antiX 21 and Haiku R1/Beta 3
antiX 21 (64-bit)
Based on Debian stable, antiX 21 is designed to be light and efficient. The full installation version available on this month’s DVD is 1.45GB and requires 256MB RAM. However, for older computers, antiX also has a 800MB base version, a 440MB core version, and a 180MB net version. The core and the net versions only install from the command line and without encryption. Both are recommended for those who want total control over the installation, which is necessary for a secure system. From within antiX, users can also set up a live flash drive from which to boot a computer. In addition, antiX is one of the rapidly diminishing number of distributions that still includes a 32-bit version.
One of antiX’s standout features is its installer, which gives concise, clear help at each step of the process. The installer is notable for its unobtrusive security features, including a choice between a legacy kernel, which is more secure, and a modern kernel which might have more bugs, as well as a small graph that indicates password strength. Once installed, antiX offers a desktop with a system summary widget and a menu with prominently displayed administrative tools that include numerous command-line tools.
Don’t let antiX’s drab default wallpaper deceive you: It can be easily changed. Users of any level can appreciate antiX’s speed and minimalism, as well as its emphasis on hands-on computing.
Haiku R1/Beta 3 (64-bit)
In the late 1990s, BeOS was a proprietary operating system with cult followers. BeOS was among the first operating systems to use multiple processors and extensive multithreading. It was known for its speed, stability, and its focus on home users. BeOS failed commercially, but its spirit lives on in Haiku, a small open source project that began with BeOS source code.
Haiku has yet to reach general release, but with this version, it is stable enough for most purposes. It installs with its own apps plus a selection of KDE apps. Other standard apps like LibreOffice and Firefox are available in the repositories. Advanced users might be especially interested in Haiku’s package management system, in which packages are block-compressed system images that are loaded at bootup. When uninstalled, packages are saved in a special folder, making rollbacks a matter of moving the uninstalled packages back to their original position.
For all users, installing Haiku is a chance to see an operating system in development. Installation is fast and simple, and Haiku’s desktop includes several features that are unique among open source interfaces.