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Dynebolic Linux returns falls short of creative objectives

Dynebolic Linux beta 4.0 released in January announced new innovations for those looking for a production and publication tool that is self-contained. If you don’t know about distributions that are built around the KDE desktop, or other platforms, you may be misled as to its innovations.

The latest beta version includes very little to distinguish Dynebolic as an operating system that is unique and meets the demands of graphic artists, authors, publishers, etc. The biggest detail is that the beta 4.0 version is the first in more than a decade to use the Dynebolic Linux name. Previous releases were known as Dynebolic.

It does not, however, mean that it will never be a good platform for creators. Dynebolic Linux has been a big hype but short on results.

The left-side panel of Dynebolic replicates the KDE desktop’s activities feature. It also copies the virtual workspaces feature found in many Linux distributions.

The announcement hype attracted my attention as I was hoping that a newly developed Linux OS would offer offerings to satisfy my passion for Linux along with my appetite for creative, innovative tools.

I was disappointed when I viewed the developer’s site and tested the beta release. Not because the beta’s performance let me down — the release is functional but clearly a work in progress. There are too many limitations for users and elements missing. Dynebolic is not comparable to other distributions, except for a small desktop design tweak.

Confusing Lineage Creates Poor Impression

According to mid-March release noticeThe Dyne.org Foundation announced a new Rastasoft Production: Dynebolic 4. Beta. Rastasoft was — and maybe still is — a website design and development company based in Tehran, Iran.

On the developer’s site, Dyne.org is described as a community of digital artists and creatives and a free software foundry. They share tools, narratives and practices to empower them in this digital age. It claims to focus on technology that people understand and can control, instead of having people controlled.

It is not clear what the relationship between Rastasoft, Dyne.org and Dyne.org are. Both websites share the same goal, which is to adhere to pure open source code by not using any licensed or proprietary code. Rastasoft is not the only developer.

This new beta version aims to introduce people to the original values of free software. Rastasoft is hoping to recruit volunteers from its software community to help improve its development abilities. This is stated in the release notes and on its website.

Common Bond Built around Freedom Expectations

I found the websites to be a bit distracting at first, as they promoted Dynebolic Linux by referring to the Jah Rastafari movements. It seems that the connection with a possible choice of operating system is an unnecessary distraction.

Britannica.com says that Rastafarians are tested by God (Jah) because of slavery, economic injustice, and racial ‘downpression’ (not ‘oppression. “)

This religious and political movement started in Jamaica in 1930s, with the hope of repatriation in Africa. Along the way, the Linux distro took a stand in favor of free software for creatives.

After the release of Version 3, Dynebolic Linux, as its original brand was known, first appeared on 15 March 2005. It has remained dormant since then. Some sources claim that the beta 4 was released in September 2021. It is possible that the beta 4 announcement in March was an updated rerelease.

The distro has evolved through versions based on Gnome 2 desktop and Xfce. The current beta version is a modified KDE Plasma 5 Desktop based on Devuan 5 ‘Daedalus’ fork of Debian. Devuan is different because it uses sysvinit rather than init.d. It allows users control over system startup processes and services.

There could be more features coming.

What was left out of the beta 4 release compared to what had been promised is part of my disappointment. Dyne.org developed a collaborative toolbox for makers, hackers and dreamers.

The descriptions of the applications sound interesting and could be useful tools for specialized users. But none of these tools is included in the Dynebolic release — at least not yet. The availability of this software would make this Linux distro stand out from others.

Unique distros which cater to the specific needs of users are a key driver in Linux desktop adoption. Dynebolic Linux is marketed as a creative distro, but without any additional features. This leaves users no reason to use a newly introduced product.

Limited Functionality: A Bummer

Beta 4 ISO only contains a Live Image. The ISO can be burned to a USB stick instead of a dvd. This portability is of little use, as the software included in the release is not very productive.

Live images are only used to boot an OS without altering the hard drive. The live image is not permanent and cannot be used. The package management tools are also missing.

You cannot remove or add software. If this design is carried over into future editions, the users will have an operating system they can’t update.

A developer’s ability to cram as many applications into future ISOs that are only for live sessions is another consideration. DVDs — and to some extent, the installation capacity of USBs burned from an ISO image — max out. Installing a base OS, and then using package manager tools to download and store more software on the hard drive is the usual workaround.

Frustrating hands-on testing

Dynebolic would not let me take screenshots unless I used an external camera. There were no screen capture applications in the menu.

Linux applications are the best choice for multimedia professionals. There are many options in the graphics and multimedia menus. Vim, the KDE text editor, two KDE-based web browsers, and Konqueror were all that was provided.

Due to the absence of office programs, I could not create spreadsheets and other presentations slides. No printer support was available, so I couldn’t print anything.

Dynebolic is based on the KDE Quick Settings and application menus. However, almost all categories lacked full setting options.

I tested Dynebolic with a laptop that was connected to a secondary screen of a large size. The large screen was filled with startup processes while the laptop was booting. After the boot, only the laptop screen displays the desktop and all open windows.

There was no option to configure secondary monitors. The Activities panel would only appear on the secondary screen when I opened it.

Take a quick tour

As the developer explains, one of the most important KDE redesigns gives users a different experience, organized into different journeys to creativity, called workflows. This is a rebranding for KDE’s classic Activity feature.

Dynebolic Desktop provides five presets to suit specific workflows. These are: audio, video and graphics. Each one can be accessed via the desktop panel, or by using keyboard shortcuts. Plasma Activities is a virtual workspace where you can add specific applications for each workflow.

If you have multiple tasks or windows open, there is no need to minimize the windows. You simply select your preferred virtual workspace. Customize workflows by changing the system settings.

One of the unresolved issues with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop is the near duplicity in the two similar functions — the Activities (or, in this case, the Workflow views) and the virtual desktops that function separately. The Activities/Workflow Views were not accessible when adding two or more virtual Desktops in this beta 4 version.

Bottom Line

Dynebolic must provide a desktop platform that is more targeted to creatives using streaming, audio and video applications, graphics, publishing, and other multimedia tools. The beta version of the KDE-based KDE distro is nothing more than a remake. It is not specialized.

Dynebolic, until it is finished, will be of little real use to anyone or any creative.

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