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Feature: Sidux

Sidux grows on you

By Susan Linton on October 08, 2008 (9:00:00 AM)

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Sidux, a relatively new desktop Linux distribution, is based on Sid, the unstable developmental branch of Debian. The developers strive for an easy-to-install and easy-to-use modern Debian derivative, and pride themselves on remaining true to the principles and values of the Debian project. Despite a few inconveniences, I like Sidux a bit more each time I use it.

Sidux comes as a live CD in a few different configurations. I chose the 2GB DVD with a full KDE desktop for both i686 or AMD64 architectures, but you can also choose from a KDE-Lite or XFCE desktop version for either architecture; each uses less than 500MB. The download page warns that it's very important to burn the ISO onto a high-quality medium with disk-at-once, but I didn't see that until I was already running tests on the system; despite the warning, I didn't do anything different from usual and suffered no ill effects.

Both architectures on my DVD booted quickly with no issues into the optimal resolution for my Nvidia graphics chip and LCD screen. I liked the bright spring colors used in the background images this release, although the window decoration and widget theme are uninspired. I found most of my hardware detected and working. The wired Internet connection came up if it was plugged in during boot, and CPU speed scaling was enabled by default.

The KDE 3.5.9 desktop and panel are neat and tidy, but the menu still retain the redundant four-step-deep Debian menu. The rest of the menu was stock KDE with many added entries. There appeared to be lots of KDE applications and configuration tools available.

The installer

After those first impressions, it was time to install Sidux to my hard drive. The user-friendly installer, invoked from an icon on the live CD desktop, walks you through a quick and painless process. It features many of the same steps found in most Linux installers, presented in a tabbed format. As such, you can easily return to any previous step to make changes.

To progress through the steps, you can either click the tabs or the Forward button. The Welcome screen lists an option to install Sidux onto a USB key drive. The Partitioning tab contains the options to start a partitioner, define your root partition and filesystem, and specify other optional mount points. Next, set your timezone and GRUB preferences under the Grub/Timezone tab, then set a root password and user accounts on the User tab, and your machine's hostname on the Network tab. The next step, Firmware, allows you to install drivers for some wireless Ethernet adapters. When you click Next on the last screen Sidux will install itself on your hard drive as configured.

Software and system tools

Sidux uses KDE as its primary desktop, and many of the included applications were developed for KDE. It is no surprise to find software such as KMail, Konqueror, Akregator, and Kwrite. You also get digiKam, Gwenview, Kooka, Krita, and Xsane to read, display, scan, and edit your images. OpenOffice.org provides the office apps. Use Amarok, Kaffeine, and TVtime for entertainment. KNode, Konversation, and Kopete keep you in touch, KTorrent and KGet download your files, and Iceweasel surfs the Internet. Lots of accessories are included as well, such as KSayIt, KCalc, Kate, BasKet, and Ark.

There are way too many applications, tools, and utilities to list, but let's take a look at some of the more interesting. Hermes Upgrade Sentinel is a system tray app that monitors the News section at Sidux.com to warn you of any showstoppers with the dist-upgrade packages. If a warning is detected, it will display a red "stoplight." It can also brief you on regular news postings, list other package advice from Sidux, and update packages.

VirtualBox OSE 1.6.6 is available to run other operating systems inside the regular desktop. It supports several guest operating systems, such as all popular Windows versions, many Linux distributions, some Unixes, and a few others. Hopefully VirtualBox 2.x will show up in the updates soon.

Debian Package Search is a package manager for Debian and Sidux software. It has quite an elaborate interface for filtering and searching, and it will install and remove your finds as well. As delivered, it's configured to use the Aptitude package-managing back end, which isn't included in Sidux, so you'll need to either change the back end to apt-get or install Aptitude. After this minor adjustment, the utility seems to work really well. Of course, Synaptic is included too for those who prefer it.

Yet another software management option is the Metapackage installer. It lists software by groups such as Disk, Education, and Games. Most of these have further subdivisions, but you can check a box to install the whole Metapackage or a subgroup, which can be quite the time-saver. For example, the 3_to_10_years group under Education includes Khangman, GCompris, GnuChess, TuxType, TuxPaint, TuxMath, Childsplay, Lletters, Lmemory, Gtans, Kanagram, and Ktuberling. You also have the option to enable non-free sources.

Sidux features its own control center utility. It isn't as extensive as those of some other distros, but it has a few nice options. From it you can adjust your display resolution, choose your default browser, and install or remove new kernels and modules. In addition, you can configure network adapters and connections, configure and start services, and view upgradeable packages and basic system information.

Usability

Hardware compatibility isn't the issue it once was in Linux. Most common hardware is automatically detected and configured for users these days, and I found this to be true with Sidux. After the Firmware step added ethernet drivers during the install, all my hardware in my trustly old laptop was functional. I did have to configure the wireless connection, but no distro can guess a passkey.

While Sidux doesn't ship with the proprietary software needed for ATI or Nvidia 3-D acceleration and video viewing, it meets all other display needs. I installed Flash from Adobe Labs, video codes from the MPlayer Web site, and the mozilla-mplayer plugin through Synaptic in order to watch videos on disk and over the Internet. I enabled DVD navigation and read libraries from packages in Synaptic, and libdvdcss2 is available at debian-multimedia.org.

With other distros out there providing all these proprietary files, why should you choose Sidux? Perhaps one reason is outstanding performance. Sidux is blazingly fast and rock solid. It provides a pretty and uncluttered desktop environment with lots of applications installed right from the start. Between the Sidux and Debian repositories, there isn't too much software for Linux that's not available. Sidux has an active and friendly community supporting the distribution, good documentation, and vigilant developers. All in all, it just might be worth the little bit of trouble it takes to add a few proprietary bits.

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on Sidux grows on you

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.241.196.68] on October 08, 2008 12:29 PM
I have been using Sidux since the beginning of the year and It is great having the best of Debian Sid with enough stability thrown in to keep everything humming along. It is truly a great distro!

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some additions... to clarify some things

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.83.162.118] on October 08, 2008 12:33 PM
Hello! Nice glimpse on sidux you have given here... but still, just to be correct, let me add few things:

- sidux is spelled always with lowercase "s"

- be advised that APT only is officially supported as the package manager under sidux. read this topic please: http://sidux.com/PNphpBB2-viewtopic-t-5542.html ...

- you have not mentioned the sidux scripts: smxi, sgfxi, svmi
these make the life of an average user (like me, for example) much easier: those cover dist-upgrade, kernel install, graphics card drivers install, install of virtual machines, and many other things. personally, i really suggest to look at these scripts very much

- configuring wired or wireless network interfaces can be done via Ceni ... really great tool for that.

maybe more additions to come later...
greetings,
absolut (a happy sidux user)

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.188.18.213] on October 08, 2008 12:38 PM
I've been a bit of a distribution whore ever since I started toying with Linux starting with Ubuntu Edgy... once I discovered Sidux about 6 months ago, it's slowly crept into two desktops and a laptop and hasn't moved. It's also resulted in two windows partitions being deleted.

Any operating system that can load up in 22 seconds with such a comprehensive feature set wins in my book. The best thing is the friendliness of the IRC community, I'm a relative newbie but I can get answers within seconds from there. Highly recommend Sidux.

Now I just can't wait till they start supporting KDE 4... its nice to play with but Sidux's speed and reliability keeps dragging me back despite my desire to play with KDE 4.

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Re: Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.20.251.27] on October 08, 2008 10:28 PM
Yeah...I agree about the sidux IRC community. I get quick answers from people very willing to help. You can gently cojole them to offer you information you can understand by letting them know you're a newbie and that you only speak "simpleton" :) sidux is fun in that I love seeing and analyzing software updates. Something new gets upgraded almost daily. There are risks, so save_your_important_data! But I love the distro.

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Re: Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Dummy00001 on October 09, 2008 05:19 PM
> [...] start supporting KDE 4...

I have installed Sidux initially mainly for 2 purposes: (1) have up-to-date Debian and (2) to toy with KDE4. And I'm not sure about the order. I'd say toying with KDE was primary reason. (Third untold reason: I needed new OS.)

I'm running Sidux for past several months and KDE4 had showed great deal of progress. And it runs pretty well right now on Sidux. Many minor problems magically (recipe: apt-get update && apt-get upgrade) disappear over time. Right now I cannot even tell that I have any problem with my KDE4 desktop. YMMV.

I have followed the steps - http://sidux.com/index.php?module=pnWikka&tag=KDE4 - and it worked. Worked better than installing KDE4 on my previous Kubuntu which royally screwed up OS afterwards up to unusable state. Had to fix that by installing Sidux.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.33.1.37] on October 08, 2008 01:31 PM
I for one have been a happy sidux user since its inception. Your review touches on the basics of sidux and yes it indeed is a well-done distro that is bleeding-edge yet very stable. As was noted by another poster, yes apt-get is the standard package manager supported in sidux and the smxi, sgfxi, and svmi scripts also help in maintaining a stable sidux system. New users are encouraged to peruse the forum or #sidux IRC channel if they need help with sidux or if they have questions as the dev team's very supportive.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 117.96.48.15] on October 08, 2008 01:42 PM
sidux is very addictive.
Fast to install (very fast), fast to boot and fast to run.
Excellent manual and forum support.

dpt

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.171.118.14] on October 08, 2008 01:57 PM
Yes, yes it does grow on you. I't found it's way onto three laptops and my main desktop at my house. Lots of support out there.

deach

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 92.2.79.106] on October 08, 2008 03:23 PM
All the plugins codecs etc virtualbox skype can be installed with smxi scripts and much more, a 6yr old child can setup sidux its that user friendly

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Sidux Rulz

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.47.138.107] on October 08, 2008 04:21 PM
My 12 minute sidux installation paused only to ask about my Broadcom wifi card. I had to connect to my network, via ethernet, and it continued. The end result was a working wifi card, when the installation finished. In other distro's this same card resulted in at least two weeks of searching for a working solution, if one existed. My nVidia card, thanks to smxi, has never been easier to get working, using sidux. After a kernel update, smxi -kiwdt (as root) takes care of reinstalling the driver. I also have some M-Audio and Midiman devices. Once the firmware was installed, they worked, unlike another distro that required further modifications to some configuration files. I'd have to say that getting something to work, in sidux, is really as simple as plugging it in, sometimes even easier than trying to get it to work in Windows.

I also love the dvd containing both 32 and 64 bit versions, and the artwork is fantastic. Another cool feature is that it's default is KDE, but fluxbox is also installed. My only gripe is that I prefer Gnome on an installation (you can install it afterwards), but in a live environment, I'll get by with KDE.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.225.191.188] on October 08, 2008 05:42 PM
I tried out sidux early 2008 and soon after all other distros and windows was thrown out. The scripts thats been mentioned in the comments makes the sidux experience effortless.
The fact that sidux is a rolling releases is the topping on the cake, you install once and then you can run the installation for years, always staying up to date with a simple dist-upgrade.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.92.239.68] on October 08, 2008 05:54 PM
Yeah!!! It sure does. Earlier this year, a relative passed away and I inherited his Dell Inspiron 1501. I tried several (if not all) of the 64-bit distros. The only one that really setup nicely and ran was sidux. The *buntus were very disappointing. I thought there was actually a PII and 128MB of RAM in this laptop after I tried them. There still are some real problems with that distro that nobody wants to talk about, but whatever... By contrast, I have an early G3 iMac w/Kubuntu on and that runs reasonably well, all things considered.

I'd like to also comment re the sidux scripts: smxi, sgfxi, svmi, ceni. If I'm not mistaken, it's recommended that these scripts be used for system maintenance. I haven't always done so without any negative results.

Get into the forums. Lots of great support, comments, and advice. It IS a great distro.

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Re: Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Dummy00001 on October 09, 2008 05:31 PM
> There still are some real problems with that distro that nobody wants to talk about, but whatever...

You betcha. Sidux is a gateway into raw repository of freshly compiled Debian packages. Yes - just compiled packages. No, nothing - except compilation and installation - was ever tested.

That's what makes it attractive to people who are too lazy to compile everything on their own in Gentoo.

But that's also doom to any environment where you have to do some work - unless of course you know how to fix problems quickly (e.g. force installing older working version of package).

For home I found Sidux to be very good. And frankly I wasn't expecting for it to be so stable. Years of experience of Debian developers shields users from the crappy packages, I think.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 118.90.59.108] on October 08, 2008 11:19 PM
Sub 5 min install,wifi included,Nvidia took another 2min,then skype,opera,frostwire,realplayer mplayer,flash ,compiz fusion,etc etc,So easy to install,Brilliant irc,Rolling release and its boots so fast you need one foot on the brake ;)
Used sidux since 1st release,The distro dancing is over ;)
Performed many installs and have many happy friends :) ,,,"Vista got nuked,
The end ;).

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 142.13.48.33] on October 09, 2008 02:20 AM
Like the commenters above, I've had extremely positive experiences with sidux since its inception. The choices of desktop/windowmanagers are sensible. The h/w recognition is second to none. Our department's laptop's always get sidux on them and it is the first distro to get the bcm4306 wireless chip going on my laptop without any thrashing around on the net. We are also using it on lab desktop machines. The scripts mentioned do checks for issues for you and will keep your system up to date, and warn against upgrading if there are problems that need to be fixed first. It really kicks ubuntu's butt. And 2008-03's release is noticably faster to boot from hdd than anything I've seen to date.

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Sidux grows on you --> Like a Fungus!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.224.163.200] on October 09, 2008 03:56 AM
Ditto the above "distro-whore" comment. My running favorite, up until recently, has been Arch; until they went to KDE4, that is. Unfortunately, I find KDE4 useless and buggy, up to 4.1.1. So, I've been whoring around a little more lately.

sidux has become my distro-of-choice. I agree with all the comments above. It is blazingly fast, and if you have any familiarity with Debian, you will have no trouble. Apt, I believe, is still the best package manager out there. As for sidux being from the sid/unstable branch, I have never had any problems with stability, which is quite amazing. And I am still a card-carrying member of the KDE 3.5 fan club.......

Once you read/understand the additional and very helpful scripts that are used in sidux, smxi et.al., you are golden. The only problems I've had with sidux are:

1) Kernel update doesn't always work in a graphical environment; you will have to go to the command line and run smxi.
2) Often takes me a VERY long time to boot up. For some reason, on every boot, the system wants to fsck ALL of my 20-odd partitions. I haven't figured out how to stop this yet.
3) Sort of, but not really a problem........the extrememly rapid turnover of packages. The ongoing development in Sid is going so fast that it seem like there is a new version of a package on almost a daily basis. If you don't update for a month (as I did on one machine) and apt-get dist-upgrade, I got 400-odd packages at over 300MB. WOW! You really DO get a new distro every month! All hail the rolling release!!!

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Re: Sidux grows on you --> Like a Fungus!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.16.238.39] on October 11, 2008 05:44 PM
Re: Number 2 - fsck all 20-odd partitions every time you boot.
This is easy to fix: go into /etc/fstab with your favorite text editor as root. Spread it out horizontally
so that each line in fstab is on one line. Notice the last column on the right. It has 0's, only one 1 (for sidux) and some 2's.
Change all the 2's to 0. Make sure you have not made any other changes to fstab! Big messes are easily achieved!
Save the modified fstab. Reboot. Now there should not be any fsck other than sidux and that's only periodically.

I found this technique somewhere in the sidux forums (or maybe it was in the manual). Hope this helps. Steve_E

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 117.193.129.186] on October 09, 2008 07:25 AM
Another thing commendable about sidux is that the desktop contains a great manual after installation. This html manual is comprehensive, lucid and is available in more than a dozen languages. It explains everything the average joe would like to know - installing nvidia/ati drivers, multimedia codecs, installing ndiswrapper etc...

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 78.105.192.32] on October 09, 2008 10:12 AM
Good to see sidux being recognised for the very good distro that it is. A lot of people are too quick to judge, not taking the time to see what lies beneath the surface.

I have found sidux to be:
Fast
Stable
Very easy to maintain

I have 16 meg B/band, and repo's can sustain max speed.

Straightforward installer picks up other OS's no prob, and mounts drives post-install - unlike a few others. Installs can be as quick as just under 5 minutes.

Post-install - I run smxi (root console login & init 3), then tweak - remove all unwanted modules, locales, etc, etc, etc. Add non-free inc nvidia.
smxi is menu-driven & intuitive. h2 is the wizard behind smxi - take a bow h2 :) Here is link to smxi: http://techpatterns.com/forums/about736.html

sidux is not for everyone though (which is no bad thing, really), some will not be able to do without synaptic, for example. (Synaptic can be used to BROWSE, but is not reommended for actual package management in sid/sidux - Debian Unstable, that is.

Anyway, big thanks to the sidux team and h2.

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Re: Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.233.231.65] on October 18, 2008 08:33 AM
>I have found sidux to be:
>Fast
>Stable
>Very easy to maintain

Of course you have - it's Debian.

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Sidux grows on you - my No.2

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 86.63.199.65] on October 09, 2008 12:38 PM
The top one is PCLinuxOS, sidux is on the second position but only because PCLinuxOS is a little more user friendly.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.54.98.198] on October 10, 2008 05:09 AM
Sidux is the fastest and easiest rolling release i have tried. Just my opinion.
IRC guys are very helpful.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 86.165.48.11] on October 10, 2008 05:24 PM
Tried the XFCE version as a VirtualBox guest. Liked the fact that VirtualBox additions are automatically installed.

But Xubuntu boots in 2/3rds the time so not sure about the claims of super speed???

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Nice review

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.123.117.5] on October 10, 2008 09:36 PM
Hello,
Are you the sort of guy that goes to Distrowatch every week, looking for new distros to download, and very often install them soon after ??
The truth is, I was this king of guy, for three years until I tried sidux.
Been with sidux for one year now and couldn't do without it.

The review gets focused on the KDE desktop and KDE apps ; now if anybody wants GNOME instead, it only needs typing " apt-get install gnome "

I would certainly admit that people behind Mandriva, PC Linux OS or Ubuntu have been pretty useful in bringing Linux to newbies. But once you get a basic understanding of how things work you realize these distros are very SLOW compared to sidux. I don't now how the sidux team does it, but it's amazing.
Congratulations if you suceded understanding all this, as English is by no means my native language.
Alejandro GOMEZ

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 97.115.246.93] on October 11, 2008 01:12 AM
Love Debian, sidux is good, but long live Arch!!!

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sidux points of clarity

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.223.226.6] on October 11, 2008 09:11 PM
This was mentioned by another poster, but I want to highlight a few things for accuracy and completeness.

1, People seem to use the names Sidux and sidux interchangeably here. According to the sidux site, the correct product name is sidux with no caps.

2. sidux is sensitive about package managers because of the volatile nature of the project. Several of the founders strongly discourage the use of kpackage, aptitude, synaptic, or any package manager other than dpkg or apt-get. Furthermore, smxi is a highly recommeded tool, but it is not included in the sidux installation because of "software freedom" principles. sidux adheres strongly to free software and all that it entails.

3. Do obtain smxi as documented elsewhere in this thread - you can also find the information in the sidux online documentation.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.237.148.57] on October 12, 2008 12:59 PM
> "2. sidux is sensitive about package managers because of the volatile nature of the project. Several of the founders strongly discourage the use of kpackage, aptitude, synaptic, or any package manager other than dpkg or apt-get."

Yes sidux is quite a good KDE distro, but for me it does not use the proper branch of Debian, it would be Testing!

To give just one reason, the above quotation of the previous post is sufficient to show it. They "strongly discourage the use of" a Package Manager!
Uthe updates/upgrades are very sensitive and you need before you do them, to check the sidux site in case where there are some problems with them: "You should always check Current Warnings on the sidux main web site, and check the warnings against the packages that your system wants to dist-upgrade." (from the sidux site)


Otherwise sidux is fast, yes, but have you tried Parsix? It's a Gnome (I know this is not KDE... ;-) ) distro very fast too, and you can safely use a Package Manager (Synaptic) without problem. It is based on Testing. : P Fast, very stable, very easy to maintain, user friendly etc... A very good distro! Maybe you can want to try it...

P.S= KDE 3.5 is quite good but I hate KDE 4!

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.169.182.163] on October 24, 2008 09:05 AM
Sidux is my favourite rescue boot disc. It has all the tools available. Those it doesn't have on the CD I can quickly install via apt-get to the temporary tmpfs/unionfs filesystem. I wish it could come with a version without X and more commandline tools pre-installed though.

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Sidux grows on you

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 114.121.5.87] on October 29, 2008 03:29 PM
Where I can get WINE for SIDUX 2008-03 Ourea KDE Full i386?
Because my Sidux Internet doesn't work..

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