posted by Adam S on Fri 14th Nov 2003 20:12 UTC
IconRemember Turbolinux? Less than 5 years ago, it was a fixture in the forefront of the Linux landscape along with Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, and the now defunct Storm Linux. Later this week, Turbolinux will release their new desktop distribution, dubbed "10D." The following is a first look at Turbolinux's return to the fray.

Background
Click for a larger version It's no secret that Turbolinux is really focusing on Asian nations with this release. They are helping China move to a digital infrastructure. The new distribution's codename is "Suzuka." It offers, even in the installer, to run Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. It's been available in Asia for some time, and isn't yet available in the US. Turbolinux is the first major distribution to release a version "10" of their release, although it should be noted that to the best of my knowledge, there is no TurboLinux 9D. That said, it ships with modern components such as kde 3.1.3, glibc 2.3.2, XFree86 4.3, and gcc 3.3.1, not to mention a hot-off-the-press kernel.

Installation
Generally, when reviewing a new distribution, I try to stay away from going into too much detail with the installer. The Turbolinux install, however, is a unique program called "Mongoose." Mongoose has a lot of the look of the new Mandrake installation but the feel of Red Hat's Anaconda (it may even be based on Anaconda code). The Installer offers three choices - Standard install, Turbo install, or Upgrade. As you can imagine, the turbo install zips by many choices offering "sensible" defaults. It auto-partitions without the ability to view it, it auto-configures almost everything except the root password, and it selects to install everything. A much more practical choice is the standard install, which is an attractive graphical checklist that scrolls through. My complaints with the installer are more constructive criticisms - the location to add a user in the installer is not very obvious, so much so that I completely missed it during my first swing. Secondly, the TFDisk tool included to resize your disks is fairly complex -- not so much for a seasoned user, but certainly for a new user. As an admin, these things are not a big deal. The one thing that really stands out as interesting is that when prompted to create a new file system, your options include ext2, swap, PPC PrepBoot, RAID, VFAT, RAW I/O, all the common journaled file systems, and NTFS. Yes, NTFS. Creating an NTFS partition during installation results in mounting errors on boot. I'm not sure why this option is present, but it certainly is intriguing.

I have to say that I was impressed with the installation routine of TurboLinux. I've done this many times before, and my nerves are shot from these "four click installs." I want to configure my system by hand, and Mongoose is a nice tool for doing just that. If I wanted a four click install, that's an option too.

First Use
Having selected Gnome 2.4 as my default desktop (KDE 3.13 and XFCE are also included), I booted up and attempted a login. It immediately reported errors. Gnome was unable to login. I would later find this to be the case with XFCE as well. XFree would immediately crash on login. Fortunately, KDE, the default desktop for Turbolinux, worked perfectly. I installed TurboLinux three times on two systems for this review, and the second installation did not produce Gnome errors. I'm not sure what the problem was, but my elementary XFree86Config hacking did not fix things.

Click for a larger version KDE has been heavily customized by Turbolinux. You'll notice right off the bat, a customized, Crystal-like icon set that also has some icons that are so similar to XP icons that if you told me they were directly copied, I'd believe you. You'll also notice "My Computer," "MyDocument," and "Windows Network" icons on your desktop, a la LindowsOS ("MyDocument" is a link to a folder in your home directory also called "MyDocument"). The desktop is attractive and consice. Like more and more distributions, Turbolinux has significantly cleaned up the "Kde" menu. In fact, it's one of the more logical layouts I've seen. They've taken nearly everything out of the first drawer, similar to what Microsoft did with XP, in favor of computer tasks, and placed all programs in a subfolder. The default desktop also includes a link to "Printer Jobs," a tool for monitoring your print queue. While clearly out of place on the desktop, it's a great tool for a user. Perhaps better stashed in the K menu, it's a nice touch. The only glaring error off the bat is that what I assume should have been a "My Documents" folder is erroneously referred to as "MyDocument" throughout the entire OS.

Gnome has also been customized, though to a much lesser extent. It, too, boasts the My Computer and "My Document" links. If anything, it may be a little skimpy on the applications. It uses a theme called "distro," which I believe it just a tweaked Geramik. It also uses the XP icons.

Turbolinux found and configured my USB wheel mouse with no problem. This is also the first distribution I've used where I've noted bluetooth prominently displayed as one of the services. TurboLinux has de-emphasized the concept of "home" in favor of "My Documents." This has been interesting, as it also parallels Windows concepts more closely. Sadly, the fonts in both KDE and Gnome are less than impressive. While they appear to be anti-aliased, in most places they still seem jagged. By contrast, view Fedora's default Gnome installation and see how gorgeous fonts should look.

Table of contents
  1. "Turbolinux 10D, Page 1"
  2. "Turbolinux 10D, Page 2"
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