Spotlight on Linux: ZevenOS-Neptune 1.9.1
ZevenOS is a German-born project that offers Debian-based and Ubuntu-based versions of their BeOS-like system. ZevenOS is based on Ubuntu (Xubuntu) and ZevenOS-Neptune is based on Debian Testing. The main purpose is to preserve some of the features of BeOS in a modern, capable operating system. Neptune 1.9.1 was recently released to bring the latest Linux goodies to users.
Being developed in Germany means that the primary language for Neptune is German. However, there is an English option at the Grub boot screen. The installation documentation available on the desktop is in both German and English as well. The hard drive installer has a shortcut on the desktop as well as a persistent image creator for use with USB sticks.
Neptune ships with an attractive boot-up and desktop. The images and decorations used make for an attractive and unobtrusive desktop with a universal appeal. It's easy on the eyes and the ZevenOS customized window decoration harkens back to the BeOS desktops of yore. There is a windec included that looks more like traditional BeOS, but it isn't the default.
Neptune includes a healthy amount of applications and two graphical package managers. Synaptic setup with Debian repositories will be familiar to most users, but Neptune also ships with MAGI 2. MAGI installers are a bit like the installer commonly used for third-party Windows applications in that one can click on the installer and have the requested package installed rather than open and search through a package manager. MAGI 2 can also configure system-level standard application settings and launch applications. In fact, it's conceivable that the MAGI GUI could be used as a netbook or mobile device interface.
ZevenOS-Neptune 1.9.1 is based on Squeeze and features KDE 4.5.3, Linux 188.8.131.52, Xorg X Server 1.7.7, and GCC 4.4.5. Chromium is the alternative browser with Flash, HTML 5, and Java support. OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 as packaged by Debian is provided. Some other software available is VLC multimedia player, Eclipse software developer kit, The GIMP, Icedove for email, Wireshark network analyser, MPlayer multimedia player, recordMyDesktop, YAVTD video downloader, and lots of tools and utilities.
ZevenOS is frequently described as Linux with a BeOS touch. Some might wonder what is this BeOS Touch? ZevenOS characterizes it as speed, suitability for older computers, easy handling for users, and especially designed for multimedia. BeOS was touted as the multimedia operating system of its time.
ZevenOS isn't just another Debian or Ubuntu clone. Its developers attempt to provide a different, easy, and high performing alternative to more well known distributions. ZevenOS is the main offering and Neptune is technically a community driven branch. Another branch with GNOME 2.3.0 and Epiphany is also available. The ZevenOS project is an interesting participant in the Linux landscape and Neptune is definitely one to test. If you commonly travel off the beaten path, put this one on your list.
Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.
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