Review: SimplyMEPIS 6.0

It’s been three days since I’ve been playing around with the final release of SimplyMEPIS 6.0, and the words that come into my mind after the oohss, and aahhs is simply Linux Desktop on Steroids! Although this is a review of the much awaited release of MEPIS 6.0, I decided to give it a title that reflects my impressions of the latest release from MEPIS.

After downloading the ISO from the first FTP mirror
that has it, I quickly burned it into a CD and give it a test run on
VMWare Workstation as a LiveCD. I was surprised that even though it is
on a virtual machine, it runs and responds fast. This pushed me to
install it on one of my work machines and give it further testing
before making my final impressions.

SimplyMEPIS 6.0 has made a big leap this past few months by using the Ubuntu
Repositories. At first I was skeptical of this move because previously
I had several hardware issues with Ubuntu and this gave me a thought
that MEPIS will just be another Ubuntu flavor that might give me
hardware problems if I use it. I was absolutely wrong! It is just the
repositories that were used, but under the hood it still the solid
MEPIS that was known to work out of the box.


MEPIS 6.0 Highlights

Live CD:

Having
the Live CD functionality is a must for new users or even advanced
administrators. The Live CD functionality of MEPIS is very useful to
first test the hardware that you plan to install MEPIS on. On the other
hand, advanced administrators may use the Live CD functionality to
troubleshoot problem machines or retrieve data on faulty storage
devices. If after testing your hardware and it works out fine, you may
now then install MEPIS on your hard drive.

SimplyMEPIS 6.0 running from the Live CD

Installation:

In
terms of installation, MEPIS is still the fastest Linux to install that
I have ever used in my machines. Installation is intuitive, for after
running the Live CD, you can find an “Install” icon on the desktop.
Clicking on this icon will install MEPIS on your hard drive. The
process took around 15 minutes in my machine and was guided very nicely
by the GUI installer from partitioning, to settings and configurations
in order to run MEPIS successfully after the install.

Installing MEPIS 6.0

MEPIS Utilities:

Mepis
Utilities is a tool under System Configurations that helps you
setup/customize your hardware settings, network interface including
WiFi and Wireless LAN, mouse, and graphic drivers. It also has section
for maintenance. This Mepis Utility is one strong point of MEPIS. This
is the first time that a Linux distro just let me choose and click my
graphics driver then after a reboot, 3D acceleration is already enabled
without a glitch (I did not touch the command line =) ).

MEPIS Utilities: Choose and Click driver installation

MEPIS System Tweaks:

My
first thought when I saw this tool is that it will let me tweak
settings such that it will speed up boot time, speed up internet, or
something similar, but I was wrong. This MEPIS tool can be found under
System Configurations. Although MEPIS System Utilities is useful as it
lets you customize your computer identity, locale, and recover space, I
still believe that it should have been put under MEPIS Utilities. The
functionalities of this MEPIS tool is very few to give it a separate
entity. But nevertheless, it’s useful.

MEPIS System Tweaks

Hardware Support:

As
what I expected, MEPIS is known to support lots of hardware, and my
expectations of a problem free setup was fulfilled. All my hardware
where detected including printer, scanner, webcam, network devices, USB
devices, and bluetooth. As it was always known, hardware support is one
strong point of MEPIS.

Printer Wizard

Detecting USB Device from Live CD

Safely Removing USB Device

Desktop Customization:

Linux,
being open source, let’s you customize your machine to an unlimited
extent. Desktop Customization is one of my favorite things in MEPIS and
same with other Linux distros. After customizing my desktop and loading
it with applications, I’m surprised that it only used little RAM and is
still fast compared to other distros. I have done some customization to
make it look and behave like another distro that I use, and in
comparison, MEPIS uses 115MB of RAM while the other distro uses 220MB
of RAM. This is probably what separates MEPIS from the others… speed
and efficiency.

System Configurations
My Desktop after Customizations

MEPIS running 3D Desktop

Automatix:

As if the good isn’t good enough, we can use further tweaking and additional software by running the Automatix script.
Automatic lets you add additional essential drivers, codecs, and
software the easy way. It’s lets you choose from its list all the
package the you want to add to your default installation. But even
without Automatix, we can still add these packages using apt-get and
synaptic, Automatix just made it easier.

Running Automatix in MEPIS

Google Earth installed by Automatix

General Impressions

Installation:

So
far, installation is very easy. Recommended if you are new to Linux.
Installation will just take from 10 to 30 minutes depending on your
machine.

Application Installation:

Different
distros use different package managers to install additional
applications. Synaptic Package Manager is one of the most widely and
easiest to use among package managers. MEPIS having Synaptic is a
strong point as it is very intuitive, with access to over 19,000
packages, adding applications is as simple as choose, click, and apply.

Synaptic Package Manager in MEPIS

OpenOffice in MEPIS

Ease of Use:

Since
I have been able to install, customize, tweak, and use MEPIS without
(yet) touching the command line, I can say that even new users who just
knows the basics of computers will not have a hard time getting
accustomed with MEPIS. There are a lot of tasks that I do using the
command line as it seems to be easier for me, however, those
commands/tasks that I do can be done using the GUI of MEPIS. If you are
a point and click person, MEPIS is for you.

Maintenance:

There
are a lot of ways to maintain a Linux machine depending on how you use
it, however, basic maintenance in MEPIS was made easier using the MEPIS
Utilities and MEPIS System Tweaks. However, there are a lot of
applications available from the repositories that you may want to add
in case of other tasks that you want to achieve. Looking for an
application is as easy as searching by entering keywords like: Task
Scheduler, Back up tool, Firewall, etc..

Multimedia Capabilities:

MEPIS
is known to support various multimedia format out of the box, but this
release of MEPIS lacks some multimedia capabilities due to license
restrictions. But this is not a problem at all, at the panel on the
bottom of your desktop, you will see APT Notify, a yellow icon that
tells you if an upgrade or update is available. This icon catches my
attention because after the default installation, it alerted me that an
update is available. Clicking the icon and doing a quick update
downloads the needed multimedia packages and hence, a full multimedia
support. MEPIS has live again to users’ expectations.

Amarok Playing My MP3s over the network

Documentation:

For
new users, this is one of the most important part of a Linux distro,
looking for help should not be a burden when all you want to do is
watch a DVD, play MP3s, edit documents, surf the web, and some other
simple tasks that are commonly done by an ordinary user. One of the
first thing that you will see when you boot to your default setup is
the blue icon on the desktop that says “MEPIS Help.”
This icon will open the MEPIS website wherein you may find links to the
How To’s, the MEPIS User Guide, and links to other Help pages. Although
there maybe some advance part that needs further explanations, you
could always turn to the forums for added support.

Support:

Support is not a problem at all in MEPIS, people at mepislovers.com
forum are very friendly and helpful to users of MEPIS, or if you want a
live help, you could always turn to the IRC channel #mepis in server
“irc.freenode.net”.

Price:

Downloading the CD ISO from public mirror sites is absolutely free of charge, as in FREE. But if you want the pressed CD delivered right in to your doorsteps, the cost is around US$ 15.00.

Read author’s overall impression @ Source Web Site: raldztech.blogspot.com

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