June 1, 2006

Review: CCux Linux

Author: Stefan Vrabie

CCux Linux is a performance-oriented distribution whose main idea is to remove everything that is not i686-related, such as old compatibility packages, and to have everything from the kernel up compiled in the i686 flavor. Last month's release of CCux version 0.9.8 is also an up-to-date distro, having kernel 2.6.16, KDE 3.5.2, and Firefox I found it to be a damn good distro.

CCux includes an easy-to-use custom graphical installer. While it lacks many of the options Anaconda offers, it does have everything you need, starting from a graphical partitioning tool, package selection, and ability to select the root password.

Booting the system is, as you might guess, fast, once you figure out the network interfaces. I have two network adapters, eth0 and eth1. CCux will automatically get a network address via the DHCP client daemon (dhcpcd) on eth0. Unfortunately, that doesn't work for me, since eth0 is my internal network. Other Linux distros run dhcpcd on all network interfaces at boot time, and possibly even in background, which is a nice touch. I had to make a few configuration mods by editing /etc/sysconfig/network-devices/ifconfig.eth1, but I got CCux to perform dhcpcd on eth1 at boot time.

For those booting both Windows and Linux, CCux works well. It won't detect the Windows system, and it won't detect any Windows partitions, but it supports reading NTFS. Just edit /etc/fstab and you're set.

Once you log in using KDM, you are greeted with a typical KDE desktop, which has a pretty good selection of packages, though some common and useful packages are lacking. For instance, CCux installs KOffice rather than OpenOffice.org. I particularly wanted kdebluetooth, but it did not come preinstalled.

No worries, I thought; CCux has a smart graphical package manager -- literally. Smart is written by Gustavo Niemeyer, who was involved in writing APT and Synaptic. In this latest release, CCux has moved from APT to Smart. While Smart is still in development, it's stable enough to be usable on an everyday basis.

I fired up Smart, selected kdebluetooth, and got an error message: "Cannot install kdebluetooth due to unsatisfied dependency libopenobex." Smart is supposed to resolve dependencies automatically, just like APT, so I was surprised. Turns out, the problem was with the CCux repository. I submitted a bug report, and the issue was fixed within the week.

This incident (and it wasn't the only Smart/repository issue I encountered) made me think about Ubuntu and its repositories, as well as APT. By contrast, CCux has no mirrors and some packages that wouldn't install, which gave me a general feeling of being left out in the cold when it came to installing additional packages.

I also had sound problems -- no sound in KDE with ALSA, but I did get sound out of amaroK. That turned out to be a small issue, which has been fixed -- just upgrade to the latest alsa / alsautils packages using Smart. At least CCux includes MP3 support out of the box.

CCux's development team is German, so just about everything in the distro defaults to German, with an easy way of switching to English. Yet selecting English everywhere from the CCux Installer will still result in KDM starting out in German. It's easy to fix, but still... What's more, CCux has only English and German support throughout the system, so if you need anything that's more exotic, you'll have to figure it out on your own.

Much to my surprise, CCux does not come with all the packages required to compile software. I unpacked a typical app.tar.gz, ran ./configure, and it failed. After I installed glibcdevel and all the headers I needed I could configure make make install with no troubles.

Quirks aside (all of which have been fixed by the responsive German team of developers), CCux is really fast -- everything starts up and runs almost instantly. I've never seen KDE start up so quickly on my PC. Throughout the system, the speed is impressive, and the whole system feels stable.

The issues I encountered were not that serious, and the CCux community is helpful and fast to answer questions. The developers usually hang around the CCux Forums, so be sure to register there. CCux is even friendly to novice Linux users, and there are a lot of them on the CCux Forum. Overall, once you get past the small quirks, you get a fast and stable distro without the bloat of mainstream distributions.


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