OK, this really won't be a total review. Essentially I'll describe the
install process in an abbreviated manner. For those of you who want to
install Linux for the first time, or if you've used other distributions
before and want to know what to expect, this page tries to lay that out.
If you want a full review of Caldera, check
Google or a Linux magazine like
Linux Journal or Linux World.
First I'll describe my setup, then I'll describe the physical aspects of
doing the install, and lastly describe each screen in the installation.
The hardware is a VMWare Virtual Machine.
It should be similar to a real PC, but with one difference (hopefully):
So far all Linux installs I've done on a VM have failed to recognise
the video card. I don't really find fault with the XFree people or the
installation programs - I'd rather they work on getting real cards working
first. Each new release and distribution of Linux seems to have more
supported cards so it's obvious they're moving forward there.
Otherwise it's a pretty standard setup. A cdrom drive, and a 800m hard
disk. The system is set to boot off the floppy, cd, and then the hd.
The VM has 32megs of RAM.
The Physical Labor
Put the cd in the cdrom drive, power on! Pretty simple, eh?
The cdrom drive spins up and a text screen offers a black and white ascii
graphic and a blurb on LILO options. It times out quick and boots into
a GUI Linux boot process. After the
kernel finishes booting you're allowed to pick
a language. Obviously I'm one of those english speaking types, so
I left it alone and clicked next. The mouse
selection screen was interesting. It was here I learned that
the install (which seems to use KDE)
can be navigated entirely by keyboard. I selected a wheeled 3 button
intellimouse since that's what I have physically. But VMWare doesn't
translate that and the mouse had a very affinity for the right corner
after that - your selection here takes immediate effect! But by using
the keyboard that can quickly be adjusted.
The keyboard screen follows a similar
paradigm, and just like the mouse screen let's you test your selection.
Selecting a mouse wrong leads to pretty dramatic results but selecting a
keyboard incorrectly is a little less disasterous. Nevertheless I like
this ability to confirm your selection. It is rather amazing just how
many types of keyboards and mice there are in the world.
Then we come to the dreaded video card
and monitor screens. I haven't tried
Caldera on a real machine yet, but it failed to detect whatever card
VMWare conjours up. The screen shots are a good demo of what a failed
detection brings up. I suspect an a card the installer recognizes, this
screen will look far simpler. It's still far better the presenting a new
user with vi and /etc/X11/XF86Config! Of course manly men will probably
miss it, but the file's still there to be edited with emacs, vi, or cat.
Configuring X still gets under the mainstream nerves, but "disk
partitioning" isn't far behind in terms of complaints. There are
very sensible reasons to partition disks wisely, but there are also
very sensible reasons to make backups - and end users don't tend to do
those either. Caldera's disk partitioner
is pretty approachable here. And of course after partitioning, one
needs to format. I'm pretty lazy
on this since it's going to be blown away with another distro soon.
One thing to note, I chose to install on the whole disk. I have no idea
how dual boot configuration works since I hate rebooting machines - hence
my introuction to Linux since I got sick of SCO's pressing need to be
rebooted once every few weeks. I still hear people say some users use
some legacy OS out of some software outfit in the Nortwestern USA that
needs to be rebooted daily. Urban Legends seem to get more outlandish
every year I tell ya!
OK, another issue to pay attention to. Linux is a multi-user,
multi-tasking OS. It's been that since it's inception, just like it's
UNIX godparent. Caldera's install is the first installer I've seen that
takes advantage of this. Now VMWare is pretty speedy considering it's
task, but the fact that Caldera Linux is already formatting the drive at
this stage meant that the VM was getting sluggish. So I accidentally
clicked Next twice and thereby accepted a Standard install (which
began in the background just like the formatting, though it obviously
had to wait for formatting to complete). Anyway, I clicked Back and
here's the greyed out version of the package
selection screen. Seems simple, but I didn't run through it. Be careful
with you mouse clicks!
As mentioned Linux is multi-user, a confusing concept to new users.
One person on the net referred to Linux boxes as "Family Computers."
Interesting selling point. Caldera seems to put a good face on it as
well, and presents a screen for the root user
as well as at least one regular user.
iThey're serious about that additional non-root user - the next button
only pops up once you've added at least
Networking is as straight
forward as networking goes. I'm sure a new user would still see
complexity here, but it's about as easy as ipv4 is going to get.
LILO gets similar treatment. Again a new
user will probably worry (and don't take my selection as The Right Way
To Do It), but like all the other screens the help box on the side tries
to explain what's going on.
Time is something almost all of us understand, and Caldera's
background install process chugs along well. While it does so the time zone screen is very complete and usable. Once
that's complete Caldera's true
brillance shines here. Even on the VM performance was adequate for
a decent game of tetris. Between
the background processing and game at the end I'm very impressed with
Caldera's work here. Who said innovation didn't exist in the Linux realm?
All in all a very quick and simple install. I would have liked to see a
video/monitor selection of "what the installer is using cause it seems
to work" option. I know the res/dimmensions are poor at install but
I couldn't find a decent card/monitor combo in 5 minutes of fiddling
with it. If I had I would have shown screen shots of the post install
system. Caldera seems to be aiming at end users, and judged on those
terms it does quite well. Corel's
Linux seems better but then Caldera's
2.3 has been out for months whereas Corel Linux came out last
week. For those of you new to the Linux community months might not
seem long, but in the Linux world that's a lot of time. I don't follow
Caldera's progress but I suspect 2.3/3.0 is probably coming soon and I'm
sure it will offer a host of improvements.
email@example.com. Thanks to Linux Mall for their great cheap
distribution source! No thanks to Irish customs for the extra £27
it cost to import...
You may find the following helpful:
About the author, Kevin Lyda.