Spotlight on Linux: Toorox

Toorox is a Gentoo-based installable live CD that features your choice of KDE or GNOME desktops. It comes with lots of useful applications including system configuration tools, easy package management, and proprietary code installers.

Toorox is sometimes compared to another Gentoo-based distribution, Sabayon. This comparison may be legitimate on the surface, but differences emerge when looking deeper. Sabayon is indeed based on Gentoo as Toorox, but Sabayon is primarily a binary distribution. Package installation almost always involves installing binary Sabayon packages. While this is convenient and often preferred, Toorox compiles and install software from Gentoo sources. Toorox begins life on your computer as a binary installation with all its advantages, such as fast, easy, and ready at boot, but subsequent package installation compiles source packages. So Toorox is perfect for users that would like a source-based distribution, but don't want the initial time and effort investment. Either over time or with a all-at-once effort, one can fairly easily transform Toorox to a full source install.

Toorox lists some of their software in an introduction that appears when the desktop starts. These include:

- Kernel 2.6.37-gentoo
- KDE 4.6.0
- Xorg-Server 1.9.4
- LibreOffice 3.3.1
- IceCat 3.6.13
- Thunderbird 3.1.7
- K3b 2.0.2
- Gimp 2.6.11
- Wine 1.3.14
- VLC 1.1.7
- Amarok 2.4.0
- Audacious 2.4.3
- Ardour 2.8.7
- Kino 1.3.3
- Cinelerra 20101104

Toorox includes two graphical Portage front-ends: Potato and Porthole. Of course, users can use Portage at the commandline just as in Gentoo. In any case, there's plenty of software available to install.

In addition, users may wish to install NVIDIA or ATI proprietary drivers. In the Systemconfig are the utilities that will install those. Users may also install Flash and multimedia libraries with the provided scripts.

Toorox GNOME desktop tools

Like other Gentoo-based systems, Toorox suffered through growing pains and initial failings. But also like Sabayon, it's shown great improvement over the years and now gives users a stable and enjoyable experience.

The hard drive install is a simple procedure, asking only a few questions. It does offer one bootloader option rarely seen. It offers the usual choices of installing on the MBR or root partition, but it also allows users to add Toorox to an existing bootloader list. To use that option, one merely ticks the partition that contains the bootloader menu.

Toorox routinely comes in KDE and GNOME versions for 32-bit or 64-bit systems. The basic look and feel have been updated a bit in the newest releases, but overall it still retains the Toorox personality. This is usually formed from a black to white gradient background embossed with the Toorox logo with dark panels and desktop widgets. The latest wallpaper feature a multicolor design surrounding the Toorox logo and the machine architecture. Stable version 2.2011 was released February 27 and developmental release 3.2011 was released March 30.

Toorox KDE desktop

Toorox is a great choice for those who wish a bit more control over their machine or would like an introduction to Gentoo with a little less pain. Some may say Toorox isn't ideal for new users, but that depends on the user really. In between the vast work of Gentoo and the ease of Sabayon comes Toorox. Give it a try.


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of


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Anonymous's picture

nice wallpaper, care to call the bad taste police?

It's in German!

Anonymous's picture

The primary audience for your magazine is North America. After downloading this 2GB iso (quite a few hours), I discover it's a
German release, and I can't figure out how to change all the
messages and menus to english, because I don't read German. I was
able to change to US keyboard. Otherwise, this release is to me a
total waste of time.

What I found

jmdennis's picture

I found the below instructions on the forum over at toorox. One thing that I noticed though is that when I tried these from a thumb drive that I had used from unetbootin I was not able to click on the menu to change things as it just locked up on me. Since the person who wrote this has it in English they got it to work.

I got it working

jmdennis's picture

I have not burned this to disk but was able to get it to work on my usb thumb drive. Instead of clicking on the item to change the language to English I just did a tab on this and selected it. I was then able to get English to show up on the desktop. I do not know if this is part of the menu's when you use a DVD though.

Pun Intended

Anonymous's picture

"differences emerge when looking deeper"

... pun intended?

I hope so...

Tim's picture

I hope so...