It came to light when developer of SLAX, Tomas M. gave up the project. Even before that, there was a fork called "SLAX remix". Now it is named Porteus.
The name sends us to two facts.
- Portability. Porteus, as well as SLAX, is intended to be portable system. The one you carry with yourself in your pocket and can use wherever you get access to computer.
- Alexandre Dumas. If you read The Three Musketeers, or even if you have nor done this yet, you must know name of the character Porthos. He is very powerful and friendly, even though not always quick.
Distributive of Porteus Linux is very light. It weights under 300 MB. You can either burn it to CD, or extract files from .iso image and copy them to your USB drive. Like in SLAX, there are 2 files in the distributive which can make your USB bootable: one for Windows users and one for Linux. I found a small issue there, because Linux-oriented file (.sh) is not marked as executable, and I could not make it executable. Neither chmod nor Midnight Commander options helped. Anyway, I have Windows XP for some reasons, so .bat file was used. Finally I got bootable USB drive with Porteus system in it.
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
First difference between SLAX and Porteus is visible on the first screen. SLAX only features KDE as desktop environment. Porteus allows you a choice between KDE and LXDE.
As I became fan of KDE since very first acquintance with SLAX, my first choice was for KDE version. And what did I get there? Porteus was extremely long booting in KDE. As I found out later, everything which depends on Konqueror or some computer browsing stuff, except for terminal-based Midnight Commander, takes you to the land of waiting.
Opposite to this, I found Porteus very quick booting in LXDE - just 50 seconds from USB drive with WiFi support. That's absolute record for now!
If we're not taking about Konqueror thing which I mentioned above, Porteus is very fast in most things. Firefox works fast. All the applications are ready for use in few moments after launching click.
As I mentioned above, Porteus uses KDE. This is not KDE4 as in Nimblex. This is SLAX "classical" KDE3.
Does Porteus support multilingual users? Sure it does! Configuring Russian keyboard layout in Porteus was an easy thing. But here I faced two issues:
- Trying to save configuration, I spent significant time during saving. I think this is the same issue with Konqueror.
- Keyboard layout switch could not be configured. I believe this can be fixed the same way as in SLAX, i.e. via configuration files. Just decided not to check because working with long lags was not possible.
Internet set up in KDE menu calls same script from fanthom which is used in SLAX. Sure enough, it just works. No issues at all.
Next logical step after connecting to the network was mounting of network drive. First of all I tried to use GUI facilities. Unfortunately, it could not be done by "Network Folder Wizard" from menu. It is usual for KDE, I got used to it. I think that does not work because it tries to use username and password, whereas my network drive does not need it.
When network connection is running, network drive is mounted, I could try to play some music from there! The results are very good here. Music played well in Porteus, of course if filename and path to it was in Latin. If any component of full file path contained Russian character, it could not be played.
There are several media players included in Porteus: JuK, KPlayer and BMP (Beep Music Player). The later is not often used in Linux distros. This player can be very useful for WinAmp fans, because BMP copies interface of WinAmp.
As to Office applications, Porteus include KOffice, even when running in LXDE. But version of KOffice is quite outdated. You can see version on the screenshot and compare it to your current version.
Actually, LXDE version of Porteus uses quite a big part of KDE applications. That is very understandable, as both KDE and LXDE versions are parts of same distro, so it would be obvioul to share the code.
When I tried Nimblex, I found that SLAX modules are compatible with Nimblex. At least, Samba client module worked fine. Is the same true for Porteus? Are SLAX modules compatible with Porteus? Unfortunately, not. I tried to use Chrome 8 package from SLAX, but it was identified as corrupted. That makes life difficult for Porteus users, simply because there are not many modules available on Porteus web site.
If you remember from my first ever posts, I dropped SLAX because of instability. It crashed quite often and could not be restored. I had to remove all the saved configuration and files and start from scratch. In these terms Porteus is definitely step forward. I faced no crash in my tests! All the reboots picked up saved files and configuration without any problem! Wonderful!
Fine... Shall I come back to the question in this post's title... Did Alexander Dumas use Linux? As you can imagine, neither computers nor Linux existed that time. But his Porthos is definitely similar to Porteus. At least, when Porteus works in KDE mode. It is powerful, it sometimes extremely quick and helpful. But suddenly it can become very slow an clumsy. But as long as you change your KDE to LXDE, you get the best Live system for pocket use I have seen so far!
And remember! You can order disk with Porteus via my Buy Linux CDs page for your own use!
Are you using portable Linuxes yourself? What is your choice and why? Share your experience right here in the comments!