Version 1.2 is the third official release of the Gentoo-based VidaLinux OS (VLOS). The changes and enhancements to this edition are significant, but not good enough to save this conceptually astute operating system from failure. VidaLinux 1.2 is nice to play with, but don't expect a comfortable, complete desktop experience a la SUSE or Mandriva.

VidaLinux is based on a stage 3 Gentoo installation, which is a collection of precompiled binary packages. Usually people associate Gentoo Linux with bootstrapping an entire operating system from source code, but that's only one way to do it. By installing an entire binary operating system and desktop software, VidaLinux sets up a Gentoo system with an attractive look and feel, and a number of relevant desktop applications, in about two hours. A similar configuration compiled from source could take two days on the same machine.

VidaLinux uses the Anaconda installer to simplify and expedite the installation procedure. Gentoo by itself is usually installed by hand.

VLOS uses the GNOME desktop environment by default, so most of the included applications are GTK-based. The default theme for VidaLinux used to look much like Apple's Aqua, but in the previous release it was changed to more of a brushed metal look, which still prevails in version 1.2.

Gentoo Linux usually updates, installs, and removes software packages via the Portage software management framework. Portage is and has always been manipulated from the command line, although there are a handful of programs that provide a graphical interface for it. Originally, VLOS used Porthole, but as of 1.2, it has switched over to Yukiyu. At a glance, there is little difference between the two programs. Neither of them worked very well for me.

New in 1.2

There are dozens of changes in VidaLinux 1.2. For a complete list of changes since 1.1, see the release notes. Here are the highlights of the technical modifications and improvements:

* The Linux kernel is now at 2.6.12.
* PPC support has been added.
* The Anaconda installer has been upgraded to the Fedora Core 4 release.
* GNOME is now at 2.10.1, and KDE is now at 3.4.1.
* Yukiyu has replaced Porthole as the Portage front end.
* Samba support has been added to GNOME, making it possible to browse Windows networks.

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