Tuesday, May 31, 2011

antiX derivative still "Looking Good!"

Anyone who follows and reads my journal, blogs, for forum posts anywhere on the Internet, including this blog, knows that I have been a big Debian software enthusiast for many years, and that in recent years, I have developed a particular enthusiasm and attachment to two of the MEPIS projects, SimplyMEPIS (for an easy, stable desktop system) and antiX (for a light, extremely flexible, customizable, and modifiable desktop or server system).

As proof of how flexible MEPIS has been, antiX has been in existence over five years now and it has three derivatives (or "flavors") of its own, the original, "full" version, a cut down "base" version, which includes a graphical user environment and customization tools, but withholds the applications so that you can select the ones you prefer, and then there is an even more minimal approach called antiX "core", which provides the installation and configuration tools, but no graphical user environment or applications, so you completely build what you want from scratch.

In years past, some of the MEPIS Community developers have created revisions, respins, and proof of concept (PoC) builds for various environments and activities. Right when KDE 4.0 came out, for example, a community member who goes by the forum name of Danum, created special MEPIS builds for KDE 4, has created his own derivatives, and continues to guide people on building their own respun distributions, using MEPIS as a base with newer KDE desktop components.

Marcos, a few years ago, did the same, demonstrating how easy it was to build Xfce and LXDE versions with MEPIS themes and applications, but replacing the desktop, inserting either Xfce or LXDE in place of KDE.

The antiX distribution goes all the way back to 2006, is really a lot like the very first MEPIS distribution from May 2003, and it has been officially recognized and sanctioned by Warren Woodford as a supported and acceptable MEPIS derivative.

Now there is an antiX derivative. It's not officially sanctioned as far as I know, but it certainly is a nice derivative, and we've already had a few builds of it, and it's called Swift Linux. Conceived by Jason Hsu, it was originally created to support some contract work involving forensic activities, such as recovering files from old and failing systems that were using Windows. Jason had been using Puppy, but found antiX had more of the tools and applications that he wanted, overall, but Puppy had, for him, easier desktop navigation.

Therefore, as so often happens in free software, Jason took what he considered to be the best features in Puppy Linux and antiX Linux, remembered the humor in the creation of Hannah Montana Linux, which had been built as a fun exercise about a year ago by another developer, based on Ubuntu. The result: Jason created Swift Linux to be a fast, easy to use derivative of antiX and SimplyMEPIS, combining some of the best features seen in Puppy, antiX, and Ubuntu, providing a solid forensic distribution that also works great as a light, every day distribution.

Taking that humor from Hannah Montana, Jason created iCarly Swift Linux, Taylor Swift Linux, NASCAR Swift Linux, and Magnum PI Swift Linux, in addition to a standard Swift Linux and an extra light Swift Linux. This demonstrates the ease in putting themes to systems that are otherwise similar, even identical, and it also demonstrates how to add and remove features, customizing a system for particular needs.

Jason Hsu, in doing so, further builds my case at why antiX makes such a great platform for custom configurations. It isn't the only platform that can do these things; there are many out there these days, but these are some of the best examples, and they even come, not only with great software, but a fun sense of humor as well.

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