Linked by Matt Lacey on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 02:56 UTC
Linux Vector Linux is a distribution based on the oldest Linux distribution available today - Slackware. It comes in two flavours - a freely downloadable ISO 'lite' version (which I used for this review) and a Deluxe CD edition which can be ordered from The deluxe edition includes extras such as Gnome and KDE, as well as a whole pile of extra software.
Order by: Score:
Bad marketing
by ThanatosNL on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 03:16 UTC

If having Gnome and KDE installed for you is deemed worthy of charging money on top of the basic installation, doesn't that imply that installing software is difficult or painful enough to have it done for you?

In my opinion, Vector Linux is a good product, and it's userbase is really happy. They could get away with charging for "vanilla" cds, along with tech support, as a way to promote development.

Even if such a business model doesn't work for other distributions, I can't imagine bundling KDE and Gnome working and asking folks to buy cds and providing support wouldn't. There's no more incentive in the former case than in the latter.

Again what were your system specs !
by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 03:20 UTC

People need this information. There is a big differrence between fast on a 400 mhz p2 and fast on a 1.2 ghz AMD proccesor.

RE. Specs
by davet on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 03:38 UTC

The previous vector 3.2 was the quickest and most stable I've tried
on my 1700xp bar none.If they ever get a good installer they'll have
a cracker of a distro.

Specs / KDE + GNOME installation
by LPH on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 03:49 UTC

I've run this distribution on a PII 266 with 64 MB RAM up to an AMD XP 1500+ with 256 MB RAM. Speed is fine in Fluxbox, IceWM, and XFce. Dropline-gnome was easily installed for the faster machines as well as many other packages using swaret.

by gfx on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 03:53 UTC

It's a linux.

It's faster because it doesn't load all the services
you might want (httpd, mysqld) at startup and the desktop is
quick because it gives you the choice of some lightweight wm
(icewm, fluxbox or xcfe (an older one not 4.0 yet)
kde and gnome are a bit heavier.

My wish for a linux distro is next years debian now :-)
just apt-get something new and hope that it doesn't break.

about the speed
by adamruck on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 05:23 UTC

I think there is more to it then just not loading services, I used to have redhat and I installed enlightenment and turned off all of the services(maybe exept for like ssh), and was very slow compared to VL

RE: about the speed
by Eugenia on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 05:30 UTC

I have both Fedora and Slackware installed on the same 1.4 Ghz machine. Slackware feels much faster than RHL (and VL is slackware-based) in almost everything. Boots way faster, shuts down faster, apps loading faster (especially the kde ones)... I still like Fedora as it has other advantages (e.g. pref panels for almost everything, more available binaries), however my main linux (when I feel like using linux) continues to be Slackware, as of 2 months ago.

Need help with formating and setup.
by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 05:38 UTC

How come I can't setup my partitions like this root, swap and home ? I installed it but for some reason it uses only hda1 for everything and hda5 for swap. Anyone know how to get this working the way I want it ?

GNU/Linux != GNU/Linux
by Daniel de Kok on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 06:33 UTC

For sure there are speed differences between Linux distros. Important things are optimization (Slack uses -march=i486 -mcpu=i686), choices of compilation parameters, e.g. for KDE and glibc and last but not least architectural differences (eg non-PAM vs PAM, BSD-style initialization vs SysV, etc.). Slackware feels much faster than most distros, Pat seems to make the right choices.

by xmp on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 06:37 UTC

It's pretty damned fast. I am running 500 mhz, 256 meg ram, and 7200 rpm drive. Fairly old hardware that is sluggish with SuSE/RH. Vector is one of the quickest *nix I've tried outside of FreeBSD. Admittedly I'm using IceWM and I'm more used to Windowmaker and KDE. The boot time is certainly quick and I added the 2.6 test 9 kernel and everything runs better than ever. Some apps like firebird are still a bit sluggish to load, I think that's a program / compiler issue rather than anything a distro can cure. I'm currently d/l'ing KDE and if that runs good, I will certainly buy the CD with the extra apps.

I've tried lunar, crux, and some others which are also speedy. The downside of lunar and friends is that you really need broadband. Crux gives a good base but is a general pain. Overall seems Vector is a good perfomance distro and I can recompile everything gradually for O3 and i686. Closest to my idea of a perfect distro, only lacking an intelligent system like bsd ports/Arch/moonbase/etc.

Re: Bad marketing
by Mutiny on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 06:40 UTC

You don't have to pay for KDE or Gnome. This is a misconception that I also had before joining.

The SOHO version, which includes KDE, is a larger compilation of software for use in small offices and home offices. The standard VL does not include this and is much smaller.

You can download SOHO, just like the standard VL if you want. However, if you would like to help the project or have a dialup modem, you can order a CD.

SOHO 4.0, the companion to the VL 4.0 reviewed here, is still in the works.

The current "For Sale" CD, VL 4.0 Deluxe, is standard VL with the addition of many packages you would normally have to download after install. This makes sense for people with dialup connections and gives a small bonus to people who buy the CD's.

We really aren't trying to put one over on anyone. ;)


Re: Need help with formating and setup.
by Mutiny on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 06:48 UTC

With the current installer, I am afraid you can't have separate partitions for /boot, /root and /home without tricking it. It is meant to be easily installable for the average user. Most users have problems simply dealing with a separate swap partition, IMHO.

You can, however, leave empty partition for your future /home (for example). Then after install you can format it, copy everything over to the new partition and update /etc/fstab.

In the next version, possibly the SOHO 4.0 release, you will have an advanced install option for features such as this.


Sorry, offtopic.
by TC on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 07:30 UTC

Does anyone know what it means for Slackware 9.1 to be Linux 2.6 compatible? I downloaded and compiled a test kernel from a 9.0 distribution and booted fine (as far as I can tell).

Slightly back on topic, I think what makes slackware really nice is the way it's nicely stripped down on install, but is easy to add functionality. Development-wise, however, I won't be giving up RedHat anytime soon. HW vendors use those distribution releases as a standard to support development of their drivers.

Hardware Specs....
by Matt Lacey on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 08:22 UTC

Hi guys,

That was my first ever review and it was only when I went to my gf's for the weekend after submitting the article that I realised I'd forgotten to tag my specs on at the end. Anyway - here they are :

Asus A7V8X mobo
Athlon XP 2400+ (running at 2.2GHz)
512 MB PC2700
GeForce FX 5800
ATA66 (!) primary IDE master, with an ATA133 primary slave (this doesn't help speed at all)

Those are all the stats that should matter but I should point out that when I say Vector is fast - it is FAST. It's considerably faster to boot and load apps than Slackware 9.1 which is also on my machine.

As for KDE and Gnome, I think KDE is available as a series of packages (if not from vector then the slackware ones should work fine) and I believe that you can use dropline Gnome with it - I installed this on Slackware 9.1 and it's not really not hard - you download the installer, run it and leave over night. voila!

RE: Sorry, offtopic.
by Daniel de Kok on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 08:26 UTC

Does anyone know what it means for Slackware 9.1 to be Linux 2.6 compatible?

It has the alsa utilities + libraries, up-to-date coreutils and other software that supports the 2.6 kernel.

Speed: Source based vs Binary based
by Mystilleef on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 09:41 UTC

Speed is a combination of several factors. Some can be controlled immediately others can not. Generally, if you want speed, you must be willing to give up the convenience of binaries and binary based distributions. Yeap, I said it. I don't care what binary based distribution you use, as long as your binaries a compiled for a general and most often old (i386, i486, i586), they will always be slower (dog slow) and usually larger than most sourced based distributions and sometimes even unstable. Period.

Very good source based distributions provide you with the flexibility to tune your binaries to you system's specific architecture, and also the options to enable certain flags. If you know what you are doing you could gain significant improvements memory and processor wise by manipulating these flags correctly.

For example, ever since I started using the -Os flag (man gcc for more info) I've noticed memory usage has reduced drastically by more than half. Something that had never before happened in my usage of Linux. At first, I thought it was my monitors and sensors acting up. I later observed that the -O2/3 options used by many binary, even some, source distros drastically enlarges the size of binary. The benefits of that are, they claim, good runtime optimizations. But the drawback is that larger binaries are slower to load and also Runtime optimizations aren't visible to desktop users, most of us. Not to mention that most binary based distros don't strip debugging sysmbols from their binaries again, increasing it size and slowness.

To cut the long story short, it will be a while before binary based distros match the speed and flexibility given by source based distro. Binary based distros provide convenience and quick installation. True source based distros are horrible to set up, and very large packages (openoffice) are time consuming to install. But the benefit is a streamlined package compiled and built for your system, and more often than not it's much stable than the one built for a general arch, with debugging symbols enabled, and generally large bins.

Of course, there are other tricks to speed up your system. But I'm in no mood to discuss those. Do a google. If you have the time, more often than not, it's better to compile packages from the source using the appropriate flags for your system. If not for anything for stability. A few months ago there was a package compiled with a general arch that was very on stable on the Athlons or Athlon-XP. I can't seem to remember the package. I remember pulling several strands of my hair of before the bug was made known to me. Of course most people don't have the time for all this. Convenience and ease is tempting but don't come complaining that your system is slow. :-P

I don't want to start a flamewar, but I think source distributions are overrated. Using too much optimizations can break things. The problem is that if you use your own optimizations binaries don't get the amount of testing to which most binary distributions are exposed. I would rather choose to use a binary distribution which is fast and stable.

Excellent Review!
by David DeTinne on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 11:17 UTC

Good job! I am enjoying the reader participation here at OS News.

I would like to see a review on the current state of the Hurd, anyone up for that task?

Any package sources?
by slack boogie on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 12:13 UTC

Does VL provide sources or one still has to look for
them elsewhere?

RE: Any package sources?
by Matt Lacey on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 12:22 UTC

IIRC the sources weren't on the CD but I think they are available. The reason they weren't there is to save space.

RE: Excellent Review!
by cheezwog on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 12:25 UTC

I know this is a little OT, but I would be very interested in an overview of how far the Hurd has progressed too.

The sourceforge page shows around zero activity...

With no CVS commits since march 2003. So is the Hurd dead, or is the activity elsewhere?

RE: Speed: Source based vs Binary based

I've never found that software compiled for an older arch is less stable. Slackware is a good example of this. What problems have you found?

The really big speed gains from recompiling for more recent chips come from apps like mplayer which will make full use of mmx, sse, 3dnow, sse2 etc. Most other progs run a little faster but it's no big deal imho.

Didn't work for me...
by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 12:28 UTC

I downloaded the VL 4.0 ISO (yes, the MD5 checksum matched OK) and booted from the CD. After going through a few (colourful) text screens, I got to the bit where it goes to verify the distro and it printed "SEARCHING....". 30 seconds later, it gave up and claimed it couldn't find the distro !

I exited to the shell, typed "mount /dev/hdc /mnt/cdrom" and
sure enough, the CD was there (complete with the .bz2 file it specifically said it couldn't find). Looks like it couldn't locate the CD device to me (it wasn't mounted when I escaped to the shell). Note that I have managed to successfully install Slackware 9.1, Red Hat 8.0 and 9 and Fedora Core Test 3 on the same machine, so I think they've got a problem with their installer...

by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 15:03 UTC

I'm interested in trying this distro out - I've been using Mandrake, but am finding that it's getting a bit "old", and the comments about Vectors speed are quite appealling.

I want Gnome installed, but as I only have a dialup connection, I would have to buy the deluxe CD. That's okay and no problem at all, but I read somewhere that the Gnome requires a bit of extra downloading. Can someone confirm whether or not this is true, and if so, how much is needed?


Vector is nice, but
by Ian Christie on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 15:17 UTC

So far I think vector is a good distro, I just had 2 small problems.

1) It seems to me that I can't login as root using the graphical login. I'll try again since I re-installed to try and clear up some changes I made.

2) Despite the great hardware detection it insists on loading X in 800x600 instead of 1024x768.

Both are problems that I can probably fix with a little editing. I've since dled Slack also, really just trying to find a distro I want to use.

RE: RE: Excellent Review!
by Gabriel Ebner on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 15:35 UTC

Isn't the Hurd using GNU's savannah? ( )

But it really looks a bit dead when one examines the ChangeLogs on their website ( ).

RE: Didn't work for me
by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 16:45 UTC

Anonymous wrote: "I downloaded the VL 4.0 ISO (yes, the MD5 checksum matched OK) and booted from the CD. After going through a few (colourful) text screens, I got to the bit where it goes to verify the distro and it printed "SEARCHING....". 30 seconds later, it gave up and claimed it couldn't find the distro !"

I had a similar problem when I installed VL3.2 SOHO. When I tried to install again, I chose not to verify (confident - perhaps foolishly - that the ISO was fine), and the installation went smoothly.

I later mucked up my system to the extent that a reinstall was necessary, so I took the opportunity to switch to Libranet 2.7. However, VL 3.2 SOHO was the fastest distribution I had ever loaded on my aging laptop (Celeron 400), and when VL 4.0 SOHO comes out, I suspect I will be switching back.

so if i cut down a mandrake... will itbe as fast as vector
by tech_user on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 16:53 UTC

if i get a mandrake... shut off all non-necessary services ... (only cupsd required) ... use a light wm like xfce ... will i have a system as fast as Vector?

considering mandrake is for i586?

or have vector done something else too?


The future of Linux is in user-friendly distros...
by free loader on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 17:37 UTC

The Vector Linux development team should strive to make this distro as bug-free as possible. I've understood that Vector is targeted to non-expert users, since more experienced users are likely to go for Slackware. Absolute beginners will abandon Vector as soon as something refuses to work as expected - they are not likely to be as resourceful as the reviewer when encountering similar problems.

I like light-weight distros, but at the moment I rather use Morphix Light-GUI because it offers easy software installation via apt-get/Synaptic. However, if I needed to install Linux to a PC with slow dial-up connection, I might opt for Vector Linux. Keep up the good work and make Vector a distro that even clueless beginners like me can enjoy!

Re: Hurd
by dpi on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 18:29 UTC

"But it really looks a bit dead when one examines the ChangeLogs on their website ( )."

Perhaps it _looks_ like he's dead. But it actually isn't. Though a stable release won't come Anytime Soon (TM). There's still development on the Hurd. I know one developer who's busy with it. But he had to quit about 9 months ago and started again a while ago. Actually, one can ''beta test'' it by dloading an ISO ;)

2.6 compatible
by xmp on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 22:32 UTC

For Vector 4.0 I just had to add module-init-tools package from linuxpackages site.

by xmp on Mon 3rd Nov 2003 22:47 UTC

On HURD: thought linux really shifted the emphasis away from this one, with GNU going with Debian.

On Installer: I had the same CD prob. Rather than using mount command, I just made boot floppies and installed that way. It found the CDrom fine. My CDrom is so old that Slack 9 iso, for instance, won't even boot on it.

On optimizations: the bsd style *nix and debian seem quick even though they don't use heavy optimizations like source-based. I will have to try the gcc -Os, didn't know it could be better than speed optimizations.

On VASM: I was able to change to GUI login screen with no probs. However, the WM select screen still appears even though I told VASM to use IceWM. This is a minor issue though, since tweaking .x files isn't too painful.