The Progeny Debian 2.0 Developer Edition beta has been out for a little while now, long enough for this writer to whip it onto a laptop and take it for a spin.
There's a lot to like in the latest release. Though it's not quite bug free, it is looking much more polished, and good enough for day to day usage if one doesn't mind a few rough edges. For example, the installer set the mouse pointer to "/dev/input/mice" rather than "/dev/psaux" -- which caused X to come to an abrupt halt until this was corrected. Sound was not detected or correctly configured, though my wireless network card was automatically recognized.
Users are given the choice of desktop, workstation, server or custom installation. While the installer worked flawlessly, it seemed to take quite a long while to copy over packages. This isn't a major issue, but one hopes that the installation will be optimized by a final release for users who have to perform multiple installs. In all, the install closely resembles a Fedora Core install, so users who have some experience with Anaconda will feel right at home.
By default, this release installs the 2.6.6 Linux kernel. A 2.4 kernel is available as a component -- though some components are non-functional in the beta, so it's not entirely clear whether the 2.4 kernel component can be installed.
Speaking of components, it would be negligent not to mention that this release is "a showcase of Progeny's Componentized Linux technology," and not just any Linux distribution. (Interested users can find the entire list of available components here.) From the end user's perspective, it's nice to be able to install a single package rather than picking a slew of packages that are necessary to run a program. Even with apt's wonderful dependency system, it is often necessary to install several packages to arrive at one functional program.
Unfortunately, the beta's "sources.list" is strictly for loading packages off of CD-ROM. Users who have become used to using apt to install packages anywhere they happen to have a network connection will not be pleased with needing to cart CDs with them. It's not immediately obvious how to add Progeny's componentized package lists to the "sources.list," which has confused a number of the beta testers. Of course, packages from Debian testing seem to work quite well in absence of a Progeny network package source.
In all, the release shows a lot of promise. While it's not quite yet ready for prime time, the Progeny folks have made a lot of progress since the alpha release back in April.
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