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Linux AnswersLinux Answers - Editor's choice

Linux Answers - Premiere Issue

"It's the first Linux boxed-set built and produced in the UK, with support to match. Will it put UK Linux developers on the map?"

With the current interest in non-Windows operating systems and the huge upsurge of interest in Linux in general, we've seen our favourite OS move from a propeller-head minority interest to become a mass-market product for all of us. One of the biggest factors in this transition has to be the boxed versions of Linux you can buy in any major PC shop. There are lots available, with distributions from Red Hat, SuSE, Caldera and Macmillan all vying for shelf space next to Windows.

All come with hefty manuals that ease you through the installation and configuration of your new Linux box, and all include something revolutionary for Linux - free technical support for if you get stuck. The fly in the ointment is that this support usually involves either calling another country or using email - no Linux boxed set comes with genuine UK support.

Until now, that is….

Definite Linux is based around the popular Red Hat 6 distribution with tweaks and enhancements - more on this later. It's been around for a while in the form of a CD-only distribution, and becomes a true mass-market product with the arrival of this fully boxed version of Definite Linux 7. There are two packages available - the standard edition, which we're looking at here, and the advanced Server Edition priced at £150. Installation is as easy - or as awkward - as Red Hat 6. The Red Hat base has a very long list of supported kit, and Definite Linux expands on that to even more. There's still no direct support for USB or more recent developments such as DVD-RAM, but this is owing to the state of development of the Linux kernel itself rather than a deficiency in Definite Linux. As a desktop OS, Linux has come a long way in recent months.

Definite Linux brings out the GIMP in you

Gone are the days of spending most of your time at the text console - in common with all modern Linuxes, Definite installs the most recent XFree86 server, along with efficient and visually pleasing interfaces like GNOME and KDE. A wonderful workstation environment it may be, but Definite very much excels when put into use as a server. If you're looking for a file, print or even Internet server for a PC or mixed Mac/PC network, Definite is up to the job. Linux is a fast, robust OS to begin with, and Definite's enhancements have done nothing to impact on that superb stability. DlSK RAID Definite runs around the 2.2.12 release of the Linux kernel, the most recent stable release version as we went to press. It includes patches to improve speed and support for hardware aimed at the server market, including RAID hardware controllers for large disk arrays. Also included is direct support for ISDN, something missed by almost every rival distribution. With rivals like SuSE offering six CDs full of applications, you have to look carefully at what you want. If you're after a robust system backed by strong UK support at a price cheaper than Red Hat, then there really isn't any other option.

 

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