Old school Gnome fan Shashank Sharma discovers a Debian-based distro that is designed for the expert campaigner and features the Mate desktop. At first glance, the point of Point Linux isn’t really apparent.
It includes a bunch of software for everyday use and employs the Mate desktop on top of a Debian-base. This in itself isn’t a unique combination, and you can find a much larger collection of software derived from Debian on distros like Linux Mint and Snow Linux, both of which have editions that ship with the Mate desktop.
Unlike its peers, however, Point Linux uses software from Debian’s stable Wheezy branch. This provides the distro with a high level of stability. The distro is designed for users who want a stable desktop with apps that provide everyday convenience, such as a media player, an office suite and plugins.
Point Linux 2.3 is available in two variants. The Core edition ships without any apps, while the Full version includes hardware drivers, non-free codecs and a range of apps, such as Firefox , Thunderbird , LibreOffice , Pidgin , Remmina remote desktop client and Brasero media burner.
Since the distro is based on Debian Wheezy, some of the software is quite dated. For instance, the included Mate desktop is version 1.4.2, which was released back in 2012. Even the kernel is an older 3.2 release. Importantly, though, the distro includes the latest 7.4 update of the Wheezy branch released earlier this year. This updated version features several bug fixes and security updates, which further enhances the stability of the distro. Point Linux 2.3 also introduces three new installer options. The new options are presented as checkboxes during installation and allow users to install Compiz , fetch updates from the debian-backports repository, and enable a bunch of non-free repos.
Talking about installation, the distro uses a customised installer of its own.
This is quite functional and fires up the Gparted tool for graphically slicing the disk. Like most live desktop distros, the installer doesn’t let you select which packages to install.
Easy does it The distro presents no installation challenges and is perfect for the intended audience. Once installed, Point Linux runs well thanks to its collection of software. The distro includes proprietary codecs for playing Flash and Java content. The included media player can handle all sorts of files.
By default, Point Linux enables just enough Compiz effects to come off as a refined desktop distribution on machines with ample resources.
Without Compiz , the distro performs remarkably well on older hardware.
If you select the option to enable the non-free repos, then the Synaptic package manager will fetch packages from the repositories of Google, Opera, VirtualBox and Dropbox. If you get stuck, the project’s website has all the usual avenues of support and documentation to help new users get to grips with the distro.
The distro does enough to uphold the reputation of its stable Debian base, despite a mixture of proprietary trinkets. Point Linux isn’t designed for version-conscious users and if you wish to run bleeding edge software, this distro is not for you. On the other hand, if you like the stability of Debian Wheezy and the user-friendliness offered by mainstream distros, then Point Linux fits the bill. The distro is ideal for setups that will appreciate stable and bug-free software, such as enterprise desktops.
It is also a wonderful distro for seasoned Linux users who want the everyday convenience offered by proprietary plugins and apps on top of a familiar platform.