Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Keeping things Light and Airy

My quest for the perfect OS is one that is never really over as the evolution of computers always has me on my toes and the quest I don’t think will ever be over.  I went out searching for a new OS to look at today and stumbled across 4MLinux over at Distrowatch.com.  The beauty of Linux is that there really is an OS for just about every occasion, use or configuration and while this is a huge benefit…it does make the task of finding the right OS for you daunting and a lot of Trial and Error can occur…I know this because my desk is littered with the spoils of war of more than 1000 downloads of ISOs over the years with CDs and DVDs from my attempts to find the best that the world of Linux has to offer.

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The first thing about 4MLinux that struck me as interesting was the 149 MB download…after weeks of downloading Linux Distributions that weighed in at 10x or more the size of this little fella I had to wonder if it would be worth my time to even install this little beast but I went ahead and configured a Virtual Machine with 4 GB of RAM and 20 GB of HDD space for it to give it a whirl.

The download itself was over in a flash and the boot up to a Live Disk took very little time. The JVM Desktop was both fresh and easy to understand where things were.

The Installation was a bit of a challenge as it is a very manual process…you first have to format the disk before running the installer but overall I could not believe how easy the installation was.

One challenge with such a small Distro though is that it does not provide the option at installation to separate the User from the Root so the initial login requires you to change the password for the Root User but then when you login for the first time but this in reality is not much different than the use of Microsoft Windows so having the Root User being the primary is not all that bad.

Some things to know about 4M Linux, according to their About Us Page, the 4M’s stand for:

  1. – Maintenance (system rescue Live CD),
  2. – Multimedia (e.g. playing video DVDs),
  3. – Miniserver (using the inetd daemon),
  4. –  Mystery (meaning a collection of Linux games).

So lets look at the options on this…I can really see that using this system as a System Rescue is a real possibility, its small size and quick boot up would be a huge benefit, the Multimedia…well with the included software yes…you would be able to use this as a media layer.  The Miniserver…well by simply executing the command server before you StartX…you have a full HTTP, TelNet, FTP, SSH and SFTP server already configured so if you are looking to run a small file server that will push things out over your internal network…this might be a good solution.  The final M of Mystery…well the fact that it comes preconfigured with Wine (for Windows Program Installation) and several games…well it may well serve as a good solution.

But as I look harder at this OS as a viable option to run as s Desktop full time…that is where things start to fall apart.

There is no easy way to install additional software and in looking through the very limited documentation the only additional software available is included in the “Addons” directory and the reason that the Distro is kept so small is that these are just links to installation scripts that will download and install things like LibreOffice and Skype.

Overall was the experience of 4MLinux worth it?

Yes.  There are some real benefits that I can see from running such a light version of Linux but I would like to see better documentation (both on the website – which is basically just 6 simple pages) and more than a single page of text in the Help File.

The real question remains…will 4MLinux be a permanent install in the world of Krispy?

I just don’t know.  If I could simply install XBMC within this or even the Fluendo Media Center then maybe I could see it as a real option within my home network but there are a it is just to light and far too undocumented and supported to earn its way beyond a VM for me.

Cheers,

Krispy

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