Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Sidux vs. Mint: Can You Live the Pure Open Source Life?

Filed under
Linux
-s

There are valid and compelling reasons why one might want to use only Open Source Software. Avoids any patent or IP legal issues, better security, and encourages innovation are just a few. However, on the other side of the argument there are justifiable reasons for the inclusion of multimedia codecs, proprietary drivers, and closed software in modern Linux distributions. Neither side is wrong. It's a matter of personal tastes and values. But many, like myself, would like to be completely Open Source if it didn't mean losing too much functionality. Can your computer environment be entirely Open Source? What might we give up if we chose that path? To find out I tested two similar distributions, one adherent to the strict Open Source philosophy and one at the other end of spectrum that strives to provide a complete computing experience out-of-the-box.

Sidux and Linux Mint are similar in some fundamental ways. Primarily, they are both Debian derivations, although technically one is based on Ubuntu Linux. Both are delivered as one ~700 MB liveCD image. Both have hard drive installers, proprietary graphic driver installers, and a well rounded selection of starter applications. However, they are different in some significant ways as well.


Sidux 2007-02 (Tartaros)

Sidux is a new Linux distribution based on Debian Sid that hopes to release three or four times a year. The initial release came in the form of a preview in January 2007 and has since included two finals, with Sidux 2007-02 being the second. Its developers believe in a strict Open Source policy for the reasons stated above.

Sidux booted my laptop to a 1024x768 KDE 3.5.7 desktop. Sound, usb, and the mouse devices worked. The menu contains all the common KDE applications as well as many extra KDE and non-KDE specific apps. It features OpenOffice.org 2.2.1, Iceweasel 2.0.0.3, and Gimp 2.2.15. Under the hood we find a preemptive Linux 2.6.21.3, Xorg 7.2.0, and GCC 4.1.3. The liveCD contains an extraordinarily complete local user's manual that unfortunately isn't carried over to the hard drive install.

All my hardware worked upon boot and the screen resolution was easily adjusted by a manual configuration file edit. I had no problems with stability or functionality of the system or applications. The desktop appearance was moderately attractive with its customized wallpaper and unusual color scheme. The font rendering was a bit below average in comparison to today's current offerings, but they weren't unacceptable. I found that my Ndiswrapper dependent wireless connection worked well even with WPA when configured and started from the commandline. The graphical internet connection utilities did work properly here.

The harddrive installer worked wonderfully. It was a user-friendly tabbed application that asked just enough configuration questions to complete the job. All desired results were delivered including my choice of how to handle the boot loader. It features apt-get with pre-configured software repositories for package management and a commandline proprietary graphic drivers installer. The NVIDIA driver installation didn't work here.

All in all, Sidux is a solid desktop system that could very well meet the needs of anyone wishing for a fairly complete but purely open source solution. I found Sidux to be very stable with well above average performance.


Linux Mint 3.0 (Cassandra)

Linux Mint is another new comer to the Linux distribution line-up. Introduced in November 2006, it is now on its fourth release. 3.0 is its second round number version. The developers of Linux Mint are trying to provide users with a "comfortable GNU/Linux desktop" which may include proprietary or binary-only software.

Linux Mint booted into a 1280x800 Gnome 2.18 desktop with sound, usb, and mice working as desired. It contains a select number of applications such as OpenOffice 2.2.0, Firefox 2.0.0.3, Thunderbird 1.5.0.10, Pidgin 2.0, and Gimp 2.2.13. The foundation is formed by Linux 2.16.20.15, Xorg 7.2.0 and GCC 4.1.2. The liveCD and harddrive install contain links to online documentation and user help facilities when one opens the default webbrowser.

Hardware configuration for my laptop was excellent and including the extra keyboard volume adjustment and mute keys. In fact, Linux Mint includes an on-screen graphic to show the increasing or decreasing volume when the keys are used. This is only the second Linux distribution to feature this extra. The desktop is very attractive with its abstract pastel background and customized Gnome menu. Font rendering was above average even for my laptop LCD screen. Despite problems in the past with this distro, my wireless connection worked with WPA at the commandline. Again as with Sidux, I didn't have much luck with the graphical utilities for this. Linux Mint includes their own control panel for hardware and system configuration and it handled most other tasks very well.

Its harddrive installer is user-friendly and works well. Like Sidux, it asked just a few questions and finished here with no problems, including my choice in boot handling options. After install, Synaptic is available with pre-configured repositories to install additional applications. Linux Mint also includes Envy, which installs the proprietary graphic drivers for NVIDIA and ATI cards. That process completed as designed and even updated the necessary files for use upon reboot. One issue I had was that Beryl didn't function here.

Linux Mint is a worthy contender for your desktop operating system, although it does include some binary-only plugins and software to enhance the end-user experience. I had no problems with the applications or system except sometimes the sound mixer applet would crash upon login. Overall, it was stable and average in performance.






Findings

I tested each distro specificially for different file handling, internet experience, and overall functionality. I found that my user experience with each wasn't significantly different. There were some inconveniences when using Sidux, but not enough to characterize the system intolerable. Using my wireless ethernet chip rendered my system impure from the start, but below I have outlined the results of some common tasks and functionalities I want out-of-the-box. Not all are necessarily related to the open source argument, but might be of interest. After reviewing the following chart or in using your passed experience, please take time to answer our poll question: Can you Live with a Pure Open Source System?



    Sidux-2007-02     Linux Mint 3.0
Optimal Screen Resolution
no
yes
Auto Sound
yes
yes
Wireless Support/WPA
yes/yes
yes/yes
Suspend
not functional
yes
Hibernate
not functional
yes
CPU Scaling
yes
yes
Jpeg/png/gif
yes
yes
avi
yes
yes
mpeg
yes
yes
bin
no
yes
mov
no
yes
Real Media
no
yes
Windows Media
no
yes
mp4
yes
yes
mp3
yes
yes
Encrypted DVD
no
yes
Audio CD
yes
yes
Java/javascript
no/yes
yes/yes
Flash
no
yes
NTFS read/write
yes as root/no
yes/no
Office doc read/write
yes/yes
yes/yes
Office wps read/write
yes/no
yes/no
Office ppt read/write
yes/yes
yes/yes
PDF read/write
yes/yes
yes/yes
Auto-mount Removable media
yes
yes
Samba shares
yes
yes




StumbleUpon

More in Tux Machines

Openwashing: Microsoft, Apple and Symphony Software Foundation

Linux Foundation: Real-Time Linux (RT Linux), LF Deep Learning Foundation, OpenTracing and More

  • Developers: Prepare Your Drivers for Real-Time Linux
    Although Real-Time Linux (RT Linux) has been a staple at Embedded Linux Conferences for years -- here’s a story on the RT presentations in 2007 -- many developers have viewed the technology to be peripheral to their own embedded projects. Yet as RT, enabled via the PREEMPT_RT patch, prepares to be fully integrated into the mainline kernel, a wider circle of developers should pay attention. In particular, Linux device driver authors will need to ensure that their drivers play nice with RT-enabled kernels. At the recent Embedded Linux Conference in Portland, National Instruments software engineer Julia Cartwright, an acting maintainer on a stable release of the RT patch, gave a well-attended presentation called “What Every Driver Developer Should Know about RT.” Cartwright started with an overview of RT, which helps provide guarantees for user task execution for embedded applications that require a high level of determinism. She then described the classes of driver-related problems that can have a detrimental impact to RT, as well as potential resolutions. One of the challenges of any real-time operating system is that most target applications have two types of tasks: those with real-time requirements and latency sensitivity, and those for non-time critical tasks such as disk monitoring, throughput, or I/O. “The two classes of tasks need to run together and maybe communicate with one another with mixed criticality,” explained Cartwright. “You must resolve two different degrees of time sensitivity.” One solution is to split the tasks by using two different hardware platforms. “You could have an Arm Cortex-R, FPGA, or PLD based board for super time-critical stuff, and then a Cortex-A series board with Linux,” said Cartwright. “This offers the best isolation, but it raises the per unit costs, and it’s hard to communicate between the domains.”
  • Clarifying the Linux Real Time Issue
    I recently posted an article about the increasing development and availability of Linux-powered automation devices. This is a clear industry trend that’s unavoidable for anyone following the automation technology industry. Shortly after posting the article, I heard from a reader who wrote: “I read your article and I am surprised that you would promote the idea that anyone would use Linux for anything critical. It isn’t even a real-time control system. It can be used for non-critical applications, but the article implies that industry is adopting it for everything.” This reader brings up a valid point. Linux is not a real-time OS in and of itself. As Vibhoosh Gupta of GE Automation & Controls noted in the original article, GE uses “Type 1 hypervisor technology to run a real-time OS, such as VxWorks, running traditional control loops alongside our PAC Edge technology operating on Linux.” [...] The Linux Foundation launched the RTL (Real Time Linux) Collaborative Project in October 2015. According to the Foundation, the project was “founded by industry experts to advance technologies for the robotics, telecom, manufacturing and medical industries. The aim of the RTL collaborative project is mainlining the PREEMPT_RT patch.” While there are plenty of mission critical applications running Linux OS with real-time extensions—as highlighted by GE, Opto and Wago—the Linux Foundation notes on its site that there remains “much work to be done.”
  • Linux Launches Deep Learning Foundation For Open Source Growth In AI
    The Linux Foundation has launched the LF Deep Learning Foundation, an umbrella organisation which will support and sustain open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. The organisation will strive to make these critical new technologies available to developers and data scientists everywhere, said a statement published by LF. Founding members of LF Deep Learning include Amdocs, AT&T, B.Yond, Baidu, Huawei, Nokia, Tech Mahindra, Tencent, Univa, and ZTE, among others. LF Deep Learning, members are working to create a neutral space where makers and sustainers of tools and infrastructure can interact and harmonise their efforts and accelerate the broad adoption of deep learning technologies.
  • OpenTracing: Distributed Tracing’s Emerging Industry Standard
    What was traditionally known as just Monitoring has clearly been going through a renaissance over the last few years. The industry as a whole is finally moving away from having Monitoring and Logging silos – something we’ve been doing and “preaching” for years – and the term Observability emerged as the new moniker for everything that encompasses any form of infrastructure and application monitoring. Microservices have been around for a over a decade under one name or another. Now often deployed in separate containers it became obvious we need a way to trace transactions through various microservice layers, from the client all the way down to queues, storage, calls to external services, etc. This created a new interest in Transaction Tracing that, although not new, has now re-emerged as the third pillar of observability.
  • There’s a Server in Every Serverless Platform [Ed: "Serverless" is a lie. It's a server. One that you do not control; one/s that control/s you. Even Swapnil finally or belatedly gets it. The LF really likes buzzwords.]
    Serverless computing or Function as a Service (FaaS) is a new buzzword created by an industry that loves to coin new terms as market dynamics change and technologies evolve. But what exactly does it mean? What is serverless computing?
  • Take the Open Source Job Survey from Dice and The Linux Foundation
    Interest in hiring open source professionals is on the rise, with more companies than ever looking for full-time hires with open source skills and experience. To gather more information about the changing landscape and opportunities for developers, administrators, managers, and other open source professionals, Dice and The Linux Foundation have partnered to produce two open source jobs surveys — designed specifically for hiring managers and industry professionals.
  • Automotive Linux Summit & OS Summit Japan Schedule Announced [Ed: "Brian Redmond, Microsoft" so you basically go to an event about Linux and must listen to a talk from a company which attacks Linux with patent blackmail, bribes etc.]

Security: Updates, GrayKey, Google and Cilium

  • Security updates for Wednesday
  • Hackers Leaked The Code Of iPhone Cracking Device “GrayKey”, Attempted Extortion
    The mysterious piece of hardware GrayKey might give a sense of happiness to cops because they can get inside most of the iPhone models currently active, including the iPhone X. The $30,000 device is known to crack a 4-digit iPhone passcode in a matter of a few hours, and a six-digit passcode in 3 days, or possibly 11 hours in ideal scenarios. That’s why security experts suggest that iOS users should keep an alphanumeric passcode instead of an all-number passcode.
  • Someone Is Trying to Extort iPhone Crackers GrayShift With Leaked Code
    Law enforcement agencies across the country are buying or have expressed interest in buying GrayKey, a device that can unlock up-to-date iPhones. But Grayshift, the company that makes the device, has attracted some other attention as well. Last week, an unknown party quietly leaked portions of GrayKey code onto the internet, and demanded over $15,000 from Grayshift—ironically, the price of an entry-level GrayKey—in order to stop publishing the material. The code itself does not appear to be particularly sensitive, but Grayshift confirmed to Motherboard the brief data leak that led to the extortion attempt.
  • It's not you, it's Big G: Sneaky spammers slip strangers spoofed spam, swamp Gmail sent files
    Google has confirmed spammers can not only send out spoofed emails that appear to have been sent by Gmail users, but said messages also appear in those users' sent mail folders. The Chocolate Factory on Monday told The Register that someone has indeed created and sent spam with forged email headers. These not only override the send address, so that it appears a legit Gmail user sent the message, but it also mysteriously shows up in that person's sent box as if they had typed it and emitted themselves. In turn, the messages would also appear in their inboxes as sent mail.
  • Cilium 1.0 Advances Container Networking With Improved Security
    For last two decades, the IPtables technology has been the cornerstone of Linux networking implementations, including new container models. On April 24, the open-source Cilium 1.0 release was launched, providing a new alternative to IPtables by using BPF (Berkeley Packet Filter), which improves both networking and security. The Cilium project's GitHub code repository defines the effort as Linux Native, HTTP Aware Network Security for Containers. Cilium development has been driven to date by stealth startup Covalent, which is led by CEO Dan Wendlandt, who well-known in the networking community for his work at VMware on software-defined networking, and CTO Thomas Graf, who is a core Linux kernel networking developer.

Applications: KStars, Kurly, Pamac, QEMU

  • KStars 2.9.5 is out!
    Autofocus module users would be happy to learn that the HFR value is now responsive to changing seeing conditions. Previously, the first successful autofocus operation would set the HFR Threshold value of which subsequent measurements are compared against during the in-sequence-focusing step.
  • Kurly – An Alternative to Most Widely Used Curl Program
    Kurly is a free open source, simple but effective, cross-platform alternative to the popular curl command-line tool. It is written in Go programming language and works in the same way as curl but only aims to offer common usage options and procedures, with emphasis on the HTTP(S) operations. In this tutorial we will learn how to install and use kurly program – an alternative to most widely used curl command in Linux.
  • Pamac – Easily Install and Manage Software on Arch Linux
    Arch Linux is one of the most popular Linux distribution available despite its apparent technicality. Its default package manager pacman is powerful but as time always tells, it is a lot easier to get certain things done using a mouse because GUI apps barely require any typing nor do they require you to remember any commands; and this is where Pamac comes in. Pamac is a Gtk3 frontend for libalpm and it is the GUI tool that Arch Linux users turn to the most when they aren’t in the mood to manage their software packages via the terminal; and who can blame them? It was specifically created to be used with Pacman.
  • QEMU 2.12 Released With RISC-V, Spectre/Meltdown & Intel vGPU Action
    QEMU 2.12 is now officially available as the latest stable feature update to this important component to the open-source Linux virtualization stack.