For a while now I’ve given readers free access to an archive of old Herald Express Click articles online at the website address Last week we recently completed an entire redesign of the site and whilst adding some old articles it came to my attention that the last time I reviewed a Linux Operating System was way back in 2002.Obviously Linux is a very important and successful technology and so this week I thought was as good a time as any to correct the apparent lack of interest I have shown towards it.

I feel obliged to recap on what exactly Linux is because many of my readers may not yet be familiar with it.Put simply Linux is primarily considered an alternative to the Microsoft Windows Operating System as many users are not completely happy with the many offerings from Microsoft.The product is particularly popular with the Internet community as it is written in a way so that anybody can get hold of the code for free and modify it to correct any problems they may find which can then be put back into the public domain for others to use.This means that you can get hold of a stable and fast Operating System for very little or even no money.

A colleague recently told me about the free Slax Operating System whose unique selling point is that it’s compact enough to fit directly on to a USB pen drive meaning should you wish you could carry your preferred OS from computer to computer in your pocket.This is quite unique as traditionally an Operating System has to be installed before it is used – a process that usually takes around an hour to complete.With Slax you can just pop your USB drive in to a foreign machine and away you go – of course it can also boot off a CD-ROM or hard drive should you prefer.

When first run the software does have to set itself up to your specific hardware configuration as it needs to detect and install hardware specific to your machine.The process is quick and painless however and before too long you should have everything set up the way that you need.Once you’re in you’ll find the graphical interface pleasant and easy to use because as well as looking good it is well laid out hence making find your way around pretty effortless.

The basic applications required for office work, multimedia use and system configuration are all included as part of the download however there are hundreds of additional modules available free of charge from the Slax website.I’m not going to go in to listing specific applications as there are simply too many to list in this article however needless to say pretty much everything you need is included as part of the original distribution.

Whilst the program is extremely capable it is worthwhile bearing in mind that the hard drive installation utility provided is very limited as this particular variant of Linux is really designed more for running from portable media usually as an addition rather than a replacement to your current Operating System.I will take the opportunity over the coming weeks to check out another take on Linux for those that would prefer to set it up as the primary Operating System on their hard drive and are not so worried about portability.

All in all I think Slax showcases exactly what can be done when software isn’t bloated and over complicated like practically every version of Windows ever released seems to be.Even if just out of interest head to to download the software – you will want a broadband connection for this however as the standard download is a modest 200mb in size.Whether Linux is the future or not remains to be seen but for many good reasons it looks like it’s here to stay for the considerable future.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.