I got another interesting distro review suggestion by DJiNN on the Request A Review page recently so I thought I’d take a look at Austrumi Linux in this review. Austrumi Linux is based on Slackware and is pretty tiny in terms of size, weighing in at about 108MB.
As you might imagine, Austrumi Linux is not geared toward competing with Ubuntu, Fedora or any of the larger desktop distributions. Rather it’s all about portability and the ability to maximize utility while minimizing the actual size of the distribution.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a list of changes in this release:
- made 2 new themes for FVWM
- improved wireless configuration tool (OPEN, WEP, WPA and WPA2)
- added dovecot – IMAP and POP3 server
- added ktsuss – graphical version of `su`
- added lxtask – lightweight task manager
- added pkgtools – utilities for handling Slackware packages
- added recordmydesktop – desktop session recorder
- added slapt-get with gslapt – package management system
- added wmhdplop – a hard drive activity monitor dockapp
- added wmmixer – mixer dockapp
- added xtrlock – a very minimal X display lock program
- added xz – compression utility based on the LZMA
- removed aspell added hunspell
- removed aterm added urxvt
- removed bluefish added geany
- updated: abiword, cdrtools, cpio, firefox, flash-player, gimp, gpicview, gv, hardinfo, hiawatha, less, linuxdcpp, mc, mplayer, MySQL, ntfs-3g, Nvidia, pcmanfm, php, squashfs-tools, tightvnc, transmission, wireless-tools, wpa_supplicant, xfonts-terminus, Xorg-server
- updated libs: alsa, cairo, enchant, freetype2, glib2, glibc, gtk2, libacl1, libattr1, libogg, libpcap, libpng, libvorbis, mesa, ncurses, openssl, pango, pixman, readline, slang, sqlite, xlibs
- removed compiz & emerald, metacity, RutilT, wbar
- updated kernel 2.6.30
Requirements & Installation
Austrumi requires the following:
- CPU – Intel-compatible (pentium2 or later);
- RAM – at least 256 MB (if 256 Mb or less, then run boot: al nocache);
- HD – not needed;
- CD-ROM – bootable CD-ROM drive.
Austrumi is designed to run in RAM so an install is not necessary to use it. However, you do have the option to install it to a hard disk or onto a USB device. I mucked around with the hard disk install but wasn’t able to get it to work in VirtualBox. Your mileage may vary, however, so if you want to play around and see if you can get it installed, go for it. Please take a moment and share the results in the comments section below if you do decide to do an install.
Note that you should be sure to choose English while on the boot up screen if that’s the language you want to use while running Austrumi Linux.
Desktop & Apps
The first thing you notice about the Austrumi desktop is the gorgeous wallpaper that is reminiscent of Linux Mint. Very slick looking and quite pretty.
Austrumi uses the FVWM window manager for its desktop environment. You can see system information right at the top of your screen and you can access various things such as apps, file explorer, search, etc. by clicking on the icons on the right side of your screen. To access more just left-click your desktop and a menu will pop up with the following categories:
You can also right-click your desktop to access FVWM config tools, restart, etc.
Austrumi Linux comes with a good range of apps and here’s some of what you’ll find:
GicView Image Viewer
vqcc-gtk Chat Client
What I Liked Most
My favorite feature of Austrumi is it’s small size and portability. Along with Puppy Linux and other mighty mite versions of Linux, Austrumi makes it possible for you to put Linux in your pocket and take it with you.
Problems & Headaches
I was not able to get Austrumi to load properly in VMWare, I had to use VirtualBox instead.
I fiddled with the hard disk install briefly but was not able to get it to install. No great loss considering that it’s really supposed to run in RAM anyway. But be aware you might have problems if you try to do a hard disk install.
I also had a terrible time with Firefox, it kept crashing over and over and really wasn’t usable when I tried to use Gmail. I eventually gave up. Yahoo Mail didn’t work either, Firefox just kept crashing like crazy every time I tried to use it. Even the old version of Yahoo Mail didn’t work right.
Eventually I realized that the version of Firefox included with Austrumi was Minefield. Minefield is apparently a version of Firefox that is nowhere near ready for regular use. There’s an even a warning message on the official Mozilla page about it here:
Warning: This is NOT A FINAL OR PRE-RELEASE VERSION. This program is provided without any guarantees of stability, so please use it at your own risk. It is recommended that you back up your profile regularly, as there may be bugs that corrupt your data. If that sounds scary, you’d probably be better off with the latest version of Firefox that you can download here.
So why the heck was this included with Austrumi? I have no idea but it should be removed immediately and replaced with a stable version. Who the heck wants to be stuck with an unstable browser? And what’s worse is that there is no other browser included with Austrumi. So you’re stuck with Minefield. Ugh. No thank you.
Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.
You might also want to drop by the Austrumi Forum and if you only read English then you should also visit the unofficial Austrumi Forum in English.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
As much as I’d like to give Austrumi Linux some sort of thumbs up, I really can’t. The screwed up version of Firefox that comes with it makes web browsing almost impossible. In this day and age of web-based applications, social media, etc. you just cannot have an unstable browser as the only way to access the Web. It only frustrates and angers the user to have to wrestle with a browser that might or might not work depending on the site.
If you are an intermediate or advanced Linux users that likes to tinker then Austrumi Linux might be fun to check out for a few minutes but that’s about it. Beginners should steer clear of it as the browser problems will end up frustrating and annoying them.
|Product:||Austrumi Linux 1.9.3|
|Pros:||Tiny file size, weighs in at about 108MB. Includes some useful apps. Doesn’t require hard disk install.|
|Cons:||Includes an unstable version of Firefox that makes it hard to use the web.|
|Suitable For:||Intermediate to advanced Linux users.|
|Summary:||An interesting and potentially useful portable Linux distribution that is crippled by an unstable browser.|