Last year Corel Corporation launched its own computer operating system in the shape of Corel Linux.
The product was Corel’s version of the Debian Linux distribution which had undergone considerable development aimed at making it easier to use and install. I hadn’t got around to playing with it until a boxed copy of the standard version arrived the other day.
The package includes the operating system, a file manager and an enhanced version of KDE desktop – the bit that you see. Extras include WordPerfect, Adobe Acrobat, Netscape and a huge variety of other programs including programming tools and industrial-strength web and mail servers.
Installation off of the CD-ROM is pretty simple and all you do to get the ball rolling is to boot the computer from the CD-ROM or the supplied diskette. You then tell it whether you want the ordinary desktop installation, the desktop installation with programming tools, or the complete server installation.
You can choose to have Corel Linux take over your machine entirely or to install itself on a vacant hard disk or disk partition. You can also keep your existing operating system and set things up so that you can choose between it and CL when you switch your machine on.
I ended up installing it to a vacant partition which turned out to be a good move because, although I can start it when I want, it doesn’t bother me every time I switch the machine on. All went smoothly except for the fact that the progress bar stayed on 25% for long enough to get me seriously worried.
Corel Linux looks and works enough like Windows that I didn’t have any trouble changing my desktop colour, navigating around, starting programs, saving files, or any of that good stuff. I was impressed with the interface and only found one or two minor things that I thought needed some tweaking.
In the end, however, I was forced to give CL the thumbs-down as a productivity tool because my computer was not ready to use or even nearly ready to use after installation. The snag is that my printer, scanner and CD-Writer are not supported by Corel Linux and their manufacturers don’t offer any hint of how to make them work under that operating system.
In the time I had available I was also unable to get CL to connect to my network in spite of the fact that it includes a program called Samba which should make it a cinch. I have no doubt that, given time, I could solve that problem and even find out how to operate the printer and CD-Writer.
Corel Linux is not for you if you want an operating system that will work with all the latest and greatest hardware with the minimum of intervention by yourself. On the other hand, I believe that it would be an excellent choice for anyone wanting to dip their toes in the Linux water.
The actual installation of Corel Linux is easy enough and after that it’s a matter of delving into the vast fund of Linux knowledge out there to solve the problems you encounter. You’d be on the right track if you were after a learning experience and a hobby that will really extend you.
CL does look to have the potential to grab a share of the operating systems market sometime in the future but it isn’t quite ready to do so yet. At present it lacks support from peripheral manufacturers and it has long way to go before it’ll be able to detect and work with just about any hardware it finds like Windows can.
I believe it’ll get there eventually and that we will finally have a viable alternative to Windows which normal computer users can handle. Competition is seldom bad for consumers.
Corel Linux is free if you download it from www.corel.com but you can get the standard version on CD-ROM for R400 which is what I’d recommend. Downloading anything is getting to be a bit of a laugh at the internet speeds we get lately.