07 Dec 1999 @ 4:48 PM 

Tuesday

Since I’ve become known as "the Linux guy" lately, I felt it would
be entertaining to try out the latest distibution designed for consumers, rather
than the geeks that love Slackware
and such. Yes, that’s right, I installed Corel
Linux
. I think it can be best summed up with the phrase, "huh?"
Based on the Debian distro with the KDE windowmanager, I expected a slightly
different, but generally comfortable experience with Corel. I’m afraid that
wasn’t the case.

I know it’s amazing, but sometimes the easiest method isn’t the best. Corel
has a great install program, for beginners. But, it was lacking
in many of the things Linux users have come to expect. The package selection
options are confusing, and I’ve used both RedHat 5.x and dpkg, so I would know
confusing. Although it boots up in a nice little X GUI for the installation
routine, and automatically creates a user and SuperUser account, with passwords
you create after the install, it still misses the mark in many ways.

The installation took me a bit less than 20 minutes from the time I put the
autorun-enabled CD in my Windows
machine until I had a functioning desktop. But, the desktop is functional in
only the most generous definition. First, the auto-detect of hardware, now a
staple even of Linux installs, was less accurate than RedHat/Mandrake or Caldera
were. The X configuration did make my TNT2
run in 1024×768 and 16-bit, which (oddly enough) is what I would have set it
for anyhow. But, while RedHat and Caldera
were capable of setting up my monitor’s refresh rate, Corel defaulted to 60hz
refresh. Can you say, flicker? Then, the wheelmouse I use, which I’ve
had fun with in most installs, was recognized only as a mouse. Not too surprising,
but nowhere in the Corel configuration GUI is an option to change the mouse
type. Heck, even Windows lets you do that! So far, only Caldera OpenLinux has
actually detected the mouse as a wheelmouse and set it up on install. In Mandrake,
I’ve had to put the imwheel program in my autorun folder, and then it’s
golden.

Speaking of rodentia in X, one feature that *nix users have become accustomed
to, whether in Linux, Solaris or whatever, is the middle mouse button conventions.
The usual expectation is that clicking the middle button on the desktop will
pop up a list of running programs. Not so in Corel, where the mouse button did
nothing at all. So, it looks like Corel took the approach of "Just like
Windows" a little too closely.

The good parts: As I said, the install was smooth, if a bit underpowered. The
desktop that is presented is very clean and the pager that Corel built into
KDE is nice. Corel’s customized KDE shell is
neat, and the Corel File Manager is very familiar to Windows users, including
an integrated Network browser in the tree view. Very easy to migrate from Windows
to Corel Linux. The bootmanager that Corel installs is very nice, almost the
equal of Bootmagic. It allows the choice of
booting into X, Console, Debug mode (single-user), Windows, or DOS. Although the option
for DOS was there, it didn’t do anything. I’m not sure what disk it was setup to
attempt to boot, but I assume it was trying to boot my secondary hard drive, which has no OS
installed, since it’s just a slave.

The bad parts are, alas, showstoppers: The "start menu" equivalent
in Corel has a number of games and a few admin tools installed, but no "real"
tools. Where is KMail, I wondered; it’s available, just not on the list of programs.
The only "mail" listed on the start menu is a link to a free mail
service that Corel provides. Hardly what most people expect. Even Windows includes
an email program that stays on your own harddrive. It appears that Corel wanted
to avoid overwhelming newbies, but they didn’t include the basics. At least,
not in the default install, which most newbies would choose.

My little table from a few months ago was very popular, so I’ve updated it
with my Corel impressions. Your mileage may vary.

Operating SystemInstallation timeBoot timeGotchas/summary
Windows 98 SE3 hours, including futzing around to make it recognize all of my peripherals
simultaneously.
115 seconds (with my Startup group disabled)Supported by most software makers, but crashes WAY too much. I have
to watch my resources like a hawk or the darned thing locks up on me. UDMA
is supposed to work, but hangs my system 10% of the time, and it takes forever
to startup and shutdown.
Corel Linux 1.025 minutes, from inserting the CDROM in Windows.45 secondsEasy installation, simple "mindshare" migration from Windows.
But, horribly under-equipped for a Linux distro.
Caldera Open Linux 2.335 minutes, including the time waiting for Windows to reboot.63 seconds, to a usable GUI desktop after logging in.Not too much software available off-the-shelf, but plenty available
online and in book stores, etc. Great for heavy use, but not really a good
game platform yet (except for Loki games). No decent Access-equivalent,
but the rest of Office functions are available from StarDivision.
Linux Mandrake 6.140 minutes, mainly because I chose to select individual packages73 seconds (more daemons loaded than I need)Same as Caldera, but Mandrake is better supported by "the community"
since it has the same directory structure as Redhat, and Caldera is a little
different.
BeOS 4.521 minutes, including Windows rebooting and re-partitioning the HD.19 seconds (WOW!)Quite nearly no software support, with the exception of Macromedia’s
promised support. Amazingly fast and flexible system, and based on Unix,
so pretty darned secure and stable.

So, overall very little has changed for me personally since my last installment.
I’m still spending ALOT of time in Windows, rebooting about every 2 days, and
generally being annoyed by crashes and such. My second OS is Linux Mandrake,
since I’ve become comfortable with it now and it has the best set of tools out
of the box, for the freely downloadable OSes at least.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 07 Dec 1999 @ 04:48 PM

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