Review: BLAG 60001 – Linux Without Boundaries?

BLAG: Linux Without Boundaries?

If you happen to visit the BLAG Linux homepage, one of the first words your eyes will read is “overthrow.” Specifically:

[blag] works to overthrow corporate control of information and technology through community action and spreading Free Software.

Interesting. I’ve tried a lot of Linux distros, but this is the first one whose “anarchistic” intentions are so boldly stated. Alright, perhaps referring to BLAG as “anarchistic” is excessive, so let’s focus on the facts.

What is BLAG?
blag_logo.jpg
Made by the Brixton Linux Action Group (hence the name), BLAG is a Linux distro, and not a very popular one at that. It is currently ranked number 79 at Distrowatch, using the “6-month” time-span. More specifically, BLAG is a one-CD distro based on Fedora. The latest version (“60001” – as of this writing) is based on Fedora Core 6. Included on its one CD are numerous applications that a desktop user would “expect” to have.

I first heard about BLAG a few years ago, but did not work up the interest to try it until now. Is its lack of popularity deserved? More importantly, is BLAG worth installing over a more popular distro, such as Fedora, SUSE, or the venerable Ubuntu? Let’s find out.

Hardware

First, some hardware specs. I chose to install BLAG on a rather-antiquated machine. Hey, it still works. No, it probably will not run Vista, but it is happy with Linux.

Motherboard: ECS K7S5A
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 1700 (1.47 GHz)
RAM: 512 MB PC-133
Video Card: Nvidia Geforce 4 MX 420
Sound: Creative Soundblaster “Live”
Monitor: 19″ LCD (1280 x 1024)

Installation

Like Fedora, BLAG uses the Anaconda installer. If you have seen it before, you will feel right at home. As usual, the trickiest part is making sure that you manage your partitions correctly. Also like Fedora, you have the option to verify the integrity of the CD before you begin the installation process. I highly recommend doing this, as my first burn had errors, and the installer dutifully notified me that continuing the installation was risky. Foolishly, I had burned the ISO without verifying the sha1sum, and sure enough, the numbers did not match.

So, I downloaded from a mirror, verified the sha1sum, and proceeded from there. The installation was straightforward, and like with Fedora 6, you have the option to use an “Extras” package repository while installing.

Note: BLAG offers the ability to “nuke” a hard drive and automatically install with the default options, which can be useful for multiple computers or a recycling center. To do so, just type “blagblagblag” at the installation prompt instead of just hitting “enter.” Yes, I tried this, and yes, it works.

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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