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Linpus Lite Desktop 1.6 review

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Linpus Lite is a Linux distribution published by Linpus Technologies, Inc., a Linux software solutions provider based in Taiwan. Linpus Lite Desktop is, as the name suggests, the version designed for traditional desktop computing. Aside from that, the company also publishes other editions (for example, Linpus Lite Android Edition and Linpus Lite PCTV), but those are for OEMs and ODMs vendors only, and not available for download by the public. (OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer; ODM – Original Design Manufacturer.)

Linpus Lite Desktop 1.6 is the latest stable release of Linpus Lite Desktop. The previous one reviewed on this website was Linpus Lite Desktop 1.4 (see Linpus Lite 1.4 review). This article is a detailed review of Linpus Lite Desktop 1.6, using a 32-bit installation image, which just happens to be the only installation image available for download. The screen shot below is that of the boot menu. The installation image, as you could probably tell from the boot menu options, is not a Live CD.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Boot Menu

Installer and Installation Process: The installer sports a beautiful, graphical interface that is almost like YALI’s, the installation program used by Pardus, and the installation is a 2-stage process, just like that of Anaconda, the Fedora system installer.

Unlike YALI and Anaconda, the installer does not have support for LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, disk encryption and RAID. The screen shot below shows the disk partitioning options. The fist two options lead to an automated partitioning of the target hard drive, while the last, provides the opportunity to create a custom set of partitions.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Installer

Aside from lacking support for the features mentioned above, the installer is not capable of resizing a partition if there is an existing operating system on it. The “Use the free space” option, the second disk partitioning option in the image above, results in the automated partitioning of an unformatted partition, and not one with an OS on it. Selecting that option when an unformatted partition does not exist will cause the installer to generate the error message shown in this image. So, if you have any plans to dual-boot Linpus Lite Desktop 1.6 and another distribution or operating system, you will have to choose the advanced or manual partitioning option, which means that you will need to have a basic understanding of disks and disk partitioning in Linux. If you are in that category, Guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux should be a good read.
Linpus Lite Desktop 1.6 Install Error

Opting for manual disk partitioning, brings you to the step of the installation process shown in this image. As you can see from the dropdown menu, ext2, ext3 and ext4 are the only Linux file system types supported, with ext4, a journaling file system, as the default.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Install File System

A new installation takes up just about 2 GB of disk space. That is before installing all available applications; disk usage jumps to about 4 GB after installing available applications. By default, the installer creates just three partitions – for /boot, / and Swap, with /boot getting about 200 MB of disk space. As with other installer programs, the boot loader is installed in the Master Boot Record (MBR) by default, but if you want to install it in a location other than the MBR, the installer makes no provision for that. That is another major failing of the installer. GRUB Legacy (version 0.97) is the boot loader used by the installer, but there is no option to password-protect it during installation. GRUB, the GRand Unified Bootloader, is the boot loader that virtually all Linux distributions use. Most, like Fedora, the distribution that Linpus Lite Desktop is based on, now use GRUB 2, the line of the GRUB code base still being actively developed.

Login In And Using The System: Like most Linux distributions that use the GNOME desktop environment, Linpus Lite 1.6 Desktop ships with GNOME 3. The login screen is shown below. A difference between its login screen and those of others like it, is that there is no login menu option to choose what GNOME interface to login in to.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Desktop Login

It is only after logging in that I find myself staring at the classic GNOME desktop or the GNOME 3 Fallback mode. And it does not matter whether the installation is in a virtual environment or on real hardware. I am not sure if there is something I missed because all the officially released screen shots available here show a desktop using the main GNOME 3 interface.
Linpus Lite Desktop 1.6

What the screen shot of the desktop above also shows is that Firefox is the lone installed Internet application. Though it is impossible to tell from the image, Firefox 6 is the version of the popular Web browser installed. Firefox is only one of five usable applications installed out of the box. The others (not shown in the screen shot), are Nautilus, the file manager, Terminal, Live Update, and System Settings. It is only after you click the OK button in the Live Update informational or alert window below, which is the first window that opens after logging in, that you have the option to install more applications using Live Update.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Desktop First Run

And this is the package update window of Live Update. On all test installations used to compile this review, only 44 applications and nine (9) UI Enhancements-related applications were available for installation. Not all, however, installed successfully.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Live Update

For example, in one test installation, two (2) of the main 44 applications failed to install. And in another, four failed.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Live Update Error

Any attempt to reinstall the failed applications led to more errors, but each time, with a little bit more information about the likely cause of the error(s). Rhythmbox, a music player, was one application that consistently failed to install.
Linpus Lite 1.6 Live Update App Fail

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8 Comments

  1. Automan says:

    We have Linpus Lite 1.4 installed on an Acer eMachines ER1401. It came with the machine, and we have only kept it to remind ourselves (and show others) how truly awful a Linux distribution can become if done wrong.
    1.6 may be better, but beware…. 1.4 did not have any useful response from the Linpus Update utility in June 2011 when the box was bought.
    So 1.6 may go dead on you soon..?
    Without any kind of working update or package repository you are back to compiling from source, if the tool-chain works properly. Ours did not. So…. Stuffed!
    Play some music, maybe? Nope. No MP3 codec, it seems. Aha! I’ll play my FLAC collection! Nope, same problem.
    After a few beers it’s a pretty good game, discovering what Linpus can NOT do! But it gets old soon.
    1.6 may be a vast improvement, but I somehow doubt it.
    We now have Bodhi Linux 1.3.0 installed, a rolling dist-upgrade from Bodhi 1.1.0 last summer. It’s very light (82MB RAM used after bootup to compositing desktop), very smart, and stunningly reliable, which was a pleasant surprise. Linpus is for laughs, in this household.

  2. Jeff says:

    Anything made near or around China, I would not install. Something will spying on you….

  3. TanKe says:

    I have tried to install this piece of s… on a couple of computers and the installer ends anfter destroying my partitions with a cryptic error.
    Don’t even try Linpus 1.6, is not worth the cost of a CD.

    • Al says:

      I’ve tried Linpus 1.6 and managed without any issues (dual-boot with Win7) but because there’s no option for a LiveCD preview, you need to jump into the installation directly. This is mostly Ubuntu style but with some mods and could possibly confuse beginners but should not be a problem if you know a little bit about partitioning. The best feature of Linpus? A BIG Calendar and Weather widgets right on the Desktop at the click of one button. Marvellous. I wish other distros could implement this feature. Linpus comes with the bare minimum but you can download some extra apps. Overall not a very exciting distro but, wow that Calendar widget (attached to Evolution of course)

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