Home > linux > Dreamlinux 3.5 Review – Desktop Emphasis

Dreamlinux 3.5 Review – Desktop Emphasis

Introduction

I have been distro hopping a lot in recent times, ever since I got VMware, and dedicated about half my system resources to it. I was testing a lot of the less known Linuxes but never came across one that had no big problem.

Of course, Dreamlinux is not one of the myriad of unknowns. It’s a fairly popular Linux distro, particularly in its home (Brazil), though the default language is English.

What got me interested was not that it had some whopping new feature, or some remarkable trick up its sleeve. What impressed me was the high amount of polish that had gone into whatever the distribution had to offer.

System

For some time, my test system has been the VMware Workstation 6.5 running with 1024MB RAM, and dual processors. I install VMware tools, and run the distributions in full screen mode, or perhaps in Unity mode. This lets me test distros before graduating them to my proper hard disk partitions. My actual system is a 2.4GHz AMD X2 Turion 64 laptop, 2GB RAM, 256MB ATI Radeon 1650. I assign a combined 20GB worth of partitions to Linux, while the rest, obviously, is Windows.

What this means is that following review is a merger of the two experiences: Virtual Machine, and actual hardware.

Live Boot – First impressions

The Live boot is a little messy. You get to see a lot of console text scrolling down during the boot – and not only for the kernel, but right to the end before the login manager takes over, and you get a graphical screen.

That however, is the last you see of anything unpolished. The desktop is beautiful to look at, while it’s clearly inspired by the Mac, it stops short of completely replicating that. You get a clean, simple, and easy workspace, and a lot of eye-candy. On my hardware, Compiz worked out of the box, which does not happen as often as I would want it to. Applications for most regular tasks are pre-installed, though it clearly doesn’t hoard up on them. In fact, the impressions were exactly what the word Dreamlinux might conjure up: not bold, not beautiful, but very elegant, precise and polished.

Dreamlinux 3

I hate clones (as I did with gOS), but this is perhaps a subjective exception, because it maintains what I want – usability.

Deeper in

And talking about usability, it scores high too. It is based on Debian, which means that the whole Debian repositories are for you to peruse. The front end for Apt-get is Synaptic.

It employs the XFCE desktop interface, which I never really liked. Dreamlinux would be an exception once again: the dock is employed very effectively, and the theming of XFCE makes it look like something far more advanced.

One of the glitches is that once a windows is maximizes, the dock bar at the bottom is not covered. That makes for a very, very bad display. However, unless you are in the habit of maximizing your windows all the time, this should not bother you much.

Multimedia on Dreamlinux is, well, a dream. It has the best set of pre-installed codecs I have yet seen in a Linux distro. Best working would perhaps be closer to the mark – many distros exhibit installed codecs, but here, they reallyo trulyo work.

Hardware is more of a problem. I did not really have trouble configuring my LAN, or my sound volumes, or display, but much of that is not obvious. Perhaps it is meant to be so – to keep prying desktop users away from the system vitals, but I found it a pain to dig around in the Control Panel. I find the Control Panel itself to be very nice indeed – but what runs behind it is certainly not. And the problem in labeling is a very obvious problem – the button ‘XFCE settings’ or ‘Alsa config’ will never specify much to the average Linux newbie, or user.

The default software selection seems to be the standard one for a medium level distro: OpenOffice, GIMP, Totem, etc. But the Debian repositories mean the massive world of software is open to you. In other words, Dreamlinux is a fully fledged distro.

One of the points that one notices about this is that Dreamlinux is designed for mass adoption, or easy distribution. It packs, by default, a distro remastering tool, a disk burner, OEM installers and so on. This makes it very easy to turn Dreamlinux into a custom distro that you can share amongst particular groups of people.

On my hardware install, it also picked my wireless drivers easily. There seems to be some option that provides for installing Windows drivers inside Dreamlinux, perhaps a front end to Ndiswrapper, but I never needed to use it. My bluetooth, however, did not work. SUSE, so far, is the only distro where it works properly.

There is also something known as Easy Install – that installs advanced drivers (for Nvidia), some Google programs and such automatically. These programs are not found on the installation disk, thus I could not follow up on this feature (because of a poor internet connection).

One of the best things is that Dreamlinux keeps maintaining the changes you make to it while Live. If you finally install it, you actually keep all those configuration changes. One of the nice touches.

Installation

In the final part, I decided to install it. The installer is one of the larger puzzles of this distro. It features a pretty much uncustomizable one window installer, that just allows you to choose partitions (not make them), install GRUB, and make user passwords.

While this is a fairly unique, and simple, approach, it will not win hearts amongst the techier (read: geekier) users of the distro who would like to be able to customize their installation.

Nevertheless, the installation works perfectly. It takes a bit of time, and does not show the progress too well, but gets the job done.

After the install, the console commands that you see during Live boot are replaced by a simple, elegant boot loading bar.

Dreamlinux 3

Conclusion

It is a distro well done. There are problems here and there, and some unfinished business. But overall, I like th distro. It is not there to take over my favourite openSUSE, which I still find the most complete Linux of all, but it is not bad.

Rating: 8/10

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Categories: linux Tags: ,
  1. 30 March 2009 at 7:54 AM

    why if we can installing software using synaptic in dreamlinux 3.5 no password required?

  2. 30 March 2009 at 10:07 AM

    @ kaboel: A password is required: but only after installation to hard disk, and if you set an admin password. This is one the unfinished things I was talking about. If you install while running live, you don’t need a password.

  3. sam
    30 March 2009 at 11:04 AM

    One of the glitches is that once a windows is maximizes, the dock bar at the bottom is not covered. That makes for a very, very bad display. However, unless you are in the habit of maximizing your windows all the time, this should not bother you much.

    There is a option to disable this feature..
    This is the builtin feature of the dock

  4. 30 March 2009 at 1:48 PM

    @ sam: We can disable the dock, but I found no obvious option to disable this problem while the dock is still enabled.

  5. sam
    3 April 2009 at 7:56 PM

    jkask ehjwhf owejerkl kljerkhn

  6. 5 April 2009 at 1:02 PM

    @ sam: That last comment… Was it supposed to mean something?

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