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Corel 1.0 -- Getting the Bugs Out

Dec 12, 1999, 19:58 (33 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Adelstein)

By Tom Adelstein
Bynari, Inc.

December 12, 1999 - In an earlier posting, we reported that Bynari's Support Team found the Corel version of Linux fairly stable and everything seemed to work. Then we attempted to hook it up to the Internet through a Digital Subscriber Line (dsl) which uses DHCP and discovered it failed. We fixed that but found some other problems which need noting. This posting exists to assist users in creating a robust environment out of Corel's download version of Linux.

Corel LINUX comes in three flavors: OS Download, Standard, and Deluxe. You can just download the iso image from their site (only recommended for the not faint of heart with a high speed connection) or buy the CD for $4.95. You can also buy the Standard for $59 and the Deluxe for $89. Corel advertised the latter two as of this writing as "coming soon".

Our support team likes the Corel Linux distribution we downloaded. So do some of the PC manufacturers we support. However, when it came decision time, the first of our PC manufacturer clients chose to go with two other distributions. In the decision making process, we couldn't tell if the problems with the download version would also exist in the other versions. Corel's representative contacted us originally, then made two appointments for phone conferences but missed both.

Regardless, we like many of Corel's desktop features. For example, the enhanced KDE Desktop, Install Express, File Manager and Corel Update Utility surpass other major distributions for ease of use and quantity of features. We haven't found another distribution which can compare with these four aspects of the Corel distribution. However, we felt disappointed when it came to other aspects of Corel's distribution.

For example, we didn't find a mail client on the desktop. We discovered that Corel provided the Netscape browser but didn't include Communicator with its robust tools such as Messenger , Composer, News Client, etc. Many of the KDE applications we've come to expect as standard also didn't show up on the desktop. We also have a difficult time finding the AutoStart and Templates folders. When we attempted to install TradeMail LE, it failed immediately. We also installed the full-version of WordPerfect which we bought off-the-shelf at the MicrosCenter in Richardson, Texas. We discovered it failed also. Now, keep in mind, Corel makes WordPerfect for Linux and out of the box it didn't install on the download version.

The support team started looking into the guts of Corel Linux and made some interesting discoveries. First, apt-get appeared broke. So from the command line, Andrew did an update of apt-get. He also discovered that the basic libc installation had broken pieces. Corel included glibc 2.0, so Andrew used the updated apt-get to update libc6 to version 2.1. Once we accomplished this, TradeMail worked.

We then found many of the native KDE applications in /usr/X11R6/bin directory which we noticed missing on the desktop. We opened our home directory and didn't find the Templates folder so we could put our discoveries on the desktop. After a little searching, we found an icon under "my home" labeled "desktop". We clicked it and found the Template and AutoStart folder which don't appear on the desktop. We used the program.lnk to put icons on the desktop and set up some of our favorite kde apps.

We went to the Corel web site and found the instructions on how to fix WordPerfect at http://linux.corel.com/products/linux_os/wp8install_instructions.htm. To find these instructions and any indication of the problem, we started at corelcity.com, navigated to corel.com, went to linux.corel.com, navigated to their products page and clicked on the link Wordperfect 8 for Linux which said download a copy of their famous word processor for free. Under a section on that web page called Important Updates, we found the instructions for fixing the download version of Corel Linux so WordPerfect could work. Corel says, "The download version of Corel LINUX OS does not include Corel WordPerfect 8 for Linux. End users wanting to run Corel WordPerfect 8 for Linux (retail or download) have to install it separately. The basic problem is that the xlib6 package, which is needed to run WordPerfect 8.0 under the download version of Corel LINUX OS, is not installed by default as part of the typical setup." If you want the instructions, navigate to the url mentioned above.

After following the instructions and navigating to the xlib6 3.3.5-1.0.1 shared libraries required by libc5 X clients on the Corel download site, I noticed our changes to the /etc/apt/sources.list gave us additional updates from the Debian ftp site. We went back to the sources.list and commented out every line except the last three and suddenly we found packages we wanted for our own distribution using Corel's Update utility.

For example, by updating to Communicator 4.7, the Corel Update utility removed older libc6 libs and updated the distribution. Afterwards, we were able to build a robust Debian install with Corel's excellent desktop. The tools worked wonderfully.

We originally tested the Corel distribution on a number of single processor systems. We decided to put it on a HP Vectra XU 6/200 with dual Pentium Pro's, Seagate Barracuda SCSI drives, 128 MB of RAM, the recommended HP ethernet card, Matrox Millennium 4MB video and onboard SoundBlaster 16. This box came with Windows NT 4.0 Workstation preinstalled.

The installation went very well with a couple of exceptions. Corel Linux didn't see the HP100 ethernet card and it couldn't configure the sound card. We used update-modules and got the HP100 and SB working. Corel Linux did a SMP install and saw both processors. We looked into the /proc directory at cpuinfo and it configured fine. When we peaked into the pci file, we saw the hp100 in the file even though Corel Linux missed it.

If you give the Corel Linux 1.0 distribution a try, be prepared for a very nice looking, though sparse distribution. If you have some experience with Debian or other Linux distributions, a little editing and a fix here and there and you'll have a very attractive GUI bootloader, login screen and desktop with the power of the GNU distribution of Linux under the hood.