First impressions of Sidux, the Debian based Linux distro

Several years ago, when I acquired my first computer and began to learn more and more about them, I did not dream that I would be using one as much as I do today.  Even though I have worked in the automotive service industry for over ten years, (the first part of it was actually in the shop), I basically use the computer skills I have learned to provide for my family.  When I first started using a computer, Windows 3.1 was all I knew about and then I moved on to Windows 95, Windows 98, and then Windows XP.  I suppose I am insatiably curious about new things, because I am not happy until I know everything there is to know about something new.  That is probably what led me to where I am now.

Over the years, I had grown tired of the way Windows operated.  I was always having to update my operating system and keep everything locked down with antivirus and spyware prevention software.  All of this just to make sure the computer would work the way it should work.  Not only that, but Windows itself and the way it operates just seemed to get on my nerves.  It does things like changing drive letters on a USB drive for no apparent reason.  For that matter, a lot of things Windows does is for no apparent reason.  That gets very old, very quick.

Around Christmas of last year, my brother convinced me to try a completely different kind of operating system.  I know a lot of people have heard of Linux.  There are a lot of different distros or versions of Linux.  I know very little about them, but Sidux, the Debian based distro is the one my brother had settled on, after using several different versions.  Since he had the installation CD for Sidux, that is the one I installed as well.

The beauty of Sidux, as with a lot of other Linux distros, is that you can use what is called a live CD to try it out, without actually installing it on your hard drive.  That gives you a chance to try it out and make sure it will operate on your system.  It also gives you a chance to get a feel for how it operates and how it is different than Windows.  You can then install the full version, if you decide you want to use it.  You can also set it up to have Windows and Linux on the same computer.  A boot menu will come up and ask which operating system you want to use.  I use this feature because my wife wants to use Windows XP.  It keeps us both happy.

One of the first things I noticed about Linux is how it handles multiple tasks so much better than Windows XP, in my honest opinion.  I have an older system with a AMD 950 processor and Linux runs a lot smoother on it than does Windows XP.  It also comes with just about any kind of software you could ever need.  Sidux comes pre-loaded with Open Office, which is a open source office program that rivals anything Microsoft can come up with.  Did I mention it is free?  It also has the internet browser Opera and Iceweasel (Firefox) and Icedove (Thunderbird).  I was using this software on Windows XP and the transition from XP to Linux was quick and painless.

Another thing about Linux is the complete lack of a need for antivirus or spyware prevention software.  Most viruses and spyware are written for Windows and Linux is just not vulnerable to them like Windows.  That would be reason enough to switch to Linux.

Linux is also very customizable, both in the look of the software, ie. eyecandy and the feel of the software.  You can change the way it looks and the way it works with no trouble at all.  Try doing that in Windows and you will have a headache very quickly. Where Windows seems to fight you at every turn when you try to change the way it looks and feels, Linux just points the way and leads you through the door.  It is very easy to operate and to make it do what you want it to do.

Overall, I am very pleased with the way Linux operates.  The only drawback I have found is it’s inability to play some videos that require Windows Media Player and to play some live feeds, such as CNN News.  Other than that, it is working great.  I hardly ever log into Windows XP, just when I need to view on of the live video feeds for my coverage of the Presidential election.  If you aren’t afraid of trying something new and would like a fresh change from Windows, give Sidux and Linux a try.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

PS:  If you are already using Linux, take time to comment about it in the comment section.  I would be interested in knowing about your experience with Linux.

That’s my take!

Larry

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2036 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

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36 comments to First impressions of Sidux, the Debian based Linux distro

  • aevaughn

    I personally like the Ubuntu family of distros. I switch between them just because I get bored of GNOME and KDE alternately. However Linux definitely wins over Windows hands down. Now we just need those crazy companies who write those Windows programs to write them for Linux. So, that people stop giving the excuse that they have to use this or that particular application/game that is only on Windows.

    On a different note that Compiz is spectacular, if you have the graphics card for it. I love the 3-D effects. Vistas attempts at similar effects are horendous to say the least(except maybe if you have a incredibly good processor, a gigantic amount of RAM, and a good graphics card).

    Anyways, Go Linux! Go Open Source!

  • DeepDayze

    I have been using sidux ever since it was released, and I agree its a very solid distro that is 100% debian compatible as I use it more than I do Windows. Why not come over to the forums at http://sidux.com to learn more about this distro and to post any questions, compliments or suggestions about sidux. You can also join #sidux IRC channel on oftc.net for realtime assistance by clicking the sidux IRC icon on the desktop.

    Linux is the way of the future and there’s no stopping it!

    Cheers

  • Hello,
    As Sidux is based on Debian Sid (the Unstable always-in-flux) version, you could play more video formats if enable the special optional repository (“almost” official, good quality, as being maintained by a french Debian Developer as a personal best effort) Debian Multimedia.
    See http://www.debian-multimedia.org for instructions for each suitable version (Stable Etch, Testing Lenny, Unstable Sid, Experimental or Source).
    Regards.
    Andre Felipe Machado

  • Robin

    I have been in the computer business in various capacities for 18 years. It was DOS / Windows from day one, but for the past five years I have delved into the Linux world, and I have never looked back. Today I use a Gentoo based computer at home and a couple of Ubuntu machines at work (I’m the admin, I get to decide), and I only rarely have to boot into Windows at work to do something with software which is Windows only. Needless to say, the only software which regularly gives us grief is our proprietary, Windows-only ERP. Sooner or later I’ll switch us over to an open source ERP.

    I believe that many people who are using Windows today could use Linux instead without much of a problem; if they find someone to install it for them, that is, as sometimes there are problems when installing Linux. They are not necessarily harder to solve or more plentiful than when you install Windows, but you usually get that pre-installed, which is something critics tend to conveniently forget.

    There is a certain learning curve, but there would be if you switched the other way round, too. The hard part isn’t learning Linux but unlearning Windows.

  • Hello,
    some codecs may need 3D acceleration, then you may need also proprietary 3D drivers from nVidia or ATi.
    Debian repositories sections “non-free” and “contrib” contain them.
    Adapting to Sid Unstable, you may look at suggested sources.list for Etch Stable at
    Installing nvidia in Etch
    And a practical sources.list for Etch at here.
    The Sidux site contain additional repositories and sections suggestions at the “dowload / mirrors” page. They contain the Sidux customizations and additional restricted packages that could not be in official Debian repostories directly.
    Regards.
    Andre Felipe Machado

  • John DeHart

    I also have made the switch to linux. I am using PCLinux 93A “Big Daddy” and I love this OS. I have tried other distros, BUT this is the best.

    I only use my Windows box when it is a have to case. Proprietary Windows just will not let you be “In Control” of what your doing !

    Love that Linux

  • W. Anderson

    Larry,

    Your inquisitiveness is certainly a good reason why you tried GNU/Linux in the first place. I recommend that you try at least one or two other Live! CD/DVD distros that are more suited to everyday Windows Desktop type use.

    I am a technology consultant with many years experience in UNIX/Linux, frequently evaluating many of the more established GNU/Linux distros, including Sidux. While it is clean and benefits greatly being based on Debian (great stability and best update/upgrade utilities), it was not primarily targeted for your type use.

    Try PCLinuxOS and Linux Mint (one with KDE DEsktop – same as Sidux). They have easy to use and uncomplicated update/install software, and most of the Multimedia applications you need – already configured -video News feeds, watching Movies, flash player, etc.

    After a few more years on GNU/Linux, I think you (and your wife by then) will look back on today and wonder why your both did not make change away from microsoft sooner.

    W. Anderson
    wanderson@nac.net

  • jbo

    I’ve been using Linux for 2 years, the only thing I regret is not leaving windows earlier. Faster, uses less resources, free, flexibility, no virus, no spyware, no requirement to keep rebooting.

  • Leszek

    For the Windows Multimedia problem:

    apt-get install w32codecs gmplayer

  • Thanks for all the comments I have received on this article. I never dreamed it would get so much response.

    DeepDayze,
    I have been on the IRC channel several times. I go by the name of DynaBMan. I have seen you on there.

    Keep the suggestions coming.

  • Sweet article.
    Nevertheless I would never even take a look at a Linux distribution that mentions Iceweasel and/or Icedove. If I ever meet the decision maker responsible for this stupidity, he will get a punch in his nose from me before a handshake.

  • ERM

    In Ubuntu I’ve been able to watch the CNN news video feeds, so perhaps you’re just missing some codecs

  • DeepDayze

    Ahh, good to meet you, DynaBMan :)

    Hopefully other people out there will give sidux livecd a spin in their CD/DVD drive, and maybe even a home on their hard drives :)

  • ken

    Sidux is the only Debian sid/unstable (meaning you get the latest and greatest but it’s really stable unlike what the name implies) distro now that Kanotix has gone the way of Ubuntu.
    You should look at the non-free debianmultimedia repo as people have said. It’s fairly easy to install MythTV, various codecs, etc. to make your Sidux install work even better :-)

  • AntMan

    I use Sidux on three machines. I also have it on my USB flash stick in fromiso+persist mode. It’s a great distro.

    The ‘smxi’ script makes upgrading the system and kernel very easy. Plus video drivers and other tweaks are available in the script.

  • BlueShadow

    @Vital:
    If I ever meet the decision maker responsible for this stupidity, he will get a punch in his nose from me before a handshake.

    There were a long dispute between debian and mozilla(mainly different policies and the need to remove some non-free parts out of firefox & co). in the end, debian had no other choice than change the names because mozilla did not want them to use the original names on (slightly) patched programs.

    Please inform about such things *before* making that aggressive statements.

  • Gary

    Vital,

    What’s wrong with Iceweasel and Icedove. They arent anything but Firefox and Thunderbird rebranded because Mozilla wouldn’t let Debian use FF and TB, from what I understand.

  • DeepDayze

    All those silly wars just make things worse not better.

  • Leszek,
    I performed the apt-get install w32codecs gmplayer and it tells me the w32codecs are the latest version and gmplayer can not be found.

  • DeepDayze

    Larry: did you add the multimedia repo to your sources.list and did apt-get update?

  • Actually, no. I am still learning on all this. Where is the sources.list located?

  • DeepDayze

    /etc/apt/sources.list is the file you need to edit

  • Brian Masinick

    I have sidux installed on two Dell systems at home: an old Dell Dimension 4100 (1 GHz desktop system) and a somewhat newer Dell Latitude D600 (1.6 GHz laptop system). Device support for everything on these systems is flawless. As others have reported, it is easy to get codecs, plugins, and other stuff with sidux but you do have to enable various external repositories. The siduxcc utility can help with some of that, as can smxi, the really cool sidux update script.

    sidux works really well with my Intel Pro Wireless 2200. I use ceni and I can set it up very easily.

    Though sidux uses Debian Sid, the “unstable” one, I have found sidux to be even more stable than Sid, and Sid is actually not that unstable. Every so often a package will break in Sid. sidux usually beats Sid to fixing the package. I have yet to encounter a single issue. Only Arch Linux is comparable in the availability of such bleeding edge software that actually works, but sidux arguably has more available packages than Arch. Needless to say, sidux is one great distro, especially for desktop use!

  • Hugh E Torrance

    *WELL* I am on Debian Etch right now and its positively excellent,sudo apt-get is easier than a windoz installer and much more interesting…I like to have a distro for each main Linux branch,so I have always around six distros,all the preparation for installing Linux is guessable and logical,if at first you don,t succeed then try,try and try again.
    Having said that most distros are easier to install than windoz.
    Finally, its (alt F2) for the windoz run equivalent,copy and paste this into it… /etc/apt/sources.list Etc.

  • BlueShadow

    @Deepdayze: since Larry appears to have installed sidux eros/xmas, this is not correct anymore, and the correct file is now located in /etc/sources.list.d/debian.list

    @Larry: go into irc, type “!extras”+[enter] and you will get a codeline that let you modify your install sources and also get some multimedia gadgets.

  • BlueShadow

    sorry, of course I meant /etc/aptsources.list.d/debian.list

    but the extras-script will modify that automatically

  • BlueShadow,
    I have already ran the extras script and it seems like all the videos are working now, unless it is divx. Those are the ones that are turning my screen really small and I have to restart the session. I have changed video drivers but the problem is still there. It is not something I can not live with because everything else seems to be working really well.

  • Henry Keultjes

    It seems that I found the Debian based distro that is both CD and HDD installable that I have been looking for but we need a volunteer or volunteers to slim this down by eliminating every piece of code that is not needed when the exclusive set-up is as follows:

    Processor AMD Athlon-64
    WM KDE
    Browser Firefox
    Mail Client Thunderbird *not* Icedove and Iceweasel

    Henry Keultjes
    Toy Time Computer Project
    Mansfield Ohio USA

    PS: Toy Time , unlike Toys for Tots, is a totally volunteer organization that has given refurbished computers with Microsoft programs to kids at Christmas time for more than ten years. Because these kids cannot learn computer “mechanics” when the “hood” is welded shut, I am driving the switch to a year-round teaching Linux and programming based project.

    However, while I have a great deal of knowledge about computer and software basics, I am not a techie so I need volunteer help carrying out this important mission. I need those volunteers who are willing to do this my way first so that they may understand the advantages of doing so. When that has been accomplished I will be only too happy to work on alternatives.

  • mzilikazi

    As a long time Debian user I can truly appreciate the effort that has gone into making Sidux not only user friendly and a great distro for noobies but also appealing to the hardcore geeks. Wireless is certainly easier to setup w/ Ceni than with traditional Debian tools. It would be fabulous to see Ceni (sexy perl network configuration tool) put into Debian proper. Ceni configures ethernet & wireless including WPA & WEP and it ‘just works’.

    @Henry Keultjes
    You are free to ‘roll your own Sidux’ if that is what you are asking. It’s actually quite simple with fll-builder. More info here: http://sidux-underground.net/
    By default fll-builder will build a kde-lite version. What other applications are included is up to you. Although I do not understand this requirement for Firefox & Thunderbird (instead of their Debian equivalents ) actually getting Thunderbird & Firefox into your own live Sidux should not be a problem as long as there are .deb packages available. Sidux adheres farily strictly to the Debian ways (wherever possible) so you WILL need to provide Debian packages for those applications.

  • DeepDayze

    @BlueShadow: Yes you are right. However my system is Chaos Preview 1 dist-upgraded to current and thus I have the old-school /etc/apt/sources.list

  • dpt

    There are 3 Debian distros that I have installed so far after careful evaluation. The first was Ubuntu, even today I consider it as the finest Debian based distro for the new user. The sheer speed of sidux is amazing, you can install sidux in less than 10 minutes, some have done it in 3+ minutes. The aim of sidux is to make Debian unstable stable, and sidux has been doing it quite successfully for a long time.
    Kanotix is one distro that has excellent hardware detection though it uses repos from Debian stable. Since I have multiple machines, I have installed all, kids use Ubuntu, I use all 3 depending on my mood.
    Considering the limitations the developers have in terms of man-power, they are doing excellent job.

  • Crypto

    Hi,

    as a keen sidux user who has even made vsti-instruments work on a notebook interfacing to my amplifier via S/PDIF, I wonder why some of You here do not even mention wine as a tool to get windows applications to run.

    Wine has improved a lot over time, and I guess that most applications for which there is no linux counterpart yet can be made to run on linux that way.

    But even if most average everyday things seem to run well on linux we should not yet forget the fact that some things have been made to run only just and still need finetuning.

    That is one reason why I still cannot kick windows from my notebook because I need the windows drivers to make my WLAN run on linux. And there are compatibility issues between OpenOffice and Excel which prevents me from working on my spread sheets I have at my job using linux.

  • Crypto,
    I am a very new user of sidux and Linux, as you can see from my review. I have tired to use Wine, but for me, it is very unstable and I prefer to use applications that actually work in Linux. Not that it is better one way or the other, but that is just my preference.

  • Henry Keultjes

    @mzilikazi

    You ask “Why use Firefox and Thunderbird, rather than their Debian equivalents.

    My objective is helping Linux grow. Since that is mostly a matter of converting Microsoft users, that tasks is so much easier when those users already are Firefox and/or Thunderbird fans.

    I have been using Icedove and Iceweasel for about four months and I find that the integration is not tight enough so many times an applications wants to open Konqueror instead of Icedove. Those are the type of issues I wish to eliminate before switching Toy Time to Debian.

    If I can’t hook up with you via a Google search, please contact me hbkeultjes at earthlink

    Henry
    when

  • Vegan

    I don’t understand all that grief about Iceweasel / Firefox, since Iceweasel IS Firefox with some Debian polish to it. The different name was forced onto Debian and its branches because Mozilla said that Debian can’t use the LOGO for a Debian-polished Firefox. Mozilla probably had it’s reasons to demand that, but this is not the place to discuss if those reasons where good or bad. Point is, Mozilla created a fact and Debian had to deal with it, which they did.

    If you get upset because there’s different NAME on the label, how do you make it trough life? I think renaming Firefox and Thunderbird into Iceweasel and IceDove was a perfectly reasonable decision to tackle the situation the Debian team saw itself confronted with, they dealt with it, can you?

    Ok, enough with my little rant. Sorry about that. *cough*
    As for links opening Konqueror first, well Konqueror is KDE’s standard browser, and a pretty good one at that, no one should be surprised if on a KDE distribution, the original setting is that some stuff opens with Konqueror.

    You can of course, with very few clicks *change* that setting, just right click on a file, in the /general/ tab, click the /edit the file type/ button, the one with the small tool picture, and in the /application preference order/ text field below, change the settings which application should open the file. You can even put several applications and move the one up which you use most often to open a file. For example, I put Kate on the highest postion to open text files for me, then KWrite and lastly Kword. So if I want to open a simple text file not with Kate, I just right click it and select /open with/ ~Kword. For example.

    SO. Now please let me say something about the actual issue. I use Sidux myself because it is the fastest and slickest KDE distro out there, and KDE gives me personally the best Linux experience. I also really like the smxi tool for hardcore administration tasks, which is Sidux exclusive. While it has to be used on the konsole to ensure that no graphical quibs get inbetween, it’s not really complicated because it was written with the regular user in mind. The real power of sidux is that with smxi, you can continously upgrade your system without the need of ever reinstalling the “new release”. In Sidux, there is no new release because it *is* the newest of the new for regular users, always and continiously. It’s not a Debian branch, it IS Debian Sid and Apt will use the regular Debian repositories alongside with the Sidux repositories or any other repro you might want to add.

    I don’t want to sound like a marketing fool, but I suspect Sidux will become very popular -top 5 spot on Distro watch- very soon, especially once people have lost their scepticism about having to use the command line for smxi for system upgrades. But it is actually less scary than doing upgrades through the graphical user interface, which very quickly can result a flaky experience. In the past, I’ve therefore always made a completely new install which is a lot of work even if you have a separate /home partition.

    My only complaint about Sidux, and it isn’t really a complaint, is that the responses in chat can be rude at times, this is an old problem of Linux. Coders and Nerds should not do support, it is not what their brain is structured for. They should code, that’s what their good. Dealing with the insecurities of windows refugees is not what they’re good at.

    However, in Linux, it’s mainly the hackers who know how stuff works, so they are forced to do the support until the project is broad enough for the experienced user to take over that job. Hackers are rather be back in the work shop, fumbling with engine parts so to say, but in new projects they have to come in front to the counter and crack a smile as well. The old saying that the technically adept are the socially inept has some truths. Well that’s not really an old saying, I just made that up. But as the popularity grows, so will the user base and also the regular users willing to support others in the forum. This will take a lot of stress away from the developers who don’t have really the will nor the mental capacity to figure out weird esoteric things like empathy or projected perspective. Eventually the support will be a self-sustaining type, users helping other users as we see in the Ubuntu forums for example and the hackers will do what they’re best at: writing code.

    If you are an experienced user and you are using Sidux, check out the forum and help a Newbie if you can and if you’re enjoying to give a helping hand to those who are more confused than you are.

  • Gene Venable

    I was on a computer that for some reason would not install more than 512 mb of memory, and then the beta version of Windows Vista came out. I got a copy the first day it went public, and soon realized that what had once seemed like a lot of memory was only a tiny amount when you are using Vista.

    I played extensively with that beta version of Vista and finally decided that not only wasn’t I going back to Windows XP, I was going over to Linux entirely and I deleted all versions of Windows from my hard drive on my main computer.

    I do have a couple of laptop computers with Windows on them, but I started playing around with installing Puppy Linux on a USB drive, and it is getting rarer and rarer for me to ever run Windows.

    Along the way I discoverd Sidux after trying many, many distros, and I have stayed with Sidux for about six months, which is a long time for me. I run it from an 8-gb USB drive and as the main distro on my desktop. I keep a second partition open on my desktop computer for experimenting with different versions of Linux; it has usually ended up with Linux Mint on it.

    But now I just bought a $200 Shuttle computer and am now running Sidux on it from a USB drive; it comes with something called Foresight Linux which also seems very good. This computer may become my main desktop computer, so the 512 MB limit will finally be gone!

    But it’s too late to go back to Windows anything. I’m sticking with Linux.


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