Aptosid is Debian-based Linux distribution aiming desktops of users wishing to live on cutting edge of technology. It is based on Debian Sid, which is unstable branch. Sid is kind of sandbox where developers can test their ideas before they are moved to Testing and eventually to Stable releases. It means that while Debian as whole is considered by many as rock-solid system, Sid should never be considered as such. And this is a platform for Aptosid.
I have looked at Aptosid already, that was Aptosid version 2011-01. I was quite impressed that time, even though there were some issues which were show-stoppers for me.
July saw release of new Aptosid version, this time 2011-02. It was released on 13th of July. Even though it was not Friday, but still 13th. Was it bad day for Aptosid? Let's have a look.
Aptosid allows you to choose several options: XFCE, KDE-full and KDE-lite. My choice, as in previous time, was for KDE-lite version which fits CD. Eventually CD-RW disk was burnt and Compaq C300 laptop prepared for a test.
By the way... If you want to get your own CD with Aptosid (or many other distributions), why not order them at Buy Linux CDs site?
Reboot. Choose to boot from CD. Let's go!
BootingFirst and the only question which Aptosid asked me during the boot was about boot options: whether I really want to boot Live Aptosid or continue to boot from Hard Disk. Of course, choice was clear. At the same time, Aptosid allowed me to change system language. My choice was for English (UK), not for default English (US). Interesting, Russian was also in the list, but I did not try this option.
Boot process is basically wall of white text on black screen. Not very interesting. Eventually it changes to Aptosid wallpaper with scorpions appearing one after another. These scorpions are basically replacing standard KDE icons (Hard Disk, Globe, KDE logo).
Few seconds later system is ready for use.
Aptosid, as usual, meets you with Konqueror window showing release notes. What is interesting there?
I would mention 3 points:
- Aptosid is based on Debian Sid as of 13th of July. Very fresh! Same date as Aptosid release.
- KDE is version 4.6.4, which is not the latest version on the day of release (4.6.5 was released on 9th of July). It is quite understandable because Aptosid team targets to release stable system on top of unstable Sid. Adding new release of KDE would not help stability for sure.
- Finally, and what is more interesting, WiFi card Broadcom 4311 is now supported out of the box. This is first time for Debian derivative when I see it! Of course, I do not mean Ubuntu here, because Ubuntu bear too much differences from Debian to be considered as its derivative.
NetworkWhen booted, Broadcom 4311 WiFi card it is not activated by default. Blue light on the laptop was deadly black. Moreover, there is no icon on the taskbar for Network Manager or Wicd or any other application to configure network connections.
Instead, there is Ceni utility in Internet section of Aptosid menu. It is CLI interface based (i.e. not so shiny and nice looking) utility to connect to network. Once started, it showed me my network interfaces (lan0 and wlan0). Selection of wlan0 suggested me to scan for available networks. Once I accepted this sugestion, blue light on laptop fired up. Hoooorrray! Few seconds more - and I saw my network in the list of available. Several next steps are for configuration of interface: secutiry key and DHCP/IP address details. And I am connected! Bravo, Aptosid!
As a result of this success, this post was drafted directly in Blogger from Aptosid itself!
I wonder if and when these changes eventually come to main Debian? Will next stable release of Debian support famous b43 chipset cards out of the box??? Only Debian developers can tell for sure. If you have any information about this, please share.
Interesting enough, even having WiFi connection up and running, I still did not get icon on the taskbar.
OutlookDefault wallpaper in Aptosid is quite unusual. It is red-brown-black-blue tones. Honestly, I did not like it. If you are on the same page with me, then I can tell you that there is good selection of other wallpapers included, most of them are common in KDE distributions.
Aptosid has 4 virtual desktops by default. It's not unusual for KDE at all. But there are still couple of things with desktops which you usually don't have in KDE:
- Each desktop has its own applications, i.e. taskbar is not shared between desktops. This is usual behaviour of GNOME, but not KDE.
- 4 desktops are placed in one line, not in 2*2 matrix. Again, you are more likely to see this behaviour in GNOME, not in KDE.
What's is inside?I have written about default applications of Aptosid in my previous review. It did not change at all. At least, I could not find any differences. That's why I won't describe what you can and cannot find in Aptosid Live KDE-lite version. Instead, I give you the link.
But I still want to talk about some applications included into Aptosid distribution.
Konqueror is default browser in Aptosid. But it is not alone. Alternative is elinks. I had an issue in Konqueror actually: it crashed all the times when I tried to open Blogger editor and my blog itself in 2 tabs. I have a fix for this: to install Chromium. Read on, I'll come to this point later.
Manual mounting of NTFS partition (sudo mount -t ntfs-3g...) worked without any issues. Parition was automatically mounted in read-write mode.
To be honest, I was absolutely confused with this inconsistency.
If I continue about partitions mounting, I'd like to speak about Samba and external network drive. Aptosid includes utility KNetAttach, which is also built into Dolphin. It is widely so in KDE-based Linux distributions. I was very successful in mounting my network drive with it. Moreover! I have complained several times that this functions does not allow to play files from remote drive without copying them to local storage. I am not sure whether this is Aptosid configuration or Kaffeine feature, but I was able to play MP3 files directly from smb:// device! Cool!
I also tried to mount my network drive manually in CLI, and it worked OK with only -o guest,nolinux parameters. Russian characters were recognised just fine. Although, permissions were not OK. I had similar issue in Kubuntu - mounted partition is read-only for everyone, except for root. Basically, cure is known. But this time I decided not to go this way, but to copy files to external drive from command line: sudo cp... What is also veryAnd yes, it means that Samba client is included into Aptosid by default. Curious, using the smb:// function mentioned above, I was able to cut file to paste it to Desktop. But I was not able to paste file back.
Strange enough, KDE in Aptosid bears GParted in menu, and GParted is GNOME-native tool. I was very much puzzled by this fact. But anyway GParted did not start for me. No errors. No messages in dmesg. Just nothing happened when I clicked that menu item.
Another surprise, and again not very pleasant this time, waited for me when I decided to install something new in my Live run of Aptosid. The only method I found was old good apt-get command. There is no graphical package manager tool in Aptosid. Even Synaptic is not included. Of course, it can be cured quickly...
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synaptic
But why did developers exclude such an useful application from the distribution?
In order to test if apt-get works at all, I installed Chromium which is included into the repository. Guess? It worked like magic. All the issues with instability of Konqueror did not exist in Chromium.
Kaffeine played MP3 files out of the box in Aptosid. That is quite a surprise because Debian is usually very strict in proprietary software usage. Obviously, MP3 decoder was brought into Aptosid by developers' team. Although I could hear music in Kaffeine, but I could not see the titles if they were in Russian. Is that a bug or feature? I think that is normal for Linux-based players not to support non-Unicode tags in MP3 files. And my files are likely to contain tags in Windows-1251 codepage.
Unfortunately, different story was for another popular multimedia tool. YouTube did not play videos in Aptosid out of the box. It required installation of Flash player. I decided not to go through this step, because there is nothing interesting about another installation of Flash Player on top of Debian.
To kill or not to kill?Aptosid is based on unstable branch of Debian. Even though developers try to make Aptosid as stable as possible, there are still some issues happening.
The one happened to me... I decided to detach Chromium tab from main window to make is separate application on taskbar. What happened? I got preview image of this tab floating somewhere in the middle of desktop. It could not be moved, minimized or closed. The only way to get rid of this image which I thought of was to kill X server. First of all, of course, I had to activate keyboard sequence (Ctrl-Alt-Backspace) in Keyboard configuration.
Sure, X server was automatically restarted after that.
What did I see? I saw an icon in the notification area. It was KNemo icon for the network connection. Why it did not appear right after WiFi activation - I don't know. It would be logical indeed. Of course, KNemo is not the best network management tool (it is not management tool at all), but it is still better than nothing...
That's why I would say that killing X server could be sometimes useful for Aptosid.
By the way... same "tab detachment" worked OK after X server restart.
Is it any good?
|Image by woodleywonderworks|
It works very quick, unless when CD-ROM operations are not involved.
It brings you a mix of Debian and some features which you're unlikely see in Debian itself, like MP3 support out of the box.
On the negative side, though, I would say that Aptosid 2011-02 looks less stable than its predecessor 2011-01. At least, in Live (not installed) mode. Are these consequences of release date (the thirteenth)? Who knows...
Would I recommend Aptosid 2011-02 to anyone? Yes, I would recommend to look at this Operating System to people who are not new to Linux, but would like to see something new and cutting-edge, but still stable enough and easily-manageable.