SimplyMEPIS 8.0 Released

MEPIS announced their SimplyMEPIS 8.0 release over the weekend.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor on

MEPIS announced their SimplyMEPIS 8.0 release over the weekend. That wasn't much of a surprise, as it is based on Debian Linux, and they had been in "waiting for lenny" mode for a while. The new SimplyMEPIS release was well worth the wait. In addition to the Debian base, it includes a lot of the latest packages, such as Firefox 3.0.6, OpenOffice 3.0, KDE 3.5.10 and more.

MEPIS has its own GUI installer, which I find very nice. It asks a minimum of questions, it is very easy to use with my rather complicated multi-boot disk partitioning, and it seems to be fast and reliable. The only minor complaint I had about it was that it still has to keyboard selection for Swiss German, but it does have Swiss French, which is close enough for installation, and it was easy enough to rectify once the installation was complete.

MEPIS also has their own "assistant" programs for Network, User, System and X-Windows management. They are all quite good, easy to use, and well documented. I'm not necessarily a fan of "make your own utility" situations, but if you're going to do so, they need to be well written and serve a useful purpose, and these fit the bill on both counts.

I installed SimplyMEPIS 8.0 first on my HP 2133 Mini-Note, and with the exception of the VIA Chrome 9 display driver, everything worked just great. Even the display driver came closer to being right than any of the other Linux distributions I have installed - it configured the display for 1280x800. After the installation completed I copied over the latest openchrome drivers from Mandriva 2009.0 (originally from AdamW's HappyAssassin web site), changed /etc/X11/xorg.conf to use the openchrome driver rather than the vesa driver, and the display was perfect.

The Broadcom wired and wireless network adapters both work with no problem - the wireless even sees and connects to both the 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz networks from my Netgear router.

I have now also installed SimplyMEPIS 8.0 on my Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 (Intel) and my Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook S2210 (AMD/ATI), also with very little trouble. The only minor problem I have seen so far is that the S2110 has a Broadcom 4401 wired ethernet controller, which was initially blocked by the MEPIS Network Assistant, but that was also easy to change. The Atheros wireless controller in the S2110, on the other hand, came up right away with no problems at all.

The MEPIS community is quite active and supportive, with help for beginners and experienced users alike. There are how-to guides, tutorials, tips, forums and blogs (including another of mine, by the way...).

jw 24/2/2009

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