Corel makes shifting from Windows to Linux a snap

Corel makes shifting from Windows to Linux a snap

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

Until last week, no software vendor had a desktop version of the Linux operating system that didn't require a savvy technician or programmer on staff.

Corel Linux OS Second Edition, however, installed with ease'something that the Linux OSes from Red Hat Inc. of Durham, N.C., and others fail to do.

The simplicity of the automated installation wizard reminded me of BeOS from Be Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif. [GCN, Aug. 14, Page 25].

After I inserted the CD-ROM and booted, the wizard proceeded step by step through the setup procedures, such as formatting the hard drive and creating a partition.

I didn't have to hunt down a lot of technical information, as I did for Red Hat Linux [GCN, Nov. 22, 1999, Page 25]. I didn't need to decipher nearly incomprehensible instructions or answer complicated questions. I just installed Corel Linux.

Within 20 minutes, I was up and running. Even Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition took longer to set up [GCN, Aug. 14, Page 1].

Linux, of course, is an open-source operating system, meaning no one company owns the OS kernel code.

Corel packages the OS with other components, including some of its own software. But Corel created the easy installation process, called Install Express. The program detects most hardware, setting up the appropriate drivers.

No sweat

Corel's Control Center provides a one-stop shop for setting up all the Linux OS' features.

I tried out the Corel OS on the same ClientPro Cf from Micron PC Inc. of Meridian, Idaho, that I used to test BeOS. The 550-MHz Pentium III system has relatively up-to-date components, and Corel Linux had no problem with any of them.

The software's K Desktop Environment also is open-source. KDE creates a graphical interface on top of the Linux OS running beneath.

Competitor Red Hat uses a different graphical interface, the GNU Network Model Environment. I liked KDE better than GNOME.

By using KDE, Corel delivers something that most Linux vendors have ignored: It has given the OS a look and feel that will be familiar to most PC users. For Linux to become a viable alternative to Windows, that GUI harmony is crucial.

Corel Linux has better-organized multilayer menus than Red Hat's GNOME. For example, Red Hat included the same item more than once in different locations under repeated headings. Corel arranged items logically and with less repetition'although a couple of items do appear more than once.

Corel also has created its own Control Center, comparable to the Windows Control Panel, that is the central location for configuring most features of the OS.

Control Center seems a bit more comprehensive than its Windows equivalent. Everything appears in a single window in a directory tree format, which can be expanded and altered. There are no multiple tables or layers. From the one window, users can access everything from network settings to screen savers and printers to passwords.

During a recent meeting with a leading printer maker, I heard how difficult it is to develop printer support for Linux.

Easy printing

Box Score

Corel Linux OS Second Edition

Linux operating system

Corel Corp.; Ottawa;

tel. 613-728-0826

Price: Free downloadable version, $30 for standard CD-ROM and $90 for deluxe CD-ROM

+ Easy to install, configure and use

+ Familiar look and feel

' Graphical shell a bit unstable

Real-life requirements:

Pentium II or faster processor, 64M of RAM, 2G of free storage, CD-ROM drive

Well, Corel has done a tremendous job of incorporating printer support. Although there are no drivers for the newest printers, hundreds of models are represented. I had no difficulty getting Corel Linux to print on a network printer connected to a server running Windows NT.

In fact, accessing any network resource proved easy. Armed with my NT log-on, I could reach domains, mount drives and copy files'things I've yet to figure out how do using Red Hat Linux.

Corel's update service, much like Windows Update, downloads any needed OS patches from the Web. I found it confusing, but at least it's handy.

On the deluxe CD-ROM version, Corel throws in its Photo Paint image editor and WordPerfect word processor. Neither is a true, native Linux app, but again they're nice to have [GCN, May 22, Page 1]. Corel also includes the Netscape Communicator 4.73 browser and Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0'both practical for Web browsing.

As a Windows user, I found Corel Linux friendly and easy to figure out. The graphical shell sometimes acted a little flaky, and I once had trouble getting the interface to load. But after I reloaded the OS, it worked fine.

I generally had no trouble moving individual files, but sometimes groups of files or an entire folder would not copy, especially when moved across the network.

Nevertheless, I found Corel Linux compelling enough to be the first Linux OS worth considering as a Windows replacement. If you gave up on Red Hat, try Corel. It just might change your mind.


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