Foresight Linux

I've just made a somewhat brief test of Foresight Linux. I find it to be an interesting contradiction.

I've just made a somewhat brief test of Foresight Linux. I find it to be an interesting contradiction. It should be good, it is in fact mostly good, but it is weak in just enough areas to spoil it for me.

The basic idea of Foresight Linux is very good. It is Debian Linux, with the Gnome desktop, and its major "claim to fame" seems to be the "Conary" software management system, which looks like an improved RPM system. That in itself sounded good enough, and intriguing enough, that I was anxious to try it.

The distribution seemed a bit odd to me - for the standard "Foresight GNOME" edition, you have a choice between a DVD image or two CD images, but if you choose the CDs, then both disks are needed for the install. There is also a difference in the way the install process runs between the CD and DVD images, causing the DVD install to be much faster. There is also a "Foresight GNOME Light" edition, which includes English language only and does NOT include OpenOffice.org, and which then fits on a single CD. I chose the DVD image of the full Foresight GNOME distribution.

Installation was smooth and easy, much like installing most of the other Linux desktop distributions. At the final stage, it offered me a choice between the GRUB bootloader and EXTLINUX, which might confuse some novice users. The good news is, for most ordinary installations, either one will be perfectly adequate, so you can't go too far wrong there.

After installation I was surprised to see that it had gotten the default resolution of my laptop screen wrong - 1024x768, rather than 1200x800. This was running the laptop alone, not on the port replicator or with the external display, and both Ubuntu and Mandriva have been able to get this right without trouble. I'm still working on figuring out why it got it wrong...

The Conary package management system does seem to be quite nice; whether it will be enough of an improvement to justify the average user choosing this distribution is an open question.

I still have more testing to do, not only with the display but with the networking, especially the wireless networking, and some of the other drivers. I'll report again next week.

jw 29/8/2008

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