I've been a bit intrigued since first hearing of Ubuntu Christian Edition. I had previously downloaded version 1.0, but didn't get around to testing it. I hadn't deleted it yet in hopes I'd find the time to review it. So, when 1.2 was recently released, I thought here was my chance. But after testing it, I'm left scratching my head.
The version I downloaded was the livecd version linked to by Distrowatch in the announcement. I had a bit of trouble with the X server and it took some manual fiddling by me to get into the gui. Have no fear, I was able to do it. But what I found was a bit disappointing.
I'm not sure if I was expecting a crucifixion scene on the wallpaper, perhaps little fishies for icons (you know those little emblems in the shape of fish that folks stick on the trunk of their cars?), What Linux Would Jesus Run bash prompt, or what. But all we get is a very Ubuntu-like wallpaper with the words Ubuntu Christian Edition embossed.
In the menus we find a small selection of applications including OpenOffice 2.0(.2?). Some others include GnuCash, Evolution, Gaim, xsane, Totem, Serpentine, Sound Juicer, Firefox, and some accessories like gedit and a calculator. All applications were found functional and well behaved (I mean other than the movie player not actually being able to play any movies).
Also found was Automatix. This seems like a nice application. It appears it is a software installer. Upon clicking the menu entry, it opens in a terminal and updates an apt sources.list. After a warning about some video codec being against the law in the US and some instructions to run winecfg if installing wine, it then opens a gui software selector. Click on your desired application and it downloads and installs same. It seems to work pretty good, but it also appears to just be a simple front-end to apt-get. It's nice to have all available software presented in a list view from which to choose though. After the first run, it asks if you want to use the Automatix sources.list or the default Ubuntu. All in all, fairly neato.
Christian Edition also comes with Ubuntu's hard drive installer. It's identical to the one found in Ubuntu with no changes at all. If you haven't seen it, it's a basic gui that walks you through a few very simple configuration steps and installs xUbuntu. I'd forgotten that it overwrites my bootloader in mbr with grub without asking or warning. grrrr.
So far we haven't seen anything distinguishing this distribution from Ubuntu Ubuntu Edition other than the wallpaper. In the menu we find two entries that might be considered within the realm of a christian field. First we have an entry for a script that reveals a daily scripture verse in a terminal and secondly we find the application gnomesword. Within gnomesword we find several nice modules included. Some of these are 3 English Bible versions: Douay-Rheims Bible, King James Version, and the World English Bible; and one Spanish. We find Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary and Nave's Topical Bible dictionary as well. I much prefer the Strong's Exhaustive Condordance and Smith's Bible Dictionary myself to either of those, but to each his own I reckon.
And that's it my friends. I can't see how a wallpaper, a script, and one app can warrant a whole separate distribution, but there ya go. (I guess it's three apps - should we count automatix and gnucash too?) It worked well and performance of the system in general was above average. It works good, I just can't see the point of a whole distribution for this. Why didn't they just send in the two packages for inclusion in Ubuntu's software repository?