In a nutshell – Peanut Linux

By   |  June 27, 2005

Peanut Linux version 12.0

Peanut Linux was recently renamed ALinux. This review was originally published in Tectonic Magazine

I first came across this Canadian distro at a time when I was dissatisfied with the trend towards large distributions that came on three or more CDs and had silly design issues, such as rpm dependencies requiring Emacs before installing Apache. I decided to look for a distribution with a small footprint, KDE, and useful apps. I tried out Bonsai and Peanut. At the time Peanut Linux was on version 9.4, and I\’ve run every release since then.

Peanut Linux is very much an enthusiast\’s all-in-one distribution. Before the time of credit-card-sized live CD distributions Peanut was one of the smallest distro downloads, hence the name Peanut. The installation media spans just one CD, which contains the entire base system. No package selections are made during install time.

Initially based on Slackware 5, Peanut includes the Red Hat Package Manager (RPM), although in a custom wrapper which is used from within Midnight Commander by highlighting the package and pressing F2. This custom installation routine also allows for installing Slackware .tgz and Debian .deb packages. But use it cautiously, especially when updating core components like glibc and X. RPM is perhaps not the optimal package management system ­ there are better ones ­ but in view of the target audience it suits Peanut well. An alternative package management system is already under development.

There is so much bundled with Peanut that in the three years I have been using it the only additional software I ever really needed to install was the MySQL Control Centre. That excludes tinkering. I\’ve also had my share of \”dependency hell\” over the years and spent a great deal of time hunting on for missing dependencies. Running rpm -Va | grep \"dependen\" | sort -u &>outputfile.txt returns unsatisfied dependencies. But to make sure, I\’d suggest that new or unfamiliar users stick to using only the software already in the Peanut repository or compiling from source.

As with any distribution, Peanut Linux has its quirks. Fortunately, one of Peanut\’s greatest strengths is its user forums. I have found help on the board for more than one issue.

Peanut is known for containing a lot of bleeding-edge software which also makes it a little more challenging than other distributions. Potential users must remember that Jay \”Linuxkid\” Klepacs is the sole proprietor and that Peanut is effectively a one-man distro. I have done a lot of very productive work using Peanut and have never lost data or hardware. But I would still recommend it for home use only.

On booting from the CD you are presented with disk partitioning options. I use the very handy CFDISK. At this point you are offered a choice of ext2, ext3, ReiserFS, Reiser4 filesystems. Incidentally, the Peanut install disk also comes in handy when you need to boot a Linux system with a messed up boot loader. I simply type linux root=/dev/hda at the CD\’s boot prompt to boot whatever is installed on the disk and fix the boot loader. After partitioning and formatting the new disk volumes Peanut extracts its file system to the selected partition. If you want to keep /home on a separate partition you will have to complete the entire installation first, mount the partition as /home after renaming the original directory and move the old home directory\’s contents there. Remember to specify the /home mount point in /etc/fstab. Peanut\’s NNTR (no need to reboot) setup is launched on successful install.

From the NNTR menu you can launch all the configuration tools required. Here
are the available tools:
– KUDZU automatically picked up my VIA AC97 sound chip (although Peanut said it was not currently supported), Realtek RTL8\’39 network card, Topic
external serial modem and USB HP DeskJet 3550.
– PASSCFG is used to set up a password for the root account.
– KBDCFG is used for setting keyboard settings.
– MOUSECFG obviously is used for the mouse settings and should detect your mouse easily.
– CDCFG makes a link to /dev/hdx (the location of your CDROM) for /mnt/cdrom. I have a CD writer at /dev/hdc and a CDROM at /dev/hdd, so I had
to edit /etc/fstab accordingly after installation.
– SNDCFG detected my sound card but said it was not supported which was surprising because it worked in previous releases.
– XF86CFG had no problem with my Riva TNT2 display card and LG 700S monitor and even automatically detected the correct horizontal and vertical sync ranges. All I had to do was choose which resolution and colour depth I wanted.
– PPPCFG can be used to set up any dial-up connections you might need while NETCFG does the necessary configuration of LAN connections.
– MODULECFG is interesting. It loads /etc/rc.d/rc.modules in the Midnight Commander editor and allows you to add the loading of kernel modules at boot
time. I uncommented the /sbin/modprobe vfat entry, so that I could use my FAT32 data disk on /dev/hdb.
– LILOCFG automatically sets up your boot loader with options to customise.

Now back to the sound problem. Because Peanut said my sound card was not supported I poked around /lib/modules/2.6.\’0/kernel/sound/pci/ and found the kernel module snd-via82xx.ko. I then re-edited /etc/rc.d/rc.modules and added /sbin/modprobe snd-via82xx.ko and executed the same command in the console so that the driver was loaded. My sound then worked fine.

Post install
If you want to run the setup again at any point after your first install all you need to do is type setup in a console as root. And if you have a problem with your boot loader and need to boot off the CD simply type stage2 at the prompt to enter the NNTR program.

Walter Kruse can be contacted at walter dot kruse at eject dot co dot za


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