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.
Thus far, I’ve taken a quicklook at two distributions of Linux and provided limited feedback on them. I’m just running through the installations for these distributions so that I don’t hit any snags later on when I’m installing them for this blogs’ featured article…where I will have my wife who has no Linux experience work with one distribution per week and report back her feelings/thoughts on that distro.
I’ve decided that the order I’m currently going in is the order that I should keep when I kick things off. I’ll start with Mandrake, shift to MEPIS, follow on with PCLinuxOS, switch to cAos Linux, then to Libranet, then to Fedora C3. Why have FC3 last?? Ask a FC3 user and they’ll tell you it is the best distro out there. So, I’m going to ‘save the best for last’ (their opinion…not mine…yet).
So this entry serves as an update as to what I’m actually doing. All commentary from my wife and her Linux experience will be in the ‘reviews’ category. All commentary from myself will be in the ‘distros’ category. As I stated previously, if you want an unbiased comparison between the top ‘point and click’ Linux desktops…stay tuned. This truly will be a unique ride.
Update: I forgot to mention that I will be soon posting the review criterion that my wife will be using to compare the distros. This should be fairly straightforward but will be based entirely on the point of view of someone who has NO Linux experience…so things such as connectivity, sound, and graphics that aren’t operational out of the box will be something she will be looking at. If things are golden, she’ll give kudos where kudos are due. If not, she’ll be fair in her critique. It’s going to be really, really interesting. At the end of things, we’ll summarize both my critiques and hers. From there, we’ll draw a conclusion on what the best ‘out of the box’ ‘point and click’ Linux desktop is.
I have to admit that I’m a bit biased toward SimplyMEPIS. I was a hardcore MEPIS enthusiast for most of the year last year…even had a site dedicated entirely to the Linux desktop and SimplyMEPIS. However, that was then and this is now. I will attempt to refrain from my bias toward MEPIS as much as possible.
MEPIS truly is a fantastic distribution. The hardware detection far surpasses even Knoppix. Hands down, this is the best distribution I’ve evern installed. Everything works right out of the box. I only have to to touch my sound. It installed itself to the network, detected my W2K fileserver, detected all my shares drives, detected my multimedia machine….detected EVERY single piece of hardware I’ve got installed in the computer…I was waiting for it to detect me and flash onto the screen, “Installing devnet, please wait…”
There’s not much this distro can’t do. It takes advantage of Debian repositories which means it can install anything Debian can. It’s a Live CD so it can be ‘test run’ before you actually install it. The cool thing about it is that you have 7 clicks of the mouse to a full on Debian install. Try that one with anaconda! 😛 I’m not going to spend much time on this one because I’ve used it soooo much. I’m going to retire this distro early and move on to ones I’m not used to using.
Remember, I’m just cycling through the 6 distros first for a quick look. My wife will be test driving the rest of these with detailed new user insite for an unbiased look at Linux. That’s right, 6. I’ve decided to add caOs Linux to the mix. Someone recommended it to me and I’ve determined I’d like to give it a go. Therefore, to end this silly entry…the distro list is up to 6 now and I will be pressing my quicklooks at these distros away from MEPIS and toward caOs Linux. Thus far, Mandrake and MEPIS are down, 4 more to go.