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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 7
light, fast, great for old hardware
buggy installer, no root/user config during install
Here is my review of Vector Linux. I've been using it for a few months now so I'm over the wow this is cool factor and can write an objective review.
Vector Linux is a distro designed for old hardware. It is based on Slackware (the current version, 4.3, is based on Slack 9.1). A major upgrade, however, from Slack 9.1 is that it is built on the 2.6.7 kernel, and it includes ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture).
Here is the system it is installed on (my Vector Lappy):
Cyrix 200Mhz processor
2.1 Gb Hard Drive
The installation is text, and although it may seem outdated, it is required to run on old hardware.
I won't go through the whole process. It is fairly straight forward. The only problem was that it was buggy. Although I have heard of more bugs the only one I encountered was with the Media test. If you opt for the media test I found that the installer would crash when it came time to install Xfree. Besides this I had no other problems.
After the installation, before the reboot, ALSA will start to configure your sound. I had no problem with it detecting my ISA sound card and it works fine.
Unlike many distros where ALSA defaults to mute, this isn't the case in Vector.
notes for first boot
Vector does not set up a password for root or allow you to set up other users during installation. When you start Vector for the first time you have to log in as root, and then set up a password for root and user account(s)
To start X you have to use the command startx, because it doesn't load X on start up by default. You can change this in VASM (more below).
Vector includes 3 GUI's, FluxBox, IceWM and XFCE. When use the command, startx, it will take you to a menu so you can pick which one to use. Each one is unique and you can select which one you want. They all work excellently and it's just a matter of taste as to what you use.
FluxBox and IceWM have been modified to support icons.
As was noted above, Vector was designed for older hardware and it really shows. The software packages are all selected with old hardware in mind. My only major complaint is that it includes Mozilla Suite. For lighter browsing I would recommend FireFox, and although it was included in Vector 4.0 it was removed in 4.3.
One piece of software that is of great help is VASM (Vector Adminastrator System Mananger). It's a menu that has everything you need to configure the system. The only problem I have with it, is that the printer configuration should start up CUPS, but CUPS isn't installed. Here you can also select to have X start when you boot-up the machine. In this menu you will also find the pkgtool from slackware for installing and removing software packages.
Vector comes with 2 package managers, vecpkg and pkgtool. I have found that they are basically the same thing except pkgtool has more options. They both do the same thing, install, remove and manage packages.
One feature that I love is checkinstall. When your installing from source instead of using the command make install, you use the command checkinstall and it will turn the program into a slackware package and install it from the package. This has a 3 purposes. 1. you can share your packages. 2. It's great for backing up software and 3. you don't need the source code on your computer to use the make uninstall command to remove the software which will save you space. Just use pkgtool or the removepkg command to remove the software.
The only thing on my Vector that I'm not sure works is the modem and that's only because I haven't tried it. For a full list of specs go to http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/nec.html and click on the ready 120LT.
A final note
This distro is ideal for a newbie to Linux who has an old computer lying around, but the bugs, lack of full Graphical Enviroment (KDE, GNOME) and programs that are designed for slower hardware and lack some functionality makes it hard to recommend to someone who has a computer that would run some of the more "bloated" distros like Mandrake, Fedora, or MEPIS or to a more experienced who isn't intimidated by the Slackware install.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
What caught my attention with Vector Linux were the things that are missing. No messy setup process choosing to install package A, B, or C for the same function. No guessing at what would be starting when I rebooted the system. No figuring out what icons are for and what on earth some of the oddly named applications do, exactly. No system bloat of 10 different applications to handle any possible preference of what to use for a specific task. Just a clean, uncluttered 650MB worth of software, ready to go. I didn't even have to hand tune it. If you're not afraid of changing a root password with "passwd" or put off by checking a "Boot X on Start" option, this may very well be the distribution for you. I can heartily recommend it.