BabelDisc

I’m having a play with BabelDisc. It’s a linux operating system, but unlike most Linux systems it is almost entirely preconfigured and pretty much non-tweakable. This means effectively that it can’t be trashed, crashed or smashed. It also boots from a CD which makes it unalterable in normal use. All the data is kept remotely, over the broadband link, making it secure (at a small cost).

If it works out I may use it on miss’s machine. She had a vanilla XP install last Yule which she uses solely for browsing, word processing and msn’ing, but you know how things get twisted… the odd MSN file, the accepted email trojan, the wrong URL… it’s beginning to look like a contender for a reinstallation. Perhaps I won’t need to now. Later versions may run from hard disk, making it a candidate for a dual boot or even a primary machine.

I’m not a Linux geek. I did install a Ubuntu box with some help from a friend, but I’m DOS all through. One day I might grasp the nettle, but for now a Linux advertised as ‘trouble-free computing (you’ll never need a computer expert)’ sounds quote marvellous. But true?

Burning the ISO image to disc was of course no problem. It booted without trouble (apart from some scambling of the screen during launch) but of course when I got to the log-in I realised I’d left the password on the XP partition! Reboot. The next time I plugged in a USB 2GB memory stick first, in order to run ‘BabelBooster’, a local cache. This caused the whole installation to halt without a prompt. Reboot.

Returning to the log-in, I entered my user name (email address) and password from the email received at that address… Not recognised. Unfortunately that’s where I am now, back on XP. If the user name is not my email address then I haven’t been told what it is and can’t guess. I’ll give them a ring tomorrow.

Not so trouble-free so far. It’s still in beta so I suppose I can’t be too miffed. Funny how the credit card transaction worked first time though…

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  1. Interesting to read your experiences.

    They correspond almost exactly to where I’d got to yesterday evening!

    Therefore, tomorrow you should find that Babeldisk have sent you your proper username and password.

    You will then log on and realise how slow Babeldisk is. I found it took around 5-6 mins to boot up from cold – this on a brand-new laptop. Then for example OpenOffice took around 1 – 1.5 mins to start. Every so often the whole thing froze temporarily while it searched for some bit of information on the CD. BabelDisk is not (at present) a novice-friendly experience.

    On a positive note, Firefox seemed to work fine (including downloading PDFs etc).

    Sorry if this sounds negative (you should definitely draw your own conclusions); I guess I’m warning you not to set your expectations too high, because BabelDisk is only just going into Beta stage and it’s very early days. I got error messages aplenty, for instance.

    I’ll check back soon to see what you thought.

    Alistair

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