by January 4, 2000 0 comments

After several years of
being around, it seems that India is finally beginning to take Linux
a little more seriously. Although, PC Quest for the last few
years, has been providing Linux to its readers, what’s put on the CD
is not really a PCQ distribution, but basic Red Hat
Linux.


However, the first Indian
distribution is now on the scene–Aryabhatt Linux.


When the installation was
started, an all too familiar-looking installation process of Red Hat
is what seemed to pop up on the screen. But there were some subtle
differences. First of all, the only language available for the
install was English. Then, on selecting a full installation, it
didn’t bother to ask any more questions, and quietly went ahead and
installed all of the OS–a whopping 1,600 MB, but a very complete
installation indeed. Lots of applications were bundled in, including
an office suite, called KOffice.


The little box on the side
where help information is available during the installation has the
address and contact information of Linux Technologies, and
appropriate help as well.


For the installation, we
used a completely fresh hard disk, so there were no issues regarding
partition, etc. But, I do believe that partitioning has become
easier, and if there were an existing OS, it wouldn’t have been
disturbed in any way.


Now where are those SiS
6215 cards when you need them the most? At PCQ Labs, we weren’t able
to lay our hands on any SiS cards, so we were unable to test
Aryabhatt’s ability in detecting and correctly installing
these.


Overall, the installation
was quite smooth, with no surprises or problems at all. During the
install process, a message did pop up about being able to play a
game on one of the virtual consoles. But when we tried it, we got an
error message and the game didn’t start up. All the same,
installation was quite a breeze.


Once the installation was
complete, using the system wasn’t difficult at all. The default X
Windows interface selected is KDE, and as we’d installed everything,
there were tons of applications and goodies that we could try
out.


KOffice was the office
suite installed, which is quite good. It has all the standard
applications–like a spreadsheet, a word processor, an image editor,
and a presentation package. It’s capable of reading documents from
MS Office as well. However, it’s in beta version.


Apart from an office suite,
a host of other programs are bundled in. Some of the extras include
ICQ, KSendFax, Kjukebox, Knetmon, etc.


Also, when compared to a
standard Red Hat 6.1 install, this contains all updated packages and
even a newer, stable kernel.


The package comes at a
price of Rs 2,100, inclusive of all taxes. There’s no mention of
support or anything else that’s included in that price. It does come
packaged with a thin “Step By Step Guide”, but as with most Linux
distributions, the main documentation is mainly on the CD itself and
can be installed anytime Now, some things that are not quite right about it…..

Now, some things that are
not quite right about it. First of all, the fact that it’s based on
Red Hat 6.1 has been hidden for some reason, and there’s only a very
brief mention of that on the side of the box. I thought that was a
bit unfair. Since the overall look and feel is still the same as Red
Hat, a little more credit should have been given to them.


Secondly, having the latest
and the greatest is always good, but not at the expense of crashes
or instability. Shipping software which is beta is not a good idea.
There are people out there who may go and use this as their
production servers and those should definitely only run with stable
and known software.


The box screams about
“Customized for the Indian user”, but I didn’t find anything that
made the distribution India-specific. Yes, during the installation,
when it selects the time zone, it does automatically come up with
Asia/Calcutta, even though our time zone defaults to Allahabad. But
apart from that, I found nothing. Even setting up a PPP connection
lists other countries and ISPs, but nothing Indian there. So, I
haven’t quite figured out what the company really means by their
slogan.


Finally, who is “Peggy”?
The box has a picture of Tux with “Peggy” written across his
stomach, and it’s been trademarked. A little unfair–you can’t just
take the official logo, write a new name on it, and then trademark
it, can you?


But all things aside, at
least we have the first official distribution from the country and
maybe we shall see more of them. Hopefully, with a little more
Indianization, things like language support, etc, would be a great
boost.


Kishore Bhargava

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