posted by Michael Katsevman on Thu 6th Nov 2003 19:33 UTC

"Libranet review, Page 2"
Libranet 2.7 At Work

The computer booted into a familiar GRUB screen. Three options: The regular install, a “failsafe” option, and windows (indicated by nothing more than /dev/hda1). I waited out the allotted 3 seconds and GRUB went on to boot my Linux partition.

It went through the usual kernel messages and loaded X, displaying the Gnome login screen. I logged in using the user name and password I created during installation.

The default desktop is IceWM. Although it is fast and compact, I wanted the greater functionality of KDE, so I used the KDE 3.0.3 which comes with the distribution.

I played around with Libranet for a little while, and found it to be a solid distribution, indeed doing justice to the Debian name.

The major difference I found is the “Xadminmenu” (there’s also a text-based alternative creatively named “adminmenu”) application supplied with the distribution. A link to it sits on the desktop, and it allows you to access various important configuration options. However, it not only let’s access scripts such as a simplified XFree86 configuration, or sound card set up, but also automated installation of Microsoft TrueType fonts (anti-aliased), Flash Player, and PCMCIA cards. Although I have not tested that function out, a tab dedicated to recompiling the kernel is also available.

As mentioned previously, I left the sound and network set up for later, and this is where “adminmenu” came in to play. Through it, I accessed the simple sound card module selection script, which detected my card by did load the correct module, so I chose on manually. After putting in the internal and external IP addresses (I use a router to share my cable connection), DHCP server addresses, DNS server, and WINS server address, the network worked flawlessly. It is worth to mention that these scripts are the same ones used during installation.

I fired up Konqueror, Mozilla, and Galeon, and all three performed without a hitch.

Libranet and APT

Now, the moment truth has arrived. I now intended to commence using APT for the first time under Libranet.

I did an apt-get update and got the latest package listings. To test things out, I tried apt-get install bittorrent, which failed miserably. I girded my loins and sallied forth to find a solution; RTFM is my motto, I prefer not to contact support, especially since it isn’t included with the free Libranet 2.7. Meanwhile, an apt-get upgrade updated all my packages. After a little running around the Debian site I decided to use the US mirrors of the Testing package tree, so I added those to /etc/apt/sources.list. Next, came the apt-get dist-upgrade. I left that running for a while. When it was done, I had a new distribution, the Debian Testing tree (“sarge”) running!

At this point I restarted.

More Libranet

After the distribution upgrade, I was deposited at the console, but not losing my cool, I logged in, and used startx, to make everything work. In fact, I appreciate being able to arrive at a pure text prompt before loading the GUI.

Everything worked. Frozen-Bubble, which refused to run, even after being installed before, now worked flawlessly.

Libranet comes with a plethora of packages, from graphic editors, to games. It includes several Window and Desktop managers, including IceWM, KDE, Gnome, Blackbox, Fluxbox, Window Maker, Enlightenment, and others. And any package required can easily be located in the enormous (13,000+) Debian package repository. To find the package name for SCHEME, for example, all one needs is to apt-cache search scheme and a list of packages whose description contains the word scheme is displayed. A list of shooting games is just as easily located using apt-cache search shooter.

This, in fact, is the essence of Libranet. This one CD is nothing but a door to the vast world of Debian GNU/Linux. I highly recommend Libranet 2.7 to anyone who wants a great Debian-based distribution that makes it easy, but still has the power tools a true Linux power-user might require.

Installation 9/10
Ease of use 6/10
Fun factor 8/10
Functionality 9/10
Completeness (Refers to the comprehensiveness of software provided)
With APT 10/10
Without APT 6.5/10
Geek factor 6/10
Final Verdict 8/10

Conclusion: This is a superb distribution. Libranet 2.7 puts the power, flexibility, and versatility of Debian in everyone’s hands. One to try for both experienced users (whose job will be made easier) and newbies (who will be spared a harsh introduction, but will not be spoon-fed). This, however, is a desktop Linux distribution, those looking for servers, routers, etc. are better off with another more lean flavor.

About the Author:
Michael Katsevman resides most comfortably in the Metro-Boston area of Massachusetts, and intends to stay there for a little while. He enjoys long walks on the beach and an extra dose of computers, preferably intravenously. Network Security to 3D Modeling, all is within his reach, but his future is yet to come. Soon in a college or university near you.

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  1. "Libranet review, Page 1"
  2. "Libranet review, Page 2"
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