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Granular Linux Distro Preview is Worth a Look 119

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-fragmentation dept.
Linux.com has an interesting look at Granular Linux, a desktop-oriented distribution that's primary goal is to be easy to use. "With a single CD's worth of included programs, Granular Linux manages to cover a significant portion of normal end user needs, and those applications not already installed can be easily added through Synaptic. The slight problem with video and more serious problem with sound of my machine suggest that Granular is not without its issues, especially when most other distributions work properly on this hardware, but as this is a preview release of version 1.0 I think it can be more or less forgiven. I'd definitely recommend Granular to anyone with an interest in trying out a new distribution. "
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Granular Linux Distro Preview is Worth a Look

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  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @01:41AM (#22970978) Journal
    Because I don't find any of these "easy to use" attempts easy to use. Because I know unix already, and these distros do it differently in order to make it "easy". But I'm not most people.

    But my point still stands. Easy to use is not the same as "windows like" or even "shallow learning curve". It can mean "expert friendly".

    That's not to say they're mutually exclusive, but this term is abused more than most.
    • Longer than Vista [news.com] I hope.

      • by sgbett (739519)
        Surely that makes vista "Windows XP-ME" ?
    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @02:12AM (#22971100) Journal
      I agree with you, "easy to use" is relative. Grandma's idea of "easy to use" isn't necessarily the same as any of ours. she may only need to browse the internet or play simple games, we O.T.O.H may require Bash to be handy for shell scripts to automate different tasks, to refine things etc. Then if you're reasonably familar with *nix commands it's much simpler to communicate fixes for problems, installing software etc. a single command rather than click* click* click** click more....
    • by bersl2 (689221)
      I think that a distinction should be made between being easy to use and being easy to administrate. They are often completely different skills, and the phrasing should reflect this.
    • by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @03:51AM (#22971398)
      I've found LinuxMint to be fairly easy to use so far, at least as easy as any other distro I've tried (which is all the biggies, 15-20+ over the years). I've tinkered with Linux off an on since 1994 or 1995, but the current iteration of Mint (Daryna, based on Ubuntu and Gnome) is the first distro I've been able to use for everything I do, given my limited linux/UNIX knowledge.

      My desktop still dual boots XP pro and Ubuntu, but my laptop, which I use probably 90% of the time, only runs LinuxMint now. Mint does some things well "out of the box" that other distros don't, like play DVDs and work with my wifi card, which are a must if Windows users are to be converted. Yes, it uses some closed-source drivers and stuff, but it is still free and works damn well for some of us. I've even toyed with Virtual Box and installed XP with just to see if it would work. That install went fine, and XP seems to work, even though I was previously unable to install it without the VM because there are no XP drivers for my hardware.

      I may be more persistent than the typical user who feels abused by MS, but I honestly believe the current crop of desktop linux distros are getting VERY close to truly becoming Windows replacements. They still aren't "set it and forget it" easy, but they are close, and less fiddling is needed once you have everything set up. I'd love to see a bit of consolidation in the linux community, rather than the ridiculous number of distros we see now, and a focus on hardware compatibility and drivers that install without any hassle. If we get that, anyone will be able to install and use linux.

    • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
      the main problem with the distros that try to be 'easy to use' is that they are usually new and don't have support for many devices or don't work well with them. that's why i find debian, ubuntu, red hat and the other popular distros more easy to use: you install it and it usually finds all your devices and makes use of them perfectly. it's the same thing that makes windows easy to use, extensive testing by developers and/or users. this is obviously going to happen for OSes that have a large user base. so,
      • ... the only way to make a new successful distro (easy to use or not) is to fork or expand an already popular distro (or sponsor it with a lot of money).
        Ubuntu did both. Seems it's working out well for them: http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major [distrowatch.com]
      • by grumbel (592662)
        Yep, 'easy to use' is simply the distro which you have the best chance to get help with and a popular distro beats a smaller one pretty much all time in that area. And beside that making Linux easier to use doesn't require another distro, it requires *less* distros. This whole distro chaos has been nothing but a big waste of time for Linux in general. There are only very few distros out there that really do something different then the other, for by far most of them it is all the same, they all try to solve
        • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
          I would like that too... As long as it's debian or ubuntu the only one left :D. (not trying to start a flame war here, so please don't flame, hmk?)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BountyX (1227176)
      I concur, a similar instance would be the word "authentic" in the food industry. Most people use the word "authentic' to indicate that a meal is prepared similarly to where it would be prepared where the recipe originated. I just don't see how food in a box can be labeled authentic. Any alternate interpretations of the words seem to be redundant in describing the item...

      Just like the phrase "easy to use", "authentic" seems to be so ambiguous in actual application that it only endures use for sensati
  • by geek (5680)
    Another "easy to use" distro. We have enough of those. Focus your resources on stuff that matters.

  • It's just PClinuxOS (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yet another distro. I R-ed the FA, and it seems this is just PCLinuxOS with a different name and a different wallpaper.

    Nothing to see here.

    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NospAm.hotmail.com> on Saturday April 05, 2008 @02:21AM (#22971126) Journal
      just PCLinuxOS with a different name and a different wallpaper.

      Yep. The only interesting thing about this is how it was made.

      The LiveCD project is dedicated to providing you with tools to create your own LiveCD from a currently installed Linux distribution. It can be used to create your own distribution, specialised CD, or to put together a demo disk to show off the power of our favourite OS.
      http://livecd.berlios.de/
      It dramatically lowers the barrier to producing and distributing your own Linux distro.

      I suspect we'll be seeing a flood of special-interest Linux distros very shortly. It could be a breeding ground for some interesting innovations.

      • by Pc_Madness (984705) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @02:23AM (#22971130)
        Because thats what linux needs, MORE distros. *sigh*
        • thats what linux needs, MORE distros.

          It could be a breeding ground for some interesting innovations.
          Competition is a fine thing. I like innovation.
        • by kamathln (1220102)
          GNU/Linux needs more _innovative_ and uniquely integrated distros.
        • by Vexorian (959249)
          And your post would be 100% correct if it wasn't sarcasm.
      • by hcmtnbiker (925661) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @02:33AM (#22971170)

        just PCLinuxOS with a different name and a different wallpaper. Yep. The only interesting thing about this is how it was made.

        The LiveCD project is dedicated to providing you with tools to create your own LiveCD from a currently installed Linux distribution. It can be used to create your own distribution, specialised CD, or to put together a demo disk to show off the power of our favourite OS. http://livecd.berlios.de/ [berlios.de]

        It dramatically lowers the barrier to producing and distributing your own Linux distro. I suspect we'll be seeing a flood of special-interest Linux distros very shortly. It could be a breeding ground for some interesting innovations.
        Fedora, Ubuntu, and most other distributions, and one of my personal favorites ZenWalk, have their own set of tools for easily creating your own liveCD. This is nothing new.

        From my experience "easy to use" means: features that get in your way when you try to do real work. Most distributions go down this road and it drives me fucking nuts. If you really want a distro to be easy, focus your attention on getting all the hardware you can to work out of box. Put ndiswrapper on it(I cannot believe how many distros leave this out be default), maybe(ndisGTK too), and just make sure the manual explains how to use it for the people not familiar.
        • If I hadn't already commented on this thread, I'd mod you up twice.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by pD-brane (302604)

          Put ndiswrapper on it(I cannot believe how many distros leave this out be default), maybe(ndisGTK too), and just make sure the manual explains how to use it for the people not familiar.

          Even though I must say that ndiswrapper is a nice tool, I tell people where I install GNU/Linux that their hardware is not supported and they should buy this or that to replace the hardware. On the other hand, why would you want to dispose any hardware? This is two-fold for me.

          First, it is proprietary software (i.e. the drivers).

          Secondly, is are the drivers maintainable? How good does ndiswrapper work and how do you know that when it works it keeps on working?

      • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann@slashdot.gmail@com> on Saturday April 05, 2008 @03:14AM (#22971286) Homepage Journal

        I suspect we'll be seeing a flood of special-interest Linux distros very shortly.


        Sometimes I've fantasized about making my own mini-distro based on anonymity, hacking and privacy tools . Maybe I'll load it with I2P, Freenet and all that.

        This tool to remaster your distribution is a very nice thing to have. It's like having a RAD but for distros.

        Also, having read Stallman's book, I consider this tool to be effectively supporting the spirit of software freedom. It's no use if you're *allowed* to make changes to a software and distribute it to others, if the technological barriers are impossible to cross.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @01:51AM (#22971008)
    Easy to use has nothing to do with it. Focus on Application and Hardware support. Easy to use doesn't help you if your applications won't install or some chipset goes unsupported. These people need to work on building the needed applications for the Linux that exists now.
    • by cscorley (944957)
      Yeah, they only thing I don't find easy to use about ANY distro is trying to configure things like wireless drivers, video, or some newer hardware. The rest is all man pages.
      • It depends on how well supported your hardware is, I plan my hardware purchases around Linux support. That really is a case that hardware makers won't either provide working drivers OR give up hardware specs.
    • by Captain DaFt (755254) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <tfad_niatpac>> on Saturday April 05, 2008 @02:41AM (#22971196) Journal
      "Easy to use has nothing to do with it. Focus on Application and Hardware support. Easy to use doesn't help you if your applications won't install or some chipset goes unsupported. These people need to work on building the needed applications for the Linux that exists now."

      Applications and hardware support that "just work" are exactly how I define "ease of use".

      The OS is just the part that makes the applications work on the hardware. Ideally, an OS that "just works" means I shouldn't even notice it.
      • In reality though, that never works. Unless we have a great HAL and can somehow foresee future hardware it's impossible. The current situation is that many libraries sit between the application and the OS, and (IMO) this is a good thing.
      • I'm not sure that windows is any better. I bought new hardware, boom my entire system crashes. I ended up having to install keyboard drivers to fix the sound card (they both used USB and conflicted). If that isn't as far from easy to use as you can find, I don't know what you expect. I also ended up being forced to use the wrong sound drivers as well. I use a C-Media on board sound, but to get the mic to work was far from plug the mic in and it works. Windows blew on that one, and I about tore my hair out.
        • "I use a C-Media on board sound, but to get the mic to work was far from plug the mic in and it works. Windows blew on that one"

          I can confirm this is a real anecdote because the C-Media mic problem hit me too. For a while I was convinced that it was actually a hardware problem, thinking it was a bad mic jack on my board, but after installing Linux it surprised me that it began to work. I didn't even have to know how to install a driver because it was detected by the installer. What I *did* have to know a
      • by Fri13 (963421)
        "The OS is just the part that makes the applications work on the hardware. Ideally, an OS that "just works" means I shouldn't even notice it." Oh yeah! Try to tell that for few people who argue that OS is whole package what is under brand name. Like Ubuntu is Linux based OS because it use kernel named Linux and it's different OS than any other distribution, like Windows 95 and Windows Vista are different OS's. And everything what you install trought package manager (apt, synaptic gui) is part of OS. But if
  • Based on (Score:3, Informative)

    by dvice_null (981029) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @01:52AM (#22971012)
    It is based on PCLinuxOS ("free, easy-to-use Linux-based operating system for the home"), which is based on Mandriva.
    • Let's see...

      RedHat -> Mandrake (Mandriva) -> PCLinuxOS -> Granular

      Is this how Linux evolution is supposed to work? I don't know, but as long as forks keep improving the OS quality instead of degrading it, I'm all for it.
    • But before somebody jumps to conclusions, it doesn't use urmpi last I checked, but rather APT.

      Texstar was created by a group of people who used to manage RPMs/urmpis for Mandriva.
      • by Fri13 (963421)
        If I dont remember wrong, Textar was a person, who made packages for Mandrake (was then it) and then stopped about around when Mandriva name was taked in use. PCLinuxOS really use APT as package manager but still keeps that RPM based package system in use and Mandriva packages should install bretty easy without a glitch. I have PCLinuxOS on this laptop and I like it but Mandriva 2008 Spring (2008.1) is much better than PCLinuxOS (Or Ubuntu!).
  • ...and that was five minutes of my life I'll never get back.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by absurdist (758409)
      To whoever modded me troll, care to elaborate on WTF makes this distro so special that you'd waste mod points defending it? I'm quite serious. All I saw was yet another half-baked attempt to start yet another derivative distribution rather than doing anything new or different. It wouldn't even recognize the reviewer's sound card, for Gods' sake.
      • So you didn't like the review, or the distro? Because thanks to the review you found out that the distro is not for you. Well, that's what reviews are for, DOH! Besides, the review was clear into saying that it's a preview install. Like beta. The title didn't say "install it, it's the best!". It says it's "worth a look".

        If the distro's makers ignore the bug reports, well, then it will die. But all distros start with a fork and a small community (and a small repository). Only time will tell if it improves or
        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by absurdist (758409)
          Give me a fucking break. I never said anything about censoring their distro. Or anything like it. I said I don't see what the fucking point is. If they put their effort into improving another distro, I might see the point. What I see here is an exercise in masturbation - "Hey, we've taken yet another distro and added our own startup screens to it!!! Cool, huh?!?!" YMMV.
          • From Granular's wiki:

            Ideology behind the project

            The main idea behind the birth of the project, was to redefine the application set included in PCLinuxOS to some extent and to introduce the idea of having more than one major desktop environment on a single LiveCD. The latter idea was implemented in the second version release of Granular, version 0.25.

            Now that's an idea worth considering. Many distributions are married to their desktop environment: We have ubuntu with Gnome, and Kubuntu with KDE. PCLinuxOS

            • by absurdist (758409)
              So are you saying that if you're running Ubuntu you can't d/l the Gnome packages and boot from either environment" Or vice-versa from Kubuntu? Or similar with PCLinuxOS? Not to mention Xubuntu, Fluxubuntu, etc...? Other than having the packages available on the CD (or DVD... if you really try to be desktop agnostic you're going to be D/Ling one hell of a lot of packages just to burn the disk), once again, what is the advantage to this particular distro?
              • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward
                Apparently it's the ability to get people to waste their time talking about it.
              • by cbart387 (1192883)
                Just because they aren't advantages to you, doesn't mean they aren't advantages to others. The phrase you mileage may vary applies here ;)
  • As opposed to all the other Linux distros which try to be hard to use?
  • KDE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @01:56AM (#22971028)
    Its a KDE-oriented distro. I am not sure that releasing a new distro based on KDE in the current climate is a good idea. Don't get me wrong, KDE-4 is shaping up to be great (and backports and development on KDE-3 are still occurring), but what separates this distribution from any other KDE-3*-based distro?
  • I haven't tried this distro, but will give it a shot. Talking new distros, especially live ones, I've been playing with FaunOS [faunos.com], a Linux-based live system for USBs. It's based on Arch, and its pretty damn fast. The other USB based distro that I've tried Puppy Linux [puppylinux.org] is better if you want to run old hardware, or don't have enough RAM; but I find FaunOS just more complete. Anyone else out there booting from USB?
    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
      I boot Slax from my USB drive to log in on my school's router. It works relatively fast and looks neat. And it's based on Slackware, which is my favorite. Then again, I don't have any older PCs to test it out - I run it on my brand-new laptop.
    • Happy Puppy Linux user here - FaunOS is a bit too heavy for my old USB sticks
    • by couchslug (175151)
      FaunOS looks interesting, especially because Puppy and Damn Small Linux (handy as they are) are rather limited.
      Thanks for the useful post, I'll give it a shot.

      Granular isn't worth my time to download, despite the Slashvertisement.
    • by Cato (8296)
      I've been testing Puppy and Damn Small Linux (DSL, http://damnsmalllinux.org/ [damnsmalllinux.org]) recently on a Thinkpad 560 with 96 MB RAM. Both are well optimised for booting from flash drives. Even if you have a PC that won't boot from Flash normally, you can still use Flash either with a boot floppy (WakePup for Puppy, DSL Boot USB for DSL), or with a Compact Flash card if it's a laptop - this appears as an IDE disk even to the BIOS, typically. Compact Flash should be faster than a USB drive and it's very easy to get a
    • by anilg (961244)
      Yup. Belenix.
    • by fkamogee (619579)
      I roll my own based on openSUSE 10.3, using their KIWI tool. I wish I didn't have to, but Puppy doesn't do everything I want. FaunOS looks interesting, but a quick peek at Arch left me thinking it's too much like Gentoo (a PITA to maintain even when you know what you're doing). I might try it anyway since I don't configure much on these kind of systems.
      • by 1 a bee (817783)
        Go ahead and give it a try :-) I'm using the *shadow* version as I post this. It's speedy and comes with an easy-to-use package manager. Backups are simple. So far, it hasn't been a PITA to maintain: quite the contrary, it's easily the easiest system I've had to maintain.
        • by fkamogee (619579)
          I grabbed shadow; first impression was good enough that I may run with it for a while. Thanks for the heads up...
  • News for nerds? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @03:10AM (#22971278)
    Maybe an announcement of the first version of Slackware was. Perhaps radically different distributions like Gentoo. But for the life of me I can't understand why another ordinary desktop disto is on the front page.
    • by jw3 (99683)
      Hey, that is such an exceptional story -- a distribution that aims at user friendliness and fails to achieve it. I have never seen anything like that before! ;-)

      January
  • Ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jw3 (99683) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @03:17AM (#22971294) Homepage
    "Its primary goals are to be easy to use and user-friendly (...) Upon booting the Granular live CD ISO with the default settings my test PC, which uses an old ATI Rage 128 video card, the system froze at the loading screen. A quick reboot and selection of safe VESA settings solved this problem with no fuss."

    Come on. Am I the only one to think that the above is funny?

    January
    • by 26199 (577806) *

      The concept of any computer being "easy to use" was thrown out of the window (no pun intended) a long, long time ago.

      Now I think the aim is "possible to use given enough sweat and blood".

      Unfortunately even this is unattainable in many cases...

      Maybe as OSes get smarter and hardware gets more standardised the problems will ease, but if the focus stays on "cool features"/"fast games"/"cheap+fast hardware" ... it may take a while.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The entire quote FTFA:

      "Upon booting the Granular live CD ISO with the default settings my test PC, which uses an old ATI Rage 128 video card, the system froze at the loading screen. A quick reboot and selection of safe VESA settings solved this problem with no fuss. Considering I can no longer get this card to work properly under Windows, I count it as a blessing when it runs under Linux. This is another example of how Linux breathes life into old hardware."

      Nice cherry picking.
  • Easy to use (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298)
    Doesn't support hardware=hard to use.
  • I can't remember the last time I saw a mainstream distro that was actually hard to *use*. Some have been hard to set up, or hard to get working properly... but hard to *use*?

    Click on some menu button, find your program, run your program. Where the menu button is located, how it's shaped and what it looks like does not matter.

    As a self proclaimed nerd I would like to see a linux distro that actually did something revolutionary. Anyone can take a base distro, dress it up and make it into a LiveCD. It'
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thefekete (1080115)

      Second that.

      I can't say I tried this distro (or read TFA for that matter), but I've been on ubuntu for the last 3 years and I don't see any reason to switch. The main reason is the documentation. At this point I could probably be compiling custom kernels and installing all my software from source with every configuration tweaked out, but I need to get some work done. Ubuntu is my choice because of it's large user base, period.

      With that comes a lot of people trying to do a lot of things. And chances are

  • Classic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @04:08AM (#22971448)
    I read the article and gave up when he couldn't install his audio hardware and was switching between OSS and ALSA (neither acronym did he explain). Normal basic user guy would never get passed that point, never. Easy to use? Maybe, but as shown in the article only for the people who always used to think a few tens of lines into the command line were easy.
    • by Shatrat (855151)
      Passed -> past
      English is complicated too, but people use it every day.
      The same could be true of linux.
  • Another Linux Distro! Thank goodness, I was starting to feel like I was running out of options.

    Seriously folks, 64 Distributions should be enough for anybody.

  • If you have to manually setup Wifi with all that driver mapping crap, then it's still not friendly enough.
  • Many linux distros claim to be "easy", and they are, if you are at least moderately computer literate. What I am looking for however is a truly Gran friendly Linux distro, for the quite elderly (who have done all the learning they will be doing, and will forget everything you teach them in about 1/2 an hour anyway and the just terminally stupid. Ultra, mega, hyper simple. A desktop of about 5 buttons "Mail" "Search" "Chat" "Write" "Pictures" Only one way to do anything, a simple way, in fact, one mous
  • Granular is shooting to be an easy to use Linux distribution. The big question is, what will it do that Ubuntu isn't?
  • I think the network edition is about 140mb, then you just apt-get whatever you need. Seems to be the same idea.
  • and it served me a 0 byte ISO. If that's not easy to use, I don't know what is!
  • by srobert (4099) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @01:34PM (#22973872)
    In 1996, I picked up as Slackware distro and started playing around with it. Since then, I've installed or used Red Hat, Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, etc., and built Linux from Scratch systems several times. Now I'd have to work closely with a novice to get any insight into what "easy to use" means. If I worked with novices accustomed to Macs, PC's, or who were completely unfamiliar with computers, I'd bet they'd all have different ideas about what it means.
  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @03:53PM (#22974646) Homepage Journal
    We have now reached a point where "Easy to Use" is no longer an issue and specialization (i was looking forward to Undead Linux but they went away). There are more and more distros/sub-distros that are providing more and more specific customizations out of the box. These distros are not for people who have using linux for years, they are for people who just want to use their computer without having to work at it. This can be easily done with linux and on their OLD computers. I have converted a few people starting with just FOSS, then when they too easily get their windows systems compromised I show them Mint, Mepis, Linspire, Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubunt/Edubuntu, and yes I have checked out Granular, it is nice. Most people just want to go on web, get their email, watch videos, play games, type a document. And any of the distros out there allow this with little or no fuss.

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