Caldera Network Desktop v 1.0
The desktop environment, called Looking Glass, is based on Visix's Looking Glass Professional. It runs as an application on top of X11 and is used in conjunction with an unmodified version of the fvwm window manager. From the CND FAQ:
There is a general purpose file typing facility for the desktop metaphor: actions can be defined for a given file type. And drop actions can be defined: dropping an HTML file on the browser will launch the browser on that file.
A graphics card supporting at least 256 colors is required. Graphics cards which are supported by XFree86 are also supported on CND. A smooth program called Xconfigurator is also provided, which creates an XFree86 configuration file for many popular video cards.
The Web browser provided is Arena. It is serviceable, but while it was being ported to Linux it acquired some color allocation problems. While it claims HTML 3 compliance, it doesn't support forms or e-mail.
The Web server installs and works invisibly. I found no problems with it, but did not explore scripting capabilities, or its performance under stress.
For the time being, Caldera support “is limited (mainly via e-mail and our WWW and FTP servers on the Internet). No individual support is provided.” The Caldera page at www.caldera.com included pointers to a wealth of information, including Linux in general, Red Hat in particular, and, of course, CND FAQs and other technical information.
To make all this work you need to install it on an i386 or i486 computer with one 3-1/2" floppy, at least 80MB of hard drive (although the excellent “Express” install uses 140MB, and a complete install seems to be at least twice that), 8MB of RAM (a more realistic 16 MB if you plan to use X-windows), a CD drive which the supplied Linux boot kernels will recognize, and an appropriate net connection. With that and three blank floppies ready for the necessary boot, root and recover disks, you're ready to install—or are you?
The years have taught me that a single software installation on a single hardware combination can give a ludicrous impression of the product. Consequently, I have taken the trouble to install Caldera on hardware including:
Mitsumi and Matsushita CD (with Soundblaster)
100MB, 130MB, 220MB and 820MB hard disk
Western Digital and Tseng VLB
If this seems a waste of time, trust me; each element plays a part in setting up a user's reaction—“This is a hunk of junk”, “this is great”, or “this is really strange.”
I have performed these Caldera installations in two different environments. The first is my place of work, where I have an Ethernet connection to our WAN and from there, through a firewall, to the Internet. The second is at home, where my connection to the outside world is via the phone company and a local Internet provider.
Something you must not ignore: Believe the documentation when it tells you how much disk space is required. The “express” install calls for not less than 140MB; anything less leaves you with an incomplete, totally unbootable installation. Start over, with plenty of disk space—I'd say nothing less than 220MB (cheap these days). Because part of the point of Caldera is that nifty “Looking Glass” desktop, that means lots of space is needed. You'll want space for a swap partition, X itself, all the Caldera-specific paraphernalia, net stuff, and so on. And you'll want to build kernels every now and then, so you'll need gcc, the libraries, and so on. For all this, remember to keep your video specs handy, and to have fun. The manual has a handy table which allows you to calculate the disk space required, or make decisions at to what programs you can afford to skip. It's invaluable.
After your initial installation, software may be installed or removed by means of either the Red Hat Program Package (RPP) command-line tools, or the Linux Installation Manager (LIM) graphic interface to RPP.
Some of the quirks are a result of Linux itself. During installation, for instance, after ten minutes of disk activity, the screen goes blank! Of course—it's only the screen blanker, what could be more logical? But if this is your first shot at a Linux installation, you might be tempted to do something nasty, like reboot. (Hint: press the shift key; anything else will be interpreted as an “OK” when it gets around to checking for keyboard input, and you might not want that next “OK”.)
Although the CND installation creates standard users, it seems to forget their passwords; it creates standard groups using the User Private Group scheme.
The bootroot program (located in the CD's <\\>dos directory), which is supposed to lead you through the creation of the startup floppies, proved to be a memory hog, refusing to write anything to the disks on some of my test machines. I found that once I selected the appropriate “boot” and “root” files, rawrite was the best means of creating the necessary disks on those computers.
My workplace computer has a Matsushita CD player connected to the computer through a Media Magic sound card (I used “other SCSI” during kernel selection). Both work well, but this CD player has a motor-driven CD tray; during installation, the kernel causes the tray to go in and out like a cuckoo—some six times during an install. Don't blame either Caldera or Red Hat, as I was tempted to do; this seems to be a Linux Fact of Life.