Friday, 22 August, 2003
I downloaded the beta version of Lycoris Desktop/LX, burned the image to a CD, and installed on a spare partition of my hard drive here. Lycoris (formerly Redmond Linux) is a Linux distribution, based on Corel, that the developers have modified so that it looks and feels more like Windows. Lycoris is unlike any other distribution that I've tried. Previously I've used Red Hat and SuSE, and have built my own system from scratch following the instructions on the Linux From Scratch site.
What's so different? When I booted the machine with the Lycoris CD, the setup program automatically started, detected my hardware, and walked me through a handful of very simple screens on which I confirmed the keyboard, mouse, and video hardware, selected DHCP, and created a user account. It automatically detected the unpartitioned space on my hard drive and began installing. No package selection screens or other stuff to complicate the installation. After 20 minutes of copying files (during which I tinkered with the solitaire program that they so kindly provided), I created a rescue diskette and rebooted the system.
Lycoris installs the GRUB boot loader, which on startup let me choose between Windows 2000 and the new Lycoris installation. My only gripe here is that GRUB placed Lycoris as the first boot choice, and it gives me only 5 seconds to choose Windows 2000 before automatically booting Linux. I'll need to change the default to Windows 2000, and set the delay to a more reasonable 20 seconds or so.
OS boot time is comparable to Windows 2000, and when the system comes up I'm presented with a graphical login screen. Lycoris installs the KDE desktop, an office productivity suite, Mozilla Web browser and email client, and a host of multimedia tools. Some games and system utilities round out the installed applications. The default UI settings are very nice and, unsurprisingly, very Windows-like. Unlike other distributions I've tried in the past, everything that I've tried so far has worked as expected and I haven't had to futz with any settings. I'll want to adjust the mouse sensitivity and make a few cosmetic changes to the desktop appearance, but those are minor. A bigger problem is the speed. I expected the UI to be a bit more responsive on my 700 MHz Pentium 3. Mozilla and KWord take a long time to start, and video performance is a bit sluggish. I hope they fix that before they release the next version.
I'll have to use the system for real work before I can say for sure that I like it, but my initial impression is quite favorable. Installation was painless, and the distribution appears to have everything that a casual home computer user would want for a starting system. It's still Linux, and I'm free to download and install any other packages that I want. Desktop Linux has come a long way in the past three years. I might just be on the verge of recommending it as a serious option to Windows.