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Mutagenix 2.6.14.2-1 Reviewed

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Mutagenix has always been one of Tuxmachines favorite pet projects and when they released version 2.6.14.2, we just had to take a look. Mutagenix is a "mutation" of slackware and the linux-live livecd technology in an effort to bring to the world one of the fastest safest livecds available. Actually, the site describes it as, "A dynamic and mutable variant of Linux; Any one of several LiveCDs based on Slackware and Linux-Live." They say "any one of LiveCDs" because they offer several versions, one featuring KDE, one with freerock gnome and one Base Slackware Rescue. We took at look at the KDE version today.

Our first test of Mutagenix back in May found a wonderfully stable and reliable system, if a little plain to look at. By the next release they had revamped the look quite a bit. And now Mutagenix is not only a very useful rescue system, it looks beautiful doing it.

Some features of Mutagenix include:

  • Multiple CDs to choose from

  • Starts automatically as a dhcp client
  • Integrated Firewall
  • Slapt-get
  • Ext2 partitioned USB keys can be mounted as your home dir
  • An xorg.conf on the mounted USB key can be used
  • Mutagenix Themes Smile

Some features of 2.6.14.2-1 include:

  • Supports SATA, SCSI and IDE drives

  • Mucho improved installer! (mutagenix_installer.sh)
  • Xmule P2P program
  • Kernel 2.6.14.2
  • Full Changelog

LiveCD

That was what filled my thoughts upon first boot of 2.6.14.2, how great it looks now. It features a very attractive gradient wallpaper starting from a darker green moving to a lighter shade and featuring the unique Mutagenix logo in the lower right corner. It is the background used for kdm as well as the desktop. They've utilize a really pretty icons set, which were the subject of my second thought = I've got to get those icons! All over you can see the continuity and detail.

        


Beneath the skin lurks the heart of a giant. Mutagenix is based on the King of the Kings: Slackware. This makes for a wonderful computing experience for the user with the added convenience of hardware configuration, firewall implimentation, samba activation and including many useful applications. Aside from the full KDE environment, one can find things like gimp, firefox, gaim, xchat and audacity. Well, if audacity works for you. I had problems with audacity, Xmule, and gparted not opening/starting here. Other than that, all applications seemed to function properly.

    


Mutagenix names its releases based up the kernel version, as in this case, it's Mutagenix 2.6.14.2-1. This is a cool idea in that you know what you're getting before boot. So, obviously Mutagenix 2.6.14.2-1 features Linux-2.6.14.2. The KDE version is a late KDE 3.5 beta. So all the wonderful new features of 3.5 and the same great stability of KDE can be yours as well as KOffice office suite. Xorg is 6.8.2 and gcc 3.3.6 is installable thru slapt-get.

        


Harddrive Install

Mutagenix is harddrive installable by means of a shell script. When run it first opens a slackware-like ascii configuration. It only asks a few questions: (a) which partition, (Cool format it? (c) Install method (livecd is only option here), (d) Bootloader (lilo or none), (e) are you sure? It warns it can take a while, but mine only took about 20 minutes the first time.

Yes, you read that right - the first time.

The instructions for the harddrive install are simple,

"USE:
It is recommended that first drop down to single user mode.
The installer will work in runlevel 3 or 4, but it may lock up the system as well.
# init 1
Log back in

Use fdisk to partition your drives if not already partitioned. (man fdisk)

Using df, ensure you have a partition available for installation. (man df)
(for a GNOME or KDE install, ensure you have at least 2GB available)
Make sure that partition is mounted. (man mount)

RUNNING:
On the command line, execute: mutagenix_installer.sh
A menu will start. Select the appropriate options from each menu."

But it doesn't mention that one should use ext3 filesystem as opposed to reiserfs. I found out the hard way. Trying to make an initrd failed and I was left to try a second attempt.

The second attempt failed as well because using the 'installer' to format the partition caused the system to be installed into ramfs until it ran out of space. It appears the 'installer' doesn't remount the partition after format.

My third attempt finally got it right. I was given a nice stable fast system to enjoy. Slapt-get runs really well with repositories already configured. The fonts are nice even using vesa graphic drivers and performance is well above average.

So, if you want to install Mutagenix, be sure to pre-prepare your partition. Partition your hard drive and format it ext3 before firing up the mutagenix_installer.sh. Hopefully these little glitches will be worked out in future releases or support for the major filesystems will be built into the kernel instead of using modules to be loaded by initrd.

gSlapt-get is one of the reasons Mutagenix is so appealing. It is a front-end to the package manager slapt-get designed after synaptic/apt-get. It looks and functions in very much the same manner. Mutagenix comes with package repositories already configured, so all one really has to do is update the database, search for and mark packages, and click execute to install whatever desired. I tested gslapt-get installing gcc and xine-gui. It worked quickly and without any trouble. It even puts an entry in the menu for easy launching and the installed xine played mpegs and avis with no problem. It appears that one will have to track down and install their own java and flash however. A list of what apt-get reports installed is HERE and what it reports available is HERE.

        


        


Also included on the Mutagenix KDE-version cd is the xfce4 desktop. I assume it's available on the gnome version as well. It's just your basic default, but complete, xfce4. It functioned marvelously as well. It makes for a great alternative to either of the biggies - A superior choice.

        


Conclusion

I've always liked Mutagenix because it is primarily based on slackware and adds some really nice packages and utilities to top it off. It's always been fast and stable and it just gets better looking each release. The installer isn't really overly newbie-friendly, but it doesn't take a computer scientist either, just a little bit of previous experience. The resulting system is a stupendous pleasure to operate. You can download your copy from HERE and I have posted some more screenshots HERE.

    


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