7 Apr 2011

3-in-1: How 3 Old Friends Can Be Found In Same Place

Can you ever expect that three of your oldest friends which belong to different companies can be found in the same place? Difficult to imagine, isn't is? It's like accidentally finding your best school friend and your best colleague in your favorite pub just across the road from your home. Dream!
Same happened to me recently.
My first blog post back in October 2010 was about SLAX system. SLAX is like first love: you remember it forever.
Hey, can anybody still claim he does not know answers for Contest questions?
Post about SLAX was soon followed by post about Puppy. I felt in love with Puppy from the first sight. It's a pity I had to remove it from my HDD to replace with Debian Squeeze.
SLAX is based on Slackware.
Puppy (at least v.5.1.1) is based on Ubuntu Lucid Lynx.
They are definitely from different companies.
What do they have in common? They both can wear same clothes: KDE 3, Trinity.
Trinity is default Desktop Environment in SLAX. As for Puppy, Trinity was used in Puppy's additional package which I wrote about here. Actually Trinity is my third old friend. I wrote recently that I prefer KDE to GNOME, and that love started from KDE3 in SLAX.
And now imaging how I was surprised when I told there is Linux Operating System which combines all three! This is Puppy SLAX remix.
It was announced on the forum post. Disk image weights less than 300 Mb, but you still need to spend about an hour to download it even on high speed Internet connection because sending server limits downloading speed to about 100Kb/sec.
Anyway, image is downloaded and burnt to CD-RW. It's time to reboot. Let's go!

Puppy SLAX boot time does not impress, to be honest. But that might be just a bad quality of my CD-RW, so I would not complain about this.
Soon after boot, you are asked several questions, which are usual for first Puppy start: keyboard layout, timezone, graphical resolution etc. Little bit annoying, but again nothing to complain about, this is just one-off exercise if you save your data. Finally, KDE is booted! Nice picture welcomes you. It is KDE3, so familiar to me since SLAX. All the elements on that screen are like those in SLAX. Even though Puppy works underneath.
Do you remember that I mentioned keyboard layout setup during system boot? Whatever you chose these, you still have several SLAX-standard layouts activated by default. But it's very easy to remove all of them and add those you need. Again, nothing major to complain about.
Although I managed to replace all the standard layouts with combination of GB + RU, and even activated Ctrl-Shift combination to switch between them, I could not type in Russian. Neither Ctrl-Shift, nor clicking on the icon helped. Icon changes, but not the actual layout. I could type in English only while having RU layout activated. And this is major drawback for me. I need Russian keyboard for my normal work.
As usual, Puppy likes to walk. While "native" Puppy suggests you to do Network configuration right after first start, Puppy SLAX remix does not do this. If you go to KMenu, you can find several network configuration utilities there under Network section. Be careful, I could not connect to Internet with any of those. I think because many of them are KDE- or SLAX-related. The actual one is slightly hidden. You can find proper tool under KMenu - Setup - Internet connection wizard. That part of menu (Setup) is Puppy-native, it means it correctly works with the system below the KDE.
Once connection is established, I can take Puppy for a walk. And here is a choice! You have 3 browsers to choose from: Opera, Firefox and Konqueror.
I have not used Opera for ages, so decided to give it a try. Puppy SLAX remix has version 11 included. Strange things with this browser started as soon as I clicked menu item. Opera offered me empty "license agreement" window at startup. OK, I anyway agree to it. Major problem happened later, when I decided to use text search function on the web page. Opera crashed. I started writing this post in Blogger by that time, and I am so much happy that Blogger makes auto-savings! Otherwise I would have to rewrite significant part of this post again. From positive side, I think Opera was extremely fast. Should I consider trying it instead of my favorite Chrome? What do you think?
OK, I decided to finish my Opera era for that time. Firefox should be more stable, as soon as it is wider used. Surprisingly enough, Firefox in Puppy SLAX remix opened several conspicuous tabs at startup. They are most likely about plugin configuration or downloading, but I expected Linux distributive to deliver vanilla clean Firefox, without any plugins or recommendations. I closed those tabs immediately. I also noticed that Firefox is slightly slow sometimes, which is unusual for Puppy. No disk activities at that time (not at all during whole session - that is Puppy's approach), so maybe some problems within this distributive?
Other than 3 browsers, what else is included? A lot! A ton of software! I will not even try to mention all of them, just few names: K3B, KPlayer, gFTP, Osmo, KolourPaint, samba, KOffice.
Let me talk little bit more about last two.
KOffice is included, but it is of quite old version 1.6.3. That could be expected, due to distributive size and KDE3. Still, if you want to edit a document, you have a tool for this. Did anyone tell that it has to be latest posh text editor?
Puppy SLAX remix includes lameSMBxplorer, which is intended to search for shared folders on the network. Unfortunately, it did not work in my case. There is another tool - lameSMBqmount. I was able to mount my shared network drive using it. This tool is quite useful, because, as opposite to Konqueror for example, it allows enter additional parameters for mounting. Although I had some issues with it.
  • First, this tool requests server IP address and name both. Why? Is it so difficult to automatically determine IP via server name?
  • Second, I could not see any folders named in Russian when mounted using only guest,nolinux options. When I added iocharset=utf8 option, I could see my folders and files, but their names were unreadable. Probably I could find a solution, but usually utf8 worked fine.
Once folder was mounted, I could try to play MP3 files from it. Success? Yes! Even files with Russian folder or file names were OK, although I could not read the text. Lovely, isn't it? KPlayer does not need to read Russian characters in order to playback the file!
What was my general impression about this meeting with 3 good old friends? Honestly, I was amazed! Linux world is so flexible that you can successfully mix-and-match almost any combination! Yes, there are some issues with Puppy SLAX remix. But this distro is only 2 months old!
I wish all the best to its developers and hope to return to Puppy SLAX remix very soon for new fresh feelings!


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