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User friendly distributions

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April 11, 2006 12:12:30 PM
April 11, 2006 12:30:16 PM

You're being too abrupt. If you want to push forward your favourite distros, you'd better be ready to provide a few lines of comments at least.
April 11, 2006 12:36:16 PM

This is a question that I’m throwing at all u Linux gurus.

I am a windozs, BSD and Linux (to a lesser extent) user, using slackware and FreeBSD but am looking for a good easy distro for a windows user to get into. Doing some open source preaching here. There are some who are interested but they complain about the setup. I am a terrible teacher so therefore I am looking for the easy distro.

It should be minimalist without too many choices in the initial setup. While it is a good thing that
Linux offers you sooooooo many choices this doesn’t help the newbies. Is there one where it sets everything up like windozs where the user is prompted only for personal info, password and root password (maybe network settings).

Thanks in advance.
Related resources
April 11, 2006 12:41:39 PM

I've been up all night fixing stuff so I'll be improving this when I get some time to add to it :-D
April 11, 2006 12:44:37 PM

Quote:
This is a question that I’m throwing at all u Linux gurus.

I am a windozs, BSD and Linux (to a lesser extent) user, using slackware and FreeBSD but am looking for a good easy distro for a windows user to get into. Doing some open source preaching here. There are some who are interested but they complain about the setup. I am a terrible teacher so therefore I am looking for the easy distro.

It should be minimalist without too many choices in the initial setup. While it is a good thing that
Linux offers you sooooooo many choices this doesn’t help the newbies. Is there one where it sets everything up like windozs where the user is prompted only for personal info, password and root password (maybe network settings).

Thanks in advance.



One could argue that the Live CD distros are the friendliest because they do not require installing or major configuration. Naturally the downside is you do not normally have permanent storage.
April 11, 2006 12:50:52 PM

Good Idea!

I could use the live CD distros for basic introduction and then move them on to something else.

Now only if I knew what this “something else” was!!!
April 11, 2006 1:03:35 PM

SuSE 10.1 when it comes out should be close to what you're looking for. Default desktop is Gnome. 5 CD images (1 required, 3 recommended). It is however crippled in that it can't playback MP3s or DVDs. It's very slick looking and comes with many up-to-date softwares. A CD containing non-free software is also available for download and allows you to install Flash, Realplayer and Acrobat Reader in a snap, but still no MP3 or DVD support in other apps.

The basic commercial version will have 3D drivers, Centrino ROMs, MP3 and DVD playback enabled in all apps. Also get support.

In short: looks good, impractical free version - go for the commercial version.

----

Mandriva 2006 gives you a lot of flexibility on install, but its default are very well chosen. It also doesn't require as many reboots (it actually needs only one). Default desktop is KDE. 5 CD images (1 required, 2 recommended). DVD-image is available too. It can playback MP3s and burn them to CD out the box but you need to configure it a bit to playback DVDs (configuring plf sources on easyurpmi.zarb.org and installing libdvdcss will solve the problem). It can be made to very closely resemble a Windows desktop, and is very good for beginners. For Ipod owners, Gtkpod is included.

The basic commercial version comes with bundled accelerated drivers, Flash, Sun Java, the ROMs for Centrino, and the like - you can get the equivalent in the free version by configuring easyurpmi. Support is provided mainly through very active mailing lists, and commercial versions come with 3 months of phone support.

In short: free version can be made complete through a visit to easyurpmi.zarb.org, is nice and fast, but doesn't look as streamlined as SuSE.

---

Ubuntu is Debian-based; it allows MP3 and DVD playback (I think) but is much less fleshed out for now. It is however very well supported, and you can order free CD packs for free (shipping included), including an install CD and a liveCD. However, you need a FAST internet connection and standard hardware to make it run easily: due to the limited media, fancy/exotic drivers aren't provided, and you can't compile them due to lack of kernel headers and compiler - so if the liveCD can't work well on the machine, you will have hell to install it.

In short: very good for slightly older machines, very nice support, easy to use, but lacking in choice and flexibility.

---

Most free distros don't come with accelerated proprietary drivers. There is a free Ati driver for cards from Radeon 7000 to 8500 (?) supporting accelerated 3D and pretty much all Nvidia cards are 100% supported in accelerated 2D, but no 3D out of the box. Installing the Nvidia drivers on SuSE is very difficult for now, you can install them with a click in Mandriva provided you configured easyurpmi.
April 11, 2006 1:13:48 PM

errr... what new thread are you talking about? This one is pretty recent...
April 11, 2006 1:19:02 PM

Suse does sound good but I am looking for something free with out of the box support for stuff like MP3 and DVD since I won’t be using it myself but handing out for other people to try.

There is no way I’m going to subsidize their OS costs. As it is I’ll be providing them with support till they get the hang of things.
April 11, 2006 1:21:11 PM

Sorry I already deleted that post. It was meant for the other thread that we hijacked. :oops: 
April 11, 2006 1:39:45 PM

In that case:
- try Ubuntu
- or get familiar with Mandriva's easyurpmi.

My choice distro is Mandriva. The nice thing about it is the number of ISOs you can get on so many ftp mirrors. It is also flexible enough to handle Fedora Core packages. Moreover its adherence to Linux Standard Base and freedesktop.org directives make it quite compatible with other distros. Another nice touch is the basic ftp tree: if you set it up as current (instead of 2006) then every time a new version is out and you start the package update process, the distro actually updates from top to bottom while you work, with a very high rate of success. On next session restart, everything is up-to-date (no, you don't actually need to reboot to update a running piece of software). Most other Linux distro are able to do so in theory, but I can personally attest to Mandriva going through the process flawlessly.

Ubuntu would be my second choice: the pressed CDs with the liveCD gives you a very good indication on whether the installation CD will run or not.
April 11, 2006 2:23:42 PM

Ubuntu is reasonably user friendly.

SuSE is good -- great for Novell users.

Mandriva is good but they fired their founder, are getting sued and have $ problems.

FC is good, updates very frequently, works pretty well, install is simple.

Debian is great but not good for new users.

Slackware is great but not good for new users.

Xandros is nice.

Linspire is horrifying but it mostly works.

I'd say start them up on Live CDs / DVDs then graduate to Ubuntu, SuSE, FC5, Mandriva, etc.

:-D
April 12, 2006 12:55:22 PM

Debian isn't so beginner-unfriendly anymore. But to get the hang of it, well, try Ubuntu - it is Debian-based, and to agree with linux_0, provides a liveCD.
April 12, 2006 12:59:05 PM

Is Mandriva what Mandrake called today?? If so then it is a good choice to introduce my friends to the world of linux with. My first distro was Mandrake. I later moved on to slackware and FreeBSD.

Sorry for the dumb questions but since using those 2 OSs I haven’t checked what is going on in the wonderful world of open source OSs. :oops: 

BTW Any of you heard of PC-BSD? It is supposed to be a user friendly version of FreeBSD and IMHO BSD rocks!!!!! :D  (Guess why my Linux distro of choice is Slackware?)
April 12, 2006 1:21:54 PM

Mandriva is the result from the Mandrake/Conectiva merger. It is still more Mandrake than Conectiva, but much better-looking.
April 12, 2006 1:29:46 PM

@ Mitch074

Tru64 bit debian but is still kinda intimidating, I've even heard some admins are intimidated.

@ choknuti

Yes Mandriva is what used to be Mandrake.

Mandriva is currently having problems as I mentioned above.


Don't forget about Knoppix :-D
April 12, 2006 1:50:43 PM

Mandriva is pretty much out of its problems: they're turning up profits these days. They did fire their founder, and are focusing more on businesses than on home users.

Their distro is still one of the most game-ladden ones I've seen apart from Debian.

Knoppix is an extraordinary good liveCD (or liveDVD), but its install on HD is either messy or pure Debian.
April 12, 2006 4:19:12 PM

Quote:
Mandriva is pretty much out of its problems: they're turning up profits these days. They did fire their founder, and are focusing more on businesses than on home users.

Their distro is still one of the most game-ladden ones I've seen apart from Debian.

Knoppix is an extraordinary good liveCD (or liveDVD), but its install on HD is either messy or pure Debian.



I hope they make it. It's not good that they fired their founder though and are being sued.

Knoppix is really an awesome Live CD and DVD and an even better rescue disk. Admittedly it's not that great when installed but that is not its primary function.
April 18, 2006 1:15:57 AM

I've been using linux (off & on) since RedHat 5.0 (what a nightmare that was) and have tried Mandrake, Debian, Mephis, Fedora, Knoppix, Gentoo, Slackware and I'm glad to say that linux has come along way since the early days. I truely believe it's ready for the masses or at least by the end of this year it will be!

I own a small IT shop outta my home and have a about 12 small business customers along with about 60-80 personal users that I support and have converted about 40% of them to ubuntu linux. Ever since ubuntu Breezy Badger came out I've been going nuts spreading the word, I'm actually called the "ubuntu linux preacher-man" :D .

All of the business that I support have adopted linux and are quite happy. They have saved a lot $ by turning their heads the opposite direction of M$. As for the personal users I support that have made the transition, they too are quite happy with ubuntu and are happily working and gaming without many issues and they themselves have spread the word and have introduced their friends to the stable world of computing.

The main reason I and many others luv ubuntu is because of the community, that forum is gold. If you have an issue just type it in the search and waa-laa your answer appears in front of you 95% of the time. So I would definately recommend ubuntu for the first time user!

Here are a couple of my desktop pics;

A pre-release of Dapper Drake the next version due out June 1st.
http://www.fileden.com/files/548/cybercams_screenshot1....

Take a look XGL & Compiz, together they create beautiful eye-candy that's fast and stable, unlike other OS's that attempt too do half of this using approx. 500mb of ram just sitting there doing nothing!
http://www.fileden.com/files/548/cybercams_screenshot2....
April 18, 2006 4:40:21 AM

I applaud you for your efforts :-D

Please let me know if I can help!
April 18, 2006 5:02:33 AM

Thank you so much linux_0, I try my hardest to give people a choice. Some try it and some don't, to each his/her own.

The one thing that sucks about all this is that I find myself being needed less and less with my personal customer base that have converted over to ubuntu. For those individuals my service boils down to hardware issues, additional training and remote back-ups. Oh well upward & onward, there's still a lot more to people out there to convert :D  .

Happy, computing!
April 18, 2006 5:49:44 AM

Quote:
Thank you so much linux_0, I try my hardest to give people a choice. Some try it and some don't, to each his/her own.

The one thing that sucks about all this is that I find myself being needed less and less with my personal customer base that have converted over to ubuntu. For those individuals my service boils down to hardware issues, additional training and remote back-ups. Oh well upward & onward, there's still a lot more to people out there to convert :D  .

Happy, computing!



:-D

That's because Linux doesn't usually break like windoze does. Which is great, but I guess it can be bad for business. On the up side, there are millions of people who would switch if they were not afraid to do so!
April 18, 2006 6:20:37 AM

In Windows' defense... most of the time it breaks because someone was doing something they should not have been.

Of course, this isn't true in all cases, but I'm sure the people that "break" Windows on a regular basis could probably find some way to break Linux too...

;) 

Never underestimate the power of someone that doesn't know what they're doing!
April 18, 2006 8:53:56 AM

Quote:
In Windows' defense... most of the time it breaks because someone was doing something they should not have been.

Of course, this isn't true in all cases, but I'm sure the people that "break" Windows on a regular basis could probably find some way to break Linux too...

;) 

Never underestimate the power of someone that doesn't know what they're doing!




This is true for every operating system to some degree. However windoze does break by itself quite a bit too. Or enables others to break it easily because of the way M$ does things.
April 19, 2006 9:19:09 AM

true; moreover, some Windows damages can't be fixed without reinstalling (Registry corruption) or very difficult purges (driver hell). Unix' way of putting every setting in config files may be space consuming, but at least it allows you to actually boot from another media (liveCD), fix said config file, and reboot - if simply logging in from another account isn't enough or possible.

I never EVER understood MS's need to link everything to the GUI.
April 19, 2006 9:30:43 AM

Quote:
true; moreover, some Windows damages can't be fixed without reinstalling (Registry corruption) or very difficult purges (driver hell). Unix' way of putting every setting in config files may be space consuming, but at least it allows you to actually boot from another media (liveCD), fix said config file, and reboot - if simply logging in from another account isn't enough or possible.

I never EVER understood MS's need to link everything to the GUI.



Excellent point!

If something breaks you can simply boot single user and fix it. Under windows when things break, they frequently break so badly you can't even boot or get to safe mode to try to fix the darn thing.

The registry also gets so screwed up after a while you have to reinstall and windoze gets progressively slower with use while Linux, BSD and Unix just works.
April 19, 2006 12:53:18 PM

Quote:
true; moreover, some Windows damages can't be fixed without reinstalling (Registry corruption) or very difficult purges (driver hell). Unix' way of putting every setting in config files may be space consuming, but at least it allows you to actually boot from another media (liveCD), fix said config file, and reboot - if simply logging in from another account isn't enough or possible.

I never EVER understood MS's need to link everything to the GUI.



Excellent point!

If something breaks you can simply boot single user and fix it. Under windows when things break, they frequently break so badly you can't even boot or get to safe mode to try to fix the darn thing.

The registry also gets so screwed up after a while you have to reinstall and windoze gets progressively slower with use while Linux, BSD and Unix just works.


Very true, usually when a customer brings me a corrupt system that can't boot the first thing I do is create a image of the hdd then try and fix the mbr (usually the ntldr). If that doesn't work I reinstall and copy over their data files from the saved image. It's a lot quicker & easier than farting around trying to fix this and that which can take days to figure out! The windoze registry is a royal pain in the a$$.
April 19, 2006 1:12:32 PM

Quote:
true; moreover, some Windows damages can't be fixed without reinstalling (Registry corruption) or very difficult purges (driver hell). Unix' way of putting every setting in config files may be space consuming, but at least it allows you to actually boot from another media (liveCD), fix said config file, and reboot - if simply logging in from another account isn't enough or possible.

I never EVER understood MS's need to link everything to the GUI.



Excellent point!

If something breaks you can simply boot single user and fix it. Under windows when things break, they frequently break so badly you can't even boot or get to safe mode to try to fix the darn thing.

The registry also gets so screwed up after a while you have to reinstall and windoze gets progressively slower with use while Linux, BSD and Unix just works.


Very true, usually when a customer brings me a corrupt system that can't boot the first thing I do is create a image of the hdd then try and fix the mbr (usually the ntldr). If that doesn't work I reinstall and copy over their data files from the saved image. It's a lot quicker & easier than farting around trying to fix this and that which can take days to figure out! The windoze registry is a royal pain in the a$$.


Smart, VERY smart :-D

:trophy: :trophy:
April 19, 2006 1:50:41 PM

They say experience is the best teacher.

I'm smart now, but I learned the hard way. Many moons ago I use to sit down with a client and go over what exact data files they wanted to save (which I did manually) from their hdd before reinstalling windoze... easy right... think again. After saving the data files they had requested to be saved, I'd reinstalling and copy over their data, give them back their machines and they'd be very happy... or so I thought. Lo and behold, I'd get a phone call a month later stating "oh I forgot I also need "xxxx" data file, can you get it back for me?" And of course I'd be the one to blame! :? So now I cover my a$$! :) 
April 20, 2006 5:45:09 AM

Quote:
They say experience is the best teacher.

I'm smart now, but I learned the hard way. Many moons ago I use to sit down with a client and go over what exact data files they wanted to save (which I did manually) from their hdd before reinstalling windoze... easy right... think again. After saving the data files they had requested to be saved, I'd reinstalling and copy over their data, give them back their machines and they'd be very happy... or so I thought. Lo and behold, I'd get a phone call a month later stating "oh I forgot I also need "xxxx" data file, can you get it back for me?" And of course I'd be the one to blame! :? So now I cover my a$$! :) 



:-D

What tools do you use to image the drives?
April 20, 2006 1:07:43 PM

I use Partimage for linux (which is on the SystemRescue distro - I highly recommend it) and Acronis Server for Windoze, both work amazing for their respective OS's! You are able to pull data off each one at will without having to reload the entire image. :D 

Oh another must have for IT technician is Spinrite (ver 6) by Steve Gibson at www.grc.com. This piece of software has saved me a lot of work and time in many cases.
April 20, 2006 1:11:45 PM

Quote:
I use Partimage for linux (which is on the SystemRescue distro - I highly recommend) and Acronis Server for Windoze, both work amazing for their respective OS's! You are able to pull data off each one at will without having to reload the entire image. :D 

Oh another must have for IT technician is Spinrite (ver 6) by Steve Gibson at www.grc.com. This piece of software has saved me a lot of time in many cases.



I have partimage but I've never heard of Acronis Server.

Interesting :-D

Have you seen g4l or g4u?

partimage is probably better tho.
April 20, 2006 1:23:45 PM

Actually I have heard of them but after researching all, found Partimage to be the best.

Aconis also makes a linux version of their True Image software http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products/ATISLin/ but like I said Partimage does the same job for free. :lol: 
April 20, 2006 1:30:02 PM

That is my favourite cd I've been using it since about ver 0.1.18. I use it to backup all three of my servers. :D 
April 20, 2006 1:31:44 PM

I heard of SystemRescueCD, but since Knoppix has partimage and qtparted, I don't use anything else - neither do I really need to.

Or maybe Knoppix doesn't and they have been added to the Knoppix-flavoured liveCD I'm using. What about it, linux_0?
April 20, 2006 1:35:59 PM

I also use Knoppix to fix windoze problems and OpenOffice2.org to fix corupted doc and xls files as well. I'm one that's a firm believer in using the right tools for the right job. :D 

It's very ironic that there are so many linux tools/open source tools used to fix windoze problems, and yet many windoze advocates dislike linux. 8O
April 20, 2006 1:38:26 PM

Quote:
That is my favourite cd I've been using it since about ver 0.1.18. I use it to back all three of my servers. :D 



Kewl :-D


Quote:

I heard of SystemRescueCD, but since Knoppix has partimage and qtparted, I don't use anything else - neither do I really need to.

Or maybe Knoppix doesn't and they have been added to the Knoppix-flavoured liveCD I'm using. What about it, linux_0?



They BOTH do. :-D

SystemRescueCD and Knoppix both have Parted, QTParted, Partimage, etc

and of course Knoppix has a LOT MORE :-D

SystemRescueCD = 122MB vs. Knoppix = 700MB

The only advantage is SystemRescueCD is smaller so it will fit on smaller CDs or USB flash drives, CF cards, etc more easily and will download faster than a 700MB ISO in an emergency but other than that Knoppix wins of course :-D
April 20, 2006 1:41:28 PM

Quote:
I also use Knoppix to fix windoze problems and OpenOffice2.org to fix corupted doc and xls files as well. I'm one that's a firm believer in using the right tools for the right job. :D 

It's very ironic that there are so many linux tools used to fix windoze problems, and yet many windoze advocates dislike linux. 8O



Knoppix is AWESOME, it is one of the best Live CDs and DVDs out there. :-D

Ya, it's really funny... also M$ ahem "borrows" stuff from the open source world all the time yet I do not recall them ever giving anything back to the community.
April 20, 2006 1:45:36 PM

Another note gents (if you don't already know) QParted now has it's own distro and is not just a tool for other distros.
April 20, 2006 1:51:06 PM

Quote:
Knoppix is AWESOME, it is one of the best Live CDs and DVDs out there. :-D

Ya, it's really funny... also M$ ahem "borrows" stuff from the open source world all the time yet I do not recall them ever giving anything back to the community.


M$ giving anything back, haha that's a joke!!! :D  They borrow ideas from every source/technology out there and all in the name of the almighty $. :p 
April 20, 2006 2:40:36 PM

Quote:
Knoppix is AWESOME, it is one of the best Live CDs and DVDs out there. :-D

Ya, it's really funny... also M$ ahem "borrows" stuff from the open source world all the time yet I do not recall them ever giving anything back to the community.


M$ giving anything back, haha that's a joke!!! :D  They borrow ideas from every source/technology out there and all in the name of the almighty $. :p 


They "borrow" ideas, source code, patents and just about everything else they can get away with from everyone but if they feel someone is infringing on their "property" they go ballistic.

Btw, Bill Gates just had dinner they other day with the Chinese president and China just happens to be the #1 "pirate" nation in the world.

Food for thought.

NOTE: the above statement was not meant to offend anyone.
April 20, 2006 2:46:28 PM

Ahh... it makes sense now! China has recently made a law that no computer can sold without an os, interesting..... hmmmm
April 20, 2006 2:52:33 PM

Quote:
Ahh... it makes sense now! China has recently made a law that no computer can sold without an os, interesting..... hmmmm



VERY interesting indeed... I read about it on /.

I believe you should be allowed to purchase a computer without an OS.

You should be allowed to put whatever OS on it you want without having to pay for ANY OS, regardless of whether it's windoze, Linux, BSD, Unix or anything else.
April 20, 2006 3:04:38 PM

Quote:
VERY interesting indeed... I read about it on /.

I believe you should be allowed to purchase a computer without an OS.

You should be allowed to put whatever OS on it you want without having to pay for ANY OS, regardless of whether it's windoze, Linux, BSD, Unix or anything else.


I second that motion! Well, from what I've heard, here in Canada that ban has recently been lifted and there's no need to purchase hardware say with a OEM version of windoze xp any longer.
April 20, 2006 3:11:24 PM

Quote:
VERY interesting indeed... I read about it on /.

I believe you should be allowed to purchase a computer without an OS.

You should be allowed to put whatever OS on it you want without having to pay for ANY OS, regardless of whether it's windoze, Linux, BSD, Unix or anything else.


I second that motion! Well, from what I've heard, here in Canada that ban has recently been lifted and there's no need to purchase hardware say with a OEM version of windoze xp any longer.


That's awesome :-D

We need to do that in the US too.

You shouldn't be forced to buy things.
April 20, 2006 3:56:35 PM

I while back I was an systems administrator for a large trucking company - to make a long story short. I needed 75 windoze 2000 pro licenses because I needed to upgrade these pc's at one particular location. I basically had to purchase 75 new keyboards and mouses to get the licenses legally. At $25CAD for a set (1 mouse + 1 keyboard), it proved quite costly and cut a good chunk of $ out of my IT budget. Boy was I ever pissed! :evil: 
April 20, 2006 4:07:59 PM

Quote:
I while back I was an systems administrator for a large trucking company - to make a long story short. I needed 75 windoze 2000 pro licenses because I needed to upgrade these pc's at one particular location. I basically had to purchase 75 new keyboards and mouses to get the licenses legally. At $25CAD for a set (1 mouse + 1 keyboard), it proved quite costly and cut a good chunk of $ out of my IT budget. Boy was I ever pissed! :evil: 



That's BS, complete and total BS. I agree with you :evil: 

Linux is now a credible option on the business desktop and I encourage everyone to try it.

It is very powerful and if deployed properly can yield great results.

:-D

PS I believe the only thing Linux cannot do very well just yet is gaming. It CAN be a great platform for games but not so much for windows games.
April 20, 2006 4:25:21 PM

Quote:
That's BS, complete and total BS. I agree with you :evil: 

Linux is now a credible option on the business desktop and I encourage everyone to try it.

It is very powerful and if deployed properly can yield great results.

:-D

PS I believe the only thing Linux cannot do very well just yet is gaming. It CAN be a great platform for games but not so much for windows games.


You're right it is a credible/viable option and the 12 companies I support have all been converted over to ubuntu (desktops)/debian (servers) and their productivity has gone up ten fold! No reboots, no corupted files (now that they use open document format), no slow downs and all of their inhouse apps are a client server archutecture with the client only needing a browser to do their daily functions. And the companies own their in house software, so no annually licensing fees. :D 

As for the windoze gaming, I'd say a good 30% to 50% of the top/most popular games are actually supported using either wine or cedega, that end of it is also coming along.
April 20, 2006 4:51:36 PM

Quote:
That's BS, complete and total BS. I agree with you :evil: 

Linux is now a credible option on the business desktop and I encourage everyone to try it.

It is very powerful and if deployed properly can yield great results.

:-D

PS I believe the only thing Linux cannot do very well just yet is gaming. It CAN be a great platform for games but not so much for windows games.


You're right it is a credible/viable option and the 12 companies I support have all been converted over to ubuntu (desktops)/debian (servers) and their productivity has gone up ten fold! No reboots, no corupted files (now that they use open document format), no slow downs and all of their inhouse apps are a client server archutecture with the client only needing a browser to do their daily functions. And the companies own their in house software, so no annually licensing fees. :D 

As for the windoze gaming, I'd say a good 30% to 50% of the top/most popular games are actually supported using either wine or cedega, that end of it is also coming along.


:trophy: :trophy: :-D

WINE and Cedega are great, it's too bad some games are a pain to work with under WINE or Cegega :-(
!