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.
I can imagine that in the wake of, um, events over the past few weeks regarding Mark Shuttleworth’s and Canonical’s, um, behavior, many of you might think that I was apoplectic about it; green-enraged, up-the-wall-and-across-the-ceiling furious about being tagged a Teabagger by The Mark, to say nothing of the cease-and-desist letter sent by Canonical to Micah Lee regarding fixubuntu.com.
Shuttleworth needs to learn a lot of things, one of which is a closer look at the American political system, not to mention how the closely the playbooks of Canonical and the right-wing Tea Party are related. Also, we already know that The Mark has offered a non-apology apology — akin to the “non-denial denials” we used to get from the White House during the Watergate scandal — where he says, among other things, he might have offended the Tea Party with his remarks (note FOSSForce.com — no smileys here, so I guess he was serious) and he says our framework may vary when judging Canonical’s behavior.
You nailed it on the last one, Mark.
But the big picture? It’s saddening moreso than maddening.
One thing from this whole situation that bears pointing out is that when long-time Ubuntero Aaron Toponce leaves Ubuntu, it’s a serious matter. Aaron’s blog item is worth a read, as are the comments. Especially the comments: What’s monumentally ironic is that Jef Spaleta — with whom I run neck-and-neck for the title of Canonical/Ubuntu Public Enemy No. 1 — actually urges Aaron to rethink leaving Ubuntu and sticking it out, trying to change Ubuntu from within. Jono Bacon? He waves and says “good luck.”
There’s a conclusion to be drawn there, but I’ll leave you to make your own.
Actually, what has kept my attention is looking at doing some more testing now that I have some more hardware to test upon. The two distros I’m going to give a test-drive this week — wait for it — are VSIDO Raptor Fluxbox because, well, it looks like Terry Ganus has been going great guns on his Debian Sid-based distro and he just released this guy at the end of last month, and Korora 19.1, now coming in Cinnamon and MATE flavors.
But that’s for next week. See you then, if not sooner.
Well, on a rainy Thursday after the Giants took two of three games from the Dodgers — always a good thing now that baseball season has started — I thought I’d catch up on a couple of things that crossed the proverbial radar this week.
First, essayist Bruce Byfield wrote an interesting piece on Debian entitled “Nine Myths That Shouldn’t Stop You From Trying Debian,” which can be found here. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t try Debian — it was my first distro, though I didn’t come back to it for good until about 18 months ago in the form of CrunchBang — but the points that Bruce makes about the perceptions of Debian in the wider FOSS world (and outside, for that matter) are ones that need both correcting, in those cases, or emphasis where it needs it. My favorite of all of them in Number 7: Unstable is Unstable — anyone who has used CrunchBang or the new distro VSIDO, based on Sid, knows what a misnomer “unstable” is, both in the form of much of the software and in the case of Sid itself. Fear of “testing” versions is something that may be falling by the wayside as the average Linux/FOSS user becomes more tech savvy.
Go and read it. It’s a good one.
Then, I sheepishly admit that after paying a bill to our friends at the service of internal revenue on the federal level (for those outside the U.S., those are taxes), I have had to consider parting ways with a laptop I saved from recycling doom, rebuilding it and using it for awhile. It’s a Tosihba Satellite L455 laptop that’s the size of an aircraft carrier, and it’s for sale (first $150 or so takes it). I reinstalled Linux on it, and rather than put on CrunchBang, I decided to use one of the Fedora 18 disks I got at SCALE this year to make the machine more useable for those who may not be regular Linux users (and if a Linux user buys it, then s/he will know what to do in putting the distro of their choice on it).
[Before you even begin to think about starting the question, here's why I didn't install Ubuntu or any of its desktop derivatives: Since the mid-teens -- around Fedora 14, maybe -- Fedora has been user-friendly enough for anyone to use and maintain. If Bruce Byfield wants to REALLY do some mythbusting, he might want to tackle that topic.]
Now I told you that story of the Toshiba to tell you this one: After I installed the “Desktop” version of Fedora 18 — that’s the GNOME desktop for those of you keeping score at home (though why Fedora doesn’t call it the GNOME desktop was always a mystery to me, even when I participated in the Fedora community) — I have to say that GNOME 3 has made great strides in becoming . . . how can I put this tactfully? . . . useable. In fact, it’s very agile and responsive on this 64-bit hardware and, after getting used to it, I can see where both experienced users can tweak it to their satisfaction, as well as how new users can get a handle on navigating it rather easily.
And, unlike Unity, it doesn’t spy on you by default. But that’s another topic for another time.
Time to head to the DMV — the Capitola office is always quick and I’ve never spent more than one hour there — and to the newspaper.