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Turbolinux 10F: Turbolinux is Alive and Well - page 3

Rediscovering Turbolinux

  • April 4, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

Turbolinux is not a bleeding edge distribution from the package perspective, tending to focus on time-tested system components and configuration tools. Though it uses the 2.6 kernel, it uses a patched and enhanced version of the 2.6.0 kernel. It uses XFree86-4.3.0-77 as the core of its X Window system environment, while most other distributions have wholeheartedly adopted the X.org X Window system distribution.

Similarly, many of the system and service configuration tools are older, terminal-oriented configuration tools that were developed by Turbolinux and which are no doubt second-nature to long-time Turbolinux users. Their appearance was somewhat jarring to someone such as myself, long used to the eye candy that accompanies the administrative modules found in SUSE's YaST and similar modern configuration tools. Figure 1 shows the KDE Control Center side-by-side with some of Turbolinux's Window Manager and Network Configuration utilities on the default Turbolinux desktop.

That said, some of Turbolinux's custom configuration and administrative tools provide some cool capabilities that aren't found in other distributions. For example, Figure 2 shows the output from the Network Diagnostics option in the Network Configuration utility shown in the upper left dialog in Figure 1. Its output provided a good deal of useful information in a single panel, which is what you'd like to see in a network utility, regardless of whether it uses ncurses, Qt, or your favorite KDE/GNOME/X11 widgets.

Figure 3 shows the default desktop, which is based on KDE 3.1.5 but which shows an interesting CDE focus in its default panel layout. One minor gripe is that the Turbolinux menus are all task-oriented rather than application oriented. That's probably a good thing for people who aren't hard-core Linux geeks, but I found it disconcerting because I wasn't sure how to find a specific application except from the command-line.

As a general summary, Turbolinux 10f includes the following versions of popular Linux packages. There are, of course, many more (this is Linux, after all), but these provide a good overview of core capabilities:

PackageVersion
binutils2.14.90
GCC3.3.1
GIMP1.2.5
Glibc2.3.2
GNOME2.4.[12] PARTIAL
KDE3.1.5
Kernel2.6.0
Open Office1.1.0
Perl5.8.0
Python2.3.4
RPM4.2
X Window System (XFree86)4.3.0

Though Turbolinux' desktop products supposedly include a full-blown version of GNOME, Turbolinux 10f only includes a subset of an older version of GNOME, enough to run various GTK applications, That said, GIMP 1.2.5 was installed, but some popular GTK applications that were conspicuous by their absence were things like Firefox and evolution, my favorite mail application. These were not a huge surprise, since this is a KDE-based distro, but things that really surprised me were the lack of a command-line FTP client and, more and more common and depressing nowadays, the lack of a generic version of emacs. Maybe these are both too 1980s for most people, but Xemacs just doesn't "do it" for me, and yes, I know that scp is more secure than FTP. The absence of a command-line FTP application did cause me to experiment with kbear, a nice graphical FTP client shown in Figure 4 that is probably no surprise to anyone other than command-line folks such a myself.

Similarly, I had a hard time figuring out how to enable remote X Window system connections to my Turbolinux system. My first suspicion was a default firewall setting, but I couldn't find iptables installed anywhere on the machine. I then nmapped the machine, and found that the only open ports were 22 (ssh) and 631 (ipp). I then thought that I should bite the bullet and use VNC, which is overkill for displaying an xterm, but is apparently the tool du jour. Unfortunately, vncserver and vncviewer weren't installed on the machine. I eventually found that my problem was due to the fact that the X server was running with the "-nolisten tcp" option, which disallowed all TCP requests to the X server, and turned this off using gdmsetup. This was still marginally irritating, especially given the lack of any of the standard VNC applications. On the other hand, you have to give them points for security ;-)

From the system side, the most interesting thing that I noticed was that Turbolinux uses a replacement for the "standard" Linux hotplug system called murasaki. This worked well with all of my hotplug devices, though I didn't see anything special about it that would make me choose it over hotplug.

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