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A small journey in the world of LiveCDs

March 2, 2007

I have plenty of other things to do but, this evening, I decided to stop a little bit and try some LiveCDs I freely got at Fosdem. Since I did it very quickly and was tired, don’t take what I wrote for granted: LiveCDs are there to be tested. Download one and test it by yourself!

The first LiveCDs I tried were derived from Sun OpenSolaris (and on the OpenSolaris starter kit DVD). BeleniX was quite cute, directly launching XFCE. Quite a few applications were there. Some refresh problems were also present in the console. An old USB key was recognised without problem, as most parts of my low-end workstation.

click to enlarge the BeleniX screenshot

The next LiveCD was NexentaOS, aka GNU/OpenSolaris. It took so long to finally display a rather empty Gnome desktop. In fact, it took a long time to load anything, any application without any warning, indication, nothing. So I was left wondering if my machine had to be restarted or not. Since I also got a DBUS error, I was unable to use the USB key to save a screenshot but, since the network was detected, I was able to transfer the image on another computer. Not many applications were present. Quite disappointing.

click to enlarge the Nexenta screenshot

Finally, Schillix was quite strange because there were no X windowing system (apparently, they are currently trying to build a version of X). I don’t mind text-only operating system. But here, I had a sendmail error popping all the time. It was quite annoying. Finally, I didn’t get a good impression of OpenSolaris with all these LiveCDs. Anyway, OpenSolaris is not free (but only open source).

The next LiveCD was FreeSBIE and I really liked it. The desktop took a little long time to load (but at least I was able to see what’s happening on the screen). It also uses XFCE but it was very well designed, with what a geek wants on the top right corner πŸ˜‰ I was also impressed by all the multimedia applications included (even Ekiga but I didn’t tested them since that computer is used for serious work and has no sound card). Maybe, one day, I’ll try to install a full BSD system …

click to enlarge the FreeSBIE screenshot

Finally, the last LiveCD I tested was Novell OpenSuSE. As usual with SuSE, you can count on a great design. I asked for a Live Gnome version. I just disliked the start menu “a la Vista”: you need 2 mouse-clics to have all the applications you can launch (see screenshot below). Moreover, when you get that screen, it starts with the A for Applications, a category that doesn’t contain the most useful applications (so you have to scroll down and/or click one more time to reach the app you want!).

click to enlarge the OpenSuSE screenshot

One final word: I didn’t talk about the common applications on these systems since you nearly get the same pieces of software on each of them (Firefox, OOo or AbiWord/Gnumeric/…, Thunderbird, etc.).

One Comment
  1. A small comment from me on July 3rd, 2007, following a small e-mail exchange with BeleniX developers …

    1. I hope you will not take this post as a serious review. This post has not any quality standards you can expect from a review … and it was not my point to write a review!

    2. Here is my opinion of LiveCD … For me, a LiveCD should give a relatively good impression to any kind of user, from any geek who wants to tryanother OS to Mr. Anybody who has the security to find his OS back when he’ll remove the LiveCD from the CD tray. That’s why I just put the CD in the tray and explain here what happened. Nothing more.

    3. When I say that “OpenSolaris is not free (but only open source)”, it’s true! OpenSolaris license is CDDL which may be an open source license but which is not a free software license. See here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html and there: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#CDDL

    4. Relax. I know those people are doing a great job, usually in their free time. And it’s better than developing for proprietary OSes. πŸ™‚

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