My short Review of antiX, considering the probably antiX-23 final version

Forum Forums antiX-development Development My short Review of antiX, considering the probably antiX-23 final version

  • This topic has 20 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated Jan 15-2:17 pm by Brian Masinick.
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  • #109552
    Member
    PPC

      Well, I’ve been spending lots of time with antiX-23 beta2. Since anticapitalista is considering that the full version may come with pipewire installed and enabled, out of the box, I’ll assume that will happen in the final version (the other option is installing pipewire from Package Installer, uncomment the pipewire related line from the startup file and rebooting/restarting).
      I’ll try to give a first time reviewer’s point of view:

      There are lots of antiX distros out there, but if you search for the lightest distro, that you can run a very old and/or extremely under-powered computers, antiX is mentioned many times, all over the web, so I’ll test it.
      -The iso is relatively small, and can be downloaded from the distro’s homepage, over at http://antixlinux.com/
      The home page looks spartan, something out of the late 90’s, early 00’s… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it’s easy to read, the huge “download” button is right there, easy to click (that does not happen on some distro’s homepages), but the presentation video they have on the start page is for a very old version (19!).
      -They have many iso’s to download. Seriously! 16 isos to choose from?… But the first couple of paragraphs of the download page make clear that they have 2 versions of every iso, because they still offer 32bits support! Nice. You can try to install antiX on that old 32bits laptop that you use as a door stopper…
      They also explain that the full 64bits versions should be installed… But why 2 system inits? A bit more of reading, and ok, the “default” is the sysv init system, so I’ll stick with that…

      The iso downloaded in about 5 minutes, using a nearby server.

      Now the step that most “normie” computer users have problems with- saving the iso to a pen drive (the download page recommends how to do that), and booting from the newly created boot pen-drive (fortunately all I had to do was press f12 during the boot process of my computer and select to boo from the usb device, but your experience may differ)
      …And 2 menus, and I have to select the language for each of those menus? Hum… not a good start…
      But antiX booted in just a few seconds, even from an USB 2 device?
      I was half expecting to see a system with a terminal window open… I was greeted with something that looks like a dark KDE theme, very Windows like- a toolbar on the bottom, with several quick launchers and a start menu, a system tray with many strange black squares (that I quickly figured display system info) and a clock.
      The wallpaper is original and looks great. I have desktop icons, but no Trash icon. The desktop also shows some kind of Resource indicator that seems it’s straight from a 90’s hacker movie, with way too much info and graphs? Graphs? Really?
      – Setting up wi-fi was a breeze, but… why is the window used to enter the password so small? I almost missed the “ok” button, to accept the password, it was only parly shown, and I had to use the slider to see the button. Not a good start!!!

      After setting up wifi, the first thing I did was clicking the menu. I’ve heard the antix menu was a convoluted mess. If it was that way in the past, I think that’s no longer true. Yes, it is peculiar and has some unusual entries. In the top it’s the usual “Search” feature. But I quickly noticed that, if I typed, nothing was searched, it just highlighted menu entries? So I tried clicking the Magnifying glass… Oh, I see now, the menu has no search feature, so it uses an external program for that… Hum… it shows a bit too much info for my taste, but allows to search for app name or description and… What’s that hamburger menu? It allows to send the icon of the app I select to the desktop, to the toolbar or to something called Personal Menu? Nice. The menu looks a bit dated, but I tested, and I was able to create a quick launcher for firefox on the toolbar instantly. Nice.
      I’ll get to the browser in a moment, lets explore the menu a bit further: After the search feature, it has some generic apps (like File Manager and Web Browser), an Applications menu, that shows all my apps, organized in categories (hum, most menus show those categories on the first level, but, ok), a “refresh” menu? Why?… Personal Menu? Lets check that out. It ha only an entry. After clicking it, I realize that “Personal Menu” is antiX lingo for “Pinned Apps”- I can place my most used apps here. Hum… why not near the other apps, pinned to the first layer of the menu?
      …Recent files… that weirdly show another submenu…
      … Desktops… hum… too confusing, I won’t mess with that for not. It seems to toogle on/off a few features (that I do not recognize), and allow to select other interfaces.
      … a menu entry to force close Windows? Do they expect antiX to crash apps so much that it needs that option straight in the first layer of the menu?
      … Control Centre. Hum… It’s just what it says. It allows me to change stuff like the wallpaper (It has a few more, I liked the default one best), setup a printer, install NVIDIA drivers… nice and clean interface, but the network tab is a bit confusing- so many network options? where do I click to get that window where I configured my wifi, if I need to configure another network?
      … A “Run” menu entry? Ok, it’s an old school application launcher, so I don’t have to fire up a terminal to run a command line app. Ok, I guess…
      … “Settings”? Wasn’t all that in Control Centre? Wow, strange, some very weird entries, but it also allows me to change the way the system looks. Why is not all that just in Control Centre?
      …and finally a usual looking “power” button to turn off the computer, log off, suspend it.

      The menu has it’s peculiarities, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

      Let’s check the file manager…
      Hum. It’s a usual looking one, with bookmarks, trash… ok, not so bad. I read on-line that antiX had a very strange looking file manager. This looks just like all other FM’s I’m used to.

      Let’s open firefox. It plays YouTube, no sound problems. Nice. Hum… In the “about” section, I see it’s not really firefox, but firefox-esr. At least it’s localized in my language and works fast.
      Let’s open up the Word Processor. Hum. It opens about as fast as I’m used to. Wait… Isn’t this running from a live USB pendrive? And everything opens this fast? Hum… I’m getting impressed now.

      Let’s checkout the appstore icon from the toolbar. Hum. A bit plain looking. Just text, no icons? Hum… lots of browsers there. And a tab to access the repos? Hum. I guess this thing as GUI way to install just about everything that’s in Debian’s Repositories and then some… I think that makes up for the ugly looking interface.
      What’s the icon next to the appstore? “Updater”? Doesn’t this thing update automatically? I guess not. Let’s click it. Hum. A simple GUI. And wow, a Terminal?… False alarm, the terminal closed instantly, it was just showing what the system was updating. Not very modern looking, but efficient. It updated very fast, no reboot necessary, and the system kept working normally during the process. Not too sure if it’s a smart idea, not updating automatically.
      On final test. Opening the terminal… does this thing have htop installed? It does. What… the.. I opened and closed the office suite, the internet browser and it’s not even using 200Mb of RAM? 0 CPU usage, on this dual core? I guess this even runs on my toaster!
      It’s extremely fast, even running from a pendrive, it looks polished and modern, most of the time, runs (and I really mean runs) on the crappiest hardware I could find, is Debian based, and the only time I saw the terminal was during the update process, and I did not even have to interact with it- not ideal for newbies, but not that scary too.

      Overall, It has some usability glitches (like the wifi window and having to update manually), but I can even recommend it to a Granny that just wants to check out her social network to see pictures of her grandsons, as long as someone helps her set the system up…

      P.

      • This topic was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by PPC.
      • This topic was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by PPC.
      • This topic was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by PPC.
      #109590
      Member
      Xunzi_23

        Hi PPC, seems you have some time to spare, nice post.

        #109635
        Member
        PPC

          Not exactly “time to spare”, Xunzi, but I love the fact that this will probably be the best antiX version ever- in terms of features, usability, looks and without any relevant impact on the use of resources (I do think that pipewire is worth the extra 8Mb or so or idle RAM, if it solves all audio problems on antiX, and it can be easily disabled from a GUI, if the user does not want to use it, and wishes to free those extra resources, but risk not having audio out of the box on some third party apps)

          I wrote the post on a Sunday, because, unfortunately, I did not have my daughter with me… I corrected a few points and posted it on Monday.

          I thought it was a nice way to show, in a simple way, the many strong points antiX-23 already has, and the few weaker points (and I mean, really few). Sometimes we get so used to using something that we forget how it is, getting to use that for the very first time. I can say that antiX-23 is, out of the box, has the best looks vs Resources usage in any OS I know, and is one of the better looking ones, without any unneeded extras (but it even has a compositor included out of the box, that can enable visual effects like fading, shadows and transparency- but it is not enabled by default and has no GUI to enable).
          My dream is suggesting antiX for use on all Portuguese state run computers- instead of depending on paid software. I’m 99.99% sure it would work fine on all thousands of computers. The only possible problem would be, eventually the old, professional printers, often with several trays…

          P.

          #109638
          Member
          Xunzi_23

            Hi PPC,
            I also thing antiX 23at present beta is a fantastic out of the box experience.

            Regarding running on state computers I wish that change EU wide. Trouble is we are unable to forget
            suitcases or sacks full of monetary persuasion in important offices.

            Cups will drive most printers, that includes many big ones, we must not forget organizations like Amazon are
            almost entirely linux driven, even to the point of having an internal distro. Google is linux powered too and
            android loosly based on it.

            Do get as much time with your daughter as possible, most sweet young ladies seem to turn to grasping dragons
            as they get older. Only thing I get is trouble about dragon wanting ever more money these days.

            #109639
            Moderator
            Brian Masinick

              Regarding “… the many strong points antiX-23 already has, and the few weaker points (and I mean, really few)..”
              I offer my opinion:

              Many Linux distributions offer useful software, and they also provide a variety of approaches, each suitable to particular audiences.
              Take the Ubuntu varieties, for example. While they are not my particular distribution of choice, what they do offer for the “consumer”,
              who is looking for a system to use that is minimally intrusive, doesn’t require much maintenance, has a familiar look and feel, and
              generally works. That’s not what *I* personally need, but it probably describes one of the largest segments of people.

              Then there’s MX Linux – a full featured, no frills, reasonably moderate system. Other than antiX, this is probably the most practical
              distribution out there, but it’s now more than I need.

              Debian, of course, is one of the distributions I look at for a huge selection of software, and multiple repositories, so I can choose between stable, which are rock solid pieces of software that rarely contain serious defects, and a range of testing distributions that are also actually stable software, but possibly not the correct or most optimal packaging of package collections and dependent packages (whereas Stable has “resolved” those matters).

              Another one that’s caught my interest because I can find really current software (similar to Debian Sid or siduction) with an efficient packaging scheme – that’s the Endeavour OS and it’s yay package manager.

              Finally, there’s antiX – it’s the first long lasting distribution I found that allows me to start with a very lean, simple system and add to it as I see fit. Only ancient distributions like Feather Linux and Morphix had a small, live setup, but neither of these survived, nor did they have the flexibility to run as many different ways as antiX, so that’s a huge statement in and of itself.

              Also – and I’ve written about this before – you can create what you want with antiX. Many years ago I created my own Xfce lean desktop variation of antiX using the Core package and the Sid repositories. I had a second version of a current antiX release at that time; I’m not sure if it was packaged this way or not, but I had it set up to use Testing, and I had a version of Simply MEPIS so I’d always have a basic, stable distribution; those three together made a great combination, plus I had sidux – now siduction – where I could experiment and try to break the system. [By the way, that took a LOT, and it took multiple years to even get it to “act up”; I *finally* broke it when I was able to mess up the networking stack; that makes it impossible to upgrade, and if you can’t connect to the Internet, at that point you reinstall. Anyway, that proved they were all pretty solid and it took deliberate, even STUPID changes to create anything that broke!

              Fast forward to today; there is little reason to use anything other than antiX except for hobbyists who still like to experiment; in that case it can be educational and creative to go up and down the DistroWatch list of distributions, trying various distributions.

              --
              Brian Masinick

              #109649
              Member
              blur13

                I’ll try to give a first time reviewer’s point of view:

                You can try, but given all the work and effort you have put into improving antiX, I’d say you’re probably a bit biased ;)

                #109650
                Moderator
                Brian Masinick

                  I’ll try to give a first time reviewer’s point of view:

                  You can try, but given all the work and effort you have put into improving antiX, I’d say you’re probably a bit biased ????

                  I’m more than a bit biased but I have solid reasons for my bias.

                  The only distributions still in existence that I can think of that have a similar view of reasonably small and efficient distribution I can think of are Puppy Linux and Absolute Linux.

                  Both of them have solid use cases and followers. Though they are good at what they do, neither of them do what we do. We have a set-up for running Live, installable and the other two may be able to claim similar features and their own interesting twists. Absolute Linux regularly has provided images that can be installed and used, period. When a new one is available, install it and use it immediately, Definitely different but also an interesting approach.

                  Puppy has an infrastructure suitable for building different Puppy images, different “Puppy dogs” so to speak. We have our own flavor of this.

                  What we offer that they don’t – at least I’ve not seen it, is a variety of techniques to save and access a persistent state – Frugal, Static as well as installation capabilities. This, in addition to the lean efficient choice of default tools and applications provides our distinct distribution.

                  --
                  Brian Masinick

                  #109852
                  Member
                  PPC

                    On this Review, I forgot to mention something that may stump ex Windows users – not only the update process does not render your computer useless, and also does not reboot it, but updating antiX may even end up saving you disk space. Yes, strange but true. This example is from today, on antiX-23, beta2:

                    – There are 7 packages to update. That implies a download of 2296 kB, and that will save 29,7 kB of disk space. Yes, you read it, “save… disk space”. It’s a “what the hell” moment, reading that for the first time.

                    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by PPC.
                    #109855
                    Member
                    Xunzi_23

                      What seems to amaze a friend of mine most is he tells the computer what to do and when.
                      Plus how cleanly and fast updates are installed.

                      Not so very long ago he wanted to fill out some important forms. Wondoze told him it is updating,
                      the process took more than 5 hours with the system restarting a number of times and messing up
                      multiboot.

                      Running the antiX 23 Beta live amazes pretty much everyone I show it too.

                      #111241
                      Member
                      PPC

                        I test other distros on-line sometimes. Since all reviewers I follow on Youtube said that Debian latest version is the best version ever, in terms of usability and hardware compatibility, some even suggesting there is no need to recommend Ubuntu or Mint to newbies, since Debian is now so easy to install and use, I tried it out, the KDE version, to be more precise.
                        It looks great. The KDE menu is configured to use some kind of tabs, that took a moment to get used to- so not very friendly for people coming from other OSes…
                        Why do I comment on Debian KDE on a thread dedicated to Review antiX-23?

                        Easy: because I’m comparing antiX to it’s parent distro- and I find that, in what concerns the default look and feel, wallpaper and menu system, antiX is perhaps even better than Debian KDE – at the least as easy to use, just different…
                        New antiX users require only some pieces of knowledge – “Personal Menu” is antiX talk for “Favorite apps”, “Recent files” works (for now) in a very peculiar way (and some apps do not place the files they use on the recent files list)… “Applications”, shows a list ordered by categories of (almost) all apps installed in the system. Adding (or removing) apps to the Favorite list/Personal menu, the toolbar or the desktop can be done from app-select (the file searcher “thingie” on the top of the menu). Once you have those pieces of information, using and making antix fit more to your workflow is extremely easy. No config files to edit, nothing, just search for apps and select what you want to do with that app (where you want to place it).
                        Changing wallpapers or the “App store/software store” may not be shinny and full of previews… But hey: antiX already looks great, I think you will not have problems adjusting to a text only Store, or having to perform a couple more of clicks to preview wallpaper images…
                        My point- antiX-23 has great usability, as long as you learn to use the “menu magnifying glass” entry- that app’s name is self descriptive: app-select…

                        P.

                        #111242
                        Moderator
                        Brian Masinick

                          I know that our antiX 23 Beta 2 is NOT the final edition, and anticapitalista has asked us all to be patient, because he has quite a few variations to build – Net, Core, Base, and Full, plus each of those have AT LEAST sysvinit and runit variations. In order to ensure everything is complete, in “The right place”, and well tested, this takes time and, oh yes, anticapitalista also is employed at a job!

                          I’m really glad we have a lot of appreciative people here and also people who have provided both praise and helpful, constructive comments to contribute to an ever improving, updated, relevant set of lean, effective, efficient set of tools and applications on a very well designed software platform. I’m happy with the testing process; I’ll also be elated when it’s all complete and we can share it with our friends. Keep the faith, keep patient, remain calm, yet eager! Best wishes to all!

                          --
                          Brian Masinick

                          #112057
                          Member
                          PPC

                            During my coffee break, I tried out Debian 12 lxde – probably the lightest official flavour – hum… when compared to antiX, it does not look as polished. For example- there was no “Search” Feature that I could find, on the menu. There was no direct way to launch the terminal, I had to search for it.
                            Strangely enough, the default theme is quite similar to the default antiX-23b2 theme, so at first glance they look similar.
                            In my virtual test, Debian 12 lxde, used about 600MB of idle RAM (running the free command on a terminal window). Closing several system tray apps brought this down to less than 540MB. It’s about the double of what antiX-23 uses, with all possible bells and whistles – like loading dunst for system notifications, the compositor enabled and pipewire running, clipit (to manage the clipboard), etc.
                            Sure that someone used to antiX knows where to find everything… but the fact that the menu has easy to run a search for apps or the terminal makes it easy to use for both newbies and advanced users…

                            I think it’s fair to say that I’m comparing Apples to Apples here (pun intended, “Apple”, you see?) and this tiny little known OS comes out on the top of the pile…

                            Edit: I did have time to squeeze in a test of Mint 21 Mate. It looks a bit more usable than Debian 12 lxde – it has a searchble menu, with lots of options, but a bit confusing at first (it looks very similar but a bit more crowded to antiX FT10’s “categories” menu). It does, like antiX, have a fast way to start the terminal – straight from the toolbar.
                            It uses quite a bit less RAM than Debian lxde – way less than 500Mb – 452Mb with the terminal open, running the “free” command. It has intuitive ways to add applications to the toolbar or the desktop (and also… to the startup? Why didn’t I ever think of that one? sure, it’s a bit dangerous, making it that easy- users can add lots of stuff to the startup and then, surprise, surprise, it all loads the next time they log-in, taking lots of time and resources). Probably Mint Mate is as good looking as antiX-23, has a slightly more functional, but also more confusing menu, it has more intuive ways to add/remove apps to the toolbar, desktop or Favorites. Yeah… Most people take a lot of time to figure out that “Personal Menu” is antiX lingo for “Favourite Apps”.

                            P.

                            • This reply was modified 1 year ago by PPC.
                            #112060
                            Moderator
                            Brian Masinick

                              @PPC I’m not sure if it’s possible with the current version of Debian 12 to install without a desktop environment, but it is certainly possible to add window managers and login with them; that would give you a slightly closer comparison between antiX and Debian.

                              Without a doubt, comparing Debian to most desktop distributions it’s going to come out “behind” them in most categories except overall stability. However, configured correctly, it has plenty of good stuff in it; clearly antiX owes a lot to Debian, in spite of the fact that antiX uses a different default init and it’s own custom collection of tools.

                              You can find similar shortages when you compare desktop versions derived from most of the other primary feeding distributions, because the majority of the large distributions are very much focused on an optimal server performance. Red Hat is an even better example. Like them or not, they provide enterprises with a well-supported server environment at the expense of virtually everything else; they are one of the clumsiest, inefficient desktop Linux distributions I’ve ever used, but their server configurations are equally solid; I’ve used only Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) when I’ve been fortunate to use Linux in a job.

                              SUSE arguably does the best job of any large distribution in providing a usable desktop; even theirs can be easily improved upon by desktop centric efforts, once again because servers are their primary focal point.

                              Our antiX deserves high marks in the desktop area; you could reverse the conversation and say it’s not as strong as a server; it supports one primary architecture, and it can be reconfigured as a server, but that is not where it is optimal. I do believe that antiX is, and should be very highly rated in what it does well – provides a lightweight live, bootable image that can be easily saved in a persistent state; there are only a handful of systems that come configured to do this, and it also has a very quick, easy way to install an efficient graphical user interface environment.

                              --
                              Brian Masinick

                              #114847
                              Member
                              wildstar84

                                I got antiX running pretty lean & mean on my desktops AND my custom router too! ;) See: http://wildstar84.wordpress.com/2021/10/12/how-to-create-linux-router-from-a-mini-pc/

                                Guess I could say that I’m an all-antiX shop (except for my wife who insists in still running Winblows on her boxen)!

                                #114849
                                Member
                                Xunzi_23

                                  I was given a Printer from Canon, IP5200, its old but was never used. antiX 23 recognized it and I could setup
                                  very quickly then after setting some options print a test page. TOP…

                                  My daughter needed a printer, she is forced by the university to use windoze 10.
                                  We plugged in, switched on, nothing happened. Her boyfriend who is used to ms doze took over. Win 10 includes no
                                  printer drivers.
                                  Fail 1

                                  End story, the printer will not work natively with win 10. On searching for a driver we got a page from canon telling
                                  us we should buy a new printer from their collection of supported devices.
                                  Total Fail 2.

                                  Winner for sure antiX
                                  We will have to be run antiX live as a printing service. Continue to highlight wdoze as unfit for purpose on students
                                  devices.

                                  We will Never Ever buy anything from Canon, including cameras and for printers also HP who follow with same rotten policy.

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