Externally, Morphix is a number of different GNU/Linux distributions that can be run directly from CD, or installed to the hard drive. Internally, it is a project based on Knoppix that makes it easy to create a nice, customized bootable and installable Linux Disribution from both large pieces of necessary software (main modules), smaller pieces of extra software (mini modules), and the ability to create new main modules and mini modules for your own use, or as a seperate project.

Morphix project's Main Modules

There are currently four solid main modules. These can all be downloaded as bootable, installable ISO images. The modules are:

  • Morphix GNOME: This distribution boots right into the GNOME environment, and includes mostly GTK+/GNOME applications, and openoffice.org.
  • Morphix KDE: Contains KDE, as well as KOffice and other main QT/KDE based applications, as well as the Gimp.
  • Morphix Game: Boots into IceWM, and contains a lot of game projects, including mainstays like Nethack on into some of the newer, 3D games like Tuxracer.
  • Morphix LightGUI: Use to boot into IceWM; now it uses XFce. 'Light' in this case also means "not politically aligned"; this is the smallest main module and mainly contains Mozilla Firebird (now Firefox), the Gimp, AbiWord, and XMMS, as well as a file manager and a few other things.
My favorite out of these is LightGUI, since it has XFce and a lot of useful software but is nice and compact, at 200 MB for the CD and probably not much larger on disk.

As I mentioned, each of these modules can be installed to hard disk. The hard disk installer is a nice, straightforward graphical affair that just throws the whole thing onto hard disk. (After making you partition it by hand with cfdisk, as all distro's do.) Once installed, the system is like having a nice Debian system with apt fully functional. Instead of going to a login, however, the system boots straight into the desktop as the user 'morphix'. Whatever objections the geeks may have to this, it is elegant and functional for a desktop user or a family setting. Overall, the installer is very strong as a desktop system installer, though 'cfdisk' should probably be replaced with something more user-friendly.

I could review each of the main modules in their own right, but that would not be particularly enlightening, since these are all just normal desktop distributions. It should be noted, though, that the disk images have some outdated software (e.g. Mozilla Firebird 0.6.1, Gimp 1.3) that would have to be remedied with an "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" fairly early on, if installed to the hard drive.

Other main modules, mini modules, incomplete projects

There are too many mini modules to list, and too few incomplete main modules to make a list. So here are a few things that I found interesting:

Morphix Server is intended to be a nice, easily installed general purpose server with apache, ftpd, samba services, and many others. It is in progress but not ready for the public.

There is a pair of modules (One main, one mini I believe) being prepared that will allow one box with a monitor to act as an X Server for another box that would access the server as a client.

There are a whole host of different mini modules, ranging from rescue/setup/sysadmin utilities, to Quake 3 helper packages and so forth. See the web site for a full list.

Other projects based on Morphix

There are a few other distro's based on Morphix, created by outside projects.

  • GNUStep: This is the only one I have used personally. It is a nice collection of GNUStep specific programs and tools, as well as GNU Parted and GNU Grub (The real reason I have it around). The newest version (0.5) is a little meatier than the first and comes with Gimp 2.0 and Dillo, among others, making it a fairly useful system.
  • Slavix: A nice user-friendly KDE desktop project
  • Public IP Zone CD: A nice CD from the Public IP project that turns a box, an internet connection, and a wireless access point into a free wi-fi hotspot with no hassle
  • Elive: A desktop distribution featuring Enlightenment 16 and a pre-release snapshot of E17
...And many others. This is just to give you an idea of what is being done with the Morphix base and tools.

Really, Try It

In my opinion, Morphix is one of the few projects that has a great deal of untapped potential to break into different markets and provide a nice, standard outfit for geeks and normal users alike. Morphix is already a nice, solid distribution with a lot of attention and a large fanbase; once the project has a solid server offering and more public exposure, it has the potential to be as widely used as Debian itself.

Links:

http://www.morphix.org/ - The Morphix home page

http://www.distrowatch.com/ - See how well Morphix is doing

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