The DistRogue

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review: DreamLinux 2.2 Multimedia GL Edition

Ever have one of those dreams where everything seems to be going unnaturally well, and then all of the sudden, you wake up and you're late for work? Sure you have. DreamLinux, at least in my experience, was sort of like that, minus the work part (metaphorically, of course). It's a great distribution, with some great features, but it feels cheaply made.
First off, the obligatory background info. DreamLinux is a Brazilian distribution aimed at multimedia enthusiasts and former Mac OS users. Why OS X users? That's what it looks like. It sports a custom theme and Engage, a launcher from the Enlightenment project that looks and feels almost exactly like OS X's Dock.
DreamLinux is supposed to be an installed system, but it can easily be used as a live CD. It includes MkDistro, a tools for remastering the CD on-the-fly, a la SLAX. It can best be thought of as a cross between Knoppix (the behind-the-scenes underpinnings), dyne:bolic (multimedia app set), and SLAX (remasterability). Although a GNOME desktop would seem like the best choice for an OS X look-alike, DreamLinux uses XFCE, a lighter-weight choice with a smaller memory footprint.
However, if you don't like remastering your CD every day, DreamLinux does come with an install option. And what an option it is! DreamLinux is the first distro I've seen to use a one-screen installer rather than a wizard. Sections of the screen ask for a root password, user setup, partition layout, and GRUB preparation, and at the bottom is an "Install" button.
After the install, I tried out some of the programs. Included were Blender, a 3D modelling program, IceWeasel, a completely open-source version of Firefox included with Debian Etch, The GIMP, the ever-capable image-tweaker, Audacity, a powerful audio editor, Kino, a FOSS digital video editor (GASP!), and GTKPod, an iPod managing app. Blender, Gimp, and Audacity worked perfectly (and in Audacity, sound is normally a huge issue). GTKPod failed to recognize my 2nd-generation iPod Shuffle, but at least it's there.
There were, as I remarked earlier, some issues. My native 1280x800 screen resolution wasn't detected (but hey, not every distro comes with 915resolution installed), and reconfiguring the X server didn't help. My Intel PRO/Wireless 3945 card wasn't detected either. Installing firmware-ipw3945 didn't solve this problem. I understood the instructions to turn on Beryl, but they didn't work. (Maybe it was just my graphics chip...) And the forums were of limited use. The language gap between the Portugese-speaking Brazilians and English users was pretty huge.
I can't recommend DreamLinux to the average user, but only because the average user couldn't care less about multimedia production. DreamLinux is a great distro, with a rock-solid Debian base and a great app selection.
Behold, my new rating system! Artwork and Community are now worth half a point each in the final score.
Friendliness: 3.5/5- Wizards are everywhere. Except the installer, of course.
Performance: 4.5/5- Debian is fast. XFCE is fast. DreamLinux is REALLY fast.
Features: 4.5/5- If you're into multimedia editing, make yourself at home.
Packaging: 4.5/5- Synaptic. What more is there to say?
Artwork: 2.5/2.5- I've always liked OS X's artwork.
Community: 1/2.5- Yeah. It's that bad.
Overall: 4.1/5- If you need a fast, solid, good-looking system, try DreamLinux.
Next reviews: Elive 1.0 "Gem" and Wolvix 1.1.0-rc2 "Hunter" edition. You might recall Wolvix... Well, they're up to the second release candidate towards v1.1. I'll go over how far they've come eventually.
From DreamLinux 2.2,
The DistRogue.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked other reviews of dreamlinux and I like the distro as well. beware of one thing though.

when installing DL formated my seperate /home even though I told it not to at the install. That messed up my other Linux (main) terribly.

To bad. It took me two days to get back to working order

12:44 PM  
Blogger DJ Gentoo said...

I tried the same on a previous install, and it left it intact.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent comment and honest review. I feel the same. My biggest gripe though is that no matter the burn, my DL 2.2 install never boots up. This does not happen for any other distro I have downloaded and burn't.. Mepis, pclos, ubuntu, vector linux, zenwalk, puppy, sabayon and countless others. What is there about Dream linux that does not make it work. I thought maybe the being larger than 700 MB in reality and being burn't on a 700 MB blank CD.. I think this is the answer. So until they squeeze things into 699 MB, I would be off unless they come out with a DVD ISO.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if it's too big, why don't you burn a DVD ISO instead?

11:14 AM  
Blogger DJ Gentoo said...

I managed to burn it to a CD-R and it worked fine...

2:47 PM  

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