable use. Frugalware is currently ranked #36 at distrowatch
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ with 2 gig of RAM, Nvidia 6600GS with 256 meg RAM and 19" wide screen monitor.
Frugalware does not come with a Live environment. Frugal comes in install only CDs and DVDs; 13 CDs and 2 DVDs to be precise. ISO images for CDs 3-13 or the second DVD is required to be downloaded if the computer on which Frugalware is to be installed, does not have an internet connection.
I like the package all concept adopted by some of the distributions like Frugalware. Its really handy, makes the installation fast(as the packages are read from the disk) and makes network-less installation possible. I just know three distributions that come in more than a single DVD; Debian, Frugalware, and Momonga.
The installer is ncurses based text installer and frame-buffer makes the screen come up at higher resolution, making the installer look nice & unclustered.
First user is asked about language, followed by the keyboard selection and an option for RAID configuration. In the next step user can create partitions and assign them. First swap partition needs to be selected. Slackware auto-detects the swap partition and highlight it as the only entry, but this is not the case with Frugralware: it lists all the partitions and user has to select. This needs to fixed.
Then user is prompted for root partition. Once root partition is selected, installer gives an option to select additional partitions for mounting. I came across my first bug! The windows ntfs partition was shown as "IN USE" and the mount point was mentioned as "/", a chill went down my spine. The partition that I selected to install Frugalware was also showing the same configuration of "IN USE" & "/". I crossed my fingers and took the risk of continuing. Thankfully the installation went smoothly and did not harm my windows partition.
In the next step user can select the different packages that need to be installed on the machine. The package list is huge and divided in nice groups. All the major desktop environments are included. Installation starts after the package selection and completes in approximately 15 minutes. Seeing the huge list of packages, I consider the installation really fast.
After the installation user can configure the new system by setting root password, creating new user, configuring the network (DSL configuration is also available), selecting the time zone and finally selecting the desktop resolution and colors. The installer detected my monitor for a mere 1024x768, but the resolution was editable. I edited the resolution to 1440x900 and the test screen came up really fine.
In a single word gorgeous. Making a distribution is more of art then computer science; an art perfected well by Frugalware. The desktop environment is breath taking. The light-blue theme is present every where, from gfxgrub, to splash screen, to login manager, to the desktop, to the wallpaper, to the icons, to the mouse pointers, to the window borders. Its a great unified theme all across, irrespective of desktop environment. I could only hope that other distribution take a cue from Frugalware in this section.
Being a two DVD install, a lot of packages are installed. Open Office is latest version 2.3 and firefox is 2.0.07(cause of the fact that Frugalware was released a while back). Pacman is the default package manager used by Frugalware, thus any application is just a simple command away.
Frugalware has out-of-box support for all kinds of media. I was able to successfully play WMV, MP3 and DVDs. Java runtime is also installed, and that too the latest 6.3. Flash player was missing, but this could be attributed to my 64-bit machine. As far as I know there is no 64-bit flash player(wake up adobe).
None of the compositing manager was installed by default.
It would be really nice to have an integrated control-center where average user can configure his complete system
Frugalware has a mission, and a really good mission. It works just great out of the box. There are a few hick-ups (like the installer bug and some minor crashes) but Frugalware is very well on track. It looks awesome, maybe a trend-setter in look-and-feel for linux. This is a distribution to look for in coming time.