Calculate Linux 20Calculate Linux released version 20 at the end of 2019 with major updates and is based off Gentoo. Calculate Linux Desktop (CLD) includes a wizard to configure a connection to Calculate Directory Server. According to their download page, "Calculate Linux Desktop is listed in the Russian Software Register." To sum that up, CLD is a distro from Russia, based off Gentoo, and designed to connect to a Calculate Directory Server. What is a Calculate Directory Server? Well according to their website, "Calculate Directory Server (CDS) is an advanced, LDAP-based authentication server designed to be a domain controller for business networks."
CLD utilizes a strange installation interface (GUI) I have not encountered before, even after testing numerous distros throughout the years. All the normal steps are there, but they're not standard or very usable as in most other installers (Calamares, Cnchi, Ubiquity). The features are too complex and they gave me too many errors. I did not like the installation process very much. It was riddled with weird grammatical errors that made the media seem amateur although the distro is far from amateur, in fact I would say it is a very advanced distro, not for beginners.
Calculate Linux 20 -- Running the system installer (full image size: 929kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
No matter what I tried, manually partitioning did not work for me and I had to erase the disk and do it automatically as opposed to the normal manual ways I prefer. I really could not understand the issues they were trying to give me in the installation media concerning my partitioning and it was very finicky. I had to reinstall numerous times. I will say, my wi-fi worked out of the box and my Intel video card worked out of the box (Optimus computer) but the installation of NVIDIA drivers during the installation made this system unbootable. This led to my first reinstall.
Next I tried to do a install with my Intel card and install the NVIDIA drivers after initial boot using the Optimus guide for Gentoo. This also rendered my system unusable. Second reinstall and I gave up on using NVIDIA drivers at all.
I used the KDE version of CLD because I thought it was most likely the baseline or main version they build. In addition to KDE they offer many different desktop environments that are commonly found in different distros: Cinnamon, Xfce, MATE. Upon first boot I noticed a slightly dark theme which was very pleasing. It comes with all the usual KDE accoutrements (Konsole, Kmail, Dolphin) and was easy to use. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
CLD comes with Firefox. Interestingly, their Firefox comes with uBlock (a popular ad/tracker blocker) pre-installed, which made me worry about other changes they may have made to their install of Firefox. I did some brief logging on Wireshark while using CLD and I did not notice anything out of the usual, but that doesn't mean they're in the clear.
Calculate Linux 20 -- Firefox with uBlock extension (full image size: 624kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Software, software, software... where is the software? I couldn't find any mention of a software store or any GUI based package management system in the KDE menus, so I took to the mean streets of the terminal but then I realized I have no idea how to install software on a Gentoo based system. Oh the fun of learning a new package management system, yet again! Gentoo utilizes the complex emerge package management system from Portage. According to the man pages, "emerge is the definitive command-line interface to the Portage system. It is primarily used for installing packages, and emerge can automatically handle any dependencies that the desired package has. emerge can also update the ebuild repository, making new and updated packages available. emerge gracefully handles updating installed packages to newer releases as well. It handles both source and binary packages, and it can be used to create binary packages for distribution."
I did not really ever master the emerge system, and I can't say that I liked it at all. Installing and updating packages using emerge and the built-in GUI updater for CLD took much longer than I was used to. An update after about two weeks, of only 52 packages, took way too much time to complete.
Steam and Chrome are both in the standard repository for CLD, but many programs I looked for and regularly use were not in the repository. LibreOffice was pre-installed on CLD, as was Adobe Flash Player, GIMP, Clementine, SMPlayer, and many other useful software packages. The pre-installed programs did not number too many and I found most of them to be mostly practical applications usual users would need. Netflix worked well through Chrome and I did not have any issues using Firefox or Chrome during my review.
Calculate Linux 20 -- Watching Netflix in Chrome (full image size: 1.7MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Steam runs great, just as well as on any other distro and better than some. The games I like to waste time on ran well too. I could run smaller, indie games as well as bigger (although somewhat older) titles such as CS:GO without a hitch. I did not test any games that require a massive graphics card (like Witcher 2) because I could not use my NVIDIA card and that would have been a waste of time to even try.
One strange rogue issue I had during my test was with the mouse/pointer and the trackpad on my laptop. Sometimes I would be scrolling down with two fingers, and then it would switch directions and start going up, and vice versa. This happened every day using Calculate Linux and was very annoying.
Calculate Linux Desktop running KDE used 688MB of RAM at startup.
Being blunt, I did not especially like CLD. I will admit, I did not use it to connect to a Calculate Directory Server, so I can't explain how good that usage would be. I don't think most users know what a CDS even is, even I still do not.
If you need to connect to a CDS, Calculate Linux is probably a good distro to choose. The KDE desktop environment is solid, and I'm sure the others are too. I would say that using Gentoo as a base seems either gimmicky, unnecessary, or overall a strange choice for any modern distro, but people have their likes and I know Gentoo has a die hard, although comparatively small, base. For any other person that uses Linux, for any other reason, I would recommend a large number of distros before Calculate.