Debian on Steroids II.1: When a Dot Means a Lot

by Leon A. Goldstein

When Libranet ran out of CDs for its 2.8 release, previously reviewed here, the group decided to include some updates in the new batch. Of particular interest to the desktop user, besides the kernel upgrade from 2.4.20 to 2.4.21, are the following updates:

  • KDE 3.1.3 , which replaces 3.1.1 in Libranet 2.8

  • GNOME 2.2.2 (vice 2.2)

  • Mozilla 1.4 (vice 1.3)

While Libranet 2.8.1 may be only a dot release, it is a compelling offering for desktop users looking for an easy to install and maintain Linux distribution. Anyone looking for a distribution that arrives ready and able to do some serious work should give this Debian distribution a try.

From a productivity standpoint, the updates are noteworthy. AbiWord version 1.99.2 now provides full WordPerfect file support. KOffice fans also will appreciate WordPerfect filters. OpenOffice.org 1.0.3 unfortunately, like its previous release and StarOffice cousin, still lacks WP support.

Why do I emphasize WordPerfect? Because it is no longer supported by Corel, except through its peer-support news group. A lot of people, however, depend on WordPerfect for Linux. Libranet provides hospitality to your old copy of WP8/Linux as well as to WordPerfect Office 2000. With two solid word processors (AbiWord, KWord) to open and convert those pesky MS Word documents, Libranet lets you handle almost every document file format out there. Until another word processor matches WP's ease of use and features like shrink-to-fit, reveal codes and macros, it will remain a premier Linux writing tool.

So why buy Libranet 2.8.1? For one thing, buying this release will help keep future releases of Libranet coming. Current Libranet 2.8 owners can update with apt-get. For people who make do with a dial-up connection, however, getting the CDs makes more sense. A script to update 2.8 to 2.8.1 from the installation CDs is available from the Libranet Web site.

Libranet 2.8.1 is a polished release. Once again, the eclectic group of beta testers made sure that you can install Libranet 2.8.1 and go to work without endless tinkering and efforts to patch buggy applications. Additionally, a comprehensive on-line guide takes the Libranet newcomer through the installation procedure.

Libranet is a solid Debian derivative, based on the testing branch, and it can be updated in the usual Debian way. In addition, it also is a complete and serviceable desktop when installed. For people who need to get their work done, Libranet once again provides an advanced Debian solution without requiring that users have advanced Linux skills.

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