posted by Will Senn on Mon 27th Oct 2003 06:38 UTC
IconI decided to review the Libranet Distribution because there just aren't many reviews available on it, and I am sure that there are plenty of people who would like to know what Libranet is and how it works.

Overview
Libranet is Debian based. This is good for Debian lovers. Other folks coming from Redhat based distributions or Slackware will find it merely different. Package management is where Debian shines, updating and installing applications is a snap using Synaptic, or really any .deb tool. There is a lot of community support for Libranet. There is a even a forum area dedicated to Libranet:
http://forum.libranet.com/

That is enough overview. Let's get started on the nitty gritty. People who are used to downloading the latest version of their favorite distribution - to give it a shot, will be shocked to learn that Libranet costs, money. Not a lot, for the value it provides, but unlike some distributions, it definitely costs, period. It costs $69.95 US for the Flagship Edition - 2 CDs or $64.95 US to download. That having been said, I strongly suggest that you read on. There is definite value to be had in a distribution that costs. Libranet adds value.

Requirements

System requirements for Libranet are very modest:

  • Intel and compatible (e.g. AMD) Pentium class and higher
  • 32MB RAM ( 64MB and up recommended )
  • SuperVga 640x480 ( 800x600 recommended )
  • minimal install - 600MB HDD
  • full install - 3.0GB HDD
  • recommended - 4.0GB HDD
  • CDROM drive
  • Mouse
  • The exact requirements are available at:
    http://www.libranet.com/system_requirements.html

    Getting the Media

    When I asked Libranet for a copy of their latest distribution version 2.8.1, they were more than happy to provide it. They gave me a secure link for downloading it in the same manner that a customer who purchased it via the web would get. I downloaded it in a little over an hour. The distribution comes on 2 CDs. The source code is also available for download. I did not need or want it.

    I burned the ISOs on to two 80 Minute 700 MB CDs and rebooted the desktop.

    Installation - Stage 1

    In Libranet, the first stage of the install is a text (or console) based install. I admit that I was somewhat surprised at this. I had expected a GUI based installer. Well, all I can say is - how refreshingly simple! I will not bore you with the details. This is a review, not an installation manual. If you want to know how to install it, there is a Libranet Install Guide on the Libranet site that covers the process perfectly, with and without pictures:
    http://www.libranet.com/guide/

    The main objectives accomplished by the stage 1 installer are:

  • Keyboard Selection
  • Harddrive Partitioning and Layout
  • Base System Installation
  • Boot Loader Installation
  • Time Zone Selection
  • The stage 1 process was very simple and worked beautifully. I would have liked it if the installer had autodetected which CD had the install media, but I was not that disappointed. I chose to install Libranet with dual boot support. Once the first stage was completed, I rebooted per instructions.

    Installation - Stage 2

    The second stage of the install begins in text (or console) mode and switches to GUI for the selection of packages. I could not begin to rave enough on how clean and simple the Libranet installation is. I know, I know, this is one area that Linux distributions have been focusing on for the last couple of years. Libranet is definitely a standout here.

    The main objectives accomplished by the stage 2 installer are:

  • Root Password setup
  • Add Users
  • Set up Core Packages and the Kernel
  • Configure and Test X-Windows
  • Software Package Selection
  • Sound Card Setup
  • Network Setup
  • Printer Setup
  • CDR Setup
  • Everything went swell on this stage. The only issue that I experienced was relative to Automatic X-Windows Setup - the setup incorrectly detected the amount of RAM in my video card. I corrected and went right along.

    Package selection is via GUI. I selected all packages except:

  • PCMCIA (laptop only)
  • Laptop Software
  • KDE Languages (non English)
  • ISDN Utilities
  • WordPerfect 8 Compatibility
  • These packages were not appropriate to my configuration - a Desktop system of modest capability.

    Every hardware detection was successful - video, sound, network, scsi, usb, etc. I skipped Printer setup, I wanted to use the admin tools to do this. CDR Setup was interesting in that I was asked if I wanted all of my IDE CD Drives to appear as SCSI (scsi emulation is required for burning cdroms). I said yes, and boy am I glad that I did.

    Once the second stage was complete, I was presented with the Libranet login screen.

    Table of contents
    1. "Overview and Installation"
    2. "Usage and Conclusion"
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