"Life is a series of rude awakenings." - R.V. Winkle

SimplyMEPIS 6.0 - Comments

Tuesday 5th September 2006

Categories: Reviews, GNU/Linux, FLOSS

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1. Submitted by carl, Wednesday 6th September 2006

A very fair review. I'm a long time Mepis user and still like it because of its stability, pre-installed goodies you mentioned and the ease with which it can be updated / expanded. I share your opinion that Mepis' unique selling points of the past (live CD and install CD in one, hardware recognition) have been incorporated in other distros.

In many reviews a unique Mepis feature however is often overlooked, the On the Go disk. This allows you to take your data with you on a USB key, which, together with a live CD, makes sure you always have your very own desktop with you. Pretty neat and quite innovative I think.

2. Submitted by JimC, Thursday 7th September 2006

Thanks for the review. I have not tried setting the password from a console yet. So, I'll give that a try.

Truncating my entered password to 8 characters is one of my "pet peeves" with SimplyMEPIS, since I don't have this problem with other Debian based distros like Kanotix, and with the number of password cracking tools around, it's a concern to me (especially since I plan on setting it up as a web server via my cable modem connection for friends and family to access).

If setting the password via command line solves it, great. Thanks for pointing that out as a possible solution. I'll try it in a few minutes. Interestingly, I've asked about this issue in the Mepis forums on more than one occasion, and nobody knew that you could get it working correctly that way. lol

As for the monitor resolution, I'm not sure what's wrong there. I had similar problems with my monitor, even though it's recognized fine by the vast majority of distros I've tried (including Kanotix, Kubuntu and Ubuntu). SimplyMEPIS is the exception.

Having your resoluton come up as 640x480 because you don't know that you need to press F3 gives a terrible first impression (since I can't recall ever using another distro with this problem, including older versions of SimplyMEPIS).

Then, not being able to set the correct horizontal and vertical frequency ranges, even after pressing F3 makes it even worse (choices grayed out in the Nvidia Screens, and desktop not allowing you to select the desired refresh rate, even after setting these ranges in the main monitor screens in MEPIS utilities).

A lot of distros even recognize my specific monitor brand and model. With Kubuntu, it recognizes it as a "plug and play" monitor, and sets the correct horizontal and vertical frequency ranges for it.

One "trick" I found to help me get my monitor working was to boot into Kubuntu, then copy /etc/x11/xorg.conf from it (I just e-mailed it to myself), then boot into SimplyMEPIS, grab it from my e-mail, and overwrite the xorg.conf file in Mepis with the one from Kubuntu. This seems to work just fine on my PC.

I do remember seeing a recent post that may help explain what's going wrong, since I'm using an Nvidia FX5200. But, I haven't tried the solution yet:

http://www.mepis.org/node/11029

I've had similar issues with other hardware. For example, I can configure my wireless card via a GUI with Ubuntu or Kubuntu.

But, with SimplyMEPIS, I needed to modify a script to get an IP Address each time (adding dhclient rausb0), since the network configuration screens in SimplyMEPIS don't allow me to select rausb0 as the wireless interface.

Since SimplyMEPIS is based on Ubuntu now, it seems to me that hardware detection and configuration would be as good. But, that's not the case. The other distros are clearly better (at least on my hardware).

This is a shame, since I used to feel very comfortable installing SimplyMEPIS, and I've never been worried about these kinds of issues putting it on friends and relatives PCs, or recommending that they try it. But, in the future, I'd be more likely to carry a copy of Ubuntu or Kubuntu with me to try and iron out any hardware detection and configuration issues.

Despite the installation and configuration quirks associated with SimplyMEPIS 6.0, I still think it's the best distro around overall.

It's a well laid out distro, with the applications most users would need (although I'm still wondering why the Gimp was dropped in favor of XaraLX, since digital photography is very popular now, and XaraLX has *zero* features that are geared towards photo editing).

SimplyMEPIS is also very easy on the eyes (although they should lose the aquarium so that new users don't have to worry about removing it from the panel). It's simple to remove, though (although it does give a "cheesy" first impression with it installed by default).

It's also is a shame that the codecs in the newer version are more limited now. It used to play almost everything you threw at it.

Now, apparently over pressure from the FSF, etc., it doesn't work that well "straight from the box". So, you have to update the codecs. I can't fault SimplyMEPIS for taking this approach though, and it's still relatively easy to get up and running (much easier than most other distros) as far as media compatibility for web sites you visit.

Again, despite it's faults, and the appearance that it's lagging behind other distros now as far as hardware detection and configuration (where it used to be about the best out there), it's probably going to be my distro of choice for everyday use.

I've been trying a lot of distros, and I have yet to find anything that I like better. Could it be improved? Sure. Any distro can be improved. But, if you're willing to put up with the installation quirks (which may not effect all hardware), it's pretty much "smooth sailing" after that.

Chances are, despite it's "warts", I'll continue to recommend that users give it a try first when looking for alternatives to MS Windows.

3. Submitted by Anonymous, Thursday 7th September 2006

I have been using SimplyMEPIS since version 3.0 after trying Ubuntu. When SimplyMEPIS reached 6.0 RC1 I reevaluated Ubuntu before the upgrade, but still prefered to use SimplyMEPIS for the following reasons, among others:
- I wanted KDE but KUbuntu was too buggy.
- Wireless networking was way easier to setup.
- MPlayer was more up-to-date.
- I need VMWare player for work and that was also easier to setup.

4. Submitted by A moore, Monday 18th September 2006

One thing that a simple "install and check out" review does not really capture is the change in long-term stability with the move to Ubuntu sources. I was skeptical about the move away from Debian, but after trying out Mepis 6.0 for a while I'm sold; the difference in stability over several months has been night-and-day from Mepis 3.x, which (thanks to being based on etch) deteriorated over time. The few Mepis 3.x installations I still have around have not been updated in months because I don't want to deal with X or kdm blowing up again. With 6.0 I update fearlessly.

I'm now checking in to Dapper LTS as an alternative server OS to Debian Sarge, which has been my mainstay for a few years now.

One more thing; I've put Mepis 6.0 on at least half a dozen machines and I haven't had the level of hardware difficulty you have had. One minor display issue and one issue with a joystick that required a few modprobe commands, but that's it. Par for the course IME.