posted by Simone Rota on Thu 2nd Oct 2003 19:39 UTC
IconCRUX Linux (simply CRUX for now on) is a source-based Linux distribution created by Per Liden, targeting advanced and intermediate users. As reported on CRUX Website, the main philosophy behind the distribution is to "keep it simple". Update: Screenshots added.

Disclaimer: I've been a CRUX Linux user for a while and I recently became a CLC (Crux Linux Community) maintainer, though I still think of myself more as a user than a contributor. That said, I'll try to be as impartial as possible writing this review.

Supported Platforms

Crux Linux The official CRUX distribution is available for i686 systems only; however a contributed i586 ISO image is available and a PPC port is on the final stage (rc3 at the time I'm writing)and should be available soon at http://www.crux-it.org.

Version reviewed and hardware information

I just finished installing CRUX in a Dell Dimension 8100 PIV 1400MHz with 256 MB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce MX 64Mb, two Maxtor 20GB Hard Disks; PS/2 mouse and keyboard. I'll use this machine as a reference.
The other machine I loaded with CRUX is a notebook: Dell Inspiron 5000, 256MB of RAM, ATI Rage Mobility 2P and 6GB Hard Disk, optical USB Mouse.
I installed the latest version available: CRUX Linux 1.2

A note about Hardware compatibility.

Since to use CRUX you must compile your own kernel and modules, the hardware compatibility list is basically the same as the Linux kernel.(2.4.21 on the tested release). No third-party modules are available on the CD, in case of unsupported hardware the only option is to fetch the drivers from another machine. The bootable CD-Rom kernel is compiled with a relatively small set of options, that should be enough to boot the machine and proceed with installation.

Installation

It seems that today every review about a Linux distribution has to begin with the Installation procedure. With CRUX this section will be quite different as there isn't a real installation program.

After booting the CD, you'll basically have to:
- login as root to a bash prompt;
- use fdisk or cdisk to edit your disk partition(s)
- initialize your filesystem (including swap partitions)
- mount the partition you want to install CRUX onto
- launch the Setup script

The Setup script will show a simple list of available packages you can choose to install on your system. Notably, you can initially choose if you want a fresh installation or an upgrade from a previous release. From my past experience I can say that upgrades work as expected; I never found particular problems during the procedure. The Setup script took less than 10 minutes to complete on the tested machine.
See next section for a brief list of available packages.

At this point, manual editing of some configuration files is needed (i.e. /etc/fstab, /etc/rc.conf). Vi or pico are the available editors during setup.
Next step is to reboot the machine and compile your custom kernel; after this you're ready to boot the final system for the first time.

Available Software

Packages are divided in two categories:
- base: around 30 packages necessary to build a barebones system: zlib, gcc, glibc, sed, binutils, etc. and few standard daemons: cron, sendmail.
- opt: again about 30 packages with optional software: xfree86, openssh, windowmaker, gtk, mozilla, cdrtools, etc.

The default (and only) window manager is WindowMaker. The screenshot in this page shows the default desktop.
As you can see the "keep it simple" motto is reflected in the number of packages available. The ISO image is less than 200MB and only a small set of carefully chosen applications is available. But don't worry: a selection of additional packages is available through the port system.

Table of contents
  1. "CRUX, Page 1"
  2. "CRUX, Page 2"
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