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    Reviews: Progeny 1.0 Review: The First Generation
    Posted on Sunday, May 13 @ 19:38:25 BST

    Below is my review of Progeny Debian, also look at Linux Lookup's review or Linux Planet's review.

    I got a wonderful surprise when I returned from school after a hard day
    number crunching and letter munching, a large box had been delivered from
    The USA. Oh what could it be? A letter bomb
    from solomon? Nah, he doesn't hate me that much. Something much more
    beautiful, much something much more carefully crafted, the result of one of
    the most important developments in the Debian world in the year (excluding
    Debian Planet of course ;), if you haven't guessed by now or haven't read
    the title of this article, then go crawl back under that stone. Because
    Progeny 1.0 is HERE (sure the ISO download has been out for a while, but hey
    they always say the British are backward 😉

    Okay so lets work our way inwards from the outside. The box is one of the
    nicest I have seen on the market and the Debian aspect of Progeny Debian is
    very well emphasised. The back consists of the usual arbitrary PR blurb and
    cute screen shots. However unlike some distributions, Progeny make these
    claims with utmost honesty as we will soon see later. It is interesting to
    see that Progeny have retained kernel 2.2.18 and have only provided kernel
    2.4.x optionally (unsupported), this is a relatively wise move. 2.4 although
    'stable' is a big step and it is interesting to see that Progeny have
    carefully decided not to hastily rush into what might be a problematic area.
    Yet it is good of them to provide the 2.4 kernel for those with more
    confidence or those possibly not running a production system.

    Inside the smart box is the is a whopping 500 page User Guide, which is
    about two-thirds of the size of Running Linux by O'Reilly, one of the must
    have books for Linux users. The topics covered in the book are much broader
    than those specific to Progeny Debian:

    Introduction to Progeny Debian

    Preparing to Install Progeny Debian

    Installing Progeny Debian

    Starting and stopping the system and graphical interface

    Getting to know the command line

    Getting to know the desktop

    Making the Desktop your own

    Searching for files and text

    Working with directories, files and links

    Reading system information

    Installing, removing and upgrading software

    Doing everyday administration

    Configuring the system

    In addition there is also a selection of appendices covering upgrading from
    other dists and also how to setup multiple installs.

    Although the layout of the book is excellent, there are a few typos and
    misspellings. "Would the real Allan Cox please stand up?"

    Beyond the excellently laid out manual there is also a double CD box
    containing the Install and Extras CD. And also some documents concerning the
    support which we will deal with later.

    The Install

    I'm fortunate enough to have a bootable CD-ROM but if you are one of those
    rare people who don't disks are included for you

    I stuck the "Install" CD-ROM in the appropriate drives and hit return at the "boot:" prompt that started.

    After a short time the initial Progeny logo and "GNOME Druid" wizard popped

    Because I was originally running sid and the upgrade path is awkward, i
    chose to do a clean install over my original install. Therefore I chose do
    custom partitioning, beyond custom partitioning, you can choose to create
    partitions in the free space and to use the whole drive.

    The custom partitioning interface is very clean and easy to use, I selected
    the relevant mount points for my various partitions and chose to format them
    all fresh except my /home partition.

    After one chooses partitions and mount points and they have been committed
    you are asked whether you want to use GRUB, a different bootloader (e.g LILO)
    or none at all, remember if you chose not to install a bootloader remember
    to check the startup floppy box, I created a startup floppy for emergencies
    as well as installing GRUB.

    GRUB is the Grand Unified Bootloader, originally part of the HURD project
    this acts as a mini OS in its own right, its much more flexible than LILO
    and is popular among multi-os addicts.

    After the boot selection partitions are formatted and the base install files
    are extracted, this is very similar to the base install of mainstream
    Debian. Throughout this stage you are kept informed of what is happening and
    the progress being made.

    Shortly after this stage you are told the initial stage is completed and
    that you can remove the CDROM from the drive. Then came the moment of


    This is where the problems started, when I rebooted the box the infamous
    "LI" prompt greeted me. Oh dear oh dear, the startup disk failed to work too,
    so I decided to try the install again, this time I decided to make the /
    partition bootable, how silly of me to forget that. The "LI" is due to the
    presence of the initial LILO loader from my previous install.

    The second try was much more successful, now if I had only read the
    instructions 😉

    When you reboot for the second stage of the installer no interactivity is
    needed for a while, it happily detects your hardware, loads modules for it
    then installs X. And proceed to the next step in the install, of course it
    would help if I could see the next step in the install as the installer
    thoughtfully chose settings beyond my monitor, leading to warning message
    alerting me to the fact and a safety power off, grrr!!!

    I was unable to switch to another virtual terminal to solve the problems so
    i was forced to hard reboot. A quick skim through the manual revealed that
    specifying the "Linux secondstage=text" at the install bootprompt would solve
    the problem, but does this mean I really have to reinstall *again*.

    Yep it *did*. My monitor is a Hitachi 19" and the settings it chose were
    incompatible, I could not easily see how to change to use a secondstage of
    text based debconf rather than a GNOME one or how to specify my own settings
    for the monitor.

    After I completed the text part of the second stage I now had a working
    system lacking X.

    So I then had to apt-get install xserver-xfree86 progeny* etc.

    However if you managed to get the graphical second stage to work you would
    have been led through a series of cute dialogs and druid wizards, these are
    in fact Debconf entries with a GNOME frontend, cool huh? This is the kind of
    code that gets integrated back into the mainstream Debian project.

    Progeny 1.0 does not support users outside the US therefore I had to change
    my keymap by running kbdconfig and choosing a UK keyboard map.

    I installed the packagesets that appealed to me, these are basically like
    'tasks' groups of similar packages, unfortunately beyond deity, dselect,
    aptitude, apt-get etc there is no easy way of installing individual

    The default install of the GNOME packages starts up gdm where you can login
    to your GNOME desktop.

    The problem is apparently due to the fact the monitor and graphics card are
    reporting too high settings which they cannot really handle. Therefore with
    a bit of raw tweaking of the config file left me with a pleasant working
    GNOME desktop, of particular interest to newer users are the supplied tools
    which allow package management via a cute Point 'n' click interface.

    The support package supplied with the box set (and also available extra for
    downloaders) offers 30 day telephone support and 90 day access to the
    Progeny Service Network which provides rapid email support, automated
    security updates and many other features. The supplied support can be

    For most people the install should go like a dream however it was rather
    painful in my case, but there is always the support to fall back to. I do
    however have other systems running Progeny and are very happy with them
    therefore don't let my rather painful experiences put you off.

    One particularly cool feature (which deserves its own article) is the
    ability to a partially customized install on multiple systems, full
    instructions on doing this are available in the manual.

    Overall very good for an initial release, hopefully future releases will be
    slightly improved and Progeny will learn from their mistakes. I wish to
    thank Aaron Stenhoff at Progeny marketing for sending me a review copy
    making this review possible. Furthermore if you want Progeny help or advice
    #progeny or the more general #debian on are open for
    you to ask questions (after researching first) and why not pop in and see
    us in #debianplanet. Also if you are looking for a good Progeny oriented
    community site checkout Progeny

    Please post your comments or questions concerning the install and I will try
    my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!

    Related Links

  • Progeny Linux Systems
  • More about Progeny
  • News by rob

    Most read story about Progeny:
    Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debian and Progeny

    Last news about Progeny:

    Printer Friendly Page  Send this Story to a Friend
  • "Reviews: Progeny 1.0 Review: The First Generation" | Login/Create Account | 4 comments

    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

    Re: Progeny 1.0 Review: The First Generation (Score: 2, Informative)
    by Anonymous on Monday, May 14 @ 19:19:25 BST

    Thanks for the very through and honest review. Thanks, too, for noticing that Progeny is trying to do honest advertising - we think that doesn't really have to be an oxymoron.

    I won't comment on any of the opinions for good or bad in the review; if I did, you'd be right to resent it. However, I hope you don't mind a couple of clarifications:

    1.) You can get a virtual terminal during the installation by pressing Alt-Ctrl-F2 during the minimal system stage, or middle-clicking on the background during the configuration stage.

    2.) You can select individual packages from package sets by double-clicking on a set in the GUI tool (gnome-apt-pkgset).

    If you tried either of these and didn't get the results you were supposed to, I hope that you'll file a bug report.

    Finally, I'd also like to mention that the manual has recently been extensively proofread for the next printing and that, because of comments like yours, support for non-US keyboards is a major concern in Progeny's planning for the next version.

    - Bruce Byfield

    [ Reply ]

    Progeny Not Good (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Friday, August 31 @ 15:51:21 BST

    At first I thought "great. gui install, and a free download (unlike libranet)". Then I tried it.

    The virtual terminals flicker insanely, and the install didn't even work unless you did not select additional package groups. It set up a root account for me (just didn't tell me the password). And Python is corrupt.

    [ Reply ]

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