posted by Andrew Fries on Mon 11th Oct 2004 21:17 UTC
IconRubyx is an advanced, source based distro that stands out from the crowd thanks to some unusual and innovative features. It is also exceptionally lean and mean, and it goes like a rocket! I am a big fan of Rubyx and in this article I will attempt to show you why.

A quick tour of Rubyx

R is for Ruby: rubyx is one large script written in Ruby (programming language comparable to Python). This script manages all aspects of running the system: installation, configuration, booting, managing services, adding and updating software, and even creating isos. The details of installation for all packages - Rubyx ebuilds, if you like - are small Ruby scripts as well.

U is for Unusual: Rubyx is developed from scratch and it goes about its business in its own way. From the distribution and installation, to its file hierarchy and system management, it tends to chose the road less travelled.

B is for Bare Bones: The fat content of Rubyx is very close to zero. In this it is similar to distros such as Arch or Crux, providing just enough tools to keep the system going. The rest is up to the user.

Y is for You: as in, "You do it Yourself!" There are no GUI wizards in Rubyx, and very little auto-configuration. It is up to the user to create partitions, set up the bootloader or configure /etc/fstab, to configure and start any services that might be required and so on. Those who find this appealing will probably be happy with Rubyx. Those just wanting to get a working desktop with a minimum of fuss will probably be better served elsewhere.

X is for eXpert: Rubyx is best suited to advanced users who will appreciate its simple, direct approach. The website claims that "if you have a grasp of partitioning and formatting disks and some understanding of bootloaders, you can install rubyx" and this might be true, but beginners should be warned they will face a nearly vertical learning curve. I consider myself an intermediate user and I find the curve is still a bit steep, but manageable with some patience and help. So how hard is it, really? Well, I think Rubyx is actually a lot simpler to install and keep running than Gentoo for example, it's just that it can be sometimes hard to figure out because its documentation is rather terse, especially in comparison to the magnificent Gentoo handbook, which I think all developers should be required to study as an example of what user needs.

Getting Rubyx

Stay with me here! I'm not going to bore you with starting ftp client and burning the iso but this subject deserves its own paragraph because this is in fact where the potential user collides head-on with one unique aspect of Rubyx: in order to even get Rubyx it is first neccessary to install White Water, a P2P application similar to Bittorrent but written especially for Rubyx and designed to distribute not only the whole isos but also the individual packages that make up the system. This was a creative solution to a common problem faced by many small projects: one of hosting and distribution. Rubyx was created by just one person, and the cost of hosting and bandwidth consumed by downloads quickly became too high for his pocket, hence this unusual approach. These days Rubyx is distributed solely from its creator's home ADSL connection, with help of others willing to contribute by running White Water proxies. So far this works quite well, but it does mean that in order to even contemplate getting Rubyx one needs to already run a Linux system that can download and compile White Water, which is only distributed as a source tarball. So Windows users need not apply at this stage, sorry!

Table of contents
  1. "Rubyx, Page 1/3"
  2. "Rubyx, Page 2/3"
  3. "Rubyx, Page 3/3"
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