Saturday, March 20, 2010

Simply GNU/Linux 5.0 : An unsung son of ALT Linux

Russians are historically secretive and obscured . But they have always been  intelligent , unique in their work and highly scientific people. 

ALT Linux ( ALT implies ALT Linux Team ) is one of those undiscovered and non-famous Linux distribution from Russia which lacks the "Pomp, glamour and glory" like other mainstream distributions partly because the development team of ALT Linux love to work in shadows and do not consider it important to publically project and advertise their work and also because people outside Russia are not either aware of or interested in what this distribution is about.  But this does not undermine the work this team is doing , they are quitely and persistently working on a project which stands proudly on its work. This is a Russian spirit of all times !
Recently I started using Sisyphus from ALT Linux and computing life has changed completly for me. Bleeding edge with stability from an unstable pool of packages can only be expected from innovative people like these Russians. I am happy that I had the right courage to move to Sisyphus.

Simply GNU/Linux is an XFCE based distribution by  dkoryavov of ALT Linux Team . It is a single Install CD with no live option as compared to the main ALT Linux 5 Ark Desktop .

I have never been an XFCE fan , it never appealed me as a desktop environment . But when it is Simply GNU/Linux nothing can be as better as it . I will not go into how to install it, it is simple and straight forward . But if someone wants to read a review about its details there is a nicely written one on

The excitement comes when I shifted repositories from stable 5.0 to branch 5.1 and later to Sisysphus. This is not difficult to do.

Here are the repos I used stepwise.

# rpm i586 classic
# rpm noarch classic 

# rpm noarch classic
# rpm i586 classic

But before doing that I made sure to do full upgrade from Ark Desktop 5.0 to 5.1 branch , upgraded kernel to latest by running
# update-kernelas root . This upgraded my kernel to lthe atest and auto-magically downloaded and installed all the required modules along with the kernel.

Since I am using tripple boot system with ALT Simply GNU/Linux as third OS along with Windows 7 and Unity Linux so I wanted to have GRUB on Simply Linux than its default LILO. It is easy to get GRUB on ALT Linux. Just follow these steps.

Install grub

ALT Linux uses lilo as a default boot loader. You should replace lilo with grub.

Install grub package

# apt-get install grub
Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst (Use can use for sample /usr/share/doc/grub-0.97/menu.lst)

# Sample boot menu configuration file

# Boot automatically after 5 secs.
timeout 5

# By default, boot the first entry.
default 0

title ALT Linux
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda2
initrd /boot/initrd.img
(replace /dev/sda2 with your root partition name)
  • Install loader to MBR
# grub-install /dev/sda
reboot system to check that bootloader works properly 

Once all these steps were complete it was time to move on to Sisyphus , so I changed the repositories to that as given above and once again did full upgrade.
It is wonderful to like XFCE !! I hated it previously . Things change with new looks everytime when I am using ALT Linux.

You will never feel the real flavour of ALT Linux untill you try Sisyphus . It is where things are too far ahead than most to our well known distributions and all this is achieved quietly and under shadows.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Living with ALT Linux Sisyphus

I have always liked to have something "commie" in my life around me , ALT Linux is one more example. I have been using this distribution from Russia for past many year on different occasions for different lengths of time.

Recently I installed the last stable release of ALT Linux Ark Desktop .There is a nicely written review about this version on Finid`s blog. The installation went smooth and my favourite GNOME was installed without any issue. Since this version was released in late 2009 so the gnome and installed packages running on it were quite old so I decided to move to "branch" repositories which are equivalent to debian testing.

With the help of my friends at IRC #altlinux I changed repositories to 5.1 branch and went for full upgrade. The installation went smooth again and I had a fully upgraded and stable system on branch. Using branch is what the ALT Linux team recommends to those who want to have a stable working system .

Then a time comes when you want to be a bit daring and you want to move to Sisyphus which is the unstable softwares bank for ALT Linux but where you get the lastest bleeding edge packages. This was the time I decided to move to Sisyphus. Once again with the help of my friends from ALT Linux team and with their aforehead warnings I changed my repositories to Sisyphus and went ahead for full upgrade. This time the upgrades mounted to more than 600mbs and with my fingers crossed the upgrade went literally smooth without any hiccup.

On reboot I had two minor glitches otherwise it is fully upgraded system with all the packages at the latest version including Gnome 2.28.2. I have already submitted those minor bugs to ALT Linux Team. If you plan to use ALT Linux sisyphus do not hesitate to report the bugs and issues at ALT Linux Bugzilla

Sisyphus is unstable but still more stable than can be debian sid/unstable. In past 24 hours I have not seen any major issue with my system. ALT Linux team constantly combs out the packages at Sisyphus and once packages are stable enough for daily use they are released to the branch section of repositories.

I will not recommend everyone to move to Sisyphus but those who want to use Mandriva cooker or debian sid can move to Sisyphus and I am sure they will find Sisyphus more stable than the former ones.

I will stay on Sisyphus and enjoy the best of this distributions from Russia.There is no harm in paying back to my former commies friends by staying on so called 'unstable" but still stable Sisyphus!