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Ydesktop 3.2.1 Release Candidate 2 At – A – Glance

Yoper Limited (“Yoper”) announced the release of Ydesktop-3.2.1 Release Candidate 2 on December 18, 2002. This was a follow up to the initial public release candidate that hit the internet about three weeks ago. Despite being a newcomer to the Linux community, this Linux distribution is now number 5 on the Distrowatch list.

Ydesktop is the first part of Your Operating System (YOS) being developed by Yoper. Ydesktop is optimized for 686 or higher x86 based machines, capable of using packages from all of the major distributions (native rpm and tgz support, .deb through alien). Ydesktop borrows from most of the major distributions. The base system is from Linux From Scratch, Package tools from Slackware, Raidtools and startup scripts from Red Hat, and they use Cloop and hwsetup from Knoppix.

The purpose of these release candidates is “to prove in its basic structure that YOS can deliver what it sets out to deliver.” After over 5,000 downloads of release candidate one, RC2 fixes many of the problems testers relayed to the development team. It also adds several new featuers, such as a choice of filesystems (adding ReiserFS) and DHCPCD integration into the installation routine. A list of the added features can be found on the announcement page as well as the changelog.

A Little History About Our Experiences with Ydesktop
We first downloaded Ydesktop 3.2.1-rc1 on December 5, 2002 and found the distribution to be extremely exciting. The idea of combining work from the community rather than reinventing the wheel seems reasonable to us. However, the install failed to properly set up the i810 video and networking was a bugbear. Each problem we ran into was quickly resolved through the community support forum on the Yoper website. This impressed us enough to become a Yoper mirror and we set up a forum on our own website to try to drive interest for this new distribution. In short, try it.

About Release Candidates
If you are new to the Linux community then you might be overwhelmed by all of the versions of software and distributions constantly being released and available on websites. Prior to a finished product being offered, many Linux developers offer Beta products and then Release Candidates in order for more people to test product. Any bugs can be quickly resolved and cleaned up before releasing a final product.

For example, K Desktop Environment is expected to release version 3.1 of their very successful environment in January 2003. Ydesktop is using KDE 3.1 release candidate 5. For our testing purposes, rc5 has been stable and we look forward to the final release of KDE 3.1 (as well as Ydesktop). However, never use release candidates in a mission-critical environment.

The Install
Ydesktop uses a text based install. Before you roll your eyes, there are plans to candy up the install routine. For now, expect to have some basic understanding of cfdisk and be attentive to answering questions on the screen.

After downloading the single iso image, we burned the Ydesktop CD using cdrecord at the command line on our Libranet 2.7 box. Next we booted the CD on our celeron 500 MHz, 256 MB RAM, Gigabyte i810 based motherboard with a 52x CDROM and 30 GB Seagate ATA-100 hard drive attached. There is an Ensoniq sound card in the only PCI slot. The onboard audio is disabled in the BIOS.

Yoper install boots off the CD and then comes to a bash prompt. The user is required to type “yoper” at this prompt. The partitioning dialog suggests to make three partitions; including a swap file (good idea), the choice is then made for the root partition. A black screen then appears with white text that says, “YOS is installing. this will take 5 – 20 minutes.” It took our test system about 5 minutes before new text scrolled across the screen. A Networking dialog box comes next. Dialup users are asked to say no for setting up their connections. DHCP users will happy to know release candidate 2 has DHCPCD working. We were not able to test the printing.

First Impression
KDE 3.1 rc5 is the default environment for this distribution. Keramik is the theme. If you love KDE, then you will feel right at home. OpenOffice, Mozilla, GIMP, Quanta 3.1, KSirc, KBear, and KMail and about 200 other applications are available.

The menu is not newbie friendly. Someone who is not familiar with the names of programs will get lost. There are two word alternative explanations for the links but I doubt a new user will understand. In time, we expect distribution developers to respond to this little snag. They just need to spend some time watching new Linux users.

We missed having gaim and gFTP on the default install. However, these can easily be grabbed off of the internet and installed (if you want to go through the 21 plus failed dependencies). We also miss seeing the Mozilla 1.2.1 browser. It seems that 1.1 is on this release candidate. Mozilla 1.2.1 is expected on the final release.

Product Name: Ydesktop
Version Number: 3.2.1 RC2
Author(s): Andreas Girardet
List of Packages: here
Download: here
IRC Channel: OpenProjects Channel Y

New Feature List for Ydesktop-3.2.1-rc2:
Ydesktop is KDE centric.

  • ReiserFS
  • Initrd support
  • Boot floppy support
  • Enhanced printer support (cups 1.1.17)
  • DHCPD install integration
  • An update dialog box if rc1 is found on HD
  • New drivers for i810
  • Optimized XFree 86 (4.2.1)
  • Improved fonts
  • Improved GL support
  • NVidia packages
  • DOS partition recognized by LILO
  • CDROM automount (and it works!)
Quick Tip
You will be asked during the installation routine to choose a filesystem for the OS. ReiserFS is a good choice because of the journaling features and performance. Reiser4 is due June 30, 2003.

Bugs & Gotchas
The locate database was not updated and therefore we had to run updatedb command (as root) at the command line. Someone used to using Konsole might be taken aback for a moment when the message states cannot locate a file. Find works.

KBear was a little annoying. The QuickConnect dialog never minimized and we had to move it out of the way to see the main area. We also couldn’t get KBear to close by clicking on cancel or the X, or choosing close, nor using Alt-F4. We used the XKill from the menu to stop things.

The Info Center correctly showed the I/O Ports for the Ensoniq 5880 Audio PCI card but thre was a message saying, “No information available about soundcard!” when clicking on the sound option. The sound worked fine. In fact, simply putting a music CD launched kscd and we were able to listen to music.

Linux Kernel information was also missing: “Sorry. The kernel configuration could not be read due to the following error: cannot open /usr/src/linux/arch//config.in for reading.”

Summary
Ydesktop is a distribution to watch. It isn’t complete but the project is well worth the effort of installing and providing feedback. The development team is responsive on the forums and this is very important. New users may be taken back by the text install but penguinists used to tinkering will find the install to be a no-brainer.

Future
The installation eye candy will eventually make this distribution appealing to more home users. The website suggests there will be trained technicians available to help with the install. There is space available on the Yoper website to include stories for migrating Microsoft machines over to Linux. That is a space many businesses might watch closely.

About this report
This is a “At-a-glance” report and not meant to be a comprehensive review. Please visit the Yoper website for more information. Mozilla-composer was used to type this report and create the html. Bluefish was used to open the code and have tidy clean up the code so that it could be copied into the PostNuke editor.

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