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DistributionWatch Review: Storm Linux 2000 - page 3

Another Contender for the Linux Desktop

  • March 8, 2000
  • By Kevin Reichard

If there's one area where Storm Linux compares unfavorably to other Linux distributions, it's in its lack of included applications and programs. The download version includes pretty much nothing past Debian GNU/Linux and the KDE desktop with most of the KDE applications. Installation of the download version is somewhat different because it doesn't include PartitionMagic; essential tools also missing from the download version include Netscape Communicator and StarOffice.

You'll need to move up to the Standard Edition to acquire a usable suite. In addition to the aforementioned PartitionMagic, the Standard Edition includes Sun's StarOffice 5.1a, Netscape Communicator 4.6, a demo version of Applixware Office 4.4.2, a trial version of BRU backup software, evaluation binaries of VMware 1.1 (which run Windows from within Linux) and a demo of the Krilo game. It's based on kernel 2.2.13 and includes KDE 1.1.2, the October release of GNOME, and XFree86 3.3.5. (You can see a full list here.

Support
The Standard Edition comes with 30 days of free, live telephone support (covering installation topics) and 120 days of free support via e-mail. This is fairly liberal among Linux distributions. In addition to the standard Linux Usenet newsgroups, Stormix maintains a series of mailing lists that can be accessed from the Stormix Web site.

The Storm Package Manager
The Storm Package Manager is based on the Debian package manager. It compares what you have installed on your system with newer versions, giving you the power to upgrading software packages and delete old ones. You can upgrade based on new distributions of Storm Linux or via the Internet.

The package manager also tracks what dependencies are associated with each package. Dependencies are libraries or applications that directly support an application: an X application would have listed dependencies of a specific version of XFree86.

If you're used to working with package managers from the command line, Storm Linux also provides the Debian dpkg for installing Debian .deb packages.

The Storm Administration System
System administration is done through the Storm Administration System, which uses modules for specific tasks via the System Administration Tool (SAT). Three administration modules are included: one for adding users, one for configuring dial-up connections, and one for managing network connections.

We tested Storm Linux using both dial-up and network (DSL) Internet connections. The network connection was simple: during the installation process we specified the standard network information (IP address, DNS server, et al) and were on the Internet right after booting the system for the first time.

Connecting via dial-up connection was also easy. Using the System Administration Tool (SAT), we selected the Dialup Networking Module for configuring our connection. The configuration process includes an auto-detect process for the modem (which Storm Linux correctly found connected to a serial port), but you can also specify where a modem is located should the auto-detect sequence fail.

Armed with this information, you can set up a dial-up account, using a login ID, password and optional login script.

Of course, the assumption here is that you'll be using it on a network connection, which is why network configuration takes place during the installation process. To make changes, go back to the System Administration Tool and make them there.

There are also many other uses for SAT: users and groups added and deleted, among other things.

All in all, SAT is one of the more noteworthy features of Storm Linux and one that makes it stand out. There is a lot of potential with SAS and SAT: placing system administration in modules should open the process to third parties who want to customize system administration. However, at present this potential is unfulfilled: system administration in Storm Linux is not nearly as advanced and comprehensive as you'll find with tools like linuxconf in other distributions.

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