ThizLinux Laboratories Ltd. (Hereafter, "Thiz") is a Hong Kong based company that produces several Linux products, some of which are free for download.

The offerings of Thiz include ThizLinux Desktop, ThizOffice, ThizServer, ThizFirewall and ThizDatabase. ThizLinux Desktop is a freely available GNU/Linux desktop operating system oriented toward internet use. ThizOffice is a free office suite (Based on, or rather a straight copy of, OpenOffice.org) for Linux or Windows. The rest of the Thiz lineup of products are non-free or limited trial.


ThizLinux Desktop 7.0

This is my personal evaluation from two perspectives of the freely available ThizLinux Desktop 7.0. The OS comes as two CD image downloads, or may be purchased for $24 US from Thiz. These opinions are not necessarily endorsed by anyone, even me.

ThizLinux evaluation: User POV

ThizLinux is a simple non-technically oriented desktop system. From an end-user perspective, there is very little missing; but take it from me, don't switch from any "serious" distro without a barf bag.

On the application end of things, the setup is spartan, but functional. The desktop is KDE, and none other (GNOME or otherwise) is made available. Mozilla and Evolution are the defaults for surfing and e-mail; AbiWord is provided for word processing, The GIMP for image editing, and Xine (gxine) for video and audio. Gaim is provided for AOL Instant Messenger use, and Licq for ICQ use. Other various programs are available, assuming you installed them.

Development applications are few and standard (Glade, KDevelop, Quanta Plus), but the expected console tools (gcc, perl, python, tcl/tk, etc.) are still there. Development is not a primary aim of the distribution, so I will largely ignore that area.

The general setup and presentation of the OS is good, though unusual. The desktop is a customized, user-friendly KDE environment. The shortcut bar contains the K Menu (Of course), "Show Desktop", 'home' (Konqueror), "Web Browser", and "Email", which point to the above mentioned applications. Of note is that both in the menu and shortcut bar, internet applications are referred to by function rather than name; thus, Mozilla is just "Web Browser", Evolution is "Email", and gaim is "Instant Messenger". ThizLinux is well presented and is designed to be transparent and easy for typical use.

The configuration tools are worth mentioning. There is a single tool called ThizConfig which handles the issues of IP configuration, adding and modifying users, dial-up configuration, samba configuration, or NAT configuration. There is also ThizDialup, as well as ThizUpdate. ThizUpdate is actually Synaptic, the apt front-end, but the only packages available are those found on the CD.

ThixLinux evaluation: Semi-hacker POV

ThizLinux is a good desktop operating system, but a bad Linux distribution. There are problems in the area of diversity and flexibility that are crippling for those who take joy in things like messing with the kernel, trying all twelve applications for everything, and maintaining crippling superiority over the end user.

My primary complaint is that GNOME is not included, in any form. I'm primarily a KDE user, but I usually install GNOME for kicks and in case I need it for some reason. I feel painfully denied, and this is sure to anger dedicated GNOME users. No other window manager is provided either; the choices given by KDM are KDE, Failsafe, and Default. The omission of GNOME is an affront to sanity.

A secondary choice reflecting sense of politics and community is that ThizLinux is only available as CD images, and that only after registration. Most other distributions have more flexible methods of distribution and installation. ThizLinux does not grant the right to redistribute, either, which is an essential thing for those concerned with software freedom.

There is a lack of choice when it comes to applications. I have an affinity for Galeon, and it is nowhere to be found; Konqueror is not on the menu, though it is available; Evolution is the only presented mail client (Mozilla excepted); office applications are minimalist, consisting of AbiWord, Gnumeric, and 'Diagrams' (Dia). I note that Thiz produces an office suite (ThizOffice) which is freely available; why is it not included, especially since there's plenty of space on disc 2 of the distribution? The lack of application may not bother some people, but I just don't feel fulfilled.

I'm in no position to give a thorough technical nit-picking of the underlying system, but I note that there is neither ACPI support nor an alternative kernel on the CD's, nor indeed is there a kernel source available on the CD's. I note this only because I have a laptop which desires ACPI; mere APM support doesn't take for some reason. Thusly, I am running out of batteries in a mere 2 hours or so, and I have no indicator of battery status. As for other details of the system, installation and updating are RPM based, using apt-get or a graphical tool (Synaptic) for updates, but the only packages available are those on the CD. Access to my Windows partition was difficult to arrange properly due partially to my ignorance. Sound is based on kernel drivers, as opposed to Alsa, which is installed but not in use. Sound is occasionally glitchy, in gaim as well as elsewhere.

As far as the installer is concerned, everything is in place and nothing worth mentioning, except that self configuration of lilo is impossible. I hate that. I was never bothered to configure any hardware, video or otherwise. ThizLinux being oriented toward primary use by non-techies, this is not surprising. I have no experience with setting up unkind hardware or solving any other obscure problems.

Overall

Overall, I must call ThizLinux decent, since I am still using it, and that over Slackware, my previous choice. It's probably that I couldn't get the sound working under Slackware, but then ThizLinux has a certain charm of being designed for idiots like me. I highly suggest it for use with the general public or just to enjoy the high sanity level. Edit: I have recently switched to Debian for reason I can't quite remember. I miss ThizLinux in some ways. In others ways I don't (apt-get install xnethack).

If I've said anything horribly stupid, let me know and I'll correct it. Spelling errors, technical errata, personal notes, whatever.

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