Thursday, May 3, 2007

A quick look at SimplyMEPIS 6.5.02

What more can be said about SimplyMEPIS 6.5.02 other than the fact that it simply works, and it's worked on any hardware combination that I've thrown at it. On an earlier install on my Dell Latitude D610, even WIFI worked upon first boot. Mepis doesn't have the latest kernel or the latest application versions. It's just a highly polished distribution that has been well thought out. The talented folks at Mepis took a fine Linux distribution, added some improvements, and created something special.

Mepis 6.5.02 is an upgrade to 6.0 that allows 6.0 users to install newer software without completely reinstalling Linux. Also, a first time user can download the ISO and install 6.5.02 with no previous Mepis installation present. New for Mepis are the 64 bit edition, proprietary Nvidia drivers, and the Beryl 3D desktop. By "opting in" for the Nvidia drivers during installation, a user can have a fully functional 3D Beryl desktop up and running in a little more than 15 minutes. Mepis comes as a Live CD that can be test driven before installation. This way a user can check for hardware compatibility before actually installing to their hard disk drive.

My hardware setup for this installation was as follows. . .

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+(65W)
ABIT KN9 ULTRA Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 570 Ultra
CORSAIR XMS2 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
GIGABYTE GV-NX76G256D-RH GeForce 7600GS 256MB PCI Express
COOLER MASTER eXtreme RP-500-PCAR ATX 12V V2.01 500W Power Supply
SAMSUNG 910T-19" DVI LCD Monitor
LITE-ON DVD Burner IDE Model SOHW-1633S

I chose the Mepis 64 bit edition for this installation which uses the 2.6.15-27-desktop64-smp kernel. Everything worked right out of the box. There was no need to download and install the proprietary Nvidia drivers because Mepis has included them in the install ISO. The Beryl 3D desktop worked on the first try. Ain't life grand? I've used and tried a lot of Linux distributions in the past but this is the easiest distribution to install I've ever used.

Mepis uses apt-get/synaptic to resolve dependencies and install software. I've found no better setup for accomplishing this task. After adding the medibuntu repository, I spent another 15 minutes downloading and installing the usual types of apps that cannot be included in most Linux distributions (legal issues) and had a fully functional multimedia capable Linux installation.

I would recommend Mepis to both new and accomplished Linux users alike. For the new user, no Linux distribution could be more complete or easier to get up and running. For the accomplished user who's just tired of fighting every new install, Mepis is a rare treat. Mepis 6.5.02 will remain installed on my main box (it's a keeper). I use Debian Etch on my older PC to play with but when looking for something stable, easy to install, and easy to maintain, Mepis fits the bill nicely.



BrionS said...

I installed SimplyMEPIS this past week and it's great! Fast, stable and looks good. It even has the Ubuntu repositories available for an expanded set of packages beyond the MEPIS and Debian repos.

This looks like a keeper! :)

Brian Masinick said...

I have been an advocate of SimplyMEPIS around the USALUG ever since I joined it. If I remember correctly, I first found MEPIS in 2003, the year before Warren Woodford made a change in direction and turned MEPIS into an every day desktop system. Before that, he had a pretty nicely optimized Live CD. I think he used IceWM, and I could run my system right from the Live CD. It was MEPIS, more than KNOPPIX, that got me interested in Live CDs in the first place.

Ironically enough, when MEPIS became a better desktop system, it became a slower Live CD - at least on my 2000-2001 vintage Dell Dimension 4100. On my newer box with more memory and a faster DVD/RW drive that is less of an issue. In any case, in 2004 I started to use SimplyMEPIS (the first time it took on that name) as a backup to my Libranet. It was a good thing. Some time that year or in the next year, I torched the distro pretty badly and it took about a week of work to fix it up (yeah, I could have just reinstalled it in an hour, but this was for educational and testing purposes). Anyway, when I did not have enough time to complete or to fool around, I used MEPIS. I liked it enough that I was tempted to move to it every day. Well, when Libranet, my long favorite, finally passed away along with its great founder, I eventually put it to pasture and brought on SimplyMEPIS. Ironically enough, I am running real Debian tonight with XFCE, just like I used to do with Libranet in the good old days.