Kanotix and Knoppix.? Great distros….but not extremely new user friendly to install onto hard disk. However, to be completely fair…many new users are exposed for the first time to Knoppix. So, I’ve decided to include Knoppix in the list of desktop distros for the review. Some may swear and some may cheer…doesn’t matter…knoppix is in. On a different note: I installed kanotix last night and was thoroughly impressed with it. It’s got real potential to develope into a well thought out distro.? It has a great installer you can use that is included right on the disk. I have one complaint…why not put the installer in an icon on the desktop?? Wouldn’t that be simple?
I gave the latest version of Yoper a try tonight and was not impressed. It’s an extremely different installation. I was able to get everything installed after a couple of tries to see different options and how they would play out. However, I could not get either Lilo or Grub to play nice. I thought that perhaps the media had been messed up (even though md5 checksum was ok) but everything checked out fine. I tried switching filesystem types because I’ve heard that grub doesn’t like reiserfs much…but no go. So, unfortunately, the “fastest Linux distro out of the box” has to be put back into the box and out of my little test. I may have to just remove one distro out of the list.
I’m going to ‘attempt’ a couple of more installs before I throw in the towel. I’ll attempt Kanotix and Arch Linux to see if things will play nice…I just want another unknown distro to fill in with some of the more well known ones now to showcase it’s desktop. Perhaps I’ll find it in one of these two.
Since Libranet fell a bit short for automatic detection…I’ll be test driving Yoper Linux in its place. I’ll keep cycling until I find a distro that can live up to MEPIS, PCLinuxOS, and Mandrake’s detection (but only FREE distros). So, up next will be Yoper Linux…which I hear is damn fast and damn nice to run. Only time will tell eh?
That will make MEPIS, Mandrake, PCLinuxOS, and Yoper as installed and quick looked at by myself. After this, we’ll put Fedora Core 3 on and quick look at it. Then we’ll start all over and look at each distro for a week. In that week, mrs.devnet will take a look at each distro. She’s a common Windows XP Pro user and will really put things to the test. The criteria she’ll be using will be posted after we look at Fedora Core 3…I don’t want to accidentally not include or include something I shouldn’t. Hang with us! This is going to be a good test…perhaps we can find out what the best desktop Linux OS is 🙂
Libranet 2.8.1 and Progeny Linux have fallen flat for me. I don’t have an odd hardware configuration either. It’s really too bad too. I was really impressed with Libranet and Progeny mainly because they have the best installs of any distro available today. Imagine configuring you Xserver and sound BEFORE it installs to disk so that it works before you even login…Libranet is able to do this. Imagine Red Hat 9.0 Anaconda install and take that with Debian…Progeny is able to do this. So they have so much going for them…but they failed to detect my network (nforce2 chipset integrated NIC). Normally, I’d just flap in another NIC, modprobe, and go. However, since this is a desktop experiment and we need detectability and a ‘less is more’ attitude…I’ll be forced to not use these distros.
So…this makes for a more simple review process and such. For those that are curious…my hardware config is:
- Mobo: Abit NF7 2.0
- CPU: Athlon XP 2400
- RAM: Crucial 1024MB (512X2) PC2700 (underclocked for these tests)
- HD: Maxtor 7200rpm 120GB
- CD/DVD: NEC DVD-R/RW 8X
- Video: GeForce 4 Ti 4400 128MB
- NIC: integrated nforce2
So as you can see…there isn’t much for variety and not much that hasn’t already been available to the Linux scene for some time now. I’ll probably still add another distro or two to the list to make up for those that have dropped out. Look for more info on this soon. I’ll bring a complete list as well as the criteria they’ll be rated on (by mrs.devnet) sometime soon. Until then…I hate it when good Linux distros only fall short in one area! :/ But alas, these reviews/tests are for distros that offer as little user interferance as possible. Take care!
PCLinuxOS 8 was installed yesterday on my spare drive. First impressions are…this is an excellent distro…but only once you get it installed. They really messed up the install process. Allow me to explain.
I booted up off the CD and found myself greeted to a plethora of options and programs to run. I really dig the fact that it retains the Mandrake Control Center but has made it better. I find the organization of the menu’s FANTASTIC…just as I found the Mandrake 10.1 menu’s well organized. Thus far, only MEPIS has lacked in this area. So, I decided to go for the installation to hard disk. Much improved over version 7 is the shortcut link on the desktop that allows you to not have to search around in the menu’s. This is a very solid distro…don’t get me wrong. I’d say that this is actually the most well put together distro I’ve seen thus far. There is a reason why THIS distro is the fastest moving on distrowatch. It moved to where it is this year from #44 in 2003 to #9 in 2004.
So I click the install to disk icon and it brings up an interactive menu. Now, for desktop distros…I choose automatically install for each one. The main reason being, that is what a common user would do. They won’t partition like you used to do with Linux. However, with this interactive menu, it assumes you 1) know what a partition is 2) know what Linux is supposed to have. I would really like to see if having a blank disk without swap and partitions would detect correctly for PCLinuxOS 8. It detected my swap and first partition and assigned it with some drop down menu’s. From there, you are supposed to find /home /usr /var yourself and/or make them yourself. I immediately stopped the install and formatted the drive as a large ext3.
I called up a friend who knows nothing about partitions and had him attempt the install. He gave up trying to partition the drive. This needs to change! MEPIS installs in 7 clicks from a LIVECD. There is no reason that this should be any different. I suggest that they have 2 different menu systems…one for common users and one for advanced. Something needs to change…they tout this distro for new users. I know about 2 new users that could even get this installed…and they’re windows guru’s. Partition creation and management is something that most common users don’t even think about or address.
Overall though, this distro is solid. Good upgradeability with synaptic. Great programs installed. Great organization. Great menu’s and icons. Everything is very nice looking. This distro truly shows Linux in it’s splendor. That’s it on first impressions. We’ll press on in a few days with the next on the list. After finishing all distros and first impressions, my wife will take front stage and give the new users’ perspective.
Tonight, I gave cAos Linux a try. I was really interested in it because it had a gnome default desktop with an Xfce backup…it had a nice bootsplash and really looked nifty via screenshots. It also had a really interesting custom written installer called cinch. However, after the install, it failed to boot. So I tried just about every boot option I could possibly try during the install without success. So…I’ll be forced to trim cAos from the list at this time. For this experiment, desktop Linux MUST work out of the box. CAos fell short (unfortunately).
On a positive note, PCLinuxOS 8 came out recently…so I’ll be downloading that and giving it a go here shortly. I’m kinda bummed that cAos didn’t want to play nice…I was really looking forward to it. Oh well. So, up next will be PCLinuxOS and I’ll have a post about my initial impression within the next couple of days.