What's New on Calculate Linux (Aug 2012)

Centered on the XFCE edition

I will begin this news bulletin with something that happened to Calculate, Ltd.: instead of KDE, our employees now use the more lightweight XFCE version.

In 2006, KDE3 became our primary choice, because it was the best DE: it had a nice interface, ran rather smoothly and, of course, offered a unified set of software. Time went by; we tamed KDE4, and it still was good choice for corporate desktops… but akonadi and nepomuk baffled us somehow. While nepomuk can be deactivated, akonadi, once integrated in kdepim, is now inescapable. People were complaining; 2GB, then 4GB of RAM became a pressing requirement on every machine.

Meanwhile, XFCE 4.8 was released, with many small but useful improvements. We’ve been working hard on usability for the XFCE edition of Calculate Linux: what you see now in CLDX 12.0.2 is the result of many hours of interface tweaking. We do not aspire to being perfect, though, and besides, we think it’s better for one to be able to customize their system as they wish to.

Ultimately, it’s good to have such a wide choice of distros and environments for CL! We could be using all desktops in Calculate, Ltd. in future, depending on personal choices.

Getting slim

CLD making over 2GB, CLS and CSS exceeding the size of a CD… something had to be done with this! And don’t you say CDs are obsolete. Besides, once (for example) you’re booted with the CSS LiveCD, you may easily install any CL edition from it. I personally always update Calculate Media Center on my Atom netbook from an ISO… size does matter!

Calculate Linux simply had to get slim. We adopted a three-step approach to reduce the size of all system images: wiping out the Git history, deleting the duplicated Portage tree, removing the kernel sources. For instance, CL 12.0.2 (and thus later Stage images) contain no Git history. Unfortunately, we overestimated our abilities, so I will give no numbers :wink: but the ISOs have become smaller.

/usr/portage is what immediately comes to mind when you think about clearing the system. The Portage tree is now duplicated; it can be restored from the .git directory whenever needed, which means no Internet access is required. But the package tree is indeed useful as it allows to install software directly on the LiveCD, while deploying Portage is rather memory-consuming. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need Portage to update from the binary repo.

All this was to tell you that we made up our mind to remove /usr/portage. emerge --sync works fine, because the .git directory has remained where it was, but you still have to run eix-sync to deploy the tree. To so do, a small testing and unpacking script is added to the package via the templates. The same procedure will be applied to the Calculate overlay since Stages 20120822.

The third step is to get rid of the kernel sources. In fact, one of the whys we don’t release new kernel versions more often is that the source code is far from being lightweight, and yet it can’t be removed altogether, because kernel sources might be needed for installing some packages. We had to see exactly what was needed and what was not and provide the minimal USE flag.

Calculate Linux on Google+

Yes, CL is now on Google+ too! Once the number of users starts to grow exponentially, the community services will become more efficient. We know they will, because we have long been on VKontakte, a popular Russian network, and it’s been quite a success, especially with surveys.

Our community page on Facebook was also updated. In fact, we did create a page, thus replacing the Calculate Linux group. Why so? Because we want our users to be able to view this page even if they do not have an FB account.

The binary host upgraded

The heart of Calculate Linux is our binhost server: fourteen Stage images, with binaries for them, are being built here… Well, we’ve recently upgraded the server! The buggy 1.9 V memory media was replaced and grew from 16 GB up to 24 GB, which does not make it as fast as the Git server of course (128 GB), but still.

A bunch of news all around the world

There have been no articles on CL lately… but quite a few reviews in blogs.

LinuxSpatry reviewed Calculate LInux 12 on his YouTube channel (thanks to Eldes Varassiна for his request!)


Fredbezies shot a screencast of CLDX in French, Calculate Linux 12 - xfce basée sur gentoo:


Keep It Rolling, Baby: Barnaby writes on Calcalute Linux Desktop 12 KDE. This is a thorough and a very detailed review, Barnaby has been testing CL for a month and is sharing his impressions, comparing Calculate Linux to other distributions such as Sabayon.

And, the last but not the least, we also prepared a screencast that will guide you through some tricks with the new Calculate installer: see how two systems are being installed simultaneously. The background voice is Mylène Farmer’s Q.I.… hope our french-speaking users appreciate the humour!


Feel free to share your screencasts and screenshots on YouTube and in social networking: what your CL desktop looks like, the applications you’re using, the tasks you have to solve on the everyday basis… this is the easiest and the most unexpensive way for any Calculate user to contribute :wink:

Here is another “Calculate-Linux Review ! How close is it to Gentoo ?”:

youtube(v=Vy3DTYJw0RQ w=600 h=400)

Another screencast “Calculate Linux 12.0.2…Gentoo Goes To The Office…!!”:

youtube(v=HIvQBpqKwvQ w=600 h=400)