Back in March, I had a chance to take a lap or two with Terry Ganus’ VSIDO and wrote about it here. I liked what he was doing — revealing that Debian Sid is not the monster some people make it out to be while proving that it could be used by the average user as a daily distro. Also, I liked the offering back then when it came out.
I gave VSIDO another shot last week, using the 64-bit Raptor, which features Debian Sid under the hood with the Fluxbox window manager on the surface. I ran it on a dual-core Toshiba laptop. Like in March, again I found it a solid distribution which would serve any user well.
A word about Fluxbox: It’s a good call to make this the default window manager. Like CrunchBang’s Openbox window manager, Fluxbox is very lightweight, however the advantage over Openbox is that it does not share Openbox’s starkness. For those who like a little color in their menus, not to mention a lot of flexibility in tweaking their window manager, Fluxbox is an outstanding option.
The lineup of software available also sets VSIDO apart. There’s the standard programs you’d find in Debian-based systems augmented by other programs which are not as well known but are adequately solid. For example, Audacity is present, but there’s also a video viewer called UMPlayer that gives any other player a run for its money. Ceni and WICD star as the network managers (more on this later). There are even a couple of things you may not find on regular distros — Filezilla comes immediately to mind, as well as menu-ized items like the htop command to easily keep track of what’s running on your system.
All of this shows that a lot of thought was put into what VSIDO users might want, and the choices are right on the mark.
One thing that I encountered last time that I encountered again, and I know this is PEBCAK moreso than a reflection on the distro: I have always fought a losing battle with WICD, and this time was no exception. This is not unique to VSIDO, because I’ve lost this battle on other distros as well. White flag, surrender — c’est la guerre. Ceni, on the other hand, came in handy and saved the day when using wireless. I don’t know what the logic is behind having two network managers — and I’m glad to be enlightened here by the VSIDO crew — but this redundancy saved the proverbial bacon this time.
A lot can be said for distros like VSIDO, most of which renders moot those ludicrous complaints about there being too many distros in the FOSS universe. There are currently the right number of distros — as many distros as the market will bear, to echo Adam Smith — and the good ones rise in direct proportion to their commitment to quality.
VSIDO is one of those rising in the Debian constellation. If VSIDO continues on its current course, it has a bright future.
This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.
(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)