Free software and Linux in India

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A First Start

BOSS Linux welcomes users with a conventional, visually slightly revamped GRUB menu that provides live operation as well as direct installation on a mass storage device. The live version starts with a Gnome desktop that informs you about the system and its free licensing on a splash screen. The system presents no driver problems even when running on advanced mobile hardware.

A glance at the Gnome interface submenus reveals the usual range of today's programs, including the GIMP image editing tool and the lean Chromium web browser.

Several self-developed applications from the BOSS team are found in various submenus. Under Office are the two programs BOSS Bulk Document Converter and the BOSS Presentation Tool . Whereas the document converter allows entire file folders to be converted from one format to another in one go, the presentation tool facilitates handling of slide shows and documents in multimedia presentations. It allows automatic presentation to run on a projector and provides various effects that make the transition between slides more interesting (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The BOSS Presentation Tool allows eye-catching presentations.

In the System Tools | Administration submenu, you'll find the BOSS Utilities , which you can use to install additional programs from a separate utility CD for older BOSS versions. These utilities have been part of the DVD image since version 4, so you do not need additional disks to install the software. The term "Utility CD" is misleading in that the provided applications are not just utilities but full-blown programs that the menus place into various groups (Figure 2). After you choose a group, the software provides a selection of programs in it, which you can check off for installation. By clicking OK , the tool loads them in one swoop with all of the dependencies.

Figure 2: The BOSS Utilities let you install additional software without using Synaptic.

Another feature of BOSS Linux is in the Sound & Video menu. Developers integrated the XBMC Media Center (Figure 3) so that you can turn your PC into a home multimedia center without installing anything else. You can also use the well-known VLC Player and Banshee for playing movies and music, along with various image viewers and audio rippers.

Figure 3: Thanks to XMBC, BOSS Linux turns your computer into a media center with a push of a button.


To install the distribution on a PC, choose Install BOSS Graphically from the GRUB menu when starting the DVD. The graphical installation process, with which you may be familiar from Debian, helps set up the system on your local storage.

Two unusual features stem fromBOSS Linux's geographic and technical roots. First, the installer provides multi-language keyboard layout, but only a few Indian languages and English are available for the desktop layout. That means you have to install the system in English first before making localization changes.

A second peculiarity concerns certain Intel wireless hardware. Because Intel provides only proprietary firmware for many of its wireless cards (which Debian and most of its derivatives don't support) you need to install the firmware later on. This requires a functioning Internet connection, so it's advisable to connect to a wired network when installing BOSS Linux. Apart from that, installing the desktop version of the system went without a hitch in testing.

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