User account "Gniarf" is not registered. Olivier Souiry, software engineer/coder/DBA/admin/etc. found about Linux in 1995 and wikis in 2002.

coLinux-related emails can be sent to : colinux, at I speak french as well as english, I can provide some help and of course I won't promise to answer each mail, especially the ones I can't even understand. so drop your script kiddy lingo right here.

<Gniarf> 2004-03-05 : well I first heard of coLinux almost two months ago via friends and Slashdot but the site was - of course - slashdotted for a while thereafter. was it a fake or not, I couldn't know.

a few days ago I read an article about UML and then I did remember about coLinux... and decided to try it out.

I managed to run coLinux with the Debian image and set up a decent system.

some screenshots are here :

nothing really interesting yet, "ugly" Cooperative Linux console

(yes, mIRC, yes, the colors may seem weird, but after 10 years of IRC, I am both tired of black on white or green on black. and my eyes are more relaxed this way).

OpenOffice running on colinux/debian - "I can't believe it's not Windows" :

I just ran Oracle 9i in coLinux, using a old Mandrake 8.2 image. believe it or not :)

abusing coLinux - see where it bangs - but it doesn't... Wine on Woody

I took some notes - in french - and here they are : - needs some work, basically it's just a step-by-step walkthrough, from clues I got on this Wiki.

my default.colinux.xml is here :

did I mention coLinux totally kicks ass and gives me the same *wow* factor I had the first time I heard about wmvare ? well you get the picture. the look of the main "coLinux console" may be deceptive.

coLinux proved safe (unless the one time I accidently launched xdm locally, causing X to start locally and Windows display to hang). co Linux proved fast enough and the usual slow pigs are KDE and Cygwin. coLinux could prove *very* useful for hundreds of uses.

is it faster than VMware ? I can't tell, I didn't try VMware for a while. but at least for now, I feel safer using coLinux than VMware, coLinux is much more stable, and coLinux seems much more responsive when you type things and do stuff. I was watching TV on a TV card without any lag ! also, co Linux managed to use the full speed of my network connection to my ISP Debian mirror for downloading purposes. on a host-to-guest transfert (or Windows to coLinux), I got 150 K/s.

naaaah. too good to be true, but I still have to find any real downside to coLinux. of course I don't expect to run 3D games like Quake, sound and video editing applications, or memory hogs like Oracle or Java (Windows limitations here, actually). The only issue I had was with the keyboard - bloody azerty keyboards ! - but it's fine under X Window.

a bit later, I installed Apache and PHP and... ran like a charm, fast, played with a copy of a site with Mozilla under Cygwin and everything was actually fast !!! and responsive ! and once I took a look again at the coLinux console, I saw with stupor that top was running, and had been runing for a while. I have been playing with apt-get and apt-cache and vi in a KDE konsole for a while - I even got confused between my Windows Mozilla and my Cygwin screen Mozilla once or twice -

and I left top running in the console, and I didn't notice any slowdown ! ok, my system is a Athlon 1800+, tuned but not overclocked, I got enough RAM so that everybody should be happy, but still, I am totally delighted with the reactiveness of coLinux. wow.

did I mention that updatedb is bloody fast ?

after KDE I wanted to try Gnome. unfortunately, gnome is another beast. there is no such easy way to "install everything I need to run Gnome", such as kde or kdebase for KDE. so you have to pick some packages nammed after gnome, and pick a Window Manager or two. you may have to install gnome applets, gnome panels, and nautilus too. heck, I even installed The GIMP, since I also wanted to try it.

well, after a while and many tries, GDM eventually let me run Gnome and play with Gdict. unfortunately, part due to the low quantity of RAM dedicated to coLinux (64 Mo) and part due to *hem* rather chaotic packaging of Gnome on Debian, some things tends to break, and it is hard to blame either Gnome or the low memory amount.

at first, Gnome was really slow and made a point of staying in my way, with the hundreds of user-friendly helps, tips and confirmations - "are you sure ?". with a little more memory, some operations like redraw went much faster and Gnome became almost usuable - except nautilus, which is not really usuable with thumbnails and all on real Linux box either. but that's another story.

with a little effort (removing much eye candy, animations, wallpaper and stopping unused services like Apache in order to save precious RAM), Gnome 1.4 can prove usuable on coLinux today. but overall Gnome 1.4 proved slower and more bloated than KDE (2.2 ?), and also more difficult to install. (not a troll, and not a big deal either).

the GIMP was a nice surprise - fast and responsive under Gnome, and even faster under KDE. of course, don't expect to open 3000x2000 JPEG and split them in dozens of layers. GIMP will eat all your RAM before you know it.

since I was having so much fun, I installed one of my little favorites - xkobo, a small but fast action-based game. playable and not too many hicups under Cygwin, should try with X-WIN32. of course, X speed will be relevant there.

updgrading the beast from woody to sid.

up to now, I had but one crash, when I accidentely told X to start inside coLinux using hardware support. all other issues were related to X Window (XFree86, Cygwin build) and simply were harmless X Window crashs when exiting Gnome sessions. really harmless - Cygwin tells me "core dumped" and happily restart X as soon as requested. mostly harmless, I will check with X-WIN32 to see if I am going to blame either coLinux or Cygwin (actually, I already know the answer).

so, about 200 Mo to be downloaded and unpacked. the download went really smooth - no surprise here - and the unpacking was the really first time coLinux stressed my system - albeit not that much.

I had to dodge vicious tentatives by gdm to start and hang my system during the upgrade - so I don't recommend this upgrade for the faint of heart.

so ? coLinux resisted. co Linux is stable. coLinux is fast enough, not a toy or a proof of concept. best surprise I had since discovering Wikis or RSS concepts.

now I tried to launch X apps outside of any root X Window :

to do that :

  • set up X-WIN32 to use display (for instance)
  • type export DISPLAY= in the Cooperative Linux Console
  • now launch a term (konsole, xterm...) like this : xterm & or just xclock & if you want

and bingo, your X client appears on Windows now, "free" of any X root window.

  • colinux16.gif yes, you can have two displays, Cygwin X on and X-WIN32 on, if you want.

also notice, you don't need to use gdm (Gnome Display Manager) to do that, so you can stop it first (/etc/init.d/gdm stop) - if you run lightweight X clients like xterm, you can save lots of RAM here by not using KDE or Gnome.

apache/php/mysql/phpmyadmin running on colinux/debian :

OpenOffice running on colinux/debian - "I can't believe it's not Windows" :

OpenOffice is rather usuable if you avoid to bring the main window from foreground to background and back all the time. refresh are slow and many are uneeded, so it takes 1-2 secondes each time.

ran phpSysInfo - unfortunately, you can't see much, except the low amount of memory available :

oh, and don't trust the Bogomips.

a month later, already. one day I was browsing Slackware web site and remembered of zipSlack, ( ), a mini-distro of Slackware designed to fit in 100 Mo. porting it to coLinux was easy :

I made a annoucement there : once ironed out, this image will be available.

a KDE desktop, xkobo and two irc clients (xchat and irsii (or ircii). notice that xchat suffers of sever refresh problems under an external X Window server but runs fine under VNC. conclusion, it is poorly written.

May 15th, 2004. I just ran Oracle 9i in coLinux, using a old Mandrake 8.2 image. believe it or not.

May 29th, 2004. I feel like a perv. I often see people asking which IRC client is the best for Linux (and the answer is ircii, of course), and I routinely answer mIRC, in part to piss them off, in part to troll (other people then scream "mIRC sucks" and I just ask "but why ?", in part to encourage them to try several IRC clients, graphical and non-graphical. anyway, here is something totally useless - and therefore, definitively cool :

mIRC running on Wine on Debian on coLinux on Windows 2000 !

the greenish look of the icons on the toolbar are a X Window issue, I guess. here, it is a separate X application, with no KDE or Gnome running. I didn't hack much the color depth, font looks and other, I just uses apt-get install wine then ran mIRC out of the box. "proof of concept". as the following screenshots will prove, it can be corrected.

oh, mIRC was running ok. some display issues (speed) on X, as with several other applications with many toolbars, widgets and other GUI guyzmos. so, I tried it with VNC :

In VNC I couldn't type accentued letters (éàù) but I didn't try very hard. also, the 1. key was not working for me (french keyboard) but that is a Wine configuration issue.

While not as fast as the Windows version, at least now the colors are right when used with a Desktop Manager (KDE in this case).

conclusion ? it is useless, of course, but coLinux proved once again it is stable and reliant. the display speed issues are due to X, as usual. using Windows application via a Desktop Manager like KDE enables Wine to use more correct fonts and colors maps (as they are loaded via startkde for instance). using VNC make it more usuable, by buffering some display output.

June 3th, 2004. one post on the mailing list pointed me to Busybox, the base for many Linux micro-distributions (boot and rescue disks). I grabbed a release of Busybox and made it into a coLinux image, see this page for more info : draftGniarfMiniRescueDistroHowTo

July 19th, 2004. still not dead, I added 3 gb and 4gb images (blank and ext3fs) to and

also, here is a screenshot for the Mandrake 10.0 rescue disk. quite interesting is support for loadkeys. also, rpm supports, if you use them. see LinuxRescueDisks for more details.

September 16th, 2004. tried the new UserLinux debian installer and managed to get something out of it. (poor screenshots)

December 2004. migrated the wiki from PhpWiki to MoinMoin Wiki.

I went in lurker mode a while after. I still read the mailing list. Currently I sometime use Ubuntu.

MassTranslated on Sun Apr 23 17:36:16 UTC 2006