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Dyne:Bolic live CD 1.4.1 -a review

Date/Time Permalink: 03/22/06 05:44:23 am
Category: Reviews

Dyne screenshot 1

Dyne:Bolic is a live CD that strongly favors multimedia. As the site says: "Be welcome in a GNU world with dyne:Bolic!", and hey, they actually made an effort to make a complete full-featured OS from all of that GNU world here, and not just multimedia.

Dyne:Bolic starts off on the right foot with me by having WindowMaker as it's default desktop. That scores extra points right there; WindowMaker is my second favorite. And what should they have for the alternative desktop but...Fluxbox, my number one favorite! No KDE or Gnome in sight. Faster boot. Fewer problems. That being said, Dyne:Bolic does start the X server in a default mode of 800x600 at 16 resolution. It took a couple tries to figure out that at the boot: prompt you have to type "F3", pick your video mode's 3-digit ID off the chart, and enter it thusly: "linux vga=xxx" with xxx being your number. Also, it completely shut out all audio on one of my PCs. Outside of that, everything goes tip-top.

My second nitpick is that it's not really what I'd call a complete graphic art editor's work-station. The image menu offers just a standard Gimp 2.0, Blender, InkScape, and a smooth-running Xaos is present elsewhere...yes, that's great! Good beginning, and then what? Nothing else! So still image editors may not find much here to celebrate - Gimp, Inkscape & Blender are great, but in themselves doth not a studio make. There is *so* much more out there! In addition, the screenshot utility fails at the default resolution - it can't use pixel depths <16, which, huh, I thought I had 16! Anyway, you can get screenshots in Gimp using File..Acquire..Screenshot. Also, Xaos can't save a png; when you try, it says it wasn't compiled with png support.

Dyne screenshot 2

OK, the rest is good news: Dyne:Bolic is a feast for the senses. It opens with a tune and a helpful menu, pointing you to the home site and helper tips. It has tools in the audio editing menu, and you'll have to find a geek who understands music to ask if they're any good. I couldn't find middle C on a toy piano with a microscope. I can open the audio tools and go "Gee, lookit all them purty buttons." and close them. It does have audacity, which I have used in my brief attempts to figure out sound effects. And now the "VJ" menus, where can be found the aforementioned Xaos, as well as the trippy Gephex and FreeJ. Video editors, recorders, and mixers are in abundance, as are the audio tools.

Video editing tools are another field of my non-expertise, but I know how to watch videos! It has video players in the form of Mplayer and Xine. So here I download a few .avi's and .mov's from the Internet Archive , just to say I steeped in Creative Common goodness for awhile.

The biggest surprise was the games. Here I was expecting, what with a multimedia-focused CD, that games and amusements would be a token effort at best. Not so - we have Armegetron, CannonSmash, FooBilliard, Frozen Bubble, GLHack, Wesnoth, LBreakout2, PowerManga, and Parallel Realities' Starfighter, to name only half of them. All heavy-duty Linux desktop offerings - Dyne:Bolic matches many game-focused CDs apparently without even meaning to.

Dyne screenshot 3

Web apps - where's the Firefox? But we have the Mozilla suite, plus - another twist! - Bluefish, no less than EIGHT chat/messenger clients, Ethereal, Ettercap, and Hping. I'm scratching my head at these last three - these are heavy-duty hacker tools I'd expect on a security-oriented CD. But I guess, with the P2P filesharing tools, you gotta keep the RIAA off your back... Text editors? Well, why not? Writing is an art, too, y'know. AbiWord, Scribus, VIM AND EMACS! A live distro that has both WindowMaker and Emacs! I almost fainted.

Final impressions: Dyne:Bolic, with only a couple of cracks, is a rock-solid presentation. It is the most stylish distro I've seen in awhile; it shows that somebody actually thought about designing it from the ground up. It's more of an "everything" distro, with heavy focus on - but not exclusive attention paid to - multimedia software. The bookmarks in it's Mozilla install are an added treat - anywhere you can go in the world of free software is already bookmarked for you. The more I surfed within the Dyne:Bolic world, the more I felt like I was a part of something bigger than a live CD - it has it's own culture! Both desktops come with the liveliest themes and backgrounds I've ever seen in a live distro. The site does talk quite a bit about the freedom to create - and with this CD, puts that freedom in your hands. Dyne:Bolic wins points in both style and sincerity, and has hence won my respect.

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