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Feature: Vixta

Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

By Susan Linton on October 26, 2007 (9:00:00 AM)

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Vixta is a new Linux distribution, first released only last month, based on the not-yet-released Fedora 8. Its main objective is to emulate the visual aspects of Microsoft Vista. Version 095 contains the newest, and sometimes unstable, versions of software. The project's goals include being free in every sense, requiring absolutely no configuration, and being user-friendly, eye-catching, and familiar. Too bad the goals don't include feature-complete and stable.

Vixta comes on an installable live CD, available in either English or Portuguese. The live CD's rather plain boot screen and verbose boot output aren't especially impressive, but about halfway through the boot process a splash screen appears to hide the rest of the output.

Bypassing the login screen, a scaled-down KDE 3.5.7 desktop appears. With a large blue flower and folliage dominating the wallpaper, the desktop already feels a bit busy by the time an analog clock and calendar appear. The clock and calendar are locked in their positions, making them too centered at some resolutions and off-screen on others. You can unlock and move the widgets to another position, but at the next login they've moved right back. The whole desktop doesn't scale well and seems optimized for 1280x1024.

The glossy and uncluttered black panel contains a pretty menu start button that invokes a menu that looks very much like the Vista menu, thanks to a customized KBFX theme. A similar theme is available at kde-look.org.

The menu consists of two panes. The area on the right contains menu headings such as Internet or Settings, and the one on the left shows the applications available under each heading. If the application list overflows the given area, scroll bars appear at the top and bottom of pane. Under the application headings, the KDE control panel main modules are listed. I find this much easier to navigate than the flipping back and forth of the typical KDE Kickoff menu. Another nice touch is the search box at the bottom of the menu below the panes. It will isolate a specified search term or launch an application if it's not in the menu, as long as it's installed on the system.

All these visual elements come together to make a pretty and unique desktop.

On the desktop is a Vixta installer, which is the Fedora live CD installer with no customizations or changes. It walks the user through configuration steps such as partitioning and setting up filesystems. It installs a standard system -- no package selection is offered. There are some options for the bootloader, and after a reboot you set up a user account, root password, firewall, and SELinux options. The installer appeared to work well, although I was to find out later it had at least one problem.

Vixta comes with a software manager and system updater, which have uncluttered interfaces with Fedora repositories set up. I found both worked well for installing extra software and applying Fedora updates. Some of the updates, unfortunately, broke a few things, such as the network configuration and setup tool. After the updates, I had to start my network connection manually.

Also included are Firefox 2.0.0.6 and elements of OpenOffice.org 2.3.0.

Not so pretty

Unfortunately, there weren't many applications in the menu other than a few KDE apps, such as Konquerer, Kate, Kolorpaint, and KTorrent, but no KMail or Kontact.

However, there are lots of handy system tools and settings in the menu. One of the most notable is the sound card configuration. Vixta detects most sound chips automatically, but if not, there is a drop-down list containing a few sound card choices. The utility offers a test function for the sound card. I wasn't sure mine was working until I used this test, as KDE system notifications are turned off by default. You can turn them back on, but if you do, Vixta's aRts server seems to lock the device so other applications can't use it. On the other hand, that doesn't matter much because Vixta fails to include any audio CD or video players, or even recognize the audiocd protocol.

Before the Fedora updates, my wired network was activated at boot time. I used the configuration tool to set up my hostname, but otherwise the network was available at login. However, my wireless Ethernet chip isn't supported by Linux without using Ndiswrapper, which was neither included nor available from Fedora. I attempted to compile it from source, but though I was able to install the compiler I was still missing the kernel sources, which weren't available.

Vixta's kernel was compiled to save space and doesn't include the modules needed by modern machines to activate CPU scaling (the process of slowing a processor's CPU cycles, commonly used to save battery life or lower temperatures). At the full processor speed my laptop seemed to run much warmer in Vixta than in other systems when I used its full capacity, such as when compiling software. There is a battery monitor applet in the system tray, but full support for suspend features aren't included.

Another annoying glitch was the disappearing or blinking panel. Sometimes, especially when the system was trying to do some CPU- and memory-intensive task, the panel would just disappear from the desktop. It would return after a few seconds, but it caused the windows to move position.

No solution in sight

Since the kernel was limited in support and no matching sources could be found, I attempted to install other kernels. First I used the software manager to install another Fedora kernel, but it would not boot. I found a kernel update available when I ran the system updater, but it too would not boot. I even tried to install my own vanilla 2.6.23.1 kernel, but it ran into the same problem that plagued every kernel I attempted to use. When the kernel was installing, new-kernel-pkg would crash with a floating point exception. This explains why the kernel installed by the system installer would not work. I could not boot into my newly installed Vixta system unless I used the kernel from the live CD.

Vixta provides a community discussion forum, but there aren't many exchanges. Many questions are answered in a short "read-the-documentation" manner.

No Vixta source code has been made available, but some on the forum suggested that since the distribution is based on Fedora core, whose source is readily available, it isn't necessary -- though this is not true.

Conclusion

All in all, Vixta has a welcome concept. Having a system familiar in appearance to their current system might ease users' pangs of migration. Vixta is nice-looking, but I found the system to be very limited, even in the realm of live CD environments. In addition, it has lots of bugs and is just not ready for everyday use.

Granted, this is a young project using an unstable branch of software for its base, but there is a air of secrecy about the project that casts an ominous shadow. The Web pages provide limited information, and no matter how closely any distro is based on another, source code must be made available, according to the GPL.

Vixta is a nice idea, but the execution needs work.

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on Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.68.224.36] on October 26, 2007 10:26 AM
......just like Vista then. Sounds like an adequate replacement

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Vixta: Ugly concept

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: unknown] on October 26, 2007 10:34 AM
Why do we need an distro which looks like Vista? Vista is terrible-looking piece of s***.. And this is even worse. Why don't people use their imagination and make something new, instead of copying Microsoft's stupid (marketing-)ideas.

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Re: Vixta: Ugly concept

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.0.40.253] on October 26, 2007 06:55 PM
Well said. Copying anything from buggy Windows is a bad idea.

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Cite : "All these visual elements come together to make a pretty and unique desktop"

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.132.208.37] on October 26, 2007 11:19 AM
What a bullshit you write here.... THIS IS __EXACTLY__ LIKE THE WINDOWS VISTA DESKTOP !!!!

there is NOTHING unique about it.

but you're right. THIS is why desktop linux is still not ready.
Linux by far outshines Windows XP (in almost every aspect) but Windows Vista is still looking better than Linux. And finally Vista has a Startmenu that is significantly improved (in contrast to the one of XP which was just crap) to the one found in Win95/Win98/Win2K.
Linux is close (in looks and GUI-Design), but still not superior.

And just another note: KDE may be prefered by many devs because it exposes far more options, offers more control, more power. But when it comes to looks and interface design GNOME does far better. ( this may change with KDE4 - well at least it looks great :-) )

last but not least : this seems to me like an exact copy of windows : great looks, great GUI, worst technical excecution ever :-)

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one more thing....

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.132.208.37] on October 26, 2007 11:28 AM
i hope these devs will improve their technical execution (stick to the fantastic fedora codebase as closely as possible)
just offering a different GUI...
it's just what the other guys are doing, except most are copying apple (dock: AWN ; dashboard: screenlets ) however, there are things worth copying from microsoft.

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Re: Cite : "All these visual elements come together to make a pretty and unique desktop"

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 169.233.25.226] on October 26, 2007 04:48 PM
What a bullshit you write here....

You must be new here.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.203.213.196] on October 26, 2007 01:13 PM
The broken parts of Vixta are just there to offer a more complete and accurate imitation of Vista. "It's not a bug, its a feature!".

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Of course you have limited apps!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.168.72.59] on October 26, 2007 01:46 PM
>Konquerer, Kate, Kolorpaint, and KTorrent, but no KMail or Kontact.
You, mean IE, Notepad, Paint, and *Bonus App*, but no Outlook or Office? Sounds like they maybe nailed it ;)

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::sigh:: Can't Linux be Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 160.36.239.76] on October 26, 2007 03:36 PM
Am I the only Linux-using human being on the planet that remembers when Microsoft forced then-titled distro Lindows (now Linspire) to change its name due to copyright issues in the US? If immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why are linux people in the world trying to turn the linux desktop experience into Windows? Wouldn't their time be better spent switching to Windows, getting nice corporate jobs, and do their best to make sure the blue screen of death goes away for good? That would sure be a better service to the world than creating IP and copyright issues for Linuxland. And, not to mention country of origin, but why do so many linux projects out of Portugal, Spain, and Brasil insist on aping Windows -- in some cases (I'm thinkin of one Brasilian project in particular) lifting copyright images right out of Windows Vista? In the case of Vixta, not only is the name a lawsuit waiting to happen, so is the interface design of the start menu. At this rate we could all be sued back into the command line age...

::sigh::

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Re: ::sigh:: Can't Linux be Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 169.233.25.226] on October 26, 2007 04:51 PM
If immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why are linux people in the world trying to turn the linux desktop experience into Windows?

Because

  • 1. The first half of your statement is a cliche.

  • 2. If you want people to switch, they need some frame of reference to smooth the transition. At least that's the idea I can see the developers professing.

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Re: ::sigh:: Can't Linux be Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.57.101.199] on October 29, 2007 02:24 AM
"Am I the only Linux-using human being on the planet that remembers when Microsoft forced then-titled distro Lindows (now Linspire) to change its name due to copyright issues in the US?"

You remember wrong. The issue was trademark, not copyright. And though MS did try to force Lindows to change its' name by suing over the trademark, it became clear during the course of the lawsuit that "Windows" as a trademark applied to computers was going to be thrown out (computer windows were in use long before MS started "Windows"). When losing their trademark became probable, MS and Lindows reached an out-of-court settlement where MS dropped their suit and paid Lindows $$$,$$$,$$$ to change their name.

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Re(1): ::sigh:: Can't Linux be Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.20.101.203] on October 31, 2007 12:38 AM
The problem is that Microsoft are frauds and criminals who are sufficiently wealthy to commit crimes without fear or possibility of prosecution, enabled by the hopelessly broken and corrupt US legal system. Not only did they claim "Lindows" was a confusingly similar trademark to "Microsoft Windows" (their registered trademark), they then also claimed "Lindash" was also confusingly similar to "Microsoft Windows" after Lindows changed their distributions name to Lindash briefly.



The notion that the words "Lindash" and "Microsoft Windows" are so similar as to cause confusion is fiction and pure gibberish. Its as similar to "Microsoft Windows" as "Cisco", "General Motors" and "Blackwater", there is no correlation, relation, or similarity at all. Yet the courts accepted this trash and lies and pretended it had a degree of viability.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 198.203.175.175] on October 26, 2007 04:52 PM
why do any one wants to follow a failed design (vista)?, instaed it would be better if it had a new design instead copying the fail.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.204.139.100] on October 26, 2007 05:53 PM
I also think that the assessment of "it has lots of bugs and is just not ready for everyday use" makes it even more like Vista than expected.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 125.164.99.11] on October 26, 2007 06:02 PM
I agree, Susan. Like as I read on <a href="http://linuxmini.blogspot.com/">LinuxMini</a> blog and then tried to install on my machine, its not so pretty.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.163.131.239] on October 26, 2007 09:38 PM
What a waste of time and energy.

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Re: Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.117.5.196] on October 27, 2007 05:43 AM
I agree. Instead of making a complete new distribution wouldn't it just be much easier to make an installable theme? There is so much reworking being done in making a distribution just for it's looks. Don't spend your time and energy making yet another distribution. Just make a theme and be done with it.

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Had the same experience as the author: failed

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.229.79.10] on October 27, 2007 07:26 AM
Had the same experience as the author, and it would not install, giving me errors. I like the concept, and for the most part, I like Vista's UI (prefer Xfce though), but not the transparency. If/when they get this complete, I'll give it another shot.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.245.37.26] on October 27, 2007 04:22 PM
I think that we have to face two separate concepts.

1/ Vixta LOOKS like Vista. Why? Why not? I like it like I try to like the graphics in many distro's (and I test most of them). DE GUSTIBUS COLORIBUSQUE NON DISPUTANTUR. I like blue and green, the Ubuntu-people admire the color of diarrea, and nobody yells about it, true?

2/ Vixta comes with Fedora. I never downloaded Red Hat / Fedora project because it's so big (I only test CD-distro's), about 12 GB per month).
This was my first encounter of the thrid kind with Fedora, and at start everything went right, just as the author describes.
BUT THEN..! AHH!
My first test is always running Videolan/VLC: audio and video show or don't...many distro's come with VLC, or VLC is easily installed. Most of the time, it works as it should. Not in this case, Fedora doesn't know any VLC. Nor does it come with Audio/Video prog's. And installing them takes a long time, ending with an error-message that the rep's are not reachable, or whatever crap they invent. So no sound. No video. GFY.

2b/ Installing CrossOver is no problem. But running IE6 is something else: it crashes all the time. Not that I like IE6, but it is another standard test of mine. I'm not going to install other MS-stuff if IE6 crashes.

So What? I do like the graphics. I was scared by Fedora. I was disappointed by this distro. It COULD become a nice alternative for many people, but to reach that point, the underlying *NIX must perform with audio&video, and without crashes. Other *NIX'es do it, why not Fedora?

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.231.105.198] on October 27, 2007 07:15 PM
Susan,
Vixta is only trying to emulate Windows Vista, right? So why are you complaining that it is not feature-complete and stable? I think that's an emulation of Windows Vista in itself. If their goal is to out-do Vista, then the lack of being feature-complete and stable would be a viable complaint.

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.64.13.146] on October 28, 2007 08:38 AM
the reason people buy Vista and XP is that its more chic looking whereas Linux is just tacky looking, as designed by a college student with lashings of dull shades of grey and yet more grey.
Vista looks like 3d art work where Linux is just flat-toned and drab

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Re: Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Jeremy Akers on October 29, 2007 03:50 AM
You're an idiot. Linux is just a kernel. There are plenty of distro's out there that offer stunning 3D graphics out of the box that look as good or better than XP and Vista.



Please name the distro's you used that you felt were full of "dull shades of grey and yet more grey." or "flat-toned and drab".

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Re(1): Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.111.195.79] on November 03, 2007 04:53 PM
Nicely said.

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If it's unstable, then they perfectly mimick Vista

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.203.84.210] on October 28, 2007 11:10 PM
If it's unstable, then they perfectly mimick Vista

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The answer to 'what's in a name'

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.130.18.48] on October 29, 2007 08:19 AM
As a completely irrelevant aside, the name 'Vixta' sounds to a German like 'Wankta' would to a speaker of English.

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Vixta = Fedora + PumkinMask

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.245.205.236] on October 29, 2007 07:51 PM
Now I understand: Fedora = RedHat = a LinuxDistro whose soul is sold to M$ = a distro ripped of audio and video.
Well, I liked the graphics of Vixta, but I disliked Fedora. Perhaps the authors will regain wisdom and base the same nice graphics on Debian? Or Slackware?

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.89.184.155] on October 30, 2007 11:05 AM
So, in a sense, it's really a free version of microCRAP Vi$ta. Complete with the instability. If your going to mimick micro$haft, then go ahead and waste your money on their limited, proprietary, & closed-source os. Let Linux be Linux!

- Kommander ZOGG

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Vixta: Nice concept but

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 118.137.3.211] on November 03, 2007 08:12 PM
help cant burn vixta on 800mb or 700mb CD, anyone can tell me how to do it with usb disk

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 60.51.10.4] on November 15, 2007 09:19 AM
great linux ......

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Vixta: Nice concept, incomplete execution

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.223.253.26] on February 17, 2008 10:46 PM
I think a lot of people here seem to be missing the point. Isn't it important that a Linux distro is trying to meet windows users halfway? Seems to me it's a great way of helping people cross over, a similar interface to make them feel more comfortable while they get used to linux apps etc?

As for the bugs... fair call that's not great. Still, have a little faith on the Linux community, they'll be fixed soon! (hopefully).

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