Originally Published: Sunday, 23 January 2000 Author: Paul Gray
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

LUG Reviews Demo copy of Storm Linux

Stormix Technologies, Inc. really caught my eye with their ads in Linux Journal. "A storm is coming. It's time to close the Windows(tm)" was their slogan. Eye-popping graphics made it an all-around an enticing ad. Having ads in the LJ before even the beta distributions were made available added to my anticipation of the debut of Storm Linux as well.

Storm Linux is a distribution based upon Debian. I've tried the Debian installation in the past, and it seems as if Stormix addressed many of my complaints about the Debian installation process. They've added a nice GUI installation, backed by a Text-mode installation that I found myself falling back upon in several early instances. I've seen some criticisms in the news groups and list-serves about the choices and features offered during the installation, but compared to to other Debian installations, these criticisms are really unjustified.


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Stormix Technologies, Inc. really caught my eye with their ads in Linux Journal. "A storm is coming. It's time to close the Windows(tm)" was their slogan. Eye-popping graphics made it an all-around an enticing ad. Having ads in the LJ before even the beta distributions were made available added to my anticipation of the debut of Storm Linux as well.

Storm Linux is a distribution based upon Debian. I've tried the Debian installation in the past, and it seems as if Stormix addressed many of my complaints about the Debian installation process. They've added a nice GUI installation, backed by a Text-mode installation that I found myself falling back upon in several early instances. I've seen some criticisms in the news groups and list-serves about the choices and features offered during the installation, but compared to to other Debian installations, these criticisms are really unjustified.

I jumped in on the very first beta distributions of Storm Linux with mixed results. With the beta-3 release, I was able to get a nice installation on my Gateway Solo 2500, only to find that laptops were really not supported (no PCMCIA, for example). However, I was not able to get an installation through to completion on my dual Celeron based ABit BP6 motherboard with an Adaptec 3950U2 SCSI adapter until the premier release of Storm Linux in December. The installation hung at the final stage of the installation with little indication as to why.

There were quite a few bugs in the beta releases, such as failure to support SCSI devices, unrecognized chipsets, etc. However, bug reports that I sent in with this information met with a swift addressing of the problem. For example, the very next distribution after reporting the problem, the installation picked up my card and chipset (a very common Intel i740 chipset from Jaton) without a problem. The folks at Stormix continue to amaze me as to the swift squashing of bugs.

At the present, I'm working with the January 4 release of Storm Linux's "Rain" distribution. Clearly, this distribution is "ready-for-prime-time." Having installed it on many different boxes, only minor glitches arise -- most of which can be finagled away enough to get a solid installation.

Storm's major contribution to the Debian format is the Storm Administration System (SAS). SAS is a lightweight administration tool for configuring networking, users, etc. The SAS is very intuitive to use, and lessens the learning curve for those who might be a little too used to the way that RedHat does things. If you're totally new to Linux, the SAS fits in to rather nicely to sys-admin duties.

There's also a Debian package manager from Stormix included. If you're used to gnorpm or kpackage, the "Storm Package Manager" is just as intuitive. However, several "features" you'll have to guess at, as on-line help is not yet available from the "Help" menu (the "help" option is there, but clicking on it does nothing). For those (like myself) more command-line oriented, you may want to opt for "dpkg" instead, which makes for easy, interactive installation of ".deb" packages.

All-in-all, as I've watched the evolution of the distribution grow from the earliest beta release now through the official distribution and quickly-released patches sinceThere's also a Debian package manager from Stormix included. If you're used to gnorpm or kpackage, the "Storm Package Manager" is just as intuitive. However, several "features" you'll have to guess at, as on-line help is not yet available from the "Help" menu (the "help" option is there, but clicking on it does nothing). For those (like myself) more command-line oriented, you may want to opt for "dpkg" instead, which makes for easy, interactive installation of ".deb" packages.

All-in-all, as I've watched the evolution of the distribution grow from the earliest beta release now through the official distribution and quickly-released patches since, I must say that Storm Linux is a serious distribution. The Stormix group is on top of every little detail and appears that they have the desire to put out the best distribution possible. I'd say that they have it precisely right when they say "A Storm is coming. It's time to close the Windows(tm)."

This review was completed by Paul Gray, the Faculty Advisor for Cedar Valley Linux Users' Group at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. If you are a vendor, and would like your demo product that you're providing LUGs reviewed, please contact Kara Pritchard. If you're a LUG who has done a review on a demo product that was given to you for review by a vendor, and would like your review posted on linux.com, please let us know as well.





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