24 Jun 2011

Musix in the air

Linux world is huge. Seems like there are more different distributions then stars in Debian galaxy. Some of them are generic, some of them are not. I have already made couple of reviews of Linux-based Operating System specifically created for creative people. They are brothers in blood: Dynebolic and Puredyne. It would be incomplete set if I just stopped at number 2. Number 3 is much more appalling. That's why today's review will be also dedicated to creative Linux.
This Tux was born far-far away from many of you: in country of football, beef and tango. Do you know which country I mean? Yes, that is Argentina.
This Tux likes music very much, that's why parents named it Musix. Of course, music is not his only hobby, but... more on that later.
This Tux likes freedom most of all, that's why it has nothing which does not conform with Free Software Foundation rules. It is one of a few which are endorsed by this organisation. I have already reviewed some other 100% free OSes from same list: gNewSense and previously mentioned Dynebolic. Musix is so much free that even standard Linux kernel is not good enough for him. Musix features Libre version of kernel instead.
Latest version of Musix was released in November 2009 and has index 2.0. It's image weights about 1.3 Gb, which means it cannot be burnt to CD-RW or to 1 Gb USB stick. That's why I decided to give another option a go. It was my third attempt to run Live OS this way, and previous two failed. Third time lucky, and Musix was "burnt" to HDD using Unetbootin.
Reboot. Choose Unetbootin from boot menu. Let's go!

First impression

Boot time of Musix is quite short. Once booted, I got to KDE3 desktop. It was quite a surprise for me. I like KDE 3, and was pleased when found KDE3 in such unexpected place. Otherwise, to finish technical part, Musix is based on Debian Lenny, although I also saw reference to Knoppix on Wikipedia page. This lets me suppose it should be stable enough. To be honest, this is my first ever experience of Debian with KDE. All the Debian-based systems I have tried to far were based on GNOME or XFCE.
Main taskbar is at the top of the Musix's screen, which is unusual for KDE-based systems. That is probably influence of Debian roots.
Musix has very interesting conception in desktop/theme area. There are different desktop themes for different tasks: generic, audio, graphics, office, audio etc. Each theme changes background color of desktop, though picture remains the same. Set of desktop icons also changes. Of course, desktop background can be changed if needed for each individual theme. There is a quite good selection of wallpapers included in the box.
Docky at the bottom of the screen does not depend on desktop. It works some strange way. Icons become larger when rolling mouse over them, but small icon also remains on background.
Musix has 2 virtual desktops in default configuration.
Everything works and starts quickly, as you can expect from Debian with KDE3.

Non-open Wireless in Open Musix

I tried Musix on my Compaq C300 laptop with Broadcom 4311 WiFi card. This WiFi card has got free firmware very recently. It was not a surprise for me that Broadcom 4311 is not supported by Musix out of the box. Of course, this card was visible in the lspci output. Command dmesg showed me messages that I should download firmware from linuxwireles.org. I followed all the instructions on "Other systems" section of that page precisely. All commands were executed smoothly, without any error or warning. But unfortunately, even following the instructions I could not manage to activate WiFi card.

Music, graphic and others

Musix did not mount any partitions on Hard Drive automatically. It only listed them in PCMan. Yes, Musix uses PCMan, not KDE4-standard Dolphin as file browser.
Click on partition name in PCMan should mount it. Unfortunately, NTFS partition could not be mounted automatically that way. In tried EXT3 partitions, and everything went OK.
If I start talking about software, I need to say that Musix has big... no, huge selection of software included. Of course! Otherwise authors won't create area-specific desktops. All usual suspects are here: OpenOffice.org, GIMP, Audacious, Inkspace, Digikam, lots of tools to work with audio, Kopete, Pidgin, Iceweasel, Konqueror, K3B. I won't list all of them, because image size gave developers a lot of possibilities. Lots of KDE- and Debian-specific applications are also there. Whole menu section is dedicated to "Edutainment". Applications in that section have purpose to assist in education the easy way. I finished my education many-many years ago, but I enjoyed playing with some of these applications.
If you have some specific task which can be accomplished by software not included into base system, you have Synaptic as package manager. Musix has its own repositories. I don't know if it can work with Debian-standard packages. Have you ever tried it?
I saw another system previously which also has lots of software included in the iso image: Knoppix. But Knoppix has "everything you could ever imagine", which makes selection useless from my point of view. As opposite, Musix has very themed selection of software, which should make it good tool for creative people.

Keyboard layout

Adding Russian keyboard layout was an easy task in Musix. It can be done the usual KDE3 way via Control Centre. Layout indicator can be added at same place. But it was not possible for me to activate key combination for layout switch. I had to do this by clicking on layout indicator. Not the worst case, but still some room for improvement.

Music in Musix

Default application for MP3 files in Musix is GNUSound. It did not recognise my MP3 files for some reasons. Of course, Musix has several players included. I tried couple of others, and both Audacious an Juk worked fine without any issue. Why did developers chose GNUSound as default application for MP3s then? That's a secret for me.
I had small issue with Audacious. Skin colors was very strange: dark-brown letters on black background. Barely visible. I changed it to more viable black&white skin in few clicks.
I did not try to play any video in Musix, because neither network nor local NTFS partition was available.

Conclusion: The Musix Way to Go

Musix system is very good. I liked it a lot. Provided it uses only free software, it can suit different people, either fans of FSF or artists. Even though it is oriented to users who professionally deal with music, graphics and video, I would say it can fit requirements of many other types of users, because contains applications for different purposes, not only for creativity.


  1. Musix in the air... hehe... well played, Darkduck...

  2. Just one correction... Argentina is not the country of football! :)

  3. @Anonymous1:
    Thanks! I like nice titles... If you follow the blog, you could notice that.

    Argentina is football country. Ask Diego Maradona and Batistuta.