Corel Linux Deluxe
This is (so the box says) "A Powerful Easy-to-Use Operating
System-Designed Specifically for your Desktop" that includes
WordPerfect 8. Well, I am looking for a new desktop. I won't run
Windows (it's just too weak). I've been running SCO for years, but
SCO doesn't provide everything I need (most or perhaps even all of
it is available from Skunkware, but I'm lazy). I have looked at Red
Hat, and the Star Office stuff, but I just have more experience
with Word Perfect, so I'll give this a try. I decided to install it
on a spare machine that had previously had some minor problems with
RedHat 6.1: RedHat had installed fine, but only in text mode;
another RedHat package (Netmax) had failed to install at all on
this box. I was therefore pleased and just a little surprised to
see the GUI install pop right up.
I always follow the principle of "Manuals are for when it
doesn't work" when first evaluating anything new. That is, I just
go at it with my bare hands and slightly addled brain and see what
happens. If it blows up in my face, I go back and read enough of
the instructions to get me by that bomb, and continue in this
sometimes painful manner until the product is working or I've read
the whole manual. This of course is NOT the way to install anything
that is important to you and your livelihood, but it's a great way
to find the stumbling blocks that other people might bump into.
Corel's install took a very minimalist approach to asking
questions- it pretty much doesn't ask you anything. Oh, there are
places where you could click into Advanced Options, and I did go
back and look at those later, but the only real questions for the
standard install was to solicit a system owner id and to ask
whether or not I wanted to wipe out my hard drive and start fresh.
Sure, why not?
You can watch the install's progess on the GUI, or switch to the
character scren on CTRL-ALT-F3 and watch what's really going on.
The install took about 20 minutes, and when it was done, I rebooted
and again was pleased to see a GUI screen pop up offering to boot
Corel. That first boot involves a bit more configuration behind the
scenes (this time not visible on an ALT screen), that takes a few
minutes, but very shortly I was presented with a KDE desktop login
with "root" filled in. I thought I might have to go to the manual
at this point, but no, the password was just blank, and when I
clicked to log in I was immediately asked to change it, and then my
desktop came up, and there I was amazed to see that Word Perfect
was already loaded. So was Netscape, but of course since it had
never asked me anything about IP adresses, that wasn't ready to
work. However, I quickly found "Control Center" in my start menu,
easily found and modified the TCP/IP to be on my local LAN and to
use my SCO box (running ipfilter) as it's default route,
added DNS information, and in a few seconds I had Netscape (Version
4.7) up and running too. I had some problems, though, hanging and
slow loading pages, so I decided to give the poor thing a chance to
start from scratch by rebooting, and the network was much happier
after that. I added a local HP 6L printer (through Control Center
again, very obvious, very easy), and after logging in with the
non-root user id, I printed my first WordPerfect document with no
reference to manuals.
Right about now I was feeling pretty darn impressed. In less
than an hour, on equipment that hadn't worked all that well with
RedHat Linux previously, I had a complete working system without
having even looked at the manual. As I had to leave right about
then to take my wife for a dentist appointment, and would be
waiting for a while while he performed a root canal, I thought that
would be a good time to read the manual- if nothing else it would
take my mind off the $1,600 charge that is not covered by
It's hard to really enjoy reading anything while someone who is
charging you $800 an hour is excavating your wife's teeth, but in
spite of that, I do have to say that the manual is very good. A
neophyte user, with no prior exposure to Unix or Linux, could
probably feel fairly comfortable after reading this.
It was the next morning when I ran into my first problem.
Although I had succesfully printed from WordPerfect, I had
forgotten to try printing from Netscape. I assumed that this would
have been automatically set up for the lpr filter to run the job
through ghostscript as necessary, but in fact when I tried it,
nothing printed. I examined the used dates on the filters, and it
looked like the proper things were being called, but no printing.
To make sure there was nothing else wrong, I wrote a quick little
"webprint" shell script:
/usr/bin/gs -q -sDEVICE=ljet4 -r600 -sPAPERSIZE=letter -dNOPAUSE -dSAFER -sOutputFile="-" - > /dev/lp0
That worked from Netscape, so now I knew there was some problem
in the configuration. While I was sure I could fix it, I wondered
how our neophyte user would have made out, so I decided to see what
kind of support I could get from Corel instead. So, I wrote a
pleasant email to the address listed on their web site, explaining
the problem, and including the information that using the
"webprint" gs script shown above did work, as did WordPerfect
printing, etc. That was sent about 4:00 PM (EST) on April 17th
2000. At the same time, I also posted to the Corel
Support newsgroup, and then I looked at the actual files
involved to see where the problem really was. It turned out to be
very simple: /var/spool/lpd/hp/postscript.cfg had "RESOLUTION=0x0".
I changed this to "RESOLUTION=600" and the printing worked.
However, that was not the only problem- the PAPERSIZE option was
not being picked up because the postscript.cfg had it as PAPER_SIZE
while the /etc/printfilters/ps-to-printer.fpi was looking for
PAPERSIZE. I changed that to make it consistent, though it really
wasn't necessary for this.
In the meantime, I had a response on the newgroup telling me
that I might want to check out "magicfilter". Obviously that was
from someone who doesn't know that it is already set up to figure
out what filter it needs (and apparently also doesn't realize that
there are at least three "magic filter" packages out there). I wish
people who post in newsgroups would stay out of areas they really
aren't qualified in, though at least this answer might have caused
the befuddled user to either download something already properly
configured or to have to look into it enough to figure it out.
On the 18th, I received what looked like a canned response from
Corel asking for my serial number (which I had included in the
original email) and my address. I popped it right back to them, of
Corel has an update utility that comes preconfigured to point at
their ftp site. When it loads, it shows a listing of installed
packages. You simply choose "Update Profile", and it checks at the
ftp site for updated versions. The simplest way to do this is to
set "View out of date only" and then choose "Expand All"; if
anything is not current it will show up.
You can install software the same way (directly from their site)
or from CD. I found the interface a little confusing at first. but
once I clicked around a bit I got the hang of it quickly.
What else do you need?
OK, so we have a nice desktop, complete with Word Perfect. That
takes care of most of the Microsoft inter-operability stuff- I can
read and write Microsoft Word documents, and Netscape is already
configured to handle those dumb pdf files that web morons put up on
their sites. Unfortunately, I still need some Microsoft
applications. Fortunately, I found Win4Lin which let me install Windows 98
and the few Windows programs I still need now and then. So I'm
almost ready to make this my default desktop. There are a few other
things I need to do (add a tape drive, add a second nic so this can
take over as my NAT machine), but these are simple- it may take me
a few weeks to get there, but it's starting to look like this will
be my default desktop OS.
Not that this is without its problems. I noticed that certain
Java pages still can lock up Netscape solid (that's a Netscape
problem, not Corel's fault- the same thing happens on SCO and I'm
sure on Red Hat, too). Strangely, the problems aren't always the
same- a page that locks up on SCO doesn't necessarily lock up on
Some of the popular press has been rather negative about Linux
as a desktop OS, and I can't entirely disagree: some users would
undoubtedly find this very frustrating. Of course, Microsoft
Windows can be pretty frustrating, too, so I'm not convinced that
it is totally impossible for Linux in general to make inroads in
this market. Certainly for those of us who just can't live without
a real shell and Unix semantics, Linux makes a lot of sense, and
Corel's Deluxe version is a nice package.
As of noon on the 19th, I still hadn't heard anything from Corel
support, and nothing more was offered on the newsgroup, so I guess
our neophyte user would have had to live without printing from
Netscape for a while. If I ever do get an answer (correct or
otherwise) I will update this article.
A month later, no communication. Obviously support is not all
that great. Unfortunately, there is also the problem that Corel is
not seen as one of the "popular" distributions, which may nean
problems for any 3rd part software. That's too bad, because I
really liked the product.
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