8 Feb 2011

Easy as Mouse, Quick as Thought

I have already tried to approach Debian system several times. I feel like I have to touch the heart of many Linuxes, as they are built on Debian. I am not talking about Ubuntu alone, there are much more to mention. All my previous attempts to fully run Debian or Debian-based Linux on my laptops failed. This time I am going to check another re-incarnation of Tux with Spiral. It is named SalineOS. It was released in January 2011, which means it was based on rolling release of Debian Squeeze just prior to their final release.
SalineOS takes just over 800Mb of download. But this size means I cannot burn this image to CD. Although there is a method of USB-"burning" on SalineOS official forum, it simply does not work. When booted from USB created by that method, I got error "No DEFAULT or UI configuration directive found!"
All this means I can only run a test starting SalineOS from my DVD-RW disk on Toshiba L500 notebook.
Disk is ready. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!

Yes! Here we are! SalineOS is another Debian-based distro which I can put under my belt. I do not count Ubuntu, because in my humble opinion they went too far from native Debian. Before SalineOS I tried Linux Mint Debian Edition. Is there any difference between SalineOS and LMDE? Yes, there is significant difference.
From what I could see, these two have different aims in user experience terms. LMDE makes work with Tux as user-friendly as possible. SalineOS makes work with Tux as fast as possible. That's why SalineOS is based on XFCE desktop environment. Even running from DVD disk in Live mode, you can feel the difference in response time. Some applications start [looks like] even before you release the mouse button! It is impressive. Sure enough, XFCE is not as slick and intuitive as GNOME-based LMDE. For example, it took me some time to understand how to make the screenshot you see on this page. "Print screen" button simply did not function as I used to. But I am sure enough that if I used SalineOS for some more time, I could figure out all those little tricks which make life easier.
As you can expect from Linux distro which is more than CD size, it is well-packed with software. Of course, SalineOS has full set of OpenOffice.org applications, including Base and Math. Of course it has GIMP. Of course it has all the standard set of tools to manage the PC.
What was very nice surprise is that SalineOS is supplied with Chromium browser by default. Yes, you read it right. Not Firefox, but my favourite Chromium! It is the first Tux from those which I have seen so far where Chromium is default browser! Sure, there are some distros which come without any browser or with very basic browser included (I am talking about Puppy), but that is different story.
You may ask me why I don't like Firefox so much if it became browser No1 in Europe recently, and browser No2 worldwide ages ago?
Yes, I do not like Firefox. Simply because it does not process very basic HTML code properly. Please look at my homepage design to see that table at the top is not properly formatted. It only happens in FF. Other browsers I have tried so far: IE, Chrome, Chromium, Safari show everything correctly. Why should I trust browser which interprets HTML some strange way?
So, as I said before, SalineOS differs from LMDE as a trade of speed instead of usability. What do you prefer more? Please share in comments! What do I prefer more? I can't tell. Probably neither, because I would like to have both included in some kind of compromise. From this point of view, Ubuntu's GNOME or Kubuntu's KDE work better for me.
Enough said about user interface. What's inside the SalineOS? Was it capable to work with Toshiba's Realtek WiFi card better than LMDE? Unfortunately, not. This time list of "Toshiba winners" remains the same: Ubuntu 10.10, Linux Mint Julia and Fluppy. Even though I can see Realtek in lspci output (see screenshot), there is no driver available for it in Live version.
What is my thought about SalineOS? I actually liked to to some extent. Yes, it is nicely arranged distributive which is worth trying. But it is OK, not "just right" for me.
Do you want to try SalineOS yourself? Why not Buy Linux CD with it?

Useful links:
http://www.salineos.com/index.php - official web page
http://www.russellhollander.com/2011/01/21/saline-linux-review/ - another review of SalineOS
http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2011/02/01/salineos-1-1-review/ - and another review of SalineOS


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