Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

SimplyMepis 6.5 - Simply Wonderful

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
-s

After an interesting development cycle, SimplyMepis 6.5 was delivered to the anxiously awaiting community yesterday. Having started out as an update to the 6.0 release, it soon grew to encompass several highly desired features. As a result, it was given a bump in version number and delivers one of the most enjoyable computing experiences available at this time.

As you may know, SimplyMepis started out as one of the first livecds available. Based on Debian, it offered the user a very stable yet user-friendly alternative to the install-before-you-try distros of the time. Just about its only rivals were Knoppix and Damn Small Linux. Knoppix was nice, but Mepis (as it was known then) was prettier, offered more boot/run-time flexibility and included a hard drive installer. It evolved and improved over the years until its most dramatic change last fall when Warren announced that SimplyMepis would no longer be based on Debian but Ubuntu. Reasons for this were mainly the faster developmental cycle of Ubuntu and newer underlying/base code.

I for one was a bit apprehensive of this decision, fearing another Ubuntu clone. Afterall, there already existed Kubuntu. Fortunately on the surface SimplyMepis remained true to its legacy and one can hardly tell the difference. The most significant visual change has been the incorporation of the Kubuntu settings:/ application. However, the KDE Control Center is still available, even if it's not in the menu.

The boot screen has looked very much the same for quite some time. This release we find the proprietary NVIDIA graphical drivers available as an option. If one has an NVIDIA chip and wishes to use the new 3D desktop, they should choose this option. This was my choice and I was whisked away by means of a lovely revamped boot splash. The splash is part of the overall new theme found in this release featuring a more tasteful blue background with an update Mepis pyramid logo in the lower right corner. In the splash, this logo is centered over a small progress bar. Hitting escape will take one to the verbose boot output that can be useful if any issues with your hardware appear.

    


I had no problems with the boot and all of my hardware was detected and configured properly. I was taken to a (my desired) 1280x800 resolution gui, a nice KDE startup sound greeted me, and my touchpad worked out of the box smoothly, responsively, and accurately.

I was quite impressed with SimplyMepis' ability to automagically configure my wireless connection last test, but this time it encountered a new wpa option enabled on my router. So, it wasn't able to connect without my input. However, SimplyMepis ships with a version of the needed windows driver for my Broadcom 4311 (later v4) wireless chipset. I exclaimed in a short blog entry when testing release candidate 3 that this was the only distro I've ever tested on that HP laptop that could offer the connection enabled out-of-the-box. It still would have yesterday had I not enabled wpa. With other distros, in which it works at all, I must install the windows driver myself.

As it was, all I had to do was open the MEPIS Network Assistant from the menu and input my wpa key/passphrase and it connected then and from then on at boot. It is still one of the easiest set ups I've experienced. This is a major leap forward in hardware support.

I'm afraid I didn't have as good of luck with suspend. Neither the suspend to ram or suspend to disk would work here. ...out-of-the-box. Both went to sleep rather quickly, but neither would wake completely up. It tried, but it seemed to get stuck trying to turn the graphics back on. The backlight came on, but no graphics appeared. I heard a little "something's happening" KDE notification, but I couldn't see anything but a black screen. To be honest, I don't use that feature much at this time anyway, but I understand it's of major importance to other people. Perhaps this is hardware specific and it would work fine on your laptop.

The area of applications is another of SimplyMepis' strong points. They seem to be able to deliver an amazing amount of applications in a regular cdrom-sized iso. Some other distros can barely ship KDE and the KDE apps in 700mb, but SimplyMepis manages to squeeze in so much more. Another remarkable thing is the choice of applications included. They ship some applications not seen in the majority of systems and a few I've seen no where else. These encompass a large variety as well. From security applications like Guarddog and KlamAV, to communications with Skype and Gaim. Connectivity includes NX, Groupware, and different samba tools. Surf the web with Firefox and Konqueror and email with Thunderbird or Kmail. Multimedia includes RealPlayer, Kmplayer, K3b, and Amarok. Gaming includes Patience, KSudoku, Mahjongg, Ksirtet, and Planet Penguin Racer. Graphics are handled by Gimp, showFoto, digiKam, Kooka, and Xara Xtreme. And your office needs can be amply serviced by OpenOffice.org. There are also many graphical applications for system configuration and monitoring, including Mepis' own Assistants. These include the MEPIS Network Assistant, MEPIS System Assistant, MEPIS User Assistant, and MEPIS X-Windows Assistant. There is a full package list here.

        


I found each application tested to be stable, functional, and fast. I had no problems with any of them. My video files played out of the box with Kmplayer and I could even watch steaming trailers from apple.com. Youtube and Google videos were no problem with the included browser plugins. There wasn't java support included as I assume there are still issues with java and 64-bit systems. I've found java included and operative in the 32-bit systems previously.

        


All this runs wonderfully responsive from a livecd, but if you'd like to install this system to hard drive, SimplyMepis has a really nice and user-friendly installer. Its basic steps didn't change much this release. In a few steps one configures the install to their wishes and it installs in little time. System settings and configurations from the livecd are retained for the hard drive install. I had no problems here. These steps include:

  1. Accepting the Terms of Use

  2. Selecting harddrive and optionally configuring partitions
  3. Choosing install partitions and filesystem (reiserfs or ext3)
  4. Confirming
  5. Waiting
  6. Installing Grub
  7. (Dis)Enabling some services
  8. Setting Host & Domain Name and Samba workgroup name
  9. Localization
  10. User account & root password
  11. Reboot

Once on the hard drive, one can use Synaptic to install other applications or upgrade their current packages or system. Synaptic is the package manager and it's being used by more and more distros. It's safe and reliable, easy and efficient. The SimplyMepis team have provided some preconfigured repositories for us including mepis and ubuntu mirrors. It works really well.

        


I found SimplyMepis 6.0 lacking in functionality and showing some negative results of the then recent migration and underlying code change. But now with 6.5 most all the kinks have been straightened and nearly all the wrinkles have been smoothed. The only problems I had were the 3D desktop black windows and the laptop suspend issues. For the most part, the system worked like the Mepis I remember from the 3.x days while being modern with an updated appearance.

Some folks say SimplyMepis is just a remaster, a psuedo-distro not worthy of being included in DistroWatch's Top 10 distro list. This is a fairly uninformed opinion I think. Surely they've never tested SimplyMepis. This is like saying Mandriva is simply a remastered Red Hat or openSUSE is a remastered Slackware. SimplyMepis has always been an original system design to which few could even come close. When it arrived on the scene, it was the newcomer's answer to "can I run Debian?" It was a pioneer in the area of user-friendly and it continues to improve and offer one of the best systems available today.

Previous coverage:

StumbleUpon

Good Candidate for My Next O/S

The reviews from SJVN and TriedIt truly makes it seem like it's as capable as Kubuntu, but to tell you the truth, Novell has left me a SuSE 'orphan'.

A great release

I'm using this version since the day it came out, and I'm really impressed. Everything just works on my system. One feature I found very useful is the option to fix the Grub or video display from Live cd if one screws it up on installed system, like I did Smile

Excellent!

This is my primary OS. I am using a Mitac 8355H laptop and this is the only distro that seems to works well. The one thing... a constant problem with any distro, is the lack ease of getting wireless working with WEP. Perhaps WPA will work better?

Absolutely love this distro....

David

re: Excellent!

Actually, I've found that if wireless works, wep is no extra problem. It's usually wpa that gives distros and its users a bit more of a challenge. Most have gui configurations for it, but if it don't (and even if it does) you can easily set it by issuing the command:

iwconfig wlan0 <or your interface> essid <your essid> key <the wep key>

then dhcpcd or dhclient <your interface>. Sometimes, if the original config is "stuck" you might need to rmmod ndiswrapper and modprobe ndiswrapper, or your module, before issuing the iwconfig command.

wpa is a bit more complicated at the commandline, requiring wpa_supplicant. I don't have that one memorized just yet. Smile

KNetworkmanager

I installed Linux for the first time ever a few days ago. I selected Mepis 6.5 final for a dual boot configuration with XP on a T43p. (Thinkpad) All went exceptionally well, until I tried to configure wireless. Being a complete noobie, I googled around for about 20 minutes before I found a reference to WPA configuration here: http://www.mepis.org/node/12412

Upon discovering KNetworkmanager, I found WPA configuration to be very simple indeed - including WPA-AES configuration.

No command line tweaking required at all.

I am now well on my way to abandoning MS; I love Mepis!

Excellent!

I'm real pleased with SimplyMEPIS 32 Release 6.5

SimplyMEPIS has always worked well for me. Even Alpha and Beta versions generally work. I did have an issue with RC 2, if I remember correctly. I am writing that off to a bad download or a bad burn, because it wouldn't even boot up properly for me, instead looping with numerous messages. That is the only issue I've ever seen.

I downloaded RC 3, a few weeks prior to release and tried it out and liked it very much. When the release came out, I downloaded that, too, but I am appreciative of Warren Woodford's work, so I ordered and have received the DVD of SimplyMEPIS 32. I am awaiting different hardware and I will install it there, but meanwhile I have a pretty up to date version of SimplyMEPIS 6.0 that I am running right now that works perfectly well.

I heartily recommend SimplyMEPIS for those who want an immediately usable desktop system - you can start running it from Live CD, even as you install it to your hard drive, if your system has sufficient resources.

Being based on Ubuntu (and the underlying Debian repositories) it is easy to use a different window manager or desktop manager with SimplyMEPIS, though the default one is probably easiest to use for the novice. I've had good results grabbing IceWM and XFCE when I want something even more snappy, but the K Desktop Environment (KDE) that comes with SimplyMEPIS runs about as smoothly as any implementation I've seen. Only plain Debian and Slackware rival it as far as responsiveness, but the MEPIS version has a clean selection of applications that work nicely together, whereas the other versions, though also useful, tend to have a larger, but less cohesive, selection and grouping of applications.

Some people really like PCLinuxOS. I've had good results with it, too, but I've grown accustomed to SimplyMEPIS for every day, basic desktop needs. I run plain Debian when I want to test out tons of software, but I've been sticking with SimplyMEPIS when all I'm doing is reading Email, browsing the Web, and listening to streaming audio. It has all of those features and is set up to work immediately with no tweaking required.

Brian Masinick
masinick AT yahoo DOT com

SimplyMEPIS 32 Release 6.5

SimplyMepis 6.5 is a really good release. Im so happy for Warren and crew and wish them much success. Thank you guys for giving such a wonderful gift to the Linux community.

Tex

SimplyMEPIS

MEPIS is a quality distro. I used it daily for more than a year. It's easy to install and runs very stable. It's also attractive, especially for the KDE fan. I have been away from it for awhile, so I downloaded the latest release and installed it on a spare partition. No problems whatsoever. It's an easy recommendation.

SimplyMepis

I've been using SM for about 3 years now on my main PC. I have tried others but always come back. Why? Like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin. i.e. it just works. OK so I should like the option of being able to choose the apps I load etc, but it always sets up the hardware correctly; I usually keep my /home directory between updates as it gives that option unless I want a grand clearout; it takes 20 minutes to load to HD compared to 3 hours for Win XP. And this is on a modest machine (1100Mhz;640M Ram). I haven't loaded the latest and greatest yet but will be doing so in the next few days. I take my hat off to Warren and the crew for producing a consistently good distro that I use big time on my home system for the last 3 years. Long may they prosper.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Security: Google, Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), Quad9 and More

  • Google investigators find hackers swipe nearly 250,000 passwords a week
    Hackers are constantly trying to break into Google accounts, so Google researchers spent a year tracing how hackers steal passwords and expose them on the internet's black market. To gather hard evidence about the tools hackers use to swipe passwords, Google collaborated with University of California Berkeley cybersecurity experts to track activity on some of these markets. On Thursday, they published their results.
  • Time Will Tell if the New Vulnerabilities Equities Process Is a Step Forward for Transparency
    The White House has released a new and apparently improved Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), showing signs that there will be more transparency into the government’s knowledge and use of zero day vulnerabilities. In recent years, the U.S. intelligence community has faced questions about whether it “stockpiles” vulnerabilities rather than disclosing them to affected companies or organizations, and this scrutiny has only ramped up after groups like the Shadow Brokers have leaked powerful government exploits. According to White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce, the form of yesterday’s release and the revised policy itself are intended to highlight the government’s commitment to transparency because it’s “the right thing to do.”
  • Security updates for Friday
  • Quad9 Secure DNS Service Embeds IBM Security Intelligence
  • New “Quad9” DNS service blocks malicious domains for everyone
    The Global Cyber Alliance (GCA)—an organization founded by law enforcement and research organizations to help reduce cyber-crime—has partnered with IBM and Packet Clearing House to launch a free public Domain Name Service system. That system is intended to block domains associated with botnets, phishing attacks, and other malicious Internet hosts—primarily targeted at organizations that don't run their own DNS blacklisting and whitelisting services. Called Quad9 (after the 9.9.9.9 Internet Protocol address the service has obtained), the service works like any other public DNS server (such as Google's), except that it won't return name resolutions for sites that are identified via threat feeds the service aggregates daily.
  • The Internet of Shit is so manifestly insecure that people are staying away from it in droves
  • Security updates for Thursday
  • [Ubuntu] Security Team Weekly Summary: November 16, 2017
  • Hacking Blockchain with Smart Contracts to Control a Botnet
    Blockchain has been hailed by some in the technology industry as a potential method to help improve cyber security. However, security researcher Majid Malaika warns that Blockchain can potentially be abused to enable a new form of botnet that would be very difficult to take down. Malaika detailed his Blockchain-powered botnet in a session at the SecTor security conference on Nov. 15. The overall attack method has been dubbed "Botract" by Malaika, as it abuses inherent functionality in the smart contracts that help to enable Blockchain.
  • What Can The Philosophy of Unix Teach Us About Security?

Graphics: AMD and NVIDIA

  • R600 Gallium3D Shader Image Support Lands, Other R600g Patches Pending
    As a follow-up to OpenGL 4.2 Support Could Soon Land For AMD Cayman GPUs On R600g, the patches have landed in Mesa 17.4-dev Git! Plus other R600g patches are on the mailing list for review. These shader image support patches for R600g expose OpenGL's ARB_shader_image_size and ARB_shader_image_load_store for Radeon HD 5000/6000 series. In the process, this ends up taking Radeon HD 6900 "Cayman" GPUs to having OpenGL 4.2 compliance from 4.1 with the shader image support having been the last blocker. Other GPUs on R600g remain at OpenGL 3.3 due to lacking FP64 support, as outlined more extensively in that previous article.
  • GeForce GTX 900 Series Re-Clocking Patches Updated By Karol Herbst
    Frequent Nouveau open-source NVIDIA driver contributor Karol Herbst has posted his latest patch series in working towards GeForce GTX 900 "Maxwell 2" graphics processor re-clocking.
  • 25 More AMDGPU DC Patches, Mostly Focused On Raven DCN
    DCN in this context is for current the DCN 1.0 Raven Ridge family of display engines. The just-launched Vega+Zen APUs feature a new display engine and that's what this DCN code is for, which is also under a separate Kconfig tunable from the rest of AMDGPU DC.

Development of Linux 4.15

  • Broadcom Hurricane 2 & Allwinner R40 Supported By Linux 4.15
    More ARM platform upstreaming has taken place for the Linux 4.15 kernel development cycle among other ARM hardware improvements.
  • Intel Coffee Lake & Cannonlake Thermal Support In Linux 4.15
    While Intel Coffee Lake hardware is shipping already, a few bits of tardy kernel code for these "8th Gen Core" CPUs is only hitting the Linux 4.15 kernel. The Intel DRM driver is most notably enabling Coffee Lake graphics by default in 4.15, but there's also some thermal code now landing among other changes now happening. Zhang Rui sent in the thermal updates for Linux 4.15 on Thursday and they include late additions for Coffee Lake but at the same time the relevant additions for Cannonlake that will be shipping in 2018 as the next-gen Intel CPUs.
  • AMDGPU DC Pull Request Submitted For Linux 4.15 Kernel - 132,395 Lines Of Code
    One day after submitting the main DRM feature pull request for Linux 4.15, David Airlie of Red Hat has submitted the secondary pull request that would feature the long-awaited introduction of AMDGPU DC into the mainline kernel.

Tizen News: Knox, YouTube, Financial Apps