A review of porteus

Please post in this category if you are extremely happy with Porteus.
WARNING: This section may contain strong language.
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stallix
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A review of porteus

Post#1 by stallix » 18 Jul 2017, 22:16

My experience with gnu/linux systems is a big one. Of course, in my case, 'experience' means how many distributions I have tried and not something advanced. Yes, I am an ordinary user :(. But not super ordinary because I managed to install gentoo and other no-gui-installation distros so you can call me just ordinary without super. I used debian-, rpm-, arch-, unique and independent format-, source- and, of course, slackware-based systems. There also were non-linux systems such as bsd like. In comparison with them, porteus has a simple and straightforward installation process which is thouroughly explained on the official site. It is surprisingly simple because even a complete newbie could install it despite being not gui based. This is quite impressive and undervalued! In addition to that porteus dev team provided 4 user-friendly desktop environment modules and even made a gui version of usm. So Porteus did try to be a user-friendly system and it still is. However, it is not user-friendly enough :( even though I find it more than appropriate. It looks like user-friendly but it isn't. Porteus is for power users :(. It is a bit raising my self-esteem by calling Porteus a power user distribution because I being a not-advanced and plain user was able to control it and use every day but whom am I kidding? However, there are interesting success stories because I installed porteus for several female friends who somehow broke their native systems and they use porteus :). Is it a contradiction? Is Porteus a user-friendly distribution in the end? I honestly dunno, because some friends who wanted to learn it and not just use it with my configurations couldn't do it and found some other OS that suited their needs more. I was a bit annoyed by that but I myself left porteus for about a year. I still feel guilty about that XD, however, I finally understand what type of user I am. I am a working from RAM type of os-user and there are several distributions that advertise such feature. For example, puppy distributions. Why I give my preference to Porteus? Porteus is incredibly modular. I don't have a "changes" folder. Instead, I pack my changes as modules and load them when booting into my Porteus OS. Because I use copy2ram cheat I can unplug my PorteusSDcard and continue working knowing that my system will not be accessed and corrupted. This feeling of working in a system that is not connected to a device it was booted from is priceless. That is how I work in Porteus.

However, I did use "changes folder" previously and my system often became bloated and sometimes was saving for a very long time despite working for one minute or less. There were numerous problems with cross-device links but none of this happening anymore when I don't have changes cheat code. The system is so responsive and modules are so awesome that I cannot imagine that convenience elsewhere. I have a series of scripts that help me to choose what modules to load while booting. Another cool thing is that modules' folder accepts symlinks (but not sym folders!) to modules and my scripts just put symlinks to that folder from an external source and remove unneeded. Of course, I run my script once and if I need another set of modules I run another script that tunes the system according to my whim. That's unbelievably great. I like having a system that is constantly pure and only adds impurities that I allow. Such setup allows me not to worry about viruses (popularity of android made it happen on gnu/linux) and also satisfies my functional programmer tendencies which demand to work with immutable state and controlling side-effects. In that sense, Porteus beat nixos in my eyes, the system I ran to but came back. Nixos is pretty complex and does not allow me to carry my system on a flashcard (actually you can install it on flash or sd card but not only writes will kill it fast but nixos demands a lot of space for atomic rollbacks and upgrades, so even if I install nix package manager on porteus the amount of space I would need is unpractical, working from ram turned out is much more valuable and preferable for me). Sadly, Porteus is not the most popular distro :( but it satisfies me the most. Still, there are competitors. These puppies kinda can be modified to imitate Porteus and its module system, alpine linux becomes very popular among server oses, tiny core linux and knoppix still continue their development. I hope, Porteus also is not planning to step down. I value it a lot and have used it more than any other os and plan to continue doing that.

Best regards and thanks,
Stallix

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Re: A review of porteus

Post#2 by francois » 19 Jul 2017, 01:36

Effectively, there is something attracting about porteus that surpass some of the imperfections it has that you do not find in the other distributions. Personally, I like its practical and effective layout. Hard to survive a long separation.

Thanks for your feedback.
Voltaire: Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

stallix
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Re: A review of porteus

Post#3 by stallix » 19 Jul 2017, 02:51

I did find so many flaws with other distributions but left their flaws with them. For me, Porteus, as you said, did surpass its own flaws while others have not. And the Voltaire's saying in your signature has an ironic touch (despite being true) because Porteus in my mind came closest to perfection than others. It was a short review because I wanted to write something for a long time. I didn't promise you but it felt like I did anyways XD that I will write "a review" and I didn't want to hold it. I do want to make a more coherent one but that will be later.

It is interesting that many people use porteus completely in a different way (which is also an advantage). For example, like you, francois, by installing it on hdd. Others are fascinated by the save option and didn't have any problems (which is very good). And, of course, you are right about its practical and effective layout.

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Re: A review of porteus

Post#4 by Ed_P » 19 Jul 2017, 03:53

Thank you for the positive review stallix.

A point that you didn't cover that has kept me, a new Linux user, using Porteus is the admins's support of stupid new user questions. And I've asked a lot of them. brokenman and fanthom have been unbelievable responding to my newbie questions. And then the other forum members. It's a VERY friendly and supportive forum for new users.
Ed

stallix
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Re: A review of porteus

Post#5 by stallix » 19 Jul 2017, 04:57

I also was positively impressed by the community but I probably started to take it for granted and forgot to mention that :(. The friendly and healthy atmosphere in the community is often omitted by reviewers because it isn't considered a technical merit of the project but it positively influences the growth imho. By some, it is even considered as having a crucial role for one or another reason. What is even more impressive is that the dev team members themselves can give you friendly instructions on how to solve a specific problem regardless of how dense it is. So, you are right in every word, Ed_P. In my turn, thanks for taking time in reading it :).

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Re: A review of porteus

Post#6 by francois » 19 Jul 2017, 14:33

You are right about these two dedicated developpers fanthom and brokenman. They really made an effort to help us understand what is under the hood. Now we need a few more car mechanics.

And the friendly atmosphere really contrast with some other distributions, just to name a few arch linux, salix. But other distributions are also amicales.

Concerning corrupted save changes folders once you are satisfied about your desktop settings, you just turned the changes folder into a module. This provides a backup of the settings in case you save changes folder got corrupted or in case it takes too much place on the hdd.

Porteus now is widely known, but not widely used. This is causing membership problem. I hope that the distribution will survive. We need new blood and new ideas.

There a little thing missing, and there might be different opinions on that topic. My impression is that has to do with the pasture mainly and with the high maintenance of a package manager. Arch linux which was for the purist was finally widely spread with the swarming or forking into manjaro.
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Re: A review of porteus

Post#7 by Ed_P » 19 Jul 2017, 15:31

francois wrote:Concerning corrupted save changes folders once you are satisfied about your desktop settings, you just turned the changes folder into a module. This provides a backup of the settings in case you save changes folder got corrupted or in case it takes too much place on the hdd.
Being a changes folder user I have some thoughts on this also.

I backup my changes folder and turn it into a module periodically using this script:

Code: Select all

 :
 :
 :
echo Pls wait, copying in progress
cp -p $SAVEDAT/changes/porteussave.dat $SAVEDAT/Modsavedat/porteussave.dat.xzm
DIR "$SAVEDAT/Modsavedat/" 
Yup, that's all it takes. Another option is to rename the current changes file and create a new one.

The main reason the changes file gets corrupted, from my experience, is the changes get to be bigger than the actual file without warning. I started with a 250 MB changes file because I didn't plan on making any changes. Some scripts, browser favorites, settings. How much space could they take. But browsers and modules can add files to the changes folder also, hidden files in caches. And they can add up and grow unbeknown to the user. And when the user shutsdown and the changes are written to the changes file the file gets corrupted.

The current version of Porteus has a script that displays the usage stats of the changes file when shutting done. It's helpful but not perfect. Check the /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown file and this posting: viewtopic.php?f=140&t=6069&p=47614#p47636 :) (Also a good example of why I said this is a friendly forum. :wink: )

BTW My changes file grew from 250MB to 320MB then 512MB and is now 1GB. 8)
Ed

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