Elive - Are You Ready for a New Linux Experience?

Where Debian meets Enlightenment

When we hear Debian, we think of something humongous, a still heavyweight champion among Linux distributions worldwide. Many distributions were, are and will be based on Debian Linux. To name a few, Ubuntu is based on the Debian mammoth and Xandros is also a Debian-based distribution. But I bet you didn't see another Debian/Enlightenment-based Linux distribution, and that my friends is Elive, which reached the final and stable version (1.0) a few days ago.

Elive is a plenary Linux operating system that tries to combine beauty with style, eye candy and minimal hardware requirements, and it can achieve that only with the luxurious Enlightenment window manager. Enlightenment provides a fast, light, flexible desktop environment that will offer you eye candy and ease of use for that old computer you have forgotten about and which lies in a dark room with cobweb on it. So, get up, go get that old PC right now, dust it, and install Elive on it (click the text to see my guide on how to install Elive), because the minimum hardware requirement for Elive is a 100 Mhz processor with no more than 64 MB of RAM (I doubt someone still has such a computer). Now that's frightening, but true. However, the Elive team recommends a minimum of 300 Mhz for the CPU and 128 MB of RAM.

Elive comes with two completely different looks that you can test directly from the LiveCD. The first is named Elive, it's the default look and tries to be light, fresh and giving you a sensation of peace and calm. The second one is called Night and is a dark theme that is said to be better for your eyes. I have to admit that I love the first theme, Elive, but I'll suggest you to try them both and decide what you like best.

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As I've said above, the themes are completely different, which means that also the login screen and in my opinion, the Elive theme, has the most addictive presence; because you must see the login screen, it's breathtaking! I was amazed with the login screen animation, I have no words to describe it, so you must see it for yourselves to believe!

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Elive contains a lot of applications that cover almost all your daily online and offline activities, from web browsing, chatting, e-mail, bittorrent, audio & video editors and viewers to office and gaming. Among the common applications it includes, we can notice software such as:

■ IceWeasel (Firefox clone)

■ IceDove (Thunderbird clone)

■ aMSN (MSN Messenger clone)

■ Gaim (Multi-protocol Instant Messenger)

■ Transmission (BitTorrent client)

■ Blender (3D animation program)

■ XMMS (Audio player)

■ MPlayer (The best Video Player for Linux)

■ The GIMP (Image editor)

■ Cinelerra (Video editor)

■ LinNeighborhood (SMB (Samba) filesystem manager)

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I think the inclusion of the Gaim package was an error, because the Gaim project has been renamed to Pidgin, exactly three months ago, and it should be replaced as soon as possible. Moreover, even if there is an Office category in the main menu, Elive doesn't include the OpenOffice suite in the LiveCD, so you'll have to download a separate CD called Bonus Disk which can be downloaded only if a donation is made. These donations are made to ensure the future of Elive, but you can make donations to the Elive project anytime, not necessarily for the Bonus Discs, and nothing should stop you if you love Elive. However, if for some reason you are not able to make donations to the Elive project and get a Bonus Disk, you can always install it through the Synaptic package manager. Just open up Synaptic, search for openoffice and install it. The main difference about this latter trick and the Bonus Disk offered by the Elive team is that the OpenOffice suite comes customized to be fully compatible with your language, with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. It also includes language correctors!

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In the near future, the Elive team is preparing more Bonus Discs for many user categories, such as:

■ Gaming

■ Designers

■ Musicians

■ Video production

■ Enterprises

■ Schools

■ Servers

■ Developers

All these discs are created for inexperienced users, or for those that prefer an easy, canny and complete way of installing things on their machines. All you have to do is download the ISO, burn it on a blank CD or put it on a USB stick, insert the bonus disc in your optical drive (or plug the USB stick into the USB port) and click the "Install Bonus Disk" button. Everything will be done automatically for you.

Like Mandriva or openSUSE, Elive has its own system administration/configuration panel called Elpanel, from which you can control the whole system. For example, you can:

■ customize the look and feel of Elive;

■ add and remove packages;

■ configure your network;

■ add and remove users;

■ configure your printer;

■ configure your sound.

You should know that the LiveCD offers only a part of Elive's powers. After you install Elive on your system, it will automatically play DVDs, auto-mount USB sticks and even launch Windows CDs! Moreover, this latest version of Elive comes with:

■ SUSE-like GRUB splash screen;

■ Windows partitions auto-mounter;

■ Webcam support;

■ Epson scanner support;

■ Better iPod support;

■ Swiss keyboards support;

■ DV Video Camera support;

■ NTFS/FAT32 Read & Write support;

■ more then 20 TTF fonts;

■ Flash 9 support;

■ New and improved file manager.

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In conclusion, even if the E 17 window manager is still in heavy development, it still looks and acts very well on this stable version of Elive. The development team exceeded all my expectations, because of the work they did on the E 17 customization and all the other improvements and innovation to ease our lives. Try Elive right now, because you will love it, you will adore it and most of all, I'll promise you will be addicted to it a long time from now on.

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