The DistRogue

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Review: Ulteo 1.0 Alpha 1 "Sirius"

I was both impressed and disappointed by Ulteo Linux. Mainly disappointed. Here's the deal: back in march, Gael Duval was fired from the company he started, MandrivaSoft (makes Mandriva Linux). That was a boneheaded move, but Duval fought back with his own distro, forked from Kubuntu Linux at version 6.06, Ulteo. So far, it's still in beta testing, but that's no reason not to try it.
At the boot, I found out Ulteo's major weakness: performance. It runs the slower KDE over GNOME or XFCE. But that's to be expected with a fork from Kubuntu. And besides, Duval likes KDE! So, it's his call. The boot-up, however, was inexcusably slow, even for KDE, which usually starts slow because of how many libraries it has to load. Total time from boot to running KDE desktop: about 10 minutes. Ouch!
The install went fine, but one thing bugged me: the installer still had Kubuntu's icon. Minor bug, maybe they'll rebrand it in the beta.
After the reboot, things got weird. Ulteo forked REALLY far from Kubuntu, as it happened, and I hadn't really noticed how far until now. For instance, the kernel was re-written, and while Kubuntu had support for PCMCIA cards, Ulteo didn't, which meant my wireless card didn't work. It did under Kubuntu 6.06...
Another major quirk was package management. Ulteo came with apt-get and aptitude, but the sources.list file (which tells apt where to get files) was blank by default. I had to copy it over from an Ubuntu partition. Synaptic, the graphical package manager, was missing, as was the KDE equivalent, Adept. I thought that the "Install Software" icon would help, but guess what? It turned out to be Ubiquity, Ulteo's rebranded installer- that installs the OS, not extra software. Yeah, it was still on the system after the install. It did, however, come with FireFox (which I'm using now), and the GIMP for picture management, along with an extra goodie called Kbfx, which was completely new to me. This expanded KDE's already-enormous customizability, giving the user the ability to do things like change the K button. Awe-SOME!

Like I said, performance was weird. KDE started slowly as usual after my first login (after the install, of course), but became snappier later. For a benchmark, I installed SuperTux, which scored a pathetic 24FPS. Warning: Ulteo is NOT for gamers! On the plus side, however, those 24FPS were consistent. They never fell below 20, and the game never stopped. I did a speed run, beating the game in a record time of 32 minutes and 56 seconds (the previous record, 34 minutes and 16 seconds, was also held by me).
Since it's apparently "Cliche Day", I can say "What a long, strange trip it's been" and not get LARTed by Grateful Dead fans! w00t! Anyways, Ulteo isn't for Ubuntu fans, neither is it for gamers or experienced users. It's for the same people who would like Mandriva- people who aren't up to date on technology, and struggling out of the Windows world and looking for familiarity. And about that "system-on-a-pendrive" thing... Not happening. Ulteo won't mount a pendrive on boot, so it won't work.

-Familiar to Windows users
-Consistent (albeit low) FPS scores
-Customizable out the wazoo
-Painfully slow live boot
-No graphical package management
-PCMCIA support will have to wait
Friendliness: 5/5-
Windows users will be relieved to find a button labeled "Start". For a change.
Performance: 3/5- Someone set up us the bomb! We have no chance survive, start Ulteo!
5 minutes later...
Make your time!
Not "take your time"...
Features: 4/5- Decent set. Comes with OOO, FFX, Gimp, etc...
Packaging: 2/5- Apt-get is there... Just missing a major file.
Overall: 3.5/5- Nothing I haven't already said.
I don't know... What should I do next? I'll probably start with Ubuntu Edgy- it's about time.
From Ulteo 1.0a,
The DistRogue.



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