Wolvix 1.1.0 - A Very Flexible Animal

by Caitlyn Martin

Back in my January review of Vector Linux 5.8 Standard, the version with the Xfce desktop, I touted Vector Linux as the fastest distro with a reasonable feature set and selection of software that I had used at the time. It took a while but I finally found a distribution that's at least Vector's equal: Wolvix 1.1.0.

I've tested Wolvix on two laptops: a not quite two year old Gateway MX2676 (AMD Athlon 4000+ mobile processor, 1GB RAM) and a nearly five year old Toshiba Satellite 1805-S204 (1 GHz Celeron processor, 512MB RAM). The Gateway's processor is 64-bit but Wolvix, at least so far, is only available for 32-bit x86 architecture. Performance was impressive on both machines but Wolvix truly shined on the older Toshiba.

Much like Ubuntu, Wolvix is provided as a single iso image of a Live CD with a graphical installer. Wolvix also offers the option to run entirely cached in RAM provided you have enough memory. Wolvix also offers a frugal install where the iso image is installed directly to the hard drive and is booted read-only. You are then effectively running the Live CD with the speed of a conventional hard drive. With four different ways it can be run Wolvix is a very flexible animal indeed, a distro which can be easily tailored to a number of specialized uses and yet is still brilliant as an ordinary distro installed to your hard drive.

Wolvix 1.1.0 is a user friendly distro based on Slackware. The code base appears to be a heavily updated Slackware 11 rather than the current Slackware 12. Previous versions were actually remasters of Slax, a small live CD built from Slackware with the Linux Live scripts, but with version 1.1.0 Wolvix has struck out on it's own path and is no longer built from Slax. The improvements since version 1.0.5 are dramatic. While it's still not perfect by any means the new version of Wolvix is relatively user friendly and easy to use.

15 Comments

sal-man
2007-08-22 17:13:45
Great and well-detailed review. Worth reading indeed.
Wolven
2007-08-23 12:32:47
Thank you very much for the thorough review and thanks for pointing out some of the short commings of Wolvix. Some of them I knew from before, ;-) others I've not really thought about. I'll try to iron out some of the wrinkles for the next release.


I can't tell you how proud I am to get such a great review from you. You've really gotten under the skin of my little project, it shows that you've been using it for some time before writing about it.


Thanks again for the review.


Cheers!


Kenneth / Wolven

Caitlyn Martin
2007-08-23 12:58:31
@Kenneth/Wolven: Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad to see you've taken the critical bits of the review in exactly the right way. When I criticized a problem I saw in Fedora the response was, well... different.


You certainly deserve congratulations on this release. In many ways with just two developers you've had a cleaner release than what I've seen recently from Fedora or Ubuntu or SuSe. I realize Wolvix is something of a specialized distro and I hope the review reflected that. Still, if someone needs what it offers I think they get an excellent package. Is it perfect? No. What distro is?


I take my sweet time with all my reviews and make sure I know the distro in and out. The result is always brutally honest and that sometimes doesn't go over that well :)


Thanks again for your comments and for your fine little distro.

Bahurim
2007-08-25 08:01:07
It is refreshing to see a reviewer take their time and actually as Wolven states "get under the skin" of a distro. I plan to try Wolvix for myself since some of the afor mentioned Linux distros have becomed tarnished to my eyes. Like Con Kolivas I am in search of a better Linux desktop. There are some good ones out there that you have shown with your reviews of Vector and Wolvix.


In that vein I would very much like to see you do a review of Puppy Linux.


By posting this request I do not mean to throw a shadow on Wolvix. This was a great review which will move many to try Wolvix including myself.

AJ
2007-08-26 02:49:35
its so flexible the wolvix program it does not even install on my Pentium 3 machine with a 1600 x 1024 Acer display
lets not forget the boot errors it displays


typical linux producers,..so so keen and quick to ratchet yet another distro that they can never get the 1st one fully correct,.. before they move on to the 2nd abortion

Caitlyn Martin
2007-08-28 09:16:01
@Bahurim: If I had written a review of Puppy Linux, which I have tried several times, you wouldn't like it. I have gotten many such requests from Puppy supporters. I honestly found it to be a truly awful attempt at a distribution. Tell you what: I'll download 2.17 and try to keep an open mind. No promises, though.


AJ: You had a problem installing. Did you ask for help or did you just assume "Linux sucks" as your comments seems to imply? I'd bet if you asked for and received skilled and knowledgeable help Wolvix would run just fine on your system. You assumptions and attitude seem to preclude any chance of success.

AnotherGeek
2007-08-29 17:25:08
Wow, what an in depth review. Thank you.
Caitlyn Martin
2007-08-30 10:54:01
@sal-man, Bahurim, & AnotherGeek: I try to be thorough in all my reviews. Wolvix 1.1.0 ended up being the longest review I've written yet because this distro has some unique features which really needed to be highlighted. I haven't found another distro with as much to offer as Wolvix-Cub that will run entirely in RAM in just 512MB. That, combined with the frugal install, makes Wolvix THE distro for "green computing", an area which interests me a great deal.


Again, thanks everyone for the kind words.

manmath sahu
2007-09-08 06:18:20
Wolvix is versatile but not as usable as PCLinuxOS. Try it yourself.
Caitlyn Martin
2007-09-08 11:31:05
@Manmath: Thank you for the commercial for you favorite distro. Tell me this: Will PCLOS run entirely in RAM on a machine with 512MB of memory? No? Oh, then it won't serve the purpose Wolvix serves for me.


No distro is best for all circumstances. Linux isn't one size fits all. Wolvix is entirely usable for everything I do. The claim that I (or everyone in general) will find PCLOS more "usable" no matter what the hardware or application is patently ridiculous.

Arnold Johnson
2007-10-08 10:49:06
I think people flock to the popular Linuxes because of all the "talk" about them. Many people settle for those and think they are great. I tried a number of them including PCLinuxOS, impressive but not great. Now here comes Wolvix, not so popular and Slackware based. Could anything new or good come out of Slackware? I did not see any glitz or glamor or whizzbang to entice me. It just worked, everything worked. All the useful software was there and it could be tweaked and personalized to boot. My Kubuntu is jealously vying for my attention now. I learned from using Puppy Linux that smaller can be better. Wolvix Hunter is very cool. Another slick Slack distro is Goblinx, same vein but with more pizazz. Wolvix is installed and I am enjoying it. Imagine saying "Slackware" and "easy-to-use" in the same sentence. Wow!! That's almost illegal. Good job Kenneth/Wolven!
LoveDogs
2007-11-19 20:03:40
Must say this is remarkable distro, being a novice linux user (tried 3) and stumbling upon wolvix found curiosity getting the better of me. I have since fallen in love with the little distro, its just so easy to navigate, intutive, fast, and stable as a rock, all the included programs (on my computer) actually work and work quiet well too!
For me i can honestly say it has taken a distro like wolvix to lure me away from microsoft os, and the confidence NOT to go back! The wolvix forum is also 1st class, a very big plus for newbies!
vbob
2007-12-14 20:07:59
I've been playing with a lot of distros lately, and this is one of my absolute favorites. I would like to see the Live CD version of Firefox come with more common extensions like mouse gestures and adblock. I'd also love to see a more full-featured version in the future.
Persnickety
2008-03-04 09:52:08
Great article overall; however, "it's own" should be "its own". I saw this error multiple times. Be passionate not only about WHAT you write, but HOW it is written. Keep up the great reviews.
Simon Rostron
2008-03-21 23:25:00
Wolvix kicks ass. It is a great distro in many ways. I love the choice of software on the image. The developers of Wolvix are geniuses. Thanks a lot for reviewing this distro and giving it some much-deserved publicity.