Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Review: Fluxbuntu on the Dell L400

Readers will remember that some time ago I purchased a Dell L400 Latitude second hand for about $200 bucks. Great little machine, runs a cut down version of XP happily and is all good. For some time now I've been struggling to find a distribution of Linux that I'm happy with to run on this little machine. Orginally I had SuSE running on it, then I tried Puppy Linux, DSL, Vector Linux 5.9 Lite and the lighter version of Ubuntu 8.04. I just wasn't quite happy with any of them. Following a comment made on my blog yesterday I thought I'd give Fluxbuntu a try and see how it goes.

As you can tell from it's name, Fluxbuntu is an Ubuntu derivative, running the Fluxbox window manager. The installation was quite easy (as it usually is with Ubuntu), although it was the more command line version of the install than the flashy graphical installation. This is no problem to me, because unlike many out there, I don't mind a bit of hacking with the command line and I can handle fdisk or cfdisk without trouble. 

Naturally, all the appropriate drivers were supplied for the hardware and the installation ran quite smoothly. It correctly detected and configured X and everything else. On reboot, the system started up and away we go. The boot process was a little slow, but I'm wagering I can pare that down without trouble. 

Fluxbuntu is based on Ubuntu 7.10 and I imagine that when 8.10 is released, they will update the distribution to that version. I expect a straightforward upgrade. Given the dearth of applications provided for Ubuntu and Debian there is of course no difficulty in installing whatever software you are happy with. I don't mind Abiword (which is installed by default) and I'm just starting to play with Kazehakase (the web browser). It started up pretty quickly - not bad for a PIII-700! About the only thing I'm struggling with is our proxy here at work. It can be a finicky thing at times.

As usual, I rebooted the system and test entry into Windows (to make sure it still works). Thankfully it does and Fluxbuntu had correctly set Grub up to allow for the extra partition. I noted that it had updated the kernel (twice) during the first round of updates and grub reflects that. I'll have to edit it later and tidy it up a little bit.

Overall, I'm happy for the moment with Fluxbuntu. I'll play with it for a few days and post an update on how I'm going with it. If you've been using Fluxbuntu for a while and have any tips to share - by all means do so in the comments!

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