7 Jan 2011

Can Bugs Take You to Cloud, or Several Spoons of Tar in Barrel of Honey

Have you ever heard Russian saying "Spoon of tar in the barrel of honey"? Even smallest defect can significantly reduce image of the object.
The system which I am going to tell you today has several defects. Are they smallest? Do they spoil the system, or you can cope with them? It's up to you...
But that system broke few records in my list: both good and bad ones. Good is that xPUD (yes, I am going to tell you about this Linux now) has fastest booting time I've ever seen for CD-based Live distros. Bad is that number of defects I have found during quick engagement with it is absolutely fantastic.
So, image of xPUD Linux (0.9.2) is downloaded, CD-RW is burnt. Time to reboot and choose CD as a boot source. Let's go!

As I have already mentioned, xPUD has lowest Live CD boot time. 69 seconds from start to the point when system is ready and connected to network. It can be compared with HDD boot time for Linuxes I have (Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Puppy), or with USB-drive boot time for SLAX. The only choice you have during the boot is about the language to start system with. There are more than a dozen of them, including English and Russian.
Here comes first bug which I'd like to mention. Once you selected language during the boot, you get keyboard with this language activated only. Even though there is an "Advances option" to switch the layout, it does not help. You can change the system language: menues, texts etc, but not the input language. It means that during Russian boot you cannot enter security key for WiFi. I have already had similar issue in Knoppix.
Ok, system is booted, network is up (yes, xPUD had no issues with my Broadcom WiFi card). Let's connect to network drive. Obviously, such a small system does not have any graphical tool for remote drive mounting, but I am not scared by Terminal. "Mount -t cifs..." is here, but the result is not promising. Filesystem CIFS is unknown to xPUD. That's because Samba is not installed. Ok, let's install it. I have seen Opt-Get facility in settings. Start Opt-Get and get... nothing! The list is absolutely empty. Is that a second bug? I think so!
xPUD has very original concept of workspace organization. We all get used to menues, button like "Start", task panels and so on. You will not see any of those in xPUD. Instead, you have several tabs with items you can launch: Home for network configuration and log off, Menu for programs, File for access to filesystem, Settings for configuration tasks. That is very fresh and original idea. Looks like we should expect something similar from Chrome OS recently announced. But this approach has several drawbacks. Or is it third bug? Some applications can be opened in full-window mode, where no tabs available. And some of them have no option to exit! Namely, Facebook application. Once started, you can not leave it. It means you cannot switch to another application, and you even cannot shutdown! Power button is last resort!
Obviously, there is not many applications installed in xPUD. There is no office applications, no graphical editors. You only have Firefox, Facebook, instant messenger and few more in your hands. Developer says that xPUD is a step towards the cloud. Yes, you can find office, graphical editor and many more applications running in the cloud. That makes system very light and fast. Thin client. But will the bugs which I mentioned above get you to the cloud? I don't know. Definitely some work has to be done before cloud computing with xPUD becomes available.

Useful links:
http://www.xpud.org/ - official web site

http://www.xpud.org/forum/ - official forum
http://martik-scorp.blogspot.com/2011/01/xpud-just-browse-web.html - Martik's article about xPUD


  1. you should really give the development builds a shot. some of those bugs have been ironed out.

  2. First, development builds are not mentioned anywhere on the xpud.org site.
    Second, I never try development builds. Only released or, at least, beta versions.

  3. It boots in 6 seconds if it is put on HD.

  4. @Vinayak:
    I have not tried, but I see no reason why not. It is really very-very-very light system.