I have been wanting to try out Sidux Linux for a long time. I have tested it but since it only comes with the KDE and XFCE window managers, I never used beyond the testing phase. I am a fan of the Gnome desktop but it is not stable with Sidux. Then about two weeks ago, Mario Behling, who I met through FOSS Bridge here in Vietnam, introduced me to LXDE. Here are my first impressions using Sidux with LXDE.
Sidux is a Linux distribution based on Debian‘s unstable branch known as ‘sid‘. It is one of the geek distros along the line with Arch Linux, Gentoo, and Slackware. It is not a distribution for those new to Linux, especially those who are not familiar, or comfortable, with the command line. And since Sidux is based on sid, things will break if you are not careful. Those who really want a bleeding edge system may like Sidux.
Sidux was quite easy to install. I downloaded the latest version, sidux-2008-04 ??????, and created a LiveCD. I decided to whip out my Ubuntu install on my Thinkpad T60 and start from scratch. I originally wanted Sidux to run on my Thinkpad but I hated XFCE at the time.
Installing is rather easy and quick. The most difficult part was figuring out how to partition. Sidux includes a nice, easy to use, graphic user interface (GUI) to help with the installation. After I finished configuring the GUI, it took less than 7 minutes to install Sidux on my Thinkpad. That was one of the fastest installs ever.
After you reboot, Sidux will check the hard drives (since you are using ext3). Do not worry if it reboots after Sidux notices the time is off. It will reboot and boot up no problem. The only error I dealt with Sidux not being able to load the modules for VirtualBox. Despite this, you will be amazed at how fast Sidux boots up. Less than 30 seconds for me which makes it the second fastest Linux bootup for me (Arch Linux can boot up in about 19 seconds).
Everything worked out of the box including wifi. One nice thing about Sidux is that it includes ‘hints‘ with each release cycle so you can get everything working right. You do not have to search through forums and wikis which is nice to troubleshoot.
One of the first things you will after you finishing installing Sidux is read the Sidux Qucikstart Manual. It is one of the best manuals for a distro out there.
With Debian or Ubuntu, you normally used apt-get update && apt-get upgrade to update your system. With Sidux, you cannot, you have to use apt-get dist-upgrade in a Runlevel 3. This is where you have to be comfortable working in the command line. Once you are in init 3, Sidux provides a very good tool that helps you update your system. It is called smxi which is used to manage packages in the sid repository.
smxi is relatively easy to use. Just read and enter the options. I used smxi to install openoffice, apache2, mysql, php, python, perl, etc. It is really a great tool. You can even configure and install the latest kernel and get your graphics card configured, properly, through smxi.
Once you have updated your system, you can go back to init 5 (Runlevel 5) and install packages by using apt-get install <package> relatively easily. You just got to remember to use apt-get dist-upgrade in init 3 once week to keep your system updated.
One nice tool that Sidux provides to configure your network connections is ceni. ceni is by far one of the best network configuration tools out there. It is a command line tool but a powerful one. It can detect and configure wifi networks easily.
LXDE has the looks of KDE, the feel of Gnome and the simplicty of XFCE. It is nice windows manager for a laptop. Not too bloated, not too simple. It took me less than 5 minutes to get a feel for it. I still have much to learn about LXDE but I fell in love with it instantly. There are still features that I want to add, such as a dock, since I got used to it in Gnome. I read somewhere I can add one but I will need to research it more.
Though it is only in beta, it is still stable enough to use on a laptop. Together with Sidux, it mades a great distro combination (Hint hint Sidux developers). Many of use like the Gnome desktop but I think we will settle for LXDE for Sidux. Read more about LXDE at their website: http://www.lxde.org.
I am still new to Sidux and LXDE but I will give it a throrough test. I use my Thinkpad for much of my work when I travel Saigon by motorbike. Ubuntu kept locking up on my Thinkpad and Debian Lenny was just not ready yet (though I will probably install it at another time). Thinkpads in general can be finicky in regards to Linux but the Debian variants seem to work well on them.
(LXDE on Sidux Screenshot)
(PCmanFM file manager)
(Filezilla on Sidux)
(ceni network managing tool for Sidux)
(LXDE Panel Preferences)
(Sidux online manual – a great resource)