Home  |  News  |  Articles  |  Forum  |  Polls  |  Blogs  |  Videos  |  Resource Library

Keywords: Match:
The Best Free Desktop Linux . . . and how to make it better
(Part 2)


In general, I find installing Linux easier than installing Windows. The reason is that most Linux distributions install the user software along with the OS. Depending on the distribution, it is possible to have a fully operating system in anywhere from ten minutes to two hours.

Some Linux distributions are a bit cryptic and ask too many questions. To install some Linux systems, you need to know what graphics card you are using, what kernel version you are using what your Ethernet card is and what sound card you are using. If Microsoft Windows is the model for "plug and play," how does SimplyMEPIS Linux compare? Quite well. SimplyMEPIS recognizes most hardware during the first boot and automatically installs most drivers.

SimplyMEPIS is distributed as a single CD. I have not been impressed with most single CD distributions. Most of them leave too many things off. SimplyMEPIS has everything that I would expect and some applications I wouldn't expect.

SimplyMEPIS is a live CD. This means that a user can boot and run off the CD without installing the OS on their hard disk. This invites comparison with the highly regarded Knoppix.

Knoppix is an excellent distribution, but Knoppix is not designed to be installed on a hard disk. Knoppix is designed as a standalone system that fits on a single CD and will boot into a complete system. Knoppix raised the bar for Linux systems for hardware plug and play. While SimplyMEPIS can operate as a standalone CD, SimplyMEPIS provides the option to quickly install Linux onto your hard disk. SimplyMEPIS includes a utility called QTparted that provides the same functionality as a commercial disk partitioning program like Partition Magic.

It takes 10 to 15 minutes to do a complete install of SimplyMEPIS onto a hard disk. The resulting install is complete, attractive, and includes a complete selection of applications.

SimplyMEPIS desktop environment
(Click image to enlarge)


The screen shot above shows the default configuration and screen of the SimplyMEPIS desktop. Mozilla is the default browser. It is a pleasure to find that Macromedia Flash, Real Player, MPlayer and Java are all set up to work automatically.

I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. I am a big fan of streaming audio. I used to use Real Player to listen to radio. A few years ago, streaming radio almost disappeared because of copyright restrictions placed on local advertisements. Fortunately, services appeared which would remove local advertisements and insert new advertisements targeting Internet listeners. The bad news was that almost all of these services adopted Microsoft Media Player as the default player.

I purchased a copy of CodeWeavers CrossOver Office to allow me to install Microsoft Media Player on Linux. This solution works very well. With SimplyMEPIS, this is not necessary. SimplyMEPIS comes with MPlayer, the appropriate codecs and MPlayer plug-in installed. Most stations streaming work without adding any additional software.

Streaming audio running on SimplyMEPIS
(Click image to enlarge)

The screen shot above shows three different types of streaming audio being supported by SimplyMEPIS. SHOUTcast broadcasts (mp3) use XMMS by default. Real Player streams automatically bring up Real Player. Microsoft Media streams are played with MPlayer.

As good as SimplyMEPIS is right after the first boot, SimplyMEPIS can be made even better. The first step to improve SimplyMEPIS is to use the apt-get tool to do an update. You will need to enter superuser mode first.

SimplyMEPIS includes xine which can play DVDs, but because it doesn't come with libdvdcss, xine cannot play copy protected disks. It is possible to install libdvdcss. Simply type apt-get install libdvdcss.

I like the xine front end Kaffeine. Some users report that Kaffeine uses a lot of resources. You can test it yourself by typing apt-get install kaffeine. If you don't like it, no problem, just type apt-get remove kaffeine.

While we are on the subject of playing DVDs, you might want to also install VideoLAN. VideoLAN will allow you to stream both audio and video over a network. VideoLAN supports many different operating systems. It is also possible to download a VideoLAN client on a Microsoft Windows computer. You can install VideoLAN onto SimplyMEPIS by typing apt-get install vlc.

Kaffeine playing VCD
(Click image to enlarge)

VLC playing VCD
(Click image to enlarge)

xine playing VCD
(Click image to enlarge)

-- Continued --

(Click here for further information)

Home  |  News  |  Articles  |  Forum  |  Polls  |  About  |  Contact

Ziff Davis Enterprise Home | Contact Us | Advertise | Link to Us | Reprints | Magazine Subscriptions | Newsletters
Tech RSS Feeds | ROI Calculators | Tech Podcasts | Tech Video | VARs | Channel News

Baseline | Careers | Channel Insider | CIO Insight | DesktopLinux | DeviceForge | DevSource | eSeminars |
eWEEK | Enterprise Network Security | LinuxDevices | Linux Watch | Microsoft Watch | Mid-market | Networking | PDF Zone |
Publish | Security IT Hub | Strategic Partner | Web Buyer's Guide | Windows for Devices

Developer Shed | Dev Shed | ASP Free | Dev Articles | Dev Hardware | SEO Chat | Tutorialized | Scripts |
Code Walkers | Web Hosters | Dev Mechanic | Dev Archives | igrep

Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Except where otherwise specified, the contents of this site are copyright © 1999-2011 Ziff Davis Enterprise Holdings Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Enterprise is prohibited. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.