posted by Adam S on Tue 25th Mar 2003 00:52 UTC
IconKnowing that ArkLinux is the offspring of Bernhard "Bero" Rosenkraenzer (interview here), a former Red Hat employee and KDE hacker, should make it one of the more interesting and, arguably, credible new Linux distributions to hit the streets in recent seasons. With the rise of Lycoris, Lindows, and Xandros, among others, Ark Linux is certainly a far cry from a surefire success. Let's take a look.

ArkLinux 1.0-0.alpha6.0 features a new installer akin to Lindows in that it's only a few clicks to a working system. These "four click installs" are dead easy - just about anyone could understand them. The only catch is that there are no real expert options. For those of us who know what we're doing, even a little bit, we're still forced to choose from the few options presented. There was an option to resize a partition, but having already blocked off an area of my hard drive, I was able to choose an option to use all free space. Installation is quick and simple and GRUB detected my XP installation without a problem. The complaint I have is that it labelled my NTFS drives "Windows NT/2000/XP" and placed then in the GRUB boot menu. There doesn't appear to be an obvious way to edit the GRUB boot menu, so I had to manually su up to root and edit /etc/grub/grub.conf. I am confident that most users could not pull this off, so on my wishlist, I'll add a GRUB editor. That said, install is a breeze.

Click for a larger view On boot you are greeted by KDE 3.1. There is no login. You are a normal user, "arklinux," with a blank password and the root password is also blank, so a simple "su' or "sudo" and the comment line brings you to a root prompt. This method could be compared to the LindowOS run-as-root method. I forgive ArkLinux for this easily - by simply adding the arklinux user, they've put the burden on you to set things up responsibly, but they've encouraged you to run as a user, rather than root, by defaulting to a user. ArkLinux uses a fairly standard KDE install running Keramik and is very "pretty." I'm personally sick of seeing the KDE dragon, but the normal walkthrough wizard is there. I immediately made a number of changes to my system to make ArkLinux "mine." I added some icons to the kicker, I added tweaked the colors, added AbiWord using synaptic, and of course, updated the video driver using Mission Control (which I'll cover in a minute), and assigned passwords to users. One quick about ArkLinux is that you must manually set your network card to DHCP. Most other new distributions automatically set a card for DHCP or ask you when you install. With ArkLinux, it must be "activated," so to speak.

Click for a larger view The next step in configuring ArkLinux is to visit the "Mission Control" box. Mission Control is an HTML front end for the KDE Control Center which runs in a nice and concise Konquerer window. Without question, Mission Control is the essence of ArkLinux and that which separates it from the pack. Mission Control is a attractive and easy to follow. Unlike the classic KDE Control Center, which is available with a single click, by the way, Mission Control is very simple to decipher and uses very plain English to explain your options. Honestly, it resembles Windows XP's Control Panel, which makes it familiar to most. Within Mission Control, one can mess with the externals of the system pretty effortlessly.

Adusting the resolution for my 17" monitor within Mission Control meant restarting X. Logging in, you'll notice that the login screen is not in English (I think it's German). Luckily, the buttons do a pretty good job of directing you at what to do. Beware of this -- it's a pre-1.0 oversight that will probably be fixed shortly, if it hasn't been already. On login, I was greeted with KMix, and audio application. KMix would start parallel with X for the remainder of my ArkLinux sessions up to and including this session. Every once in a while, I'd be greeted with another surprise application, most notably 4 tiled Konqueror windows. These are what I call 'nuisance errors,' they don't actually muck with anything, but you wonder why they happen, because they simply shouldn't. Nonetheless, getting on the internet and getting the video configured was trivial to me, but I sense that my mother would already be lost by this point.

Table of contents
  1. "Ark Linux Review, Page 1"
  2. "Ark Linux Review, Page 2"
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