Review: Lycoris desktop/LX

I’m glad I gave this a couple of days. The completely subjective and inexpert verdict is: close but no doughnut. The pppd was wonky, and there’s nothing more frustrating than having the internet connection die on me regularly.

The extremely drawn out review is as follows…

Amethyst Update 3 (Download edition) BETA

Welcome to the first entry of the Chump’s n’ Cheapskate’s Computering Compendium aka the 4C formerly
known as the bottom-feeder’s guide to computering.

Lycoris is one of the newer Linux distributions. It’s based on Caldera Linux. It targets the mark of windows users looking to try Linux and folk who use their machine for desktoppish stuff; writing the odd letter or
other document, muckin’ around on the net (browsing, chatting, emailing and maybe uploading the odd happy-snap to your ISP webspace). It’s also ready to go with hooking up your camera or scanner, play a few little games, burn a CD or watch a DVD.

Perhaps it’s just a sign that my hardware is getting older and therefore more easily recognised by all distributions of Linux — whatever the case – this install was the smoothest I’ve ever sat through. Everything was correctly identified.
At the time I was horribly disconcerted by the fact that there was no ‘choose your packages’ section, but later realised that it’s because there’s really only a handful of packages included compared to most distroes.
Similarly, the only choice given with Grub – the bootloader – was to install it into the Main Boot Record – or not install it at all. This reminded me that the target audience is folk who’ve got a version windows on their hard disk and nothing else, not situations that involve a /boot partition, 2 other linux distroes and then windows. That’s fair
enough, after all there’s a lot of people out there with just windows.
I didn’t install Lycoris’ grub and was later able to get Red Hat’s Grub to point to the right partition and boot Lycoris that way. maybe it was because of this approach, but this was the first time I’d seen linux get to the end of an install and not want to do it’s single reboot to get running.
Also this was the first install I’d seen use sound.

Using it:
This is where I realised why it was so quick to install — compared to the 5gigs and multiple CDs or SuSE and Red Hat — Lycoris only needs 700megs of space. There’s no choice of desktop environment: it’s KDE and that’s it. Initially a surprise – I found it easy to get used to. It’s probably because of all the stuff which isn’t added in like
a local web server, mail server and all those other daemons but KDE here ran a lot quicker than on Mandrake and especially Red Hat.
The more I think about it – the decision to go with one DTE is a great idea. I’m sure there are many windows users left looking ponderous at the Linux login screen thinking, ‘desk … top .. environment?’ Maybe I’d be grumbling if it was Gnome they’d gone with instead of KDE. Really, Red Hat 8 should’ve bit the bullet this way too – and just gone with Gnome rather than get two-thirds of the way there with their mongrelised ‘Blue Curve’.
Compared with a default KDE set up, everything’s preconfigured in Lycoris. There’s no ‘welcome wizard’ that puts you through a dozen decisions on how you’re desktop should look (which for the new-newbie) happens even before you’ve seen it at all. This is a good idea. All the options to change the look are still there, and sooner or later the new user will find then if they want.
The layout of the main menu bar beats both Red Hat’s (which was absolute chaos) and Mandrake’s (which was closer to the default, but still had this “what to do” section, which I’ve read that others like, but I thought was doofussy).
I suppose it comes back to the clutter thing. It’s evidence of the McDonaldisation of society, where more=better … if red hat gives me 5 gigs of software, then I’m going to install 5 gigs of software. This means I end up with 12 text editors which makes thing feel cluttered. It also means that there’s a million doo-dads to check out, and
being curious – I do. In the past that meant I actually got little done with the computer – I was too busy mucking around.
Lycoris has one program where others have six or ten variations.
It uses Mozilla as a web browser, Moz-mail for email, KOffice as an office suite, and mostly Kde apps for other things — there are some exceptions – it uses Gftp as the ftp client, GIMP for image stuff and XMMS is included for .mp3s.
Some third party plug-ins like real player and shockwave flash are included,, which is different, and probably a good idea.

When it comes to maintenence updates, unfortunately there’s only one server available to users of this download edition – no mirrors. It doesn’t seem to affect download speed – but while stuff is coming through, everything else (browsing or whatever) goes completely on the skids. I don’t know what’s missing that causes
this – neither RH or mandrake suffer from it.

++ Probably the biggest hassle with this distro for me so far is that the internet dial-up application, PPPD, has been pretty damn dodgey – it dies on me a lot. I can’t tell if this is just something that I over-tweaked or what.++

I can see why the mega-corporate US department store chain Walmart are installing this one their super-cheap PCs. Admittedly, i don’t know what windows XP offers in the way of an incorporated imaging program or games (maybe it’s still just mine sweeper and patience) but Desktop/LX does well in these areas — plus it has linux’s
trusty built-in firewall, and then there’s a whole heap of stuff that can be added via sourceforge and other places. The bought version of Lycoris has a thing called Iris which lets you into a selection of other linux programs that’ve been specifically packaged for its set-up.

The Verdict:
The usual cautionary note given to the complete Linux noob before they try a distribution is, ‘it can be a steep learning curve but once you get the hang of it you’ll see why Linux is heaps better than windows’ – this doesn’t really apply to Lycoris. There’s no curve at all. But the other side of the coin is that the multi-verse of choice (of desktop environment, applications etc.) isn’t present in Lycoris either, so the user may be left with the impression that Linux isn’t much more configurable than Windows.

It’s up to you – give it a go or not. It’s a good intro to Linux. I grabbed it off of the cover CD of PC User magazine – colllector’s edition which should be on your noozestand (in australia) right now. It has some minor problems – but then, there’s no such thing as the perfect operating system.

name: Jon
date: 2003-01-10-21-05
Ahhhh – yes Lycoris .. I did a review a little while back on core – with much the same results – I suppose I had some bad luck too – the ethernet and screen probes went wrong on two differnet machines (a Compaq Armada m300 and a Compaq Evo D500) On the M300 notebook the ethernet probe (it has a mini pci based intel card afaik) cause the laptop to power down!

Once I had it up and running it looked good and certainly was easy to use .. BUT bluecurve on redhat seems to me to be equally user friendly – (but has the drawback of being too bloated)

I shelved Lycoris.
Edit Comment / Delete Comment Block IP / Block IP range 144.132.163.*

name: yak sox
date: 2003-01-10-22-36
Laptop installs always ask a bit more of distroes. But yeah – Lycoris wasn’t enough to entice me away from fluxbox on Mdk.

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