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Old 05-28-2007, 11:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamawho View Post
This tutorial shows how you can set up a PCLinuxOS 2007 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

The Perfect Desktop - PCLinuxOS 2007 | HowtoForge - Linux Howtos and Tutorials

Thanks for the post yamawho.

I'm looking to do a linux install.



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Old 05-29-2007, 01:40 PM   #17
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This is a brief guide to the world of Linux distributions, primarily aimed at individuals who are new to the Linux scene, and who are thinking about taking the plunge and trying Linux for the first time. To set the scene, let's start with a very brief history of the origins of Linux.

LinuxLinks News
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:05 PM   #18
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Here is another online resource to help in choosing a distribution:
zegenie Studios Linux Distribution Chooser
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:29 PM   #19
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‘We're using something called Linux,’ 12-year-old Arya told BW as she ‘worked with Tux Paint, a Linux drawing/painting application.’
‘And Windows?’ asks the reporter.
‘Never heard of it,’ she says.


Linux Desktop – Is it an Option for Normal Users? Part 3
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Old 06-16-2007, 01:49 PM   #20
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New Mepis 6.5 review ...

"I have been very impressed by the entire SimplyMEPIS 6.5 operating system. It was probably the best install experience I have ever had, offers great response, and has an enjoyable interface. Personally, I feel that this has been my best KDE experience thus far, even with my previous use of PCLinuxOS 2007. You may not hear too much about MEPIS when it comes to Linux news sites, but there is definitely a good reason why there are so many users."

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Old 06-16-2007, 05:34 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by yamawho View Post
New Mepis 6.5 review ...

"I have been very impressed by the entire SimplyMEPIS 6.5 operating system. It was probably the best install experience I have ever had, offers great response, and has an enjoyable interface. Personally, I feel that this has been my best KDE experience thus far, even with my previous use of PCLinuxOS 2007. You may not hear too much about MEPIS when it comes to Linux news sites, but there is definitely a good reason why there are so many users."

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I agree 100% with ya, Mepis did have the correct drivers for my HP printer and my Lexmark printer-copy-scaner. IT JUST DONT GET ANY EASYER THAN MEPIS 6.5 I just want to be able to use it, not build it!
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Old 06-20-2007, 02:42 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Cactuar View Post
The test matched me up with Debian and Ubuntu. I wonder why?
Funny, I had you pegged as a Gentoo guy.

I hadn't taken the test in a year, so I went ahead and did so. Basically, it recommended most of the popular distributions:

Mandriva, Freespire, Fedora, Debian, Linspire, MEPIS, Xandros, OpenSUSE, Kubuntu, and Ubuntu.

As it turns out, I have installed and used all of them except Freespire. The only one I keep coming back to is openSUSE, even though it is not perfect. (I have hopes for version 10.3 though. )
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Old 06-20-2007, 02:51 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Cogar View Post
Mandriva, Freespire, Fedora, Debian, Linspire, MEPIS, Xandros, OpenSUSE, Kubuntu, and Ubuntu.

As it turns out, I have installed and used all of them except Freespire. The only one I keep coming back to is openSUSE, even though it is not perfect. (I have hopes for version 10.3 though. )
Cogar, since your a man of many distros, would you mind giving a pros & cons comments on the ones you have tried ?
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Old 06-20-2007, 03:04 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Cogar View Post
Mandriva, Freespire, Fedora, Debian, Linspire, MEPIS, Xandros, OpenSUSE, Kubuntu, and Ubuntu.

As it turns out, I have installed and used all of them except Freespire.
What! No Slackware! Oh the horror, the shame!

For me (non-Windows OSes/Linux distros):
Red Hat (b4 Fedora days), Mandrake (b4 Mandriva days), SUSE (version 7 through 10 - stopped at 10.1, got tired of the bloat), FreeBSD, Solaris 7,8,9,10; Slackware, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, BeOS, QNX (when it was free). I can't seem to remember any others which probably means I was not that impressed.

My current personal favorite is Ubuntu. Debian flare without the Debian pain of trying to install commercial software - like IBM Websphere.
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:11 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by pointreyes View Post
What! No Slackware! Oh the horror, the shame!
Actually, Slackware is one of my favorites. It just wasn't recommended by the Distribution Chooser.

yamawho, I will add my two cents on all the distros I have run soon. I only had a short time to visit when I logged in and cannot do it now.
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:49 PM   #26
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As requested, here is a brief summary of the distributions with which I have experimented. Much of the following is based on my memory, not on notes. Although my memory is good, I reserve the right to forget various strengths and weaknesses, since some of these have not "graced" one of my computers for some time. I have tried to avoid bias and only report what I observed. I know that changing hardware can make a difference regarding how well a Linux distribution installs or behaves, yet a really good one should not be hardware dependent and should give everyone the same experience.

Since you can only insert so much text at a time, this will be the first of three posts.

Linspire

Version tested: 5.0 (current released version is 5.0)

Installation
The installation is a no-brainer . . . with a couple caveats. The no-brainer part is that you have basically no significant decisions to make during the install. You select things like your time zone and your login name. The caveat comes from the fact that Linspire does not come with a partitioner. Without that, the installation is geared toward taking over your entire hard drive. If you want to use Linspire in a dual boot situation, you need to use other software to create a separate partition that Linspire can use without overwriting the existing OS. Once you have a partition set aside, Linspire knows how to "play nice" with another OS (like Windows) and set up a boot menu that will allow you to boot into either when you start or restart your computer.

Strengths
Linspire (and Freespire--the "free" version) use the CNR (Click 'n Run) Warehouse to install software. It is a members-only web site with a wide variety of programs. The standard membership is free, although I do believe you have to register your copy of Linspire to use it. To install a program, the user just clicks on what they want and confirms the choice. There is no operating system, not even Windows, that works this nicely. A lot of the software is free. Some of the software is proprietary and requires a payment. You can also get a "discount" and access some special software such as pre-releases, if you sign up for their "Gold" account. You pay ~$50 a year and if you purchase much at all, it pays for itself. Another advantage of the CNR Warehouse is that the software is licensed, where appropriate. This means you can install DVD players and so forth and still be in compliance with all the laws. This is important for those of us living in the USA and perhaps other countries that have somewhat restrictive licensing structures.

Linspire's operation is probably the closest if any Linux distribution to a "Windows" experience. For example, it has a multimedia presentation for new users similar to the one you get when first logging into Windows. In my opinion, it is sufficiently explanatory that someone who has never even used a computer before.

Most of the multimedia stuff works fine. Like with Windows, you need to purchase software to play commercial DVDs and other licensed content.

Weaknesses
The distribution has a lot of eye candy and is therefore slow compared to other distributions. It also has relatively weak community support. It is not because they don't try, but rather due to the nature of the distribution--the people who use it do not have strong troubleshooting capabilities, since they do not generally need them.

Linspire also made news recently by jumping into bed with Microsoft. Although they have presented public statements about the agreement in very altruistic terms, most of the Linux community disagrees that it is for anyone's benefit besides Microsoft's and Linspire's (and mostly the former).

Right now, Linspire is a little "behind the times." Version 5.0 was released about a year and a half ago, and a new release is not likely until later this year. They have been promising wireless support that includes WPA encryption for about a year now, but even if you purchase a copy today, it will not include it.

Finally, Linspire has released relatively few security updates. Although I believe Linspire can be made reasonably secure, it is not the most secure distribution.

openSUSE

Versions tested: 10.0, 10.2 (current released version is 10.2)

Installation
The installation is GUI-driven, although you can choose a text install. SUSE is one of the largest distributions available (although only a third the size of Debian), which leads to its being termed a "heavy" distribution. However, for those who know what package does what, you can make the installation quite "lean." The installer can create new partitions and even shrink existing Windows partitions to make room for one or more separate Linux partitions. You need to pay attention to what you are doing, but the default settings will work very well for most everyone. If your computer has (say) Windows XP occupying the entire hard drive and you want to add Linux to it in a dual boot situation, openSUSE should be one of the choices you consider.

Strengths
Although some people claim it is slow, SUSE is also very polished and complete. There is almost nothing you need on a computer (except for perhaps some Windows games that won't run on Linux anyway) that are not already included in the distribution. If you hear about something you want to try, chances are you can pop the installation DVD in your optical drive and install it!

Although you have to use some "non-official" repositories to get the job done, you can achieve total wireless (including WPA encryption) and multimedia support with SUSE. Somehow it always seems easy to set up. If you have an "oddball" printer, don't worry, there is a way to get it working with SUSE. A lot of this is due to their "YaST" (Yet another Setup Tool) installation utility. If you want to find out more, Google for "Hacking openSUSE 10.2."

Weaknesses
Version 10.1 (not reviewed here) was a notorious failure. In between the introduction of two release candidates, the SUSE team thought they would make some architectural changes. (Any of you who are familiar with software development know what a horrid idea this is.) As a result, the ability to update the computer was largely broken, installation was hit-or-miss, and the list goes on. Almost certainly the worst release in their history, SUSE's reputation took an enormous hit as a result of this disastrous release. Now that Novell--SUSE's current owner--is in bed with Microsoft, much of the Linux community is continuing to turn their back on openSUSE. Although the distribution remains relatively healthy (it is probably the third most popular distribution right now), neither Novell nor the SUSE team can make any more mistakes like they made in the last year or they might find themselves relegated to being a "minor" Linux distribution.

Slackware

Versions tested: 10.2, 11.0 (current released version is 11.0)

Installation
Slackware is a hardcore source-based distribution that you customize to suit yourself. Installation is a pseudo-graphic (actually text) based system. It works well and gives you many options, but it is easy to get lost since it is designed to be very flexible. I suspect many people will have to use it a couple times to get it right. A big help is the "Slackbook"--a book you can purchase or view online at The Revised Slackware Book Project. Although it has been updated, it does not accurately reflect version 11.0, but it is close enough that you can set up everything using its guidance. I suggest at least briefly reading through the whole book before starting a Slackware installation. You can probably do OK without it, but a little effort up front will save you a lot of frustration later. Slackware configuration is mostly done with text files and very little is automatic compared with fully managed distributions like openSUSE. You will get the hang of it if you don't mind using the command line.

Strengths
Slackware generally runs substantially faster, requires fewer resources, and is more fully configurable than most distributions. If you have the talent to install it, you can get more performance out of a computer using Slackware than any other distribution of which I am aware. (In my experience, only Debian is capable of similar "out of the box" performance.) On an old laptop, I do not think it is exaggerating to say that using the same desktop environment (KDE), it has 2-3 times the performance of Kubuntu--a more user-friendly distribution. It makes the difference between a old laptop you can use and enjoy using as a laptop and a laptop that you never get around to using because it is so frustrating to operate. Slackware also has the advantage of having a file structure and command syntax more like UNIX than other versions of Linux. If you work--or plan to work--in both UNIX and Linux, you should very seriously consider Slackware.

Weaknesses
There are relatively few updates for Slackware, and they usually come along a week or two later than they do for other distributions. This is not a good thing. Most Linux updates are not done to fix bugs, but rather to patch discovered vulnerabilities before they become well known and cause security risks. It's better to try staying a step ahead of the hackers than allowing yourself to fall a step behind. Slackware also tends to focus on older technologies. While other distributions are concerned with how they handle USB devices, Slackware still considers the floppy disk a valid storage device. Go figure.
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:51 PM   #27
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Puppy

Versions tested: 2.13, 2.14, 2.15, 2.16 (current released version is 2.16)

Installation
Puppy is primarily a "live" distribution, so installation is a breeze. Slip in the CD, restart the computer and answer some questions like what keyboard do you have and your timezone. If you like it, you can also install it permanently as a "regular" installation, or a do a "hybrid" install where a file on your hard drive or a USB stick takes the place of the live CD.

Strengths
The primary advantages of Puppy are size and speed. It is small (less than 100MB in size), so it takes a short time to download with a broadband connection. Further, unless you are running a computer with very little RAM (less than ~256MB), it typically runs completely in RAM, so even as a live CD it operates as fast as any "regular" distribution. You can save your settings on a USB drive so you do not have to reenter them when you use it again. Although setting up wireless or an Ethernet connection are somewhat "manual" (you have to launch a little application or "wizard" to walk you through the process), most of the setups are intuitive, and Puppy handles wireless networking with WEP or WPA encryption. Off the top of my head, I cannot recall working on a computer that cannot run Puppy, but I cannot guarantee it will run on everything.

Weaknesses
Puppy is a somewhat "non-standard" Linux, so if you learn to use Puppy, you will not necessarily be well-prepared to work with other distributions, should you choose to do so.

Debian

Versions tested: 3.1, 4.0 (current released version is 4.0--sort of)

Installation
The installer is dated. If you use the "alternate install" CD for Ubuntu, you will get an installer that looks similar, although it works better than the Debian one in my opinion. The problem is that with Debian, unlike Ubuntu, the installer cannot be depended on to set up the system correctly. It also does not give you the opportunity to hand select the packages you wish to install. If you know what you are doing with openSUSE, you can select each package. With Debian you get to choose a general use, such as Desktop or Web Server, and you get the "default" packages installed whether you wanted them or not. I know some people do not have the knowledge or patience to pass judgment on 600 packages, but I would like the option to do so.

Another problem with the installer is that it assumes that you have a wired connection to your network during the installation. If you have a wireless connection to your network, there is not enough functionality in the installer to add drivers and configure a wireless network. As a result, wireless computers have to "do without" network functionality during the installation.

I had another install give me a message when I arrived at the desktop that it was unable to find the GNOME applet. Well, without the GNOME applet, there was no menu system--and this is with the "stable" version (more on that later). It is an easy fix to add the applet back (right click on the task bar and select the GNOME applet), but anyone new to Linux would be immediately lost. I've installed Debian three times and have yet to boot for the first time into an installation where all the basic functionality worked properly from the start. This can be easily corrected after the install, but having to deal with such problems in 2007 reveals that the installer is due for an overhaul.

Strengths
High performance. I suspect you can only get higher performance with Slackware, and although the Debian installer is dated, Debian is less demanding than Slackware when it comes to the intellectual demands placed on the individual during installation and configuration. Although Debian's options are limited compared to Slackware, many people prefer this compromise.

Popular. There are more pre-built software packages for Debian than any other distribution. There is also strong user support for Debian on various forums.

Note: If you look at this distribution, you will probably notice that it comes on 3 DVDs or 15 CDs. You do not have to download them all. The packages are arranged in order, with the most commonly used packages on the first disks, and the least commonly used ones on the last disks. The first DVD or the first 5 CDs will probably suit the demands of the vast majority of people. What you don't have on CD or DVD can be specifically downloaded without downloading a lot of content you will never use.

Weaknesses
In my opinion, it is not by accident that more Linux distributions are based on Debian than any other. It is a good system, but executed without attention to detail. Although Slackware has a reputation of being difficult to set up, I believe it is easier to get a fully functional Slackware system than a fully functional Debian one. As a result, many people and organizations "fork" Debian to add some polish. The most successful of these spin-offs, of course, is Ubuntu.

Although this is a minor point, Debian also has an annoying naming convention. The cutting edge version is termed "unstable" and is given a name like "sid" (the name for the unstable version at the time of this writing). The unstable version changes since the newest packages can be added or updated in it at any time. The more stable version is termed "testing" and is also given a name. The current testing version is "lenny." When a version becomes stable enough to be used in a production environment, it is termed "stable," and has a release number added. The current stable release is "etch," and the release number is 4.0.

Ubuntu / Kubuntu

Versions tested: 5.10, 6.06, 6.10 (current released version is 7.04)

Ubuntu and the other (*buntu) distributions are pretty much the same (polished Debian systems) except that they feature different sets of packages for different user groups. Ubuntu uses the GNOME desktop environment, Kubuntu uses KDE, Xubuntu uses Xfce, and Edubuntu is designed for educational use.

Installation
Ubuntu has two installers, and the CD you download or purchase determines which one you get. The default is a graphic install based on a "live" CD. The first implementations were reported on various forums as buggy and I never got around to trying any of them. The other CD type is termed an "alternate install" CD and includes a "Debian-style" installer that does a better job of hardware detection and configuration than the Debian version, but it still requires some thought. The advantage of the alternate install is that it will work on computers with lower RAM or hard drive space than required with the "live" CD install.

Strengths
In my opinion, the primary advantage of Ubuntu and the others is the ability to properly detect hardware, choose the appropriate drivers, and introduce the user to a good operational system on the first boot. Although the system may not be set up the way you want, pretty much everything will be working when you are done with the install, and you can spend your time "tinkering" with the system to get it to behave the way you like. The only thing it does not handle well is wireless connections, although I understand that has improved with the latest release, which I have not tested (and have no plans to test). I cannot recommend this distribution for those who have a wireless connection, especially if they use WPA encryption, but I suspect it is a good, low risk choice for most everyone else.

Weaknesses
I find Ubuntu and the other distributions to be somewhat "restrictive." That is, the distribution holds your hand too much--to the point that you are not allowed to do some things the system is completely capable of doing. If I need to change something in Ubuntu, I typically find myself looking for help on a forum somewhere. If I needed to do the same thing in SUSE (for example), I would poke around for a couple minutes and then accomplish the job without all the drama.
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:52 PM   #28
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Mandriva

Versions tested: "Free 2006," "Discovery 2007" (most recently released version is Mandriva Corporate Desktop 4.0)

Mandriva produces a plethora of distributions named in such a manner that it takes a Mandriva enthusiast to sort them out. Several are released at the same time for different markets. Some are free, some have a nominal cost, and some are expensive. If you choose something with "2007" in the title, you will get one of the newer ones. I will leave it to the adventurer in you to figure out which one you want.

Installation
Installation is graphic and relatively straightforward. I would say Mandriva's installer is the second best available, second only to the one used with openSUSE. By "best," I not only mean "easy" but also "complete," "comprehensive," "flexible," and "thorough." When you are done with the installation, you should not have to fiddle with configuration to get things as you like them.

Strengths
For those transitioning from Windows, Mandriva is one of the good choices. Where Mandriva departs from "Linux" tradition, in many cases, they change things to work more like Windows. Much of the distribution works out of the box, but like many others, wireless support--especially if you use WPA encryption, is a gamble regarding whether you can make it work or not.

Weaknesses
The distribution is a product of France. They follow few conventions established by others, their menu configurations are . . . interesting, their utilities appear user-friendly, but operate with an unusual logic, and support will vary depending on whether or how much you paid for your distribution. Mandriva club, a mysterious organization that you are encouraged to join (for a not insubstantial fee) has no discernible benefits--although someone who is fond of Mandriva can probably tell you how it works and all its benefits. Incidentally, I do recommend that people give Mandriva a try, just be ready for some surprises while you enjoy the ride.

Simply MEPIS

Versions tested: 3.4, 6.0 (current released version is 6.5)

Installation
This is another distribution that will run as a live CD and can also be installed on your machine. I found version 6.0 somewhat more finicky regarding how well it recognized hardware compared to the earlier 3.4 version. If you wish for a permanent install, this may not be an issue, but if you want to use it as a "live" distribution in multiple computers, it is a problem. I have only run this as a live distribution, since by the time I discovered it, I had become fond enough of SUSE and Slackware that I had no desire for another hard drive install.

Strengths
MEPIS was my favorite live CD for some time--until I discovered Puppy. It did almost everything well and even though it was running off of a CD, it was fast enough that it did not have the "live CD" feel.

Weaknesses
For me, the biggest weakness of MEPIS was its weak wireless support. Although it may support WPA encryption now, it did not then. For a "live" distribution, this is a serious defect, since a portable distribution needs to adapt well to multiple computers in multiple networking environments. It also did not "auto eject" the CD when you shut down. Since the CD was accessed during the shutdown process. Since most CD drives become inactive after the computer turns off, the only way to shut down a MEPIS session and remove the CD was to select a reboot and pull the CD when the computer restarted. It could then be shut down manually. Hopefully, the new versions do not suffer from this probem. Finally, MEPIS tends to use older kernels. Even the current 6.5 release is still using the 2.6.15 kernel.

Fedora

Versions tested: Fedora Core 4, Fedora Core 6 (current released version is Fedora Core 7)

Fedora is the "free" version of Ret Hat Linux, created when Red Hat split into commercial and free sections.

Installation
Installation is graphic and nicely automated. You can install a reasonably operational system by entering nothing but default values. Chances are you will be tweaking for a few weeks, though--unless you have already done this previously with an earlier release of Fedora, and already know what you have to do without troubleshooting.

Strengths
The primary strength is by being affiliated with Red Hat. It has a large user base and there are lots of people willing to help--which you will need.

Weaknesses
Fedora is cutting edge. Although many people consider this an advantage, I suspect the masses will disagree after learning that by not entering a special, undocumented command at the beginning of the installation process that they installed a kernel that was incompatible with their processor. (This is a real example from Fedora Core 6.) Many things are broken, others are "crash prone." Although some of the distribution looks and runs beautifully, you essentially volunteer to become a "beta tester" when you use Fedora--even the so-called final version. I would not recommend this for a production machine.

PCLinuxOS

Versions tested: 0.92, "2007" (current released version is "2007")

Installation
PCLinuxOS is a "live" distribution that can also be installed on your hard drive. Getting it up and running as a live CD should pose a problem to no one. I have only tested this as a live distribution, since the functionality was sufficiently poor that I did not feel an installation was warranted. (There is a difference between performance, which will dramatically improve when not running off of a CD, and functionality, which is a measure of how well the system works.)

Strengths
This is an attractive distribution. The desktop and layout are logical and (as can be expected from the name) have a "Windows" feel, although you can clearly see it is Linux.

Weaknesses
Very slow--even for a "live" distribution. (2007 is substantially slower than v 0.92 was, in my opinion.) The latest release had some application freezing problems as well. The support for wireless networking is poor.

Xandros, Grafpup, Linux Mint

Versions tested: Xandros 3.0, Linux Mint 3.0, Grafpup 2.0 (current released versions: Xandros 4.1, Linux Mint 3.0, Grafpup 2.0)

I am putting these into the same category since they all have one particular bad characteristic in common. All crashed repeatedly--some before even a full hour of use. I understand that each has a reasonably large fan base, but I have no idea why. Since Xandros has had a major release since the version I tested, they may no longer belong in this category.
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Old 06-25-2007, 01:49 PM   #29
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SuSe strength - changing a monitor. You can just start SaX2 and be going in a few minutes.

Ubuntu weakness - changing a monitor. There doesn't seem to be a utility to set it up quickly. Since it no longer uses XFree86, XOrg11 has their own set of problems. It's much easier to backup your data and then do a completely new install.

As for MS suing Linux, I think that all Linux and Unix servers stop passing MS packets. Apache will then win by default.
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Old 10-07-2007, 08:15 AM   #30
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Re: Don't feel like getting VISTAed ...

What are the main differences between MEPIS 6.5 and 7?

One of the problems with Mepis 6.x series is being addressed in Mepis 7 series. Due to the unique way that Ubuntu builds their various distributions it is technically difficult to smoothly upgrade from one version of Ubuntu Linux to a newer version of Ubuntu Linux. Sadly this means that users of Mepis 6.x series are fairly limited to packages only compiled against Dapper Drake's tool chain and there is no real upgrade path. Debian provides a smooth upgrade path even with major changes to the underlying system, and it is the opinion of the Mepis Development team that the Debian Etch tool chain will allow easy changing of the underlying structure of Mepis 7 series in such a way that users will not be faced with having to complete a re-install from a Disc Medium. This upgrade process is known as a "rolling upgrade philosophy."

More here ...

MEPIS 7 Upgrade FAQ - MEPIS Documentation Wiki
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