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lack of package management (other than Slackware tools)
My task was simple: I was going to install Linux system on an average, standard hardware (athlon XP, 256MB RAM, nVidia GeForce4 card). It was to serve the average, standard desktop tasks: web surfing and email, light 'office' tasks, playing music and occasional video. Nothing exciting or difficult here, so I just wanted to get it done with minimum of fuss. To me, that meant chosing a distro that would:
- be easy to install and run, and by that I mean, using standard tools that are familiar to me
- come with pre-selected useful range of desktop software
- have codecs, plugins etc ready to go - no messing around and hunting through third-party repos
- perform reasonably on this not exactly cutting edge hardware.
Ultima Linux fit the bill perfectly. It is based on Slackware 10.2 and it is fully compatible with it. The installer is pure Slack, except for custom selection of packages, which includes Java, Flash, Open Office as well as KOffice and Abiword. Many fonts are included (including Microsoft ones, I think). Mp3s, Ogg Vorbis and Flac are supported, My divx movie files play right out of the box in gxine, while mplayer can be installed from 'additional packages' section. All development tools are present, and Ultima also includes ndiswrapper and all that wireless stuff I don't (as yet!) need, but I'm sure it would be a welcome addition for others. All together, Ultima ships on two CDs, and close to 3BG of software are installed.
Just like Slackware, Ultima still uses kernel 2.4.31, but kernel 2.6 is apparently available... somewhere. I decided to stick with the default because while generally I would prefer the current kernel, in actual use on this system it just doesn't seem to matter one way or another, and remember, I was aiming for 'minimum of fuss'!
Ultima includes a full range of desktop environments, from full-size to minimal: there is KDE (3.4.2), Enlightenment , XFce4, Fluxbox and Windowmaker. There is also a custom combination of KDE using Enlightenment as its window manager, for those so inclined. New development version of Enligthenment (E17) is availble as another 'additional package'.
But the screenshot I included with this review actually shows Gnome. You won't find Gnome on Ultima - I installed it myself, using net install of Freerock Gnome. Freerock is one of three projects providing Gnome for Slackware, and I installed it mostly to test Ultima's compatibility with Slack. As you can see, it worked just fine.
As for package management, there is the regular Slackware pkgtool - Ultima doesn't use swaret or slapt-get, though they could be installed from Slackware repos. Instead, Ultima uses its own simple script called ulupdate that is meant for security updates and such of already installed packages. It is certainly very simple to use (just type ulupdate - no arguments, no options) but it is not a full-strength package management solution like apt-get or urpmi.
So there you go - Ultima performed very well for the task I had in mind. As for negatives, there are very few. Personally I think I would prefer a 2.6 series of kernels, but I accept the design choice they made. With its older kernel and compilation for 486 architecture Ultima is probably not the best choice for newest hardware, but those two things make it an excellent choice for the older computers. I would like to see Amarok included, and perhaps a couple of other packages here and there, but basically I think all the bases are covered.
If I was going to improve Ultima, maybe one thing I would like to add to the installer is some sort of video configuration tool. At the moment, just like with Slackware there is only one: the user! Of course, I realise that reliable configuration of video display leaves something to be desired in all Open Source systems, but hey - one can dream... another, more attainable goal could be some kind of script to assist with installing nvidia and ati binary drivers. At the moment they can be added only the standard way, which is a great improvement compared to how it used to be, but still can be challenging for a new user.
Finally, there is one problem that is not a feature of the distro as such, but it can affect the user experience: Ultima does not have dedicated hosting at the moment, instead it is served up from its creator's home connection so as you can imagine it doesn't take much to choke it completely.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
ease of install and so mutch working out the box
Hay I am a linux noobey that had tryed fedora but wus frushtrated by lack of medea suport without a buntch of adding on I came upon Ultimalinux one day and liked the webpage(u it seems to be down rite now) so I obtaned the ISO's from madtux.org and to my surprise it's ben super install went thrue the FIRST time have never had to add a codec or player to enjoy my music or vid , bittorrent ready , mounting windows drives on same box as easey as writing a few lines in to a file!!! and not one hicup, blue screen,or slowdown, in about a year plus it's slack based weee