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The new version comes in two editions - "Simply Linux", which is an installable live medium featuring the Xfce 4.8 desktop environment, and KDesktop, which is a live and installation DVD image centred around the KDE 4.6.5 desktop. Both editions are built on top of the Linux kernel 3.0.3 and include X.Org Server 1.10.3 and LibreOffice 3.4.2. Other features of this release include hybrid ISO image that can be used either as a DVD image or transferred to a bootable USB drive, GRUB 2 as the default bootloader, simplified installation of third-party applications, and seamless integration with the Dropbox cloud storage system.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8
An enterprise-quality distribution
Russian documentation, or it would score 9
ALT is a Russian distribution available in commercial, educational, and free versions. It comes on CD or DVD, for 32- and 64-bit systems, and with KDE or Xfce. The Xfce versions are called ĎSimply Linuxí. This review is of the 32-bit Xfce DVD, version 6.0.1.
The installer starts with a page in Russian: just press F2 and you can change to English (or Ukrainian, Tartar, Spanish, or Portuguese). You can then choose between a live session or installation. The installer has 11 stages, all very simple. It offers RAID and LVM, but not encryption. After rebooting, you can choose the correct locale and keyboard (if you donít want US English) at login.
The main programs are LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, Gimp, Gnome-mplayer, Audacious, and the Pitivi video editor. All ran from the CLI without serious warnings. Codecs were installed and all media played perfectly, even my Ďmp4 from hellí. You also get Wine, DOSbox, Virtualbox, and the Yagf OCR program. Firefox is set to use a Russian search engine, but thatís easily changed. Any non-ALT partitions on the HD are automatically mounted in /mnt. Software is installed with Synaptic (or apt-get) even though RPM packaging is used. Before using Synaptic, you need to use its Systems setting to disable the DVD as a repository and reload the data. I installed some extra software and the process was easy and fast. The firewall is not running by default, so you need to run the Services manager in the System management centre.
My problems were very few. The keyboard configuration tool kept forgetting my Compose key, so I had to set that from a script with setxkbmap. The Media systems tool (gstreamer-properties) was not enabled in the menu and, although it found and tested my USB speakers successfully, it didnít persuade Audacious or Mplayer to use them.
The documentation and forum are in Russian, but an experienced user is unlikely to need help. I donít know how long the support period is, but itís probably long considering that versions only appear every 2 years and ALT is a commercial product. It obviously invites comparison with CentOS, Debian, and Salix; if the lack of English documentation is not a problem, and you donít mind the lack of encryption, itís well worth considering.