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Storm Linux Review

Linux Orbit Feature: Storm Linux 2000 Review

by John Facey

Over the past years of Linux popularity, most distributions were based on Red Hat and used RPMS for package management. Now there are a few distributions based on Debian. For those who do not know, Debian is the pinnacle of open source GNU/Linux. Along with Storm Linux , Corel and Libranet are also founded on Debian.

Installation:

Storm Linux has what most consider by far a much easier installation than the standard Debian installer. The install process starts within a console mode. After verifying keyboard type and mouse, you have the option of switching to a graphical installer. This is a very helpful feature since most modern distributions do not focus at all on a fall back console mode installer.

The installation then begins the detection process for other hardware such as network and video cards. The partitioning system is quite usable, and the package selection screen is easy enough for those who wish to customize their systems.

Packages:

Storm Linux being based on Debian, comes with full and complete Debian compatibility (current version 2.20 Potato). All packages can be installed through the apt-get (console based Debian package retrieval system) or the Storm Linux Package Manager (stormpkg). Stormpkg is a every useful front end to apt-get. It can perform queries and filter by package names to determine what the system needs and what it does not possess yet. Any of the 5000+ Debian software Packages (Deb format) can be retrieved and easily installed. The installation and automatic retrieval of any dependent packages really shows how useful the underlying Debian tools are to the system.

Storm Administration System (SAS):

This is where Storm Linux differentiates itself from Debian. The Storm Linux SAS is a powerful tool nearly rivaling Red Hat’s own LinuxConf. SAS is divided into modules that let you set different access levels. Therefore some users can be gives access on a modular basis rather than everyone having access the configuration of the system.

The User/Groups module is similar to the user configuration in LinuxConf. Like most of the modules in SAS there are many options to create/modify/delete in this case user accounts and groups.

A Dialup module is a simple tool for configuring a dialup access account, such as for an ISP. It has far fewer configuration screens than kppp or gnome-ppp. Storm Linux also loads its Dialer program that works with the Dialup Module.

The Network module is very plain, yet intuitive. Everything from editing IP and DNS addresses to adding interfaces and activating/deactivating any network card on the system can be performed within this module. The NFS module is very basic, a simple screen for adding/deleting/renaming shared paths and clients.

A very simple interface is used for the Printer module, with an option to make a default printer.

The Samba module is another fine addition to this series. It provides an easy way to create/modify/delete shares (which can later be viewed in a Samba tool such as Gnome Samba Browser).

Debian normally doesn’t come with sound drivers compiled, so it was a surprise to see a Sound Module included with SAS. This module gives you the option of manually selecting the card from a list or letting the module automatically search for the card. (It did detect my ess audiodrive sound card.)

Last but certainly not least in is the Display Setting module. This SAS module will allow you to change any setting you have for XFree86, such as resolution, color depth, graphics card and monitor type. There is even an option to test out the new setting before the changes are made permanent.

Help screens are provided for each module of SAS, this makes it easier to administer a system without having to refer to a manual or opening help pages in Netscape for documentation. Many other distributions can learn from this. Also, all of the SAS modules are made in GTK and all developers are welcome to make changes.

Conclusion:

I would have to say Storm Linux is a fine choice especially for anyone who just could not get through Debian’s less than user-friendly install. I found Storm Package Manager to be much better in comparison to Corel package manager. As far desktops are concerned, Storm Linux includes the full complement of desktop tools for KDE 1.1.2 and Gnome. Storm Linux is fully Debian compatible so there are no problems with changing your sources list to a Debian one and upgrading.

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