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Novell Linux Desktop--A Linux Distribution for Enterprise Desktops - page 2

Re-Inking the Big Red 'N'

  • December 27, 2004
  • By Bill von Hagen

I'll touch on the installation process and its major decision points, but won't dally there longer than necessary. The NLD installer is, not surprisingly, a slimmed down version of SUSE's YaST installer with fewer choices and a bright red "Novell Linux Desktop" logo at the top. Aside from the tasks that you'd expect to be customizable (specialized disk partitioning, adding other software packages to the default set, and so on), there is essentially only one decision to make--do you want GNOME or KDE? As I'll explore later in this review, there are a huge number of differences between the default GNOME and KDE installs--many more than I would have expected.

One interesting observation about the installation process is that, while YaST was aware of existing partitions on my disk, it didn't try to make use of them. Trying to be clever, I partitioned my disk manually during a GNOME installation, left a few empty (unmounted) partitions around, and created a separate /boot partition so that I could subsequently install the KDE version of NLD on a separate partition.

The GNOME installation went fine, but when I rebooted from the install DVD, the default partition setup was only to reformat my existing swap partition and install NLD on one of the blank partitions. To try to pick up /boot, I used the Custom Partitioner's Expert menu to "Import mount points from an existing fstab", which found the partition that held /etc/fstab correctly, but I guess I expected a bit more. The idea of a shared /boot partition in dual-boot Linux systems is nothing new, but then, the people who want to dual-boot multiple versions of Linux are not the typical NLD audience.

In the end, the only real problem here was with my expectations. I didn't try installing NLD on a system where some flavor of Microsoft Windows is already installed--I'd hope (and assumed, from my SUSE experiences), that the installer would "do the right thing" in this scenario. NLD certainly does the right thing in its standard business desktop use cases. I didn't try installing this on a system where Windows was already installed, but I don't envision that as a default NLD use case, either.

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