*Linux Guide

X-Light Mind Debian

Introduction

This time i want to delight you with a GNU/Linux distro review made by straightforward (but not less enthusiastic) Linux users, which with their knowledges, have reached an experience degree that not only allow them to make an excellent distro, but also to do it so well, that i ask myself why other old, and much more known distro, are not able to reach the same goal.
X-Light Mind Debian is an italian house-made GNU/Linux distro, a product with a soul. Its a very unique distro that i suggest to all GNU/Linux users.
To be much more effective in my review, i say that from the installation to have a very update/customized/full-equipped operating system it was enough about one hour, without any problems at all. There are few GNU/Linux distro able to do that in the world.
Follow me to discover this fantastic distribution.

Technical sheet

  • Name: X-Light Mind Debian Edition
  • Version:
  • Type: live/installable
  • Orientation: Desktop
  • Architecture: x86-64
  • Based on: Debian GNU/Linux Testing
  • Desktop environment: Xfce 4.8
  • Kernel: Linux 3.2.0-4-amd64
  • Minimal system requirement: CPU 64 Bit, 512 MB of RAM (recommended 1024), graphic card able to support at least a 800x600 screen resolution, USB port, DVD driver
  • Release Cycle: Rolling Release
  • Update Method: APT, Synaptic Package Manager

The XLMD standard desktop

Test

My experience was performed totally with the installed system on a PC with these characteristics . All hardware and peripherals was properly recognized and configured.
There are no need to edit boot options, before start the live session.

  • Kernel = OK
  • X Server loading = OK
  • Screen resolution = OK
  • Devices Automount = OK

Options and loading time

Once live DVD booted, you go into an options screen where you can choose which one of options is suitable for you. There are these options:
  • X-Light Min Debian
  • X-Light Min Debian (failsafe) - for all users with some hardware problems
  • Memory test
  • Start from local hard drive
The loading screen is textual, and there are no options to edit during this loading. X server start smoothly, so you can go to the desktop without troubles.
The entire live system loading take about two minutes. Once installed, the system require about 20 second to complete the loading. Very very fast, right?

System Installation

Installing XLMD is easy for all users, even for newbie, but it's recommended to have an already partitioned hard drive, so choosing right partition will be easy, and safe. An other recommendation is to make a complete data, and system backup, in order to avoid data loss if something goes wrong.
System installer has a friendly graphical user interface, so one can feel itself in a comfortable position.
First step is system language choosing. Just scroll the list to find your own language.
Second step is keyboard layout setup. Usually once chosen the language, the key map follow that choice. Instead scroll the list to your own keyboard map.
Third step is the time zone setup. You can choose your country time on the geographic map, or in a list just below that map.
Fourth step is the most important of all install procedure, choosing the partition in which install the system (i.e. root partition). You must do it very carefully, especially if you have much more than one operating system in your hard drive. You have to setup the correct mount-point to it (/), and your preferred file system (ext4 is a strong filesystem).
Now you can start the system installation. In the meantime you have to type your real name, the user name, the user password, and the computer name. You can setup the system auto-login, that is very useful if you're the only PC user.
Finally you have to setup the bootloader, that you can install in the MBR or in the root partition. In my opinion it's better to place it in the MBR.

In my experience there was no problems at all. All process may take about ten minutes, depending on hardware performances. In any case it's fantastic!

Desktop environment and Look

XLMD appearance is sober, clean, and modern. Xfce 4.8 is the Desktop Environment, but there is a facilitation to install the latest version, 4.10.
The wallpaper has the distro name, and the Xfce Logo on the center, the background show a satined burned metal motif.
The only icons on desktop are home, trash, file system, mounted devices and web browser.
There are the usual two panels on top, and on bottom, the latter with the self-hiding effect. The panel on top of the screen, show the menu button on the left, while on the right there are Network Manager, date and time, spacer and action button applets.
The menu is the very well known Xfce main menu, with an excellent organization in it, as you can see in the picture below.

The Xfce main menu

Windows theme is "Greybird", while icons set is "Faenza". Applications windows are simple, clean and very nice.
There are simple desktop compositing effects managed by Xfce (windows shadow), enabled by default. If you are searching for much more sophisticated effects, you have to install Compiz, for instance.

Desktop compositing

Software

XLMD is a typical GNU/Linux distro, made to give user the responsibility to setup their own distro. So there are only few apps, and tools. There is no office suite, no music player, no movie player, no games, no picture editor. Only a web browser and some tools. All you want to use, have to be installed, so you can choose only you really want.
This policy isn't suitable for totally newbies that are unable to know which apps are ideal for their needs. However, to help also newbies, XLMD developers has introduced some useful, and very effective tools that can help users to install a lot of first-class apps for almost all tasks.
First of these scripts is the FULLSCRIPT that is a must-to-use just after the system installation. With it you can:

  • Manual Upgrade - To perform a software upgrade selecting the packages manually
  • Automatic Upgrade - To automatically upgrade the software
  • System Upgrade - To upgrade all operating system
  • Install Xfce 4.10 - To install the latest version of the desktop environment
  • Install X-Light Mind Debian Core - To install the special system core
  • Install management tools
  • Install hardware support
  • Install accessories
  • Install graphic software
  • Install Internet software
  • Install multimedia software - To install audio/movie players and codecs
  • Install office software
In the picture below you can see the FULL SCRIPT graphical interface.

Fullscript

Packages management is supported by APT, through the shell, or by Synaptic as graphical Tool.
To update XLMD you can use a practical tool made by XLMD developers with which you can:
  • Perform a complete system maintenance
  • Searching and installing new packages
  • Get package infos
  • Install packages
  • Remove packages
  • Remove packages and config files
  • Updating software sources
  • Update the system
  • Fixing broken packages
  • Edit Software sources
  • Open Synaptic package manager
  • Remove useless dependencies
  • Remove orphaned libraries
  • Remove obsolete packages
  • Clean packages download
  • Clean config leftovers
  • Setting up software not installed
  • Update the system including kernel and Xorg
It's a very useful tool that help so much all users, especially newbies and those that aren't accustomed with Terminal. Take a look at the picture below to see the tool user interface.

Update tool

To customize Xfce there is its config center in which you can setup its look. I had changed few things, as i love the typical Xfce look. New "hot" wallpaper, bottom panel always visible, windows-list with only icons in the top panel, and Conky as lightweight system monitor. That's all, as you can see in the picture below.

My desktop

Usability

XLMD was born to be a very useful GNU/Linux distribution, that don't mean having a full of software distribution. Often many user want to install only packages useful for their specific tasks, thus all other software is useless. So XLMD allows users to install only the software they want.
Therefore XLMD is a very clean, usable, and friendly distro. In fact developers had made, and included many tools to facilitate th user experience. One o this tool is the "Welcome dialog" that is opened every time you enter the desktop. As you can see in the picture below, there are many utilities that help new users to familiarize with the distro. In it you can:

  • Read the release notes
  • Upgrade the system
  • Run Fullscript (se above)
  • Search for help in the Xfce-Italy Forum
  • Make a little donation to project

Welcome dialog
Welcome Dialog

Another very useful tool is the "Xfce Session recovering script", that can help you to recover the look of your XLMD if you had made a wrong appearance editing. As you can see in the picture, you can:
  • Complete Session Recovering
  • Recovering the panels
  • Recovering the desktop
  • Recovering the keyboard
  • Recovering the appearance
  • Recovering the Thunar look
  • Recovering the Terminal look

So don't worry about some errors in your system customization. This script is for you!

In live session, XLMD shown a great responsiveness, so the system can be used also without installation, as you can install packages temporarily, for your own tasks (such as take screenshots, for instance). In live session you can recover data from broken system.

Performances

XLMD is a GNU/Linux distro with a very small footprint on hardware, so you can use it on old, or low-powered computer (you can use XLMD with only 512 MB of RAM). On modern system XLMD is literally a rocket.
In the very moment i write this review, there are 126 running processes. Clementine play my preferred music, Bluefish allow me writing this post, and Firefox surfing Internet. Only 555 MB of RAM is used, and the CPU load is at 5%.
In another test, with xxxTerm (a very lightweight web browser), Audacious (a music player), and Bluefish, the RAM used is only 390 MB, with CPU load at 6%. Therefore i can say that XLMD, is a good solution for those that have an old machine to revive.

Pros

  • Debian Testing based operating system
  • Rolling release
  • Lightweight operating system
  • XLMD is a GNU/Linux distro that could become whatever you want

Cons

  • Not found

Why using this distro?

  • If you want a distro that is only yours,
  • If you want to revive an old computer,
  • If you want a distro that don't require fresh installation for years,
  • If you don't like desktop environment such as Unity, KDE, Gnome 3 and so on,
  • If you like the Italian Style...
.... XLMD is for you!

Useful Links

Conclusions

My Xfce-Italy friends had made a great GNU/Linux distro, and is a privilege to use it. In my long-time Linux experience - although I'm not a geek - i used a lot of Linux system, but only few times i found very excellent products. This is the case. XLMD deserve a Distrowatch place as soon as possible, so all Linux users in the world can use it.
Installing XLMD is easy. Customizing XLMD is easy - as we seen. Using it is easy and funny. The core system is the best in the Linux world. You really think that there is something so much good?

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