For some time I have been exploring the world of Linux from the perspective of trying to find the ultimate desktop. This has been more than a little bit of a challenge as there are so many solid choices out there and as soon as you go beyond the big names like Ubuntu, Mint Linux, Open SUSE and Fedora, the quality varies greatly but it is that very choice that has me heading out week after week to find one that I can stay with for the long term.
This week I looked at Distrowatch.com and found a distribution based on Debian Linux that uses the Mate Desktop and at initial glance seemed to fit the bill as something that I could live with.
Point Linux comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors and in both Core and Full versions so I decided to give the Full version in 64-bit a try. The direct download of 993 MB was a good size although I do kind of miss the days when the groups that produce these versions of Linux at least tried to keep things to the size of a CD-ROM but that is something for a Rant at a later time.
Installation was fairly straightforward and standard for Debian Based Distros. I setup a Virtual Machine in Oracle VirtualBox and off to the races I went. Giving the Virtual Instance 4 GB of RAM and a 20 GB HDD is my standard and establishes a baseline from which to measure every distro. After a few clicks and keyboard strokes I was ready to start things up for the first time and with initial boot time coming in at under 60 seconds I was happy right out of the box.
One thing that impressed me at the outset was the speed at which it went to look for updates. Lately I have been having to wait days/weeks for the initial update but in the case of Point Linux, the update warning popped up with the initial boot so before I even looked for what came preinstalled with the download I was exploring the repositories and updating the OS through the Synaptic Package Manager.
I guess I have become more than a little spoiled by having access to the Ubuntu Software Store but it was refreshing to be able to scroll through the seemingly endless list of options of available software before clicking on the Update button and the 84 updates brought the 2.3.1 version up to the latest standard.
Now that everything was running, it was time to explore the Mate Desktop to see what I got with the 1 GB of download bandwidth and I was a little disappointed with some of the choices made by the developers as it would seem to me, that this could have been a far lighter download as there was not much “unique” that was added to the setup (other than the non-free repositories that provide Flash, media codecs and some other nice to haves).
- Document Viewer
- Eye of Mate
- Simple Scan
- Firefox Browser (with Duck Duck Go as the Default Search Engine)
- Thunderbird Email
- Pidgen (Instant Messenger)
- Transmission (Torrent Manager)
- Remmina (Remote Desktop)
Sound & Video
- Brasero (CD/DVD Burner)
- VLC Media Player
That is the brunt of what is included and while it does cover off the majority of what most users would need out of the box, I can’t help but wonder about the choices of the included software and just where all the “weight” went to when building out the ISO because there is not really anything that would make this distro unique, or have it stand out from the 1000’s of other options out there.
When I jumped back to the Point Linux Homepage, I was disappointed by the lack of real support offered in their wiki and the community itself seemed almost non-existent despite them listing a Primary Developer in Russia and a “Promoter” in the UK their Facebook Page only has 174 Likes and their Google+ Community Page well, I am less than impressed with how they attempt to connect with their users.
Overall though, Point Linux was easy to install, relatively Stable and does provide access to the plethora of Free Software available in the Debian Repositories…but it I have to ask myself…What is the Point???