27 May 2011

Dynebolic: forgotten Rasta Tux

There are different Linux distros in the world. Some of them are generic and are suitable for wide range of purposes. Just a few to name: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenSuSE, CentOS. Others are created for specific purpose and include specific application out of the box. Some of them can be optimized to run specific tasks. Good examples are Scientific Linux, Edubuntu, Alt Linux (School edition), Backtrack.
Of course, there are some distros which account themselves as multimedia-oriented. They appeared not today and not yesterday. They started to appear as soon as multimedia applications and hardware became available for Linux. This post will be about one of these multimedia-oriented Linux distros – Dynebolic.
Latest version of Dynebolic 2.5.2 DHORUBA was released in December 2007. History wise, this is just peanuts. But in terms of Linux history, that is “ages ago”. ISO weights just under 700 Mb, in other terms OS was developed to be used from CD image. It is Live CD which means you can run it without installation.
It is announced on the official page that it supports wide range of hardware and contains wide range of multimedia applications. Let’s check if this is true or not.
I did not create CD with the image, instead Live USB was created by Unetbootin. USB stick is in the port. Reboot. Chose to boot from USB. Let’s go!

Maybe that is an issue of Unetbootin, maybe that’s a Dynebolic built-in feature, but start menu is confusing. There are 3 options available: "Default", "Dyne: II DHORUBA" and "Linux". Guess what?
Guess which option works?
Neither "Default" nor "Dyne:  11 DHORUBA" options work. Only last and less intuitive option ("linux") does work.
Anyway, system is booted from USB. It works extremely fast, as you can expect for USB image.
Dynebolic uses XFCE desktop environment with 6 desktops available. Not sure who needs that much, honestly. But that is easy customizable if you need to.
Taskbar is at the bottom of the screen, as in many other systems. But main menu and dock bar is located in unusual place – in the top-right corner. It takes only half of the screen, but automatically expands if you add items.
Dynebolic contains lots of themes for windows manager. To be honest, I lost myself trying to find most suitable for myself. And stopped searches at one which more or less suited me fine.
Window manager itself is same as in Puppy Linux.
Unfortunately, I have found no option to configure Russian keyboard layout. I assume this is common issue for XFCE – it is not anywhere in configuration menu. There is a workaround which I found in Linux Mint XFCE, but I have not tried it in Dynebolic.
As soon as Dynebolic was released about 1 yest after my Compaq C300 laptop’s purchase date, chances to get WiFi card (Broadcom 4311) working were very weak. But why not to try? WiFi card was listed in lspci, but Dynebolic contains no driver for it. Of course, commands ifup wlan0 or ifconfig wlan0 up do not work. Network is down. No wonders here, I am afraid.
When I flipped through the menu, I noticed that Samba is included into default package, but I could not check it without network.
Dynebolic easily mounts all local partitions, including formatted with NTFS, but without support of Russian characters.
As promised in official announcement, Dynebolic contains huge selection of audio-video tools: for playback, for editing, for encoding, for streaming. The problem though that I could not check any of them because because of network being down and all my local files were in folders with Russian characters in their names.
Other than multimedia tools, Dynebolic contains bare minimum of software. This can be expected from single-purpose oriented operating system.
Browser is Firefox (Bon echo) with version 2.0.2. There are lots of other net tools actually: IRC, Instant messaging, FTP etc. Developers cared not only about multimedia component of their system, but also about communication with other people who might be interested in multimedia content.
Office applications are represented by lone AbiWord 2.4.6. No spreasheet tool. No presentation tool. Sure, Dynebolic is not office-oriented OS.
Dynebolic has an option to add more modules. List of available modules is available on the web site, but is far not impressive. But at least it includes Open Office and one package called "games".
Dynebolic screenshot
I probably got used to it already, but Dynebolic, like other old distros, does not have any screenshoot taking tool. That’s why I cannot give you any own screenshot. The one which you see here is taken from official web site. Mine was very similar.

What are my thoughts about Dynebolic? This system is abandoned and not being developed any more, does not support more or less modern hardware. Interface is outdated. Whole system is oriented on multimedia users in English-speaking countries. Does it deserve further development? I am not sure.


  1. According to what was last posted on the mailing list Jaromil is working on the next version, possibly on a Debian base. He is involved in other stuff so d:b is not his only responsibility. Also check out pure dyne which was based on dynebolic but has also gone debian-wards

  2. I remember trying a version of this on the xbox back in the day, have seen Jaromil is trying to raise funds for v3

  3. @Anonymous1 and Anonymous2:
    I'd like to see new release of dynebolic. Hope it will look, feel and work with relatively new hardware better than current version.

  4. I too loved this distro "back in the day". I would love to see it make a come back in some variation or another.

  5. If you go to the dynebolic web page their is a 'pledge' section in the top left corner for raising funds to develop V3. Looks like they are about 1/5 there at the moment.
    The emphasis on d:b was always on supporting older hardware. It is usable & it does mean someone with an older system can use it to produce music etc.

  6. Check out puredyne-


  7. @Anonymous1:
    Let's see if developer can work out new release...

    If emphasis was on old hardware, than my (4.5 years now) laptop was too young for it at the time of release. 8-)

  8. @Cascade9:
    Thanks for suggestion.
    I'll include it into "to do" list.

  9. Bardzo ciekawy artykuł , opisujący w ciekawy sposób wszechstronnie zastosowanie i odmiany linuxa .

  10. @leppakaklifoth:
    This blog is in English, so I would prefer English comments. But Google Translate is powerful enough to help me with Polish too. 8-)

  11. "Unfortunately, I have found no option to configure Russian keyboard layout. I assume this is common issue for XFCE – it is not anywhere in configuration menu."

    Wow, you are the laziest reviewer I've ever read. You couldn't be bothered to head over to the XFCE site, click the languages link, and read Russian off the (alphabetized) list of supported languages? Or that they have a standing request for translators to work with transifex as they build more complete language support?

    It's damn shoddy journalism for you to blame XFCE for not supporting Russian (which they do) and not even consider that the distro broke it.

    Or, in view of the fact that you can't get Russian to work on any XFCE distro, perhaps you should consider the possibility that YOU are broken.

    Or, maybe try posting a decent review, after doing some research, and while you're at the XFCE site, maybe check into your keyboard problem instead of blaming everyone except the person who is ultimately responsible for your computing experience (you!)

    Right now the world is flooded with lousy reviews of distributions done by people with no clue about FOSS. We don't need another one right now, perhaps take up these reviews once the Unity brou-ha-ha has passed. That way we won't be so swamped in uninformed opinions and irresponsible accusations.

  12. @Anonymous:
    If you mean this method, than it would not work in Live version.
    And then, I have not said that language indicator cannot be enabled in XFCE at all. I told that it is not possible to do via standard configuration utility. The method which works is described in my post about Linux Mint XFCE, linked in the main post body.
    I would appreciate if you check your sight with doctor (and maybe visit psychologist) before leaving more comments like this.