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User Friendly Debian? try Mepis
techAdmin
Status: Site Admin
Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3906
Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
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I've been reading about this one lately, Mepis Linux. Has a decent installer, and lets you into the stable world of Debian. You can read a review of it here or here. That's a worth a thought, Debian's package management system, apt, has to be one of the best ones out there.

I'm using it currently in Yoper and it's pretty nice, though of course currently Yoper doesn't have either the stability or the number of programs in their apt system, but it does have speed and performance. If only those two worlds could meet.

Or maybe not, debian after all gets its stability from serious bug testing and control. The recently, for example, rejected KDE 3.3 as too buggy. Read a debian list serve item on that question here. The linux world needs that kind of focus on stability.

And it needs gentoo's focus on customization, speed, and performance. We'll see if Yoper can find a happy medium in the near future, they may be working out their financial difficulties now, and expect to have their forums and servers up and running quite soon. Now if they can just focus a bit on stability...
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minck
Status: Interested
Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 39
Location: Belgium
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wow - the pre-configged Moz with all those goodies sounds so nice, like it might even be an option now for me to install on my girlfriend's computer! No extra messing with java, quicktime, etc (all the stuff that I didn't bother installing on my own box here). I'm needing to do something there anyways, it's been getting aweful slow, scumware I'm guessing. Only possible source of complaints would be ie-only stuff during browsing, but that's small potatoes compared to the hassle of viri and scumware.

We'll be keeping to plain-vanilla (Debian, world's most popular real operating system) on this machine for the moment - lack of time, etc. - might try it on my notebook I need to linucize though, some sort of cheap Compaq Athlon, I'd been planning on Fedora Core, since it's been reported that this is the only distro which reliably gets the advanced power management stuff working, but with all the Mepis compatibility info, maybe Mepis is worth a shot too (and of course the live-CD version might answer this question - if running a live CD will be able to trigger the power management stuff).
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jeffd
Status: Assistant
Joined: 04 Oct 2003
Posts: 594
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If you want laptop power management, go for SUSE 9.2, it got a rave review as a laptop OS, that's the Novell difference.
:: Quote ::
SuSE's power management features, while far from perfect, are miles ahead of the curve. I can actually view how much battery life I have remaining! (Screenshot) When my battery gets too low, the system warns me to plug it in to avoid losing my work. While this seems like a small thing, it is revolutionary when you are used to obsessively saving every 2 seconds for fear of losing your work. My CPU even dynamically scales based on the current system load. (Screenshot) If I'm compiling code or generally taxing the processor, the frequency jumps up to 1.5GHZ or 100%. When I'm doing simple email writing, or web browsing, the CPU scales back to 600Mhz or 50%.

The laptop screen also blanks when I close the lid! I know that seems small, but the battery savings are tremendous. (Screenshot) Another trick that SuSE has added is the ability to change your power profile on the fly. There are several modes to choose from based on your preferences. Acoustic, Performance, Powersave, and presentation modes are handy preset profiles for power management attributes. Presentation mode for example will keep your laptop from cutting off the display after a given period of elapsed time.


The reviewer makes some mistakes, such as generalizing commercial linux distros to all linux, for example this statement:
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Lets face it. Linux boots slow compared to Windows.

Guess again, Yoper boots faster than Windows.
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minck
Status: Interested
Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 39
Location: Belgium
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Wowie, I gotta try Yoper some time, I keep on saying I don't have any time and in fact I really don't, too many things hanging over my head (right now it's trying to get Opera to stop dropping-down my drop-downs on the interface toolbar thingie when they're no longer hovered - what a boring, ugly, stupid, nasty thing to have to debug, worst is that they were working just fine yesterday and I can't localize whatever it was that I changed). I think my Debian sid takes about 6 minutes to boot right now, at some point something I added or upgraded decided I needed 'NIS services' whatever that is and that takes forever (but less time than it takes me to wake up, so I don't complain). I think this got added when I installed the second network card which ... you got it, isn't configged yet on the Debian partition.

I am really happy about this SuSE recommendation, indeed, it's the ACPI thing my laptop needs and it seems like SuSE handles this real well. The networking bit also sounds fantastic. The articles' comments are also interesting - mentions of Ubuntu and Kanotix sound interesting, and btw, you can get Ubuntu mailed to you for free these days - lots of 'em if you want - go check it out, live cd + install cd, you can include them in your Christmas cards.

It seems SuSE's policy regarding iso's has changed, I do find a url for downloading a 'live' cd, but the README says it can only be installed via a networked remote DVD, that's probably not something I want to figure out yet. If there are any places where it's likely to be available please let me know.
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jeffd
Status: Assistant
Joined: 04 Oct 2003
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The latest versions of SUSE are only available for paying customers, which is a fairly reasonable thing to do.

The current latest free download is 9.1, but that's only available as far as I know with ftp install, which isn't the easiest procedure in the world to do, it's not intuitive, so read up on it before starting.

However, 9.2 is not new, and should become available for ftp install sometime in the coming months if you want to wait.

I'd expect some of their power management improvements to start trickling into the rest of the linux world as the source code is implemented in the core packages, although Debian would be one of the last I'd expect to see those in, but that could change.

I haven't installed Yoper yet on a laptop, mine is too old, Yoper is optimized for 686 processors and won't install on older pentium II's, that's how it gets its performance boost, well, that and some other stuff, pre-linking their applications, other optimizations, many from Gentoo type configurations.
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vkaryl
Status: Contributor
Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 273
Location: back of beyond - s. UT, closer to Vegas than SLC
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Great info you two, thanks. Of course, I'm one of the VERY few who's always willing to pay for what I use, I guess - even when it's "free".... so if I like SUSE 9.1, I'll just ante up for 9.2....
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minck
Status: Interested
Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 39
Location: Belgium
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I don't mind paying for what I use - problem is that since linux on laptops is dicey, and my particular configuration might not install very well on any given Linux, I'm a bit skeptical about paying for something I might not end up using. This'll be a big catch-22 for SuSE - allow a free install, and people who've installed for free won't come back to pay. Only allow paid download, and people will be worried it might not do what you pay for a Linux to do (install smoothly - since Debian really takes care of the rest). When I'm a bit further advanced on a number of projects I may well have enough cash lying about to be less discriminate in software purchases, and buy a distro that might work / I might use - until then, it's probably trying free distro after free distro (and wasting my time) until I find one that works, and if not, chip in for 9.2 Pro. Ninetyish bucks isn't all that much to pay for a good OS! I just spent more than that on a couple of telephones.

I am warmly looking forward to getting my Ubuntu CD's in the mail and trying that out - Ubuntu looks very, very promising, their MO sounds very appealing.
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vkaryl
Status: Contributor
Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 273
Location: back of beyond - s. UT, closer to Vegas than SLC
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Wasn't pointing fingers hereabouts.... was mostly related to other places I post. I get a tad bit annoyed by people who will use pirated software and never consider it criminal.... sorry!
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techAdmin
Status: Site Admin
Joined: 26 Sep 2003
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Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
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I'm downloading mepis tonite, I think I'm going to give it a try on my Yoper box, I like doing some dual boot test installs on that one since it's easy to compare them. I already gave SUSE a try on it, it doesn't do much for me to be honest, it's using a lot of resources, it works ok, but not great.

I'm getting more curious about some of these Debian based distributions, there's something about that developer community that really seems to be on the right track. Seems like debian isn't going to just suddenly vanish from lack of interest any time in the near future. Of course performance is always the question, I'll be interested to see how the speed of simply mepis compares to Yoper.

When I do the full switchover I don't plan on switching again for a long time, I installed Windows 2000 in 2000, and have never felt the need to switch or 'upgrade' to XP [personally I think it's a downgrade]. And I'd really like to do the same with my GNU / Linux distro too, debian seems like the only group out there that really is focusing a lot on this approach. The debian based distros are appealing I think because they offer much more uptodate features, simplyMepis is coming out I believe now with KDE 3.3, well ahead of the main debian project.
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minck
Status: Interested
Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 39
Location: Belgium
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Look forward to a review from you on it.

I haven't had enough time to do the 'new OS for new years' thing and thus haven't gotten around to installing any OS's here. One reason is simply lack of motivation - I just like this plain debian install so much. However, I messed some things up on the original install that I'll only be able to change by reinstalling (put everything on primary partitions somehow, not sure how this happened -- so have none left).

I'll probably install Ubuntu first since I really like their clear operational philosophy, their close association with Debian, the list of developers they have as employees; and the money they have behind them is a good indication they'll probably stick around. Though I'm guessing I'll either switch back to plain-vanilla Debian, or try Mepis. I don't know many people who do a lot of PHP who are Gnome users - KDE's Kate and Quanta Plus top the Linux list of editors for PHP, Bluefish has weird slow syntax highlighting, what else is there on Gnome for PHP? I could learn to use emacs or vi as fluently as Kate or Quanata, but can't really imagine either of these giving me more functionality I really need to justify the learning curve. I don't use the KDE desktop actually, like the fast lightweight pekwm better, but I need Kate and Quanta so all those KDE libraries need to be in place anyways.

If my main workhorse program is Kate, it does make sense to have a KDE-based distro, no?

* Oh wow! Postman just came and arrived with my Ubuntu cd's! Will reboot and let you hear about the live CD (won't install till later).
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