Several days of Windows problems…

Several days of Windows problems have put the Linux newsletter behind. How can that be?

It’s pretty simple, really. Since I’ve been changing distributions so frequently, I’ve come to rely once again on Outlook as the regular repository for my mail. It’s easier than backing up all the 500+ daily emails I receive prior to installing a new distribution for review. Well, it *was* easier.

My Windows 2000 partition went down late last week. And, it went down in a way that, logically, meant a re-install was in order. No problem, right? Yeah, right. For the life of me, I couldn’t get an install that didn’t randomly freeze at the most inopportune moment. I’m still suffering through that at this writing. Worse yet, I didn’t grab my .pst file prior to re-formatting the partition. My bad. That single lack of preparation meant all the mail you sent late in the week last week is gone. I guess we’ll do the first essential Linux book review this week rather than DIY Friday.

We’re wrapping up ELX Linux today. After a dismal security review, I spent some time this weekend looking at the distro-specific tools offered by this distribution from India. Really, it was quick look. With its reliance on the RedHat distribution, ELX has very few tools that are unique to the distro. That’s not necessarily bad, as it utilizes nearly the full RedHat compliment – Xconfigurator, up2date, etc. The lone exception is a menu system for grouping similar application types together in the start menu. This would be nice, except that it adds additional points and clicks to the process of opening applications. Not a winner in my book.

Distro-Specific Apps (1-5): 1

The folks at ELX did respond to the Nessus audit, asserting that many of the required changes are in the works for a future version. While this probably doesn’t quite qualify as tech support, I can say that all at ELX have been very responsive to inquiries and questions. They do seem interested in problems and in finding the solution to those anomalies in their distribution. Given some of what I’ve seen from Mandrake support in the past week (more on this in an upcoming issue), it’s nice to see this level of response from a “minor” distribution. The big boys should aspire to this.

Support (online, 1-5): 4

Finally, let’s take a look at the installed apps base in ELX. In short, it’s pretty stock fare. All critical office, multimedia, graphics, and entertainment packages are available. In fact, as noted the first week of the review, a “Custom” install will install everything if the user doesn’t take the time to deselect what’s not needed. This is clearly an approach that’s intended to ease the install process – not a bad idea, just lacking the proper focus to make it truly efficient.

The one notable exception to the standard install package is the inclusion of OpenOffice in lieu of StarOffice. They’re nearly identical suites. Though I can’t say for certain, I suspect that there may be a licensing issue to commercial distributions that prevents ELX from using the more widely-known StarOffice package. Regardless, OpenOffice provides the same functionality and stands as a useful and appropriate replacement for StarOffice.

All in all, you’ll find the tools you need in ELX.

Installed Applications Base (1-5): 3

So, let’s make a quick review of what we’ve found with this new Linux distribution designed to move users painlessly from Windows:

Overall Score (50 Possible): 28

ELX has, I think, the right idea – to provide a package of parallel Linux apps for Windows users and to utilize an easy installation routine that, at a minimum, won’t prevent Windows users from making the change. I do, however, think it’s still early in the life of ELX. There are some changes (default security and distro-sepcific tools, in particular) that will be required to compete with the other well-established distributions in the marketplace. While there’s nothing that should overtly prevent you from using ELX if you choose, there are clearly other more mature Linux distributions that make the experience for new Linux users much easier.