Vector Linux review

After a very busy month, I finally had some free time to try Vector Linux, a distro that a facebook friend told me to take a look at. For those of you that dont know, Vector Linux is a distro that has been around for quite a long time. It is based on Slackware, with Xcfe, KDE and LXDE as the available desktop environments. According to the official website, the aim of Vector is to keep the distro simple and small and let the end user decide what their operating system is going to be.

Download and first impressions

The download page of Vector Linux will remind you of Windows, there are several editions for you to download. The standard edition uses Xcfe, the Light edition uses LXDE and the SOHO one uses KDE. I decided to download the standard live edition, there is no torrent download option though. The size of the ISO file is over 700 MB, exceeding the size of a CD so you will need either a DVD or a USB to try and install Vector.

As usual, I used Unetbootin to create the live USB. The live USB booted fine and fast and below is the screenshot of  the live desktop of Vector Linux:

Vector Linux review

You can test Vector Linux on live mode just like other distros. However, unlike most other distro, there is no install icon on the live desktop of Vector Linux. To install Vector, you will need to open the menu, then go to System and you will see the "Install VL" option to install Vector Linux.

Review Vector Linux

Installation

The installation process of Vector Linux seems to me quite complicated with many redundant steps.

First of all, after I clicked on the "Install VL" option, a dialog box will appear to ask for the root password of the live CD:


However, the default password isnt set so you can just hit "OK" without typing anything to move to the next step:


I clicked Yes to proceed the installing. The next step is to do the partitioning:


If you need to edit the partitions in your hard drive, just click "Yes" to launch Gparted. If your hard drive is ok to go, click "No" and you will move to the next step to create user(s) and set the passwords for the user and root accounts.


I of course clicked "Yes" to create my user account and password. But this is really the most annoying step in my opinion. When I chose to create the user account, I was asked to provide redundant info like my real name (????) , user ID and choose what group to add the user account into:



The buttons of the installer are very confusing as well. When asked to choose the groups to add my user into, I couldnt tell which button means check and which one means uncheck, so I accidentally unchecked all the groups and get an error and had to do the add user step once again:


After that, you will be asked to confirm the user settings once more and then set the password.

The next step is about setting the time and date:



After finishing the time and date settings, you will be asked to configure the hardware initializations. I seriously dont know several options such as "pnp". I was too lazy to do some searching about these options so I just checked everything then.


The next step was even more confusing, it asked me to select a run level. I chose the "Graphic interface user desktop" because it sounded reasonable to me:


In the next step, I was asked if I wanted to install Live Tools. I of course clicked "No":


After all these minor steps, the next one will be about the actual installing. You will be asked to select the partition to install Vector Linux on:


After that, the actual installing process began. It didnt take much time to finish:


The next step is about installing the boot loader. Remember to install it on the drive instead of a partition:


And voila, everything is done. You will be ask to reboot the computer then. The boot screen of Vector Linux is pretty cool in my opinion, it has a dark background with the Vector Linux logo. It also displays the status of the modules and deamons of your computer.

The desktop

The default desktop of Vector Linux is quite similar to that of DreamLinux - a Debian based distro that also uses Xcfe. On the top, there is a panel in the center. Comparing to DreamLinux, the top panel of Vector looks busier with more icons. It is also auto-expanding, if you open new applications, the panel will expand to both horizontal ends of the screen.


Similarly, when DreamLinux uses the Plank dock at the bottom of the screen, CairoDock is the choice of VectorLinux. On the CairoDock, there are several basic applications. The Cairo Dock has some eyecandy effects, the icons enlarge as you hover the mouse over them and display options when available. There is also a weather gadget which, when connected to the internet, shows the current weather of Vancouver - Canada by default.

The default desktop is totally identical to the live desktop. There are several icons on the dark bluish background, one for the home folder shortcut, some icons for the mounted devices and partitions and the other icons for the Vector tutorial and documents.

Thunar is the file manager of Vector. There is only one shortcut folder for the desktop. The default GTK is quite simple and monotonic in my opinion.

The default applications

Comparing to DreamLinux, Vector is more conventional about the pre-installed applications. With the aim to be simple, Vector provide to users some very basic applications by default.

Firefox is the default web browser, however the version is only 8.0.1. Adobe flash is installed by default so when you click on the icons on the desktop to open the Vector wiki pages, you can watch the instruction videos right out of the box.

For communicating, Pidgin and Xchat are two default options in Vector.

For graphic use, you will have GIMP, InkScape and Shotwell. All these three apps can be accessed from the rainbow square icon on the Cairo dock.

For multimedia, Exaile is the default music player. Gnome Mplayer and Mplayer are also included.

For office use, you will have the light-weight Abiword. The tool to read pdf files is ePDFviewer.

One thing I really love about Vector Linux is that AiksaurusGTK , a thesaurus for English, is installed by default.

AiksaurusGTK
Vector Linux also includes several tools for developers such as CMake, Epydoc and Geany.

Comparing to DreamLinux, the Xcfe menu of Vector is more intuitive and organized. It has more columns for application categories, thus its easier to find installed softwares:

 Xcfe menu of Vector Linux
Since Vector is based on Slackware , you can use Slapt-get and Gslapt to install/uninstall applications. Gslapt looks really similar to Synaptic Manager of Ubuntu:

Gslapt package manager
Using Slapt-get is quite similar to apt-get as well. For example, to install a new package using the command line, you can run:
 slapt-get --install package-name  

Performance

With Xcfe as the desktop environment, Vector Linux is really light and fast. At idle, it only consumes around 100MB or RAM, so you can be confident to use Vector on an old computer. I have used Vector on my desktop for over 2 days and got no problem at all.


Instead of the popular NetworkManager, Vector uses Wicd to handle the network configurations and it works really fine:


Since I installed Vector on my desktop, I dont know if Vector works well with bluetooth and the laptop function keys.

Conclusion

In my opinion, Vector Linux is a decent and worth-checking distro. The only thing I really dislike is the installation process, which is quite cumbersome and annoying. Other than that, Vector is really fast and simple just as claimed on the official website. Vector Linux also has all the necessary applications pre-installed to meet most of the basic tasks you may need to do on a computer.
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