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Review: SimplyMEPIS 3.3 (Page 2)

 

(Note: This page was published on May 8, 2005 and is obsolete. Several newer versions of SimplyMEPIS have been released since this page was written, and you should check out the Mepis Web site for the most current information. This page is being left online for historical reasons and because a lot of other sites link to it.)

 

Installing SimplyMEPIS

It's hard to imagine a simpler Linux installation routine than SimplyMEPIS.

SimplyMEPIS InstallationOnce you have booted from the CD and are satisfied that Mepis runs properly on your system and that you like the distribution, you can begin the installation by clicking the "Install Me" icon on the SimplyMEPIS desktop. This will open the hard drive installation dialogue of the Mepis OS Center. The graphical installer is well thought-out and relatively intuitive. You can find a brief tutorial of the installation process here.

If you are installing Mepis on a dedicated system (that is, it will be the only OS on the machine), then the installation is pretty straightforward. About the only thing you'll have to do is enter the information for the hostname and your local network, if applicable. For everything else, you probably can just use the Mepis defaults.

QTPartEdIf you are installing SimplyMEPIS on a machine that also contains Microsoft Windows (a dual boot configuration), then you will have to resize the Windows partition to create room for Mepis on the hard drive (unless you already have a free partition on the main drive or an additional installed drive). Mepis includes a partitioning utility called QTPartEd that can be called during the Mepis installation to resize an existing Windows partition.

As with any dual-boot installation, it is absolutely imperative that you back up your Windows system and thoroughly defrag the Windows partition(s) before resizing a Windows drive or installing Linux.

 

My Experience

I installed SimplyMEPIS 3.3 on two machines:

1. P4 Desktop Installation

The first machine I used for this review is a homebuilt with an Intel P4 2.8 GHz cpu; an Intel D865GBF mobo with integrated audio, video, and NIC; 512 MB of PC-3200 DDR in dual-channel configuration; and a 40 GB EIDE hard drive. This was a fresh install as a single-boot system.

MEPIS network configuration screenThe SimplyMEPIS installation on this speedy machine went so smoothly that there's really very little to say. The entire installation, from booting into the Live CD to completion of the installation to the hard drive, took a bit over nine minutes. The only decision I had to make was entering the name of my Windows workgroup for the SaMBa service. I just accepted the defaults for everything else.

Upon reboot, all of the computer's devices worked properly, and the machine had automatically configured itself to my SaMBa network. All of the applications I've tried have worked perfectly, and the machine has been running flawlessly without a reboot since first boot (about three weeks ago, as of this writing).

 

2. Laptop Installation

I also installed SimplyMEPIS to my aging IBM Thinkpad A22e, a laptop with an 850 MHz P-3 and 256 MB of RAM. This laptop also contains Windows 2000, so this was a dual-boot installation with Win2K receiving about 10 GB of the hard drive, and Linux about 20 GB. I'd noticed that Mepis ran pretty well on the laptop in Live mode, so I decided to replace the existing Fedora Core 3 installation with Mepis.

As would be expected, the installation on the older, slower laptop took a bit longer, about half an hour from start to finish. This included deleting the existing FC3 installation, creating new Linux partitions, and installing Mepis.

SimplyMEPIS desktopUpon first boot, the machine worked perfectly except for the 3-D on the Savage video card, which requires a bit of hacking to get the Open-GL to work under Linux.

Overall performance and responsiveness were much faster than they were under the heavier Fedora 3 installation that SimplyMEPIS replaced.

As was the case with the desktop PC described above, SimplyMEPIS automatically configured my laptop to my SaMBa network on first boot. All I had to do manually was configure the WEP settings on the Atheros wireless card, which took about a minute.

Since installing SimplyMEPIS on this laptop, it has been used for LAN diagnostics, WLAN security audits, and even as a temporary LAN server. I have booted the laptop into Win2K exactly once since installing Mepis -- and that was just to make sure that the boot loader worked.

 

Summary

I am very impressed with SimplyMEPIS. It's a fast, sleek, polished Debian distribution with a generous complement of well-chosen apps that will enable most users to work productively immediately upon installation -- and with no additional expense. Mepis also has the added advantages of being bootable, which gives you a chance to test drive it before committing to installing it; and of having one of the easiest install routines I have yet to see on a Linux distribution.

So whether you're a present Linux user looking around for a "favorite" distro, or are new to Linux and want to get a taste of it before committing to installing it, I'd be hard pressed to think of a reason not to give SimplyMEPIS a try.

 


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