One of the great things about Linux is that there really is a distribution for everybody, even astronomers or folks who would just like to learn a little bit about astronomy. If that’s you then you’ll want to take a peek at Distro Astro 1.0.2. Distro Astro is all about learning about our solar system and the universe itself.
Distro Astro comes bundled with a great selection of astronomy applications (more on that in the software section), and it’s based on Ubuntu and Linux Mint. So it’s easy to install and use, even if you’re new to Linux.
What’s New in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Here’s a sample of the changes in this release:
INDI Library 0.9.6 now includes all the latest drivers as of July 18, 2013.
Mint Display Manager upgraded from 1.0.8 to 1.2.5.
LibreOffice 4 upgraded from 4.0.1 to 4.0.4.
Gimp 2.8 upgraded from 2.8.4 to 2.8.6.
Linux Kernel upgraded from 3.2.0-40 to 3.2.0-49
Internal packaging changes:
LibreOffice has a new icon theme that is consistent with the rest of the distribution.
Mint Display Manager has a new HTML theme with Hubble UDF background.
IRAF shortcut icon now opens it as the current user instead of user ‘iraf’.
Fixed a few (mis)alignments in current default login screen.
VirtualBox guest packages removed from local repository because it is not needed and merely occupies space.
Inherits updated packages from Ubuntu and Linux Mint repositories as of July 25, 2013.
This is a point release, so there’s not an enormous amount of new features in it.
System Requirements for Distro Astro 1.0.2
I was not able to find a detailed list of system requirements for Distro Astro 1.0.2. However, it was originally based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux Mint 13 Maya, and has been updated as noted above in the What’s New section. So if your system can run either of those distributions, you should be able to run Distro Astro as well.
If you come across a specific list of requirements for Distro Astro, please post them in the comments below. Thanks.
Distro Astro 1.0.2 Download
You can download Distro Astro from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.02 GB, so it’s not a small download by any means. Don’t let that throw you though since it comes with some great software.
Distro Astro 1.0.2 Installation
As I noted earlier, Distro Astro is based on Linux Mint and Ubuntu. It uses the same installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install it. You can watch a slideshow of Distro Astro features and software while your install happens. I recommend going through the slideshow since it introduces you to some of the astronomy applications included with Distro Astro.
Note also that Distro Astro is a live distribution, so it’s possible to run it off a disc to check it out without having to do an install.
The Distro Astro 1.0.2 Desktop
One of the things I really like about Distro Astro is the look and feel of it. The developers didn’t just glom a bunch of astronomy apps into Ubuntu and Linux Mint. They took the time to include some gorgeous wallpapers to give it’s own feel and identity. The wallpapers are images from the Hubble telescope.
From the minute you boot into the desktop, you know that this distro is all about the heavens. The default wallpaper is gorgeous, but you can easily switch it by right clicking your desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background. There are a number of attractive space-based wallpapers that are included by default, and you can get different kinds online.
On the desktop you’ll find a couple of icons for personal files, and your computer. But there are also seven icons for astronomy applications that make it easy to get started learning about space and the universe.
Click the Start button on the panel, and you’ll see the handy Linux Mint menu. If you’ve used Linux Mint before, you’ll feel right at home in Distro Astro. It’s easy to navigate around to find applications, the Software Manager, Control Center, etc.
If you prefer you can opt for the Nightvision theme instead of the default Clearskies. Nightvision is much darker, with red text. It’s not my cup of tea, as I don’t care for red text at all. But your mileage may vary so check it out anyway.
There are also Nightvision and Hubble screensavers you can use in Distro Astro 1.0.2. The Hubble images are quite gorgeous, especially if you’ve never seen them before. Some of them are breathtaking to behold, and they convey well the amazing beauty of our universe.