Monday, 7 June 2010

Dream turns to nightmare

I have been looking around for a Debian/Ubuntu based distro since Ubuntu has started moving in a direction I don't like; away from the community. I always like to have a Debian based distro as so many new apps come out as deb packages and source code, so testing new apps is a bit easier on a Debian based system.

I am also a fan of the Gnome desktop, after trying out Mepis (I couldn't get used to KDE and the sound bugs) I decided to try out Dreamlinux 3.5 Gnome.

I had seen this before in distro reviews and heard quite a mixed bag. I personally always thought that it looked like a well set out distro. Upon starting the live CD, no option for straight installation, I was greeted with the purple background, dock with nice icons and animation and the standard Gnome menu at the top. I selected the install icon and was met with a single window, this included all the information needed for the install to commence, a very nice, user friendly touch.

On install and booting up Dreamlinux 3.5 the screen came up with exactly what the live CD, this included the install icons, very odd to try and install a distro that is already on a hard drive partition, look at the screenshot below and you will understand:

As the internet access on the dock was a compass I decided to give it a try, Firefox loaded up but was unable to display the web page. Very odd given that I have a wired ethernet connection, this has never happened with a Linux distro before. It kept on telling me that there were no wireless networks within range: I don't have a wireless card or USB dongle in my machine!!!!

The sound was also an issue, I have the Sound blaster Audigy PCI card, not a rare or uncommon card. After tweeking some settings I was able to get sound, but not the quality I was happy with. The graphics card needed a driver download (NVIDIA 6200) however as I struggled to get the internet connection working I was never able to get the card working.

Without a working internet connection, after a couple of hours I gave up on Dreamlinux. They have developed a very nice looking distro, there is potential. Being Debian based it should be stable, however the wrinkles in the system need to be ironed out before I would try this again.


  1. I know a handful of people had trouble with Dreamlinux. However, a quick trip to the Dreamlinux forums would probably solve your issues. Some NICs get detected wrong and a simple change from eth0 to eth1 in WICD (or vice-versa) usually solves it. There is also the fix posted in the forums for the Live CD icons still showing after install.

    I think a little more effort on your part would have resulted in a better experience and review...

  2. I went to the Dreamlinux forums and after waiting a day still didn't get my application accepted. I test a distro a week so I'm not going to persevere with a distro that caused me this many problems in the first two hours, yes I did try switching from eth0 to eth1 and still had no success. As for the icons, what's wrong with simply pressing delete, I am not going to trawl forums to remove a desktop icon.

    I'm not a newbie; I use Gentoo as my day to day distro of choice. I don't mind work, I like custom builds. But when a pre-built distro comes with this many problems I am choosing not to persevere. The plain and simple end is that this distro needs to become more user friendly in the initial setup, this may be a key reason as to why it is not higher up in the Distrowatch ratings, has potential but is not there yet.

  3. Well, I was not aware that the forums had switched to "Admin approval." Seems like I would have been told, since I'm on the development team! Anyways, you don't need to be a member to read through the solutions on the forums. As for deleting the icons, IIRC, they will come back with each reboot. There are files that have to be deleted...I forget where, maybe etc/skel? I left the Dreamlinux team last year, and just recently came back so my memory is not back up to speed yet. :)

    While a handful (like you) had several problems...most of which are easily fixed, the majority of Dreamlinux users found the distro worked great. To be fair, Dreamlinux was in the top 10 on Distrowatch in the past. It has since gone way down, due to issues with the dev team. However, I don't take much stock in Distrowatch ratings.

    Dreamlinux isn't for everyone, I get that. Most have found it an enjoyable experience. A few have not. It happens...with any distro. My problem is reviews trashing (any) distro without providing any useful details about the issues and what was done to attempt solving it.

  4. At the end of the day I'm not trashing any distro; I can only base a review on my personal experience. I have tried list both positive (installer interface, well laid out, looks nice) along with the negative points.

    I asked my neighbour to give this a try (he used the same disk) and he met with very similar problem, so clearly my issues were not isolated.

    The sad fact is that without a working network connection you are limited to what you can do with a system and the information you can obtain. I have given my thoughts on my experience, of course these will differ from user to user.

  5. I wasn't suggesting your issues were isolated, but that they are easily fixed 99% of the time. I understand reviews based on personal experiences, but "I" read yours as, "I put the disc in and it didn't work, therefor it's crap." Of course, I could have interpreted it wrong.

    As Rich suggested, I would try a new disc/burn and verify MD5SUM. Your neighbor used "the same disc" and a bad disc/burn has caused problems before.