Registered: May 2001
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10
Fully Debian compatable, Easy to install and excellent hardware detection,
Could do with a good GUI printer setup, NFS client mounting very slow, no network install yet
I started using Libranet, as I got sick of the rpm locking and several main updates, causing my systems to bulk with Redhat 8.0/9, I've tried all the other distros, and fell in love with apt (yes there is a redhat version, but see the rpm locking comment), but I refuse to spend 10 hrs setting my desktop up just to get it to be usable, this is what happened what I tried Debian woody, whilst woody is rock solid, its a little to old (in the Linux world anyway)
So after reading several reviews I tried Libranet 2.8, which is based on woody, sarge with a bit of sid thrown in for good luck (http://www.libranet.com), ok the initial price tag is kinda hefty ( $69.95), but they do offer a money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied within 30 days.
But for that you get a system that is generally rock solid, and most of the cutting edge apps with the easy of use of apt.
My initial impression of the text based installer was eek (this is compared to redhat), but in all honestly, it is very, very easy to use, even with little or no Linux experience, it asks just the right amount of questions,
Once the main base is installed, it reboots and starts the initial configuration,
here you add the root passwd and add new users (an option not to add any users would be very nice, as I use nis on a main server),
it then attempts to detect you're video card, so it can start the main GTK based package selection off (I have installed Libranet 2.8 on several systems from very old laptops to some cutting edge machines, and it found every single video, network and sound card installed), now the best bit (partly, I'll come to this latter) is if it finds an Nvidia card, it gives you the option to install the Nvidia drivers .. cool!
Then onto the package selection, whilst pretty good, I feel there should be an advanced option, to select some non standard packages (like nis), ok this is really aimed at new users, the advanced option would be nice for experienced or users who whish to migrate it into an already Linux based environment.
Once all the packages are installed, you are then prompted to setup you're sound, nic and printer (all worked great, apart from my printer, a HP Deskjet 450CBi, it failed to find this, but I set it up using cups latter)
You asked to press enter and up pops you're nice shiny new Nvidia splash screen and GDM2 with a pretty horrible, but cool backdrop.
The default login in Libranet, this is running IceWM with nautilus running and controlling the desktop (there is a cool option on the task bar to turn of nautilus on next login, for the nautilus hatters out there).
All the programs are fully accessible from the menu, but it still doesn't lack to polish of say SuSE or Redhat in the organisation department, you have several different menus, KDE, Gnome, Program, which can get a little annoying at times, any, so a quick logout and then into Gnome (my default desktop choice).
What can I say, it doesn't again have the polish of say Redhat Bluecurve, but I found it to be a nice change, the fonts are all Anti Aliased and the default theme is Gnome
(this can be changed and was to the new Ximian Industrial theme, just grab the ximian-artwork from any ximian mirror, then alien -d ximian-artwork-* && dpkg -i ximian-artwork-*.deb) with this theme it changed all the menu logos, and IMHO, would be great for the default Gnome theme.
All the usual gnome bits are there, but with the added GCM (Gnome Clipboard Manager), OpenOffice 1.0.2, Evolution 1.2, Abiword and the show desktop icon on the panel, it uses sawfish as the default window manager, a quick change and I was running metacity :)
Right the desktop is working, so off the do a bit of web surfing, open Mozilla, and you are greeted with some nice AA fonts, but wait, no java, flash of plugger plugins installed..damn,
ok so I run 'xadminmenu' from the desktop and within 3 clicks I have flash, blakedown java and Mozilla plugins installed.
this now takes me to their main control centre, whilst sparse, I feel it has nearly all the options you should need, from here you can change you default cursor, reconfigure X, add a new/re configure you nic, add users, download more TT Fonts, and even add new True Type fonts, setup you're printer (using cups or turbo print),
one of the best options for a newbie in the xadminmenu is it also automatically detects if you have an IDE cd/cdrw writer and sets it up as scsi emulation,
which leads me to one of 2 bits of software that I run from KDE, and that's K3B, this is a Nero type clone, and very easy to use, whilst used in a Gnome environment, it can be slow to start, but its worth it (once you add the required users as root, there is no nagging prompts to add the root password every time you wish to burn a cdrom as a user).
Now for my main gripe, figured I had the Nvidia drivers installed, I would play a quick round of UT2003, doh! it was very, very slow, which lead to me doing some detective work, it turns out that Libranet compiled the kernel AGP driver in, rather than adding it as a module, this I found after several mails back and forth to the Nvidia forum, makes it imposable to use the power of the NVIDIA kernel driver, now thankfully the Xadminmenu comes to help :)
Here (whilst not really part of the review, I shall go through), there is an option in the xadminmenu to recompile you're kernel, so I had to recompile it with agpgart module support rather than built in, this also gives you the chance to build the kernel for you're processor, once the kernel has been built (Libranet, automatically reinstalls the Nvidia drivers as well), go into '/etc/X11/XF86Config-4' and Add 'Option "NvAGP" "1" under the line that says Driver "nvidia", a quick reboot and full on proper 3D support.
Overall I found this an enjoyable distro, whilst perfectly easy to install and setup, even for a newbie, there are a few rough patches (in reality, what Distro doesn't have them?), it allows you to get to work straight away, with little or know fuss, with the added option of being able to change the apt-sources to use sid, and a quick update of Nautilus, and Mozilla Firebird and Evolution 1.4, I had a system that was solid and up2date with the likes of RedHat 9 and SuSE 8.2.
There email support is polite, quick and personal, whilst I found their community very friendly and enjoyable to be around,.
I know this may sound like a very biased review, but coming from a redhat environment, where you're hand is held nearly all the time, this comes as a shock that you can have a solid distro based on debian, but without all the faff and corporate stuff of say Xandros, Lindows, but unlike those 2, this distro is fully compatible with Debian
Hope someone finds this usefull