Friday, March 03, 2006

Vector Linux...think speed

Yes. I have tried a new distro again. I wouldnt call this exactly new, because i had tried it earlier. It hadnt really impressed me then. The linux distribution i am talking about is Vector Linux. It has different editions, the one i am using is SOHO 5.1 (small office and home use). About an year ago i had tried Vector, i think version 4.2. Then i felt that it was good just for old computers.


The installer is text based, and has little options, and it doesnt make intelligent decisions like what software to install for what space, like YaST2 of SuSE. But it does what its basic purpose is, and thats that. The installation time is pretty small, for all the installer does is copy huge tarballs to the disk.


For a relatively small distro like Vector the system configuration is pretty nice. It has a thing called VASM, that is the central management unit. It is concise, no frills like flashy icons and animations like in Mandriva's control center or even YaST2. It gives control of most of the things that are commonly configured, and you dont need to run any commands or worse, edit any configuration files.

First Boot

Awesome. Graphical lilo, boot splash and all. It detected my sound-card, the ATI graphics card, the laptop's lcd display...everything, without a single hitch. I didnt even have to configure the 3D acceleration support. ATI's open-module is alive and kicking ! Mind it this is the only system where i had never to fight for any hardware detection. Even biggies like Ubuntu and Fedora cant boot without proper boot-time options on my system.

First look

The SOHO edition comes with KDE and Xfce. I installed Fluxbox and IceWM too, just too check things. Vector Linux is a fine tuned distro with customizations all over, in all desktop environments. That gives it a consistent look. The most striking thing you notice is the speed. Applications startup really fast. Be it KDE's qt-based applications or GTK based ones, or even bloats like Firefox and OpenOffice. OpenOffice startup time for when invoked for the second time is hardly 1 sec. That rocks ! Even in non-qt environments like Xfce, the KDE apps startup real fast.

I donno what the Vector guys have done while bundling packages, but packages seem highly optimized and it shows. Great work. May be its the Slackware genes it has that has made Vector that fast.


Now this is one distro that gives you completely multimedia support, out-of-the-box. The mp3 files play, and so do all-known-formats in the universal mplayer. Firefox comes with properly configured plugins which is a very nice touch. 10 out of 10 on this front.

Small things

Vector pays attention to the small things that make a difference. Like, good theming of GTK-1 applications that otherwise look as bad as Motif based applications when used with default themes. GTK1 and GTK2 theme switchers have been provided as well.


Vector comes with a wide variety of applications for all things one can do. It has some 6-7 different editors, for varied tastes. Though i didnt like the fact that vim is missing in the default install, it comes with just vi. Then there is the Bluefish editor for web page design and editing, gmplayer and xine, OpenOffice and KMyMoney a MS Money like accounting tool. There some 3-4 types of image viewers (including gqview that i like very much, its fast). Theres Sylpheed too, for mail, its a lightweight mail client. And about everything for chatting/downloads/wifi. The only thing i missed badly was AmaroK. Its THE music player, hopefully Vector has a package for it.

The SOHO install came with all the development packages required. I compiled some plugins for Xfce and i didnt need to install a single devel package. I really cant believe Vector comes with so much in just 2GB of install, and a single-cd default installer.


Well theres one more good thing that it comes with the 2.4 kernel too, so you can use your older drivers. This distribution needs some more publicity and i am damn sure it will climb the distrowatch charts to be in the top 5. I rate it the best, cause of its pre-configured settings, out-of-the-box functionality and sheer, raw speed that Linux is boasted for.

Category [ _Linux_ ] [ _Review_ ]

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