Icepack Linux 2.0
The test system: -
- Athlon XP 1700+
- 256mb RAM
- Creative Riva TNT2 Ultra
- Creative Sound Blaster Live! Player 5.1
- Hauppauge WinTV PCI FM
- Tekram DC315 SCSI card
- Old SCSI CD Re-Writer
- 16x DVD drive
- About 5gb free space on the partition
I started the installation by booting from CD 1 and was immediately impressed by the very nice-looking GUI. At this point I was prompted to choose the language for the installation, either English or German.
Next Icepack detected my hardware, including my SCSI card which I will come back to later.
It did not however detect or even look for (as far as I could tell) my TV card...
I was then quite disapointed to discover that UK/British was not in the list of selectable keyboard languages. This was solved by choosing to select the keymap manually.
Next came the software selection. There is a good range of software included with Icepack, as there has been since the very first version I tried. I will go into more detail when we reach the software content part of the review.
Next came the disk partitioning. By each existing partition on the disk, there is a icon depending on the format of the disk. Partitioning is as easy as with any other distro, but I was quite disapointed to discover that Icepack does not support the new EXT3 file system.
One thing that I did feel was lacking during the package selection, is a monitor to show how much disk space is remaining after selecting the various packages.
Next I was prompted to tweak the auto-detected graphics/X settings and then reboot into the working system.
Booting up: -
On the whole I was quite impressed with the hardware configuration which had all been done completely automatically. However, there was still no TV card module loaded and no in-build way of loading one. Once I have to resort to modifying a configuration file, I begin to doubt how easy the distro really would be for a complete newbie which is who it is aimed at.
I also discovered that my SCSI card and CD-Writer had not been configured. I must admit that this was just wishful thinking on my part since no other distro has managed it either :-(
On booting I was greeted by the Icepack login screen, which I must admit to not finding particually user-friendly or asthetically pleasing. I think it would be a better idea to use the KDM login since it is shipped with KDE anyhow.
So apart from those few minor glitches, Icepack is a nice newbie distro.
Software Content: -
As always the software content of Icepack was quite impressive and I believe it is the first distro to include Open Office (or at least the first I have used).
KDE 2.2.2 is included as in Gnome 1.4. Office packages are the seriously ageing Star Office 5.2 (WHY do distros still include it???), Open Office, Abiword and Koffice.
There is also a nice selection of web browsers including Konqueror, Mozilla 0.9.8, Netscape 6.2.1, Netscape 4.78 and Opera 5.0.
Printing is handled with CUPS and again, I must admit that I don't feel this is suitable for a newbie. The interface is simply not user friendly and frankly, I feel things are just overcomplicated. I feel that an included Icepack Printer configuration tool using a simple system such as LPD would be much more appropriate.
There is of course all the usual stuff you would expect to find. Like Acrobat Reader, movie and sound players etc. I didn't think it would be fair to mention movie playback in this review. I have tried probably every piece of movie/DVD player software out there and have only found 1 which actually manages the job on my machine (MPlayer for those who are interested).
The kernel used in Icepack 2.0 is 2.4.17, Xfree is 4.2.0. Samba 2.2.2 is also included. For a full list of software and features, see the Icepack site.
On the whole Icepack is a nice, user friendly distro. I must admit that I was not as impressed with Icepack 2.0 as I have been with previous versions.
I would still recommend this distro to newbies however, but that is assuming that they don't want to use a TV card or do any complicated printing tasks (e.g. setting up a remote Samba printer).
While I do think that some improvements need to be made if Icepack really do intend to target newbies, I think the distro may be suitable for slightly more experienced users (e.g. people who can hack a configuration file if needed).
I believe that there has recently been a bugfix release in which I would hope that some if not all of these issues have been solved.
As usual, thanks to Anja Hilgardth of Icepack Linux for providing us with this review copy of the distro.
Added: Saturday, April 13, 2002
Reviewer: David Johnson
Related Link: Icepack Linux