Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE Review: Good but could have been better

On 19th Aug 2012, Lars Torben Kremer announced the release of Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE, based on Debian Squeeze. The distro is supported till Feb 2014. Given my good experience with Snowlinux Gnome and XFCE being one of my favorite desktop environment for its low resource consumption, I was quick to download the 656 MB ISO from Snowlinux site. I downloaded the 64-bit version.
From Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE

I did a live-boot and then installation to an 8 GB partition that I specifically created to try out latest Linux distros. My observations are summarized in the table below:

Evaluation Parameters Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE
Computer on which tested Asus K55VM
Processor 3rd generation core i7
RAM allocated 8 GB
Release Date 19-Aug-12
ISO Size 656 MB
Live boot option Yes
Booting time (live boot) 18 sec
Questions asked during Live boot None
Ease of installation Fairly simple, with Snowlinux automatically picking up the Location, time zone, etc. For keyboard, force select USA. Entire thing takes about 15 minutes.
Installation time 15 min
Booting time (installed to HDD) 10 sec
Desktop Manager(s) XFCE 4.8.0
Chosen Desktop Manager XFCE 4.8.0
Linux Kernel version 3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64
File Manager Thunar 1.2.2
CPU Usage (with system monitor) 0-8%
RAM Usage (with system monitor) 150-160 MB
Office None
Multimedia Rhythmbox 0.12.8, Brasero 2.30.3, Gnome Sound Recorder 2.30.0, XFburn 0.4.3
Internet Firefox 14.0.1, Empathy 2.30.3 chat, Icedove mail/news, Thunderbird 14, bittorrent client
Graphics Ristretto, Shotwell
Accessories Bulk rename, Mousepad, Notes
System tools Gparted, Firewall, Software center, Synaptic package manager, Update manager, Task Manager
Flash support inbuilt Adobe flash 11
Restricted codecs inbuilt gstreamer good, bad, very bad, ugly, fluendo, ffmpeg, etc. Good enough for most of the media types
Java Not available
Repository Debian repository through Software center and/or synaptic package manager
How easy or difficult to install an app? Very easy through synaptic and Software center
Richness of repository Shares debian repository and is very rich
Parent OS Debian 6 Squeeze (Stable)
Upgradeable Not sure.
Internet connection Picked up wifi easily and easy to configure Wired connection
Sound Poulsbo driver already present, faced no issue with sound
Shutdown time Due to some problem with killing all processes, had to force shutdown quite a few times
Supported till Feb'2014

Somehow, I have a mixed feeling about the XFCE version of Snowlinux. The Linux kernel is 3, which is good, it boots up really fast, is considerably lighter (64-bit OS running with only 150-160 MB RAM is no joke!), very fast and has all the restricted and non-restricted multimedia codecs and Adobe Flash support is excellent. But, the XFCE desktop environment is not the most updated one - now we have Linux distros with XFCE 4.10.

From Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE
Application-wise, Office is really weak and you have to download either OpenOffice (from the Software center) or LibreOffice from LibreOffice site. It means 170-200 MB additional download. Plus, the multimedia section, too, is not very strong either - there is no video player! So, a VLC or Gnome Media player is a must. However, good that all the codecs are provided to play most of the common file formats. Almost paradoxical that no video player is provided in the ISO though all codecs are provided!

From Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE

Internet section is good with the latest Firefox and Thunderbird along with Empathy. I wonder why Icedove and Thunderbird both are present - both of them do the same thing! The developers could have provided IRC chat instead!

From Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE

Graphics is good enough if you are not into serious photo editing. I miss GIMP 2.8 here! 

However, you can download all the required apps like VLC, Chromium, Pidgin, Wine, PlayonLinux, virtualbox, etc. from the Software repository. Given it's the Debian squeeze repo, you won't have Skype (Ubuntu repo has it). But, you can download the .deb files from Skype site. Similarly you can add Chrome from Google Chrome site.

From Snowlinux 3 Crystal XFCE
Overall, I am ok with having a lighter ISO which fits a CD (a rarity today!), and the user requiring to download some applications from Software center or internet, though I feel the developers could have optimized the software they are providing out-of-the-box. The Gnome version is really complete in that sense. The XFCE desktop environment also requires to be updated to the latest version (released in Apr'2012). All in all, definitely a good distro but my expectation was more.

No comments:

Post a Comment