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Feature: MEPIS/SimplyMEPIS

SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols on November 21, 2008 (6:00:00 PM)

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Nowadays, everyone uses Ubuntu, most people have used Fedora, and many folks have tried openSUSE. SimplyMEPIS ... not so many. That's a shame, because this relatively obscure Debian-based desktop distribution from Morgantown, WV, is an outstanding desktop operating system. With SimplyMEPIS 8 at beta 5 and closing in on release, I tested the distribution and found it to be a keeper.

I downloaded SimplyMEPIS from one of its mirror sites and burned the ISO file to a CD, then installed it on a Dell Inspiron 530s, powered by a 2.2GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor with an 800MHz front side bus, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB SATA drive, and an Integrated Intel 3100 Graphics Media Accelerator.

On this system, I started by running SimplyMEPIS from its live CD. It ran without a hitch, so I moved on to installing the distribution. The SimplyMEPIS installation took approximately 15 minutes. I opted to use ext3 for my filesystem, rather than ext2 and ReiserFS; it's not the fastest or most up-to-date journaled file system, but it's about as stable as they come.

Like most modern Linuxes, SimplyMEPIS can use the entire hard dark for the distribution, or you can modify an existing partition table with GParted. I opted to shrink down the existing Windows NTFS partition, delete the factory-installed recovery partition, and create a main primary partition and a separate primary swap partition. GParted made it easy to do, and reminded me that not so long ago changing and configuring hard drive partitions required equal parts magic and hope.

A single CD distribution, MEPIS offers a limited selection of KDE 3.5.* packages out of the box. To get other software choices, you'll need to download them from the Debian and MEPIS software repositories. SimplyMEPIS boots into a KDE 3.5.9 desktop. SimplyMEPIS's developer, Warren Woodford doesn't care for KDE 4.x, so he's elected to stick with classic KDE. The older software works just fine.

The distribution itself is built on top of Debian 5 (Lenny), which hasn't yet been released. Even so, Woodford isn't waiting on Lenny's release to include newer software. For example, SimplyMEPIS uses the 2.6.27.5 kernel.

You'll also find the newest software among SimplyMEPIS's applications. The distribution includes the newest version of Sun's VirtualBox virtual machine, virtualbox-ose 2.0.4; the latest OpenOffice.org office suite, 3.0.0-4; and Firefox 3.0.3-3. Curiously, SimplyMEPIS 8 doesn't include Firefox's email sibling, Thunderbird, in its basic package. Instead, its default email program is KMail.

Of course, since SimplyMEPIS comes with the Synaptic package manager and the Debian Lenny and SimplyMEPIS repositories ready to go, installing Thunderbird, or in my case, the GNOME Evolution mail client, is no trouble at all.

While working with the applications, I found one odd error. While the distribution came with the new Adobe Flash Player 10 browser plugin installed, it would not display Flash video in Firefox. I finally solved the problem by reinstalling Flash Player from the repository.

For all other purposes, over days of use, SimplyMEPIS worked flawlessly. I used my usual applications -- Firefox, Evolution, OpenOffice.org, Pidgin for IM, Banshee for music, and Konqueror for file management -- and everything went as smooth as silk.

Of course, I could have used any other KDE-based distribution and gotten pretty much the same results, but SimplyMEPIS's greatest charm is that it works so well as a seamless whole.

While you might get similar results from any KDE-based distribution, SimplyMEPIS offers something extra in its collection of four system tuning tools: MEPIS Network Assistant, MEPIS System Assistant, MEPIS User Assistant, and MEPIS X-Windows Assistant. You can get to these from the main KDE menu's System option.

Each of these brings together important Linux controls in a logical, easy-to-use way. For example, the Network Assistant gives you control over all your network interfaces, both Ethernet and Wi-Fi, as well as DHCP and DNS settings, and lets you stop and restart network interfaces. Sure, you can do that with other Linux distributions, but SimplyMEPIS puts all the network controls you need in one place so you don't need to search for them.

Two of the other assistants add even more functionality. The System Assistant, besides enabling you to change your computer's name, domain, and Samba/Windows workgroup/domain and repair your boot or partitions, also lets you clone your existing desktop to a bootable USB drive. Lots of distributions, including Fedora 9, let you set up a Linux desktop on a USB drive, but, to the best of my knowledge, SimplyMEPIS is the only one to make it duplicate the one you're already using to take with you on the road.

The MEPIS User Assistant enables you to copy or sync between desktops. Your choices include copying or syncing your entire home directory or just your mail, Mozilla, documents, or configuration directories. It's a pretty darn handy tool both for backups and for moving from one PC to another.

The overall impact of SimplyMEPIS's smooth integration and its user-friendly utilities is to make it a truly outstanding Linux desktop. I've been using desktop Linux for more than a decade, and I keep coming back to SimplyMEPIS. Version 8 is good enough that I'm not taking it off my test machine. Instead, I've migrated all my files to the SimplyMEPIS PC and made it my main desktop system. That's how good it is: good enough that SimplyMEPIS is now my number one desktop.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the operating system of choice for PCs and 2BSD Unix was what the cool kids used on their computers.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 169.226.105.23] on November 21, 2008 06:35 PM
I have to say, over the last several years that Ubuntu has been around, that I have alternated between SimplyMEPIS and PCLinuxOS. I still haven't bothered trying Ubuntu because those 2 not-so-well-known distributions each give me everything I want, right "ootb". I have been waiting for SimplyMEPIS to be updated, and am planning to switch back to it soon. (for about the 3rd time)
Tom G, New York

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: qrazydutch on November 24, 2008 12:42 AM
The first thing I had to get used to is that I cannot comment directly on SimplyMepis, except for clicking on the top comment....strange

My nickname is because I still use windows, windowsweenie is probably in use, so qrazydutch with a "q", as not to upset the real crazies out there.

Been playing with variations of UNIX and LINUX for years, however keep going back to windows since I cannot get my webcam to work and play simple DVDs....how about that. When I check on how to get it going, I ended up having to compile my kernel, recompute the distance between various star systems and dig around in obscure locations (or so it seems). Just trying to load libdvd..or whatever the library of the day (to get DVDs to run) is a challenge. Never mind my Logitech with built in mike, it seems unexplored territory.
So I am ready for abusive comments and obscure guidance..(by the way, I have been in computers since the early 60s, not exactly a rookie)

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Memo to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.192.250.149] on November 21, 2008 06:47 PM
"everyone uses Ubuntu,"

The English word "everyone" has a meaning. If you don't mean "everyone", then don't write "everyone". The statement "everyone uses Ubuntu" is false if there is one person in the world who does not use Ubuntu. I have never used Ubuntu, for example.

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Re: Memo to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.28.171.56] on November 21, 2008 07:30 PM
> The English word "everyone" has a meaning. If you don't mean "everyone", then don't write "everyone"

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=exaggeration+for+rhetorical+effect

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Re: Memo to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.224.68.67] on November 22, 2008 05:31 PM
Fuck off, Stallman.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.198.145.210] on November 21, 2008 07:45 PM
Yeah, I'm not so keen on ubuntu either. I like my desktop systems to be stable and the buntus simply don't have the level of stability I require from a desktop system. Most computer users prefer to set up once and leave it as it is, for many months or even years and some resist change of any type, so a new release every 6 months just keeps the developers busy and keeps the distro at the top of certain ratings sites, which do little to show the true reliability of a system.

As for Warrens dislike of KDE4.x, your link needs correction, I think it should be
http://practical-tech.com/operating-system/mepis-is-coming-back/#more-659

Part of Warrens statement "the shortcomings of KDE 4.0" do seem to imply he doesn't like it, but his willingness to spend a whole month on it shows he had considered it, and may do so again in the future, possibly for a future release, though I do like the idea in your first link of a fork that will give us a more reasonable desktop, built more like KDE3 but with the coding enhancements of qt4.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.237.174.94] on November 21, 2008 08:05 PM
It would be a shame to make SimplyMEPIS an excuse for KDE 4.x bashing. Having worked some with Warren and understanding the goals of MEPIS, I can understand why KDE 4.0 and even 4.1 were not workable for him. The emphasis of MEPIS has for a long time been on mature code and creating an environment that is friendly for those switching from other platforms. KDE 4.x is full of great ideas, but the code is not yet mature; there are some big known bugs, and there are still regressions from 3.x to be dealt with. 4.2 looks to have most of those fixed, thankfully. I suspect by the next release of MEPIS KDE will at least be on 4.3, and will have ironed out the wrinkles and be ready for sort of user who chooses MEPIS.

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Re(1): SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Dummy00001 on November 22, 2008 09:02 PM
> The emphasis of MEPIS has for a long time been on mature code

Thanks for mentioning that. I didn't wanted to write a dedicated response filled with MEPIS bashing, but you gave me an opportunity to chime in.

MEPIS's hardware support terribly sucks. I have tried it this summer on my 2.5yo desktop and it was failing at pretty much everything I have: dual head video card, USB audio, SATA DVD burner.

The only place where you can make a "mature" Linux distro is servers. The time when Linux (or any other OS for what matters) on desktop would become stable would mean that "desktop" isn't used anymore. Desktop computing now is one of the fastest moving targets. Windows had 10 years head start - but Linux steadily catching up. If you come out with distro which has 1yo of X Window Server (and MEPIS 7 has 3yo X) then forget it, it is pointless even to try.

"Everybody uses Ubuntu" happens because people who had problems with Windows on their hardware try Ubuntu and it works. And the end-users see that system does 99% of what they need and they stick with it. The problem can happen on any platform. The question is how fast they get fixed. And Ubuntu had proven itself with quite fast fixing of major issues.

Idea of MEPIS is quite silly or (to spin it in positive light) far ahead of the time. And the time will come only when H/W vendors would start treat Linux support seriously, not a minute earlier. Otherwise, hot head, stick with Ubuntu - it just works.

P.S. Though personally I am a Sidux user.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 78.105.237.77] on November 21, 2008 08:25 PM
"...I think it should be
http://practical-tech.com/operating-system/mepis-is-coming-back/#more-659..."

Yes, the link should point there, but the wording just needs to insert "yet" between "doesn't" and "care".


SJVN, don't take offence at our quibbles: as a whole your article is excellent!

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 127.0.0.1] on November 21, 2008 10:55 PM
"...so a new release every 6 months just keeps the developers busy and keeps the distro at the top of certain ratings sites, which do little to show the true reliability of a system."

Just because they release every 6 months doesn't mean you have to upgrade every 6 months.

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Re(1): SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.198.145.210] on November 23, 2008 10:13 AM
I totally agree that you do not have to upgrade every 6 months, but on the issue of the ratings being inflated by repeated exposure....can't argue that. Take a leaf from the MS book, IE is probably the worlds worst browser and the means by which it arrived at its current position were nothing short of outrageous, but the fact it is at the top of the list doesn't mean everybody uses it.

As for the posters that said M7 used older packages, once again, right you are, but you are also wrong when it comes to using later version packages. The Mepis Community has put together a community repository that made it possible for me to use the latest version on an otherwise unmodified base system. I guess this is one of those situations where a little knowlege can be more damaging or dangerous than accurate and up to date facts. The Mepis community is as we speak gearing up to provide that same service for Mepis8, so those that like having the latest apps will be well catered for and we have steps in place to hopefully keep progressing even if Warren gets hit by a bus.

Answering the critics that again work on errant facts, Warren has released his source code, so before opening your mouth and mindlessly blabbing a bunch of lies and rubbish based on emotions that run wild, get your facts straight then enjoy your slice of humble pie. Everybody makes mistakes and if your past mistakes were highlighted this very moment ..... you get the picture.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.237.174.94] on November 21, 2008 07:48 PM
Just want to chime in as someone who used MEPIS for many years (I've since switched to Ubuntu) and was part of the community for a while. The model that MEPIS uses is good for folks who just want stability: Start with Debian stable (well, in version 8's case, Debian almost-stable), update the kernel and some key applications, add a user-friendly installer, and then sit back and enjoy the minimally invasive security and bugfixes from Debian stable. The only downside for MEPIS is that it gets a bit stale after 12 months or so; kinda stinks when you want the latest greatest cool software for Linux that requires a newer version of glibc or gtk and you can't install it without hosing your system.

So if you're an impatient git like me who needs a bleeding edge fix every few months, you might want to give it a miss; but for converting your parents to Linux it might be ideal (interesting note, there was an age poll of Mepis forum members a while back, and the largest demographic was 50+). That's my opinion, anyway.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Brian Masinick on November 21, 2008 08:42 PM
To the gentleman who wrote just prior to my note, commenting that MEPIS uses a model that is good for those who want stability, I would agree. I would add that MEPIS gives you the stability of Debian and the simplicity of putting together a collection of software that just works with a minimal amount of intrusion. I love it for that. I do, however, also empathize with his desire to get a bleeding edge fix every so often.

Here is what I do to get it:

1. I always keep at least one instance of SimplyMEPIS on each of five systems that I own. If something goes wrong with any of the other systems, SimplyMEPIS is still there. When I am busy and have no time to tweak, SimplyMEPIS gets used more frequently because it just works.

2. I have found a couple of other systems that are much more flexible in changing them without damaging the fundamental layout of the systems. These are antiX and sidux.

a. With antiX you get a really fast, relatively lightweight system that has a lot in common with both SimplyMEPIS and sidux. It meets somewhere in between the two; not quite as solid, relatively unchanging, but boring, as SimplyMEPIS, but not even approaching the tipping edges of instability. All it really does is take out the fat desktop environment, replace it with a fast set of window managers and a few lighter applications, then change the repositories from the stable ones to the testing ones for somewhat more current software. (You can set them back to stable with a very good chance that you will not blow it up or break it beyond repair. You can also set the repositories to unstable and live out on the edge). antiX is flexible. It includes some sidux tools which help manage that flexibility, and I will discuss that next.

b. sidux is the most cutting edge system you can get and still have a reasonable expectation that you will be able to consistently run and use a working system. Mandriva has The Cooker, openSUSE has their community repositories, and Fedora has their cutting edge developments too. These three, and Ubuntu, may approach Sid in their ability to provide cutting edge applications, but when you factor in the management tools (smxi in particular) that sidux adds to Sid, it stands clearly ahead of Mandriva Cooker, openSUSE testing, or Fedora testing, and I feel it is easily more stable and usable than the cutting edge branches of either Arch or Gentoo, two other distributions heralded for cutting edge and efficiency. To me, whether they beat Sid in anything is immaterial. Sid with sidux gives me something quite current that I can count on to work. The guy who wants his fix ought to come to sidux for the fix and keep SimplyMEPIS tucked away as a stable backup when he has no time to tinker.

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Re(1): SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.226.91.188] on November 23, 2008 12:22 AM
I have toi agree with Brian. I haev been looking at Mepis for a couple of months now, waiting for it to get to a non-beta release Mepis 7 is almost a year old. I simply do not bother with beta releases. I too use sidux as my main OS. It is installed in a multi-boot configuration with Linux Mint 4. If you want bleeding edge, sidux is the way to go, though maybe not the best distro for someone who does not want to have to (or doesn't have time to) tweak a few things. The smxi scrpit is great! Why Linix Mint? Well, I like to have something that I can recommend that "just works" as much as possible that I can recommend for less computer literate folks. If not for one bug (done intentionally by the Ubuntu folks) I could recommend Linux Mint. In Linux Mint 5, I had to add entries in the fstab file for all of my partitions except the one mint is installed on. This is not hard to do, but is not exactly something for an inexperienced Linux user to try. I will try Empis 8 when it is released...it sounds like it might fit the bill. But no, I will not be giving up sidux as my main OS.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: bilbophile on November 22, 2008 06:34 AM
If you like Mepis, but want to upgrade often, sidux (with the smxi script) is what you need. sidux is Debian Sid with a recompiled kernel and a few scripts that give sidux stability and better configuration tools. At first sight or for a complete newbie, it may seem less user-friendly, but smxi and ceni (plus a very responsive forum and irc channel) will autmatically take care of most of your administration problems.

When Mepis went the Ubuntu way, I switched to Kanotix, which one day smxi seamlessly turned into sidux, a bleeding-edge fork to a then stagnating distro.

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SimplyMEPIS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 199.164.56.5] on November 21, 2008 09:48 PM
Disclaimer: I like simplicity. For that reason, Slackware has been my distro since 1999 (except my 64bit box, which runs Slamd64), and probably will be for a long time to come.

But I keep a couple of free partitions just for testing possible contenders, and after trying SimplyMEPIS, I'd have to agree that is probably the best of Debian based distros. Stable, fast, and with excellent integration of components. Good distro, and good article.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 38.99.46.99] on November 21, 2008 10:34 PM
We have been using Ubuntu Linux at our company for almost 2 years now and we are impressed with the stability of the Ubuntu distribution. I am puzzled as to why some posters here are implying that Ubuntu is not stable. We have servers and development systems which are running for months on end without reboot. Ubuntu offers ease of installation, good GUI selection {Gnome/KDE}, supports all needed applications {compilers, debuggers, IDE's}, and is easy to maintain.

I think this squabling about distributions is just silly. We started with RedHat 8, went to Fedora Core through FC4, and moved to Ubuntu... In the end I prefer Ubuntu to most other distros.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Zerias on November 22, 2008 12:07 AM
to the person who said I am puzzled as to why some posters here are implying that Ubuntu is not stable.

The fact is, Ubuntu is unstable. However, this is not the same as saying that Ubuntu is crash prone, although it is, or that new releases are put out with large numbers of known bugs and issues, although they are. The usage of stable here is used in the same way that Debian defines it's operating platforms as stable, unstable, and testing. The underlying API and Tool Chain of the Ubuntu distribution changes radically between different releases. As Warren and other Mepis developers found out the hardware after basing Mepis 6.5 on the Dapper Drake Tool Chain. There was no simple way to cross-grade or upgrade to Edgy, Fawn, Gibbon, Heron, or whatever. Ubuntu intentionally breaks the binary compatibility with the Debian base, and the intentional breaks in the Ubuntu tool chain make dist-upgrading or cross-grading unwieldy propositions to the end user.

One of the reasons Mepis moved back to the Debian base is that the Ubuntu Tool Chain and sources just weren't mature, and were rapidly degenerating. There are multiple other sources that comment on the degenerating pattern of Ubuntu releases, such as http://www.dasmirnov.net/blog/2008/04/25/ubuntu-linux-getting-worse : http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=6087649 : http://www.e-linux.it/news_detail.php?id=6809 : and http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/96509133/m/872004191931

So it's not just a couple of developers working on side projects to Ubuntu that are saying the distro is unstable. There's a range of developers, to community members, to news sites making the same comments.

Note that just because Ubuntu is perfectly stable for you, and what you do, doesn't mean that it's perfectly stable for anybody else. The ReiserFS crowd tried to pull that logic before, and it got shot down so many times by Ingo and Linus it almost became a joke.

This isn't to say that other distributions don't have similar headaches. Right now Mepis is running into similar issues in the upgrades from Mepis 7 to Mepis 8. Yes, the system should work on a pure dist-upgrade... but there are known headaches such as stuttering audio and having to select the kernel manually. Right now, it's likely that the generation leap from Mepis 7 series to Mepis 8 series will likely require a full reinstall, even though the Debian Tool Chain itself has barely changed.

Also, as far as I'm aware, using repositories to upgrade from one version of Fedora to another, or one version of Suse to another... isn't done. So again, it's not like Ubuntu and Mepis are the only ones without a current workable rolling upgrade system.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.183.60.150] on November 22, 2008 12:18 AM
I dabbled in Linux until I went to a Red Hat Certification weekend camp back in Feb 2002.
Learned a lot and it was cool but I was still hungry.
A co-worker had gotten one of the original Ubuntu free CDs, but that was not it either.
Found Mepis not long after that and have been a happy user ever since.
Have even set up others that were ready to get off of the windows wagon.

Have B4 of SM8 but I'm not really impressed with the desktop design, but that is me.
May have a go at it when final but 7.5 is doing fine, even on the office "remote help server" [simple-help.com].

Just my $0.01421356237us [was 2 cents but not any more].

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: PerlCoder on November 22, 2008 12:58 AM
I use Debian, and I don't use Ubuntu. :)

The point certainly isn't central to the article, but I just thought I would help to set the record straight.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.94.35.161] on November 22, 2008 01:21 AM
It's great to see that after so many years of advocating Mepis, Vaughan-Nichols still keeps praising it -- even if Mepis' popularity has been fading fast lately. One thing is worth noticing, though. Mepis 8.0 is still just a BETA release, and people shouldn't install it unless they want to help fixing bugs.

I like Mepis, too, but I find it sad that the guy who develops Mepis couldn't make KDE4 work. KDE4 is definitely the most advanced and most beautiful desktop ever made for Linux. KDE4 is clearly the future of the Linux desktop, and it's the only real alternative that Linux can offer against Windows and Mac. I love KDE4 and I wouldn't use a distro that ships without it.

However, if Mepis 8.0 really will be compatible with Debian Lenny when it's finally released, then Mepis users might be able to install KDE4 from Debian's "experimental" repository. Better yet, you can install Debian proper and set the sources.list point to Debian's "testing" repository. This way you'll get KDE4 as soon as they've released Lenny (which might still take a couple more months ;-)).
http://pkg-kde.alioth.debian.org/

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Zerias on November 22, 2008 01:46 AM
the only two people that have been claiming that Mepis's popularity has been fading consist of Matt Hartley, a known troll whom most web sites won't touch with a ten foot pole, and Ladislav over at Distrowatch. Slight problem. Search results and forum trends show that Mepis has not been fading. So lets get that little slice of F.U.D. out of the way first.

Okay, so what about the line that states that I like Mepis, too, but I find it sad that the guy who develops Mepis couldn't make KDE4 work. I'm not really sure where to start on this one. For starters, it assumes that KDE 4.0 was the completion of the KDE desktop. It wasn't. KDE 4.0 was the completion of the support libraries and API's that underline the KDE desktop. Even the KDE devs themselves are saying that KDE 4.2 will establish most of the functionality. KDE 4.1 was a good step, but, it's not there yet. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080710131440951 : Then there's the additional problem that Mepis is built as a livecd... to be as usable as possible... from the livecd. This means that the selection of programs has to be carefully selected. Space can't be wasted on having duplicate libraries, duplicate programs, duplicate everything. The very real point is, not all KDE applications work in KDE 4.x yet. That means that in order to build a 4.1 desktop, vendors have to spend time either jumping through hoops, or just leaving programs out. Fedora is a good example of this. Has anyone ever actually tried their KDE LiveCD? From the development point of Mepis, going with KDE 4.1 right now would require multiple program application sacrifices in order to fill out the same feature set of programs.

Okay, so lets say it's possible for a KDE 4.1 desktop to have the exact same feature functionality of a KDE 3.5.9 desktop, in the same amount of space, on a LiveCD. It's not, but lets ignore that little limitation for a minute. How much time is going to be available to implement a complete desktop and application change and still account for all of the changed up programs that don't interface well with each other? Can one person do it, pretty much on their own?

The statement then that it's sad that the guy who develops Mepis couldn't make KDE4 work. then is outright F.U.D. against the release. It's the remark of somebody who doesn't understand how a distribution is built, or the history of Mepis itself. Fact is, Mepis has released compilations with the KDE4 desktop. Short version? KDE 4.x just isn't ready. It might very well be the future of the Linux Desktop, and as the guy who wrote that the Gnome developers have no business making a desktop : http://zerias.blogspot.com/2007/09/qt-and-gtk-impact.html : and then jumped to Trolltech's defense when F.U.D. Throwers started claiming that Nokia could close QT up : http://zerias.blogspot.com/2008/06/qt-cannot-be-closed-stop-throwing-fud.html : it's fairly clear that I have a biased opinion towards the KDE desktop. But just because it's the future, doesn't mean that the current version is ready for a distribution that prides itself on being as simple as possible.

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Re(1): SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: JackieBrown on November 22, 2008 06:16 AM
KDE 4 is ready for use.

It's nice to see the blind praise of Warren hasn't changed much.

And one KDE dev's view does not make your point. If I posted 5 devs saying it was ready, would you reconsider? Of course not. Your man behind the curtain has told you something so it must be fact.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 193.62.47.78] on November 22, 2008 04:31 PM
"KDE4 is definitely the most advanced and most beautiful desktop ever made for Linux. KDE4 is clearly the future of the Linux desktop, and it's the only real alternative that Linux can offer against Windows and Mac"

I too like what KDE 4 is bringing to the table. But dont forget Gnome 3 and XFCE 4.6. All three window managers are bound to bring the Linux desktop a huge leap forward. What I am trying to say is that they all are real alternatives to Windows/Mac.

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Re(1): SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: JackieBrown on November 25, 2008 03:46 AM
I'm sure that would have been mentioned had the article been about a gnome or xfce based distro

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.201.71.66] on November 22, 2008 02:18 AM
I absolutely, positively, reject ANY open source or commercial software that is developed and controlled by a ONE man show. Why? let me tell you a short story: I used Mepis in the early days, loved it, thought it was the best of breed with a Debian heritage, drop dead easy installer, and it worked well. After a couple years Warren got greedy and decided to yank out this distro from underneath the community and try to start charging for it. Without a significant amount of competition in this space (before Ubuntu days, Mandrake was a little flaky), some people decided to pay...others like me who contributed to user forums and were strong advocates of Mepis felt scorned, moved to other distros and never looked back. So I thank Warren for teaching me the dangers of puting time, efort and faith into a one-man-show piece of software. In case you're wondering, I currently run Debian on my servers and various flavors of Ubuntu on my desktops/laptops.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.29.65.68] on November 22, 2008 02:20 AM
I have yet to try mepis, but doesn't LinuxMint offer essentially the same functionality, but arguably better?
(Note: NOT trying to start a flame war over gnome vs. kde)

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.145.37.12] on November 22, 2008 07:11 AM
Mepis 6.5 was the first Linux distro that made sense to me, a MS user. It worked! Easy to install and easy to use and understand. I previously tried early Ubuntus, Debian but moved on because I was either unable to make them work or they never worked right.

I have collected some free boxes and installed individually with Mepis7, PCLOS08, PC-BSD7 (just trying out for KDE4.1) and trying DreamLinux 3.5RC4 on a laptop. I do not dual boot because I have no need.

Mepis and PCLOS are the best two distributions for new converts to try. I still consider my self a nubie and I like both with the KDE. I use linux for business in my home office.

I am in the 50+ crowd. I prefer Mepis over Ubuntu, Mint,Debian,Puppy Lunux, Eleve, Zenwalk, DammSmall, SuSe 10.1 and two or three others that I have since forgotten.

I retain Mepis as my main distro and I rather do a complete new install with every major version upgrade. When 8 is released I will back up my filea do a complete new install.

I tried Mepis on my travel laptop and the method for network detection and set up is not as simple as it I would want it. I think PCLOS is better at this, but still not as simple.

This week I installed DreamLinux 3.5 and has the easiest and and perhaps best method of connecting to wireless network with the Wicid Manager. To me this is amazing, even better than the XP I had on that laptop. One click brings up available networks and you can choose which to log on -great at airports and other free networks. Also easy to log on to hidden networks. Since DL is debian perhaps Mepis can incorporate this feature in 8.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.235.119.187] on November 22, 2008 08:41 AM
The only problem I have ever had with Ubuntu was the x-org fiasco, which was fixed within a day. I have succesfully done dist-upgrades from 6.04 to 6.10 to 7.04 to 7.10 to 8.04. This is the reason I really like Ubuntu...install once and only once, don't bother with CDs to upgrade or reinstalls.

That said, I always liked Mepis.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 92.23.103.163] on November 22, 2008 11:48 AM
Its strange people are saying KDE4 is ready for the desktop do these people use there computer just to look at or are they just flamers

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.203.253.240] on November 22, 2008 11:52 AM
SimplyMEPIS was the first Linux distro that found and configured my wireless card back in 2004. For that reason it's a sentimental favorite (and I do test new versions when they come out). I use Kubuntu but the new Mandriva 2009 is nipping at Kubuntu's heals.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.208.74.190] on November 22, 2008 03:58 PM
Mepis: The development of Mepis and the support of the system has been erratic over the years. In particular, the move to 6.0 and 6.5 were disasters. Many people (including myself) left then and have not returned. Perhaps 8.0 warrants a look.

Ubuntu: Stability is not well defined (and certainly not typically defined in terms of Debian's categorizations). But in terms of being upgradeable, Ubuntu and it's siblings (Kubuntu and Xubuntu) have proved remarkably resilient. While there are always a minority of users who run into upgrade troubles, most find the upgrades every six months to go very smoothly. But Ubuntu's biggest strength may be its support network. There are few problems for which help can't be found in the vast Ubuntu community. Simply, Ubuntu has the enormous benefit of being very popular.

KDE4: Computer users fall into many categories. Some, expert in the inner workings of their systems, can tolerate enormous problems with functionality. These users have reached a point where they can be focused on the purely pleasurable visual aspects of a system. Even if it doesn't work much of the time, they can always repair it or come up with workarounds. So if it looks the way they want it to look, then it's the best. For these people, KDE4 is often wonderful (unless they don't like the way it looks). For the more average user, who needs functionality, appearance takes a back seat. For these people, KDE4 is a disaster.

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WW has a wierd interpretation of the GPL

Posted by: pogson on November 22, 2008 04:16 PM
I use Debian and find it more than adequate for my needs. I have encountered several trolls on the web who are devotees of Mepis and they all seem to have a grudge against the GPL which makes all this software available. For instance, in the Mepis FAQ:
"Q4. Does this mean that if I give a copy of MEPIS to a friend, I also have to give them a copy of the GPLed source code?

A4. According to the Free Software Foundation, if they want the source code, it means exactly that. Whether you give MEPIS to a friend or install it on a computer and sell it, or even if you give it away on the street corner, you are still obligated by the restrictions of the GPL license. "

see http://www.mepis.org/node/9454

That is not what the GPL says at all. The GPL says that you must provide the source code or a written offer if you distribute the object code. If one copies a MEPIS CD, the written offer comes from MEPIS, not the friend. Copying a CD and distributing it does not fit that situation.



"You may convey a covered work in object code form under the terms of sections 4 and 5, provided that you also convey the machine-readable Corresponding Source under the terms of this License, in one of these ways:

* a) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by the Corresponding Source fixed on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange.
* b) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by a written offer, valid for at least three years and valid for as long as you offer spare parts or customer support for that product model, to give anyone who possesses the object code either (1) a copy of the Corresponding Source for all the software in the product that is covered by this License, on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange, for a price no more than your reasonable cost of physically performing this conveying of source, or (2) access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge."

see GPLv3
"10. Automatic Licensing of Downstream Recipients.

Each time you convey a covered work, the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensors, to run, modify and propagate that work, subject to this License. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties with this License."

At one time, Mepis put serial numbers on their CDs to prevent "unauthorized" copying...
see http://news.softpedia.com/news/MEPIS-distributor-to-implement-serial-number-system-16880.shtml

While it is great that a distributor of GNU/Linux adds polish to improve the product, it does not seem right to profit from others' work and then kick them in the GPL. IF WW does not like the GPL, he should create his own software and not distribute GNU/Linux. As long as WW deals with software produced they those who are not concerned with his profitability but are concerned with making great software free, MEPIS will be an unreliable distro. With Debian, there are firm policies that are bigger than any ego that I can depend on to give a consistently good product. I meet ordinary users who find Debian perfectly usable. I can sit kids down with nothing but an installation CD and no experience of GNU/Linux who can install and use it successfully. We do not need MEPIS. We do not need WW. He seems to need the GNU/Linux community as a hostage.

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Re: WW has a wierd interpretation of the GPL

Posted by: MepisDevotee on November 22, 2008 11:29 PM
@pogson

What a vitriolic attack!

I will not dignify it with any detailed analysis, but since you use the royal "we" in your concluding paragraph, I would like to know on whose behalf you are speaking.

Who is "we"?

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Re(1): WW has a wierd interpretation of the GPL

Posted by: pogson on November 23, 2008 01:48 AM
@ MepisDevotee

People who love FLOSS, GNU/Linux and the GPL, obvously. Really, if WW does not like the GPL, why does he use software licensed under it? Why does he abuse our sensibilities about it? Why does he spread FUD? Why are people devoted to him and his distro? I can appreciate he has done a fine job improving on one branch of Debian, and he is entitled to sell or give away his own work, but why does he put down others? The FSF brought together diverse people to support FLOSS around the world and yet WW is contemptuous. His contributions are not important enough to justify the abuse he dishes out. I question his motives. I question the motives of the trolls who worship him. We can do without that.

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CAN WE PLEASE STOP WITH THE "... you haven't tried" NONSENSE?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.145.152.0] on November 22, 2008 05:21 PM
99% of the time, a majority of readers have tried whatever the subject is.

Especially something like SimplyMEPIS.

I just don't get the point.

"...you haven't tried." So. Freaking. Annoying.

Thank you for your consideration.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.48.237.237] on November 22, 2008 05:23 PM
I havent tried Mepis but it isnt necessary because i have DEBIAN and the best variant of it LINUX MINT, and if i want to get all dirty i have a server with slackware and the slackbook at hand :)

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.8.81.34] on November 22, 2008 06:37 PM
SimplyMEPIS is an excellent distribution. It would be one of my first choices to introduce to a friend new to Linux. As for me, I need a distro with more current software. I prefer rolling release systems, and the two best imho are Arch and Sidux. Of these I prefer Arch for it's simplicty.

and when does most popular mean better quality? I've never been a big Ubuntu fan, not that Ubuntu is bad...just not my cup of tea.

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Nowadays, everyone uses Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.143.254.96] on November 22, 2008 10:28 PM
No they don't, the smart people don't use Ubuntu. Many of us use Mandriva, because it's actually more user friendly.

tracyanne

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.60.95.83] on November 22, 2008 10:45 PM
Ubuntu is not very user friendly or "newbie friendly" as it is often marketed. Its time the truth came out.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.182.20.45] on November 23, 2008 02:16 AM
I don't understand why people need to come to an article where someone gives THEIR review of a distro and then spend time arguing why THEIR view is better. Isn't the beauty of Linux choice? I can't get different "flavors" of Windows to play with, install as my desktop or run as my server AND have control over it to the level I have with Linux (not to mention for FREE). I have used MEPIS since 3.X. I've used most of the other distors mentioned here but MEPIS is what I prefer on my desktop. I use Ubuntu for my server version and keep one system for trying others. Linux is great, it has something for everyone. Wasting time time trying to prove why your opinion is better than someone else opinion is, well... a waist of time. Thanks for Linux and all those who work on developing it and making it better for all the purposes it serves.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.165.104.241] on November 23, 2008 08:27 AM
use debian as he is the father, he is the one, and that's all

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.143.254.96] on November 23, 2008 01:22 PM
On the strength of this article I downloaded and installed simply Mepis on a test machine. It is by no stretch of the imagination any where near as easy (newbie friendly) as Mandriva or even Ubuntu. Just locating the correct application for setting up networking is difficult. There are no informative messages like those that pop up on Mandriva, and even Ubuntu, that let you know what the state of the network connection is, and unlike Mandriva, there is no menu option on the network icon, in the system tray, for opening the network configuration application. My newbie users are pampered using Mandriva.

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.143.254.96] on November 23, 2008 01:26 PM
All of the reasons why I didn't choose simply Mepis as the distribution to introduce new Linux users to Linux are still valid with the current version.

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It's good to have a choice

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.152.12.150] on November 23, 2008 07:31 PM
1. It's good to have a choice. That's why we have so many opinions here
2. This choice is absolutely necessary because of so many possible hardware options. It is hard for Linux (and for Vista) to keep up with so many new devices. It is often a matter of luck which Linux distribution works on which hardware
3. So if you want to find what works and what you like, burn about 10 live CDs of different Linux distributions and try them out. Which is what I did.
4. Mepis 7 was the best one. May be Ubuntu works better for other people with a different taste, different hardware and different usage. For me Ubuntu did not work at all. It was impossible to configure the keyboard. Besides, gedit is very primitive. The Ubuntu forum is huge, but no one responds. Mepis forum is small and cozy and you do get responses to your problems.

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Re: It's good to have a choice

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.143.254.96] on November 23, 2008 08:42 PM
Ubuntu is hardly the best choice, although it is definitely far more newbie friendly than simply Mepis. The reason I use Mandriva to introduce new Linux users to Linux, and I'm not talking about technically competent people, like those who respond to these forums, I'm talking about people who just want a computer that works, who don't want to learn anything more about computers than is necessary to do what's important to them - hint it isn't computers, is that Mandriva works out of the box with the widest selection of hardware, and is far more user (newbie) friendly than any other distribution.

Choice like this is great. But remember you are making an informed choice, simply because you can. There are many, most people in fact, who are not in a psoition to make an informed choice, and if you choose for them and give them a Linux distribution that isn't sufficiently newbie friendly, and you aren't prepared to give them the necessary support, you will turn them and their friends (on the strength of their experience) off Linux.

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Re(1): It's good to have a choice

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.152.12.150] on November 23, 2008 09:30 PM
How does Mandriva support Java development (Things like SDK, Eclipse, Netbeans)? Which versions does it run?

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It's good to have a choice - continued

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.152.12.150] on November 23, 2008 10:16 PM
By the way, I've even tried OpenSolaris 2008-5 Gnome. Not bad, but it had no printer support, or at least I could not figure out how to do it. Then, the Ethernet driver was missing.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.227.236.154] on November 23, 2008 11:35 PM
Maybe it's my machine (DELL Inspiron 9100) or just my luck. The only instability I have faced was rebooting and X not runnig properly. Reconfiguring xorg works well in that case. The novice users would know that though, otherwise, it has been stable. Not to mention, even the Beta releases have been stable on my machine.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 90.218.222.197] on November 23, 2008 11:52 PM
I have to agree 100%, simply the best I've used. Over the years I've used dos, windows, OS/2, and even older stuff. I simply don't have the time or inclination to mess about anymore. As a family we use 3pc's cobbled together out of hand me down or bargain basement parts. Best of the bunch is a 1gig, 512mb, 20gb machine running Mepis7. The other two are lower spec running Mepis7 and 3.3. My 5 year daughter uses 3.3 and doesn't want it changed in case she loses frozen bubble (bless) but also likes to use dyne:bolic 1.4 live cd.
Warren Woodford..........thanks a lot, you're a star.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 92.238.232.178] on November 24, 2008 02:43 AM
"I like Mepis, too, but I find it sad that the guy who develops Mepis couldn't make KDE4 work. KDE4 is definitely the most advanced and most beautiful desktop ever made for Linux. KDE4 is clearly the future of the Linux desktop, and it's the only real alternative that Linux can offer against Windows and Mac. I love KDE4 and I wouldn't use a distro that ships without it.

However, if Mepis 8.0 really will be compatible with Debian Lenny when it's finally released, then Mepis users might be able to install KDE4 from Debian's "experimental" repository. Better yet, you can install Debian proper and set the sources.list point to Debian's "testing" repository. This way you'll get KDE4 as soon as they've released Lenny (which might still take a couple more months ;-))."

Which distro am I posting from, Mepis KDE4 8b5, Mepis community member Danum produced this, its fast and stable, and its available from LinuxTracker

A very satisfied Mepis KDE 4 user

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.183.202.19] on November 25, 2008 10:01 PM
We recycle a lot of computers out to average users in the Pacific Northwest and Mepis Linux is the operating system we use except for low capacity computers which get Puppy Linux. Other organizations we know of do the same. Kubuntu, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Fedora, etc. are in a race for the bleeding edge which appeals to a lot of Linux enthusiasts but causes problems for the average user.

Thanks, http://Linux-Now.us

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Re: SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: ForLinux on November 27, 2008 12:21 PM
We use Puppy on our old school PCs' and it works perfectly. However, I will take a look at Mepis.

[Modified by: ForLinux on November 27, 2008 12:23 PM]

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.158.231.42] on November 26, 2008 09:08 PM
I came across this distro when I was looking for something to run on an old throw-away laptop I pilfered from work on its way to the scrap heap. It didn't meet the minimum requirements for Ubuntu and I like Debian-based distros so I gave it a shot. It automatically recognized the PCMCIA 802.11 card I had installed and also that it was not supported in Linux. It installed the windows driver and wrapper automatically, so after the install it just worked, and that was a big deal a year and a half ago. The interface was clean and the software I wanted installed easily - I have to say I was impressed.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.158.231.42] on November 26, 2008 10:48 PM
Dear lord, I've been reading through the comments and wow there is a lot of hating going on. I understand the Linux community hating on Ubuntu because a lot of us have moved from popular but inferior platforms and rooting for the underdog is kind of our thing, as a community I mean.

But the fact of the matter is, for its intended application (modern desktop systems) Ubuntu got to where it is because it does its job very well and every release makes things even easier for people that want to use their computer and not spend time compiling binaries. The last couple of versions basically support any (modern) hardware you can throw at them, gives the USER the option to use OSS or propietary options right away, and includes all of the functions you would want in a PC. Codec for whatever not installed? It'll go out and get it for you right then and there without the hassles Linux users are used to. The interface is a well designed implementation of Gnome (in the stock version), and it'll run apt from the terminal or 2 flavors of Synaptic with a very robust repository. I've got it running on several of my personal machines and in VMware on my work machine and have never had a stability problem. Sorry guys, but for most people Ubuntu is just the smart option.

As far as the Windows users that for some reason always post that Linux is too much of a hassle... on a site called linux.com... well that's just plain moronic but I'll lay some truth on you anyway: Like some of the Linux users debating here, your notions about the OS and some distros in particular are based on outdated information and you don't really know what you're talking about. Linux is a different beast than it was even a year ago, and even those hell bent on never learning anything new can use most any modern distro without a problem.

But if you want to stick with Windows, that's cool. Do whatever makes you happy. Just, you know, don't show up to a discussion about pros and cons of particular Linux distros talking about the fact that you've been a computer user since the 60's and somehow still can't figure out how cut-paste an apt-get command from a web page into your command line and make DVDs to play on your 3 year old version of Ubuntu.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: LinuxCanuck on November 27, 2008 12:58 AM
I have used SimplyMEPIS since its first release and it was my main distro until it switched from Debian to Ubuntu core. I tried Feisty and made Ubuntu my distro ever since. I always like MEPIS, but found that it was too much of a roller coaster ride from me. I have used MEPIS 8 and still have it installed and use it from time to time. My problem is that Ubuntu does everything that I want and more. It delivers the most of everything.
SimplyMEPIS is the best Debian distro outside of the Ubuntu family. It is more newbie friendly than Ubuntu and if you like KDE 3, it is the way to go. In the past, Ubuntu had plain looks, but now it has blossomed into a truly great looking desktop. I hope that Warren has a change of heart on KDE 4. QT4 and plasma are just too wonderful to ignore. It is faster and better looking and, now that the crashes are behind us, it is time to embrace the new KDE.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.176.55.35] on November 28, 2008 02:16 AM
The best desktop you haven't tried ??????????????????

Perhaps Mr. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has not tried Mepis, but
I have been using it for four years !!!!!

An FYI for Mr. Vaughan-Nichols ........ not EVERYONE uses Ubuntu.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.247.105.121] on November 28, 2008 08:29 PM
I have three Mepis desktops here at home running smooth as all get out. It was a pain with the flips between deb buntu then deb again. Outside ot that little issue everything is going great. All our hardware, new and old run without a problem. Printers, scanners, camera, ipods, zip drives, tape drives, web cams, you name it. If your willing to get off your ass and figure it out it works well.

My wife and two kids love it. But still, it will never touch my system. Slack or die.

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SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.91.54.192] on December 01, 2008 08:27 PM
I have never tried MEPIS. After reading this article, I think I'll give it a try.

I liked Debian a lot, have tried Ubuntu repeatedly and never liked it, openSUSE was great for noobs but too bloated and slow, Fedora always has something broken. After trying Debian, I don't care for rpm-based distro's much.

Our servers run Debian Etch, as do our firewalls. I think I'll give MEPIS a shot at our desktops.

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