Spotlight on Linux: SimplyMEPIS 8.5.x

SimplyMEPIS is a simply wonderful distribution. It was the first to offer a complete out of the box experience all tied up in a pretty package. It would be fair to say that it was probably the inspiration for many of the easy-to-use distributions available today.

SimplyMEPIS began life as MEPIS in 2003 during a time when Linux could still be a bit of struggle for new users to enjoy. At that time its contemporaries were KNOPPIX, another easy distro known for its exceptional hardware detection and auto-configuration; and Mandrake, another easier to use distro with a large community of friendly users. But even those lacked some of the codecs, files, and drivers needed for full enjoyment that could be found in MEPIS. Eight years later, it is still one of the best.

Despite the small development team, SimplyMEPIS releases are full featured and pretty. It ships with a stable KDE, lot of handy software, and full multimedia support. It even ships with popular proprietary wireless Ethernet drivers and proprietary graphic drivers are a click away. It comes in 32 or 64-bit versions in installable live CD format. SimplyMEPIS is based on Debian Stable and Warren Woodford, the lead developer, goes to great lengths to insure none of that stability is lost. Woodford delayed the migration to KDE 4 until 8.5 for that very reason.

Today SimplyMEPIS features KDE 4.3.4, Xorg X Server 1.4.2, Firefox 3.5.6, and OpenOffice.org 3.1.1. Each release brings new tasteful artwork to enhance the desktop without creating distractions. Perhaps the most significant aspect of SimplyMEPIS is MEPIS tools. With the various MEPIS tools one can configure your network connection, configure your graphics handling, create bootable USB keys, repair partitions and the boot loader, set the computer name, and add or delete users. In later releases one can also find the new Welcome Center. From this users can get help and information or install language packs and other software. One can even install third party contributions for a wider selection if desired.


MEPIS Welcome Center

Software and updates in SimplyMEPIS, like most Debian derivatives, is handled by APT and Synaptic. Synaptic has become the defacto APT front-end in recent years and with good reason. The interface is tidy, intuitive, and easy. With the search function, it is very convenient as well. Clicking on any of the broad categories in the left-side pane will bring up package choices in the right side upper pane. Clicking on any of the choices shows detailed information about the package in the lower right pane. Any package can then be installed with a few clicks of the mouse. APT will automagically resolve and install any dependencies as well, which is one of the reasons it's become so admired.

With rock solid stability, a pretty interface, handy applications, original tools, multimedia support, proprietary driver installation, and APT -- SimplyMEPIS has it all. The only two characteristics one might see as disadvantages are packages that may be a version or so behind some other cutting-edge distros and repositories are not as fully populated as some of the other larger projects. But SimplyMEPIS is compatible with Debian, so one could use packages from that project if needed. In fact, Debian repositories are already setup in APT/Synaptic. Add to that a one-CD download and easy installer one finds SimplyMEPIS is just simply wonderful.

______________________

Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.

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MEPIS

kerry walper's picture

MEPIS is a great distribution.

I have been using MEPIS since early 2004 as my main operating system.
It is not 100 % perfect for every computer out there but it has been very rock solid for me. I wouldn't use anything else. It's really fast!

It can be a bit daunting for the first timers but just go to mepislovers.org where you can get user help from other users. Help at mepislovers is fast and friendly too. Even experienced linux users can get help from mepislovers.org

I highly recommend MEPIS to anyone who is sick of the windows merry go round. Mepislovers.org makes it easier for anyone to make the switch to MEPIS. You are not alone!

SimplyMEPIS 8.5.x

Anonymous's picture

SimplyMepis is anything but simple! I tried to install it on my 1 1/2 year old Quad-Core EVGA Mother-Board with 8GB of R.A.M. and an nVidia 8200 video card. Mepis would not even boot into "Live-Mode". The installer ISO was just as incapable! So I tried it on my 2 1/2 year old Toshiba Laptop with U.S.B. Wi-Fi. "Simply" a disaster. - And yet Pardus Linux is s-o-o-o-o-o-o much easier to install and post configuring is just the way Windows Users would have it. - Add to this "One-Click" files to install when downloaded and you have something SimplyMepis is nowhere close to offering! Thanks, but no thanks. You can keep Mepis. Let me know when it is as simple to install and post-config as Pardus Linux!

Good distro but....

kenholmz's picture

As long as Mr. Woodford, a beneficiary of the GPL, continues to keep a web page whining about the GPL I will neither use nor recommend SimplyMEPIS. Still, I don't begrudge anyone who feels differently.

MEPIS is great. BUT...

Fred McKinney's picture

I used to have MEPIS on here several years ago. I thought it was the PERFECT Linux distribution. I was also a big-time KDE fan, too. That is, until version 4 came out in early 2008. I thought "why stick with KDE 3.x when it's ultimately gonna be phased out?", and so I left for Ubuntu and GNOME. Well, with GNOME about to go to version 3, which reminds me of when KDE introduced version 4, Xfce has now become my desktop environment of choice.

Don't get me wrong. MEPIS is an excellent distro. In fact, it's one of only two distros I've ever tried that properly detects the Broadcom wireless card in my wife's laptop. However, its bloated KDE desktop caused it to flat-out freeze up soon after connecting. The only other distro I've ever tried that can properly detect the wireless that I've tried is PC/OS -- and it comes with Xfce instead, which works WAY more smoothly on the laptop, and it's my distro of choice.

I know, I'm bashing KDE4. But I did download a copy of MEPIS here while back and tried KDE 4.5. I'll admit that it's a lot more stable than back when KDE 4.0 came out. But I liked KDE 3.x a lot better, and it's just not the same for me anymore. If MEPIS came with Xfce (my favorite), GNOME, LXDE, or something else, I'd probably consider MEPIS again. Oh, and about that wireless chip in my wife's laptop, sorry to say it, but oddly enough, Antix does NOT detect that.

Don't get me wrong here, MEPIS is a distro I would certainly recommend to Linux newcomers. And if it came with Xfce instead of KDE, I'd have a hard time choosing between it and PC/OS. Oh well, to each his own, I guess...

Fred McKinney

Anonymous's picture

is a liar and a gnome troll. proof -

"I know, I'm bashing KDE4. But I did download a copy of MEPIS here while back and tried KDE 4.5."

Hmm. KDE 4.5 was only released a couple of days back - how did mepis get it a "while back" ?

gnome fanboys are not only irrational, FUDsters, liars and rabid, they are patently stupid. If it weren't for all the gnome fanboys, linux would have been adopted more on the desktop. Yeah, take that to RH, canonical and ximian err novell.

MEPIS scales very well to upstream packages

ThePav's picture

With Mepis being Debian based, Mepis is probably one of the most versatile Distros out there. It is fully possible to move outside of the regular Mepis and Debian Lenny repos and upgrade it to the Squeeze or Sid repos, while still maintaining the look and feel of Mepis, plus all of the Mepis tools and utilities.

Unlike a number of other KDE based distros that provide users with the regular KDE 4.x default desktop view, the MEPIS Desktop defaults to folder view, a much saner, cleaner, faster and easier system, as well as using the classic menu system instead of the regular kickoff menu. For users upgrading from KDE 3.x, or coming from Windows/Apple, this is a very welcome and well thought out setup and it really makes MEPIS stand out from the rest in terms of user freindliness.

As a sibling of Mepis, AntiX, available in 32-bit version only, uses a MEPIS base, strips out all of the heavier KDE-based packages, installs fluxbox/icewm as the Desktop Environment, upgrades many packages to upstream versions and repackages it into a kit that will run quite nicely on Intel based sub 1Ghz machines, as well as running perfectly and blindingly fast on most of the latest hardware types too.

Mepis

Sudo Apt Get's picture

Mepis is a great distro as long as you don't mind the apps being a little out of date. I use the 8.0 series daily at my computer shop to blow out temp files and transfer data on windows PC's. It's nice to see a distro where you can still login to the root account to perform admin tasks. I bought a subscription to Mepis because I wanted to show my support for a job well done.

MEPIS Packages

Brooko's picture

Hi Susan - nice review. I'll be sure to let Warren know. Just in case you haven't tried it yet, we set up our own community based package repository about 18 months ago. We pull sources from upstream debian (testing or sid), debian multimedia, ubuntu, or even just direct source. We then recompile them using completely compatible MEPIS libs, and have them in a secure repository - so that our community doesn't have to go outside controlled repos for newer packages. If you're using 8.5, you might want to try it. Details here:
http://www.mepislovers.org/showthread.php?t=21816
and here:
http://www.mepislovers.org/showthread.php?t=26401
Again - thanks for the review.
For anyone reading - and wanting to learn more about MEPIS - just visit the forum (www.mepislovers.org) - for us , there is no such thing as a silly question and everyone is welcome.

Mepis Linux 64b User

A simply wonderful article

Carlnyc's picture

Dear Ms. Linton,

I hope this finds you well.

Your article is right on the money. I am a big fan of Mepis 8.5, and I have run Mepis on all of my machines--for work, and for play--since the Mepis 7.0 release.

One of the most rewarding features that I have found with this distro is its truly wonderful "MepisLover Forum" (http://mepislovers.org/).

On this Forum, experienced Mepis users have answered all of my technical questions in a manner that can only be described as being 'friendly,' and have patiently guided me through the proper procedures, step-by-step, that have enabled me to easily implement solutions on how to best use Mepis for work, and for play.

I, for one, am quite content to sacrifice "cutting-edge" packages, for the error-proof, rock-solid performance the Mepis distro has provided to me.

Thank you again for your article, and please accept my

Best regards.

packages

Anonymous's picture

"packages that may be a version or so behind some other cutting-edge distros"

A Community Packaging Team keeps packages up-to-date and easily installable through Community repositories--this is a critical feature.

Interesting Distro, but...

Myrkul's picture

Wouldn't it be nice, If, when someone came here, and saw an article detailing how awesome such and such distro is, they had an easy-to-find link, that they could then click on,that would take them directly to the website of that distro? Man... That would be awesome.

'scuse me, I gotta go google something now.

re: Interesting Distro, but...

Susan Linton's picture

Yes, that would be awesome! :D

Sorry, Added in story too.

Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.

Impressive

obx_ruckle's picture

How amazing; you ask & you get. Wish it was always that easy, although I have asked for some stuff it was better that I didn't get it.

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