Caldera OpenLinux 2.2
Caldera selected the K Desktop Environment as the interface of choice for its distribution, and upon startup, OpenLinux launches right into it. If you feel uninclined to type in your user name, pointing and clicking from a list of users is an option (regular users' icons are just heads, but root gets to be a conductor). However, you will have to type in your own password—there is no point-and-click solution to this problem (yet).
The first login from any user will bring up KDE's configuration program, which asks a few questions as to which theme and icons the user would like. There are some typical KDE themes from which to choose (KDE default, Macintosh OS, BeOS and Windows). As for icons, you can choose floppies, CD-ROM, printer and even a Caldera Systems icon for your desktop, linking you to their home page, if you are really enthusiastic about Caldera or think you'll be needing technical support. One mysterious issue of this icon selection is that unless you move the configuration window, you will not see any icons appearing on the desktop, but that is the only problem I found with KDE.
Caldera clearly put a lot of effort into their particular configuration for KDE, because the menuing system is neatly organized and includes a great many applications, utilities, networking software and other programs (even games). It is quite impressive to click on the K icon (“Where do you want to go tomorrow?” it asks) and see everything laid out so clearly, without having to do any manual configuration. In fact, the sight of such a selection of productivity, networking and development software all configured and ready to go on one system could be one of the most persuasive arguments in favor of running Linux in a business environment; that is, when we try to convince non-Linux users to give our OS a chance.
For some reason, an aversion to shells and text-based interfaces has developed among modern computer users; the preference is for GUIs these days. COAS is Caldera's solution for network administrators who prefer a graphical approach. COAS is an interface for dealing with issues of network administration and is set up so as to keep track of administration changes in such a way that one can use COAS when one chooses and traditional Linux commands when one is so inclined.
Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 is very close to requiring minimal technical knowledge; however, some problems can arise. The first is that LILO (Linux Loader) often has trouble installing on partitions with more than 1024 cylinders. This is easily remedied by appending linear to the general section of the /etc/lilo.conf file, but since one might expect most modern hard drives to have more than 1024 cylinders, it seems strange that Caldera did not automate the accommodation for this problem. Still, I had some trouble making a successful coexistence with the BeOS. The other problem is that because OpenLinux 2.2 aims to be secure, authority issues can arise when trying to restart X and KDE after one has shut down the windowing system which comes up at startup. When a user logs into a console, the greeting message says to type startx or kde. Neither of these commands was functional on the test machine except for root, and then only after I made changes to the .xsessionrc file. In a business environment, this could be confusing, though the solution may simply be to reboot. Also, StarOffice must be configured before it can be run, which could pose difficulties for certain people. Finally, for some reason, Caldera did not include the immortal editor pico--I had to boot up Emacs all the time. I am sure there is a simple remedy for this problem.
As far as being up to date, OpenLinux 2.2 runs on the Linux kernel 2.2.5. The 2.2 kernel is a fantastic production and is especially improved in the areas of networking, interoperability with other operating/file systems, parallel processing, backup and RAID and hardware support, things which are especially important in a professional environment. Also, the OpenLinux 2.2 distribution is up to date on its numerous libraries, while maintaining backwards compatibility for glibc 5-based applications.
One of the only arguments supporters of Microsoft could make against Linux is that consumers would not use Linux because they want total product accountability from one particular firm (in essence, users of free software would have no one to call for support). However, Caldera stands behind its product with a 90-day/five-incident warranty and keeps a database of potential bugs and fixes on its web site. Support forms are available on-line, in case one has a problem without a readily visible solution, and Caldera is relatively quick to respond. For businesses and individuals who cannot wait for technical support, there is a full 24x7 fee-based support system with guaranteed one-hour response. Also, Caldera insists it is working to ensure Y2K compliance, though Linux users have traditionally not been very concerned about this.
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