HandyLinux is accessibility for all and freedom for everyone to evolve on its own. Based on Debian GNU/Linux with XFCE, a fast, light and stable desktop environment, HandyLinux is safe, handy and free.
Designed to facilitate access to computers those who start, children, seniors and those who are looking for simplicity.
The above quote was taken from the HandyLinux website. The aim of HandyLinux would appear to be to provide a simple, light and easy to use Linux distribution for everyone.
However if you read further down the homepage you will find the following text:
This distribution is only there to facilitate the use of your computer. Once your environment tamed, you simply remove the facilitating options and you get a “classic” Debian distribution with XFCE as desktop environment.
In essence what this appears to be saying is that you install HandyLinux to get used to Linux and then when you are happy with Linux you can continue to use the base Debian distribution.
- 3.7 gigabytes hard drive space
- 512 megabytes RAM
How to get HandyLinux
There are two versions available. The 486 version is for computers made prior to 2005 and the 686 version is for anything more up to date than that.
Instructions for creating a DVD and USB drive are available from the above link.
Essentially all you have to do to create a DVD is burn the HandyLinux ISO to the DVD using your favourite disc burning software.
For burning HandyLinux to a USB drive you can either use LinuxLive USB Creator (Using Windows) or if you are already using Linux run the following command in a terminal.
sudo dd if=handylinux-1.6-686.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M && sync
The above command assumes the USB drive is mounted to /dev/sdb. You should check first to make sure this is the case and if not change /dev/sdb to be the correct location (ie /dev/sdc, /dev/sdd)
I would recommend following the instructions from the download page..
Note that if you would prefer to, you can buy a HandyLinux installation DVD here. There appears to be a non-PAE version available as well.
The above screen shows the essence of what Handy Linux is about. When you first boot into HandyLinux you are presented with a plain desktop and a single XFCE panel at the bottom.
The icon in the bottom left provides access to the Handy Linux menu which is displayed in the middle of the screen as shown above.
On the right side of the panel there are system icons for adjusting settings such as the volume control, connecting to wireless networks and power settings. There is also the customary clock.
The HandyLinux menu is an interesting feature. There is basically a tabbed display with tabs for internet applications, places, multimedia applications, office applications, games and raiders.
Most of the tabs are self explanatory. For instance on the internet tab you can access the internet or read your emails and on the office tab you can use the word processor, spreadsheet application and presentation tool.
The one that might seem confusing is “Raiders”. The “Raiders” tab gives you access to a terminal window, the package manager and system settings such as printers and networks.
Incidentally, whilst running the live version of HandyLinux everything worked fine but after installing the full version to disk the HandyLinux menu wouldn’t start when I clicked on it.
I therefore ran the menu from the command line and the message that appeared stated that the file “/home/user/.config/user-dirs.dirs” could not be found. To resolve this issue I ran a search for the user-dirs.dirs file using the following command:
find / -name user-dirs.dirs
The file was found in /etc/skel/.config/user-dirs.dirs. I therefore copied that file to /home/user/.config/user-dirs.dirs using the following command.
cp /etc/skel/.config/user-dirs.dirs /home/gary/.config/user-dirs.dirs
After copying the file, the menu started to work correctly.
Connecting to the internet
Flash and MP3
- Chromium Web Browser
- IceDove Email Client
- mpartage File Sharing
- Skype Video Conferencing
- Teamviewer Remote Desktop Sharing
- ImageMagick – Image editing
- LibreOffice Draw – Drawing application
- Shotwell – Photo management
- AisleRiot Solitaire (Card Game)
- Freecell Solitaire (Card Game)
- gbrainy (Puzzle Games)
- Mahjongg (Card Game)
- Sudoku (Logic Puzzle)
- Asunder CD Ripper
- Cheese Webcam Viewer
- Minitube Youtube Viewer
- Quod Libet Audio Player
- RadioTray Online Radio
- VLC Media Player
- XFBurn DVD Burner
- Document Viewer (PDF)
- HPLIP Fax Utility
- LibreOffice Base (Databases along the lines of Microsoft Access)
- LibreOffice Calc (Spreadsheet)
- LibreOffice Draw (Drawing application)
- LibreOffice Impress (Presentation Tool)
- LibreOffice Writer (Word processing)
HandyLinux has a software centre similar to the one that comes with Ubuntu. Note that the repositories are for Debian Wheezy and so the applications are limited. You will not find Steam or PlayOnLinux.
If you don’t like the Software Centre you can also use Synaptic which is more basic in looks but more ultimately more powerful.
Customising the desktop
- No install option from the live environment (you have to reboot to install)
- The HandyMenu didn’t work after installation. I had to copy files around.
- Despite installing the English language version a lot of the menus had French terms. Examples for this include the Slingscold menu (search shows as recerche), Chromium loads in French, RadioTray has French radio stations.