[ Monday, 15 January 2007, riklaunim ]
Dreamlinux is an operating system that boots from a Live-CD with the option to install on a hard drive as well. Dreamlinux is not just another Live-CD based on Debian, it’s not another distro coming with XFCE 4.4. Dreamlinux 2.2 MME is a polished multimedia system from which Xubuntu developers could really learn a lot and which has the potential to demolish Windows Multimedia Center as far as the functionality is concerned. This review concerns Dreamlinux 2.2 Multimedia Edition.
Let’s start the adventure!
The first thing to do is to download the ISO and burn it on a CD. If that was successful, we can put the CD in our drive and boot the live system to see what it has to offer. The OS comes with 3 localizations: English, German and French. If you don’t know any of these languages, better look for another distro
When the OS boots, we’ll be able to choose the screen resolution and after doing so, X.org shows up with a brand new XFCE version 4.4 RC2 as the desktop environment. What is interesting, the root account in the system has been disabled (just like in Ubuntu) and the only way to gain the administrative rights is to use sudo.
Among the dreams
Dreamlinux comes with a slightly modified XFCE. The styling is inspired by MacOS X. It’s hard to miss the completely new panel for application icons. This is an independent version of engage, an app developed withing the e17 desktop environment. Another change is DCP – Dreamlinux Control Panel for organizing multiple utilities. DCP consists of apps for Internet access configuration, system configuration as well as native XFCE wizards.
Dreamlinux is (as the name implies) a multimedia distro and it does indeed a great job in multimedia handling. There is Gimp, GQview and Gtkam for pixel graphics, Inkscape and XaraLX for vector graphics, and Blender along with YafRay for 3D. For audio-video you can find such applications as MPlayer, XMMS, Gxine, AviDemux, Kino, Audacity and many more. Apart from these, on the CD there are also regular desktop programs like OpenOffice.org office suite, Scribus, Evince (a general document viewer), Wine, GnomeBaker for CD burning, and Firefox with lots of plugins for web browsing.
The system is stable and I have not encountered any problems with the mentioned apps. Additional codecs enable for viewing multimedia in restricted/non-free formats like QuickTime, Windows Media or Real. The only thing that may disturb us a little is the first time with each application. Firefox or Gimp need to create their configuration files and it takes a bit more that a moment.
When it comes to hardware detection and handling, it’s hard to complain as well. DCP helps to configure Internet connection with simple graphical wizards. Ndiswrapper manager enables for easy configuration of unsupported wireless cards that require Windows drivers. The OS also makes ADSL configuration easy with a handful wizard. Dream can read and write to NTFS partitions used by the Microsoft systems, so dual-booting in not an issue anymore.
As it was mentioned before, Dreamlinux is based on Debian so after the installation of hard drive (using a fast and friendly installer) we have access to a number of repositories offered by the mother distro. The Dreamlinux Live-CD is built using the Morphix tools, thus being very easy to tune and modify to better suit your personal needs. A great description of the Lice-CD building process and the tools used can be found on the project’s website.
Back to reality
Dreamlinux is a fine distribution for a desktop multimedia center. It can already be a good competitor for other multimedia-centered distros like dyne:bolic or the Ubuntu clones like Linux Mint or Ubuntu Multimedia Center. If you are an experienced Linux user, Dreamlinux probably won’t offer you any extra value. But you may still consider recommending it for your non-geek friends that care for stability and great multimedia support out-of-the-box.