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26 Dec 2011

AgiliaLinux 8.0.0: Ooops, We Did It (Again)!

Linux is everywhere in the world. When I look at a map of where visitors to my blog come from, I see almost the whole world map covered. Of course, the majority of visitors come from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India and other English-speaking countries. But there are still visitors from some relatively small non-English speaking countries like Serbia, Croatia, Israel, and even Madagascar and Angola. They are all interested in Linux.
Of course Russia is on the list. In fact, it is in 14th place, according to the year's worth of statistics.
I wrote about Russian distributions several times, and I am pleased to do so, because Russia is my motherland. Alt Linux, Simply Linux and Agilia Linux were already covered. Of course I try to keep my hands on the pulse of events. That's why I could not miss the opportunity to get my hands on new release from Agilia Linux team. Their new version AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 saw the world on the 03.10.2011.
Stop, you could ask, why is this version 8 then? Because AgiliaLinux is not a brand-new distribution. It is based on MOPSLinux, a project which stopped development. The previous version of AgiliaLinux was more or less a remake of MOPS. The current version is a fully independent development.
This version was planned for release ages ago. A member of the development team wrote a comment on my post about AgiliaLinux 7 stating that version 8 was due in June. And finally... in October they did it!
AgiliaLinux 8.0.0's ISO image size is about 2.4GB. I downloaded it from one of the mirrors. If you are a fan of torrents, you have that downloading option too, but it requires registration at the rutracker.org torrent portal.
When the downloading was complete, I burned the ISO image onto a DVD disk. So the DVD-RW is in the optical drive of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!


Booting

The first selection screen that appeared in front of me once AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 started booting was about menu language. English and Russian options were available with Russian being the default. I had 30 seconds to make a decision – countdown limits the waiting time.
The next screen was about boot options: back to HDD boot or into Live mode. The Live mode itself had different boot options, including separate options for ATI and Nvidia card owners, and an option to boot with the basic VESA driver. I chose the simple Live run, because I have neither ATI nor Nvidia cards.
Boot time was quite quick. I did not measure it with a stopwatch, but I am sure it was much shorter than the usual booting time for DVD-based images.
It is worth mentioning that the core part of AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 runs with version 3.0.4 of the Linux kernel.
Right before the end of booting I saw another option to select language, and I had 3 options to choose from: English, Russian, and Ukrainian. It was a choice of system interface language. My choice was English, of course.

First steps

Once booting of AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 was finished I faced a virgin clean empty grey screen with a panel at the bottom.
There was a single window on the screen though. It was the system installer, called AgiliaLinux Setup. Setup here meant installation, not configuration. Maybe that's a difficulty arising from translation.
A button with the Gnome logo was in the bottom left corner. I am not sure why it had a Gnome logo, because AgiliaLinux uses the OpenBox window manager in Live mode. In particular, the presence of OpenBox meant that I could open the same menu by right-clicking on any empty space on the desktop. Unfortunately, right-click did not work on the panel or most of its items.
The Distrowatch page of AgiliaLinux says that this distribution supports KDE, GNOME, OpenBox, Fluxbox, LXDE, and XFCE. Unfortunately none of these options apart from OpenBox was available in the Live run. Probably they come in the installed version, which I did not try.
Next to the menu button was a virtual desktop switcher. If you are used to having your desktop numbered you would be surprised, because AgiliaLinux has named virtual desktop spaces: sys (system?), web (internet?), im (Instant messaging?) and dev (development?). I offer my own understanding of those abbreviations in parentheses, but I'm not sure if I am correct. This desktop switch was followed by the usual taskbar. The right side of the panel had the usual items: language indicator, network manager, volume control, and clocks. Most elements on the panel had rounded borders, which made them very nice looking in my opinion. The contrast of dark grey letters on a light grey background worked nicely for me too.
AgiliaLinux automatically recognized and configured the Intel 3945 ABG wireless card on my laptop. A notification message appeared in the top right corner stating that wireless networks were available. A few usual steps to configure security details and I was connected to my home network and the Internet.
Before I continue, I'd like to make one more comment about these notification messages. Their fonts are rather blurry, perhaps made so on purpose. I would prefer them to look sharper. The message appears on the screen for just a few seconds, and the blurry fonts distract one from reading.
As I have already noted, the default screen in AgiliaLinux was in a plain grey color. There were no desktop wallpapers in the default distribution at all. If you wanted to set up your own wallpaper, you would need to specify the path to it in the OpenBox Wallpaper Manager (Nitrogen). The default path is /usr/share/wallpapers.

Multilingual?

If you remember, I selected English to be my system language in the boot process. Let's see how good dual-language support is in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0.
The keyboard layout indicator was on the panel from the very start. In my case it showed En meaning English (US). Unfortunately, I found no way to switch between different keyboard layouts or change the default one. It was a step backward for me from the previous version of AgiliaLinux, where multiple layouts were active from the very start.
The menu in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 had several sections, though not all of them had English names. In particular the two last sections were in Russian: OpenBox Configuration and Session Management. Of course all the menu items within these sections were in Russian too. If you're going to run AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 on your computer without knowing Russian, it would be especially important to know that Session Management actions run immediately, without additional confirmation. Small print in Russian below the action name is all that announces this. Be careful and save your work.
Another place where I saw Russian characters in the English language run was the configuration file for OpenBox (autostart.sh). It had comments in Russian. I doubt this would be good for English-speaking users.

What is in the box?

PCManFM is the default file manager in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0. You will find it in the Accessories part of the menu. The text editor medit, archive manager File Roller, galculator, terminal Sakura and some other applications are in that same part of the menu.
Having mentioned the Terminal application, it is important to tell you that the Live version of AgiliaLinux runs under user... root! I am not sure about the installed version because I have not tried it, but my assumption is that root privileges are too dangerous even for a Live run. And it is even wrong for proper system assessment. What works for root in Live mode may not work in the installed version for a normal user.
The next section of the menu in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 is Development tools. They are mostly Qt4-related applications. Cmake is there as well, and Vi IMproved is an additional text editor for those developers who prefer this classic tool.
The Graphics part of the AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 menu includes Gimp, the Viewnior image viewer, and ScreenGrab screenshot tool. You can never say you have insufficient graphic tools when you have Gimp.
The multimedia section of the menu contains the DeaDBeef and SMPlayer players, Volti volume control tool and SimplyBurn disk burning software. Certainly enough to get you started.
The network tools section is well packed in the menu of AgiliaLinux 8.0.0. First is Firefox 7.0, which is the only browser. Strangely, it is not set as the default and asks you to make this choice at the first startup. Next come FileZilla, Claws mail, Flush bittorrent client, Gajim jabber client, uGet downloader, and Zenmap interface for the Nmap tool. Enough? For myself, I would add some instant messaging client. Jabber is not the only messaging protocol, so something like Pidgin would definitely fit the list.
The Office section of the menu contains the full set of LibreOffice applications except for Draw. The LibreOffice version is very fresh, version 3.4.3. This section also contains DjView4 and ePDFViewer.
The System menu in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 includes GParted, Htop process manager, the AgiliaLinux installer, the CUPS Manager and MPKG package manager.
Htop is a CLI-based application and runs in the Sakura terminal. By the way, it showed me that the system with all the windows closed uses only 114 MB of memory. Not a bad result at all! Honestly, I've never seen so little. That is probably the result of using the light OpenBox window manager instead of full-featured GNOME or KDE.
As you can see, there are many applications in the default AgiliaLinux which are not familiar to the wider public, because they are not used in most mainstream distributions. I was also very surprised that the developers decided to include both GTK+ and Qt4 applications in their distribution. It is pretty unusual, because most distributions prefer to stick to one development tool. From my point of view, I don't see anything wrong in AgiliaLinux's approach. I use the same approach in my own system too. If an application fits the purpose, I don't care about the development tool.

Additional packages

MPKG is the package management tool in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0. It uses quite a few different repositories by default, but all of them are parts of the main AgiliaLinux repository, just split into different sections like Games, Core, and Userland. MPKG automatically resolves all the dependencies.
Unfortunately, MPKG's search tool is not as good as I would like to see it. You can search by package name, but not by description. The is a grouping of applications on the screen, but the list of groups is too large to use it easily, and all you actually see are their technical names. This is not very user-friendly.
On the other hand, the screen where you commit all the changes is very informative. It lists all the packages to be removed and added, including all the updates.
What is available in MPKG? I checked a few items, and almost all the items I tried for were there: Pidgin, Skype, VLC, Koffice, Ktorrent, Transmission. There were applications which I did not find, though: Qutim, Banshee, Gnome Baker. It is no wonder that so many applications are available, because the roots of AgiliaLinux are in Slackware. TGZ is the packaging format for AgiliaLinux. Unfortunately these roots do not mean that you can use Slackware repositories and packages in AgiliaLinux. They are not directly compatible.
Just to get a feeling of MPKG “at work” I tried to install the Pidgin messenger. This task put the system in a state where the DVD disk worked non-stop for about fifteen minutes without any process shown on the screen. As a result, I shut down the laptop using the hardware button. I hope this process works better in installed version.

Network drive

There is a Network Drives option in PCManFM. I tried to use it to mount my external network drive. Unfortunately, the option did not work for me. It did not find my external network drive.
Of course the CLI-style mounting tool worked fine. I mounted my external partition in Sakura using the usual method with mount -t cifs //remote/partition /localfolder -o guest,nolinux command. It means that the Samba client is included in the AgiliaLinux distribution.
Once it was mounted I was able to browse my network drive's contents. I had no issues with showing Russian characters in folder and file names.
Unfortunately, neither SMPlayer nor DeaDBeeF wanted to play MP3 files from the remote partition. Files located on the local hard drive were okay for both players, though. It means that all the necessary codecs and plugins are included in the AgiliaLinux distribution. But still the developers need to look at the integration of network and multimedia tools.
AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 with Firefox, DeadBeeF, MKPG.
Flash and MP3 play out of the box.
Flash player is also included in the default distribution of AgiliaLinux 8.0.0. I was able to watch You Tube videos right away. No additional installation was required.

Additional laptop features

Like many laptops, my Amilo Pi 1505 has some additional buttons and function keys. In particular, they are hotkeys for volume and brightness controls. How did they behave in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0?
The volume control hotkeys Fn-F5 and Fn-F6 do not work at all. That is both bad and good news at the same time. Bad, because it's always nice to get them working. Good, because most distributions' X-server interpret them incorrectly and set the volume to either the max or min position without an option to adjust. It's better to see buttons not working than to get the result of their improper use by an unprepared user.
On the positive side, brightness control hotkeys (Fn-F7 and Fn-F8) worked fine.

That was the end of my experiments with AgiliaLinux 8.0.0. To be precise, the end of active experiments. I still had one to be done in passive mode, where I could only watch without any active involvement. That is, I still had to shut down the laptop. This action combined with a mounted network partition often brings additional issues. How did this Linux distribution do at this? Unfortunately, not well. I interrupted the shutdown process by using the hardware button after 3 minutes of waiting.

Conclusion


So what are my general thoughts of AgiliaLinux 8.0.0?
It has become better than the previous version if seen from the point of view of an international user. If you remember, AgiliaLinux 7 had only a Russian interface. This time around you have some English here too. It's not a full English translation yet, but enough to get a feel for the system.
From the support point of view, I think that a number of international users would still be very limited. The main site, the wiki, the forum – they are all in Russian. Unless you are a person who studies Russian, you would experience difficulties in this field.
But if Russian is not an issue for you, AgiliaLinux can be your operating system. I'd like to remind you that my opinion is based on a Live run of this Linux distribution with OpenBox as the window manager. If you have AgiliaLinux installed with something like KDE or GNOME you may have a different point of view.

Would you like to try AgiliaLinux yourself? Then I encourage you to try downloading the link below and give your view in my Comments section.

Useful links:
http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/AgiliaLinux - Wikipedia (in Russian)
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=agilia - Distrowatch page
http://www.agilialinux.com/ - official site (in Russian)
http://www.agilialinux.com/download-agilialinux.html - download page with list of mirrors (in Russian)

8 comments:

  1. > In my case it showed En meaning English (US). Unfortunately, I found no way to switch between different keyboard layouts or change the default one.

    Hmm… maybe, it's controlled via setxkbmap? It's Openbox, I wouldn't be suprised if it's so…

    > The menu in AgiliaLinux 8.0.0 had several sections, though not all of them had English names. In particular the two last sections were in Russian: OpenBox Configuration and Session Management. Of course all the menu items within these sections were in Russian too.

    I think this is a bug in snapfly (http://code.google.com/p/snapfly/), I hope, authors of snapfly will read and fix that :)

    > Having mentioned the Terminal application, it is important to tell you that the Live version of AgiliaLinux runs under user... root! I am not sure about the installed version because I have not tried it, but my assumption is that root privileges are too dangerous even for a Live run. And it is even wrong for proper system assessment. What works for root in Live mode may not work in the installed version for a normal user.

    Hmm… you're right, maybe, that's time to make LiveDVD running from user with enabled sudo?

    > As you can see, there are many applications in the default AgiliaLinux which are not familiar to the wider public, because they are not used in most mainstream distributions. I was also very surprised that the developers decided to include both GTK+ and Qt4 applications in their distribution. It is pretty unusual, because most distributions prefer to stick to one development tool. From my point of view, I don't see anything wrong in AgiliaLinux's approach. I use the same approach in my own system too. If an application fits the purpose, I don't care about the development tool.

    We think that toolkit-o-phobia ("тулкитофобия") is wrong. If tool can make its work prettier than others — no matter, in what toolkit it written :)

    > There were applications which I did not find, though: Qutim, Banshee, Gnome Baker.

    Qutim is dead, Banshee is in Mono (we do not support Mono for now), what is Gnome Baker?

    > Unfortunately these roots do not mean that you can use Slackware repositories and packages in AgiliaLinux. They are not directly compatible.

    It's right for repos, but wrong for packages. You can install any Slackware package by typing "mpkg-install /path/to/package.txz", but no one can guarantee compatibility in library/ABI level (some libraries can be newer than in Slack)…

    > Just to get a feeling of MPKG “at work” I tried to install the Pidgin messenger. This task put the system in a state where the DVD disk worked non-stop for about fifteen minutes without any process shown on the screen. As a result, I shut down the laptop using the hardware button. I hope this process works better in installed version.

    You used GUI? I have bad news for you: developing of GUI MPKG frontend, shipped with 8.0.0, discontinued, because it's buggy and crappy. New written from scratch GUI, called "manager3" (previous called "manager2"), will be (I hope) shipped with future AgiliaLinux releases.

    > I had no issues with showing Russian characters in folder and file names.

    Unicode rulezz :)

    > The main site, the wiki, the forum – they are all in Russian.

    Forum have international subforum (http://forum.agilialinux.ru/viewforum.php?id=27), but it's still almost empty :) Main site will be rewritten soon — I will rewrite it :)

    Sorry for my broken English ;)

    With best regards, fat0troll

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello again!

    ;)

    Yeah, nuclear bomb in Moscow, called "Laziness" (?), was bombed :-D We released in October, and this is horosho! :-D

    Firstly, I shared link to this review in our forum: http://forum.agilialinux.ru/viewtopic.php?id=1170 . You can register and discuss with us ;)

    And now…

    > Right before the end of booting I saw another option to select language, and I had 3 options to choose from: English, Russian, and Ukrainian. It was a choice of system interface language. My choice was English, of course.

    That's autostart of installer :) You choose in that dialog languge for installing and new system. Language in LiveDVD you choose when booting, and only when booting :)

    > A button with the Gnome logo was in the bottom left corner. I am not sure why it had a Gnome logo, because AgiliaLinux uses the OpenBox window manager in Live mode.

    I don't know, why NomerUNO (the only maintainer of Openbox-environment) uses this icon. It's his mistake :)

    > The Distrowatch page of AgiliaLinux says that this distribution supports KDE, GNOME, OpenBox, Fluxbox, LXDE, and XFCE. Unfortunately none of these options apart from OpenBox was available in the Live run.

    A long time ago we have tried to do LiveDVDs with GNOME and KDE, but in release only Openbox LiveDVD stayed alive. I have a dream to make and share LiveDVD with GNOME by myself, but I have ADSL-internel, and I can't publish 3GiB-DVD with 42 kbit/s upload :-(

    > If you are used to having your desktop numbered you would be surprised, because AgiliaLinux has named virtual desktop spaces: sys (system?), web (internet?), im (Instant messaging?) and dev (development?).

    Yes: system, web, instant messaging and development. No multimedia, no porn, no games, no other good stuff :)

    // stupid 4096-letters restriction! and stupid system which eats my comments! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Valdos the Fat Troll:
    >I think this is a bug in snapfly (http://code.google.com/p/snapfly/), I hope, authors of snapfly will read and fix that
    I would not think so, unless bug report is submitted. I think AgiliaTeam is better to do this, because you better know technical details to discuss.

    >time to make LiveDVD running from user with enabled sudo
    Yes, that's a very good idea.

    >Qutim is dead
    Don't think so. At least, it is supported by other distributions.

    >what is Gnome Baker?
    That's a dead project. Really. That's disk burning tool. I liked it unless even Debian got rid of it.

    >Firstly, I shared link to this review in our forum
    That's great. Reaction there is good enough. But I can't tell the same about people on linux.org.ru forum where you also shared the link. People there are not adequate.
    Hey, and you also pushed a link to DistroWatch! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. > I would not think so, unless bug report is submitted. I think AgiliaTeam is better to do this, because you better know technical details to discuss.

    OK, I will submit a bug when I will be free :)

    > Yes, that's a very good idea.

    Will be on bugtracker too :)

    > Don't think so. At least, it is supported by other distributions.

    Version 0.2 is (глючная) crappy and unstable, version 0.3 very buggy and still in some "alpha" state. Нафиг-нафиг :)

    > That's a dead project. Really. That's disk burning tool. I liked it unless even Debian got rid of it.

    It depends on HAL or may be used with udisks?

    > That's great. Reaction there is good enough. But I can't tell the same about people on linux.org.ru forum where you also shared the link. People there are not adequate.

    linux.org.ru — where trolls moderated by trolls :) They just hate anything ;)

    > Hey, and you also pushed a link to DistroWatch! Thanks!

    that's not me, that's another anonymous :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Valdos the Fat Troll:
    >Version 0.2 is (глючная) crappy and unstable, version 0.3 very buggy and still in some "alpha" state. Нафиг-нафиг :)
    I have it successfully running in Mageia KDE, Xubuntu. Had in Kubuntu too. No issues or bugs found. Stable and reliable.
    The point is that Qutim is the only messenger to support Mail.Ru Agent (MRIM) out of the box. Alternative is Pidgin + plugin, but that's not "out of the box".

    >that's not me, that's another anonymous :)
    If you know the "anonymous", then tell him "thanks" from me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. > The point is that Qutim is the only messenger to support Mail.Ru Agent (MRIM) out of the box. Alternative is Pidgin + plugin, but that's not "out of the box".

    hmmm… maybe using Pidgin+plugin is better :) I don't use MRIM, and can't say anything about it…)

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Valdos the Fat Troll:
    >maybe using Pidgin+plugin is better
    No, because plugin is not platform-independent. At least, compiled versions are only available for handful of distribution. Otherwise source code compilation, which is not the best thing users would do.

    ReplyDelete