posted by Rory Griffin on Mon 29th Dec 2003 01:39 UTC
IconSeeing the power of Linux, I wanted to continue using it, but I wanted to be able to use it without too much hassle. I was a huge fan of RedHat, and was very upset that I would have to start using a different system. The only home systems out there that were big were Lindows and Xandros (at least the ones most spoken of) and they were not what I wanted. Lindows always logging you in as root, and Xandros being (originally) too expensive. I decided to go with this Lycoris Desktop/LX that I had read up on because it seemed the only system that was worth looking at because it wasn't too dull or too bubbly, as are others. Here is what I have enjoyed about the system, and things I have found wrong with it.

Installation

Click for a larger image I'm always in for a fun time when I install a Linux system. Seeing how people make things easy for the installer is a way to tell what the finished product is like, much like a persons handwriting in a letter verses their character. The installer was easy to go along with for the most part, but lack of hardware detection was it's downfall.

In example, I have a GeForce 4 Ti 4200. It had no GeForce 4 cards listed. I had to make sure oncard RAM settings were correct (which they were by default) and tell it what my monitor could do (resolution wise) and then tell it the resolution I wanted to run in.

The mouse detected fine, so no problem there. One thing that did upset me was the one thing that ALWAYS upsets me in ANY Linux installation: TimeZone selection. I understand we need to be "p.c." about everything so no one gets upset, but this is a home system and no one wants to search for their city (if it does exist in the list). I would rather just select "America/Central Time" from a list of about 5 or 6 other American settings, and not a fourth of the cities that exist within it.

Before the whole time zone shabang, you have to tell it how I wanted to partition my disks for D/LX to install on. I always do a custom partition, so I won't go into this, but for all home users wanting to switch, follow the Installation Guide that comes with the system.

Click for a larger imageI set up a user and a system password (more on this later) and tell my network to connect via DHCP, and also that I have no modem. During all this configuration, the system is installing. And when no more can be configured, it presents you with a nice relaxing game of solitaire. I think it would be nice if they let you win all the time with this during the installer because it sets a happier mood for the person when they win. I see that as something they should look at closely (the whole "blue plate special" thing).

When done installing (and when you have played solitaire to your hearts content) click "Next" on the solitaire screen and you can make a boot disk, then finish the installation. Very easy-to-follow installer, and even mom could do it.

Usability

First things first, an explanation:

root = something that grows in the ground
root password = something you tell this root (say a carrot) to say when it wants to get into the club house
system = a way for things to work
system password = a way to show you have power to make those things work

Click for a larger imageWith this understanding, we find that "system password" is easier for mom to understand when we come in the need of installing software. Lycoris gets a billion cool points for this change in terminology.

Lets begin with the desktop. My Linux System, Network Browser, Personal Files, and Recycle Bin. Guess what these things do? My Linux system is similar to "My Computer" but better. It's not cluttered with every aspect of the Konqueror file manager, and just gives you what you need right there. Network Browser I don't use, but it is a way to easily browse through your network...don't strain your brain thinking about this ok? Personal Files is where you put your personal files...again, no strain trying to understand this terminology. Recycle Bin is just about the same as you would find in any other system's "Trash" thing. I hope this paragraph hasn't been too hard on you.

Anyways, with My Linux System you can plug in, for example, an external Zip Drive via the USB port. You hear a sound and in pops a Zip Drive icon in My Linux System. Very snazzy indeed. Also works with a variety of digital cameras from what I understand, though I don't have any to see how it works.

The Lycoris control center is a gift from above. Easily configuration of all devices from video card to firewall. This is quite possibly the most amazing feature of D/LX I have come across. There are a few things in the control center that could be improved on, but thats just something for the future to hold. They are aware of many problems with a basic Linux system and are always working on updating and creating new ways of doing the same old tasks.

Something very nice about the overall use of the system is the fact that every application (or most of them) have that "Lycoris" feel to them. Clean, easy to understand, not so bloated, icons that are familiar. This is where a lot of other Linux distros miss the ball. I do like the Flower Menu as opposed to a K Menu. Gives the OS it's own feel. Also, quick launch stuff included is (by default): Mozilla, Personal Files, and Iris software gallery (more on this later).

I believe the only thing bad about this is that the menu is still like any random KDE interface you would see with different categories up front instead of in a "programs" type menu. It would be a nice improvement to see this in Lycoris.

Internet

Click for a larger image Mozilla is installed by default, a very nice choice, but the icon could be different. The "M" could make people thing "oh, mail". Either way, the icons for the back, forward, stop, reload, etc. are all unified to give it a VERY nice Desktop/LX look. I use Yahoo! for my e-mail, so I don't configure Mozilla Mail at all, so I can't give a just review on how it works with D/LX.

Now for my BIGGEST problem with this OS: Lack of GAIM. I use gaim, and thanks to the people at www.lycoris.org we are allowed to have that at version .70 via apt-get. This isn't something a home user wants to deal with, so I think getting rid of KIT and whatever else they have and replacing it with Gaim would be a VERY good idea. They do offer it in Iris however (I'll get to Iris). However, it's only version .59 and not fun to use.

They also offer an FTP client by default that I don't use, but I'm sure it's stable and works well.

Updating

Updating was not the greatest thing ever. As we talked about in the forums, it's always got problems no matter what system you are on. From Windows to RedHat it is never a for-sure thing. Yet, I must say this one works pretty well. Aside from a few places where it messes up (that is a package sits at 99% and doesn't do anything past that) you can just download whatever package it messes up on from ftp://lycoris.com and manually install it.

On that subject, when you download an RPM file, it doesn't ask if you want to save it, it downloads it and installs it. This is great if you are going to be installing it anyways, but be sure to right click and select "Save Target As" if you have other intentions.

Back to updating, from the boxed version there are updates you NEED to get. I had no Nvidia drivers until I updated, so now I can play games! The update wizard is very easy to follow and very easy to work with.

Click for a larger imageNow for the Iris Software Gallery. You MUST purchase Desktop/LX to use this. You will need a product ID to get into the gallery, and once you do you can get programs for Lycoris without searching far and wide for it. These packages are built by users or Lycoris programmers, and tested by Lycoris on many systems, and are 99.9% guaranteed to work on your system. Problem with this gallery: outdated software. True be it that newer doesn't always mean better, but I like to have the latest GAIM, and the latest GTK libraries (so I can run GAIM) but they don't offer this. They should focus a lot on having a wider range of updated software. What they do have is good though, and it does work. I think my main complaint is about GAIM, as is with others.

Conclusion

Great system overall. Something that can be competitive with other home user Linux systems. I give this system a 9 out of 10. I dropped that one point because of the lack of GAIM...other things I could deal with. I think this system is worth a try from anyone and everyone. I used to think that "home Linux" was a bad idea until I found a reason to need a home linux system. This is secure, easy to use, and overall fun. Give her a spin and share your thoughts.

About the Author
After spending a few years without a job, I found myself learning Linux. So many things I learned about it from CLI to GUI. However, one thing always struck my mind as a riddle: why isn't it easy? Now that I have a job, I do not want to spend all my time trying to figure out problems as to "why this wont work", but rather I want to just get done on my system with what I have. I considered heading back to Windows, but much like others, I am not a fan of virii attacking my computer.

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