Monday, December 29, 2008

MEPIS projects are nearing completion; position relative to sidux

Two of the primary MEPIS projects, the well known SimplyMEPIS and the smaller, faster, less commonly known antiX project, are nearing release of their Version 8.0 efforts. The SimplyMEPIS 7.9-94 release, otherwise known as SimplyMEPIS 8.0 Release Candidate 1, was released just before Christmas, with a hint from the developer, Warren Woodford, that if possible, he would like to release the product in a week or two.

I have found SimplyMEPIS 8.0 to be a model of stability. Released or not, I have downloaded it. I have one instance, going clear back to Beta 4, which has been updated to Beta 5, Beta 6, and Release Candidate 1. I have another instance that I directly installed Release Candidate 1. Both work and appear to be identical. They both work beautifully on the desktop and even manage the sometimes erratic Broadcom B43 driver, used to support the 4311 wireless interface, with no issues at all. This software also works great with Intel Pro Wireless drivers. I have one system with the Pro Wireless 2200, another one with the 3945 and both work smoothly and effortlessly.

The desktop software that comes with SimplyMEPIS is nice, typical of what a user would want in a system designed to simply work. It does work, and it works well.

The other project is the one that has become one of my real favorites this past year, the antiX project. I first became interested in it when it came out in the "6" series, but I became more interested in it when things got quiet for a while on the main SimplyMEPIS project. I find antiX to be smaller, faster, and more flexible than the parent SimplyMEPIS software. For that reason it is not quite as "newbie friendly". Flexibility is always a trade off. Newbies just want a plug it in and go solution. While antiX can give you that, a newbie might be more comfortable with SimplyMEPIS. Someone who has somewhat older hardware, or someone who likes to tweak around a bit and wants fast software would be more inclined to like antiX.

You might categorize the three systems I talk about frequently (MEPIS, antiX, sidux) in this way:

SimplyMEPIS typically tracks Debian Stable. While the current release, SimplyMEPIS 7.0, is based on Debian Etch (the current Debian Stable release), SimplyMEPIS 8.0 is based on the current Testing, but soon to be Stable, release known as Debian Lenny.

AntiX typically tracks the Debian Testing release. Since Lenny is currently in Testing, SimplyMEPIS and AntiX are very similar and they are extremely stable.

sidux always tracks the Debian Sid (Unstable) release. Right now, Sid is not very unstable at all, except for the frequency of updates. There are occasional packaging inconsistencies; sidux very easily takes care of them, and holds the packages until either the sidux project contributes a fix or one is made available in the Sid repositories.

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