3 Nov 2011

Kademar 4.9.5 - two-faced surprise from Spain

Do you like prizes? Yes, most of us do. That's why I offered prizes to winners of contest which ran on this blog to celebrate its first birthday. Prize for the winner of "social" contest was 8Gb USB stick and CD with any Linux distribution available.
The choice of the winner was Kademar Linux. It is the distribution based on Debian and Knoppix, created by community in Spanish province Catalonia.
If you follow the link just above, you will notice that the site only has front page. Other pages return Error 404 (Not found). Not a good sign though. It made my searches for distribution ISO image little bit more difficult. But not impossible.
The latest version of Kademar, as per official site, is 4.9.5. The only mirror with version 4.9.5 was found at ftp://caliu.cat/pub/distribucions/k-demar . Don't be surprised with domain name. This top-level domain (.cat) is for Catalonia, area in Spain. The FTP server has very slow connection speed, which varied from 180 to 330 Kb/s.
As I mentioned above, Kademar is based on Debian (Squeeze in case of 4.9.5) and Knoppix.
Image weights above 2 Gb, which made me to extend CD offer to DVD, but that was not a big deal. When DVD+R was ready to dispatch, I asked myself... Can I try it and write a post about Kademar? Sure, I could!
So, DVD is in the optical drive of my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!



Initial boot screen of Kademar 4.9.5 offers selection between 3 languages, and only English was the option for me. Unfortunately, there was no Russian in the list.
Next screen offered selection of run mode, where Kademar could be run "normal", "copy in memory" and in some other options. I am not 100% sure how Linux distribution with image size more then 2 Gb can run "in memory" on laptop with 1Gb of memory onboard. Anyway, I selected normal run to proceed.
And last question was the most unique I've ever seen. Kademar is based on KDE, as you can guess from its name. And it brings... 2 versions of KDE: 3 and 4 at the same time. Let's have a look at both then!

Kademar 4.9.5 with KDE3

My first choice was for KDE3. This is version Triniti 3.5.11.
Immediately after boot I had a crash of nspluginscan package. Not the best start ever... But it's not end of the world. Let's go on.
The next window which apeared in front of me after Kademar 4.5.9 boot was pretty much useful: it had buttons for documentaion, system configuration, release notes, team list. It is wisely named Kademarstart. Unfortunately, not all the buttons worked because some of them are just links to web site, and all pages except for main one return Error 404.
Menu of Kademar 4.9.5 KDE3 contains lots of KDE-specific items, as it is usual for KDE-based distributions. But there is a small issue. Many of them are duplicated: KDE3 and KDE4 versions present both. I am not sure if this is correct to show KDE4 items in KDE3 menu, but that was a choice of developers. Coming little bit forwards, there's no such issue in KDE4 version.
Nework is managed by Wicd in Kademar 4.9.5. My WiFi card (Intel 3945 ABG) was immediately recognised and my network listed as avaialble. Few usual keystrokes, and I am connected. No issues here.
Desktop itself has classical KDE3 layout with few icons on it, panel at the bottom and several icons in the notification area at the right corner of panel.
One of the items on the panel is clocks. The clocks showed very strange time. It differed +4 hours from my actual time... Was it time in some Asian country? I can tell for sure that it was neither my local time nor UTC.
Not all the sections of main menu in Kademar 4.9.5 KDE3 are translated into English, even though I selected English at the beginning. Example and exception is Edutainment. I can guess this is Education in some language. Or this is a mix between Education and Entertainment? This section contains quite a good selection of educational applications, though mostly for KDE4.
Although there are 2 versions (KDE3 and KDE4) of Konqueror browser available in the Kademar's menu, the default browser is IceWeasel. It is one of few non-KDE applications in Internet section. It has version 3.5.16. Not the freshest, but still workable. Other non-KDE packages for Internet include IceDove, Pidgin, Vuze, Wicd, aMule, aMSN. Of course, Blogilo (KDE4 only), Kopete, KGet, KMail and others are here.
Kademar 4.9.5 includes a lot of games, both KDE and non-KDE specific.
Graphics section of Kademar menu is well packed with applications: Gwenview, DigiKam, Blender, Okular, KSnapshot are only few from impressive list.
Similar story is in Multimedia section: Kaffeine, K9 applications (a couple), Kino, K3B, JuK and many others are listed. Again, some of them are duplicated as KDE3 and KDE4 versions.
Office tools are represented by OpenOffice.org package, enriched with KDE applications like Kontact, KOrganizer, KNotes and many others. Ofice has version 3.2.1, and includes additional components like Math, Base, Draw.
Settings, System and Utilities sections of Kademar's menu bring usual set of applications, plus much more. I'd like to mention here some very interesting: Oracle VM VirtualBox, NVIDIA driver configuration, CompizConfig, KFloppy (oh my God!), Unison (syncronization utility).
Synaptic and KPackage are listed as sofware managers, but Synaptic did not start for me.
Default repositories are those of Debian, plus Kademar own repositories. As addition, Kademar uses repositories from Morphix, Wine, Viewizard and many more. Funny enough, this Spanish-developed Linux distribution uses Belorussian Debian mirror for one part of repository.
Unfortunately, I did not find a way to configure keyboard layouts in graphical tool in KDE3 version of Kademar. It's pity, because it is quite crucial for me to have ability to type English and Russian. Most likely it can be achieved by editing the configuration files, but that's not a good option for Live run.
To add some weird points, scrolling with laptop touchpad did not work on my laptop either.
You can see from list above that Kademar ships a lot of useful (and not very useful - KFloppy is an example) software. It makes no wonder that multimedia packages are also installed. To check this, I went to YouTube and videos played out of the box.
My remote network drive was easily accessed from Konqueror, its tab for Samba connections. I could connect to my drive in few seconds. Amazingly, Russian characters worked absolutely correct from very beginning in this Spanish (Catalan) Kademar
Next step was attempt to play music which is stored on my network drive. Click on MP3 file on smb:/ mounted network partition brought up the window with request to save file or open it in "XMMS encola". What is this? I chose that option and realized that de-facto it was Audacious player. It was started, but did not work. Other options for MP3 playback included Audacity and SMPlayer. And only the SMPlayer was able to open the file right from the remote location. But anyway... at least one option is available!
To spoil the situation, volume controls did not work on my laptop. That is not a surprise, because they have never worked correctly in my tests. These semi-hardware combinations Fn-F5 and Fn-F6 make any Linux system stuck.
In general, system was very responsive. You can expect this from Debian-based system with KDE3, can't you?
No big bugs were noticed, only very small ones. So small that I even won't mention them here.

Kademar 4.9.5 with KDE4
When my KDE3 experiments were over, it was a time to reboot system again. Same boot sequence, but I chose KDE4 option that time.
Boot into KDE4 brought very same desktop and desktop items, but now with KDE4 toolbar at the bottom and also cashew nut in the top-right corner.
In general, KDE4 version of Kademar 4.9.5 is very similar to KDE3, so I won't repeat myself. I'll only tell you the differences which I noticed while running it.
KDE itself is of version 4.4.5, very old one. But it is the same as in Debian Squeeze KDE, so no surprize here.
I should mention that Kademar includes quite good selection of wallpapers. Of course, they are available for both KDE3 and KDE4 versions.
As opposite to KDE3 version of Kademar 4.9.5, menu in KDE4 version only includes KDE4-specific applications, and nothing from KDE3. But menu style is still classical by default. Of course, Kickoff style menu is also available - just a couple clicks away.
I was much luckier with keyboard layout configuration this time. It was made very same way as Debian KDE.
Education menu is translated into English and takes its correct place amongst other English parts of menu in Kademar 4.9.5 KDE4.
I was able to start Synaptic in KDE4. But it did not help much. I was immediately requested password which was not listed anywhere. So, I could not check much for the applications available. But it is not a big problem, because, as I mentioned above, Kademar uses Debain and other repositories. So, selection of software should be pretty much impressive.
As for resources, Kademar with all windows closed, but network and keyboard layout still active, took about 260Mb of memory. This is not the lightest, but not the worst value. Just to compare, Debian Squeeze KDE used only 180Mb on same machine.

What is my general opinion of Kademar 4.9.5?
On the negative side, I'd like to mention high resource usage in KDE4 version, much more than Debian KDE. Other issues which I mentioned above (Synaptic password, Russian keyboard layout in KDE3 live run etc) should be easily treated in installed version.

But all these issues are very small compared to benefits which Kademar 4.9.5 can give you. It can be good choice for you, if you want to have Debian stability with enhanced functionality. Of course, you can install Debian itself and then pick individual packages as you like. But Kademar developers have already done this for you, so why not use the ready-made collection?
Also, Kademar 4.9.5 is one of very few systems to ship KDE3 nowadays, and the only one I know which uses KDE3 with Debian base.

Have you ever tried Kademar? Or any other KDE3+Debian systems? How did they behave?

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