There is always something interesting afloat in my email box. My last review was my first second round review of a distro, with the latest coming out of Dreamlinux. While I was working on that one, I had been working with my new laptop to get another second timer Elive to work, which came out on Christmas day. Elive, the distro named as the fastest climber on distrowatch for 2006, was one of my favorite suprises and one where I truly ended up leaving a distro on my laptop until it died later in the year. So once I published the Dream, of course I get a couple of emails letting me know that Elive also had a great new release out and where was my updated review? Patience people, patience...
What sets Elive apart, well to quote their website;
"Elive is not made
for newbies. Elive is not made for experienced people. Elive is not
made for enterprises or personal use... Elive is art, Elive is simply
for the people who appreciate it and want it. Feel free to try Elive,
because only you decide what you want on this world!"
So being called art could be good or bad, depending on your personal tastes. For me, it goes beyond the look and into the function. Like Vector, another smaller distro with a similar following, Elive is also one of the slickest and fastest distros out there today. With Elive 0.6, or rl2 as it is called on their website, this has only improved. Now, one of my test laptops had some networking issues, but another had absolutely no issue with anything, with wireless and video being flawless on install. This alone sets Elive apart from the crowd, and then when you add the look and feel being so unique, well, just keep reading and let the screen shots speak for themselves.
For those who already enjoy Elive, in the Bonus section we include a great interview with Thanatermesis
which I hope you will enjoy.
Let's head back to Belgium and see what is new, shall we? Details:
Desktop - Enlightenment E17 and E16
FAQs - http://www.elivecd.org/gb/Main/About/
Cost - FREE!!! But they do offer faster download servers for a donations of any amount
Special Features - Live installer, excellent icons/graphics, full media support including DVD creation and FASTNitty Gritty:
Since nothing has changed on the installation, except a few improvements to the base package and then some additional configuration support, only the additional pieces were updated. This did leave us with a vastly improved first run system, so we have upgraded the installation to a 4 pennie score.
comes in my favorite package: a Live CD with an installer function.
When you boot up from the CD, first you get to choose a language, but
be quick. There seems to be a bug in the countdown and you don't get
the full 20 seconds. If you don't want English you better be quick. I do the Santa hat, being that the package came out on Christmas day.
one needs to choose the system run type. Here, unless you have had
issues in the past, you will need to select the 'default' option, or
choose what you need from what you know. Unless you know what you are
doing here, you may just want to stick to default. Laptop users may
need to use 'noapic noapci' options if they needed that in the past,
and you will likely know who you are.
A pretty little splash screen to watch while everything loads...
you get to choose the deafult theme for the Live CD. Now this sticks
around after install, but we will show you how to modify. I went with
Night version because it says it is better for the eyes. Remember,
Elive is Art, so we want to see what Art is.
when installing this on my laptop, I got a message around here stating
that I could choose to select the 'ati' module or the 'fglrx' module,
which they of course being the open source fans they are speak not so
highly about. Basically the 'ati' is open source and 'fglrx' is
proprietary. Because of that, you never know how well it will work with
the system. So they provide you the option which I like because I
really don't concern myself over open and proprietary rather works and
don't work. Since the screen shots come form a VMWare install, this
didn't present itself.
Next you get to choose your monitor
settings, which stay with you upon install, so make sure you choose
wisely. Of course you can modify if needed, but might as well stick
with what brought you right?
a few moments and some text at the bottom telling you a little bit of
what is happening, the next screen pops up and now you see why they
call Elive Art. Wow. This thing is right out of Myst meets Tomb Raider.
I have to admit, this is starting to peak my interests. What I really
like is that it is cool and organized. You see clearly on the screen
what the user name and password is for the Live CD, you have the option
in the bottom left shown clearly with a flashing arrow to select E16 or
E17 version of Enlightenment and a monster power button. Now, I
couldn't ever see how to reboot, just power off so that I miss, but
other than that BLAM!!!!!
With the Night you get the following startup screen, minus the login help, which I really liked. Knowing the system passwords without being online is important, and was something that set Elive apart. So just remember that the login is 'eliveuser' and password is 'elive'. If you need the root password, it is also 'elive'.
The latest Elive themed startup screen, which is very sharp and clearly one of the finest in all of Linux at this time. The look and feel of Elive is second to none, and for those who want to show off Linux, this will do it for sure.
to be outdone simply by the login screen the desktop comes up quick for
a Live CD. I didn't put a clock on it, but I would have to say only
Puppy or DSL comes up quicker. And the Night Theme is definitely better
on the eyes. I like the dark colors but some who prefer bright things
should choose the Elive version, which we will show later.
ran the typical programs, which include many of your favorites right in
the Live CD, like Open Office, Mplayer, Firefox, and Thunderbird.
Everything worked and worked amazingly fast. This is one of the key
goals of Elive according to their fact pageFast:
Work fast, this is one of the most important Elive goal's, no only with
the fast and light work of the system but you can use your mouse
normally or you have the possibility of work in a diferent way, for
example with only press one key, your desired program are opened or a
action launched, programs resized, iconized or moved, desktop switch,
etc. and all ready to use for feel to fly fast how a ray
And Fast is
the word that works. Everything works and you can't find much that
doesn't scream open. Now, the IO Temp and IO Bat never have worked for
me and for the life of me I can't get them off the screen, so that kind
of bothers me, but with everything else being so amazing I am willing
to look past it.
So now, lets get this Art on my machine. Again,
I am installing this on VMWare for screen shots but also ran this for
about 6 weeks on my laptop, first in Beta and then the last week or so
The icon to the right of the iBar is the
installer. Once you click you get a nice little welcome to the install
program window. Now, two things right away that I don't like. First,
there is no status letting me know where I am and where I am going in
the install process. I like these so I can see how much I have done and
how much is left so I know to plan enough time. Simple, but really nice
in my humble opinion. Second would be that there is no back or cancel
install options along the way. Now there are cancel options in some
choices, but these are really "no's" and not cancel.
we click pass the hello screen, the next screen gives you the chance to
check out your disc to see if the install will likely happen. Now, if
you have a few extra minutes go ahead. I did this once and it took
about 3-5 minutes but if your CD is fresh, you likely won't have any
issues. Your choice, but I selected Cancel (which means no).
you need to select how you are going to set up your partitions. You get
the standard fare of options here with Gparted (graphical) and CFDisk
(command line), so which ever you prefer go ahead. Now I did have
problems with gparted working with using an exisiting partition that I
wanted to use, so command line was used in my laptop, but for most
people gparted will likely be your best option. Note you cannot go back
with this install, so if you want to start over you will likely have to
reboot or kill the process. If you already have the system partitioned
the way you like, you can choose the last option and skip down to the
nice window of gparted opens up here and you get to set up your
partitions. I set up a basic one here of about 3 Gig and then a Swap of
516 MB. The next couple of screens are self explanitory.
Select Add and choose the format type. Remember to leave room for Swap on fresh drives or other partitions for other distros.
Remember that Swaps are their own filesystem type.
Almost there...Click Apply and see it take off and create your partitions.
once they are done simply close your gparted session and then the next
dialog box will pop up and ask where you want to install. Likely you
will know this from what you just did, but if your drive was already
partitioned just make sure to select the right one. Many times I have
wiped out the wrong partitions, so be extra careful here.
The extra step I love making sure you just did the right thing.
that you verified your not going crazy, you get another goofy one. Here
you need to select the format of the partition you wish to make it,
even though when you used gparted you had to select the type as well.
Now I like that you have to format, as when you don't odd things can
happen, but to not remember that you just did this, is kind of silly. I
guess it is more for those who might have skipped the partition tool,
but hey, know that....I am a reiser fan. Just know that if you select
XFS you need to have a seperate Boot folder in a seperate drive on a
non XFS partition (I think anyway from previous attempts).
is a step you might have needed to know about before you partitioned
your drive. Hopefully if you read this whole thing you will know that
you can use the extra partitions to create ones for home, usr,
etc...but since your partitioner was 5 steps ago, not much help now. If
you select Cancel you are saying shove it all in the one we created.
data is being copied. This process is pretty painless and worked well,
just not very intuitive and with little safety net, minus kill and
start over. I am not saying this was the worst installer every seen,
but there are many out there better structured and easier. I do like
that they give you a game to play with, similar to Ark does with
tetris, but the pop up doesn't open the game right away so it could
confuse you until you realize it is a solitare game.
data transfer didn't take too long and then you are quickly prompted
for the Root password, with a repeat that please window.
Follow that up with a single user name option, but you can add more later from the cool control panel.
by the user name password and repeat like the admin. I didn't show that
screen as it looks amazingly like the root password one. The hostname
is next, which unless you are part of a network really doesn't matter,
so the Elive default will work fine.
I missed the screen here for where to install your bootloader, so you
should know that most likely that would be in the MBR, unless you have
another distro you want to keep booting for now and add Elive as an
option to there. You can always change that in either case, but for me
I typically go with adding to the MBR so that I can see if there are
any default boot options that they distro people suggest in theirs that
I then copy over to the primary one.
There is an option next for
a frame buffer line in the boot, but you will need to remember if your
splash screen was present during boot or not to select yes. It won't
hurt anything really either way, so go ahead and select Yes.
The next step really isn't one, it just lets you know that somethings are happening but not to worrry.
you now have Elive on your system. Now, you cannot simply reboot from
Elive, you need to exit Enlightenment and then shutdown from the login
splash screen. Congratulations on your fine new distro, let's get out
of this Live CD and really see if this is as fast as people claim it to
Now, once you reboot the system on the newly installed partition, the first boot run routine will interupt and pop up with a dialog question about fine-tuning your package. This part was not there before and truly fine tunes your system, not quite like a Gentoo install, but it will make life easier for most things.
This then pops into a command line showing all the steps, but as long as you selected automatic, you can sit back and wait the 5-10 minutes it takes to get this completed. Once done, you will get back to the login screen.
Two things of note, one good and one not so good.
The good, the applets for temp and battery life now work on all my laptops I tested Elive on. This is a great thing and really shows me that they actually are moving forward in the right direction.
The bad, my new Gateway laptop never got any network cards to work. I am not sure why as I am writing this is another linux distro using wireless and my plea to the forum yielded no help on the issue. I am sure it is just a small bug, but since this worked on my desktop, my work laptop and another machine, we will just blame gateway for now =)
To run Enlightenment
you really need to know the hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts, otherwise
you are running in half cocked. You can find that data here
so check those out first.
some amazing things happened when I launched into Elive. First, my
graphics card was working which always amazes me with ATI being such
idiots on their Linux support. Next, everything else worked minus
wireless. A quick brush with NDISWRAPPER and that too was working in
short order. Last, media worked. All of it. And when I mean all of it,
I mean they pack in all that any media people will ever want.
how do you navigate within Elive. Basically you have no start button to
click, but have an iBar full of programs that are defaulted in the
system for you. To go beyond those you have two options: right click
and left click on the desktop. Left click gives you a full menu of
pretty much everything broken down like below.
Here one can go to Favorite Applications (which is the same as right clicking)
of the most important option in the left click menu is the
Configuration options with Configuration Panel options, shown below.
is the place to come to configure the look and feel of your Elive
system. However, this is not the control panel, as that is actually the
far right icon now in the iBar, replacing your installer. That tool is
called Elpanel and we will get to that in a second. This is more of the
Enlightenment configuration tool here, setting up themes, backgrounds,
icons and other basic functions. If you click on the theme selector,
you can go to the other theme you didn't select during install called
Elive, which is more bright and colorful.
you need to do anything more, like setup more users, network
configurations, or add applications one needs to select the Elpanel
from either the right click> Utils> Elive Control Panel or the
icon at the right of the iBar.
Once you select this, the following panel opens with three options; Look and feel, Users and Admin and System Configurations.
you select configuration, this is where the meat and potatoes are.
Primarily once you get going for the first time I would suggest opening
synaptic and checking for any updated Debian packages. I really, really
like the organization, the look and descriptions of this control panel
from Elive. This thing makes like easy for newbies and also allows
experienced Linux people a way to get eye candy without trying to look
like windows or Mac. It is unique, it makes sense and is really
Synaptic is pretty generic, with the same look and feel as every other version I have seen, so nothing new here.Bonus Stuff ()
Elive is one thing first and foremost: FAST!!!!
If you have older hardware that just can't seem to run, let me tell you that with Elive, it will run faster than any Windows box out there today. I don't care how old your system is, if Elive runs in Live mode, install and then stand back and be shocked. I put this on a very slow older desktop that runs crappy AMD process at 1.6 GHz with only 512 Meg of RAM that put my new AMD 64 bit system to shame on speed. It boots lightening fast and runs all programs equally as efficient. Sure, try this with a Pentium 75 from a flea market, and it will probably run a bit slow, but if your system is from this decade, it will be brought back to life in a way you have never seen.
isn't one of those massive distros full of crap you don't need, nor
could ever want. It is a simple little package that is full of
functionality, awesome looks, speed and productivity. Everyone from a
typical user to a massive media nut will enjoy what they get out of the
box with this tool. The coolest part for me is that they keep function
in the package beyond open source, in media players that function
without restrictions. Mplayer worked once I changed the video output
type to x11, but I also installed Xine and that worked as well. So no
need to go hunt and search for the lbdvdcss or w32codecs. They are
there and they work. Now, legally speaking for people to have this is
not illegal, but playing a movie on a non-licensed player is. So people
in North America beware and know that you can, just don't play
is a really cool demo from Right Click> Demos > Multivideos that
shows off some of the power of Mplayer with a pretty neat little
commercial from IBM. I don't remember this one ever on TV but I wish it
was out there. Pretty cool cameos if you ask me.
There is also an Enlightenment Demo there, but that doesn't seem to work.
In the Video section, you get the following packages:
- Mplayer - A very power media player that once you have the right files loaded provides full functionality
- Oxine - a lightweight pure OSD (on screen display) GUI for the famous xine engine. oxine is particularly suited for set-top boxes or home entertainment systems
- Kino - Easy and reliable DV editing for the Linux desktop with export to many usable formats
- Cinelerra - a non-linear video editor
- Acidrip - Gtk2Perl application for ripping and encoding DVD's
So it true KnoLinux fashion, I reached out to lead developer Thanatermesis, who was kind enough to provide us with some excellent insite into where Elive is headed and some other thoughts on Open Source today. Please note that Thanatermesis and I do not speak the same language, so some of the data will be lost in translations. We hope we got the jest of what he was speaking to, but please forgive us both =)KnoLinuxGuy
- Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers Thanatermesis, we truly appreciate your product here at KnoLinux and the first question is what made you create Elive instead of support another distro?Thanatermesis
- I have made Elive from a first time for 2 things, 1st for offer a
distro with enlightenment (on a first time i have only want to make a
liveCD, but now elive is more a distro than a livecd), and 2nd i have
wanted to make a different thing, because im tired to see a lot of
distros, copy of the copy of the copy... all working with KDE or
GNOME, all working slow, charged, ugly... i have wanted to offer a
different thing, and also a different way to work on linux,
enlightenment is good with hot-keys, but one of the better bonus of
Elive is "fast work", you want a thing ? you have it... for example
with hot-keys, trying to not need to use the mouse for very things,
you need a application and you can launch it from a simple keyboard
combination, for example you can combine the "windows" key now with a
letter and you launch applications, win + F = firefox, win + C =
calculator.. etc etc, you can resize, minimize, close, open windows...
change desktop.. etc, See to Elive don't use icons on the desktop, and
also if is posible, don't want to use it, because want's a different
way of work, not wants to are different of the others, but just want's
to are better if is posible, I think to icons on the desktop is not
the better way to work, desktop is for your applications, is your
desktop or work, not a trash for put ugly iconsKnoLinuxGuy
- You call Elive art and state it isn't for newbies or experienced Linux Users. Who is your target audience?Thanatermesis
- Basically what I mean with this sentence is to between other
distros (not all distros in reality), want's to make big publicities
and/or marketing for have very users using it, Elive don't look like
that at all Elive don't want a lot of users or ppl to use it in the same
way to other distro... on this sentence I mean to Elive is just for
who apreciate Elive, just for who want it, and just for who like it..
that means to everybody can use Elive, if they like itKnoLinuxGuy
- You are one of the only pure Enlightenment distros out there, what is the attraction?Thanatermesis
- Well, I love Enlightenment basically, this is all
When I have
installed my first (serious) linux system from a first time, I have
found hard to make the graphical system working, but when I have seen
it, what I had to look at I didn't like very much, kde and gnome... I didn't
find it very attractive, and I have worked for 2 years basically
on pure console mode (no X), I have tried some others graphical
systems too, but I didn't find one to I have really like...
fluxbox, window-maker... etc, but I have found one very special,
different and exotic, a strange graphical system called Enlightenment,
I have found it a little hard from a first time too but my curiousity
has persisted on me for a time with it and I have promised myself to
make a better look to this special window manager, one time Im have
decided to lost my day with it, and I have started to study how it
works, I have look his options, his possibilities, his hotkeys, and I
have found on it a very powered system with a lot of options and
possibilities, where is possible to have very differents way's to work
with it, fast and light too, after a time when knoppix appears and
shakes the linux world, some others livecds has started to appear, all
with kde or gnome, all similar to knoppix, I don't have understand why
no one uses enlightenment, and I have wanted to hack a knoppix for
replace kde by enlightenment, this first liveCD I made are for
personal use and very little persons has know about it, and this is
why I have wanted to make one version opened to the public for
everybody can enjoy enlightenment and his possibilities and the
developement of Elive had startedKnoLinuxGuy
- Recently, you stopped the inlcusion of ATI and Nvidia drivers with your bundle, similar to other distros like Kororaa. Was this your own doing, or were you asked to do so?Thanatermesis
- Well, I have not really removed the nvidia and ati drivers, only
I have found a lot of problems everytime with the ati one, is a bad
quality and also dangerous driver, I have look a lot of things with
it, but well, ati drivers is needed for ati users, sometimes they do not
have another option, by other side and don't have found any real big problem
with nvidia, this one works pretty well apart of his closed code to
make also harder to implement on Elive or any distro, specially
for maintain it with updates. Nobody has tell me to remove it for now,
and by other side is not illegal to include it because are separed to
the kernel, the installation is external and only with the choice of
the user, asking if want to install it, recomending everytime to use
the free driversKnoLinuxGuy
- What are the future plans for Elive?Thanatermesis
- The future plans of Elive for now are very simple: First of all I
want to make it a little better, a kernel a lot more optimized for
desktops, with a very fast reply of the programs and without any kind
of lag between programs, feeling your computer really more powered and
also ready for realtime usage in music things, im sure to the
musicians appreciate it. After that, I want to made the system just a
little better too, for example try to implement a special configurator
of the mouse and his speed and minor things. The 3rd plan is basically
remakup the look of Elive, not really change it but make a big work on
the look part, adding things it does not have, making things more beautiful,
etc etc. And I have other plan too but I don't have tell anybody for
now about it
is for now a secret, but is basically for make the
life of the user (again) a little more easy, an option of facilities
- Thanks again so much for your time, and being a great help in getting this information out to the fans of Elive. One final question that I ask everyone, and that is what can the community do to help support Elive at this time? Thanatermesis
- This is a hard question, many times I lost more time asking for a
colaborator or explaining a thing, than make it directly... not exist
really anything to do "exactly", if anybody looks a thing useful for
Elive, or just make a patch or a better thing, are welcome, apart of
this, I want to export on the future all the Elive elements to accept
multi-languages, then is needed the more possible of users to want to
colaborate making translations, actually the installer supports this
system and works pretty well, the users can be found more info about
this on http://dev.thanatermesis.org/wiki/Translations
We at KnoLinux truly thank Thanatermesis
for taking the time to really answer the questions without holding back. Again, if we lost something in translation, we ask forgiveness, but we think that we got everything on par with the future of Elive.
did Elive live up to the Art hype? Is it something worth your time and
effort to get over a mediocre installation, or valuable partition
space? I would have to say yes. Giving this a 5 Pennie review wasn't
difficult, if by the media capabilities and eye candy alone. This is by
far one of the fastest packages around. If you have an older piece of
hardware and want to impress people with an amazing Linux distro, then
this is by far the best at doing just that. What amazes me the most is
the hardware requirements/recommendations. Quoting again from their
The minimum hardware for run Elive is a 100 Mhz CPU machine and 64 MB
of RAM, but the minimum recomended is 300 Mhz and 128 Mb of RAM, no
special graphic card or 3d acceleration required
I am pretty sure
that comes below even what DSL and Puppy state and they have no where
near this type of performance and packaging. I am truly glad that
reader of my Dreamlinux review told me about this package, and with the way that Elive climbed up the Distrowatch charts last year, I know that Thanatermesis
will see more and more trafic coming his way. It may be art and it might not be mainstream, but it is one of the most sexy and stylish of the Linux distros available today. I really couldn't find anything that should keep a newbie away from this package, minus learning the keystrokes to Enlightenment, which once you learn them, they just make sense.
Oh and go ahead and make a donation of a
buck or two when you download the package. We in the Linux world do
this out of love of the community, but we do have needs along with
that, so any little bit helps.