Note: This article was originally published on April 29, 2005 over at the (now defunct) Newsforge.com. A still-breathing version of the article (broken links intact) can be found at Linux.com.
My computer is my life, but I'm fairly new to the world of Linux. I started with SUSE Linux 9.1 Professional. It's a fairly nice and easy system, but I wanted to try some other distributions, to see what I liked and disliked. I wanted something that felt not too advanced, but also not too limited. That's what I found in the VidaLinux operating system (VLOS), the perfect combination of what I wanted.
Many call VidaLinux a "simpler Gentoo." It uses many of Gentoo's features, such as the Portage software distribution system, but also manages to make it all seem less intimidating. For instance, it uses Red Hat's Anaconda installation system. Anaconda is a graphical interface, which many find easier than Gentoo's command-line installation. Vida's system components also come prebuilt and ready for installation, whereas Gentoo's installation requires everything to be built from the command line, which intimidates some people.
Some people have reported issues with Vida's networking and sound card configuration. While the sound card wasn't an issue for me, networking was. Thankfully, I was able to fix my problem easily by referring back to the MadPenguin article that introduced me to Vida. After that little escapade, I moved on to configuring my system.
I use my computer for Web site management, helping out at sites such as The Mega Man Network and Metroid HQ. In addition to sitting on IRC most of the time, I tend to use AIM to contact some people. Vida comes set with what I need to get the job done. Firefox, generally the ideal browser for any Web designer, comes pre-installed, with many plug-ins already set, like MPlayer and Java. The GIMP is a fine image manipulation program, and works well for Web design. For music playing purposes, the system offers Xine, a fine music application. It covers chat too, with an easy installation of X-Chat and an included version of GAIM. When I need to get a professional project done, I've got OpenOffice.org right there. Vida's main window system is GNOME 2.8.0, and the default icon set, with an uncanny similarity to Mac OS X's, brings the desktop to life.
VidaLinux runs well, and the Portage system makes it even more fun. The Portage application itself is called Porthole, and it's pretty useful. It allows users to choose new applications to install on their system, as well as old ones to get rid of. Apparently, some people have had issues with it suddenly shutting down on them, but that hasn't been an issue for me. The Vida community itself is very helpful, and getting support has been no problem.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoy VidaLinux. It's a stable operating system that caters to both advanced and beginning Linux users. What I need my computer to do, it does. I can work on Web pages, listen to music, and play my games with ease. The system itself is friendly, versatile, and workable. I know my way around it, and I'll be sticking with it for awhile.