Debian on Steroids III: Libranet 3.0
Upon rebooting, the user is presented with a login screen. Libranet's default windows manager is a modified IceWM. It opens with basic functions configured; Firefox and Thunderbird are on the task bar. GNOME icons for file browsing, using Nautilus, and devices--Computer--already are configured. Clicking on Computer makes the CD/DVD drive(s), other mounted partitions and floppy available. Plugging in a USB memory stick makes an icon appear after a few seconds; no tinkering with configuration files is required. All in all, this is a very functional desktop for slower systems.
For KDE 3.3.2 users some housekeeping is necessary at this point. First, a few edits must be made in /etc/fstab. Your USB memory stick can be mounted by adding this line:
/dev/sda1 /usbstick auto defaults,noauto,user,noatime 0 0
Of course, you need to create the mount point. For this example, use the command mkdir /usbstick .
If you have a Windows XP partition and want to access it, you will need to add something like:
/dev/hda1 /windows ntfs defaults,ro,gid=windows,umask=002 0 0 .
Then, create the mount point in a terminal with mkdir /windows. Run the command mount -a to reread the /etc/fstab.
Next, to populate the desktop with device icons, open Control Center -> Desktop -> Behavior -> Device Icons. You have to clear all of the checked boxes and click Apply. Then, check the devices you want displayed, both mounted and unmounted, and click Apply again. It's a bit of KDE goofiness to have devices checked off here by default and not have them appear without going through this little procedure.
If you don't like desktop clutter, you can add Kdiskfree to the task bar and set its properties to open a browser upon mounting. When you need to use a drive, click on the Kdiskfree button, right-click the desired device and then select Open in File Manager.
There is a bug in KDE that prevents ejecting a disc from a CD-ROM or DVD as a user. This appears to be related to a KDE process, namely, kio_audiocd. It affects only those drives connected to system sound with an audio cable. There are a couple of workarounds, however. As root, check setuid in the permissions of /usr/bin/eject. If you don't want to use setuid, you simply can kill the errant process, either with Ksystemguard or with a script like this:
#! /bin/bash killall kio_audiocd eject /dev/hdc (or /dev/hdd as appropriate)
Save as xcd.sh or xdvd.sh in /usr/bin and give it the proper user permissions with chmod 755. I like this script; set up an icon to run it, use a red X from the actions list, and you can eject a disc with one mouse action instead of three.
The above faults I found in KDE 3.3.2 are mitigated by the ease of using a USB scanner. I simply plugged in my Epson 1650, started Xsane without any of the file tinkering of yore and scanned. Of course, your scanner must be one supported by SANE.
Libranet 3.0 also installs GNOME 2.8. I am not a GNOME fan, but this version is good enough to tempt me away from KDE. It loads fast and everything works out of the box. I just don't like double-clicking. Other windows managers include Xfce, Afterstep, Blackbox, Openbox and Fvwm.
Next, set up the printer. For this, you need to use Libranet's Adminmenu, which gives you an opportunity to explore Adminmenu and its functions.
A detailed description of Libranet's new Adminmenu would justify a separate report. One feature, however, warrants particular notice. Libranet is the only Linux distribution I know of that makes compiling a kernel safe and easy. The entire process is point and click. If for some reason the recompiled kernel does not boot, the original kernel still is available and listed in the boot menu and will start Libranet up for another try if needed. By itself Adminmenu, with its unique kernel tool, gives Libranet its knockout punch.
Libranet 3.0's KDE 3.3.2 is a bit out of shape. The previously mentioned CD/DVD ejection bug and the lack of plug-n-play USB flash memory device recognition are more annoying than crippling, but they do detract from the usual polished Libranet feel. Offsetting this, USB scanners are now truly plug-n-play, and GNOME 2.8 is a commendable choice for first-time user.
For Windows users, Libranet's default kernel comes prepatched and configured for Win4Lin 9x. You simply install Win4Lin; no kernel recompiling is needed. The install media also includes a trial version of CrossOver Office.
This distribution provides a huge selection of applications, a generous choice of desktop windows managers, convenient system management with Adminmenu and good performance even on older systems. The desktop user should find plenty of capabilities in Libranet 3.0 without needing either the fastest CPU available or advanced hacking skills. I'd call it a Debian technical knockout.
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