Sunday, February 12, 2012


Well, today I installed a new distro, called Semplice Linux 2.0.1 ("emily"), on my notebook. It's based on Debian Unstable, and comes with the Openbox window manager. This one originates from Italy.

2.0.1 dates from only January 20th. There's a pre-release available at the download page for the 3.0 Alpha 1, but I decided not to go for that. I chose the 32-bit .iso, but there's a 64-bit available.

In all the time I've been using Debian and Debian-based distros, I've stayed away from the Testing and Unstable branches. I've also stayed away from distros from places where English isn't the native language, with forums and documentation in mind.

But, something about this one attracted me. Maybe it was because I like Openbox. Maybe because Semplice is practically a brand new distro. I took a look at the forums, and what little documentation was out there, and it looked like there's enough support for an English speaker, so I decided to download the .iso.

I burned it onto a CD instead of to a flash drive. I booted into it, and it worked fine with my notebook. So, I decided to go ahead with the installation. Had nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon (well, I did, but...).

The installer was all text, but it was really easy. It seemed like one of the easiest installations I've done, and one of the quickest. Proves that there's no reason a text installer has to be difficult.

Let's see. Semplice, by default, comes with the Chromium web browser, the PCManFM file manager, and Gnumeric and AbiWord instead of LibreOffice. Openbox doesn't come with a panel, so they included the tint2 panel. And it comes with Synaptic.

And, one thing I haven't seen outside of the Ubuntu world (which includes Linux Mint), they use sudo by default instead of su, so there's only one password and the root account is disabled by default, like in Ubuntu.

The default desktop is plain. You right-click on the desktop for the menu, but other than the panel, there's nothing there.

I'm cool with that. I don't like desktop icons or any other type of clutter on my desktop.

I checked out the default repos. In /etc/apt/sources.list: unstable main contrib non-free

And in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/semplice.list:

deb emily main non-free

deb-src emily main non-free

I disabled the deb-src repo, as I won't be needing that.

I went to Synaptic to get the upgrades, and found 240 of them. Not surprising. I brought 'em all in, rebooted, and got down to exploring the system a little bit.

The distro ships with a few Xfce packages, like mousepad, xfburn, xfce4-power-manager, and xfce4-screenshooter. There's no pager for switching workspaces, but I found three other ways to do that -- by scrolling with the mouse wheel; ctrl+alt+(left or right) arrow key; or, by getting to a different desktop via the main menu, under "Desktops." The default terminal emulator is ROXTerm 1.22.2; I also found UXTerm and XTerm. It came with Exaile and GNOME MPlayer.

I haven't used PCManFM much in the past, but it seems like a nice file manager. I'd like some split-screen capability, but it has tabs -- very helpful.

I was happy to see that root access to files and folders was nicely built-in; in PCManFM, there's an option under Tools to "Open Current Folder as Root," and there's a root terminal in Semplice's main menu under Applications > Accessories.

By no means am I intending for this to be a distro review; if I did reviews, I certainly wouldn't do them on the first day after doing an installation. And I won't take the time to go through and test the various apps and to look for hardware issues (for example, I don't even use wireless, and I haven't tried using a printer with this installation).

It does look like a nice distro, though. I'd prefer to find something like this based on Debian Stable, but it'll be good for me to see how things go with something based on Sid. Should be interesting.

The Semplice home page:

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