March 15, 2003

PCQLinux 8.0 (Aquamarine): A "super" distribution

- By Clinton Goveas -
A respected Indian monthly magazine, PCQuest, has come out with its own Linux distribution based on Red Hat Linux 8.0, which it claims addresses everything from a home desktop to a supercomputer.

Their first distro, PCQLinux 7.1, was based on Red Hat 7.1. It gave users an opportunity to use Red Hat Linux without the "flab," but with the latest updates to the kernel and major apps. This was achieved by repackaging the Red Hat distribution, after removing unnecessary language support and applications, and adding a later kernel with newer versions of major applications.

The current distro, the first one since PCQLinux 7.1, goes a step further. Although it is still essentially a Red Hat 8.0 Linux distro with unwanted apps "thrown out," PCQLinux 8.0 adds new installation classes (options) to the Anaconda installer program notably Departmental Server, Gateway Server, and even Supercomputer!

The Departmental Server and Gateway Server are both repackagings of the Server class install that do away with the XServer and install only the bare minimum apps for the implied functionalities.

By providing the Supercomputer install class PCQuest has given users the opportunity to more or less effortlessly convert a group of older machines into a supercomputing cluster. They provide this functionality using Oscar, which consists of a fully integrated and easy to install software bundle designed for high performance cluster computing. However, Oscar is not yet ready for Red Hat 8.0, and hence, to the credit of the PCQuest team, a lot of effort has been directed towards making this possible.

Amongst the new software added to the Red hat 8.0 package list is tsclient, a GTK+ 2.0 frontend for connecting to Remote Desktop sharing services on Windows XP/NT/2000 machines. With this package, you can use your Windows desktop on any Linux (PCQuest 8.0?) machine on the network.

All in all, new installation options (especially the supercomputer setup option), a sensible bundling of applications, and Red Hat's slick new interface makes this "super" distro worth the effort. The catch? You've got to buy the March 2003 issue of PCQuest magazine, which incidentally is also the only source of documentation for this distro!


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