Caldera Systems OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4
$39.99 retail/$29.99 expected street
In a Nutshell
* Excellent installation
* Large selection of desktop tools
* 500-page printed manual
* Partial mouse-wheel support
* Difficulty in adding TrueType fonts
|Configuration, Web Style: eDesktop’s Webmin lets you configure almost anything on local or remote systems.|
* 386, 486, and Pentium compatibles
* 32 MB minimum
Hard Drive Space
* 300 MB minimum/1.3 GB full
* More for included applications
* Technical support is free for 30 days by phone, 90 days by e-mail
* Web site resources exist
The Linux landscape is changing so quickly that it’s natural to shrug off any company’s claim to be doing something new and interesting with Linux. But in the case of the latest version of Caldera Systems’ Linux distribution, that would be a mistake. Caldera has decided to challenge Corel for the business desktop, and Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 (hereafter eDesktop), shows just how serious they are.
As good as the installation programs in various Linux distributions have become lately, this incarnation of eDesktop’s Lizard is still notable. Unlike the one in Caldera OpenLinux 2.3, this version properly set up Linux on an IBM ThinkPad 1452 to use its built-in sound chip and completely power down the system after a shutdown. The installation still handles converting a Windows system into a dual-boot Windows/Linux system.
eDesktop includes four CDs: binaries and installation; source code; Windows installation and commercial programs; and Omnis Software’s Omnis Studio 2.4 application-development environment.
Features and More Features
A full installation on our ThinkPad system took 1.3 GB of drive space but included: development tools; an autoplay music-CD applet; Sun’s Java Development Kit 1.2.2; Netscape Communicator 4.72; a PalmPilot-synchronizing application; several text editors including the popular nedit; and numerous graphics programs like GIMP 1.1.3. That 1.3 GB doesn’t include the commercial programs in the package, such as StarOffice 5.1A, PerfectBackup+ 6.2, and Applixware 4.4.2.
Programmers will appreciate the included copy of KDevelop 1.0, an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that provides a jump start into graphical user interface programming for KDE. KDevelop is a surprisingly mature and complete package for an initial version.
The most important eDesktop feature from a system administrator’s viewpoint is Webmin, an open source, browser-based system-administration tool that Caldera developed and used first on its eServer product. Webmin makes it easy to control almost any configuration detail of either a local or a remote system.
Still Not Perfect
While TrueType fonts are supported and are present en masse, importing new fonts isn’t at all obvious, and Caldera couldn’t tell us how to do it before our deadline. Another shortcoming involves the scrolling wheel on almost all mice — even though the Lizard installation program correctly detected the wheel on my system’s mouse and it worked fine in several programs (GIMP, Netscape Communicator, xemacs, and most KDE applications), it still didn’t work in many other applications, including several KDE programs.
While eDesktop provides a lot of software and documentation for $39.99 (retail), the real value is in Caldera’s selection of components and successful integration of them. The package’s tight focus on the needs of the desktop user is a step forward for Linux.