Experiment: Final Head to Head


Linuxblog Introduction: We took an average windows user, gave her a handful of distributions of Linux, and forced her to use each distro for one week. We gave her alsaconf, email servers, and mounted her windows partition to the fresh install. Then, we faded away and quietly watched her in her new environment. You too can join us by reading on…



Editors Note: Tonight, we go head-to-head with the top distros as ranked previous by the experiment. Most of the readers know the premise behind the experiment and appreciate what we have set out to do. The top two new user distros as decided on by Mrs.Devnet, a new Linux user converting from Windows are PCLinuxOS .81a and SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1 (versions updated to current). We installed and test one last time each distro to allow Mrs.Devnet to experience each one before crowning a new user champion. In the following comparison, Mrs.Devnet will give advantage to one distro over the other or in the case of a tie, she will list both as winners. The distro with the most advantages will win. And now, Mrs. Devnet…


Look and Feel – This is one of the biggest determining factors for me. PC Linux OS looked and felt more comfortable and felt that way more so than any other distro we tried. The way it looked set me at ease right away and was easier to navigate because of this. MEPIS could really use some work on the user friendly icons and graphics. Making the distro ‘feel’ as easy as it is to use would make it a world better. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Performance – Both of these performed well. However, PCLinuxOS booted up in 5 seconds. Nothing in the entire experiment could top that. Fast, stable, and fun to use…despite being a beta version. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Hardware/Software – PCLinuxOS has a great selection of preinstalled applications that I can use for what I do with a computer. I didn’t have to go looking for anything at all. MEPIS includes a lot of stuff as well, but no nearly as much as PCLinuxOS. It also doesn’t have any filesharing applications. I’m told that installing stuff is a snap once you master a package program…however, that isn’t what we set out to do in the experiment so I have to go with default installs. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Upgradeability/Security – I am not qualified to compare anything on this criteria so I’ll make it a draw. Advantage – Both Distros.

Documentation – During the experiment I didn’t notice much difference between the two distributions. However, if you go to the home site for PCLinuxOS and the home site for SimplyMEPIS, you see a world of difference. It seems that PCLinuxOS has a much more active website. It was also great that PCLinuxOS gives you a chat icon to go right to a chat room to help you out (editors note: mrs.devnet is speaking about an IRC #pclinuxos icon on the default PCLinuxOS desktop that people can use for help). Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Installation – While PCLinuxOS install is by no means difficult, SimplyMEPIS was easier and FASTER than anything else.. Nothing can touch SimplyMEPIS in this category. Advantage – SimplyMEPIS.

Now we talk about my Criteria…

Mail – Both use Kontact. There isn’t much difference. This is a moot point to try and consider a favorite. Kontact is a great mail program. Advantage – Both.

Internet – I had difficulty getting windows media player applications working in SimplyMEPIS the first time around. That still hasn’t changed this time around. PCLinuxOS is once again flawless at playing any type of media I can throw it at on the internet. Hands down, PCLinuxOS is a distro I can use to surf at any of the sites I go to. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Listening to Music – PCLinuxOs has a better selection of music players for this task. There is also a decidedly better sound out of PCLinuxOS than there is out of SimplyMEPIS. I can’t put my finger on it (editors note: a good chance that this is because of different sound daemons used by the distros). Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Download Files/Music – I am unable to download files in SimplyMEPIS since it has no P2P programs installed. PCLinuxOS has limewire installed by default. This is exactly what I need to do my daily stuffs. (editors note: mrs.devnet is well aware that you can install using a package manager…but this review is for default installs only) Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Burning CD’s – Both of the distros are great on this one. Both come equipped with K3B and both detected my burner. Both burned CD’s and none of them failed. Therefore, I’d rate these about the same. Advantage – Both.

So, PCLinuxOS takes the cake. It is just easier to use, easier on the eyes, and it caters to new users. It has everything you need right away without having to lift a finger. It feels more familiar to me coming from windows. If you know any new users out there that are looking to get into Linux, I would recommend them this distro. With this newly found Linux distro, I have asked Mr.Devnet to install it as our primary operating system. PCLinuxOS is the Experiment Winner. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should do so immediately. Thanks for reading. I have one last entry to do before I sign off of my husband’s blog for good. He wants me to give some constructive criticism to the distributions that didn’t win so that they can get better. So, I’ll look at doing that some time in the next few weeks.


Certifies PCLinuxOS

as the Best New User Distro.

31 thoughts on “Experiment: Final Head to Head”

  1. Well Mrs. D…Now that you’ve been screamed at, cursed at, brow-beat, chastised, belittled and even hit on by some skum who thought his suggestion to “email him when your ready to install Ubuntu” was thinly veiled…Welcome to the world of Linux. It’s all a piece of cake from here.
    You deserve nothing but credit and praise for what you have done. Now call my wife and tell her to quit being such a girl and try Linux. LOL. Of course, having a husband that is both admired and envied at the same time in the Linux world can be daunting. Way to knock em dead kid. You did yourself and all new users, male and female…very, very proud.


  2. Hands down, PCLOS is the best I’ve seen, like I’ve said before. I’m not surprised at the outcome. While PCLOS does have some shortcomings, this is to be expected with a beta Linux OS. I cannot wait until PCLOS hits version 1.0.

    *Get ready windows users, your mothership will land soon to take you away from the cruel world of viruses, spyware, and wasted money!*

  3. I’d be curious to know if you tried setting up a modem and how easy it is or how well PCLOS detected them. I know some people who only use their PC’s for email and letters but they can’t afford DSL. And they really can’t afford upgrading to MS XP.


  4. PCLOS works great w/ real modems, I’ve set up a few. Easy to set up and easy to use. No idea about WinModems, I stay away from them.

  5. The only problem I see is with people who use dial-up services that require special software like NetZero, AOL, Juno, Earthlink, etc. If we can convince AOL to embrace Linux, which will probably never happen, it might actually help us.

  6. That’s nice, but not friendly for most users of AOL. The whole GUI and experience of AOL just caters to new users, which is why they were so popular. It appears, with this software, you don’t get really any access to AOL’s subscriber content, which some AOL users may be accustomed to and need/want.

    It’s an option, but not friendly enough to get a person who has AOL to completely switch to Linux. You could convince the person to switch to another ISP, but that might not be easy either.

    IMHO, I do still stand by my first reply that this is a little bit of a hurdle for Linux as a whole.

  7. Sorry but… what does it means “booted in 5 seconds”? Any distribution I know of takes at least 40 seconds to show me a login screen. What have you done to PCLinuxOS? Installed warp engines?

  8. While I can’t tell you what she means by that exactly, I’ll tell you PCLinuxOS does not boot in 5 seconds. I love PCLinuxOS and it does boot faster than most distros I’ve tried, but if there are warp engines, mine are broken.

    -> Trevor

  9. Well do Mrs Devnet, I admire your deadication, plouging throught all those distros.

  10. Why did you skip hardware in “hardware/software”? SimplyMEPIS has_by_far the best hardware detection of ALL distro’s.

    Security? Out of the box, SimplyMEPIS has the highest security of the two. And it’s also more easily upgradeable due to the use of apt/synaptic and security updates show up faster with debian.

    You should also have included system administration tools. PCLinuxOS is the winner here.

    No filesharing? I don’t know about your version, but I have 3.3-1 and it has Bittorrent/azureus installed.

    Sound? Go from Arts to ALSA.


  11. 5 seconds from typing her password until she got a workable KDE desktop.

    For her, that was PCLinuxOS ‘booting’

    For us, it’s a bit different 😉

  12. While bitorrent is nice…Mrs.D has no idea how to use it or even what a torrent was. She sticks strictly to P2P.

    Administration would have been a good asset to include. Perhaps next time?

    As far as security…she didn’t have any idea how to test it or check it out. Both use apt so upgrades are seamless…but once again, she didn’t know how to do that either.

    As an avid user of both distros…I can tell you that there is no difference in the following categories:

    1. Upgradeability – PCLinuxOS is just as good as any SimplyMEPIS version I’ve ever used starting at 2003.08

    2. Security – Both have good firewalls…shorewall for PCLOS and Guarddog for SimplyMEPIS. However, PCLOS incorporates its firewall in with its MCC which is the admin menu…so if we were really rating things…PCLOS would win. However, as I said, Mrs.D didn’t know any of this and chose not to comment on something she didn’t know.

    3. Detection – Both of these distros detected everything I’ve ever thrown at them. That includes SCSI cards and even old ISA sound cards. Neither one of them fails to detect my hardware. I’d give no advantage to SimplyMEPIS on this one at all with the hardware config we have here…and believe me, I have some stuff that is pretty strange as far as hardware goes. I get old computers that people don’t want after I help them upgrade.

    Really, I think that the reason you respond as such is mainly the same reason that most people that use Ubuntu responded when we published that review…and that is, because they don’t like seeing their favorite distro trashed. I commend you on your loyalty and your support of Linux. Remember, even though PCLOS won…Linux was the real winner.

  13. I’m happy that Mrs. Devnet was able to come to similar conclusions that many of us have.
    PCLOS is a rockin’ distro.

    Concerning the other comments above…
    Different people will always have different views, opinions, and needs as to a desktop environment and OS. None are wrong.
    You will find people happy with Windoze or Mac. And you will find the enlightened ones who have seen the light of Linux.
    There will always be different “flavors” within our “Linux-race”, but we are all brethren.

    March on PCLinuxOS!

  14. With these two great distros Linux is many steps closer to the common people. And this kind of experiment is a great way to tell that.

    So thank You very much!

  15. Nice article and all but I’d have to say it’s probably just ever so slightly a bit biased. Hard for someone to use a different distro starting off when your significant other uses Linux already. Been there, tried that, and it did NOT work.

    Secondly, the PCLOS thing is a rip off folks, seriously. It came about from a few coders that got tired of making Mandrake(Mandriva) packages after so long and wanted something new and different. So they took a version of Mandriva, changed a few words, changed the name, changed a few icons here and there and now call it their own. What’s even worse is, if you join their #Pclos channel on the Efnet IRC server you will get little to no help at all with this distribution. Why you ask, because as stated above, it’s nothing more than a complete rip from Mandriva and the guys who have slapped their name on it are pretty clueless as to how things actually work. So many times I’ve seen them tell a user who has asked a question they don’t the answer to: “Not sure how that works, we will have to check into that and get back to you.” Or even better, they have repeatedly on several occasions stated: “Join irc.freenode.net IRC server and join the #Mandrake (now known as the official #Mandriva help channel” and ask them since it’s basically their distro and they know a lot more of how it works down inside.” Pretty sad for some packagers that want a distro of their own. All in all, if you want real user friendly, and a ‘true distro’ that hasn’t been ripped(though it was forked from RedHat many years ago, and is no longer anything similar to RH), please give Mandriva a good try.

    Welcome to Open Source, where any script kiddie can rip something and call it his own without any problems what so ever. It’s a shame we have people like this, but hey, to each his own.

  16. I don’t think this was a biased experiment. I didn’t tell Mrs.Devnet to like any distro. I told her just to do what SHE wanted…as long as she stuck to the criteria to rate things on. She had never even heard of PCLOS before we started. Not only that, but if this was biased…don’t you think I’d have wanted my favorite distro to win? And yet, the distro that I touted as best lost along with all the rest of them.

    PCLOS is not Mandrake. It’s not Mandriva. If it was, don’t you think she would have noticed? Don’t you think I WOULD have noticed? I’ve been a slackware user since 1995…I think I’m qualified to figure out if Mandrake and PCLOS are just clones of each other. You’re really reaching on saying that PCLOS is just a Mandrake rip-off. That’d be like saying Zen Linux is just a Debian rip off….or Vector Linux is just a slackware rip off…both of these distros really do things differently than their respected parent distros. PCLOS is no exception.

  17. PCLOS is a Mandrake rip off. Ubuntu, Knoppix, Mepis are all Debian ripoffs. Indeed Mandrake itself is a Red Hat ripoff. Big deal.

    I cut my Linux teeth on Mandrake. And I can see where there are similarities between PCLOS and Mandrake. However, I can no longer recommend Mandrake/iva to a newbie, I can recommend PCLOS.

    Why? Because PCLOS has gone where Mandrake should have gone. Ease of use was always a biggie with Mandrake, but it hasn’t progressed in this department. Installing Mandriva LE2005 (aka 10.2) is just like installing Mandrake 9.0. (Except that with 9.0 you didn’t get to see Daffy Duck on LSD.) PCLOS has taken the installation forward. The majority of rpm-builds now are “tex” builds not “mdk” builds. A fair number of mdk builds would lead you into dependency hell in PCLOS and would probably end up with a broken system.

    I prefer to look at PCLOS as the “new” Mandrake. It’s a bit like what happened with XFree86 and x.org. The project stagnated and someone had to do something.

    Texstar was that person, and well done!

  18. Hey hawkwind, you are nothing but a bold face lying troll and we didnt appreciate you coming into our irc channel and cursing everyone. That was very professional from a mandriva channel moderator. Screw you and your lies.

  19. I don’t know where your coming from,but I have tried mandrake and I have been using PCLinuxOS for some time,before there was a Mandriva.Your insults only harm,and show your ignorance.

  20. It is a shame that a huge Mandrake/Mandriva fan would call PCLinuxOS a “rip-off”.

    Seriously, I was a huge Mandrake user, and I stuck to it because of the people who made PCLinuxOS.

    PCLinuxOS spawned from Mandrake, and yes, it was created to make a better distribution. Simply Mepis spawned off of Debian. So what?

    If anything, PCLinuxOS puts a fire behind the boys at Mandriva to make it better. PCLinuxOS isn’t sold in stores and it isn’t a big company. If anything, Mandriva in the long run will THANK PCLinuxOS.

    As far as newbies go, who cares about how a distribution was created? Point is – does it work, is it efficient, and does it out-do others?

    Fact is, if PCLinuxOS runs great with your system (and it does with many), there really isn’t a distro that can compare, when it comes to newbies or longtime Windows users. Lindows and Xandros have more visual application install tools (ala apt-get), and once a more visual/newbie version of Synaptic comes out, PCLinuxOS will be on par in that area.

    But more importantly, you can install bleeding edge apps into PCLinuxOS better than Lindows or Xandros.

    As far as Mandriva is concerned, it falls short of PCLinuxOS — plain and simple, but is still one of the best compared to other distros. PCLinuxOS is an enhanced distro, spawned from Mandrake, and the only thing Mandriva has over it is credit and it’s name. Which is important, but if you want a distro that is the best — it’s PCLinuxOS, sorry.


  21. As a technician and Linux nOOb, I spend more time reading review about linux distros than I do using linux. Most of all my experience is Windoze. I know that it is sad to say, but that is what most of the population (That need technical help) use.

    My biggest concern is this: After reading everyone’s comments, it confuses readers. Someone being bias is really not an issue to me. As long as they are honest about the Pros and Cons.

    People saying that one thing is not true and something else is, sends me doing more research. I am sometimes sad that Google is my homepage. I think that the *IDEA* of linux is awesome.

    There are many talented and bright people out there that do not have the money to sink into MS Apps and other high profile names. OpenSource gives them a great opportunity to learn things. And maybe from one of the best OSes yet.

    I have used a few distos. SuSe 9.x, Fedora Cora 3, Knoppix, Slax, and a few more. I can say that they all offer some great things and there are some major nOOb downfalls also. Such as, Fedora Core not having “out-of-box” NTFS and MP3 support. This was a big deal to me.

    All of the LiveCDs I have used, I have to say that they all are great. I might not be able to write to NTFS volumes, but I have been able to read them and play music. Which in most case is what I use them for.

    I like the idea of taking someone new to linux and letting them be to review different distros. This is an honest approach. One I might try doing myself being a nOOb myself. But all-in-all, please people, try to point of differences in a mannerly way. It helps the readers.

    Thank you for hearing me,

  22. So I’ve decided to write a bit more for the blog again. Too many editorials/Rants regarding stupidity/injustice in Linux have been published as of late. This portrays the wrong purpose for Yet Another Linux Blog. I originally started the blog to serv

  23. I was getting a bit tired of saying the same things over and over to friends on the net. I was getting tired of repetitiously posting in forums the same sentiment over and over. Yet, just like getting a second wind in a long and tiring race…my tired

  24. Personally, when I loaded PCLOS and Mepis I had problems with both! The only distro’s that have just ‘worked’ are Ubuntu and Mandriva. My kids love Ubuntu and they were new to Linux and just to top it off they used ‘easy ubuntu’ to sort out media issues. Rock on Ubuntu 🙂

  25. years back i did manage to install slackware, but i quickly learned my lesson–people were opening up things and chatting with me for fun because of all the defaults that i didn’t know to change.

    recently, i tried ubuntu (after checking out damn small linux and then puppy linux). i guess it worked, and got the job done, but i had to google various issues and resolve them by going to the terminal and installing packages all willy nilly.

    i’m not too comfortable with my 3 gig OS when i really don’t know what’s there, how i can make it leaner, how to install things i want, etc. i really wouldn’t recommend this to my mother; my ubuntu partition got filled and i had to jimmy things around in a failsafe terminal session.

    so i don’t recommend ubuntu for a truly “new linux user.” it may work, but it’s just not ready. imo users need to be able to go get what they want, and understand how to get rid of what they don’t want. ubuntu is just not there. i’m going to read up a little more, but right now i’d liike to give PCLinuxOS a try. i wouldn’t subject a truly average user to the kinds of things i had to do to get this ubuntu doing what i needed.

  26. Nice summary. The most important thing is listed on the top “Look and Feel”. Linux is simply the greatest designed operating system.

  27. it’s a bit outdated taking place in 2005 or so @Web Hosting Reviews…but I suppose I could try and revisit things again sometime this year 🙂

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