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Pyrolinux 1.0 Gives Off Little Heat - page 2

Installation

  • January 7, 2008
  • By Dan Lynch

When first logging into the new system, I was prompted for my administrator password so that Envy could run. Envy is a little tool for installing graphics drivers on Debian-based systems that I used to use before the Ubuntu Restricted Driver Manager arrived on the scene.

I chose to install the Nvidia driver for my card from the Envy menu and it quickly errored (see Figure 2), telling me that the appropriate package sources were not available. I retried a couple of times with the same result.

My network connection appeared to be configured but I wasn't getting any Internet connectivity. I'm not sure why this was, as DHCP was enabled. I found stopping and restarting the connection did the trick. I confirmed it wasn't my router at least, but the cause of this problem is still unclear.

I was able to run Envy again and install the appropriate drivers. Compiz Fusion was enabled after a restart with the new drivers, but I noticed that the Avant Window Navigator (AWN) still wasn't working. AWN is a little animated dock at the bottom of the screen for launching applications, similar to the Mac OS X Dock. It should have been enabled when I installed the system but because of the Nvidia driver problem, it wasn't.

"I haven't used AWN much in the past and I couldn't seem to find a way of turning it on. Eventually I found it under Accessories in the menu and launched it. I then had to go through the preferences and add launchers manually for all the applications I wanted to use (see Figure 3). I assume this would all have been done during the system install, since AWN is shown on all the Pyrolinux screenshots. After some fiddling, I was able to get it working as I wanted. I really expected this to launch with the initial system start.

The main system menu in Pyrolinux is the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop-style menu )see Figure 4) used by Linux Mint, which tries to combine the functionality of the various default GNOME menus into one. For me, it doesn't succeed very well. I found it cumbersome to use and it's not to my taste. This is a purely personal preference on my part, but I would have preferred to see the traditional GNOME menu.

I was able to install all the software I required such as Bluefish, Deluge, and Gpodder using the Synaptic Package Manager, a powerful tool that should be well known to anyone who's used a Debian-based system. Synaptic is even used in PCLinuxOS but it's not quite as easy for new users to understand as the Add/Remove Software tool in Ubuntu.

By comparison, Mint has added the Software Portal which is very intuitive and offers the fabled "one-click install" functionality similar to Linspire's Click'N'Run. The Software Portal been removed in Pyro, because of what I can only assume are branding issues.

I found I was able to play all media formats with Totem and Amarok straight out of the box without installing any codecs (see Figure 5). This is a slight improvement on Ubuntu but Mint provides all of this functionality already. Similarly, NTFS writing, Samba file sharing, and other common tasks are taken care of very easily in Pyrolinux but not in any way different from Mint that I can see. I had a fully working desktop set up pretty quickly after the initial glitches but this was partially because of my prior knowledge of Ubuntu and Mint.

I found that the system seemed to slow down sometimes under average strain which was a little worrying. My processor seemed to be struggling at times when I had Firefox, Amarok, and OpenOffice.org running at the same time. I've used both Ubuntu and Mint on this hardware a lot and never noticed this problem with either. The applications would hang for a minute at times, which was most annoying. My processor is a dual-core AMD64 4200 so it has plenty of power (see Figure 6).

I'm not sure how much this reflects on the distribution itself, as I'm unsure how many changes were made to underlying Linux Mint base but performance was not impressive. It's possible that this has something to do with the added strain of the Avant Window Navigator, which I don't normally use. Whatever the cause, it's not what you want from your system.

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