eAR OS is a GNU/Linux operating system based on Ubuntu, but with a multimedia focus, and a very elegant MacOS X-like desktop interface. It is designed to run from CD with the option to install to harddisk.
Snapshot review based on eAR OS 1.09a, and updated June 1, 2008.
Origin – Home Page: Denmark – eAR OS
Price: eAR OS Free Edition is (Free and) Open Source. Acoustic Reality, the company behind eAR OS also produces eAR RT-OS Enterprice Edition, which you can buy from the company’s Web site.
Comments: eAR OS boots into a Live CD, elegant and polished desktop environment. Like almost every other Ubuntu-derived Linux desktop, installing it to hard disk is via a graphical interface that offers very few options for customization. The “express install option” as it has been dubbed. LVM disk partitioning is, of course, not supported.
The finished system is, as far as desktop interfaces go, a brilliant piece of work. It has a MacOS X-like polish, and a MacOS X-like application dock – the fish-eye effect, that is powered by SimDock. The main software that ships with this distro is eAR Media Center. The eAR Media Center, similar to LMMS – Linux MultiMedia System, allows you, from within it’s gui interface, to watch TV, DVD, Video, listen to music files from your PC or from Internet radio stations, and view photos. With the distro installed on a regular PC, you can control the eAR Media Center using the arrows keys on the keyboard, and the mouse. It is also touch-screen controllable if you have a touch screen capable system.
Aside from the eAR Media Center, and a subset of standard Gnome applications, this distro also ships with a few KDE applications as defaults for certain computing tasks. K3B, the default CD/DVD burner for the K Desktop Environment (KDE), is installed. Kaffeine, another KDE application, is also installed. There are no game or office applications installed, but you can install those or any other supported application by using the graphical package manager.
Outside of the eAR Media Center interface, you can, using the capabilities provided by libdvdcss2, play your commercial (encrypted) DVD videos using VLC or Kaffeine. For Audio media playback, the only application installed is Sound Juicer. Sound Juicer is a decent application, but Amarok and Rhythmbox have more audio playback features, and any one of those applications can be installed using the graphical package manager.
Firefox 3 is the browser installed, and it will, by default, render flash files embedded in Web pages, but the plugins needed for handling quicktime files are not installed. Trying to install a quicktime plugin from within the browser window started an endless loop. You will have to install a quicktime plugin via the package manager. If you are a (former) Windows user and are still itching to run your favorite Windows application, Wine, the Open Source implementation of the Windows API on top of X and OpenGL, is installed.
For protecting your installation from malicious Internet traffic, Firestarter, a graphical interface to iptables – the Linux firewall, is installed. Out of the box, the firewall is disabled, so you will have to run the Firestarter wizard to enable the firewall.
Download/Buy: You may download the iso image by clicking on the “Download” link on the projects home page.