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VNU Net: Corel Linux [Review]

Mar 02, 2000, 18:27 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Will Head)

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By Will Head, VNU Net

An improvement on the original, with a user-friendly graphical installation wizard.

Corel Linux was one of the most anticipated Linux distributions last year, and racked up an impressive 47,227 downloads during its first week of release on CNET's download.com website.

While Linux is a stable and advanced operating system it is not for the uninitiated. It won't always work first time, can require tweaking, and generally should be left to those who enjoy such activities.

Corel is hoping to change all this. Gone are the text-based install screens written in badly translated geek. With Corel Linux you're treated to a fully graphical installation wizard written in sensible English. However, if Xwindows won't run on your particular hardware set-up you won't even get as far as the welcome screen, the machine will just spit out the CD and quietly reboot.

For the time being, this is a reasonable compromise because the current market for Corel Linux is likely to be people who want to run it as a desktop operating system and therefore want a graphical user interface. If you just want a console-based server then a text-based install won't phase you. In terms of hardware compatibility, Corel Linux is no better or worse than other distributions - some pieces of kit might make it wince, but this is well documented on Corel's website.

After plugging through the set-up screens we were ready for the final reboot. Everything seemed to have been painless. If anything, we've experienced more problems with Windows.

Reset the machine and the first thing you'll notice is the graphical shell that its over the Linux Loader. The only minor gripe is that it sets the default boot option to Linux without asking if you would rather have Windows.

After a couple of minutes the system powers up the XServer and you are presented with a graphical log-in. By default the KDE window manager is set up for you and greets you once you step through the door. One major addition on the K menu - equivalent to the Windows Start menu - is Corel File Manager, which provides a very 'My Computer' view of things from your home directory to other machines on the network.

We encountered the first hiccup when we installed Wordperfect for Linux. The default Corel Linux installation does not include all the libraries required by Wordperfect and therefore fails to run. A check on Corel's website confirmed the missing library complete with instructions on how to add it. Using the Corel Update utility it was just a matter of selecting the required package and clicking update. The utility can also connect to FTP sites as well as performing updates from CD. This allows Corel to post simple upgrades in the future.

Corel Linux is available for £4.95 on a CD or you can download it free.

System Requirements
Pentium, 24Mb RAM (64Mb recommended), 500Mb of free hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, 2Mb VGA PCI graphics card and a CD-writer if downloading.

Good Points
Fully graphical, straightforward installation, simple-to-use file manager and effective update facility.

Bad Points
Some minor hardware compatibility issues.

Conclusion
Corel has taken the stability and flexibility of Linux and added ease of use and good styling.

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