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Favorites released: sidux, Debian Lenny, antiX and SimplyMEPIS

Posted 02-23-2009 at 04:55 PM by masinick

I am a Debian software fan, no doubt about it. 1995 was the first year that I used GNU/Linux software, (1982 was my UNIX software debut), so when I wanted to spread out, Debian was one of the first areas I read about that would probably satisfy my software itch, and indeed it did.

In 2001, I had a broadband network, but I was not yet burning my own CDs. In fact, I took a few years before I got to that point. My first Linux systems were ones that I bought, either in books or in shrink wrapped distribution releases. It was not until sometime between 2002 and 2003 that I really started downloading, burning, and testing my own ISO images. Turns out that I had the hardware all along, just did not think about it much.

So it was with my advances in testing various OS. I started with Slackware in 1995, had Corel, Caldera, Red Hat, and Mandrake before the turn of the decade, but it was really not until 2001, when I bought a desktop system with two disks, that I really started testing in earnest. Originally I had planned to test Windows 2000, Windows ME, FreeBSD, Sun Solaris, and a couple of Linux distros, but by the time I actually got into it, Linux distros dominated my interests. I tested Slackware, Red Hat, Mandrake, SUSE, and I did have a Windows ME instance, later Windows XP. I also tested out QNX.

It was Debian, out of all of the systems that I tested, which proved most interesting to me, but since I was getting distros out of books, the Debian version I tried initially was really old. It handled my network, but I had a lousy X display, if I got it working at all.

I discussed this with a late friend of mine, Ralph Glanz, who suggested that I try out Libranet, and he sent a copy to me, then he contacted Jon Danzig, told Jon that I would be writing a review of Libranet for Ziff Davis Media Extreme Tech, then I got the latest test version.

It was everything that Ralph had said; the most interesting distro of the time, and better yet, it indoctrinated me into the ways of Debian. I mainly did Debian stuff "the Debian way" with Libranet so I'd learn it right, and that proved helpful.

Jon became a friend, and I'd review his software, and purchase a copy when I could. Unfortunately Jon became ill and passed away even before my friend Ralph.

I was looking for a distro. SimplyMEPIS was out and I liked it, so it became my every day desktop system. As my hardware grew older, I was looking for something lighter. Thankfully, another MEPIS project started, antiX, replacing KDE with Fluxbox and replacing a number of apps with faster equivalents. antiX has matured, and is now at Version M8.0.

Another project was just starting about the time that Jon Danzig became ill. It was the Kanotix project. and it was a good one. It looked to me like KNOPPPIX done right for the desktop. It had a cleaner installer, cutting edge tools and surprisingly, a Debian Sid implementation that worked. Was doing great in 2005, but started to fade in 2006. Finally, I found out why. Kano, the founder of Kanotix, wanted to move toward a less volatile model, moving from Sid to Testing. Most of the team did not - and they moved on, forming sidux. I believe that sixteen of the previous Kanotix development team moved to sidux. Whatever the number was, the people that moved really know their stuff. They write great documentation and slh, the kernel maintainer, is one of the best. Their script expert, h2, writes some of the finest bash scripts in the industry, many of which are used for sidux system management; one of them, smxi, does an outstanding job of taming Debian Sid - it is like putting Sid on a blend of Mood Stabilizers and Steroids - most effective, even if volatile!

Some great history and some terrific distributions!
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