8 Sep 2015

Austrumi 3.2.2: a nice stranger

Austrumi is not a very famous distribution in the Linux world, although I have written about it twice already.

Let me introduce it again for those who did not read my previous reviews.

Austrumi is a Linux distribution that is based on Slackware and developed by a small team from the Latgale region of Latvia, a small ex-USSR Baltic state.

The official site of this distribution is far from the best I have ever seen. It pretends to have several sections and work in different languages, but many of them simply do not work. Even the forum link from that site is not functioning.

The "news" section of the site tells you that the latest version of that distribution is 2.4.0. The download link on the site points to an ISO image with index 2.2.9, but it still does not work. But if you remove the filename from the download link in the address bar of your browser (ftp://austrumi.ru.lv/), you will be able to see a list of ISO images. The latest version is 3.2.2 and it was released in August 2015, so we are talking about a very fresh release now.

Image size of Austrumi 3.2.2 is just 278 MB, which definitely puts the distribution in the "pocket" category.

When I reviewed the previous versions of Austrumi, I had to record a CD-RW or DVD-RW, because neither the dd command nor Unetbootin worked with this ISO image. This time I was a bit luckier. Although dd command still does not work, Unetbootin created a workable USB stick for me.

So, USB drive is in the port of my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

First boot

Once the boot sequence starts, Unetbootin offers you several options available for Austrimi. You can boot with or without ejecting the original media, boot with open source drivers only, in text mode and so on. I went for the default option, which is to boot with ejecting the original media. It means you can remove the CD or USB once the operating system is booted. It only runs from memory. This is not the most common feature in the Linux world, even among the "pocket-size" distributions, but definitely convenient if you boot your OS from a disk and want to use the CD/DVD-drive for something else after the boot.

The boot process itself takes about a minute. There are no additional questions along the way.

First impression

Once booted, you get to a default screen of Austrumi Linux with a toolbar at the top. This toolbar has a menu button with a stylish FVWM logo on it in the left part. The right part of the panel has battery, volume, network and language indicators along with a shutdown button.

As you have probably understood from above, Austrumi features FVWM window manager.
Apart from the panel at the top, there is an auto-hiding panel at the left part of the screen with shortcuts to applications like browser, terminal, file manager and so on.

The default wallpaper in Austrumi is a photo of a grass field.

Austrumi 3.2.2 welcome screen
If you don't like the default wallpaper, there is a choice of a dozen alternative abstract images, but I liked the default one the best.

Austrumi comes with a choice of alternative themes. You can switch the whole desktop layout with just few clicks. This is a very nice tool in my opinion. Although I must warn you: don't switch to Windows or Kiosk themes unless you know what you are doing. You won't be able to switch back from these themes. I tried several other themes, and there was a theme switch somewhere. Kiosk and Windows themes lack that switch.

As you can see from above, these are many nice words from DarkDuck towards Austrumi. But is there anything bad in the first glance at this distribution? Yes, and they are rather important ones.

The default language of Austrumi is not English. You can switch it, of course, by navigating to the "Voludis" item with a "blue flag" icon in the Settings part of the menu. This menu can be named differently in different themes, so you need to explore a bit by yourself.

Another issue that one may find is that Austrumi uses root user by default. But this is a more or less common approach among the pocket-size distributions. Unfortunately, the password for the root user is only known to the developers, so you won't be able to re-logon if you decide to log off.

Once booted, Austrumi takes about 118Mb of memory, which is a brilliant result!
Austrumi 3.2.2 resource usage

Network connection

Austrumi recognized and configured the wireless network card of my laptop, which is Realtek 8191 SEvB. Moreover, it showed me available networks when I clicked the network indicator on the panel. Unfortunately, my network was not in the list of nine proposed, and I could not figure out how to extend the list to more than 9 items. Starting the network configuration window several times again eventually gave me my home network in the list. However, it did not help: entering the network key did not connect me to the Wireless network.

Hence, I had to continue my review without network connectivity. In particular, I could not test network drive features.


Keyboard layout

There is a keyboard layout indicator on the panel in some themes in Austrumi Linux. Default layouts are Latgale and US. You can switch between them by clicking the panel indicator. I tried to change that to UK and Russian languages, but without much success. Unfortunately, that only led to the switch of the layout to the UK one, and left the panel indicator with Latgale flag and not-switching.



Even though the distribution size is less than 300 Mb, it comes well packed with necessary applications. And I must admit that Austrumi developers took a much wiser approach to default applications choice than, for example, Knoppix.

Pale Moon is not the most famous browser, but it still works. It is a fork of Firefox, so you should be familiar with its layout.

Along with the browser, Austrumi features some more Internet tools: VGCC Chat client, HexChat, Transmission torrent client and so on.

LibreOffice comes with the full set of components in Austrumi Linux, including Math and Base. Libreoffice is version, which puts this distribution ahead of many other distributions. I drafted this article using the Writer tool. There is also a separate spell-checker / proofing tool in Austrumi.

There are several simple games in Austrumi like Mines, Ltris, Draughts and so on. You will find your way to spend your free time, if you have it.

There are several graphical tools, including PDF Document Viewer, image viewer and GIMP editor. Unfortunately, there is no screenshot utility, except for the scrot command.

Multimedia tools include mixer, radio stations browser, PBurn disk burning utility and FFConvert utility.

Of course, there are standard utilities like GParted, simple text editor Geany, file manager, Calculator, Archive manager Midnight Commander, Htop system monitor, and so on.

Because of the absence of Internet connectivity, I could not check what is available in additional repositories of Austrumi Linux.

And last but not least... I repeat: all that software, including LibreOffice, browser, GIMP, multimedia features (more below) and others only take less that 300 Mb of ISO image!


Austrumi comes with necessary codecs for your multimedia requirements. Even though I could not check YouTube videos due to lack of Internet connection, I still was able to watch videos and listen to MP3 files stored on my local drive.

MPV is the default multimedia player in Austrumi, but is it not listed in the menu. MPV is basically a command line utility. It means that it won't show on the panel if you start a simple MP3 file from the file manager. This is not convenient. However, it started with a separate window for MP3 files with some "CD cover" images and, of course, for videos.
Austrumi 3.2.2 multimedia features


In short, I liked Austrumi. Yes, it has some issues here and there due to nation-centric Latvian origins and selection of tools made by developers.

But nevertheless, it felt very responsive, quick and solid for me. It is definitely a good choice if you want to have a Linux distribution on the USB stick in your pocket.

I wish all the best to developers and hope to return to this distribution once again in the future.


  1. It boots to root and there's no root password?
    This is the point at which I'd put the disk in the bin. A more insecure setup would be hard to imagine.

    1. root password is simply "austrumi" ;)

    2. Thanks, I hope it will help someone who tries to use Austrumi after reading this article.

  2. Is this distribution designed to run straight from a USB in the same way Puppy does?

    1. Yes, this distribution can run straight from USB, like Puppy. But I did not notice any "persistency" option there.

  3. There was an attempt to implement some sort of persistence in previous releases (2.9.5 - 2.9.8 as I can recall) but it was very glitchy so after some time it was dropped by devs.

    It wasn't able to write savefile (basically usual squashfs) to the same drive the system was loaded from. And even more - the saving process was too long and the boot from newly saved FS-file was full of errors.

    Other sad thing was that e19 DE - which was used last time in 2.9.8 alongside with FVWM - was also dropped.
    While defailt WM is looking almost wonderful (never seen such a customization of FVWM!), E19 is still more powerful and solid environment, which made some weak spots of default Austrumi hidden from average user.
    (For example, in E you could set up language switching - with correct flag indicators - easily).

    1. Thank you, Rodion, for the deep insight!