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Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1

A First Look

Mike Angelo -- 27 July 2001 (c)

Figure 1. Product pamphlet cover.
Caldera OpenLinux Workstation release 3.1 is a Linux, desktop operating system (OS) based on the Linux 2.4.2 kernel. It's for stand-alone use or network use as either a client or server. Caldera started shipping it on June 30, 2001. OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 replaces eDesktop 2.4 in the Caldera products lineup.

Don't let the label workstation fool you. Sure, Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 has plenty of tools and power for heavy-duty software, network, and Internet development including SUN Microsystems Forte Community Edition, Borland JBuilder Foundation, Java 1.3 SDK (J2SE), C , C ++, Java (JSP & EJB), Python, PERL, PHP, and lots more.

But OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 also is an excellent Linux desktop operating system (OS) for individual, consumer, small office, home, and family computer fun and productivity. Use Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 for game play, office and home productivity, audio, graphics, Web surfing, downloading, mail, and all that sort of stuff as well as for serious development work too.

If you are looking for a good workstation, OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 is one. But also, the overall caliber of OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 as a Linux-based windows desktop makes it a darn good alternative to most flavors of Microsoft Windows. (Please see our Linux for Windows Users series.)

Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 includes the GNOME and KDE (K Desktop Environment) Windows-like desktops. It also includes the Konqueror Web browser and file manager. Much as Microsoft's Internet Explorer is integrated in to the Microsoft Windows operating system for Web browsing and file management, Konqueror is integrated into the KDE Windows-like desktop.

Figure 2. Konqueror File Manager and Web browser.

Desktop applications that come with Workstation 3.1 include Sun Microsystems StarOffice 5.2, AbiWord, GIMP, and lots more. StarOffice is a download-for-free, cross-platform (XP), office applications suite. Although StarOffice is not the same as Microsoft Office you can do lots of the same sorts of things with StarOffice that you can do with Microsoft Office.

AbiWord is a free, open source, cross-platform (XP), lightweight, desktop word processor. It looks and feels much like Microsoft Word. (Please see our article AbiWord - A Free, Decent, MS Word Clone for Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms for more about AbiWord.)

GIMP is a free, open source, cross-platform (XP), desktop, pixel-based, image manipulation and editing program. It looks and feels much like Adobe Photoshop. (GIMP = GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Emphasis on desktop here, folks. Caldera's very first product was the Linux-based Caldera Network Desktop. Even though Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 is a powerful developer OS, it also focuses on a strong and easy-to-use Linux desktop. Looks as though the Linux desktop is live and well.

Installation & Configuration

The modest 5.5" x 5.5" x 1" plain blue box in which Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 is packaged is barely large enough to contain the CD-6-pack, certificate of license authenticity (COLA), and scanty 5" x 5" 12-page product information pamphlet which comprises Workstation 3.1. (Please see Figure 1, above.)

(You got it. There are no printed manuals or documentation included with Workstation 3.1. All the documentation is on the CDs.)

However, do not let that overly modest packaging job fool you either. Although Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 comes in a small, plain, meager package, it carries a big stick with lots of desktop and developer power and wallop behind it.

The core (CD #1) installation is the best and easiest Caldera Linux-products installation ever. That's partly due to the important improvements in the Linux 2.4 kernel over the Linux 2.2 kernel. The much-improved XFree86 also helps make the installation easier and better. Additionally, much of the improved installation is the work of the Caldera people in putting it all together in their LIZARD (Linux Installation Wizard) installation front end.

One item that sets Caldera's LIZARD apart from other Linux installation front ends is that it starts the configuration and setup Q&A (questions and answers) before it starts to copy files from the CD to your hard drive. Then as you are completing the configuration and setup Q&A process, LIZARD already is copying the files to your hard drive and doing its behind-the-scenes setup and configuration -- thus overlapping the file copying with the configuration and setup Q&A. Some Linux distributions make you complete the file copying before you can complete the Q&A process.

Overlapping the configuration and setup Q&A process of course saves lots of your time. Perhaps just as important, if there is a problem with successfully completing the configuration and setup Q&A process, you have not wasted the time of sitting through the file copying stage to get to the Q&A stage.

Should your attempt to complete the Q&A process fail you do not have to wait for file copying to take place in order to take another whack at the Q&A. You can get right back in to the Q&A by restarting the installation process from scratch.

Our first Workstation 3.1 installation was to a powerful, multi-boot, dream-machine with a 750-MHz AMD Duron CPU, Iwill KV200-R motherboard (VIA KT133 chipset) with integrated audio, 384-MB of RAM, 100-GB Maxtor D536X hard drive, and 3DLabs Oxygen XV1 video card.

LIZARD was able to adequately probe the physical and logical system and its devices and successfully configure a very nice working Linux system.

It was a very pleasant surprise at the end of the Workstation 3.1 installation to find that LIZARD had set up the SAMBA shares for the entire LAN, all the FAT 32 (MS-Windows 9.x) partitions and logical drives on the Duron box, and the integrated sound controller all by its little ol' self. A Windows 98 SE box on the LAN serves as the ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) host/gateway. LIZARD figured that out and configured Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 to use that Windows ICS gateway for Internet access.

Just for a simplified clarification, what LIZARD seems to be doing here is to be configuring OpenLinux and the KDE desktop so that all these devices are mounted during the OpenLinux and KDE startup processes, or auto-mount them when you try to open them in a file manager.

The second box on which Workstation 3.1 was installed also is a powerful, multi-boot, dream-machine with a 1-GHz Pentium III CPU, PowerLeap Renaissance motherboard using a SiS 630E chipset with integrated everything, 512-MB of RAM, and 100-GB Maxtor D536X hard drive

The fully-integrated SiS chipset motherboard gave LIZARD some problems with configuring the X server. LIZARD could not correctly detect the SiS 630 video. Rather LIZARD detected it as a SiS 5591/5592 AGP.

LIZARD had to be tricked to get a video configuration that would get past the X configuration LIZARD stage. The trick amounted to manually setting the video adapter choice to generic SiS and the resolution to 800x600 @ 60 MHz with 256KB video RAM, a 90-Hz programmable clock and a 25.175-Hz fixed clock.

The actual final X server display after installation on the PowerLeap box came out to 640 x 480. LIZARD did not get the SiS integrated sound controller.

On the other hand, by the end of the Workstation 3.1 installation on the PowerLeap box, LIZARD had set up the SAMBA shares for the entire LAN, and all the FAT 32 (MS-Windows 9.x) partitions and logical drives on the PowerLeap box -- again all by its little ol' self. LIZARD also figured out and configured Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 to use the Windows-based ICS gateway for Internet access for the PowerLeap box.

As this article was about to get laid out for publication on the MozillaQuest Magazine Web site, a new Hewlett Packard OmniBook 6000 Notebook PC rolled in for review. This HP 6000 has a 900-MHz Pentium III CPU, Intel 440 BX AGPset chipset, 128-MB RAM, ATI Rage Mobility M1 2xAGP graphics, ESS Maestro PCI Audio, and a 20-GB IBM DJSA-220 hard drive. 'Twas a machine just crying out to have a Linux boot added to its pre-installed Microsoft Windows boot.

Once again, LIZARD was able to adequately probe the physical and logical system and its devices and successfully configure a very nice working Linux system.

LIZARD easily set up the SAMBA shares for the entire LAN, the FAT 32 (MS-Windows 9.x) partitions and logical drives on the HP OmniBook 6000, the floppy drive, the DVD drive, and the sound all by its little ol' self. LIZARD also figured out and configured Workstation 3.1 to use the Windows-based ICS gateway for Internet access for the HP OmniBook 6000.

All told, if you are looking for a comfortable out-of-the-box Linux-based computer system, Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 is one of the best, if not the best, Linux distributions.

Included Software

Any time after completing the core (CD #1) installation you may add application binaries from the Supplemental Open Source Software CD or the Supplemental Developer Software CD. Caldera does not support the programs included on the Supplemental Open Source Software CD.

Incidentally, the CD #1 binaries (670-MB) and source code (668-MB) are available for free downloading to non-commercial, single-users from the Caldera Web site. Links are in the Resources section at the end of this article.

The Supplemental Open Source Software CD includes some 500 supplemental Open Source software packages. The supplemental software CD-ROM has additional libraries, header files, developer tools, system services, and productivity applications. Among the additional software packages on the supplemental CD are GNOME, Mozilla, PostgreSQL, ProFTPd, AT&T Advanced Software Tools, AbiWord, Enhydra, Glade, Jitterbug, Aethera, DDD, Etherape, FreS/WAN, FVWM2, GnuCash, Gnumeric, HylaFAX, Pan, SI, Symlinks, VNC, Ethereal, xlHtml, and lots of games.

The Supplemental Developer Software CD (OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 3rd Party Software) includes SUN Microsystems Forte Community Edition, Borland Jbuilder Foundation, and SUN StarOffice plus more commercial and developer software.

The applications on these two supplemental software CDs are installed via the RPM system rather than by LIZARD. That generally works very nicely. However, using the RPM rather than the LIZARD installer results in many of the applications not making it into the KDE desktop menuing system. You will have to add those programs to the K menu manually.

CD #2 contains the source code for the Open Source software (OSS) included with OpenLinux Workstation 3.1. CD #3 is the 64-bit version of OpenLinux Workstation 3.1. The remaining CD in the OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 CD-6-pack is Caldera Volution, an online software maintenance program.


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