5 Sept 2011

Was it my DreamLinux?

How many Linux distributions are there in the world? Hundreds? Thousands? If you look at the list at Distrowatch.com, you'll be impressed. And those are not all the distributions. Because some of them are very specialized and only used by certain group of people or organization.
But how many "core" systems are there? Not so many... Slackware, Debian, Gentoo, Arch, RedHat... Did I forget anything?
Other distributions were either forked from those listed at some point, or are actually "spins" based on current version of "core" Linux system.
If we start talking about portable, true "pocket" Live linux distributions, then Slackware comes to first place. SLAX, Porteus, Nimblex, Kongoni - all of them are based on Slackware. Second place, of course, is with Debian: Knoppix, Puppy are very famous.
This time round I have tried another Linux operating system based on Debian. It is also intended for "pocket" usage, though it is not truly pocket-size. So, please meet: DreamLinux.
This Linux distribution is available in 2 options: CD with XFCE version and DVD with GNOME . As far as I understood from their web site, XFCE is preferred option. That's why my choice was for Dreamlinux XFCE.
Latest version of Dreamlinux XFCE was released in March 2009 and has version 3.5. From this you can see that Dreamlinux is not the most dynamically growing system. Since that time, Debian has changed its stable version. But anyway... let's have a look at what Dreamlinux has to offer.
ISO image of it weights just below 700 Mb, which means it can be burnt into CD. But I decided not to use CD-RW in this case, but to try USB options.
There are not much information on the official site how to create Live USB from ISO image. Yes, there are tutorials how to install Dreamlinux onto USB, but that requires this operating system to run already. That's why my approach was to hit and miss.
My first try was to Linux standard dd command. Unfortunately, it did not work. USB was not recognised as bootable at all.
Second run was for Unetbootin, famous graphical tool to create Live USB. And this time I was more lucky...

Unetbootin with Dreamlinux
I saw standard Unetbootin window with 3 options listed: Default, Dreamlinux XFCE and Memory test. Of course, first and second options led to the same result: Dreamlinux started in Live mode.
The Unetbootin menu changed to the black screen with running wall of text and after couple of minutes I got onto Dreamlinux desktop.
Unfortunately, this was the only place where I managed to get in Dreamlinux. The reason?
Desktop uses font size which makes all me menus, icon pop-up texts and so on so huge that you can't use them. Basically, I even could not make screenshot of this. The one which you see on your right was my second attempt to run Dreamlinux, this time under qemu session in Debian Squeeze. But it did not boot into desktop in this virtual machine.
What have I managed to see on the desktop? There are several columns of icons on it. One for local partitions, another for installer options etc.
Standard XFCE panel on the top has menu button on the left (menu itself falls down with same huge font), clocks (they take good half of the screen estate) and taskpanel.
There is a dock panel at the bottom. Strange enough, it works fine: all the pop-up texts are shown in normal fonts. I tried to start couple of applications from there: Terminal and Firefox, but result was still the same. I could only see menu panel of these applications and very small part of working space.
Saying that, I managed to reboot my computer using arrow keyboard buttons in the main XFCE menu. That's all. Dreamlinux is gone...
Was it a linux of my dream?
Reading the documentation on the site, it could well be. It comprises modular structure familiar to me from SLAX with stability of Debian. Dreamlinux has ability to install on USB with persistence option. It includes all the necessary codecs for multimedia.
Isn't it perfect combination for pocket-size USB stick which you can use anywhere? At least, it is very close...
The only thing which developers (or myself) missed this time was... ability to run the system...
Have you tried to run Dreamlinux yourself? What was your opinion on it? Do you use is as installed system or on pocket-size USB drive which is always with you?


  1. IIRC DreamLinux has a livecd that you can run but if you try to install it to the hard drive, you have to pay an "unlock" fee. And, most despicably, they don't inform you of this anywhere on their website before you download the iso. Skip this Dream; it's a nightmare not worthy of anyone's time.

  2. @Anonymous:
    There are no information about unlock on their site, you're right. Even installation tutorial does not say anything about this.
    Could you please provide link to the screenshot with this request?

  3. I have run dreamlinux live cd and installed it. I never experienced the large font issue you speak of.

    There are boot options for the live version in the wiki:

    Dream linux does use the mkdistro utility to allow you to burn your own live iso image after tweaking dreamlinux. Perhaps the anonymous poster above got a copy of someone's 'spin' on dreamlinux. I do not believe the original has any 'locked' features.

  4. Dreamlinux used to be a great distro...notice I say "used" as the project for all intents and purposes is dead. The community is dead, most having moved on to other distros. It truly is a shame as I used DL for quite awhile and it was my first indroduction to 3D effects with the MMGL version.

  5. @Sean Lynch:
    I have looked at boot options. There is nothing about fonts. There are some options about resolution, but I believe I had correct one initially.
    Maybe that was something else in the hardware... I dunno.

  6. @SB74:
    I think DL had great idea underneath. But without further development, idea is dead.

  7. Correction: Puppy Linux is an independent distro, not a Debian derivative.

  8. @Anonymous:
    >Correction: Puppy Linux is an independent distro, not a Debian derivative.
    That's why Puppy release is called "Lucid Puppy"...
    It is based on Ubuntu, hence Debian, though very much reworked.

  9. I think puppy has used a lot of different bases. If you look back in their history, on June 15, 2004 it states "Note that the new glibc-based mandrake-9.2-based Puppy will be version 0.9.0. Thus, the entire 0.8.* range is uClibc-based, and all Puppy versions up to 0.7.9 are Redhat-8.0-based." (http://www.puppylinux.com/news/news2004.htm) And their newest version uses Slackware