- About Us
LibraNet didn't connect anything for me: not access to the Internet, and not the shared printer. What they did was provide AdminMenu, a wonderful tool which in my eyes is their great piece de resistance. It handles just about all the system admin chores I am likely to ever need, including access to the Internet and the shared printer. As wonderful as a tool as it is, however, it still requires that you know a little bit more about your system (and LAN) than a neophyte is likely to know.
LibraNet has very recently (as I was writing this review) unveiled its new "update-safe archive" to provide its users with the latest security/bug fixes. At present, it is only available for users on release 2.8 and 2.8.1. This allows LibraNet users to keep up with the latest Debian releases without compromising their stability and support by mixing repositories. The kernel is not yet included, but it's coming.
Security is not a strong point for LibraNet. While they do require a root password and segregate chores that can be done only by root from those a normal user can do, they don't do much more than that. No default firewall is installed, and there is no automatic checking for security fixes at the end of the install, leaving users in an insecure state from the time they install until they perform their first safe-update.
That first safe-update, by the way, was handled easily and gracefully by the Admin Menu. I found 13 packages with security issues waiting to be updated when I clicked on Security Update.
AdminMenu also puts a GUI-face on installing a firewall and controlling what services are running at start-up.
LibraNet does not provide support for the free download version other than what is available in the Support Solutions Database, but it does provide email support for registered users. The LibraNet "up and running" (TM) support offerings are designed to "get you up and running and keep you there." So long as your system remains in the "shipped configuration," that is.
The final score
LibraNet does not score as well on this review as the other distributions. But there is a reason for that. It comes down to this: LibraNet does not do all the hand-holding and babysitting the others do, and it is that babysitting and hand-holding that form the basis for comparison.
LibraNet doesn't skimp in those areas because of oversight or neglect. They tread lightly there simply because its primary target audience, Debian users and/or wannabes, neither want nor need such care. They know how to use apt-get to maintain their software and keep their system secure. And unlike me, they probably know the CUPS URI for their shared printer.
I'm willing to wager a donut, that were these same distributions to be reviewed by Debianites, using their own criteria for the benchmarks instead of mine, the standings would be reversed.
LibraNet is an excellent distribution for the experienced/advanced Linux user, and I would have absolutely no compunction about recommending it for same. But I would not recommend it for a noobie.
|Category||LindowsOS 4.5||MEPIS 2003.10||Xandros 2.0||LibraNet 2.8.1|
|Price as tested||$49.95||$17||$89.00||$74.95|
|Upgrade software maintenance||$49.95||N/A||N/A||N/A|