Yesterday Mepis announced  the alpha1 release of SimplyMEPIS 6.0. This is the first release publically available for Mepis after integrating some Ubuntu components into their system. As with many alphas, there wasn't enough changed from the last stable release to cause massive instability. There were just a few changes and new goodies in store for the user in this release. Tuxmachines downloaded and installed it last night. What did we find?
The release was the familiar installable livecd, the grub screen and boot splash hadn't changed much since last release. It still offered the same options as previous as well. If you'll recall the blue colored theme running throughout.
KDE in this alpha was 3.5.2. It fast and complete. The Mepis announcement stated that "some of the Kmenus have been rearranged to take advantage of metadata embedded in the kde shortcut files." I'm not sure I see much difference in them really yet.
The panel/kicker seem less busy with many of its previous icons now removed. I recall this was one of MadPenguins complaints when they reviewed Mepis 3.4.3, although the announcement stated this was done at the urging of the community. Now instead of the 6 icon cluster on the launcher, we now have one icon that opens a menu to some of the system tools. I liked the little icon cluster. It gave Mepis a slightly different look than most other distro's default kde. They did leave the kaquarium deal. The system tray  has icons for connection status, ksensors, mixer, kdisk, and klipper, as well as a large kweather icon.
The harddrive installer is integrated into the Mepis OSCenter on the livecd and after install it automagically disappears. This is a really nice disappearing act. After install, what's left is some deeper system-wide configurations such as network interfaces, User Accounts, and Repair Partitions. Warren Woodford stated that "We plan to breakout components in the MEPIS OSCenter into KParts that can be integrated into SystemSettings."
So, speaking the SystemSettings, this is a new component for Mepis borrowed from Ubuntu. It's a wrapper, as such, that calls up most of the kde settings modules. It's designed to replace the KDE Control Center, and that's about all it does at this point. But as stated above, Mepis hopes to integrate their configuration tools into SystemSettings for a one-stop-shop in configuration. The traditional KDE Control Center  is still available even if not in the menu, at this point at least.
As far as applications, one has the full of KDE and some extra Kapps added, as well as Firefox 22.214.171.124 and OpenOffice 2.0.2. It comes with some other less routine apps such as tools and apps for Bluetooth, streaming webcam video, skype, and Snipe ebay bidder.
Multimedia isn't neglected either:
Underlying  the gui is kernel-2.6.15-20, Xorg 7.0, and gcc 4.0.3. At this early stage, the alpha was still quite stable and usable. Hardware detection was good, performance was adequate, but the fonts were still fugly! Although the signs of Ubuntu are still sparse, you can see ubuntu apps/packages in the Synaptic Software Manager . They are cleverly distinguished by the Ubuntu logo. This shows us several libs and other developmental packages underneath are Ubuntu as well. If you are running stable 3.4.3, there isn't much reason to rush out and load this release. If you are an Ubuntu fan, you too should probably wait. Gnome isn't even included on the livecd. I had massive doubts when Mepis declared their intentions of using Ubuntu for their base system, but if it doesn't change Mepis much more than this, Mepis should remain their own distinctive KDE distro. But time will tell. We'll keep an eye on development for you and let you know.
More Screenshots Here .