Distro Review: Wolvix 1.1.0 Hunter

After a long delay due to illness I’m finally back with another review for you. I’m still not feeling too good but I’ve decided to plough on and I hope to have some more new reviews for you ASAP. This is the 3rd part or my trip through Slackware-based distros and today’s candidate is Wolvix 1.1.0 Hunter, I was intrigued to see how it would compare to Zenwalk and Vector which I tested recently. So here’s how I got on…

Vital Stats:
Distro base – Slackware
Packaging – tar.gz (managed by Slapt-Get)
Linux Kernel – 2.6.21.5
Default Desktop – XFCE 4.4.1

Installation:
I downloaded the Wolvix CD and fired it up. I was greeted by the Wolvix boot menu, which was a familiar sight having seen the Slackware installer so much lately. I just clicked the enter key to boot and after a minute or two I was greeted with the Wolvix login screen. There was one slight problem though, I couldn’t see any username or password listed to login with. It just wasn’t there anywhere on the screen. I had to reboot the machine and then choose F1 for help from the boot menu. I quickly found in the help text some instructions to use the username “root” and the password “toor”, armed with this information I was able to boot the system again and crucially, log in this time. Now you could say that it’s my fault for not reading the instructions before diving in but as I’ve said previously in this series it’s always been my way and I can’t see what would be so hard about putting the login information somewhere on login screen, just for the Live CD log in I mean.

I would recommend following this guide to install Wolvix – http://wiki.wolvix.org/HardDriveInstall

Anyway, I got there in the end and my next challenge was finding out how to actually install the system. I couldn’t find any install shortcuts on the desktop or on the main menu. After a quick look on the Wolvix web site I read that it’s primerily designed to be a live distribution and installation is still experimental. Having said that it did tell my that the installer could be found under the Wolvix Contol Panel on the System menu. It seems to be quite well hidden away and maybe this is because of the experimental status of the installer, it could be made a lot easier to find though I think. I ran the installer which gave me a warning the software was in development but worked flawlessly I must say. Setting up the partitions was easy, the installer was very simple to use and completed in under 10mins.

VIEW THE INSTALLATION SLIDESHOW

Configuring The System:

One major thing that wasn’t taken care of during the install process was setting up a user account and changing the root password which seems like quite an oversight to me. I suppose if you take the Slackware approach then you expect to do everything yourself but I found both Zenwalk and Vector took care of this. This is probably a result of the fact that Wolvix is designed to be a live CD and they do say up front the installer is still in development. I hope this will be improved in the future as the installer is refined.


(adding a user account in the terminal)

I found a guide on the Wolvix website for setting up the system after install so I followed through the steps and logged into the system as root, after that I opened up a terminal and used the “passwd” command to reset the root password. I then used the “newuser” command and followed through the steps to set up an account for general use. It was easy enough to do following the guide from the website but I would’ve been a little lost if I hadn’t had another computer to surf the web for instructions during set up. This is not a criticism of Wolvix particularly as it’s happened with other distros, it’s a learning curve I suppose and now that I’ve done it once I could do it a lot quicker a second time. I say that but in truth next time I will l have forgotten all of this and have to look it up again doh!

One of my main problems with the initial setup was the screen resolution which was set at 1600×1200 and my monitor needs 1440×900, I decided to install the Nvidia drivers for my video card and then I could fix the resolution. I found the Nvidia driver was easy to install using Slapt-Get the package manager which comes with Wolvix. The GUI front end for Slapt is Gslapt and as I’ve mentioned in my Vector and Zenwalk reviews, it’s very similar to Synaptic in Debian and intuitive to use. I rebooted the X server with CRTL-ALT-BACKSPACE and logged into the system again. The new driver was working well but the screen resolution was still wrong. I had to follow the process I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of loading the Nvidia Settings tool as the root user and then setting the resolution I want, finally saving it to the Xorg.conf file. This worked fine and my next step was to look at installing Compiz Fusion.


(Gslapt package manager)

I searched in vain for guides on how to install Compiz under Wolvix and I discovered after some digging in forums that while it was possible, it required upgrading the version of Xorg and a few other things. I decided to leave it as I can live without 3D desktop effects.

One thing I noticed about Wolvix pretty quickly is there really is an amazing amount of software installed by default, almost everything I normally use was already there. Did they read my mind? For such a small distro it really is well stocked. The usual suspects are there like OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, The GIMP and so on but also things I would normally add later like Gpodder, Inkscape, Comix, gLabels and more. The amount of stuff on the Multimedia menu alone could have kept me happy for a few hours.

The default music manager and player is Exaile which has grown on me a lot lately but it’s still not quite Rhythmbox, that’s a personal preference. Most other media is handled by Mplayer which is not one of my favourite applications but definitely handles it’s job well. I also found Flash, Java and all the plugins I required were already installed in Firefox. This included Mplayer-plugin which is another personal favourite of mine for plaining Quicktime videos and the like.

I got my desktop setup with pretty much everything I needed but I did have a couple of problems with it. A minor one in that I couldn’t work out how to install my printer and a slightly bigger one in that I couldn’t get Skype to work even with the static archive from the Skype site. I probably could have got Skype up and running with a bit more battling and maybe some research though.

Conclusions:
Ease Of Installation & Use: 3/5
Stability: 5/5
Community & Documentation: 4/5
Features: 4/5

Overall I think almost everything you could want is here in Wolvix but there are a few rough edges I think they will iron out in time. It’s not a distro I would really recommend to Linux novices who want an easy introduction to the platform but it does have many stengths. Like all Slackware derivatives it’s stability and security are formidable, it can be challenging at times and as I’ve said before if you want to really learn about Linux it’s probably for you.

In comparison to Vector and Zenwalk I would say Wolvix was the most complete system out of the box for me. The choice of software included in a small disk image is really amazing. Maybe it just suited my tastes but I found it a really good cross-section of applications. Each of these 3 distros has strengths and weaknesses and while that might seem like a cop out I don’t think you can put any one above the others. I think all of them could do better and if you could only take the strengths of all 3 you would have one killer lightweight distro. I’m very demanding though and always think everything can be improved… except maybe Chuck Norris but that goes without saying.

I think Wolvix is developing really nicely and it’s very versatile I have to say, you can use it as a plain LiveCD, you can even embed some data on your disk and save stuff while still using it as a live CD, this works in a similar way to Puppy or Damn Small Linux. Finally, you can do a full hard drive install and I think this is the area where it will expand in the future. The installer is clearly marked as a work in progress and I can’t wait to see where they go with this. At the moment I think Wolvix is a little behind the more established Vector and Zenwalk in it’s development but of the 3 I like it’s direction the best. I’ll be keeping any eye on it for sure. If you want to check it out for yourself follow the link below, you know you want to really.

DOWNLOAD WOLVIX HERE

I should mention the fact that Zenwalk 5.0 came out recently and I reviewed 4.8 over Christmas. I will come back and look at 5.0 when I get chance. To sum up, any one of these distributions would excel on a low spec machine and they can all give you a good introduction to Slackware. It’s not something to take on lightly but if you put in the work you will recieve the rewards. Like all adventures you only get out what you put in.

Where to go next?

I’m not exactly sure which distro I’ll try out next. The health problems lately have thrown a spanner in the works but I will continue that’s for sure. I’ve still got some distributions on CD that I haven’t tried yet, notably Foresight Linux which I’m keen to try out. I also have a copy of Sidux which looks interesting. I’ll keep an eye out for new releases too. If you have any suggestions for distriutions I should try please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best. The adventure goes on… honest πŸ˜‰

Posted in Review
16 comments on “Distro Review: Wolvix 1.1.0 Hunter
  1. Wolven says:

    Thanks a lot for the great review Dan. You put your finger on some very valid points when it comes to the rough edges of Wolvix and I will take them to heed.

    I was surprised to see a new Wolvix review now so long after the last release, it really brightened my day.

    Cheers!

    Wolven

  2. Leon says:

    dan get well buddy πŸ™‚

    its not slackware based (as far as i know) but idiologiclly it is a KISS distro, so you should definatly try it while zen vector and wolvix are on your mind.

    im talking about arch linux.
    the one distro that for some reason everyone (including me) falls in love into, and for a damn good reason πŸ™‚

    also while youre there you should check out frugalware as another i think slackware based distro and maybe when you would be filling very good then gentoo, you know since now you are a tough linux user and all πŸ˜›

  3. gnulin17 says:

    Nice review, thanks for doing it.
    I am using Wolvix as my personal distro,
    and recommend it highly.
    I use the lightweight “cub” version. It has all I need and really flies on older hardware.

    -gnulin17

  4. Anonymous says:

    When it first came out I installed Wolvix 1.1.0 on an old Toshiba laptop (to replace Windows 98), and I have to say that I am very impressed with it. It does a fine job on my old hardware, and definitely agree that the mix of applications is spot on.

  5. beranger-org says:

    “I then used the “newuser” command and followed through the steps to set up an account for general use.”

    Wolvix has a Control Panel (developed by Wolven) where you have a “User Admin” tab, and you can manage users in a GUI way! See: User Admin.

    “I searched in vain for guides on how to install Compiz under Wolvix.”

    Compiz was officially part of Slackware since 12.0. Wolvix is Slackware 11.0.

    I understood the part with Exaile not being Rhythmbox, but what would liked instead of Mplayer? You can also have VLC! (Or even gxine, it’s part of Slackware.)

  6. Dan says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone I really appreciate it, I’ll try to address them all in order. Here goes…

    @wolven – Thank you for making a really great little distro, I admire anyone who puts so much effort and dedication into FOSS. I think you’re doing a great job πŸ˜‰

    @leon – Hello my friend, I’ll do my best to get back to full strength ASAP. I’ll have to look at Arch it’s on my list and maybe even Gentoo. The closest I’ve come so far is Sabayon with it’s Gentoo base but I know it’s a lot different. I’m pleased to see the Gentoo project is overcoming it’s recent problems. It looked worrying there for a while.

    @gnulin17 – Thanks for reading this πŸ™‚

    @anonymous – I’m glad Wolvix has replaced Win98 for you, it’s a great choice πŸ™‚

    @beranger-org – Thanks for the tips about the GUI, I’ll remember it for next time. As for Mplayer I tend to use Totem with Gstreamer or VLC as you mentioned. Not a big fan of Xine found it to be buggy for me. That’s purely personal though. I love VLC and I use it on every platform I can which is another bonus. Windows Media Player pleeeesssseee πŸ˜€

  7. Anonymous says:

    I made also a distro which is not exactly based on Slackware (as there are compiled the kernel and all essential programs) but what’s similar. It has a full-automatical install, and was made for be most easy for beginners. You could test it too. An explanation is here: http://linux.softpedia.com/get/System/Operating-Systems/Linux-Distributions/SYS-34168.shtml

  8. werner says:

    (As the link was cutted in my post above, I hive here a download link of my distro SYS:
    ftp://sys.c3sl.ufpr.br/SYS/SYS_Linux-0.20-rc2.iso
    )

  9. Dan says:

    @werner – Thanks very much for the information and the link, I will do my best to take a look at your distro ASAP. It sounds very interesting πŸ™‚

    Thanks again,

    Dan

  10. Werewolf says:

    Hi!
    I was going to suggest you a distro to try , when i’ve remembered that last year you posted a “Wish list” named “Update: Under The Weather” containing 2 of my fav distros : FrugalWare and Pardus.
    Perhaps until you’ll revised FrugalWare, Kalgan (0.8) will be out.
    Cheers!

  11. Dan says:

    @werewolf – Thanks for the suggestions I had forgotten about Frugalware. I did try and love Pardus though, very impressive distro. I reviewed it for Linux Planet and there’s an article about it a bit further back in December.

    I’ll have to look at Frugalware then, making a note of it now. Thank you πŸ™‚

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wolvix is a great distro very very fast and stable, but for some reason I can’t install it in my new laptop a AMD 64 x2 1.9 Ghz.

    I will be waiting for the next realease.

  13. rocksolid says:

    If wolvix is upgraded to Slackware 12 by Wolven it would be really great. His efforts are truly commendable as he has been doing this out of his interest without much monatory support, along with help from some dedicated people like Oithoma and masterGH to name a few. They helped me install my printer on Wolvix in 24 hours and solved many other petty problems. An upgrade is most welcome, Woven. My tributes to the Nordic mythological Wolf that inspired him. Cheers.
    I also tried Absolute that is based on new Slackware 12 as well as Vector. Absolutes promises a lot but the website is as erratic as the developer, I found.

  14. Anonymous says:

    being an Arch Linux user, I must agree, you should review it. the install will be very familiar.. taking only a few minutes… pacman, aur, abs, and a number of other features will make you not want to use anything else :p

  15. werner says:

    I verified the packages of Wolfix, and I’ll use a few of them for my next edition of SYS.

    I tend to adjust, compile, pack all essential packages meself for my SYS . Especially new kernel .tgz packages have always here (last one is 2.6.24-rc2-git1): copaya.yi.org/tgz (ftp: or http: ) However, what refers to no-essential packages: a) the number is so big that a one-person- or few-person-distro don’t get it through to follow compiling/packing all new versions of programs, b) packing is often trivial, and no need to do it. Because of this, I decided, for my SYS, to use original packages of some other distros rather than repack them simply under my own designation. Beside what I adapt/compile/pack meself, I use packages of: Slackware, AmigoLinux, Zenwalk, a few of Wolfix. And vice versa I have nothing against other distros use my packages too.

    Differently than Wolfix, the politics of SYS is, to reform most quickly, most easily – automatical instalation ! – definitively, a big number of computers of the population from W$ to Linux, and to provide them a full-featured system with everything so that the people dont fall back to the evil. I give that install-CD children and tell them, it has plenty games, video, etc, and before the parents understand what’s happened, them computer is transformed to Linux. Thus, the install have to go automatically, definitively (no live CD). Currently, SYS brings 10 GB software packed to 2,6 GB what installs full-automatically within 12 min, but I found a way to make it faster even so that the next edition will have 25 GB packed to a full DVD what installs in 14 min, that’s a better compression and install speed than Sabayon. So long !

  16. werner says:

    correction: 2.6.25-rc2-git1 is the newest binary kernel package on http://www.copaya.yi.org/tgz

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