Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Sidux 2007-03.1 "Gaia": A closer look

Filed under
Reviews

(Note: gfranken beat me to it. Wink )


Some Background

Debian is one of the oldest, best-known Linux distributions, due to its excellent package management system and its huge pool of pre-compiled software for a large number of architectures. Many other popular distributions (most notably, Ubuntu) are based on it.

You may recall that Debian's releases are named after characters from the Disney film Toy Story; thus the previous stable release was named "Sarge," and the current release, "Etch."

Debian has three branches, or "suites," if you will, of software. New packages enter the "unstable" branch (a.k.a. "Debian Sid," after the Toy Story character who liked to mangle toys). After a period of testing, packages then go into the "testing" branch (currently named "Lenny," which will also be the name of the next stable version). The third, "stable" branch is what's in the current stable release, Debian Etch, and its software won't change except for periodic bug fixes and security updates. (Unlike stable and testing, Debian Sid never changes names.) Although it's got a reputation for having a long, irregular release cycle (one of the main criticisms of Debian), its developers update it with new versions of software all the time. But you usually have to run Sid or testing to get them.

Debian Sid is usually not as unstable as you might think, despite the way the Debian Reference guide puts it: "The advantage of using the unstable distribution is that you are always up-to-date with the latest in the Debian software project – but if it breaks, you get to keep both parts." Unless you're able to deal with such esoteric problems as diagnosing a buggy post-install script, or figuring out how to deal with a major change in the directory structure of X.org, you might occasionally find running a Debian Sid-based system to be more than you can handle. And that's where Sidux comes in.

(In fact, the reason Sidux came out with version 2007-03.1 is due to one of those "bumps" in Sid.)


Introducing Sidux

Sidux's goal is to allow mere mortals the ability to run Debian Sid on the desktop, in order to take advantage of the latest Debian software available. Its development team helps guide its users through the occasional bumps in Sid, via IRC and its user forum. Another goal is to offer a consistent release cycle. Sidux comes with a variety of "convenience scripts" and utilities you won't find in Debian proper, that make it easier to do such things as administer your system and install proprietary software.

The Sidux CDs (which come in "lite" and "full" versions for 32-bit and 64-bit platforms) only includes software that meets the Debian Free Software Guidelines (and, as far as I can tell, German law comes into play as well, since so many of Sidux's developers are German). This means that you won't find such software as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, mplayer, Microsft web fonts, or multimedia codecs (including the deCSS codec allows you to play commercial DVDs) on the Sidux CDs. (Also, Sidux only ships with KDE by default.)

Sidux's insistence on DFSG-only software carries over to the repositories enabled by default in /etc/apt/sources.list. You will normally need to add the "contrib" and "non-free" sections manually (although a custom script named "smxi" will do that for you; as will the "metapackage installer" in the "Sidux" menu — read on for more details).

Sidux is packaged as a live CD with a GUI-based installer. It offers a comprehensive user manual, available online and included on the live CD. Unlike Ubuntu, Sidux doesn't shy away from the command line. As with Debian itself, the scripts it offers for your convenience are often command line-based.


Sidux's user manual


Running Sidux

I tested Sidux in live mode on my Presario V2000 laptop, which has an ATI chipset. Sidux booted up using the open-source radeon driver. It didn't configure itself for my widescreen (1280x768) display. Although I could change that using KDE's "Screen resize & rotate" utility, it left too many screen artifacts behind. I used a Sidux "convenience script" named "change-res" to do it for me, and restarted X.

Getting on the network might have been easy if I'd simply plugged in an Ethernet cable, but I wanted to test wireless connectivity. The odd thing is that a kernel module for my Broadcom BCM4318 chipset comes with this kernel, but it doesn't work out of the box. If I'd plugged in an Ethernet cable, I could have installed the "bcm43xx-cutter" utility, which in turn installs more software, and enables the existing bcm43xx kernel module to work.

I decided to use ndiswrapper instead, since I had the Windows drivers for my chipset saved on another partition. But in order to use ndiswrapper, you have to remove the pre-existing bcm43xx kernel module (with "rmmod bcm43xx") before starting. Sidux includes GUI-based utilities to set up ndiswrapper and connect via DHCP, but for some reason they didn't work for me. The tried-and-true command line method ultimately got me online.

Installing the proprietary ATI driver while running the live CD was a simple matter of going to a console with Ctrl-Alt-F1 and running another of Sidux's convenience scripts, "sgfxi," as root. It correctly detected my graphics chipset (it works with NVIDIA cards as well), installed the correct driver, and restarted KDE.

I installed Sidux to a spare partition on my rather low-end AMD Sempron 2200+ test box, which has an NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX 440 graphics card. After installation, everything worked fine. The only "gotcha" came when I used another Sidux script named "get-sidux-binary-gfx" to install the proprietary NVIDIA driver. I probably didn't use the correct script option, because it installed the newest (100.14.11) driver, which doesn't work with my legacy card. However, using the aforementioned "sgfxi" script instead did install the correct driver.

 

Sidux's installer (more screenshots of the installer are available in the gallery)

Sidux doesn't come with the Synaptic package manager or many games, but it's certainly easy enough to do from the command line with "apt-get".

Some of the more interesting software that comes with Sidux includes:

  • Custom kernel 2.6.22.3-rc1-slh-smp-2
  • Mozilla Firefox (or, as Debian dubs it, Iceweasel) 2.0.0.6
  • PDFedit 0.3.1
  • OpenOffice.org 2.2.1
  • The GIMP 2.2.17
  • WengoPhone 2.1.1

In addition, Sidux comes with a digital video recorder configurator; several custom utilities that live in the KDE control panel, collectively known as "siduxcc," that allow the user to perform common system administration tasks; and quite a few scripts to help the user administer his or her system. The "daddy" of them all is named "smxi," which will take you through everything from the installation of a new kernel, to upgrading your system, to changing your default repositories and installing particular groups of software, to installing proprietary video drivers. It's quite the Swiss army knife of scripts.


"siduxcc" custom administration utilities

Sidux includes a "metapackage installer," along with a manual to go with it, that allows a user to install popular software without having to spend a lot of time hunting it down. The metapackage installer can also adjust your Debian repository list to include the "contrib" and "non-free" pools, so you don't have to edit "sources.list" manually. Sidux also includes an update notifier (named "siduxcc-hermes") that sits in the system tray, and lets you know, among other things, when there are new packages available.

   

Sidux's metapackage installer and update notifier

For those who like eye candy, a Sidux contributor's set up a Beryl and Compiz Fusion repository.


Beryl running on Sidux

Beyond that, the Sidux manual and the Sidux wiki include quite a bit of information for specialized needs, including instructions on how to set up LAMP, how to use encrypted filesystems, and how to set up anonymous Internet access.


In Conclusion

For those who have no prior experience with Debian, Sidux offers an easy way to get a working system installed quickly, due to its excellent hardware detection. The Debian learning curve might be steep, but is lessened by the excellent documentation and added scripts. Be advised that Debian beginners will be expected to "RTFM" (including searching the forum for answers — the forums, in my opinion, can sometimes exhibit a brusque, "pull no punches" attitude).

Sidux is turning out to be a well-supported, stable system. It's obvious that its contributors have done a huge amount of work, producing a lot of useful documentation and customized scripts and utilities in a relatively short amount of time. Anyone wanting to run Debian Sid should take a close look at Sidux.




Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Nice review

Nice job--you had to "one-up" me, but I'm glad you did--your review gives folks some real insight into Sidux. Wish I'd had the benefit of reading your review before I tried it.

Oh well, as I said, it was my first real foray with a Debian derived distro.

Regards,
Gary

Thanks

I wasn't trying to one-up you, really. Smile I started writing that three days ago. The original title was going to be, "Debian Sid Made Easy." (It's been too long since I've contributed something...)

Anyway, the interesting thing about Sidux is, the more you play with it, the more you discover. They've added a lot to it. Call it "Enhanced Debian."

sidux

Both are good reviews. sidux is a special distro. It allows a near novice to run Debian Sid and that is no small feat. I have Etch running on my main box with sidux on another box. It's fun to compare performance. The sidux developers have done such a good job that sidux is almost as stable as Etch and Etch is a rock!

Edit: sidux has the most up-to-date hardware drivers. I recently purchased a new mobo. Etch wouldn't recognize the on-board ethernet adapter but sidux did.

Excellent review

Great to see a decent review,I have found sidux stable and fast,"smxi" is brilliant,Gaia is excellent, well worth the d/load,Any Q the Sidux irc forum is most helpfull,Smile

new to linux/sidux ?

then be weary..I know someone who was in their IRC channel, and while maybe ? that 'forum' can be more hostile I dont think she deserved what she got..she asked a question about her USB device that could not be read and while I wasn't there I felt that what she 'showed me' of her logs seemed void of a helpful nature, but insteads seemed a bit scolding that she should have known what to do if she had maybe done her 'homework'.

Her main Operating System is vista so I guess she should have known better than to expect linux/sidux to just magicallly 'work' for what she was doing, but honestly I guess what she learned yesterday, was that Sidux indeed isn't ready for USB ( amoung other things; I think she liked what she was hearing from what she said was the distrowatch interview ).

She feels she wasted her time installing it and now must find something else. She once liked gnome but says she wont go anywhere near it because of what friends tell her is a dangerous move by gnome to embrace mono project and the apps that come from that development platform; hence she wont use Ubuntu and why she thought Sidux with kde sounded enticing, but now that is up in smoke for her due to the treatment she received by the IRC team.

Way to go Sidux for yet another venture into the linux is only for geeks spectacular.

cu
lee

Re: new to linux/sidux ?

I haven't spent any time with the Sidux support folks--but Sidux is really an intermediate distro--easier than Debian, certainly, but not really a newbie distro.

If your friend is looking for the perfect linux KDE distro for one new to linux, I'd recommend PCLinuxOS. Not only is installing and using PCLOS turnkey, it has a friendly and helpful community. It also has a large repository of installable packages, and generally, everything just works.

Debian is one of the oldest,

Debian is one of the oldest, best-known Linux distributions, due to its excellent package management system and its huge pool of pre-compiled software for a large number of architectures. Many other popular distributions (most notably, Ubuntu) are based on it.

You may recall that Debian's releases are named after characters from the Disney film Toy Story; thus the previous stable release was named "Sarge," and the current release, "Etch."

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: GNOME/GTK, Android-x86, Fedora, LibreOffice and More

  • g_array_steal() and g_ptr_array_steal() in GLib 2.63.1

    Another set of new APIs in the upcoming GLib 2.63.1 release allow you to steal all the contents of a GArray, GPtrArray or GByteArray, and continue using the array container to add more contents to in future. This is work by Paolo Bonzini and Emmanuel Fleury, and will be available in the soon-to-be-released 2.63.1 release.

  • GNOME Shell Hackfest 2019

    This week, I have attended the GNOME Shell Hackfest 2019 held in Leidschendam, The Netherlands. It was a fantastic event, in a fantastic city! The list of attendees was composed of key members of the community, so we managed to get a lot done — a high amount of achievements for only three days of hackfest, in fact.

  • Android-x86: Run Android on your PC: Release Note 7.1-r3

    The Android-x86 project is glad to announce the release of 7.1-r3. This is the third stable release for Android-x86 7.1 (nougat-x86). The prebuilt images are available in the following site as usual: https://www.fosshub.com/Android-x86-old.html https://osdn.net/rel/android-x86/Release%207.1 Key Features The 7.1-r3 is mainly a bugfixes release of 7.1-r2. It based on Android 7.1.2 Nougat MR2 security updates (android-7.1.2_r39). Some newer features are also back-ported from 8.1 release. We encourage users of 7.1-r2 or older release upgrade to this release.

  • David Cantrell: rpminspect-0.8 released (and a new rpminspect-data-fedora)

    Work on the test suite continues with rpminspect and it is finding a lot of corner-case type runtime scenarios. Fixing those up in the code is nice. I welcome contributions to the test suite. You can look at the tests/test_*.py files to see what I'm doing and then work through one inspection and do the different types of checks. Look in the lib/inspect_NAME.c file and for all of the add_result() calls to figure out what tests should exist in the test suite. If this is confusing, feel free to reach out via email or another means and I can provide you with a list for an inspection.

  • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-42

    Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week. Fedora 31 was declared No-Go. We are currently under the Final freeze. I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

  • New Feature in Libreoffice: Full-Sheet Previews

    The feature was developed on the cp-6.2 branch of LibreOffice code-base (which is basicly Collabora Office 6.2), and is already available in Collabora Office snaphots. And is being backported to LibreOffice master, so it will be also available in LibreOffice development builds and soon in the Collabora Office snapshots.

  • Rooting for ZFS | TechSNAP 414

    We dive into Ubuntu 19.10’s experimental ZFS installer and share our tips for making the most of ZFS on root. Plus why you may want to skip Nest Wifi, and our latest explorations of long range wireless protocols.

  • 2019-10-18 | Linux Headlines

    Researchers discover a kernel bug that can crash Linux devices, Fedora 31’s release date slips, Cedalo opens up its Streamsheets code, Google announces the Android NDK 21 beta, and Unix turns 50.

  • Google Launches A Refreshed Pixelbook Laptop At $649

    Say hello to a more affordable Chromebook that's lightweight and more fun to type on.

Proprietary Software, Games, Patent Traps/Tax and Openwashing

  • Adobe Announces Plan To Essentially Steal Money From Venezuelans Because It 'Has To' Due To US Sanctions

    Adobe has long had a history of questionable behavior, when it comes to the rights of its customers, and how the public is informed on all things Adobe. With the constant hammering on the concept that software it sells is licensed rather than purchased, not to mention with the move to more SaaS and cloud-based software, the company is, frankly, one of the pack leaders in consumers not actually owning what they bought.

  • Fantasy tactical RPG Wildermyth blends a mix of hand-painted 2D and 3D art & arrives on Steam soon

    With character art during the turn-based battles that look like paper cutouts in a 3D environment, Wildermyth certainly has a strange and lovely charm to it. Currently available on itch.io where users have been testing it for some time, Worldwalker Games have now announced that their character-driven tactical RPG will enter Early Access on Steam on November 13. In Wildermyth, your party will be tasked with defending the lands from various threats, switching between the turn-based combat and making decisions on the over-world map. It has choice-based comic-styled events, which can end up changing your heroes' appearance, personalities, relationships, and abilities.

  • Paragon Looks To Upstream Their Microsoft exFAT Driver For The Linux Kernel

    With the upcoming Linux 5.4 kernel release there is now an exFAT file-system driver based on an old Samsung code drop of their exFAT driver support for mobile devices. This comes after Microsoft made the exFAT specification public recently and gave their blessing for a native Linux driver for the file-system. The Linux developers acknowledge though the current exFAT code is "horrible" and a "pile of crap" but is within the staging area. So in Linux 5.4's staging is this preliminary read-write driver for exFAT that continues to be cleaned up and further improved upon. Meanwhile there is also another out-of-tree exFAT Linux driver based on Samsung's sdFAT code that is said to be in better shape than the mainline code. But now there's another option with Paragon Software wanting to upstream their own exFAT driver into the Linux kernel.

  • VMware’s Joe Beda: Enterprise Open Source Is Growing [Ed: “Enterprise Open Source” means proprietary software and openwashing for marketing purposes]

    One of the fathers of Kubernetes says enterprise customers see the most benefit from the community-driven approach because their users get the opportunity to influence the direction development takes.

Linux Devices/Open Hardware

  • Site.js and Pi

    Chatting about Pi, on a Pi, with a chat server running on Site.js on the same Pi.

  • This MicroATX Motherboard is Based on Phytium FT2000/4 Arm Desktop SoC @ 3.0 GHz
  • Rikomagic R6 Review – Part 1: Android Mini Projector’s Unboxing and First Boot

    Rikomagic R6 is a mini Android projector that looks like a vintage radio, or depending on your point of view a mini vintage television.

  • Brief on Behalf of Amicus Curiae Open Source Hardware Association in Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., No. 18-2214 (Fed. Cir.)

    Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc. is a case of first impression for the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The question on appeal is whether a design patent’s scope is tied to the article of manufacture disclosed in the patent. In this amicus brief, the Open Source Hardware Association (“OSHWA”) explains the potential effects on open source hardware development, and design practice generally, of untethering design patent protection from the article of manufacture disclosed in the patent. A large percentage of open-source hardware combines both ornamental and functional elements, and industrial design routinely involves applying design concepts from disparate fields in novel ways. To engage in this practice, open-source hardware designers need to know the universe of available source material and its limits. Further, understanding the licensing requirements of open-source hardware begins with understanding how the elements that make up that hardware may or may not be protected by existing law. Accordingly, while many creators of open-source hardware do not seek patent protection for their own creations, an understandable scope of design patent protection is nonetheless essential to their ability to collaborate with other innovators and innovate lawfully. The brief argues that the District Court in the case—and every district court that has considered the issue—correctly anchored the patented design to the article of manufacture when construing the patent. The brief explains that anchoring the patented design to the disclosed article of manufacture is the best approach, for several reasons. Connecting the patented design to the disclosed article of manufacture calibrates the scope of design patent protection to the patentee’s contribution over the prior art. It avoids encumbering the novel and nonobvious application of prior designs to new articles of manufacture, a fundamental and inventive practice of industrial design. It aligns the scope of design patent protection with its purpose: encouraging the inventive application of a design to an article of manufacture. This balances protection for innovative designs with later innovators’ interest in developing future designs. Finally, anchoring the patented design to the disclosed article of manufacture helps fulfill design patent law’s notice function by clarifying the scope of protection.

Graphics: Gallium3D and AMDGPU

  • Gallium3D's Mesa State Tracker Sees "Mega Cleanup" For NIR In Mesa 19.3

    AMD developer Marek Olšák has landed a "mega cleanup" to the Gallium3D Mesa state tracker code around its NIR intermediate representation handling. As part of getting the NIR support in good enough shape for default usage by the RadeonSI driver, Marek has been working on a number of clean-ups involving the common Gallium / Mesa state tracker code for NIR.

  • AMDGPU DC Looks To Have PSR Squared Away - Power-Savings For Newer AMD Laptops

    It looks like as soon as Linux 5.5 is where the AMDGPU kernel driver could be ready with Panel Self Refresh (PSR) support for enabling this power-savings feature on newer AMD laptops. While Intel's Linux driver stack has been supporting Panel Self Refresh for years, the AMD support in their open-source Linux driver code has been a long time coming. We've seen them working towards the support since Raven Ridge and now it appears the groundwork has been laid and they are ready to flip it on within the Display Core "DC" code.