Linux Distribution Roundup
Storm Linux 2000 - http://www.stormix.comThe Storm Linux CD from CheapBytes was not bootable. Mounting it from another Linux, there is a readme describing how to create a boot floppy from Windows. One would think a bootable CD would have been more elegant, but this may be CheapBytes' fault, not Stormix. What Stormix has done is taken the Debian apt-get system, and wrapped a more friendly graphical installer and configuration toolset around it.
Stormix offers a text based or graphical installer, which covers most of the hardware and system setup, except for sound. X environments include KDE and Gnome by default, with other common environments such as Windowmaker and Enlightenment, on the list too. KDE is the default desktop. The KDE menus have a wealth of applications, more than any of the other distributions. Abiword and Gnumeric are include for office applications.
SuSE Linux 7.0 - http://www.suse.comSuSE Linux is based in Germany, but has been becoming more and more popular here in the U.S. too. They offer a solid package with many extras included. Like many of the other distributions, SuSE offers a couple of different packages. Their Professional package include 6 CD's, a DVD and several manuals. The Personal package has 3 CD's and fewer manuals and extras. Both versions include StarOffice. SuSE is also the only distribution reviewed that includes the option to configure your disk partitions to use ReiserFS, a relatively new, journalled file system for Linux, which has some advantages over the standard ext2fs. SuSE does not seem to offer downloadable ISO's, but you can get download a basic package from their ftp site.
The SuSE graphical installer, YaST2, does a fine job of detecting hardware and setting up the system. Sound and X were setup automatically. SuSE has KDE as the default desktop environment, but you have the option of selecting many other's using DyDe, a dynamic desktop environment switching tool. System configuration and administration can be done in both text and graphical modes with YaST and YaST2.
TurboLinux 6.1 Professional - http://www.turbolinux.comTurboLinux call themselves the "Enterprise Ready" Linux. They offer both a Workstation and Server configuration. If you purchase the commercial package, it includes Star Office and a number of development tools.
Turbo Linux includes a graphical installer, which takes care of partitioning, package selection and system configuration. Unique options include software RAID, and kernel support for SMP (symmetric multiprocessing). Multiple installation profiles include "Development Workstation" at 1339 MB. The default X environment is Gnome with Sawfish as a window manager, but options were available for KDE, TWM, and Enlightenment. You are asked whether you want a graphical or text based login, and what services to run at your preferred start level.
TurboLinux provides "TurboLinux Control Center" as a configuration tool for setting up things like your network, time, printing, and system daemons. It is pretty basic, not quite as sophisticated as some of the other admin tools I've seen. No attempt was made to setup my sound card, but alsaconf is included to manually set it up. This took a little work to get going (Creative Sound Blaster Vibra16 PNP), and was definitely not Plug-N-Play.
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