Review: GoblinX 2.6

Five in One! Desktops that is, on this small distro!

By Marius Nestor on March 1st, 2008 17:06 GMT

Version 2.6 of GoblinX, the Slackware-based Live CD Linux distribution, was released 10 days ago, and it was a good opportunity for me to take it for an in-depth testdrive.

What impressed me the most, is the fact that the developer (yes a single man is behind this distribution), Flavio de Oliveira a.k.a Grobsch, has succeeded to insert no more than five (yes, that's 5) desktop environments, or window managers if you prefer so, in this tiny Linux distribution.

The Live CD

So, I've downloaded the ISO image and burn it on a blank CD. I should mention that the image has approximatively 300 MB in size, which is a wonderful thing for those of you who don't own a high-speed Internet connection. I've booted my computer from the CD and I was prompted by a GRUB splash which offered my the following options:
- Text Mode (English)
- Text Mode (Portuguese)
- Text Mode (Spanish)
- Text Mode (French)
- Text Mode (Deutsch)
- Graphics Mode Xfce
- Graphics Mode Kde
- Graphics Mode Fluxbox
- Graphics Mode Enlightenment
- Graphics Mode WindowMaker
- Text Mode (RLinux Firewall)
- Text Mode (Slax's DHCP)
- Text Mode (Change Root Password)
- Run Memtest utility
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As you can see from the above list, there are a lot of useful options and a lot of window managers. You should select one of the "Graphics Mode" option. These window managers are the strong point of GoblinX, therefore we will talk about each one, in detail, a little later in the review.

The Installation

OK, the Live CD runs well, no problems here, but I want it installed on my computer. Well, there's a problem here, a BIG one! Short story long: the hard drive installer doesn't work! Anyway, after some research on the GoblinX forums, I've discovered that the installer was indeed broken in this release (sad!), but the developer was aware of this and he released a fix for this bug. So, now I feel responsible to explain the steps you must take in order to install this baby on your PC. Here we go:

1. Log out your current session, whichever that is. You will end up in text mode. Switch to root user with the following command:

su -

The password is: gx01aug04

2. Download the new installer with the following command:


3. Now you have to make it executable and move it to /usr/bin. Use the following commands:

chmod +x gtkHDInstall
mv gtkHDInstall /usr/bin

Go back to a desktop manager with one of the following commands:

- go (for Xfce)
- gok (for KDE)
- gof (for Fluxbox)
- goe (for Enlightenment)
- gow (for WindowMaker)

That's it! The installer will work flawlessly now. Once again, there is a good part after a bad one: the hard drive installer is extremely easy to use! Basically, if your hard drive is empty or you don't need the data on it, you can select the "X11 KDM/GDM/XDM (4)" option from the fourth drop down box and begin the installation. The whole installation took no more than 15 minutes on my machine!

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The Performance

I've tested GoblinX 2.6 on a system with the following specs:

- AMD K8 nForce 250Gb Motherboard
- AMD Sempron 2800+ Processor
- Nvdia GeForce FX5200 Video Card
- 512 MB RAM
- 17" BENQ T720 Monitor

From the moment I've hit the Enter key, when the LILO boot manager appeared, it took exactly 36 seconds until the KDE login manager (KDM) appeared. It will take another 2 seconds to enter a light desktop manager such as Fluxbox, Enlightenment or WindowMaker, and about 4 to 6 seconds for a more complex desktop environment such as KDE and Xfce. To completely shutdown the computer, it will take a little longer, about 13 seconds.

Talking about the desktop environments that can be found in this version of GoblinX, let's take a closer look at the features each one provides... shall we?

The Desktops of GoblinX

As I've mentioned in the beginning of the article, GoblinX 2.6 comes packed with five (that's 5) window managers. Here they are:

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The KDE desktop features a nice (The Mushrooms) wallpaper, has the taskbar on the upper side of the screen and was injected with some special GoblinX ingredients, such as the fact that, when the session starts, a balloon will appear exactly above the "Start" (KMenu) button, telling you that the GoblinX Project is proud to have you as a user and if you need more information you should go to their forums and stuff.

The KDE desktop comes with a lot of its popular and useful software, such as: K3b, Amarok, Akregator, KGet, Konqueror, Kopete, KTorrent, Kate, KEdit, KWrite, Gwenview, KColorEdit KDVI, KFax, KIconEdit, KolorPaint, Kooka, KPDF, KPovModeler, KRuler, KSnapshot, Kuickshow, KView, Kaboodle, KAudioCreator, KMid, KMix, KRec, KsCD, Noatun, KPPP, Krdc, Krfb, KWiFiManager, KAddressBook, KAlarm, KMail, Kontact, KOrganizer, KPilot, Kom, KTnef, Konsole and many more.

The version of KDE is 3.5.8!
Just like KDE, Xfce has the taskbar on the upper side of the screen and has, once again, an interesting wallpaper (The Lost Child) with a boy, a tree and some amazing effects. I should mention that the Xfce destkop environment starts with a nice splash screen which you will simply love! Beside the KDE's applications, which are accessible from all desktops, Xfce contains its usual utilities.

For those of you who don't know, Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use.

Xfce 4.4, which is the one inside GoblinX, embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that together provide the full functionality of the desktop environment.

The version of Xfce is 4.4.2!
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Not only that it's extremely fast, but the Fluxbox desktop features a very cute wallpaper (Wood Toys) - a combination between some classic wood horse toy, a plush teddy bear and some binary code over them. Moreover, a quite interesting text (which is hard to read) is written on the wallpaper: "children love to play in their wood horses... their hopes are inside happiness". I have no idea who this wallpaper was designed for (I don't think children will "play" with GoblinX), but it's kinda nice and looks good along the goMurrina style which powers their Fluxbox desktop.

The most important part of the Fluxbox desktop is that useful "dock" implemented in this release. They are actually some shortcuts of the most used applications, but I don't know if you can add more or change them, as left click on them will open the application and right click will do nothing. But you can move them anywhere you want!

The Fluxbox version is 1.0.0!
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Even if it's old and the menus look like a Windows 95 computer, WindowMaker is fast and that superb wallpaper (Insect in the desert map) makes it a great choice as a desktop. However, I don't recommend this desktop for average users (beginners in UNIX-like environments), because it's kinda hard to get used to it and the way it works. For example, there is no minimize button on the title bar, so you'll have to right click on it and select the minimize option or press the m key each time you want to minimize the selected window. WindowMaker is a great desktop for geeks who love to manipulate everything via keyboard. Definitely not for "mouse" users!

WindowMaker is a X11 window manager originally designed to provide integration support for the GNUstep desktop environment and quite popular in the UNIX geeks communities.

The version of WindowMaker is 0.92.0!
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You've heard a lot of wonderful things about the Enlightenment desktop... but not about the e16 one, which is included in this release of GoblinX and it's ugly as hell! It has no wallpaper and looks... ugly! But for some of you it may be useful... I guess... Maybe in feature versions of GoblinX we will have the new and glamorous e17 Enlightenment window manager.

As stated on its home page: "Enlightenment is a window manager. Enlightenment is a desktop shell. Enlightenment is the building blocks to create beautiful applications. Enlightenment, or simply e, is a group of people trying to make a new generation of software."

The version of Enlightenment is!
Special features

The following, are applications created by the GoblinX developer, Flavio de Oliveira. They make its Linux distribution special and may be the main reason for some to use this distro for a long time:

- Magic Center - is the best software included in this distro. It offers an extremely easy and fast way to configure and personalize GoblinX;
- gtkDaemons - yet another smart tool that will allow you to start or stop system daemons (services);
- Live Remaster - a tool that allows you to rebuild/remaster a new GoblinX ISO for you;
- gtkQivss - software used to generate image slideshows;
- Lilo Editor - offers the possibility to edit the entries in the LILO boot manager;
- Software Master - which I could not start as a normal user, is a tool that includes, in the same interface, four applications which will help you to install, upgrade and rebuild packages.

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Other interesting applications to be found in GoblinX, which are not available in other Linux distributions, are:

- Urlgfe - a universal download manager;
- GDHCPD - an easy to use GTK+ frontend for ISC DHCPD;
- Wireless Assistant - a wireless Internet assistant;
- ZXmixer - a simple sound mixer/volume controller;
- Gtk2 Theme Selector - a tool which allows you to select GTK themes;
- Conky - a very nice and popular system monitoring software;
- Komparator - an application that searches and synchronizes two directories;
- Fraqtive - a program for drawing Mandelbrot and Julia fractals;
- Gnome Superuser - a smart and very simple software that will allow a normal user to run an application as root (system administrator). If he/she knows the root password!


GoblinX has some flaws here and there, as nothing is perfect (especially a "one man" distro) but, overall, it works and that's the most important thing. That installation problem (which can be easily fixed) is the one that aggravates this version of GoblinX.

In conclusion, you should give GoblinX a chance, but not because it's so small (300 MB) or because it so good looking and fast, and not because it has so many window managers, but because all the beautiful wallpapers and the magical applications I've mentioned in this review are created by a single person, Flavio de Oliveira! Thank you Flavio for such a glamorous distro (and for those amazing wallpapers)!

Download GoblinX 2.6 right now from Softpedia.
GoblinX 2.6 with the Fluxbox desktop
   GoblinX 2.6 with the Fluxbox desktop