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Last Review by masinick - posted: 01-04-2010 10:08 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 39860

This is still a great distribution, but I recommend ignoring the developer recommendations, go grab smxi and use it as long as it continues to work. sidux is a very well optimized distribution and the work that the support team does to identify breakages in the Debian Sid packages is rare, and valuable. The forum and the arrogant attitude of a few prominent individuals there, and the cowering servitude of those who remain make the sidux forum a hostile place for anyone who is opinionated - I exited months ago, but a few months too late and caught a tongue lashing from the developers. I won't be back in the forum, I will heavily criticize the forum, but continue to praise the distribution - but only for those who can use it with skill without the aide of what may once have been a helpful place. If you are independent, use this anyway; just avoid the sidux forum!

Rating: 9
Product Details: "2009-03" by wsteward - posted: 11-15-2009 - Rating: ********** 9.50

Last Review by masinick - posted: 11-15-2009 03:19 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 36240

This is everything that Debian Lenny is in terms of stability. After all, SimplyMEPIS is based on Debian Stable. This is everything that the plain Debian cannot be. It is more geared to specific hardware - commodity Intel PC hardware, and it is geared to those who are not necessarily experts at installing and maintaining systems. Those who want to touch stuff are better off using Debian Stable, Testing, or Sid, depending on the desire for stability versus the latest software. I am also a sidux fan and an antiX fan. I use SimplyMEPIS along with Debian Stable for the rock solid systems. I use antiX along with Debian Testing for flexible systems that are a bit more current than Debian Stable, but still work with solid reliability. When I want the absolute cutting edge, I go with Debian Sid and the pre-packaged derivative, sidux. These are my trilogy of Debian based systems and the the trilogy of Debian-derived systems. SimplyMEPIS is the rock among all of them, real stable, not particularly fancy, but one you can always count on. I ALWAYS have a copy of SimplyMEPIS in my collection and I keep it installed.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "8.0.12" by wsteward - posted: 11-06-2009 - Rating: ********** 10.00

Last Review by masinick - posted: 08-20-2009 08:40 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 106997

Most releases, I can heartily recommend Fedora, and this January, when I got a hold of an Alpha build of Fedora 11 Live, I was sure it was bound to be their best release ever. Perhaps by the time all of the issues are sorted out and the software makes its way into a future release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), that will be the case, but for now, I ended up being very disappointed in the final release. What particularly bothered me was that I made an attempt to report the issues during the testing cycle, and I also checked the testing forums, had confirmation that a number of others were seeing similar problems, so I was guardedly optimistic that the issues would be resolved; they were not. Adam Williamson, one of the community leaders for the Fedora project, was very much defensive when a number of people lambasted the Fedora 11 release. He may have had some points, because some of the people that were critical were not offering any coherent explanations of what the problems where (basically, there were hardware support regressions, resulting in difficulties in writing the system to disk at installation time). Is Fedora still worth looking at? ABSOLUTELY. First of all, the hardware issues do not affect everyone. Second, there are remix CD/DVD available following the release that may represent more stable software. If you can, Fedora is a great way to get the very latest software and help debug and report problems. People who use Red Hat Enterprise Linux on the job are well to test Fedora - it just may help avoid future issues in released enterprise software and it helps the free software ecosystem. You will notice that some rate this software highly in this thread and some will ding it. I would have rated it well in the past. I am hoping that I can test a remix soon and find the issues gone. Don't let my rating dissuade you from trying this software. If it works for you, it represents the very latest software. Try it live first, then get the installable version to install it.

Rating: 4
Product Details: "11" by wsteward - posted: 06-09-2009 - Rating: ******* 6.75

Last Review by masinick - posted: 08-20-2009 08:25 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 59232

Mandrake Linux was the first really easy to use distribution that took advantage of the availability of KDE (back when it was new), and created easy distributions that more people could use. There may have been others, and there certainly are today, but we can thank Mandrake for that. Today, Mandriva carries forward that tradition, and they have been groundbreaking in more areas. They are the first commercial Linux vendor to offer their system on a portable USB stick. They continue to be a leader in easy to use systems, and they always have the latest software available. The one trade-off you make when choosing Mandriva is that you get cutting edge software, but sometimes you can get a cut from it and bleed, and you may need a stitch or two (an update after the release) to fix software defects. If you don't terribly mind risking occasionally defective applications for a system that is reasonably fast, very attractive, full of the very latest software, yet easy to install and set up - especially the Flash version (on USB), then this is a distribution well worth getting. You can also find Mandriva in Power Pack and Mandriva One editions. The former contains free and commercial software; One contains only the free consumer software. With these two lines and the Flash edition, there are always three good versions to choose from. If you REALLY enjoy bleeding edge software and like to test it and report defects, then I highly recommend getting the Mandriva Cooker software - and run a perpetually changing rolling release, which always contains daily build software. VERY volatile, but most things work, and it is a VERY COOL way to get the latest software, but you must have a tolerance for software defects, a willingness to report them and help improve the final product. This is your way to help free software, even if you aren't a programmer, and I recommend it. As far as the main release goes, the Spring Edition was one of the best releases we have seen from Mandriva in quite some time; go snag a copy and try it out!

Rating: 9
Product Details: "2009.1" by wsteward - posted: 05-02-2009 - Rating: ******** 8.13

Last Review by masinick - posted: 08-19-2009 08:58 AM [ Post a Review

Views: 17674

sidux has been my favorite cutting edge distribution for a couple of years now, and it remains my favorite cutting edge distribution. However, during the past year, there have been a lot of arguments within the ranks of the developers and the community, primarily over the use of tools and scripts that are no longer considered to be a part of sidux - and the remaining developers claim that they never were a part of the distribution, though there is considerable disagreement about that. If you do not need to use a forum community at all and you can download and image and use it without asking questions, this is still one of the premier cutting edge distributions that you can find. It is fast, you can keep it fairly current (but you do have to know what you are doing in order to achieve this), and you can still use those tools from third party sources, as long as you never mention them in the sidux forum. This distribution is a great example of how strong disagreements can emerge over what may seem to an outsider to be a small issue, but to those who are intimate with it, is of critical importance. I have to mention this, because if you walk into their forums and mention one tool in particular that was originally developed for Kanotix, then for sidux, you are sure to be chastised in some way, and possibly forbidden to participate in the forum. I don't like that aspect of this system, so it is very unlikely that I will ever participate in sidux forums. IF you can get past all of that, and you are still reading this, perhaps sidux is for you! It is quite amazing how well it works. It initially loads into a Live CD - and that is where you see the first thing - one of the fastest Live CD start up times that I have ever seen. This software includes only DFSG software (Debian Free Software Guidelines). That means that there are no firmware modules included unless they are 100% free software with source code available. The consequence of this is that you have to wire up if you want many common wireless firmware modules. IF you can do that, this may still work for you. The next thing, of course, is that non-free codecs and other extensions that make many common tasks possible are not included. Again, you can get such things, but the task is up to you; the distribution does not provide such things automatically. Installing sidux is also quite easy - and fast. I timed an installation this week at just over six minutes for the base installation. It took perhaps an hour to get everything I wanted installed, but that included non-free software, numerous additional desktop and window manager environments, and plenty of other software packages, so that is a typical time for the amount of software that I frequently install. Maintaining sidux with the standard tools is like maintaining Debian Sid, from which it is based. sidux itself adds little (but takes nothing away from that process). Those third party tools that I mentioned can ease these tasks if you so choose. sidux developers argue that users of Debian Sid tend to know Sid and want to maintain it themselves. You decide what's best for you. With all of the characteristics of sidux - from the great live CD to the DFSG only software, to the staunch adherence to only the software included, is this distribution still worth a look? Only you can decide for yourself. For me, the answer is a firm YES, and for me, I also choose to add whatever tools I choose to the system, and I support what happens to it. I run a lot of system, so I can afford to do that. If my pros and cons have not scared you off, this system may be perfect for you. The software is just about right for me.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "2009-02" by wsteward - posted: 07-16-2009 - Rating: ********** 10.00

Last Review by masinick - posted: 08-19-2009 08:37 AM [ Post a Review

Views: 42695

IF you want a distribution that can be checked out first from CD (KNOPPIX was perhaps the first distro to popularize this, but MEPIS was the first to create a simple way to install from a Live CD in an easy and reliable way), and you want an easy to install system that can do all of the routine things that a simple desktop system is capable of doing, a system that is clean, well designed, carefully put together, well maintained, with an active, helpful community behind it, then this is one of the best choices, for many, the best, period. The only complaints I have seen - and they are minor, is that the file system table uses some non standard conventions in the interest of creating a simple approach, and the same is true of the boot loader. Also, in the past, the software tended to lag with updates, especially of things like browsers and Email clients, which frequently change. Even some of these minor nits are being addressed, however, through the community, which has their own optional package repository to keep frequently changing software updated. Those packages tend to be of high quality, so they are a good way to keep a stable, easy to use system current. Discussions are already taking place regarding the next release. The MEPIS Lovers Forum is the place to have those discussions, and that forum also is a great asset to the community and to this outstanding distribution. For those wanting a simple, stable system (which itself gets software from a very stable system - Debian Stable), this is perhaps the best choice you are likely to find, and I give it my top rating.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "8.0" by wsteward - posted: 02-26-2009 - Rating: ********** 10.00

Last Review by masinick - posted: 02-23-2009 04:31 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 19563

This is the easiest, fastest, most reliable way to get cutting edge software, and keep having the latest changes, as often as you want them. sidux 2009-01 is the latest in the series of (approximately) quarterly update releases. You really do not need to get and install the updated release each time one comes out - just install one, then update as a rolling release from there. You can get a rather nimble implementation of KDE, which sidux developers call KDE-lite, you can get XFCE, both, or you can install, perhaps the xfce version, then get rid of it and put in what you want! The sidux and Debian Sid repositories certainly offer enough choices, and the optional (but really useful) smxi utility can help you install a variety of desktop and window managers, as well as many other applications and tools to tailor your system the way that you want it. The base install is one of the fastest you are likely to find. Highly compressed, the sidux developers warn you to burn sidux CDs at low speed and using DAO as the method. However, copying the ISO image to USB is an even faster way to install the software! I've had base installations take 2:45, that's two minutes and forty five seconds, then I've had some of the main stuff take anywhere from six to fifteen minutes to add in. Realistically, running smxi a few times and installing a bunch of other stuff, it could be 20-45 minutes to have the system just the way you want it, but you can have something that can at least access the wired network in under ten minutes, in fact, just a couple of minutes, if you run sidux live before installing. Wireless access requires enabling the firmware, which sidux refuses to include in the base system, but does make it readily available. sidux is a great, cutting edge distro. Yes, I know there are other cutting edge distros - Arch, Gentoo, Sabayan, maybe a few others. Debian Sid, of course, is the distro upon which sidux is based. I feel that sidux adds significant useful value to Debian Sid, at least if you are either an i86 or AMD user, which is most of us. What it adds is: 1. An extremely fast way to install a Sid based distro. 2. An outstanding collection of cutting edge kernels that have the very latest in hardware detection. 3. An excellent assortment of scripts that greatly assist in the management, configuration, setup, and support of sidux software. These scripts speed things up, but they also help to tame the extremely volatile nature of Debian Sid, harnessing its power and turning it into something even more useful and valuable. With sidux, Debian Sid truly becomes the most current OS that you can actually count on, and I recommend it highly, as long as you enjoy volatile software and are willing to update often.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "2009-01" by wsteward - posted: 02-22-2009 - Rating: ********** 10.00

Last Review by masinick - posted: 02-23-2009 03:51 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 47853

This is my favorite small system. You can customize it, too, so if you want a full featured desktop, but one with only certain software, this distribution gives you the tools and the means to put something together pretty easily. It works very well, is fast, and has excellent hardware detection. No long review needed, just try it!

Rating: 10
Product Details: "antiX MEPIS 8" by wsteward - posted: 02-21-2009 - Rating: ********** 10.00

Last Review by masinick - posted: 02-13-2009 12:57 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 40823

If you are looking for a much faster than average, relatively lightweight distribution, capable of running either from Live CD, USB stick, or directly from disk, this is a top candidate to consider. The antiX project has always included the Fluxbox window manager. Recent releases have added the IceWM window manager, and that is now the default window manager. The change from Fluxbox to IceWM as the default window manager, though both are available, improves ease of use for the relative novice user who may have a five year old system that they want to run well. This software is perfect for that. Those who like to tinker will also have reasons to look at antiX. There are excellent tools from the SimplyMEPIS, sidux, and Absolute Linux projects. One particular tool that I would like to highlight is the sidux inspired smxi tool. This one is not so much for the novice, it is more for the person who wants to get the most out of their system. With smxi, you can modify system kernels, and get sidux kernels with the latest hardware support, you can modify the graphics characteristics of your system, and you can examine the hardware. The antiX system benefits from the excellent hardware support of both the MEPIS kernel and the optional sidux kernels. If you want to use a wireless network, you have an excellent chance of getting yours working with sidux. The firmware wireless support is outstanding, but if you do run into issues, antiX offers the common ndiswrapper fall back strategy, so there is no reason you cannot get your wireless adapter to work with antiX. If you like to do a lot of multimedia work, this distribution will work with you. You can enable the Debian Multimedia repository to add additional media features not included on the packaged distribution. With the full multimedia features enabled, you can watch DVDs and view pictures and movies as much as you want. There are no glaring weaknesses in the antiX software. Whether it suits your needs is more a matter of taste - this system can be modified to do nearly anything, so it makes a great starting point. For many people it does the job great, just as packaged by anticapitalista and the antiX community.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "M8.0" by masinick - posted: 02-13-2009 - Rating: ********** 10.00

Last Review by masinick - posted: 02-13-2009 12:31 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 14065

The Mint series of products has to consistently be on the short list for anyone considering installing and using a Linux desktop system without much prior experience. While you might argue that a complete beginner is not even able to install any software at all, whoever is a first time Linux user who wants to try installing and using Linux, this is certainly one of the three or four top distributions that should be considered. The officially released version of Mint includes both the free software that is found in virtually any Linux system - the Linux kernel itself, a wide variety of GNU utilities, and the most common free software applications, it also includes free binaries for which free source code may not be available - Debian and Free Software Foundation zealots call this "non-free" software because there is no source code to modify, should anyone want to change it for any reason. What makes this useful for the beginner is that firmware for wireless devices often falls into this category, and multimedia extensions, such as Flash player browser add-ons, additional media codecs, and things of that sort are not always completely free in the "freely available source code" sense. The beginner does not know how to cope with such nuances, and that is where Linux Mint fits in. Mint just takes care of those things for you, and it does so cleanly and effectively. There are few systems of any kind that are easier to install than Mint. What are its drawbacks, if any? Well, compared to its competition, Mint is not the fastest running thing out there; SimplyMEPIS and PCLinuxOS, two other really easy to use distributions, typically feel lighter and faster. I found the Mint provided software update tools to take tremendously long to update themselves - in one case, it took over ten minutes just to get the Mint specific information updated - before I even installed any new updates. I used the classic Debian apt-get dist-upgrade from the command line, something a beginner would not do, and it ran much more quickly and got the job done. Is that a big deal? Probably not, though for me as an experienced user it causes me to look at other alternatives. For a beginner, it makes an excellent starting place. Worth seriously considering, along with SimplyMEPIS and PCLinuxOS (each of these is close to a new release as well, but Mint beat them to it).

Rating: 9
Product Details: "6" by kencoop - posted: 02-07-2009 - Rating: ********* 9.00

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