Updated: April 7, 2017
Imagine the following eclectic repertoire of paradoxes and styles - a Windows XP lookalike running something called Trinity, which is based on KDE 3.5, with a new Linux kernel under the hood (Debian) and weighing at only about 500 MB for the live edition. What.
That is the sum of my first experiences with Q4OS, a Linux that few of you will think of as your initial choice for a desktop. Or maybe even a second or third picking. On DistroWatch, it's number 56 on the list, the reviews are far and few in between, so why bother, you may think. Well, the story isn't as straightforward as it looks.
The official page adds to the mystery, with even more 2000-era idiosyncrasies. Let us not forget that Q4OS would not boot on my Lenovo G50 machine at all, UEFI or Legacy, despite a clear promise that version 1.8.3 Orion is compatible. One for the trash bin then?
Not quite. Feeling somewhat frustrated by the ordeal, I decided to boot a Q4OS image inside a virtual machine, just to see what it's like. This is when things started becoming really interesting. A lucky turn of fate, if you will. Lucky, you hear!
Good things come to those who boot
Please note this is NOT a full review of Q4OS. This is just a sampling, performed inside a virtual machine, so all the difficult questions of hardware support do not really apply. And this is only a live session test, because I wasn't planning on any extended work with something that didn't like my laptop.
But as I started fiddling about, I became intrigued. The very first thing, Q4OS detected it was running inside VirtualBox, and it offered to install the guest additions for me. I said, why not, and blimey this worked. There were no conflicts, no issues, and the system asked me to re-login, after which I had full-scale resolution and auto-resize. Good.
The default desktop feels like a happy clone of Windows XP, down to windows decorations and all. You also get a welcome screen that offers several common tasks, including application setup, desktop setup, media codecs, and such.
Feeling skeptical, I decided to try installing some codecs. Again, you get that nice pseudo-Windows installation wizard, which guides you through steps that actually hide the apt-get interface in the background, but this is not a bad thing. It's also very fast.
Once the codecs were done, I decided to install a few programs, including Firefox and VLC. Then, I connected to my Samba shares - over a bridged Wireless connection, and I was able to grab a few songs, which then merrily played in the freshly downloaded media player.
Look & feel
The Windows-like experience might deter you, or you may expect a Windows XP workflow, which might not be best suited for 2017, but strangely, this is not the case. The menu comes with inline search, and you have the ability to navigate through categories with a modern-ish level of ergonomics. Changing wallpapers is also quite neat.
Trinity may not be the prettiest, but it also isn't the exact replica of Microsoft's legendary XP. There is an element of old, but it's mixed with some new freshness, so rather than looking antiquated, it looks eccentric. In a good kind of way, not Crocs & Socks.
And if you don't want to do things one by one, you can always opt for a complete bundle. Best of all, everything works in the live session, and you do not have the impression you're running from bootable media, nor is there any slowdown as a consequence of your virtual machine experience here. In other words, Q4OS is a very fast little distro, right there with MX-16 and some other lightweight friends. Not what I expected. Please do remember that I'm not doing a one-to-one comparison. Just an observation.
Well, that was not what I expected. I got attracted by the colorful offering, got dismayed by its inability to handle modern software, almost gave up completely and had it erased from my synapses, and then, just for the sake of it, I had the virtual session running and boy was it glorious. Crazy really. It was slick and modern and fast and fault-free and even tolerable when it comes to aesthetics. Confused and delighted, that is what I am.
But this means I will endeavor to run Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion on my older LG box, which does not have UEFI, but it does have an Nvidia card, and this is a critical piece, especially since this distro had proprietary drivers on its can-do list, so that will be most interesting to test. I might fail, but I am liking it enough to give a chance. Who would have thought. Anyway, for now, no grade, as Q4OS is a bundle of sweet contradictions. TBC.