Review: BLAG 60001 – Linux Without Boundaries?

Other Thoughts

Given how BLAG already provides MP3 and DVD playback out of the box, I was suprised that they did not include the Flash player by default in Firefox. After my battle installing the Nvidia drivers, I was scared that Flash would prove difficult as well. I was wrong. Simply allowing Firefox to install the Flash player when prompted worked wonders, so now I can enjoy sites like YouTube and Homestarrunner.

flash-installed-homestar.jpg

Speaking of videos, I liked that Istanbul was installed by default. I decided to try to make a quick screencast. My computer is far too weak to make a 1280 x 1024 screencast, so I just selected part of the screen. Click here to see the resulting screencast, showing the menu structure of BLAG. It’s not much, but I like that the software is installed and working out of the box. Try not to fear the “hippo-beast” snout in the video. [Tip: if you cannot view the video, try watching it with VLC, no matter your operating system. On BLAG, the video works with Firefox using the m-player plugin by default.]

Summary and Conclusions

I admit: I was prepared to dislike BLAG, given its lowly Distrowatch ranking and apparent lack of popularity. With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised by a number of features, such as the amount of multimedia support.

Pros:

  • One-CD install
  • MP3 and DVD support without any tinkering
  • Sane default choice of included software
  • Vast repository of additional software

Not all is rosy in the land of BLAG, though.

Cons:

  • Just UGLY by default – down with the “hippo-beast!”
  • Difficult to install Nvidia drivers
  • Some of the software is outdated. For instance, Firefox (still codenamed “Deer Park” in BLAG) is stuck at 1.5.0.10, and Openoffice is lagging at version 2.0.4. It makes one wonder if the small size of the project makes for slow software updates in the repository.

Instead of ending here, allow me to comment on a few additional aspects. When reviewing a single-CD distro, one cannot help but make comparisons to other Linux distros, such as Ubuntu.

First of all, one area in which I feel that BLAG could improve is with the installer. Many distros (such as Mepis and Ubuntu) are moving toward merging the installer with the “live” CD, creating a hybrid CD that allows one to actually use the OS while installing it. I would like to see BLAG move in this direction while still keeping the “nuke and install” option at the default prompt.

Secondly, if BLAG wants to remain “free” by not including proprietary drivers (such as Nvidia), that is fine, but at least allow for an easier installation. Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” has really set a good example in this regard, in that they allow for an easy installation by “enabling” access to restricted drivers, but cautioning about the potential risks and lack of official support beforehand.

Additionally, and this is a minor point, if BLAG wants to be taken seriously, they need to clean up certain aberrations on their web site, such as the purposeful alteration of the word “Windows” into “windoz.” Anarchy issues aside, it is an issue of professionalism, and you will not find such immaturities on the main pages of more mainstream distros.

In the end, would I recommend BLAG? Naturally, I am torn on this issue. For someone new to Linux, I do not recommend it, partly because of the Nvidia issue, and partly because of the lack of support in comparison to a more active distro community. Of course, this is not BLAG’s fault, but a newbie seeking help will simply get more help faster in a more populated community. Given time, perhaps this will change.

So, would I recommend BLAG at all? Yes, but only to those with some existing Linux experience. If you have tried many of the major distros and are looking for a distro contained on a single CD, then perhaps BLAG is worth your time. I came from a fair amount of Fedora experience, so BLAG feels comfortable to me. I doubt I will keep it as my default workstation for now, but I will keep my eye on future releases.

One thing is for certain: I will be sure to immediately banish the “hippo-beast” from my sight!

[Note: If you would like to try BLAG, you may order a CD for free from The Linux Store. Of course, you may also download an ISO directly.]

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20 thoughts on “Review: BLAG 60001 – Linux Without Boundaries?

  1. As I wrote in our forums (I figure I might as well put it here too, no?)

    Nice review, thanks. 🙂

    Here’s my comments:

    Quote:
    “perhaps referring to BLAG as

  2. Jeff – Thanks for taking the time to leave a detailed comment, and thanks for all of your work on BLAG.

    I don’t really have anything against hippos, it just made for a good, recurrent motif. 🙂 By the end of the review process I was quite used to it.

    That makes sense about the inclusion of apt / synaptic. I wasn’t sure if the “apt for rpm” project was still supported. If it works, hey, why not use it?

    I’d love to see a live installer for BLAG. If you need another beta tester, let me know.

    Yes, I do much more with music than I do with computers / Linux. I thought about delving into the music programs, but there’s only so much one can cover in a review while maintaining readability. Perhaps the musical aspects will come in a separate entry.

    Keep up the good work. Cheers,

    – Brian

  3. Blag is a great distro. I liked it a lot . I’ve tried both 50K and 60K. Excellent. But the forum is a different story. I personally feel the admins are a bit paranoid over there. I had posts deleted, my first user name deleted, and I was ultimately accused of being a spammer after I complained. I left their forum and have never been back (though I have since tried 60K and probably will 60001). Jeff Moe can be very helpful one day then short and non interested the next.

    Again, Blag is a great distro. I personally have recommended it to my friends and family and to others at different Linux forums even though I’m an Ubuntu fanatic. The themes and colors do leave a lot to be desired (maybe the guy/gal who does the art work is color blind…:)) but the application select and functionality are simply excellent. Just don’t expect much at their forum.

  4. Well, BLAG 60k was my first linux distro! (aside from knoppix which I used for less than a week to check linux). Actually, because the mp3 and dvd support out of the box, and the ‘just click’ flash installation, it could be a good recommendation for newbies (at least that was the case for me)..
    OK, seriously, The first thing I did after my first login, was disabling the wallpaper! I’ve changed the theme sometime later, as if nothing happened 🙂
    BLAG is really nice distro, I would definitely recommend it. The only thing I could complain about would be option to estimate needed space for your installation. I had to repeat my installation few times, becuase I wanted to have “essential” linux with less than 1G, where I can add later if I need. Then again, this is not a real complain, other distributions don’t even offer you the choice to pick your packages, where you have to install the default to be able to uninstall!
    In short, it’s one-CD fedora with all its update up to its release time, diverse package selection, plus apt/synaptic!

  5. Ah to be fair, the mouse theme was nice, it would be cool if it’s available as download, to install it on my office windows machine ;0

  6. Just tried to install BLAG60000, no luck, won’t boot; I’m an experienced Linux user dating back to the CorelLinux days; this is the first time I’ve had a failure installing Linux, but I’ve never really cared for Red Hat.

  7. I’m an inexperienced linux user, and have been using blag nearly ever since I started linux about a year ago. I’ve never had a failed install, and this distro suits all of my needs very well. I usually have good luck getting answers at the forum or the chatroom from Jeff or several of the other very helpful people who help out there. True, the user base of blag is smaller than the big distros, so the number of people helping out and the range of problems dealt with on the blag forums doesn’t compare with the big distros, but since blag is so close to fedora, I have very often found answers by checking the fedora forums. Most of the fedora advice on the web works just as well for blag.

    What really attracted me to blag was the Free Software and anti-corporate ideals shared by the people involved with the distro. That’s not for everyone, but neither is blag (but blag is for *most* people ;)). Blag shows that you don’t have to include proprietary garbage in order to have a great functional versatile OS on one CD.

  8. As for the failed install mentioned above, the best thing to do is to check the CD with mediacheck, the first step of the install. The #1 install problem (not just with BLAG), is a corrupt CD… “won’t boot” is a pretty vague problem though (no grub? kernel? no power to computer? what?). I don’t think he’s actually looking for a solution though.

    It’s funny how much we’re hearing about the graphics here. 😉 I love ’em!

    Have fun,

    -Jeff

  9. I have used and tested many Linux & BSD OS, been using BLAG60001 for about 10 days and I really like it.
    Pros: Vary good programs by default and using Synaptic Package Manager is the best of the Linux programs.
    Cons: Needs some work on installer but I got throw it OK, and never got my Epson printer to work other than that its a vary good OS.

  10. As for blag6000 my ati rage 128 ultra turbo card was recognized instantly but of course no 3d desktop with it.

    Also installation of glchess went out without any problems 🙂

    And when comparing blag and fedora, I would always grab out the blag – that’s more mature choice for me.

  11. i am using blag linux (fc6version). its good. i was using fc6 before that. i need glade and postgressql for my proffession. i can easly install these from fc6 cd. using rpm command. but openoffice installation is not possible(may be for me). i like to upgrade blag with fc6 to get kde feature. if anyone have know how to do this please inform.

  12. OpenOffice can be installed by running:

    yum install openoffice.org-writer

    KDE:

    yum install kdebase

    You can also use apt-get if you prefer that and/or use the synaptic program to install applications with a GUI.

  13. i liked blag, but removed it from my pc after a week. because:

    1. it does not install openoffice by default.
    2. its interface is not sane (don’t know do they make it look so)
    3. slow bootup
    4. problem in customization

    now, i am using pclinuxos 2007, and i am happy.

  14. In the final comments the author did not recommend Blag because of “lack of support”. He obviously didn’t check out the forums. They are possibly the most responsive and helpful in the Linux world.

    Their anarchism is very “hands on”. 😉

  15. *BLAGblag 5k. on a Athlon900 w/512k mem. Radeon 7500. = No sweat install, works good, fast enough for my Gimpy mouse. The wallpapers are better than the Hippo, but hey, so get and change it. (Gnome-look.org)The default fonts make up for it totally, totally. Remember, if it works, don’t fix it! If your scared, load it on an old drive. And, in time you won’t be going back to that Windows drive and you won’t have to blow a century note again for the “latest” crappy.OOps! copy. The Gnome desktop is different than Windows. Wet your whistle with Blag. WELIKEIT, Old Mike

  16. really really bad. Like a disabled Fedora.

    Forums full of anarchists, communists, and other undesirable people. Use Fedora or Ubuntu. Get the real thing unless you want to shoot yourself in the foot

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