Sidux 2009-02 (KDE)

The excellent distribution suggestions keep coming from Brian Masinick and here’s yet another one, Sidux 2009-2. Sidux is based on Debian and you can download a version that uses the XFCE or KDE desktop environments. You can also opt to download the lite version that weighs in at about 600MB or the full version that weighs in at around 2.1GB. Being the greedy app pig that I am, I opted to download the full KDE version.

Requirements & What’s New In This Release
Here’s some of what’s new in this release:

  • Debian sid, as of 2009-07-14.
  • kernel 2.6.30 (smp, hard preemption).
  • X.org 7.4 (xserver-xorg-core 1.6.2).
  • KDE 4.2.4 (en + de).
  • new, SVG based, art theme created by the sidux art team.
  • offline manual for en + de directly on the disc, online manuals for more languages online at http://manual.sidux.com/ and available via apt; a big thank you goes to the documentation and translation teams!
    Please note that the offline manual is only available on the running live CD or the installed system.
  • many changes for the manual.
  • iwl3945 support (Intel Pro Wireless 3945 chipsets).
  • iwlagn support for IPW 4965 and the IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n part of the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 1000/ 5xxxAGN/ 6000/ 6050 family.
  • at76c50x-usb support for 11 MBit/s Atmel wlan cards (at76c503a, at76c505 and at76c505a).
  • ath5k support for 54/ “108” MBit/s Atheros wlan cards (AR2425, AR5210, AR5211, AR5212, AR5213 and AR5414).
  • ath9k support for 802.11 draft-n Atheros wlan cards (AR5418+AR5133, AR5416+AR5133, AR5416+AR2133, AR9160, AR9280 and AR9281).

Image_Picture 10

In order to use Sidux on your system you’ll need to meet these requirements:

    • amd64:

      • CPU requirements:
        • AMD64
        • Intel Core2
        • Intel Atom 330
        • any x86-64/ EM64T capable CPU or newer

         

      • RAM requirements:
        • KDE: 512 MB RAM (?768 MB RAM recommended), 1 GB RAM for liveapt.
        • XFCE: 256 MB RAM.
      • VGA graphics card capable of at least 640×480 pixel resolution.
      • optical disk drive or USB media.
      • 3 GB HDD space, 10 GB recommended.
    • i686:
      • CPU requirements:
        • Intel Pentium pro/ Pentium II
        • AMD K7 Athlon (not K5/ K6)
        • Intel Atom N-270/ 230
        • VIA C3-2 (Nehemiah, not C3 Samuel or Ezra)/ C7
        • any x86-64/ EM64T capable CPU or newer

         

      • RAM requirements:
        • KDE: 384 MB RAM (768 MB RAM recommended), 1 GB RAM for liveapt.
        • XFCE: 192 MB RAM.
      • VGA graphics card capable of at least 640×480 pixel resolution.
      • optical disk drive or USB media.
      • 3 GB HDD space, 10 GB recommended.

Boot Up & Installation
Sidux is a Live CD distribution so you can test it without having to install it. Just pop the CD in and boot up your computer. The first thing I noticed was that Sidux has a very fast boot time when using the Live CD. Before I knew it the desktop had loaded and I was ready to use it. Much faster than certain other distributions.

To get started doing the installation just click the Sidux Installer icon on the desktop and follow the on-screen prompts. At the beginning you will also get the option to install Sidux onto a USB key.

The install is broken into 6 steps (each represented by a tab in the install menu):

Welcome
Partitioning
Grub/Timezone
User
Network
Install

Just click the Back and Forward buttons to proceed through the install.

The installation is mostly very easy but at one point you must use gparted, cfdisk or fdisk to setup a partition on your hard disk. While I don’t think this would throw experienced Linux users off one bit, it might rattle some newbies that aren’t used to dealing with partitions or who might not notice that they need to set up a partition in the first place. The way that it’s set up, it’s easy to miss the fact that you need to push the Execute button to start the partitioning process. That aside, the rest of the install is pretty self-explanatory.

I had no problems whatsoever with my installation. It took about 15 minutes or so for my installation to fully complete. After it was complete, I had no problems booting into my newly installed Sidux system.

Image_Picture 2Desktop & Apps
One thing that struck me about Sidux is how polished it looks when you are looking at the Sidux desktop. This doesn’t look like something that was haphazardly thrown together. There’s a very attractive Sidux logo with what looks like a tick or spider or whatever on the desktop and also a handy Sidux Manual, Release Notes, IRC link and the Sidux Installer (which appears on the Live CD desktop).

The other thing I noticed was that it wasn’t just the boot up speed that was fast, the Live CD desktop performance was quite snappy too. Some Live CD distros can be a bit slow when you’re using them as a Live CD versus having installed them but Sidux definitely isn’t one of those. I found using it as a Live CD to be quite enjoyable in and of itself and I can see the value in using it as such without even doing an install.

The performance after the install was also quite good. Sidux isn’t laggy or slow and doesn’t have a bloated feel to it when you’re using it. It’s quite zippy with apps opening quickly and everything happening without a lot of delay.

Here’s a sample of the apps you’ll get when you install this version of Sidux:

Games
Various KDE Games

Graphics
XSane Image Scanning
Gwenview Image Viewer
Okular Document Viewer
KSnapshot
digiKam Photo Management

Internet
Akregator Feed Reader
Iceweasel Web Browser
KGet Download Manager
KMail
KNemo
Konqueror
Kopete IM
Konversation IRC
KTorrent
Sidux Browser

Emulators
Virtual Box OSE

Multimedia
Dragon Player Video Player
K3b CD & DVD Burning
Kaffeine Media Player
KMix Sound Mixer

TVtime TV Viewer

Office
OpenOffice.org
Fax Address Book

Others
KMouth Speech Synthesizer Frontend
Krusader File Manager
KWrite
KGpg Encryption
Klipper Clipboard Tool
Dolphin File Manager

Image_Picture 11

Problems & Headaches
If Sidux has a weakness for a desktop distribution, it’s in the install routine. It simply isn’t as intuitive as it should be for new users. Experienced users won’t mind it a bit and will have it installed relatively quickly. But newer folks might not understand how to partition their drive and could be confused when trying to install Sidux.

The part where you need to click the Execute button to start gparted (or whatever tool you choose) should be a separate step as some users might go right by it only to find at the end that the install won’t proceed because no partition has been created.

I’d like to see the Sidux developers move quickly to improve the install routine. They might need to step back away from looking at Sidux through their very experienced eyes and then place themselves into the role of complete newbie to Linux. This might help them improve the install routine and make it less potentially confusing to newbies.

Another potentially confusing thing is that there is an entire Debian section available in the app menus when you click on the K button on your desktop panel. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that those apps are all available. However, it is potentially confusing to newer people as some might not understand why those apps are listed under the Debian folder label instead of being categorized under the regular app categories or why some appear in both places. I’m not going to nitpick this too much but it’s something for the Sidux developers to be aware of and perhaps tweak a bit in future releases. It might be better to eliminate that separate Debian app list and blend all of the apps together in the appropriate categories.

Note that if you want media codecs, flash player or other non-free software then you will have to find and install them yourself. The developers of Sidux are all about free software so you won’t find non-free software available right after you install Sidux. However, the Sidux Manual contains instructions on how to update your apt sources so you can install non-free software easily enough.

One other very minor nitpick. While there is a link to the Sidux Manual on the desktop there is no link to the forum or the wiki. I’d like to see both links placed on the desktop. They might not matter to experienced Sidux users but they can make a big difference to newer folks who haven’t used Sidux before and who might want to ask a question or two in the forum or otherwise browse some helpful information.

Getting Help With Sidux
As always if you run into problems you can always post a question in the DLR forum. I can’t guarantee that we’ll have an answer for you but we’ll do our best. And you should most definitely also visit the Sidux forum, read the Sidux Manual and check out the Sidux Wiki. There’s an immense amount of information out there about Sidux waiting for you to find it. So be sure to check it out when you have a chance.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I found myself quickly becoming a fan of Sidux. It offers a tremendous amount of value in an attractive and mostly easy to use distribution.

However, I don’t quite feel comfortable right now recommending it to folks that are very new to Linux. For them I recommend Linux Mint as a better alternative. If you’re new to Linux and you just want a taste of Sidux, feel free to download it and use it as a Live CD. You’ll be able to enjoy it without needing to do an install on your system. And if you’re feeling more adventurous go ahead and try to install it but know ahead of time that you’ll need to do a bit of partitioning during the install.

But I heartily recommend Sidux for intermediate to advanced Linux users. For you folks installing Sidux will be a piece of cake and you’ll get a heck of a lot out of your Sidux based system. It’s a great desktop distribution.

Summary Table:

Product: Sidux 2009-2
Web Site: http://sidux.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Very polished distribution for the most part. Provides a good range of software wrapped up in an attractive desktop package. Fast install.
Cons: Install routine might possibly throw off some of those who are completely new to Linux and who aren’t used to using tools like gparted to partition their hard disks. Separate Debian app category listing might confuse new users.
Summary: A very good desktop Linux distribution that provides a lot of value and makes a great alternative distro for intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5


Comments

  1. Skull Fire says

    in your review you mention the logo being a spider or tick thing. the sid in debian sid/sidux comes from the character "sid' in toy story, the boy who transforms and/or destroys toys. the logo is a similiar example of one of the "transformed" toys in that movie.

  2. Scodge says

    Good review of a very good distro.

    Regarding the install procedure – well it is always going to be a scary moment for the newbie, when you have to re-format something. Even now, (after several years using Linux and trying-out distros) it still worries me, causing multiple re-checking (was it sdb6 or sdb7???) to make sure something doesn't get over-written accidentally. I'm not sure if the sidux installer is really much worse (or better) than the others available e.g. anaconda or SUSE (Man! That has to be the most complicated installer in the world!)

    The forum at sidux is also a big plus – always helpful and a goldmine of technical help – just do your homework and be polite.

    Finally, who said Kanotix is dead? That's still my productive system! I dream of the day when Kano brings out a new version – but I agree, I've been waiting a long time now……

  3. Gman says

    I agree that Sidux is not the distro for beginners. I consider myself an intermediate Linux user and I still have trouble with the Sidux installer. But my regular distros are Mandriva and PCLinuxOS, both of which I believe have the best installers of all Linux distros so my opinion on this is biased.

    I will give Sidux another spin in VirtualBox.

  4. Tim says

    for experienced Debian users looking for a supported sid, sidux is great. I'm a complete convert; have it running happily on three notebooks now. I had to change from gnome to kde, but that turned out to be a win.

  5. MintUser says

    I've used OpenGEU (Formerly Geubuntu). As far as an enlightenment based distrob it is one of, if not the best available. Similar to MoonOS and Maryan. Completely unlike elive or OzOS. I highly recommend taking it for a spin. I'm eagerly waiting for the next version.

  6. MintUser says

    A few weeks ago I spent almost an entire week trying to get KDE 4.2 running on a fresh Debian Lenny install. It was one of my few failed Linux attempts. If I had known about sidux sooner it would have saved a week of hassle. It also has one of the best default themes i've seen.

  7. jaiho says

    It is a ubuntu based distro under development.the current version is opengeu 8.10 based on ubuntu 8.10.it mainly concentrates on art work.it is based on enlightment 17 and gnome.it is having many quirks in this version,but promising.you will get an entairly different experiment from this..and it is getting used to also.i dont know much about this as i am not the developer.project started and designed by the Italian artist Luca D.M. (aka TheDarkMaster)….any way i liked the distro and its artwork….the graphics works are less resource hog and not irritating like compiz..

    i heard that alpha version of 9.04 is available in repo…..we can wait for the release of 9.04…..if you want to know more,you can contact the dark master…

  8. says

    Hi jaiho,

    I checked out the link, it looks interesting. But the current version is a bit dated. Please drop me an email (jimlynch@gmail.com) when the new version is released as it seems like they are working on it right now. I hate to review the old one then have the new one come out shortly thereafter. That's what happened to me with Linux Mint. Heh, heh.

    :blush:

  9. jaiho says

    hi jim nice review.i want to download the distro….but there is no link for torrent download….i haven't seen any torrent for the latest version….all were for old version…so please post the torrent link for sidux 2009-2 kde lite and full version….

  10. Bill Julian says

    Good review Jim. I agree this is not a first-timer's distro unless that person first reads some reviews and spends time with the very fine sidux manual. That done a person might walk through the installation, take a deep breadth and edit a few scripts as necessary. But there are other distros; Mepis, PCLOS and Mint to name 3, which are easier. And put Ubuntu there as a fourth. I am running a turn-key System 76 laptop with Ubuntu 8.10 and it runs as reliably and dependably as any Windows I have ever used, In fact it is distinctly better than at least one of them I recall painfully.

    sidux? A performance revelation if a person is used to something like Ubuntu or Mandriva. I am running Xfce 64 bit and it is just plain fun! I'll be upgrading to the newest version before too long, I suspect.

    Do look at Arch and put Antix on your list as well.

  11. says

    Gustavo: Yeah, I've reviewed PCBSD back on ExtremeTech. I may take a look at it again here on DLR though.

    GwydionDdu: Yes, I usually use VMWare, Parallels or VirtualBox on one of my macs to do my distro testing. Lets me keep a lot of different distributions right at my fingertips.

    Mas: Glad you are using VirtualBox. It's a lot of fun to be able to switch off to whatever distro you want regardless of what current operating system you are using.

    On the issue of newbies and why I regard that as important when looking at all distributions…when I first started doing distro reviews on ET I got a lot of feedback from people who hadn't used Linux before. Some were intimidated by it and others just didn't know where to start.

    So when I write a review I always try to remind myself to look at it from their point of view. And I always try to point out potential pitfalls that folks new to Linux might encounter as I hope that these reviews will help as many people as possible to discover desktop Linux and to start using it.

    So that's why I tend to harp on how stuff might appear to a new Linux user even if it's in a distro that is toward a more advanced user.

  12. GwydionDdu says

    I can't help but notice that in your screenshots that you are running these Linux distro's on a Mac, through VMWare!

  13. Gustavo Pereira says

    I used and liked sidux a lot, but then I discovered FreeBSD.

    Arch is loosely based on FreeBSD ideas, but hey! If you want something you fully customize, small, lean and blazing fast, get your hands dirty and give FreeBSD a spin (or PCBSD if you don't feel brave enough).

    And the documentation is the best you can find in the FOSS world!

  14. says

    Hi Jim!

    WELL! You finally got to give sidux a spin – AND a review! Note the use of "sidux" – I see you have already been duly "dinged" for this. I was dinged the first time I posted in a forum about it, and I have now been actively using sidux for at least two years.

    When Jon Danzig passed away, my favorite developer centric Debian based distribution went away, so I was left with my desktop backup, SimplyMEPIS. Mind you, for every day use, SimplyMEPIS is just perfect, and for those new users that you are concerned about in your review, I'd steer them in that direction, though Linux Mint is one of the other distributions that I would recommend; PCLinuxOS is the third one.

    I cannot agree with you about some of the changes that you propose to sidux. The reason that I cannot agree is that the approach that the team has taken is one of the reasons that sidux is such a cutting edge, fast, yet amazingly stable desktop system. For those who are not ready to handle it, there are plenty of great alternatives; I just named three of them.

    I have a trilogy of terrific desktop systems that I try to frequently use. They are:

    1. sidux, for fast, cutting edge software that still manages to provide a stable desktop experience.

    2. antiX, an extremely flexible, lean, fast desktop system that sticks to small, memory conserving applications, suitable for use on somewhat older hardware, yet capable of running extremely quickly on newer hardware. antiX benefits from the easy installer of SimplyMEPIS. Since it uses light window managers and somewhat less familiar applications than the beginner systems, it is just shy of being a true beginner system, but it is actually not too difficult for the determined beginner to handle. But what is really nice about it is that it is the lightest full featured Live CD you can get that will quickly detect and handle your hardware, and it has the firmware needed to run wireless, and despite the small size, it offers multiple light wireless network management tools, so it is the ideal fast OS for a laptop on the go.

    3. SimplyMEPIS is the perfect stable desktop system, benefiting from the great stability of Debian Stable. The current release is based on Lenny, and it is quite extensible, yet simple. The fact that antiX has been crafted from the core features of SimplyMEPIS demonstrates that while SimplyMEPIS is solid and simple, it can be customized and respun into numerous other forms, which the MEPIS Lovers Forum community have done with great vigor and outstanding quality this year.

    Because of this trilogy, to me there are no good reasons for changing what sidux is. Instead, grab all three of these distros and use them to fit specific needs – or pick a few others.

    One last thing: You may have noticed that I finally got the bug and have started into using Virtualbox OSE. I was running sidux 2009.02 on my existing (upgraded) sidux desktop, but tonight, I had to manage a Front Page XP based mailing list, so I was on "Mista Vista", as my friend Mel (Melloe), our long time ET (and numerous other forums) contributor would say. Well, I wondered what sidux would run like on Vista, so I snagged Virtualbox OSE and put it up on Vista after finishing my mailing list (and that is why it took so long to get back here).

    I downloaded sidux, using Firefox 3.5.1 on Vista, then loaded it, gave it plenty of video memory, and launched it in full screen mode. You would never even know that I am on Mista Vista – This instance has reserved 768 MB (that's what I set for my particular hardware), 8 GB of dynamic space, and, as I mentioned, 32 MB of video RAM.

    You would never know that I am even on Vista. The performance is excellent, the appearance of the XFCE version is every bit as nice as the KDE version, and Firefox comes with the XFCE implementation, which some may view as a positive attribute.

    I went right out and got the latest nightly build of Seamonkey, set it up, and here I am, posting in a Virtualbox instance on Vista, using all of my favorite applications and accessing my favorite sites.

    I am going to award sidux a 5/5 in my ratings, not because it works for beginners, but because it perfectly hits its target market. We cannot be comparing Tiny Core, or even Crunchbang Linux to sidux (but did you notice that sidux can outrace them)? :-)

    I give sidux a great rating for the niche it meets. I give Mint a solid rating for the niche it meets. Heck, even Fedora gets a good rating for the niche that it meets, but I do not recommend either Fedora or sidux for beginners, I recommend sidux to enthusiasts and I recommend Fedora for corporate users who need a desktop system similar to the stable Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) servers that they use for back end applications.

    I know of no other distribution that I have evaluated that better suits its niche. There is one other distribution, one that you have decided not to evaluate, that really tickles the fancy of enthusiasts but very rarely the beginner, and that is the highly tailorable and fast Arch Linux. Don't even go near it if you are a timid beginner, but DO go near it if you want everything exactly the way you want it and are willing to put in the time and effort to make it that way. Arch is for Slackware converts who want an even faster system and even more control over what is installed and configured. Arch comes with a text installer and core utilities. Everything else must be installed and configured. All configurations are in easily edited, text readable configuration files, and there are very few of them – no hunting around, and excellent documentation on what to do with them.

    sidux is easier to put together than Arch by a long shot, so people who want cutting edge, but don't have the time or interest in tweaking at that low level are ideal candidates for sidux. Would be Debian Sid users who want a nicer appearance and more administration tools are the target audience for sidux.

    By the way, the sidux developers are the offspring of Kanotix, which arose out of the original KNOPPIX work. In November 2006 the sidux team was formed when Kano went a different direction with Kanotix (and lost his entire team to sidux). Kanotix, a pretty nice distro in 2005, faded shortly thereafter.

    sidux also has a community of developers who put together some add on tools for sidux administration. My favorite one is smxi, written by Harold Hope, who goes by the handle of h2. The smxi tool is a console based tool; nothing visually fancy, but it saves you time and effort. Using smxi, you can manage a rolling upgrade strategy and I have not had it fail once on me since 2007 when I started with sidux.

    That's enough. You can see that I love sidux, that I think it fills a role that few others compete with directly, and in the niche that I see, there is no contest: sidux is a winner!

  15. says

    Hi ltjmax,

    Welcome to DLR and thanks for the feedback and comments, glad you enjoyed the review.

    Hmmm…the lack of a capital "S" irritates the editor in me. I'll try to bear it in mind for future reviews though. Thanks for the heads up.

  16. ltjmax says

    Pretty good review, but you can't considere a "con" the fact that it can be hard for a newbie… It's using Debian Sid so it is bleeding edge and moving fast. You have to be careful when running this distro, read the website before updating to be sure there's no trouble with new version of packages, etc. So when you're using sidux, you're suppose to know what you're doing and you're suppose to know that an update might kill your mother.

    Oh and just another point… it's sidux not Sidux. It's brand like this so using a capital S is a mistake ;)

    So like I said at the begining, good review, quite interesting!! Hope you'll continue to be around sidux for some time.

    And if you don't know it yet, you may use a tool (script) name smxi to easily update your system and do a lot of great stuff with no mess: http://techpatterns.com/forums/about736.html (note that it isn't support by the sidux devs).

    Thanks for your review and sorry for my poor english… I speak french :blush: :blush:

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