Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Never wound a snake; kill it.

The quote used for the title of this week’s OS Sunday comes from Harriet Trueman and in the case of OpenMamba Linux, it’s background has hints that it has the legs to stand toe to toe with the top Linux Distros out there but I pulled it from the bottom rungs of the barrel today.  At just 863 MB my download cap thanks the developers of this OS for keeping it lean…but is running lean really all that great if I have to then download 110’s of MB in additional software?

As always, OS Sunday starts off with a VirtualBox environment that is configured with 4GB of RAM and 20GB of HDD.  The goal is to find a permanent replacement for Ubuntu Linux on my desktop.  So far, there are a couple of contenders but none that have stood the test of time.  The Donut Rating is used to see if this FREE Software would be worth the price of a Dozen Donuts.  For the purposed of this test, I decided to go with the most recent snapshot edition of the ISO and see how the natural progression of the OS has happened since its last major update last year.

Open Mamba is based on Debian and runs away with a KDE Desktop that booted to the live environment very quickly.  Because there was no Boot Table on my newly minted drive, it would not allow for a quick guided partitioning and surprisingly, despite setting up the partitions that I wanted from within GParted, by clicking next it proceeded to overwrite what I had just set up in the Partitioning Tool. Start to finish from the start of the download to a fully active desktop though…I was all in at just over 17 minutes.  I have had Windows installs take longer than that to boot up so for that I am quite impressed.

A very interesting feature of OpenMamba is that after your first boot, you are presented with some update options that allow you to instantly add in recommended additional software packages.  Me being the click happy kind of guy that I am, I decided to take the full advantage of this feature and added everything but the Base Server Install Options, and this becomes even more important as the initial install takes care of mainly the core functionality and does not give much in the way of options (Chromium for a Browser, basic video and music players and nothing other than a doc reader and screenshot utility for your office and graphics categories).

What would be nice, is if they just included these options on the DVD…the 863MB download exceeds what would fit on a normal CD so there is a lot of space being left open on that media.  They could use the same utility to customize after first boot, it just needs to have the DVD Present.

While waiting for the painful process of the update/install of a fully configured desktop I started to poke around the hood of this OS and found some very unique features.  It comes installed with the AMD Catalyst setup which would be awesome for a full install for me, because I prefer AMD over nVidia and he use of KDE 4.10.1  and Plasma Active means that the desktop features are absolutely stunning!  Except for the “Quotation S” logo.  It was cute for the first 5 minutes…but it got old very fast having it on the Desktop multiple times, among the first things that was changed for me was the desktop image!

After the install/update process was complete (a painstaking 35 minutes of downloading), I now had a full system ready to check out, but much to my surprise…virtually nothing had changed within the KDE Menu.  I logged out and logged back in and not only was I greeted with a plethora of new apps…I could really see myself getting used to this setup (and I am not typically a KDE Fan).  I even really like the Smart Package Manager as an alternative to Synaptic Package Manager.

I am not sure why OpenMamba sits so low on the DistroWatch list but I strongly recommend giving it a shot, it is definitely a strong contender for replacing my Desktop, and this is one Snake that I would not Wound…or Kill!

Cheers and Happy Sunday

Chris J Powell


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