2nd September 2004
Its been a while since I last used Linux (mandrake 10.0) and I wondered how good the latest versions are in terms of compatibility and such. I'm thinking about using it again and I'd like to have a current Linux user's opinion.
What does the Fox say?
23rd November 2002
It has improved. Perhaps not greatly, but noticably. What compatibility issues were you having? As far as compatibility, 10.0 got the short end of the stick.
1. The Linux kernel had undergone a massive rewrite, rendering old drivers incompatible. 2. Few newer drivers had been written, by the time 10.0 was released.
Mandrake has now merged with Connectiva, and bought Lycoris. Mandriva 10.1 is out, and the next version is supposed to be MUCH improved, after combing the efforts of the previous three companies. It might even be the best Linux Distro of its time.
The situation has improved. Look for a distro with version 2.6.12, or newer, for its kernel.
I will make an exception for one, in particular. Xandros 3.02 uses the 2.6.11 kernel, and is one of the easiest distros to use. Especially for someone used to Windows.
It has a clone of the Windows 9x, 2000 File Manager. The HTML view, a "My Computer" area, etc... Not as pretty as Konqueror, but more user friendly. Then, it has a "Launch" Button (Start Button), which has been adopted by Linspire Five-O.
Unlike Linspire, the Xandros Launch menu feels better. It uses Applications, instead of Programs, and I think it is much better, asthetically.
The Xandros installer is a very simple 4 or 5 step process. I think it is much easier to install, than Windows. It is as easy to install, as installing most Windows programs. It does not overwrite Windows, but installs itself to the free space, by default.
Xandros also uses the Debian APT package management system. It browses packages, using a HTML, similiar to a web browser. While there were speed issues with 3.01, and earlier, it has been much improved, with 3.02. Installing programs via APT is easy. You basically add a web site to download from, browse through the list of programs, and then click install. Done. Similiar to URPMI with Mandrake, but easier, and there are more APT repositories to download from. Want KDE 3.4, no need to wait on Mandrake, it should already be up.
The retail version of Xandros also includes CrossOver Office. For easy installation, and running of non-DirectX Windows programs. The free versions come with a limited 30 day trial.
Not everything is perfect, since Xandros is not standard Debian, but it feels more polished. Installing some packages, such as just part of KDE 3.4, can render Xandros unbootable. Unless you know what you are doing. There are no worries with the default install, you have to add the sites with the high risk apps, yourself. This is just becoming a "standard" disclaimer, with certain precautions, there is nothing to worry about. Unlike most distros, Xandros does not have a LiveCD. Nor does Xandros include Gnome, in any fashion, although I installed it from an unsupported repository. The FAQ, and Support pages, is among the worst I have seen. Most of the support, is through the official forums.
SimplyMepis is a good distro, as far as ease of use. It also uses the Debian APT system. Mepis uses the Debian standard, Synaptic, for its package manager. It only requires 1 CD, and the Install CD, is a Live CD. So you can see what your getting into, and install from the same CD. This makes the installer a bit confusing, but it works. It is closer to Debian. As such, there are thousands of programs available, and easily installed. It comes with the most popular packages, except for Gnome. Plus, Mepis has some very good support pages, and a decent size forum.
I recommend Checking out SimplyMepis, or if you have an older computer, MepisLite.
Novell has started a Home Linux, called Novell Desktop Linux. While it does not have the same ring as its star product, Suse, I hear it is good.
In short, I recommend.
Xandros 3.02 SimplyMepis Mandrake 10.1 -slightly... Novell Desktop Linux