It may seem strange quoting Sid Vicious when it comes to a Technology Blog let alone a review of a Linux Distribution but in this case…I think it truly fits. This week I took a look at Aptosid which is a distro based on the unstable branch of Debian that is known as Sid. The interesting thing about Aptosid is that with the latest release known as Thanatos they have opened up multiple options for download…I chose the big daddy option with is the amd64 Full KDE to get a good feel of what came under the hood with at 2.0 GB Download.
First off, I noticed that Aptosid is an odd mix of old school and new school. While the Live DVD incorporates full functionality, the installer has taken a step back and is focused on function rather than form. I set up the Oracle VirtualBox image to provide 4GB of RAM and 20GB of HDD space for this test. I guess I have gotten just a little too complacent lately with distros that set my partitions for me but I was surprised that a distro based on the top of the line Debian content did not look to making that initial user experience as easy as possible. The Installer does have a nice “timer” built-in and it took a grand total of 6:44 from start to finish…not bad.
The first boot of the system was a respectable 45 seconds and with fully functioning KDE that includes some very interesting choices and those choices abound when it comes to software included with Aptosid but there was one weakness that I found very quickly that I could not get over…no easy way of installing additional software, it all needs to be done from the Console (at least until you install another option like Synaptic Package Manager and as there is not even a default .deb installer included, one can not browse the Debian Repositories at packages.debian.org either)
I quickly attempted to do a sudo apt-get only to find out that the user-created during the installation was not included in the Super Users group??? My frustration at this point was starting to grow exponentially so I turned to the extensive documentation that is included and is a link on the desktop for me. The directions contained in the manual confirmed that what I was doing…was correct and the use of apt-get should be simple…but it was not in this case. I added my user account to both the Root User and Sudo User Groups and restarted the Virtual Machine…this opened up the access that I needed. I first did an update to the OS and then dove into making the system more usable for me…this level of frustration should not be common in a modern OS, but in this case…it was.
I was able to dive in and start to tweak the settings and focus on making the OS my own when I realized…who in their right mind would fight with a system this much just to make it work? There are 1000s of alternatives out there that will make the use of the system easy, and not add to the work load. Aptosid while an interesting concept that is well documented and well supported, fails to deliver on the primary goal of OS Sunday – find a replacement for Ubuntu that I can use EVERY Day.
With that, I counted the 2GB of bandwidth as an opportunity to let everyone know not to make the same mistake I did (unless you are looking for a project that will suck up hours of your time and make you long for the time that things were just…well simple).
Even the choices that were included with the OS were starting to make me get a little frustrated…3 browsers? Why?
For its lack of function beyond what is included with the download, this really may be the worst OS Sunday I have had in a long time.
Chris J Powell