Published on December 15th, 2014 | by Sunit Nandi4
SuperX 3.0 beta – first impressions and brief review
SuperX is an operating system based on the Linux kernel, GNU utilities and the KDE desktop environment (user interface) and is indirectly based on Debian. It was first developed by Wrishiraj Kaushik, an everyday guy in an everyday Tier-2 Indian city named Guwahati back in 2007, when he was just a school student. SuperX had its first major public release in the year 2011, with Wrishiraj setting up a company named Libresoft Technology Pvt. Ltd. to support and promote SuperX and open source software in general, he also talked about his take on open source in his TEDx talk.
SuperX has matured a lot over the years. 3 versions later, it is used by many individuals and organizations across the globe. The story doesn’t stop here though. SuperX is the de-facto OS in Gauhati University in Assam, India and is also one of the preloaded OSes in laptops given out to high-school students in the year of 2013 by State Government of Assam to introduce them to open source.
However, what’s not so everyday about SuperX is its ideology of creating a Linux-based OS. Whereas, most Linux distributions try to fork away things in their own manner to appear modern and continue to create excess code in the codebase, SuperX tries to do the opposite. SuperX uses existing solutions and fine-tunes them to suit the average end user as much as possible, trying not to reinvent the wheel and giving a standardized Linux desktop, while still keeping user-friendliness and performance. SuperX adds new features instead of re-implementing the same ones in a different way. This OS aims to keep distro-related identity issues at bay and focuses more on a polished user-experience, custom-made utilities, exclusive apps and tries to be a replacement OS for average Microsoft Windows users. That is one reason some colleges are universities in India are replacing their old OS with SuperX. Techno FAQ has long been a partner of the SuperX project for this very reason and hopes to continue supporting it in the future as well.
The beta version of the upcoming SuperX 3.0, codenamed “Grace”, was released in 11th of December 2014. We have decided to keep in tone with the excitement and perform a fresh installation to give you an idea of what the upcoming OS will be like. Libresoft hasn’t yet described what or how it is different from their older releases, so continue to read on to discover as we uncover the mystery.
Booting the live ISO and installing
The beta ISO is downloadable from the SuperX homepage. It can either be written to a DVD or USB media. Booting from the media gives you a live session where you can try and test out the OS before you install.
Upon booting it, we noticed a fantastic new splash screen and a revamped desktop with semi-flat icons and wallpaper. The looks are a welcome change from the previous releases.
We then head over straight to installing it. The installer looks like its is just the old installer with quite some improvements. The installation time is lesser than what the older releases used to take. Everything is great and hassle-free.
Trying to shutdown the system after the installation made the shutdown process freeze at “mount: / is busy”. This is one harmless bug that appears only when installing in a Virtual Machine which can be ignored and the VM can be force shut down. This bug has been reported and hopefully will be fixed by the time the OS is released.
This bug, however, does not recur when the OS is installed to the hard disk.
Booting the installed system the first time
SuperX boots using the usual GRUB menu. The bootanimation has not changed from the past releases.
From then on, we head over the login screen which is a nicely customized LightDM. The fantastic splash screen follows after logging in.
The default wallpaper is a flat artwork of mountains, and the new taskbar is black-blue with white icons. There is improved contrast and needless to say we’re very impressed with the initial looks.
Clicking the left-bottom icon on the screen opens the launcher, which is now dark instead of light in the previous releases. The launcher has 3 tabs, namely “Home”, “Applications” and “Favourites” and a search bar. The icons in the launcher are not flat, but they look great anyway.
Applications and usage
SuperX 3.0, although a beta is still very usable as a daily driver. Most of the hardware I have tested so far have worked out of the box. What was impressive is that my AMD FirePro graphics card, which usually causes problems on most Linux distributions, was detected and functional right away in SuperX.
Coming to the applications, what we notice first it that SuperX comes preloaded with both Mozilla Firefox and Chromium browser with fully functional Flash player, making sure you can watch streaming videos right from the first boot.
Also, the Firefox browser has preinstalled DownThemAll! extension which means you have a download manager/accelerator right in your hands.
SuperX’s default video player is VLC, which is well known for supporting almost every video and audio format in the possibly in use in the world, not to mention having a great load of streaming and transcoding features.
Musique is the default music player and it is really simple to use.
OpenShot, one of the best open-source video editors, is preinstalled with SuperX.
Filezilla, the noteworthy file transfer client, is also included.
SuperX includes all standard Linux desktop highlights like the KDE games (Kapman, Potato Guy, etc.), LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Thunderbird e-mail, Kate text editor, KTorrent torrent client, Java, K3B disc burner, GParted partition editor, Kamerka webcam, Konversation IRC client etc.
SuperX has social and instant messaging integration, thanks to Social Messenger.
For people who use USB 2G or 3G cellular modems, there is the USB modem manager, that lets you manage SMS, USSD and the contact book apart from connecting to the web with it. This is something which is missing in other Linux-based OSes and has to be installed manually.
SuperX has ample ways to manage software installations with the GUI. It has a really clean and lucid package manager based on Muon. The software software sources editor is also quite easy to use compared to other distributions.
For OS and app updates, the SuperX software updater does the job in a matter of a few clicks.
For the people who are looking for an App Store equivalent, there is the SuperX apps center, that lets you search and install apps in a few clicks, without the user having to type complex commands.
For the advanced users, the Konsole terminal emulator lets one access the shell and execute commands and use the OS to its full potential.
In our brief test, SuperX 3.0 beta is really stable for daily use and has almost all applications that an average home or office user will use out of the box. More applications can be installed using using the various graphical software managers available. There are a lot of performance and appearance improvements compared to previous releases.
Since, this is a beta, certain bugs may be present (we have discovered the “mount: / is busy” bug while shutting down a live session) and many of the OS’s elements are not finalized yet. The bugs will be fixed and many new apps and features will be introduced by the time it reaches the final version.
The upcoming 3.0 version seems to be a very promising release of SuperX, and we hope that Libresoft is able to deliver what it promises.