Hymera Open review

Default Installed Applications: Hymera Open features an impressive set of application. It’s on par with what you’ll find on Sabayon Linux. Here’s a list of some of the applications installed by default:

  • OpenOffice.org 3.1
  • GNU Image Manipulation Program – the GIMP
  • Skype
  • Pidgin Internet Messenger
  • Empathy Instant Messenger
  • Totem
  • Rhythmbox music player
  • Audacious2
  • Altariva, a re-branded Mozilla Firefox Web browse
  • Hymera Foreys, a re-branded Mozilla Thunderbird email client

Just like Sabayon, Hymera Open comes with lots of games installed. It, however, lacks the 3D games pre-installed on Sabayon. Those 3D games and a whole lot more are available in the main repository, which packs an extensive collection of applications. A few of those application, I noticed, are outdated. For example, Elisa, a media center application developed by Fluendo S.A., a software development and consulting services company based in Barcelona, Spain, is at version 0.3.5. However, Elisa media center, before it was renamed to Moovida, was at version 0.5.x. Moovida is now at version 1.0.7.

An outdated Elisa is the only media center application you will find in Hymera’s main repo. XBMC, the other popular media center application, is not in the repo. XBMC is the default media center application on the latest version of Sabayon.

Software Management: Being a Debian-based distro, APT, Advanced Packaging Tool, is Hymera’s package manager, with Synaptic as the graphical frontend. Synaptic is – in my opinion, the best gui package manager available on any Linux/BSD desktop.

Synaptic package manager

Only one repository is specified in Hymera Open’s /etc/apt/sources.list file, but third party repos may be added if you need to install an app that is not available in the (main) repo.

Administration: Hymera uses the root user account for granting access to admin privileges. It does not have a system “Control Panel”, but features all the system admin tools in the menu under Hymera > System Tools, Hymera > System > Preferences, and Hymera > System > Administration. Below are screen shots of some graphical admin tools.

foomatic gui for printer configuration and management

User management utility
adduser utility

Time and date configuration tool
Time and date utility

Media and Hardware Detection: With regards to media and hardware detection, the only aspect of Hymera Open that does not work as expected is printer configuration. Like Zenwalk, Hymera will auto-detect, but not auto-configure a printer. My test printer is an HP Deskjet F4280 All-in-one. I had no problem adding this printer on Zenwalk, and it was automatically configured by Pardus in a flash. On Hymera Open, however, I could not even manually configure it. Something to do with printer drivers.

Audio CDs and DVD videos are automatically opened in Rhythmbox and Totem respectively. Totem, with a GStreamer backend, will play commercial and encrypted DVD vidoes (libdvdcss is installed).

Browsers and browser plugins: The only browser installed on Hymera Open is called Altariva Open, version 3.5.1pre. This is just a re-branded Mozilla Firefox. It passes the flash test and the Java Runtime test.

Security Tools and Network Manager: No graphical firewall client is installed by default. There are, however, several in the repo. Firestarter and KMyFirewall are two of the best. I recommend Firestarter, and you may use this tutorial, written for Zenwalk 6.2, to configure it. The installation part will, of course, be different. Use apt-get install firestarter to install it from a shell terminal (after authenticating as root), or just use Synaptic.

OpenSSH client is installed, but not the server, and there are no VPN applications installed. The openSSH server and several VPN applications are in the repo. The preferred network manager is Wicd.

Wicd network manager

Aside from Wicd, there is a network management utility called iMobile. The application is in Italian. Here’s Google Translate’s translation of what iMobile is designed for :

iMobile is an innovative software key USB connection to the Internet.
Usage is immediate: the configurations for the most popular wireless carriers are already preset, and they also support USB modems and phones.


What’s Special about Hymera Open?: Plenty. For one, it works – out of the box. Aside from that, it sports the most beautiful design of any distro I have ever used. GNOME has never been my kind of desktop environment, that is, until KDE 4 was released, but Hymera makes GNOME fun to use. It’s pure joy reviewing this distro. But is it a perfect Linux desktop distribution? No, but it comes very, very close.

I’d proclaim it a perfect desktop Linux distribution if the installer provided support for setting up LVM and disk encryption, and it came with a graphical firewall client installed and configured. In other words, if you have no need for LVM (it has its benefits, but not every person needs it), don’t care very much about disk encryption, and you don’t mind having some “Italian” sprinkled on your desktop then you will be very happy using Hymera Open. If you do not know anything about the value of encrypting disk drives, I suggest that you read data protection steps, part of the Surveillance Self-Defense campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

What Needs to Improve?: Not very much. I have already covered most of these above, but I’ll repeat them here – in list form:

  • The installer should be smart enough to detect the correct keyboard layout and timezone, or just make it less automated.
  • The installer should have support for setting up LVM and disk encryption
  • A graphical firewall client installed and configure out of the box
  • Support for platforms other than the x86.

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  1. Hymeria can be an interesting distro but I HATE the design… I hate 3-D dektops, Compiz, KDE4, plasma,the future Gnome3… I like the default Gnome2 two-panels design. So really, I can’t like this eye-candy crap! I’m sorry.

    About LVM and disk encryption, they can be useful for some but not for a ‘normal’ user. Idem for SELinux. Btw, they are rather/often a source of problem for a normal user. But if you’re “the paranoid of the district”… as you want. 😉

    If my PC is stolen? Well, and what? I’m not someone who administer one or more Linux servers for the NSA, the Army, the Department of Defense or something like that, neither a server database for a Swiss bank… lol Of course I just must have saved my documents but I have nothing to hide on my PC.

    The Surveillance Self-Defense site is interesting but ultra-paranoid! But I’m French and live in France…

  2. AFAIK, there is a Hymera English version:

    • Yep, and this review was based on the English version. The issues I drew attention, the localization issues, are supposed to have been fixed in a later release.

  3. Pingback: Links 04/10/2009: New X Server, Nexuiz, Arora, OpenSSH, Perl | Boycott Novell

  4. Hymera has its possibilities to be a great destro but until it’s a full English destro I will stay with Arch and Sidux. One thing that is a must have is, stability. I don’t see it in Hymera at this time. Keep working on the great designs,appearance and an all English destro.

  5. Without 64 bit support the distro is a no go. I can understand a one man project not having both a 32 bit and a 64 bit version but not a company like this. There is no excuse for them not to have one. They also need to get their language problem straightened out. Other than that it seems like a well put together distro.

    • I’m not in a position to speak for Hymera, but you can be sure that a 64-bit version is in the works. Pardus is in the same position. With regards to the language (localization) problem, a moderator in their forum said that that has been fixed in a newer release.

  6. Dowloaded 3 times the first DVD iso a few months ago and never booted the installed system, no matter what i did to solve it. I have downloaded this new version they offer and had exactly the same stupid xorg problems because the extremely lousy harware detection Hymera has.
    Every distro i use, even the worst of them boots on my machine but not Hymera.
    (Athlon64 3000+, 1GB, FX5600)

  7. I’d proclaim it a perfect desktop Linux distribution if the installer provided support for setting up LVM and disk encryption, and it came with a graphical firewall client installed and configured.

    Good review, however, I don’t agree with the previous sentences. IMO, LVM and partition encryption is not a key feature to a desktop distribution.

    • You can get away with LVM, but disk encryption is a must-have. It’s a very important component of a computer’s security posture. The major distros, that is, the “original” distros (Debian, Fedora, and Mandriva) all have installers with support for disk encryption. You should spend some time at Surveillance Self-Defense.

      Meanwhile, ponder this: If your PC is ever stolen, what’s going to be standing between your data and the PC’s new “owners?”

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