Mepis 8.0 Linux – Review and Screenshots

Mepis 8.0 Linux is a Linux distro designed for ease of use and suitable even for beginners.

Mepis is built on Debian 5.0 stable core with the 2.6.27 Linux kernel and comes in a 32bit and 64bit version.

You can download from the Mepis mirror sites here.

Their motto is “SimplyMEPIS just works!”   We decided to give it a try.

The installation disk includes a Live CD so you can try out Mepis before installing it to your hard drive.

KDE 3.5 vs. 4.1

Mepis has chosen to stay with the KDE Desktop 3.5 instead of moving up to the plasma-based 4.x that is already available on many KDE distros.  The differences between 3.5 and 4.1 are major enough in function that Linux really looks and acts differently with each of them.  I have written about my disappointment with the current KDE 4.x desktop in earlier posts, but some of our viewers have commented that the plasma desktop is a major improvement.

The makers of Mepis have probably stuck with 3.5 since it is ostensibly easier to use than the newer version, and Mepis has stated that it is dedicated to ease of use and simplicity.  I think it was a good decision.

Desktop – First Impressions

The desktop is standard KDE 3.5.  The bottom bar has a nice assortment of quick links and system tray information.  It has a clean and pleasant display of menus and easy access to most-used elements.  Nothing shouted out to differentiate Mepis from other simple distros.

Desktop
Desktop

Installed Packages

The menus show software items by function with the package name in parentheses.  For example, Ksnapshot is “Screen Capture Program (Ksnapshot)”.

Internet browsers include Firefox & Konquerer.  The KDE Kmail program is installed along with Kontakt and Korganizer.  For multimedia, Amarok is installed, as you’d expect in a KDE distro.  Mepis also includes the Open Office tools for spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation.

User Manual

As you’d expect for a beginner user-friendly distro, Mepis comes with its very own user manual.  It’s actually quite useful.  Some may consider this a gimmick since popular distros like Ubuntu have so much written documentation online and user forums, that you’re never far from an answer to any question even without a ‘manual’.

User Manual
User Manual

Gallery of Screenshots

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ArtistX Linux 0.7 – An Ubuntu Alternative – Review & Screenshots

ArtistX 0.7 http://www.artistx.org/site2/

ArtistX is touted as a “free multimedia live Gnu/Linux distribution for audio, 2D and 3D graphics and video”.  It’s based on Ubuntu (Intrepid 8.10) with Gnome and KDE desktops and featured literally 2,500 software packages in the media, graphics, and video space.  In fact, ArtistX claims to have included all currently available Linux software in the multimedia space, and therefore can turn your computer into a full multimedia production studio.

When I read the blurb from their website, my initial reaction was, why not just stick with Ubuntu and toss in whatever apps from their distro looked interesting.  For starters,  how much time would it take you to carefully select and add 2,500 new apps (many that are not available on the Ubuntu repositories)?  There is an amazing number of useful tools all packaged up nicely here into one distro.  Have a look at the gallery below to see the screenshots of the menu categories.

Here’s the main desktop.

Artisitx Desktop

Pleasant, neat, very Gnome…  The desktop background is a bit too much in my opinion, but we get the idea of what they are trying to accomplish.   ArtistX has a KDE desktop as well, but the real action here is in the multimedia packages.

Live DVD

The download is about 3.3 GB, which I decided to take from the Torrent listed on their website.  The iso file download is then burned to a DVD, and voila, you have a Live DVD to either run ArtistX or install to your USB drive without ever touching your hard drive.

Is ArtistX the Uber Linux?

The menu structure is very pleasant, and well organized.  It’s actually easier to use than Ubuntu.  Considering the large number of applications to choose from, you can see that they gave a lot of thought as to how to display them and make it easy to access all your favorite (and never seen before) tools.

This distro really has a lot of good things going on.  ArtistX is based on Ubuntu (which itself is based on Debian), so you know you’re starting with a solid base.  The polish of the site is evident.  Likewise, they have compiled an enormous amount of software tools into one flavor of Linux.  It would take many days (and weeks) to go through all of the thousands of tools included in ArtistX.

Despite their ‘calling card’, ArtistX is not just about an enormous number of graphical and multimedia tools.  Have a look at the Games and Education section.  It looks like they tossed in Edubuntu as well.  There’s also about 50 internet tools, 30 office tools, 40 programming tools, and needless to say, a seemingly unending number of graphics, sound, and media tools.

Conclusion

ArtistX is still in the early stages and may not be your workhorse desktop distro just yet (they are still on v.0.70), but there’s a great potential here.  If you are interested in using Linux as your multimedia workstation, then you’ll definitely want to give it a try.  The only question that I have is, what can they add for the next release, since everything is already included!

Mint Linux 7 Quick Review and Screenshots

Mint Linux 7 (Gloria) http://www.linuxmint.com/

Mint Linux promises to be an elegant and easily updateable distro.  Originating from Ireland, it was launched as a variant to Ubuntu (which is based on Debian) and has quickly become one of the most popular flavors of Linux available.  The two great assets of Mint Linux are that everything works out of the box, and that it’s simply gorgeous.

Let’s have a look…

Mint Linux - Login Screen

The intro screen offers a nice clean look and easy to understand access to login and session management.

mint2

The welcome screen features quick links to version information and a PDF user guide.

mint3

I like the Menu, Gnome based, but much easier to navigate.  You have all your favorite applications neatly arranged to select.

mint4

Or page through all your installed applications with a brief description of what each one does.

Package inclusion

The installed application is more or less what you’d expect.  Aside from the Ubuntu/Debian ‘usuals’,
they have included Gimp and Thunderbird.  You are always just an install away from adding any other package, so we won’t dwell on what’s missing.

Conclusion

Mint Linux is a clean and very usable Linux Distro.  Knowing that it’s based on Ubuntu means that you should have no problems with package support and sustainability going forward.  The layout and interface is clean and easy, and the menu structure is particularly straightforward.

Dreamlinux 3.5 Quick Review and Screenshots

Dreamlinux 3.5 is a Debian (Lenny 5.0) based popular Linux distro from Brazil.

Dreamlinux can be run directly from a CD/DVD/USBStick or to a Hard drive. Dreamlinux comes with a selection of the best applications designed to meet most of your daily needs.  Dreamlinux ships with the XFCE desktop, which is pleasant and easy to navigate.

This distro is really suited for a USB disk on key install, and the installation disk offers several easy step installations depending on your intended media (USB, CD, Hard drive, etc…).

In pursuit of the perfect Linux Distro

The folks at Dreamlinux have a goal, to make a distro where ‘dreams can come true’.  The idea is to take a solid core Linux distro, Debian, make it look pretty, add the coolest and most-needed apps, then make it easy to install to just about anything.

The distro lives up to the magic of easy to distribute and pretty looks.  As for the most-needed or best apps, I guess that’s a matter of personal preference.  I for one would have liked to see Gimp, for example.  But then again, with Linux, you are always just an install away from your favorites that may have been left out from the start.

Bottom line

Dreamlinux is a good distro and looks great.  Do they have the stamina for udpates and consistency of the larger distros?  Maybe users with more experience on this distro can chime in here.

Let’s take a walk through the OS with screenshots.

Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen
Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen

Nothing fancy here, but wait, the good stuff is soon to come.

I’m running this in a virtual machine (VMWare) so you can see the VMware menus straddling some of these snapshots.

Dream Linux 3.5

Nice looking desktop with easy to navigate menus.  Here’s the Office menu.  No suprises here.

Dream Linux 3.5

A matter of personal taste.  Many users like the menu bar with the Mac look.  As you mouse over the icon enlarges to give the 3d effect.

Gallery of Screenshots

Here’s a gallery of screenshots, including the nifty compass that appears as the default homepage on the internet browser.