Linux Distro: Linux Console

The strangely named Linux Console seems to be designed to work equally well as a Live distribution and as a permanent installation. It offers an LXDE based desktop alongside a collection of standard applications. It could be used as a typical desktop Linux distro, but I have a feeling that it could see some use as a front-end in appliance type set-ups that need to be a bit more of a typical desktop layout than some of the kiosk or media player distributions. However, I'm not absolutely sure what the aim of this distro actually is.

Linux Console isn't derived from any of the main distributions. Variety is the hallmark of the Linux scene, and it's a boon to be able to tailor the choice of distro to a given situation. However, in such a crowded field, the smaller distributions have to offer distinct functionality and a niche to be worth looking at.

Hard disk installation is carried out from the boot menu if you're installing from the CDROM. There are two options, an autoinstall that carries out the installation without asking any questions and a more typical Linux distribution that does. Installations that proceed without asking the user for input are useful because being interrupted to answer some questions becomes tedious if you want to install multiple machines. I wish more distros featured an option like this.

Automatic installs are, however, potentially dangerous and Linux Console's solution to this dilemma has its good and bad points. On the positive side, it will halt the installation if there is anything at all on the hard disk. It then prompts the user to open a virtual console and run command line Fdisk in order to wipe the partitions. The problem with Linux's standard Fdisk program is that it's not very easy to use. It's a shame that, given what I presume to be the expected audience for this distro, the developers couldn't have knocked together an Ubuntu-style guided partitioning tool.

By default, Linux Console offers an LXDE based desktop along with some media players and a few other applications. The standard launch bar features an icon to launch the Firefox web browser or the Thunderbird email client, but in actual fact, these options download and install the latest version. If you're running Linux Console as a Live CD, you'll have to repeat the procedure after a shutdown. In practice, this isn't a huge problem as it takes less than a minute to install Firefox in this way. Speaking of which, Linux Console boots quickly from a CD, no doubt thanks to custom architecture.


The main aspect that makes Linux Console stand out from the crowd is that it is a custom distribution, and this brings with it both benefits and disadvantages. For example, a positive feature is that all operations, from package installation, booting from CD or the hard disk drive to application launch are noticeably fast.

The disadvantage is that, if you get stuck, you're completely at sea because Linux Console isn't quite like anything else. In contrast, many is the time that I have managed to troubleshoot a Debian problem by making use of information that turned up on a Ubuntu forum, for example. It even has it's own, custom package format, but that's not exactly brimming with installable software.

The other problem is that a custom distribution misses out on upstream developments of a mainstream distribution. With Linux Console, improvements are limited to those offered by the available packages and the efforts of the Linux Console development team.

As I said at the beginning, every distribution has to prove its worth by successfully carving out a niche for itself. The question of whether or not Linux Console has a place is made more difficult by the fact that it offers a confusing mix of newbie friendly features mixed in with those that require expertise.

In conclusion, I find it hard to recommend Linux Console above other similar distributions such as Puppy Linux or Tiny Core. It deviates from the standards of other distributions, but I can't honestly say that it offered enough advantages to outweigh the potential problems that brings. However, it's worth having a look at, just to see something a bit different. What exists so far is well made, and in the future, it might branch out in a way that gives it a clearly defined advantage and identity. On the other hand, you might find that the slightly odd mix of approaches is just the odd mix of approaches that you've been looking for. And that, my friend, is part of the beauty of Linux.


UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.


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Ubuntu biggest problems

linuxoo's picture

Ubuntu biggest problems is
1) Default Theme UI slowness bug is forever not fixed.

2) Buggy KDE4 unusable.

Linux biggest problem: X11

For what???

Marcos's picture

In my opinion, another distro without a clear purpose... Exist several bugs in others distros or in Gnome and Kde, why not invest this time to help to improve what already exist??? Why reinvent the wheel again???

Simple, everyone wants to be

Anonymous's picture

Simple, everyone wants to be famous and needs to make a living. Like this example, Linux journal used to be a good-quality magazine; however, recently, I found there are more and more mediocre to pointless, word-of-mouth type, and low-quality articles published at Linux journal every month.

Can you say .Net, Mono, Wayland

lamapper's picture

I for one am extremely thankful that I have options in the Linux/Gnu Open Source area.

While I am excited for those that want to use Wayland which all Fedora and Ubuntu users will be forced to switch too, I prefer to not have my life interrupted because a proprietary company, Microsoft in this case, decides to take .Net in a different direction (they have done this so many times in the past with other apps) which of course Mono will follow and wham bam thank you mam, Wayland will be stuck there.

NO thank you!

So while I love Ubuntu, I will switch to Debian, Arch, perhaps Small Damn Linux for my Asus Eee PC...probably dump my Nokia N800 for an "open" root accessible Android and as for tablets, perhaps the Kno...the point is I can download all the firmware, software and applications, create my own repository and prevent my investment (my hardware) from being obsoleted by a proprietary company who only wants me to spend more money, usually at the worst possible financial point for me.

And in this economy...

So options are fantastic.

Remember if you only have two options, you have no option!

While I wish the Wayland users (Ubuntu and Fedora well) I will chose another path.

If you want to see which distros will avoid what many of us believe is the .Net ~ Mono - Wayland trap use this graphic and start reseraching:

I am thankful there is another path that my hardware (ZaReason) will work well with!

How is Wayland connected to Mono?

Anonymous's picture

Can you provide more info to explain how Wayland depends on Mono? I find this very confusing.

...retraction time....eek

lamapper's picture

I just finished a few hours searching for a connection between Wayland ~ Unity ~ Mono and therefore .NET. I was unable to find the post that lead me in this direction. Though I am still very un-easy about them.

In another forum ( the poster mentioned that the Unity game engine did have some .NET in it, therefore I am assuming that I associated the Unity game engine with Unity and therefore Wayland. I had downloaded the Unity game engine to play with the code at a later date.

In essence I MAY be wrong to associate Mono ( and C#/.NET) with Unity Linux and Wayland. Perhaps one day I will install it and check for non-ECMA C#/.NET namespaces...only than will I be sure. I will not be surprised if I find function calls or other namespaces that violate a patent or community agreement.

Back in the day, the Java apologist stated emphatically that no lawsuits would ever be issued because of the piece of Java that was kept proprietary by Sun. When Oracle bought Sun, we saw them enforce that patent. Thus the Java apologist were WRONG.

I would expect Microsoft or some patent Troll associated with Microsoft to do the same thing with respects to .Net (Mono) and C#. I will not be using either, ever. And any distro that does is to be avoided in my opinion.

I believe Mono and Moonlight to be yet another Embrace, Extend and Extinguish tactic from the big M$...nothing new there, they have done it multiple times over the years. They will do it its not a matter of if, only when.

In the future, I suppose I will have to install the app in question and than search for non-ECMA C#/.NET namespaces or other proprietary function calls.

For others that do not understand what the concern about Mono is, follow these two links as they explain it very well.

URL: “Mono: Unsafe at any speed”.

URL: “Summary of Mono's Danger to GNU/Linux and the Free Desktop” This is not new information, though it may be news to you.

At this point there should absolutely NO DOUBT in anyones mind that Mono, .NET and C# are clear and present dangers to the GNU/Linux community. User beware!

Strangely named

Anonymous's picture

Linux Console was designed by a French team. The word "console" comes from "game console", because they initially intended to provide a game-oriented distro.