Linux Step By Steps
Beehive Linux: A review.
 

From: Peter King <king.4@osu.edu>

The author of Beehive Linux, Kevin Clevenger, issues this warning in the
README file that accompanies his distribution:

This distribution is not for people unfamiliar with the inner
workings of Linux. It is for people that know what they're
doing (more or less) and just want to build small, fast,
i686 optimized workstations and servers without the crap
and clutter.

It should be installed on a clean system. If it thrashes your
box, scrambles your drive, spews chatter on your net, or
otherwise does unexpected or unkind things - you were warned.
It works fine for us. If it works for you great. If it doesn't
either offer to help or send a fix to bugs@beehive.nu.

Note that this distribution is compiled for i686. It will not
run on a processor less than an Athlon or PIII.

The parenthetical "(more or less)" was enough for me. I've since installed
Beehive Linux twice over, and found it to be a clean and well-implemented
version of Linux that doesn't demand SysAdmin skills to get going, and
doesn't overload a typical system. It's best for servers, but can be turned
into a decent workstation distro. Clevenger is aggressively up-to-date in
his choce of packages: see www.distrowatch.com for the full details. The
current version (0.4.4) is based on Kernel 2.4.16, and it includes KDE
2.2.2, emacs 21.1, ReiserFS, mySQL 3.23.45, Python 2.1.1, Sendmail 8.12.1,
and other up-to-date goodies. Beehive does prefer inetd to xinetd, though.
The packages are all included as *.tar.gz files. The whole install is about
a 20-minute affair on my AMD 800Mhz Duron system, with no hitches. Beehive
Linux is distributed by .iso image; download, burn, boot from the CD and
follow the (minimal) directions.

Clevenger is clearly a vi partisan: although the latest emacs (21.1) is
included, none of its associated lisp files are -- which means it doesn't
run properly -- and, as far as I can tell, it's configured without support
for X, which is a bit annoying. More serious an omission for a workstation,
at least for my purposes, is some version of tex. Fortunately, teTeX is
readily available for downloading, and is straightforward to compile and
install. Mozilla is included rather than Netscape, and Konqueror is
available in KDE, but, although Beehive includes bits and pieces of
GNOME/GTK, Galeon isn't among them. In addition to KDE, Beehive provides
WMaker, BlackBox, and enlightenment. Packages are managed with beepkg,
mostly useful for uninstalls -- otherwise tar and gzip do the work (much
like Slackware).

Beehive Linux was clearly inspired by Red Hat. Although it's not based on RH,
it makes use of RH tools such as chkconfig, and sets up its configuration
scripts and the like in a similar manner. For instance, simple configuration
is done in an /etc/sysconfig/ directory.

The Reiser filesystem seems to be solid and every bit as effective at error
recovery as the ext3fs shipped with RH 7.2. I haven't seen any comparisons
between the two but you can bet there will be lively debate heating up
shortly, if not already.

Beehive installs with most choices left to the user. There's no /etc/skel for
useradd, no inetd.conf file at all, and so on. I eventually figured out that
all tty and pty devices are set without group/world write permission -- an
example of the kind of low-level knowledge Beehive relies on. I've found the
whole thing to be quite robust: no crashes, glitches, or errors, though lots
of little configuration tasks; a more experienced user [i.e. just about
everyone else in COLUG] could take care of all the details quite rapidly.
(Here's a tip: set /dev/null world-writeable as part of the post-install
process.)

I'm impressed with the stability and maturity of this newcomer Linux
distribution. It's happily running on my test machine, and, if I can clear
up a few more details (and get Galeon running!), I may put it on my
production machine.

Clevenger distributes Beehive Linux as shareware, asking for $30.

--
Peter King king.4@osu.edu
Philosophy Department
The Ohio State University (614)-292-7914 ofc
Columbus, Ohio 43210 (614)-292-7502 fax
U.S.A.
"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing
sound they make when they fly past."
-- Douglas Adams
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