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In today’s Ubuntu dominated Linux landscape, it’s refreshing to stumble upon an alternative linux software distribution choosing to follow its own path. GoblinX is one of these. After five years of development, they are still basing their distribution on Slackware and trying to ease the use of keeping it simple without assuming they know everything every user might want.

GoblinX began life as one of the strangest looking distros available. With its goblin logo, Halloween colors, gawdy window decorations, and strange wallpapers it surely gave its users a unique experience. Today, GoblinX tries to appear more mainstream, but they still refuse to bow to the tide.

The developers include little that’s not Open Source, which means no proprietary drivers, codecs, or plugins. What they do is provide a nice stable environment with handy applications. Most hardware is detected and auto-configured, but some wireless Ethernet cards may need manual configuration. Fortunately, unlike some distros, they have included Ndiswrapper for those who require Windows drivers to activate their wireless network interface controller in order to access the Internet.  GoblinX includes some graphical configuration tools as well for things like Wireless Protected Access and printer set up.

GoblinX offers several configurations. The most recent release was of their G:Standard. This standard version ships with KDE 4 and applications such as Abiword, Pidgin, KOffice, and MPlayer. Under the hood is Linux and Xorg X Server 1.6.3.  GCC 4.4.3 is installable. Other versions are G:Noblin which features GNOME as the desktop environment, G:Mini which uses Xfce 4, and G:Micro that ships with Fluxbox. While these versions and their source code are free to download, GoblinX developers also produce a version for USB memory sticks with GNOME and a netbook interface similar to Ubuntu Mobile that can be obtained for a nominal fee.

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GoblinX G:Mini with Xfce 4

The hard drive installer is relatively easy. The compact nature of the interface limits the options making it easier for the new user.  However, you may need to create a partition first using the included partition manager. The installer does have configurations for options such as user accounts, root password, filesystem, run level, and language.  Running from the live CD has the option to save users’ configuration to a partition or removable media.

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The GoblinX partition manager and installer

Being based on Slackware, it inherits Slackware’s package manage system. However, the much more friendly slapt-get and Gslapt graphical front-end are set up with GoblinX repositories and contain many other popular applications such as Firefox and  Gslapt resembles and functions very much like Synaptic.  Find the application, mark it for installation, and click Apply is all there is to it.

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The GoblinX package management - Gslapt

With this being a point-0 release, there are a few bugs. For example, the Gslapt package manager has problems completing its tasks at times and has dependencies missing from repositories.  These will no doubt be fixed in updates. In the mean time, from is an easy install and slapt-get at the commandline functions just fine.

slapt-get operates almost like APT.  Whereas with APT one might

apt-get install <package name>

, with slapt-get one types

slapt-get --install <package name>

. The other functions are similar as well.  Type

slapt-get --help

for more.

For those wishing to use Ndiswrapper to extract and format their Windows drivers for their wireless Ethernet cards, the procedure is very simple. First mount your Windows partition, then point Ndiswrapper to the driver .inf file.  So, for example, one might:


mkdir /mnt/sda1


mount -t auto /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1


ndiswrapper -i /mnt/sda1/SWSetup/WLAN/bcmwl5.inf

Then to use it simply:


modprobe ndiswrapper

If you have still have difficulties with certain Broadcom chips found in many laptop brands, perhaps try:


echo "blacklist b43" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist


echo "blacklist ssb" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

3.  Then reboot your machine.

Another thing many folks may miss is the Adobe Flash Player.  While GoblinX repositories have Gnash, a free Open Source flash player that sometimes doesn’t work real well, many users prefer Adobe.  It’s easy to install as well.

1.  Visit Flash Player download and download the tar.gz format.

tar -zxvf install_flash_player_10_linux.tar.gz


mv .mozilla/plugins/

Other than those previously mentioned, very few if any other problems emerged while using GoblinX so far.  In addition, KDE 4 on GoblinX performs rather well, even on a system with only 512 megabytes of RAM.   Whereas GoblinX may not be “install and go” to some standards, it gives the user the choice to use proprietary code other distros may take away. GoblinX is simply a nice distribution derived from a solid code base that offers the user even something better than choice – something different.  And these days, anything different is good.

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