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.