Distrohopping: Frugalware

I have been using Sabayon for a while, and there is a lot to like about this distro. It’s fast, rapidly updated and works well out of the box and, for someone like me (who wants all the latest shiny for minimal effort) it is an excellent fit. But no operating system is perfect and I have, over the past few days, been poking around Distrowatch to see what else is out there.

The upshot of all this is that August strikes me as a good time to take a look at Frugalware Linux. According to the Frugalware Wiki, the Frugalware philosophy is about…

simplicity, multimedia, design. We try to make Frugalware as simple as possible while not forgetting to keep it comfortable for the user. We try to ship fresh and stable software, as close to the original source as possible, because in our opinion most software is the best as is, and doesn’t need patching.

Which certainly appeals to me.

The Install

Looking through the Frugalware documentation, everything I could see indicated that the installer was text based. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a GUI option when I booted into the install disk. Unfortunately, the GUI fell apart when I reached the package selection step. So, back to the default option.

That said, the installation itself proved to be pretty painless. The hardware detection worked well, coming up with the correct defaults where necessary, and the installer guides you through the partitioning process with the minimum of fuss.

Then onto the package selection. Being a bit of a Gnome fanboy, I decided not to bother with either KDE or XFCE but for everything else I accepted the defaults.

The install itself is very fast indeed. Frugalware uses the Pacman package manager and I have seen people talk about how fast this is. It is impossible fully appreciate this until you have watched the installation updates shoot past faster than you can actually read them.

And, we’re in.

First Impressions

It’s Beautiful. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever booted up a laptop and been instantly blown away by the desktop. It’s so subtle, so consistent and so nicely done that I find myself liking it all over again every time I launch another application.

And on the subject of applications, take a look at these icons. Are they not gorgeous?

On a less positive note, it appears that the network manager isn’t starting up automatically for some reason. After I’d finished drooling over the icons I realised that I had no wireless icon and when I went to the Network Settings, it told me: “The system network services are not compatible with this version.”

Not great. I can start the network manager manually by firing up a terminal and entering # NetworkManager, but this is not something I want to be doing on a regular basis.

But first, I shall restore my data and then start finding my way around Pacman.

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