Saturday, September 29, 2007

Review: Shift Linux 0.5 - Neowin's Linux

I've been a linux user for 10+ years and have contributed a lot of code and bug reports to different distros (distributions) over time. Just lately, I heard about a new distro over at called ShiftLinux. It is a community effort from Neowin users to create a Linux distribution... And as soon as I heard, I wondered why another distribution? But soon realized, more people coming to the Linux world, would mean a better future for Linux.

From the Shift Linux website:
Neowin's Shift Linux is designed to give the user an experience of being part of the Neowin community as well as having a simple, easy-to-use Live CD that can be installed to your hard drive, if you enjoy the way our distribution works. Shift is a free, GPL-based Linux distribution that can be freely distributed or modified. There are no restrictions with Shift.
Shift Linux 0.5 (RC-2) includes three fully branded versions: KDE, Gnome, and Flux, all Live CDs. Included in this version are most of the most popular packages to include wireless support and a desktop installer. In addition, we have newly created packages such as:

  1. k3b (All Versions)
  2. Rhythmbox (All versions)
  3. Bluetooth Support (All versions)
  4. HP Printer Drivers (All versions)
  5. Power management and laptop detection (All versions)
  6. NTFS Read/Write support (All versions)
  7. Envy (All versions)
  8. New branding!
  9. Extremely fast...You'll forget it's a CD in 5 minutes.

Based on Morphix Linux, Shift is Debian based and I decided to try the latest ShiftLinux 0.5 RC2. Most stuff are going to be the same between this one and 0.5 Final to be released on 10th Nov,2007. I prefer to use KDE, and hence got the KDE version. The distro can be downloaded from Neowin's server or via Bittorrent. I used Bittorrent to download but to my dissapointment, found only 2 seeds. I was expecting a few more seeds (it's a yr old, so may be the initial excitement is over). But the download was pretty fast.

List of apps that non-KDE:
  1. Office: Gnumeric Spreadsheet, AbiWord Word Processor
  2. Multimedia: Audacity, Rhythmbox, VLC Player, XMMS, Xine
  3. Internet: Gaim Messenger, Icedove, Iceweasel, XChat
  4. Graphics: GIMP, Kooka Scan & OCR, XSane, xpdf
  5. Others: Python 2.4, Synaptic, Apt. For people with graphic cards, ShiftLinux uses Ubuntu's Envy Script for ATI and nVidia Graphics Driver.
Burned a CD and booted... Here is what the branding looks like (click on the images to see a larger version)

Shift Linux's Boot ScreenShift Linux Desktop
It boots to a nice looking screen and a ShiftLinux wallpaper. May be some info on those "2 arrows" from the logo would have been great since we aren't very familiar with this distro!! ShiftLinux uses a truly free, Firefox modified, IceWeasel browser. Uses Icedove as the mail client. Thus, ShiftLinux truly adheres to the "completely free" ideology of Debian!!

Shift Linux's BrowserShift Linux's HDD Installer
The LiveCD for ShiftLinux is excellent. Its Fast, Light & Zippy, Good Looking. Its quite fast and really doesn't feel like a LiveCD when running. Internet connection was working fine and so was my HP printer. But it seems so much like Morphix and I couldn't stop asking myself, is it Morphix-2 or ShiftLinux. The developers from Neowin have really not changed much...

Below you can see, streaming from another machine to VLC, running from ShiftLinux LiveCD... it was smooth, not a single stutter!! Happy with the LiveCD's performance, I thought to try the HDD install. There is a nice shortcut on the desktop and is simple for even newbies. Not much configuration to do other than the partitioner GUI. 1682Mb total on HDD. After the copying is completed, I created user accounts which was Step 6. But after that, it wouldn't show step 7 and the installer closes on its own. Tried booting from the HDD, but nothing happens. The HDD install needs some more work... ShiftLinux is still under heavy development and needs a lot of work, but the LiveCD rocks!!

Shift Linux's HDD File CopyShift Linux's VLC from Streaming


Simplicity and a great LiveCD are best points of ShiftLinux. But more than a year later, is it what the developers were expecting? Isn't yet comparable to other distros, but shows promise. May be a DVD-version will be released sometime like other distros. Another question comes to mind, if using a more popular PCLinuxOS would have been better compared to Morphix?

Good Points:
Fast, Easy and Neowin. Community Developed. LiveCD+Installable.
Could be improved: Better branding, Integration, Few Bug Fixes, HDD installer kept crashing, Some more Wallpapers, Themes, Icons related to neowin.

PS: is not a windows-user community like other reviewers have mentioned here. Users on the forum are highly technical, friendly and fun. The users are using Mac, Windows, Linux etc. and come from varied background.

1 comment:

Yanto said...

What most important to me in using Linux is Live Cd, fast and complete hardware drivers. I hope this one is also good in hardware drivers. Thanks for sharing.