Caldera Network DeskTop Review

by Edward Cameron <>
Copyright (c) 1996

Published in Issue #6 of the Linux Gazette


Slick advertisement led me to Caldera. The fancy images within the Linux Journal magazine promised software that had features I have come to expect from a GUI.

For US $30.00 one could get a lot of functionality at a decent price. What follows is a synopses of several applets included with the Caldera DeskTop software. A in-depth discussion is beyond the scope of this article.

Package Contents: The Manual

The provided manual, while on the thin side, is succinct. It explains how to partition the hard drive and how to select a boot disk which best fits your hardware. You simply select the boot image from a chart based on the type of CD-ROM, NIC card and hard disk controller in your computer.

The DeskTop software is contained on the included CD-ROM.

You will need three disks for this installation. One disk for the boot disk and two disks for the ram disk images. Its up to you if you want to create a rescue disk. I found it useless and not worth the effort.

Use the Express Install option. You will need about 160 megs of disk space and all packages will be automatically installed for you. The custom installation procedure will require you to baby-sit part of the installation and I found that I installed about 90% of the software anyway.

NB: Using the custom install cause the font server to be omitted from the installation. I don't know why, nor have I tested this, but the font server is one major reason for my buying the software. After all, what good is it to have several thousands of fonts and be forced to use Windoze in order to take advantage of the fonts?

TIP: Use the text based install- its faster than the graphical install. The text install takes about 45 mins. Never timed the graphical install, but it was more than 45 mins. Times will vary depending on computer system.

The DeskTop

The Layouts

Click on the below highlighted items to view the preconfigured layouts.

Power User

(the difference between the NOVICE and POWER USER layouts is the omission of the JOBS window in the NOVICE)

The DeskTop come with three pre-configured layouts. Each of the layouts can be tailored to meet your special needs or wants simply by adding programs to the desktop and then saving to a user version of the layout. I will save the DeskTop for next months 'in-depth' review. The DeskTop is pretty and has several powerful aspects which deserve more than a passing mention.

The Applets

What follows is a short intro. to some of the 'applets' of the DeskTop. I call them applets simply because I like that idea- small useful programs which don't do alot, but are handy to have. Crisp is the exception to this; it is a stripped down version of a text/program editor and is very powerful.


(Click here it view TimeTool screenfig)

The Timetool program is used to set the system clock and date. A nice utility and one that I welcome over the command line program date.


(Click here to view printtoolfig)

Have you ever struggled to set up a printer? Well, look no further amigo. This little utility takes the guess work out of setting up print services under Linux. Simply click on ADD, enter the required information in each of the blocks, select either local or remote printer and then fill in the blanks. Save it, restart lpd and you are off and printing.

User Configure

(Click here to view usrcfg screen fig)

No surprises here folks. Configure both your users and groups with this utility. This is a nice utility and it takes some of the confusion and guess work out working with users and groups. I don't know of too many harried sys admins who have botched the users and groups files on occasion simply because they were in a hurry and didn't pay attention. This utility makes it easy to add, delete users and groups as well as changing passwords if the need arises.

Net Configure

(Click here to view netcfg screen fig)

Some parts of this utility work, other parts don't. The Name Servers entry form doesn't work. Entering anything here causes an address of to appear instead of the one you want. As you can see from the picture, I don't have much of a network. Just the loopback device. I believe that PPP is configurable under this utility, but I've not found the ways and means to do that.


(Click here to view the glint screen fig)

Preview I introduced the LIM utility which is the forerunner of GLINT. Both utilities are designed to install and de-install software which has been packaged according to RedHat 's rpm rules. The concept behind Glint is simple: collect all of the parts of a program (or series of programs) into a 'package' and then put that package onto a floppy or CD-ROM for distribution. The user then extracts the package to the hard drive in one fell swoop with the Glint program.

Crisp Editor

(Click here to view the crisp screen fig)

HERE! is the best and only reason I am bothering with the DeskTop. Crisp is the default editor for release II of the Preview program. It is a third party software program included on the CD and it is truly outstanding. Only a step below WYSIWYG, it is tempting to spend the additional US $70.00 for the full blown version. Multiple buffers, autoload of last file edited, and a row of menu button 'goodies' help make Crisp lite a true gem of a program. Kudos to Caldera for including it on the Preview II CD.


I originally planned on doing only one article on Caldera, however the more "I writ, the more to writ". It sort of snowballed into a monster. I believe the only way to do justice to Caldera is to break the software up into byte sized pieces and serve them up two or three at a time. So, next month I'll start with the most troublesome applets: the Print tool and the net configuration.

Ciao fer now!

Beam me back to the Linux Gazette, Scotty!