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.
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.
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 😉 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 …
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!).
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.).