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January 7, 2012

23

DreamLinux 5 Review

DreamLinux is a distribution that is based on Debian “Wheezy” and using the latest desktop version of XFCE 4.8 on a Linux 3.1 Kernel.

DreamLinux has just released this latest version after a long absence and we will see if it can make up for lost time.

When you’ve created a bootable LiveDVD of DreamLinux, you are greated by a Mac OS X style desktop with which dreamlinux-2012-01-02-14-24-11most of the software packages you have installed are there for you on the kicker bar by default, or you can, still use the menu on the top left side of the screen and access the program you want from there.

Installation of DreamLinux was not painful at all, but would have preferred if there was a bit more customizing done of the final install then later changing some of the options. Something like configuring your timezone, or Internet connection would’ve been better during installation than post-installation, I will discuss some of these issues a bit later. If you would like to see the install screens, please click here.

The desktop is nice and clean and the icons in your kicker bar give you a somewhat good idea of what the program is about. Unlike OS X, DreamLinux does not provide you the name of the program when you hover over the icon making it somewhat of a guessing game in trying to figure out which program you are trying to access if you’ve never done so before.

It does have some of the same functionality that you can find in OS X’s finder, when clicking on an icon to launch Chromium, when minimized, you get a white dot indicating that the program is open and is minimized. To reopen, it was just as simple as clicking on it and it would restore the window. It does have it’s little quirks though as some programs don’t behave properly like TextMaker would have another icon instead of using the same one. Removing applications is quite simple to do by simply right clicking on it and unchecking keep in dock.

DreamLinux does not use the typical software which we find in a majority of distributions. We do not have Mozilla programs installed for Email and Web Browsing, nor do we have Libre/Open Office as our office suite. Chromium is our default browser and for email, well, DreamLinux lets you down in this department as there is no default email application but clicking on the stamp icon brings you to Gmail, which is disappointing.

Softmaker office suite comes with a word processing program in TextMaker, a spreadsheet software in PlanMaker and presentation software (Powerpoint) in Presentations. The version that is included is SoftMaker 2008 which is free for to use but it is outdated. An alternative in LibreOffice would’ve been more appreciated than outdated software.

There is quite a variety of software installed as part of DreamLinux such as The GIMP, Inkscape, Fox-It reader for PDFs and so on.

Conclusion

DreamLinux somewhat missed the ball on this release, and I will probably get some flack from users reading this review but I would’ve expected a lot more from a distribution that was on an eighteen month “hiatus” and came back with a bang, but really came back with a whimper.

As mentioned above, one issue I found odd is the difficulty with just changing date and time and it would cause the kicker to crash. Why is that? I have no idea, and it is reproduceable every time. When you get the right time and go through the long list of timezones to find the one you’re in, it would crash, causing more grief than anything else.

Another issue is the fact that it is 32 bit only whereas Debian, Ubuntu and other mainstream distributions there are both 32 and 64 bit versions available to install.

Some of the software choices are questionable to say the least. SoftMaker 2008 is an outdated program and it should not have been included and been replaced with LibreOffice. I won’t complain about Chromium being there but not having an email application is a bit strange and don’t know why there wasn’t one included.

Homepage: http://dreamlinux.info

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23 Comments
  1. Joen
    Jan 8 2012

    It’s flak, and yes, you should deservedly get some for this “review”.

  2. bob
    Jan 8 2012

    The reviewer wrote: “SoftMaker 2008 is an outdated program and it should not have been included and been replaced with LibreOffice.”

    Did the office suite get tested? I looked for reviews, and found one in which Softmaker 2008 was described as much lighter than OO-org and did a much better job of rendering MS Office 2007 documents.

    I haven’t tested Softmaker, but plan on testing the 2008 (free) version in the next little while. There’s no suggestion that the reviewer tested it or that it was actually inadequate for its intended purpose. It could even be that it’s the best lightweight office suite with each of wordproc, spreadsheet and presentations-we can’t tell from this review that it isn’t, just that the reviewer objected to its age. I presume the reviewer also objects to any distribution using Mousepad (a good gtk+ text editor which hasn’t been updated in a few years.)

    • Mike L
      Jan 9 2012

      You are correct Bob, I did not fully test the functionality of SoftMaker 2008 and should’ve during the review process. I will take a look into the software and post an update on this matter.

      From the start of SM2008 it did seem quite quick as a matter of fact so maybe I gave it a bit of flak instead of giving it a better look. I’ll take a look into this program.

  3. tora201
    Jan 8 2012

    I agree with this review. But don´t be too hard on them regarding the inclusion of Softmaker. Its easy to replace it with whatever you like. These days when its so easy to install software who really cares? Customize it as you wish!

    One thing you didn´t mention was that the in browser font rendering is not up to the same high standard as Ubuntu. Might be worth seeing if installing Firefox makes a difference.

    • Mike L
      Jan 9 2012

      I’ll agree with you, I might have been a bit too harsh on them in regards to SoftMaker 2008. I know some people would cringe at the thought of closed source software being included as part of a Linux distribution.

      I don’t mind closed source software being included but I guess they wanted to be a bit different with SoftMaker being included compared to every distro coming with LibreOffice.

  4. Waltdog72080
    Jan 9 2012

    I will give DreamLinux a try, I’ll see how it works for me. By the way, GREAT ARTICLE….

  5. pressred
    Jan 9 2012

    I agree with this review. DL5 really is a poor release. Aside from the woeful lack of installation options – the system is unstable. I couldn’t even open Synaptic. SoftMaker is a joke.
    After all this time in development you would at least expect a stable OS. It certainly looks the part – but is not usable. What were the devs thinking?

  6. Jan 9 2012

    No distro can be all things to all people of course and many don’t even try, why should they?

    On the contrary to your assessment of SoftMaker, why must it be a bad choice just because it’s “outdated”. During my working day I’m always opening different documents and instead of having to wait for LibreOffice, SoftMaker opens instantaneously. I also fail to see why a distro that is as fast and stable as this needs to have a x64 bit version? I’ve tried everything possible to replicate the date/time issue on my system and can’t.

    With so many clones around, Dreamlinux certainly offers a different perspective although of course it won’t suit everyone. IMO for Windows migrants and non-Linux geeks in General, KDE begins and ends with Kororaa. For those wanting a less resource hungry desktop that doesn’t pretend to be an iPhone, Dreamlinux and Bodhi have to be towards the top.

    • Mike L
      Jan 9 2012

      That’s the good thing about Linux is the choice you have, although sometimes there’s just too many to choose from.

      I didn’t go into detailed testing of SoftMaker 2008 when I was testing DL5 but I did notice it was quite responsive when opening the program.

      My reasoning behind requesting a x64 version is that a lot of server stuff has been included with DL5. It has an Apache server, DLNA and other stuff that could get memory intensive. Granted you can easily run an Apache server on 4GB of RAM but it would’ve been nice to see a 64bit version out there for people to choose and quite a few desktops are already coming with more than 4GB of RAM.

  7. Jan 9 2012

    Thanks for a gr8 review I was thinking to try this OS but your review force me think to other alternative so thinking to try Vector Linux

  8. revdjenk
    Jan 9 2012

    After seeing the comments here on the Softmaker 2008 free version, I decided to give it a quick test. (I am running LinuxMint12.)
    Opening the app:
    Softmaker’s Textmaker and LibreOffice Writer open in about the same time on my system, the initial start takes 5-7 seconds, subsequent starts are almost instantaneous. Score on opening – equal.
    Presentation:
    Textmaker’s toolbar’s and menu remind me of Word 97, the last MS Office I used regularly. It appears to mimic Word feature for feature, and in menu setup. This is both good and bad, as I now go straight to format to change everything about my setup, including the page. Textmaker, like Word 97, have the page setup under File, instead. I see that as a mistake, now. (And what’s with the two tab selection places, in the toolbar as well as at the corners of the rulers? I know, when you remove the rulers, you can still gain access to tab changes. How often does that happen?) But if I were coming straight from an older version of Word, Textmaker might make more sense. But coming from any newer version of Word or for that matter from LibreOffice, it is a throwback. Besides, Textmaker’s look grates against my desktop’s theme. Winner – LibreOffice
    Features:
    Textmaker seems to have more capabilities from the start, compared to LibreOffice; Thesaurus and page numbering are there and ready. Search and Replace follows Word’s form, which is better than LibreOffice’s unix-like codes needed in searching for line breaks, for example. However, except for the search & replace quirks in LibreOffice, its extensions bring it up to match Textmaker. Advantage – Textmaker, slightly.
    Textmaker also adds a new document format, their own. Yikes! At least they offer .odt!
    Now, I am comparing a three/four year old free, but closed, Textmaker to the latest, free and open, LibreOffice. But the newest Textmaker (gets kudos for not going to the ribbon) still, continues with this 15 year old look for $100US. I have been using Libre/Open/StarOffice for over 12 years now. I, for one, will be sticking with what I have come to know.
    God Bless
    Doug

    • Mike L
      Jan 10 2012

      Wow thanks for the great writeup in looking into TextMaker.

  9. pouic
    Jan 10 2012

    They could have used Cairo-Dock as the bottom dock, it would have really boosted their desktop. just a suggestion.

  10. bob
    Jan 10 2012

    I also tried Softmaker and decided to try it on an older machine. The machine is an old IBM Thinkcentre, P4-2.8 GHz, 40 GB HD. I pulled out a couple of RAM sticks leaving 768 MB of RAM. It’s running Mint 9 (based on Ubuntu 10.04, an LTS release) and the office program that came with Mint 9 was OO-O 3.2.0, which I haven’t changed.

    From a cold start, OO Text took 6 seconds to start, Textmaker 2 seconds. Subsequent starts were about 2.5 seconds for OO Text, about 1.5 seconds for Softmaker’s Textmaker.

    From within Textmaker I was unable to open an xls spreadsheet. That is, it appears that the elements are separate and not really a suite. I got a “cannot open document” message instead of Planmaker opening and opening the spreadsheet.

    Although being used to OO and Libreoffice, I found Textmaker easy to use. Things weren’t where I was used to them being, and the keyboard shortcuts aren’t all the same, but things weren’t difficult to find. In fact, some things struck me as easier to find in Textmaker than they would be in the Libreoffice or OO for people new to either program.

    Notwithstanding that the review I’d read previously which I’d thought indicated that Softmaker 2008 would open new MS files better than OO 3.1, I couldn’t open a docx file in Textmaker. In addition, I couldn’t open xlsx nor ods spreadsheets in Planmaker.

    From Textmaker one can export to PDF, but can’t open a PDF file. That may not be much of a disadvantage-one can always open the pdf files in a pdf reader of some sort, but Libreoffice and OO-Text will open pdf files.

    I didn’t test the presentations program.

    My take?

    For users who need to be able to read xlsx, ods or docx files, Softmaker 2008 won’t be appropriate. For computers with a reasonable amount of RAM, Libreoffice or OO is probably better-as a suite it will open spreadsheet files from within the wordprocessor and vice versa, there are more loading and saving formats available and the difference in resources will be much less noticeable, or perhaps not noticeable at all (as revdjenk found.)

    For users with older computers with limited resources who are ok with the more limited formats available for saving and opening, Softmaker would seem, in the limited time I tried it out, to be a very reasonable choice.

  11. Andy
    Jan 11 2012

    Spent sometime downloading the distro, our internet speed in Indonesia is way too slow. I was expecting a great distro, much better than last version.

    But… Nothing special, last version was more impressive. Went back to Mint 10.

  12. Ariya
    Jan 14 2012

    Well, I am impressed with the quickness of response to clicks in Dreamlinux 5. That the names don come up when the cursor hovers over an icon in the Plank dock is not a problem, as we have photographic eyes, rather than letter reading eyes.

    Softmaker is very good office suite, for I have used it in the Windows days, and was given to me free by the makers of Softmaker. It may not read some newer MS Word files, but who cares about MS Word?! Both Open Office and Libre Office has many glitches, which Softmaker does not have.

    Excellent work!

  13. Curious.Cat
    Feb 1 2012

    So how’s DL5 borkage rate if pointed to Sid instead of Testing? Anyone tried that?

  14. Aug 26 2012

    now, i was downloading dreamlinux 5,

  15. Aug 31 2012

    I could not use DL5 after install. It seemed fine. I input my username and passwords and when I rebooted I could not get in again. Does your review mean that this problem has been fixed? Or did I get a bad iso image?

    I loved Dreamlinux 3.2 and 3.5 way back when, but once 3.5 was outdated and un-upgradeable I had to make a choice and I am now using other Debian distros, trying them out. But I really miss Dreamlinux. It totally sold me on Linux.

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