Distinctively Draco

Posted by jun auza On 7/12/2008
Draco GNU/Linux is a unique Linux distribution based on Slackware but with a package management system created by NetBSD. It is currently developed by Norwegian Ole Andre Rodlie with a main aim of creating a lightweight and simple desktop operating system.

Draco GNU/Linux 0.3.0, the latest stable version, was released last April and is available for download either as a minimal base system, or as a full desktop edition with an installation CD utilizing Xfce and Fluxbox as window managers. I got the desktop edition just recently and was very excited to test it since it’s my first time using Draco. I loaded it on VMWare using my backup computer (see tech specs below).

Test Machine Specs:
Board: Intel Corporation D102GGC2
Processor: 3.40 GHz Intel Pentium D
Hard Drive: Samsung 80GB ATA with 8GB allocated to VM disk
Memory: 2GB DDR2 RAM with 256 MB allocated to VM memory

Installation:
Since Draco GNU/Linux is designed to be lightweight, it can be installed on really old computer machines. Its minimum system requirement is just 64MB of RAM and 1GB of hard disk space. Though, the recommended system requirement is 512MB RAM and 10GB HD.

Draco GNU/Linux is not really a newbie-friendly distro since its installation is in text mode. Those who are familiar with any Slackware-based distro like Zenwalk for example will have no problem installing Draco. The slightly tricky part is the partitioning where you have to prepare your hard drive for installation using a text-based utility called 'cfdisk'. After that, it’s a lot easier since you will be guided clearly for Draco’s proper installation.

After the installer successfully copies the system and application packages, you will have to set-up the user and root account, and then install the LILO bootloader to finish it off. The whole installation process was really quick and only took around 25 minutes to accomplish.

If you want more detailed installation instructions, you can go HERE.



Look and Feel:
The default desktop environment of Draco GNU/Linux 0.3.0 is Xfce 4. It has a simple and decent looking artwork as seen on the wallpaper and login menu background. Though I love simplicity, Draco’s login manager was just too plain that it didn't have a restart/shutdown and session menus. But here’s a little help:
-Switch session: F1
-Shutdown computer: Username halt, root password.
-Restart computer: Username reboot, root password.

Also, Draco does not include xorg.conf --X.org should auto probe most hardware. If you need xorg.conf, generate one with 'X -configure' then copy it to /etc/X11. Restart the login manager using '/usr/local/etc/rc.d/slim restart'.

Utilizing Xfce, Draco is fast and responsive, and it has an easy-to-navigate desktop environment. It’s like using GNOME but feels a little bit quicker. Draco uses a customized theme and Tango icons, but the overall look is typical Xfce desktop with not much fancy things to see.



Software/Features:
Draco is already loaded with valuable software packages. For office functions, there’s Abiword, Calendar, ePDFViewer, and Gnumeric Spreadsheet; for multimedia, there’s Audacious and gxine; for graphics, there’s GIMP, GQview, Inkscape, and Blender; for Internet, there’s Firefox web browser, Thunderbird mail client, XChat, and Transmission; and plenty more. However, if you still need more packages, you can use DracoPKG-- described as “a humble attempt at merging pkgtools and pkgsrc through a simple wrapper; Hiding the complexity through simple commands”.

DracoPKG is indeed very easy to use if you don’t fear the Linux CLI. It’s also a handy and powerful tool for updating, searching, and removing packages. There’s a list of DracoPKG commands complete with descriptions and examples found at Draco Linux wiki HERE.



Stability/Hardware Detection:
I am impressed that Draco GNU/Linux was installed without trouble and has properly configured all of my important hardware. I have a working Internet, audio, and my screen resolution was correctly set immediately after the installation.

Draco 0.3.0 still has some issues that need to be addressed. Like, you can’t switch to Fluxbox at login even though you have pressed F1. Also, if you want to shutdown or reboot, you have to use the command line because the “Restart and Shut Down” buttons are not activated (see screenshot below).


Conclusion:
I wouldn't recommend Draco GNU/Linux 0.3.0 to those who have an ageing hardware but want a complete desktop operating system because it is still not as good as Zenwalk or even Wolvix. I also wouldn’t recommend it to those who wanted an easy-to-use and hassle-free OS because there are plenty of newbie-friendly distros out there to choose from. However, I can recommend Draco GNU/Linux to anyone who is adventurous enough to try out a young Linux distribution with still lots of room for improvements but with some truly unique features.

You can get Draco GNU/Linux 0.3.0 “Desktop Edition” HERE.
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