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Exploring the Future of Computing
SimplyMEPIS-7.0 - Beyond Dapper! E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 January 2008

Desktop logo of SimplyMEPIS 7.0, 6.5, 6.0.  The far-left is 7.0. 




The Debian Shift

What was Warren thinking about? Abandon the ship!  I suppose Warren Woodford has some very strong reasons to adopt the Debian Etch core as the engine for SimplyMEPIS 7.0 after having explored the Ubuntu-land!  SimplyMEPIS 6.0 and 6.5 were based on Ubuntu. Dapper to be more precise! The interview with Warren Woodford, the founder of MEPIS LLC by on 30th of July 2007 brought  out the reason why it was difficult to base his distribution on a non-rolling-release Linux distribution like Ubuntu Linux. SimplyMEPIS 7.0 which was released on 23rd of December 2007,  has been logically based on the immensely stable Debian Etch and will be synchronized with Debian Lenny (when it is released). Under the hood of this new edition of SimplyMEPIS 7.0 is an updated & security patched kernel, gcc 4.1.1, and glibc 2.3.6. The desktop is powered by KDE 3.5.8 and the not-so-bleeding-edge X.Org 7.1.0. This release has also been great because of a greater input from the community in the form of better desktop theme and also a comprehensive user manual. 



MEPIS Lovers At Work


It looks like the developers prefer the enchanting play of lines on top of shades of blue as the background of SimplyMEPIS 7.0. The play of translucency is very obvious in the KDM login screen and that made it look stunning. The boot splash featured a very simple blue background donning a brown mustard-coloured progress bar at the bottom. Moreover, the  MEPIS logo sitting on the KDE desktop has been designed to be more aesthetically pleasing. This is of course the result of more community involvement.  This new desktop logo looks like (non-literally speaking) a pair of circumaural "headphones". To me, it represents the deep love that the community has for SimplyMEPIS product. While the wallpaper of SimplyMEPIS 6.5 gave me an "Educational" feels, the new wallpaper gave me a "we mean business" kind of feeling. 



This is the most gorgeous boot option screen. 





This is the boot splash. 





Spectacular KDM login screen.






The Familiar KDE Desktop


The desktop still sports a clean environment with only a few desktop icons and a desktop panel at the bottom. The desktop really look similar with the previous version of SimplyMEPIS 6.5, with the exception of the wallpaper, of course. The Nuvola Platin icons are still being used in SimplyMEPIS 7.0 in favour of the Crystal SVG icons. The windows style still sports the Plastik theme. The font used is still Sans Serif 9. The borders of the windows are well decorated to match the SimplyMEPIS wallpaper. Interestingly, the Kweather applet has also been omitted from the desktop panel. If you can remember, the KAquarium was removed from SimplyMEPIS 6.5 and now it's the KWeather's turn.


The KAquarium and the KWeather of SimplyMEPIS 6.0




Wired ethernet network connection is enabled by default. Playing Flash content with SimplyMEPIS 7.0 is not a problem as the Flash player plugin has been embedded into Firefox browser. However, there is no Java plugin installed for Firefox on the 64 Bit version of SimplyMEPIS 7.0.  As a matter of fact, the lack of Java plugin also occured on the 64 Bit version of SimplyMEPIS 6.5. Monitor resolution detection has been great with SimplyMEPIS 7.0. The X.Org open source drivers are used instead of the proprietary drivers which are available in the MEPIS 7.0 repository. With the newly added XRandR tool, I can easily change the resolution of my desktop.





Installation: SimplyFAST!


It was "SimplyFAST"! How else can I describe the installation process of SimplyMEPIS 7.0. It was also "SimplyEASY"  since I didn't need to reboot the PC after preparing the partitions and also after copying of data to the hard disk.  Only 3 minutes was needed to copy the files to the hard disk on my desktop PC with Intel's Core2Duo processor and  5 minutes to do just that on my notebook with Turion 64x2 processor. The configuring steps which took place right after the  copying of files to the hard disk only needed about 2 minutes on either PCs.

This is the new KDE desktop after installation.





The shortcut is extremely useful. 







Up-To-Date Applications


The remote access softwares, NX from NoMachine, KVpnc, Krfb, Krdc, Smb4k, Gaim, Pan Newsreader, Online Dictionary, XChat, and KGhostView have been omitted from SimplyMEPIS 7.0. Ebay bidding tool and the webcam utility, Camstream have also been omitted from the Internet category of softwares. By the way, KOrganizer, MPlayer, KAlarm and KNotes have been added to this new SimplyMEPIS 7.0. Although SimplyMEPIS 7.0 is based on Debian Etch, the MEPIS team of developers have compiled a lot of bleeding-edge applications for the users. The latest applications available in each software categories are shown below.


Graphic :- Gimp, Xara Xtreme, Ksnapshot, Kooka, etc.


Internet:- Knetworkmanager, Kbluetooth, ADSL/PPOE configuration,  KPPP, KTorrent,  Kopete,

               Bluetooth  Obex Client, gFTP, Kbluetooth Chat,  Akregator, Guarddog,  KMail, Skype,

               Thunderbird,  Firefox  and Konqueror.


Multimedia:- Amarok, KMPlayer, RealPlayer 10, Kino, K3b, etc.


Office:- Kate, KWrite, KPDF, KGhostView, Kontact,'s  Presentation, Calc, & Writer.


This is the Kmenu. The layout has slightly changed. 





While you can easily get VirtualBox 1.5.4 and  Qemu from the repository, the installation of VirtualBox 1.5.4 was rather tricky. In addition to the usual need to add yourself to the vboxusers group, you also need to install the kernel header from the repository so that the vboxdrv kernel module can be compiled.





No Pre-packaged Beryl or Compiz Fusion 


SimplyMEPIS 6.5 was the first version of MEPIS Linux to be equipped with Beryl but there is no 3D eye candy at all in this new version of SimplyMEPIS 7.0. If you need Compiz Fusion, you can install it and its dependencies from the MEPIS repository and the Repository Of Shame. Of course, you also have to install the compatible proprietary graphic drivers with MEPIS X-windows Assistant. The only problem I encountered was the crash of the kde-window-decorator resulting in  borderless windows which I solved by activating the  gtk-window-decorator.  I hope that Compiz Fusion will be available out-of-the-box in the next stable release of the SimplyMEPIS 7.x series.


Compiz Fusion 3D eye candy.






Package Management: Generally!


Since it is based on Debian Etch, SimplyMEPIS 7.0 will generally be compatible with the packages from the Etch repository and of course, it will be generally be incompatible with the Ubuntu packages. Synaptic and KPackage are the available package managers,  if you prefer graphical tools instead of using apt-get command at the Konsole.  Four repositories are enabled by default in SimplyMEPIS 7.0. Interestingly, even the Etch-volatile repository is enabled. In case you're wondering what are the packages found in the Etch-volatile repository, here is the full list! Although various popular proprietary and non-proprietary audio/vidieo formats are supported out-of-the-box, you will still need to enable the repository, in order to install the libdvdcss2  to play encrypted DVD movies. 


4 repositories are enabled by default.






The Fantastic Four


A  review of SimplyMEPIS wouldn't be complete without the mention of the MEPIS OS Center-derived famous four:  the MEPIS Network Assistant, the MEPIS System Assistant, the MEPIS User Assistant, and the MEPIS X-Windows Assistant. Since their introduction in SimplyMEPIS 6.5, these intuitive and effective tools  have been the mainstay of all system configuration and administration activities. As a matter of fact, you can also access these tools from the Settings folder on the Kmenu together with the other native KControl modules. For example, with the MEPIS System tool, you can install SimplyMEPIS 7.0 on your usb-keys or pendrives. The System tool can also be used to repair the partition, to repair the Grub bootloader, to configure the computer's identity and keyboard layout, and also to manage the  power of the laptop. 


While you are in the the MEPIS Network Assistant, you can either choose the manual way (using the Mnetwork) or the automatic one (Knetworkmanager) to configure your network connection. I found that I had a better success rate with wlan adapter which comes with the Broadcom's bcm43xx chipset,  if I used the manual way. Via the MEPIS X-Windows Assistant, you can configure your monitor and also choose the drivers of your graphic card, open source or proprietary with ease! Using the MEPIS User Assistant, you can easily configure the users' account settings. 


This is the MEPIS System tool. 






Roll, MEPIS Roll!


In conclusion, the more attractive SimplyMEPIS 7.0 is lightning fast even though its graphical interface is powered by KDE 3.5.8. As a matter of fact, it feels faster and more stable than SimplyMEPIS 6.5. Setting  up SimplyMEPIS 7.0 was super easy, as usual!  I could easily surf the shared directory of SimplyMEPIS 7.0 from Windows XP once the installation was over,  and I could also easily surf the shared directory of Windows XP from SimplyMEPIS 7.0. Almost zero effort was needed to make this work! Should you need a KDE desktop which can be easily set up within a few minutes,  there no doubt that SimplyMEPIS 7.0 is the right choice. Another advantage of using SimplyMEPIS 7.0 is the availability of a very comprehensive online wiki and a very newbie-friendly forum dedicated to it. I hope that we will be able to see KDE 4.0 in the next version of SimplyMEPIS even though Warren has got to return to a day job.


What is it like beyond Dapper?  With SimplyMEPIS 7.0, we have more up-to-date applications (compiled for the MEPIS pool) besides the eighteen thousand plus of already available packages in Debian Etch repository! SimplyMEPIS 7.0 have also attained rock solid stability with Debian Etch as the core. With the backing of the security patches from the debian repository, users will have no worries about timely-released security patches. Whether it will do well with its new way of periodical minor and major incremental updates, without needing to upgrade via a new distribution-release-CD  will be everyone's guess, since this only version 7.0. I hope the MEPIS team of developers will succeed in this famous and favourable Debian approach.


Before I end this review, I would like to recommend users who like SimplyMEPIS 7.0 to also try antiX 7.01 for their low-in-hardware-resource notebooks or desktops. To me, it offers the most serene-looking desktops or laptops. It is a perfect Linux distribution to take on a vacation!  I think that it would also appeal to poets!




Thank you for reading my review.





By Michael Shee Choon Beng.

( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )


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i5513 - Debian Rocks !   | 213.227.39. | 2008-01-22 06:37:19
Congratulations choosing etch !
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