Monday, October 23, 2006

CentOS Live CD

I've mentioned in previous posts how I've been favorably impressed with CentOS as a server OS. Last night I decided to take it for a spin as a desktop OS, using their new live CD.

My test box was Bagend, my Althon XP 2200+ system, which normally runs XP Professional. By today's standards it's a modest system -- 1 GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon 9200SE video card, and an 80 GB ATA-133 hard disk. I booted from the CD and let it autodetect everything but when it tried to start X, the screen went black. CTRL-ALT-DEL had no effect so I used the system reset button. Upon reooting, this time I specified that it use the VESA video drive, which worked fine, bringing me to the CentOS graphical logon screen.

Networking came up fine using DHCP.

Unlike Knoppix, the CentOS live CD requires you to set a password for "centos_user," which is the same as the root password. For this kind of a system this is unnecessary, IMO. Once logged in, I was presented with the standard GNOME dekstop. It's surprisingly responsive and includes both Firefox and Konqueror in the Applications menu. Both worked well, but what really shocked me was just how responsive Firefox was. It seemed to run better off the live CD than it does in a hard drive install in XP. Konq was set up nicely and rendered the few pages I went to well. Flash wasn't installed so a couple of pages I went to didn't work, including trying to view a Youtube video.

Gaim is included for IM and worked just as well on the live CD as on any other platform that I've used it. is included, although live CDs are best used for demo systems or recovery CDs, rather than as a regular desktop OS.

GParted is included for partition management, and ClamAV is present for disinfecting Windows partitions. (I didn't try out either, although I may give ClamAV a whirl just to see how usable the CentOS CD would be for a system recovery tool.)

I briefly logged in with KDE and found it similar to most other KDE setups.

The CentOS Live CD is worth trying if you're in the market for a live CD for demonstrating Linux or for use as a recovery disc.

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