NimbleX: The Diet Slackware

Posted by jun auza On 10/02/2007
NimbleX: The Diet Slackware - The word “nimble” is an adjective that means quick and light in motion. It is also a quality that the young NimbleX Linux distribution is boasting. Based on Slackware, the grand daddy of all distros, its main goal is to provide the latest and greatest open source applications to those who have lower-end computers.

Recently, I contemplated on replacing Xubuntu from our old Prestigio laptop. Cassandra Mint was a good candidate to replace it but I was looking for an even lighter distro. I tried the very lightweight DSL about a week ago but I find it not suitable for beginners and it still lacks what a complete desktop has. Then yesterday, I ended up reading Tuxmachines’ review of NimbleX which was very positive. So I immediately downloaded the newly released sub 100 version of NimbleX. It took an hour to complete the download and then I was ready to roll. I tested it first on VMWare to know if it really is capable enough to be installed on the old machine. Here is what I found out about NimbleX:

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 512MB allocated to VM memory
Display: RADEON X300/X550 Series [Display adapter]

NimbleX is developed in Romania by Bogdan Rădulescu, and is available in either English or Romanian language interface. Being based in Slackware, it uses linux-live scripts with the advantage of having thousands of available free software packages. NimbleX is not yet ranked among the top 100 in Distrowatch.

The NimbleX sub 100 version Live CD is only about 100MB in size, thus the name. You can download it directly from here. It doesn’t come with a complete hard disk installer but it is possible to install it manually by following these instructions. A USB installer can be found inside the home directory. They said that it can also be used as a hard drive installer but I tried it without having any success. I didn’t have the luxury of time to install NimbleX manually, but anyway it really is unnecessary as I’m still testing it yet.

Look and Feel:
I was impressed at how NimbleX managed to pack a good looking KDE desktop inside its diminutive size, and made it so responsive that I feel like I’m using XFCE. I tried switching from one screen resolution to another without having some problems. The default theme and wallpaper is fine coupled with few extras. Other eye candies like boot splash and start-up splash screen images are quite pleasing so I would say it was a praiseworthy job by the artwork team.

Package Management:
There are good amount of software installed by default including Xine multimedia player, Guarddog firewall, Kate IDE, Konqueror web browser, a CD and DVD burner, Gimp image editor and plenty more. I was surprised though that it didn’t have Firefox, but I did successfully added it using Kweb2mod as you can see from the screenshot. Kweb2mod is an experimental program that will mount application modules live and direct from the the NimbleX repository. While not plenty, the repo contained essential software like Java Runtime Environment and OpenOffice.

NimbleX is fairly stable in my VMWare testing environment and it really is fast for a KDE desktop. The only understandable slow time I had was when mounting program modules from the web. But once mounted, the opened application will run fast enough for functionality. I must admit that I still have to test it for a much longer period of time to really judge its stability; maybe later on the old laptop. I will just keep an update on that.

The NimbleX distribution has a prospect and is on the right track to be popular. It gives hope to those who maybe are still using Windows 98 today due to their ultra low-end computers; and for goodness sake please burn that rubbish OS. All things considered, I find NimbleX really easy to use but I will recommend it only to novice users for the lack of automated installer. NimbleX is true to its name and is definitely worth a try. It is without doubt one of the fastest Linux distributions available today.

#UPDATE: I have already tested NimbleX on the old Prestigio 109 laptop with 1GHz VIA Nehemia processor and 256MB of RAM; sad to say, it failed miserably. When I chose the normal boot option which is to KDE, the system freezes and I have to hard reset the laptop. Command Line Interface (CLI) mode is the only thing that worked and when I try to login to KDE via CLI there was an X server error. I tried every boot parameter options but without any success. I didn’t want to dig in anymore to find out what’s causing the problem. It’s the job for the developers to figure this out and somehow improve their hardware support; but I don’t want to assume yet that it is poor in this department. I still want to hear those who have also tried NimbleX.

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