Chris J Powell

OS Sunday -The True North Strong and Free – going Patriotic with Vector Linux

Several years ago I went through a phase that I would only install Canadian Distributions.  There are not many but with options like aLinux, OpenBSD, ClearOS, ArchLinux and today’s Distro of Choice- Vector Linux I really feel that Linux in Canada is doing quite well from a developers perspective.

With today being Canada’s 145th Birthday I thought I would break from my recent created tradition and review a Canadian OS for OS Sunday.

This newly released Distro is based on the very stable Slackware but for me that means that I exit stage left with my comfort level.  I chose the SOHO edition but there are several other options to choose from at (unfortunately, no Torrent Version).  I pulled down the 2 CDs from the SOHO pack but also grabbed the Gold Master as well (just in case the VM had problems with the 2nd Disk.  Speeds were more than acceptable moving along with 3 concurrent downloads of 700MB in about 6 minutes.

The Installation Process is very manual, which for a Linux Beginner could present a challenge as the setting up of partitions alone become a challenge (despite giving the system 4GB of memory, it still wants a Swap Partition) but this is actually quite refreshing as VectorLinux is about CHOICE!  So right from the beginning I am able to choose my File System (Ext2,3 or 4, JFS, ReiserFS) but then it goes on to ask if I want to have the standard install…or to customize it…well just like another Canadian Institution…I will have my Linux MY WAY!

The Customizations are not extreme but include DEV, XFCE, X11 and Xap.  The descriptions are a tad obscure but considering that SOHO comes installed with KDE…having a second option for the Desktop is one of the many reasons why I like Linux.  Once it goes through the major selections it then asks you for additional software inclusion, again the choices are not well documented but are there none the less.

All said and done, the installation took just over 16 minutes and then the real fun started.  The initial restart was to configure the X Session which is nice because then I did not have to go back into the settings to configure from what was determined to be the “best resolution” to what I actually wanted.

But there was a bit of an issue with the SOHO install.  Because I chose to do an ISO install in a Virtual Environment…the “extra” software that I put in with the Custom Install could not be installed.  Swapping out the ISO in the config panel of Virtual Box is not something that I felt should need to be done and on black mark against an otherwise seamless install.

After the second reboot, it took just 19 seconds to get the login screen…but for some reason, the Default Session started throwing up error messages.  Some quick thinking and following the directions provided with the error message I switched the GUI Session until I found one that worked.  I was hoping to give the new instance of KDE a test drive but neither of those two options worked.  However, the XFCE worked first pull and no problems from there.  To get a true boot time, I restarted again…and 21 seconds to full Desktop…pretty impressive!

What comes with this default install?

  • Firefox for Web Browsing
  • Pidgin for Web Chat
  • Shotwell for Photo Editing
  • mPlayer and Xine for Multimedia
  • Orange Calender and several other Apps through out.

I was however surprised to see that there was no Office Productivity suite installed.  This gave a perfect opportunity to test out the package manager for VectorLinux, in each of the App Menus there is a QwikPicks option that accesses the repositories of the OS and after a quick update of the software I was off to the races.

From there I was able to install OOoLite versions of Impress, Calc and Writer but there was not an option for the Full Open Office or even LibreOffice?  The QwikPicks options are limited but with a quick search on the VectorLinux Help Site…I located gSlapt a full package manager that lets me really narrow down what I want to install and takes care of the dependencies for me, unfortunately unlike what I am used to with Ubuntu…it does not break these Apps down into categories and it presents the 1000s of Apps as one long list…tedious but it does get the job done.

The Search Function within gSlapt worked great so I added in Wine, the rest of OOoLite and a few other installs.  Could I use this as a Daily Driver…yes I think I could.  Would it be a permanent replacement to Ubuntu…No.

The documentation is rock solid, the developers are constantly improving on the system and for the most part, Vector is one of the better Fringe Distros that I have installed but there is something that keeps me from making the leap from a Debian Based setup to another format.

All in all though, drum roll and Fireworks show please:

My quest for a Perfect Dozen continues hopefully I will find one soon.


Chris J Powell





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