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Sidux, a Great Alternative to Ubuntu - page 3

First Impressions

  • July 3, 2008
  • By Carla Schroder
Debian unstable is always code-named Sid, for the rotten kid in "Toy Story" that broke the other kid's toys. Sidux is based on Debian Sid. While it may sound scary using "unstable" packages, Sid isn't really all that unstable. The main thing you need to know about Sid is it doesn't get security updates. On a desktop system with no public services this presents a small risk; don't even think about using it on servers. Desktop users typically want Sid so they can get current versions of software. Stable tends to age over time to the point that it's not very attractive to a desktop user, though it's rock-solid for servers. You can't directly install Debian Sid, but must first install Testing or Stable and then upgrade.

The developers of Sidux offer a nicely-polished Sid-based LiveCD that includes a hard drive installer, and sleek custom installation scripts. By default it includes only Free software, as defined by the Debian Free Software Guidelines, but it also provides detailed instructions and easy methods for installing non-Free software. So just like Debian, you can easily choose and control what goes on your system.

I tried Sidux on my Thinkpad T61, which has the Intel 3945ABG wireless chipset, GM965/GL960 graphics controller, and 8256MM Gigabit Ethernet. These were pretty new and not well-supported when the Thinkpad was new back in September of last year, and some Linux distributions still struggle with them. Sidux detected all of these except the wireless without a problem, and I'll go into detail on that next week. It even configured video correctly, which is still a chronic problem on many Linux distributions.

Networking and sound are not configured by default. Open a root shell (sux with no password) and run ceni to configure networking. Sound is turned on with Settings -- Sound and Multimedia. When you're done giggling at sux, you'll notice that it allows you to run graphical applications as root. Plain old su won't.

Unlike Kubuntu and other derivatives, Sidux presents a KDE 3.5.9 desktop that has not been extensively modified, so it's nice and familiar with everything where it's supposed to be. It is 100% compatible with Debian Sid, so you should be able to track Sid and stay current without any problems. Except for native Sid problems, which do occur on occasion.

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