Un-edited Live session – http://youtu.be/cIbeGli2Ufk
Tony Bemus, Mat Enders, and Mary Tomich
Sound bites by Mike Tanner
Kernel News: Mat
Distro Talk: Tony
- 2-2 –
- 2-4 – Zorin OS 8 “Educational”
- 2-5 – Tails 0.22.1
- 2-6 – Untangle NG Firewall 10.1
- 2-6 – Ubuntu 12.04.4
- 2-8 – Scientific Linux 6.5 “Live”
- 2-8 – BSD Release: FreeNAS 9.2.1
- 2-9 – LXLE 12.04.4
- 2-9 – gNewSense 3.1
- 2-13 – MakuluLinux 5.0
- 2-14 – Zenwalk Linux 7.4
Distro of the Week: Tony
- ReactOS – 1424
- LXLE – 1943
- Debian – 2282
- Ubuntu – 2415
- Mint – 3556
Mary Distro Review – RoboLinux
It’s only fitting that a distro called RoboLinux be reviewed in the land of Robocop (Detroit). The web site for this week’s distro review makes the bold claim: “works on PCs & Laptops, has 30,000 + Free applications & runs all windows software programs!” Really…all Windows programs? That’s incredible! However, as they say and as I found out, the devil’s in the details. So, who makes these bigger than life claims? Why, it’s RoboLinux, that’s who!
Name: RoboLinux (http://robolinux.org)
Maintainer: John Martinson
Distro Latest Birthday: February 2014
Review Desktop: Customized Gnome 3
RoboLinux boots to an optimized classic Gnome 3 desktop. Classic in this case means that it looks like Gnome 2 (panels at top and bottom). The RoboLinux logo and name along with its tag line (an operating system for YOUR world!) are splashed across a drab, grey-tone desktop. If first impressions are everything, RoboLinux was off to a boring start…
There are only three desktop icons:
How to use the 3D Desktop and customize the 2D desktops
Download Windows XP of 7 VM installers
Graphics: ( i915)
Wireless: ✘ (b43) This will be discussed later.
Browser: Ice Weasel who’s called Firefox in the menu and who also sports the Firefox icons.
Office Suite: LibreOffice (184.108.40.206)
Mail Client: Evolution
File Manager: Nautilus whose icon looks like the Mac’s Finder icon.
Aside from the missing wifi driver, everything seems to function fine in the live environment. Time to install.
The Install Process:
Since RoboLinux is based on Debian, it uses the Debian installer, a no-frills process. During the partition disk step, I opted to manually partition the drive. I accomplished what I set out to do—eventually. Debian’s partitioner while a competent tool, tends to make assumptions about the user. If you opt to use the entire disk, the standard partition setup is one primary partition and and one extended partition which only contains the Linux swap space.
Finally I had a choice of installing Grub. Unlike some installs I’ve experienced, the Install Grub step occupied its own screen. Hard to miss it…and I didn’t.
I want to make one comment about the install, specifically the network mirror page. If you want RoboLinux ‘s unique features to work properly, this option must be set to Yes. That requirement isn’t clear during the install, although the FAQ mentions it as a remedy to an issue that I encountered. Who reads the FAQ before installing, anyway? Not me. During the three times I installed RoboLinux, I had a chance to test each option.
The Robolinux desktop displays a drab grey
There are two unique features of RoboLinux. The first is its ability to build on-demand, custom wifi video, and printer drivers. All the user has to do is click the appropriate menu entry (System Tools > Additional Drivers) for the driver you want. You’ll recall earlier that the Broadcom wireless drivers were not installed. I tested two laptops, both equipped with different Broadcom chips: BCM4322 and BCM4311. Drivers for both chips are included in the menu list. Hardinfo, a Gnome utility, can be used to determine the specifics of the laptop’s wireless chip. It’s a very useful tool. It’s at this point where you will run into trouble if you did not answer Yes to the mirror question during install. If you did answer Yes, the driver is downloaded from the RoboLinux server (the repository was not listed in apt sources) after what appears to be a general apt-get update. The driver is then installed on the machine. That did not happen in my case the first time around for reasons previously mentioned. After a reinstall, I observed the wireless driver install occur. Even after that, however, wireless still did not function. Yes, the wireless switch was in the ON position! The site has a number of Youtube tutorials one of which shows a successful install of the driver. Unfortunately it did not happen for me.
Another feature that RoboLinux offers their customers, is custom wireless driver building within 24 hours, if requested. Delivery of the finished product is rather interesting: A menu item “Custom Built Dynamic Wireless Driver Installer” runs a script that reaches out to the RoboLinux server where a second script is executed to build the driver. The customer then downloads and installs the built driver by clicking the appropriate menu item.
In addition to the Debian Repositories, RoboLinux includes the Google (for Chrome), Virtualbox, and deb-multimedia.org repositories.
Another unique feature available in RoboLinux– is the virtualization that comes pre-installed. Through a combination of Virtualbox and RoboLinux’s own scripts, users can install Windows XP or Windows 7. You may be thinking what’s the big deal about that. RoboLinux leverages this feature as a lure for Windows XP users to continue to use their soon-to-be-dead operating system in RoboLinux.
I tested the script that sets up the Virtual Box container. After the container is created, you can click the menu item that starts the Windows install process. You must have a legal Windows disk to in order to install Windows. I happened to have a Windows 7 disk and walked through the process. The install was fast and I successfully booted to Windows 7. I made sure that the laptop was not connected to the internet during this process…no phoning home to Microsoft during my test.
In addition to installing, RoboLinux provides tools for backing up your Windows virtual machine, restoring it, and restoring the VM data folder, which I presume hold the user’s files and data. Backups may be good but what about changes—and syncing your data. RoboLinux has that covered via the VM Data Sync Control. A two-button toggle system on the top panel will either activate the sync feature so you can synchronize your data files with the backup or go into what the project calls “stealth mode.” Stealth mode turns off syncing.
Prominent statements on RoboLinux’s web site claim that “RoboLinux…makes Windows 7 & XP immune to viruses? Technically it doesn’t make them immune. The virtual machine can still get infected. One video showed an infected machine and explained to users that you can tell you’re infected because the task manager showed 100% utilization. For me, the implication was that this behavior is how viruses at. I am sure that there are viruses out there that infect machines and don’t show themselves in this fashion.
The infection allowed another RoboLinux feature to be showcased: backup system and data sync controls. RoboLinux takes it a step further by adding virtual machine back-up and restore. These features are available in the system tools menu. Be sure and review the step-by-step instructions for using the sync feature.
I found RoboLinux to be a conceptually interesting distro. It’s built on rock-solid Debian, so don’t let my Broadcom chip issues prevent you from checking this distro out.
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