MultiMedia Confusion

This week the StartCom MultiMedia Edition’s latest release was reported a few times in the networked media and has also caused some confusion. Distrowatch was the first site to report the availability after StartCom made the official press release public. This was soon followed by Softpedia and DesktopLinux, with a LinuxToday posting as well. Later when I found some Blog entries I realized that the updated release of ML-5.0.6 provoked quite some interest among the Linux crowd, but also some confusion.

StartCom MultiMedia Edition ML-5.0.6


So now it’s the time to clear some air here, since for example BĂ©ranger seemed to be completely confused about what’s going on with the operating system. “Someone explain me StartCom MultiMedia Edition” he asked in his web log. At a different Blog someone else seemed to have a “Highly disappointing start” as he reported in his StartCom MultiMedia Edition ML-5.0.6 Review, and even so the article had a touch of jealousy, I promptly left a polite reply.

First of all it wasn’t all that clear that release ML-5.0.6 is an updated release of the ML-5.0.5 distribution which was published in June 2006, since many expected a new major release. But ML-5.0.6 is not a new system per se, but a continuation of the previous one. Since a new MultiMedia Edition with version ML-6.0.6 is also in the making, this caused some confusion, since the directories and some packages are already visible in our repository. Now, the minor number change of ML-5.0.6 reflects the update, whereas the major number change of ML-6.0.6 indicates a new distribution. This handling is similar to that of the AS series (StartCom Enterprise Linux).

Previous MultiMedia Editions were based on our StartCom Enterprise Linux, more exactly ML-3.0.3 and ML-4.0.4 were. However with ML-5 we introduced a strategic switch to the more updated Fedora packages as the basis for the underlying system. This was briefly announced at the StartCom Linux forum. And since we continue to produce the Enterprise Linux as usual, this was perhaps also the cause for some of the confusion. But even more important is the fact that the similarity with Fedora ends more or less at the basic system packages. MultiMedia Edition is not equal to Fedora.

Which leads me to our target audience: StartCom doesn’t try to compete with Fedora and I believe that Fedora is a great OS for the average desktop user. It’s so great, we use many of its basic packages to build ML. The packages which make up the operating system are however always compiled at our premise and many times modified. StartCom MultiMedia Edition is first and foremost targeting advanced Linux users which are capable and willing (because they have to?) to configure the system for its intended use. This could be for example a LAN TV server/client or music file server, an audio or recording studio, drum machine, synthesizer or video manipulation work station. MultiMedia Edition offers so much more and its capabilities are really impressive, but it requires usually time and effort in configuring and learning of the application. Nevertheless it’s also an excellent desktop operating system since it has most applications one ever needs included.

At last now a small guide to get the 3D desktop running. ML-5.0.6 makes use of the XGL server and not of AIGLX (as future versions will do). XGL and Compiz will not work out of the box but require a few configuration changes, mainly an addition in the /etc/gdm/custom.conf:


name=Xgl server
command=/usr/bin/Xgl -accel glx:pbuffer

This should get it going, provided the card and driver support it. Saving the sessions of command: “compiz –replace gconf” and “gtk-window-decorator” should do the rest. If your desktop looks now like this, its working:

3D OpenGL Desktop

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