Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dream Linux 2.2 XGL Review

Installation for Dream Linux has to be the simplest installer I've ever seen. You boot from the live cd like many other distros. Although they don't have an install icon on the desktop, you just select "system" and "Dream Linux installer" from the main menu at the top. The complete install is done from ONE dialog. Enter root's password, the user name you want and their password, set up the partitions, and select options for the boot menu. There's also access to qparted and cfdisk if you need that functionality. Once you've got all your settings done there, you just click install and you're done until it asks you to reboot to use the installed version.

A very cool option of the live cd is that you can install or remove software and customize it to your liking, and then use the "mkdistro easy live remaster" to make your own custom live cd's. Although I didn't test this option, it looks like it would be a snap to do it.

I was very surprised to see how nice the desktop looked, knowing that it uses xfce. Typically distros that use this desktop look like a flash-back to the 90's or something. Their graphics are very professional and polished. They customized the whole desktop to more or less mimic the Mac. Personally, I preferred using the "default" window manager theme instead of the Dream-Milk-XFCE that was in use after installing.

Dream Linux includes an "Easy Install" program for a very limited number of programs. This basically makes it a one click deal to install Skype, Opera, Google Earth, Azureus, NVU, Picasa, Adobe Acrobat, Down Tube (download youtube videos), last fm, and the ATI or Nvidia Drivers. It seems to me like the easy install feature would be a lot more useful if they had a large repository of software instead of being so limited. Aslo, they don't show a progress bar as your software is downloading. You'll just have to guess how far it's gotten.

The Nvidia driver install didn't work on my system. I suspect it's because I have a newer Nvidia card, the 8600GT. Typically I have to download the driver directly from Nvidia and install it manually. Because of this, and a limited amount of time, I didn't get a chance to test the 3D features. The 3D features usually seem to be pretty standard across distros, so I also didn't feel the need to test them on this one.

By default, there is a menu editor in Dream Linux, which seemed like it was intuitive and easy to use.

Although I'm testing this on a desktop and don't have wireless, I noticed they have a wireless drivers install program. Clicking on the wireless driver installation prompts for an .inf file, indicating to me that it takes care of the ndis wrapper install along with the windows driver.

An interesting feature that they include is an "upgrade assistant". Evidently, this saves all your desktop and graphical settings so, after an upgrade, you can restore all the settings that you have customized. I don't know how useful this would be in practice, but it sounds cool.

For being a mulitimedia focused distro, it didn't seem to have many codecs pre-installed. It did play mp3 with no further config, but avi files and dvd's wouldn't play. And there was no easy install option for those codecs. I'm sure I could have installed them easy enough though, since it's a Debian based distro. On that note, I still saw quite a few debian logos that they need to remove and replace with their own, to be their own distro.

Being an xfce based desktop, there was no built in support to browse samba shares. I use a linkstation to store all my music and share it on the network. But I soon discovered the LinNeighborhood tool which browses networks. My linkstation didn't show up automatically, but once I put in the IP, I was able to find it without any problem. It also gave me the option to mount it to a local folder, which now made it possible for me to play my music. The LinNeighborhood looked completely out of place with it's 90's style graphics and fonts, but the funcionality was excellent.

Overall, Dream Linux seems like a very useable distro. It could use a little more polish in places, and some funcionality enhancements as well, but I like it. I'd say they have a bright future ahead of them. And, I wish other distros had the attention to detail and polish of graphics that this distro has.


Anonymous said...

Anyone knows how to do a 'frugal install' of DreamLinux 2.2 XGL? Is this possible?

Happy Linux Guy said...

I don't think it's possible.

nick said...

noob's view on dreamlinux 2.2

by default the alsa config does not work. when u click "ok" there'll be no response. so one must do apt-get update first. (sound card still not detected though)

during installation, u can't type "root" as username, or you will not be able to login the GUI login screen. there's no warning during the installation. (however install was quick, re-doing it was no problem)

sometimes, behind certain dsl routers like mine, firefox can't resolve any domain. so, do about:config in firefox and disable network..IPV6 something.

and if u get address when doing apt-get update, u have to use static address and DNS.

it detected my xerox docuprint 203A usb printer. but after trying many options and googles, Brother HL 2040 driver worked for me. CUPS server is not enabled for auto startup.

the APT-GET program works like charm. never been so easy installing debian packages.i wanted dosbox. so , using the program to search for dosbox, i just highlight the search result, and click install.

though they need to stop "programs" to be called packages, as it will confuse any new users.

so, dreamlinux or any linux distro is "almost" there in order to reach newbies.

i only last used linux 8 years ago, slakware 2.something