With the release of Fedora Linux into the wild by Red Hat the
proliferation of distributions based on it has been growing. This
is a good thing. Even with Fedora Core Linux being more community
based, no distribution can be all things to all people. This is a
review of one of these new distributions,
According to their website -
Cobind Desktop merges the reliability of Fedora Core Linux, the speed
of a lightweight desktop environment, and the usability of a
best-of-breed application suite into a basic, high-performance Linux
platform designed with the average user in mind.
Great market speak, but what does it mean? Cobind is built on
Fedora Core 1 but striped down to fit on one CD. They did this by
leaving out the big and complex software. No OpenOffice. No
Evolution. No GNOME or KDE. No development tools. Just a light
weight yet functional desktop OS. But lest you think that they
skimped on the available tools and apps, the default install
still consists of 537 RPM packages.
What you do get is the wonderful Xfce4
Desktop Environment and what Cobind refers to as the "best-of-breed"
applications. These include Firefox for web browsing, Thunderbird for
news and email, gaim for all your IM needs and a productivity suite made
up of AbiWord, Gnumeric, the GIMP, XMMS and GnuCash. It does include
the three main file managers in Konqueror, Nautilus and XFFM but
otherwise keeps the duplication of programs to a minimum. There are no
servers in this distribution as it is well focused on the desktop. But
enough of the talking, let's get to the test drive.
Anyone who's ever installed any of the Red Hat or Fedora Linux
versions will be right at home here. Cobind uses Anaconda for
installation and configuration. There's no section in the install
for selecting packages but that is to be expected with a
distribution focused on simple and easy. Just a few clicks and
the occasional input screen.
After the install and the normal "firstboot" screen you get
the Cobind login screen. It's a clean and pleasant configuration
of GDM (seen here running under
Once logged in, you see a simple desktop with a panel at the
bottom, a bar at the top and the familiar
desktop icons of Nautilus. It doesn't have many menus, just
the applications. The apps are, from left to right, Terminal,
File Manager (xffm), Firefox, Thunderbird, gaim, AbiWord, Gedit,
Gnumeric, GnuCash, Mplayer, XMMS and k3b. The desktop is managed
by Nautilus instead of the xfdesktop4 (part of xfce4). If you
kill off Nautilus you get xfdesktop4, which is quite good in its
own right. Next on the panel comes the configuration menu
followed by the Software Manager (more in this later),
Help/Documentation, Lock, Log out and the clock.
While the layout and available/clickable programs may seem
quite sparse, the distribution comes with everything a home user
might need. And it's all configured so that very little user
intervention is ever needed. Should any configuration be needed
all of the config tools from Fedora are also available.
The most significant part of Cobind Linux is the Software
Manager. Cobind has made a GUI front end to the command line RPM
management tool yum. This program makes using yum very intuitive
and easy. You can update, add or remove RPMs from any repository
you want. Adding new repositories is as easy as clicking an Add
button. The program gives you three tabs at the top half of the
window where you can see RPMs to Install, Remove and Update, if
there are any available updates. There's also a Settings tab from
where you manage the repositories. The bottom half is divided
again into two with the left side giving you a description of the
RPM that is selected (from any of the above tabs). On the right
is the output of the actual yum command so you can see what is
actually being shown "under the hood". These last two features
make this tool better than Red Hat's up2date, in this writers
opinion. With this Software Manager you can easily install any of
the programs that you might want, like OpenOffice for example.
Just select it from the Install tab and off you go.
Cobind Linux might feel a bit restrictive to some seasoned
Linux users, especially with it's lack of any development tools,
but it does make for a very nice home desktop system. Fast, light
but with plenty of capabilities, Cobind has some interesting
potential as a Linux distribution.
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