Linked by Barry Smith on Mon 8th Dec 2003 19:40 UTC
Linux This is the third in my series of reviews for Debian-based commercial distros that might be appropriate for SOHO use. The first article covered my exploration of Lindows, the second one focused on Libranet, and this article covers a recently released distro called MEPIS.
Order by: Score:
by Jef Pober on Mon 8th Dec 2003 20:01 UTC

"this review is atypical in another respect, in that it includes several quotes from Warren himself."

I only saw one quote but nice job anyway! I've been a Libranet/Debian user (because Libranet managed to detect my hardware) for 3 months now and I really like your series, I'll be longing for the Xandros review!

Day to day uses
by none on Mon 8th Dec 2003 20:02 UTC

What happened to the day to day uses? Were there any problems installing?

P.S. I have been watching Mepis for a bit, however I havent installed it. Keep up the good work. I like the articles.

One to watch for sure...
by Jason on Mon 8th Dec 2003 20:38 UTC

I too am going to "watch this one very closely". I did burn it to disc and had a VERY good impression of this distro. It looks very polished. I'm amazed that it is largely the effort of one person!!!

The biggest drawback - I have to call it an Achilles heel - is that you can only have swap, / and /home partitions.

Also, I do not believe you can use two drives (I like /home on a separate drive).

If any of the above is untrue please enlighten me.

Went with Mandrake 9.2 instead but MEPIS looks like a winner!!


by Phil Hall on Mon 8th Dec 2003 20:46 UTC

It was an interesting article, but should have described more about his actual experience with Mepis.

by element on Mon 8th Dec 2003 21:19 UTC

It's cool to have distros like MEPIS, but the distro that wants me to switch from Libranet isn't invented yet ;)

Anyway, nice review. Keep up the good work.

RE: Mepis
by zegenie on Mon 8th Dec 2003 21:46 UTC

"It was an interesting article, but should have described more about his actual experience with Mepis."

I agree, I wanted to read more about that, too. However, after reading the entire article, it seems to me he thinks currently this is not finished enough to "review".

Oh well. Lots of interesting ideas, though.

by ripcrd6 on Mon 8th Dec 2003 21:50 UTC

Have you tried any of the Morphix versions yet?
I am having a great time tinkering w/ and customizing my Morphix 0.4.1 LightGUI. I have an old 233 MHz laptop that was aching for Linux. I needed a portable to take to my LUG meetings instead of LUGging around a monitor and such. The LightGUI version uses the awesome lightweight desktop, Xfce 4, by Olivier Fourdan. I can't say enough good about Xfce. This old laptop responds snappily to commands and runs lots of GTK apps. It already does more than I expected on this old machine, but I've found more toys to load. I only have a 2GB disk, but I have room to spare. Try it out, you'll fall in love.

by Stephen on Mon 8th Dec 2003 22:15 UTC

How did the distro perform on the test machines. Really slow or really fast? I'm looking for a good distro for a PII 350.

RE: One to watch for sure.
by Cheapskate on Mon 8th Dec 2003 22:37 UTC

thats what i experienced with Mepis a while back when i installed to the harddrive, i could only utilize one harddrive, and i have two harddrives, one for OSs and two for file storage & home and swap partition, once i seen i could not use both harddrives i aborted the install...

i keep an extra disk partition just for testing Linux distros...

by on Mon 8th Dec 2003 22:55 UTC

First, sorry for my rusted English.
I was realy upset against mandrake 9.2, at my opinion the worst dist they have done yet, I bought 5 of theirs boxes so far, but that one (In fact the whole 9 serie) NO and I was looking for a suitable distro (RH and Suse was tried...but.)
And then came this "Mepis" I installed the cd and 10 euh no 20 minutes later all was in.
Since now 2 weeks I use, it nothing went wrong (I mean nothing a medium-basic linuxien could handle)
I think the cleverness of this distro is the "equilibre" between the use of each group
Internet, Multimedia, Office, developpement... everything essential is there already.
But the main strengh is the lightness and speed (after suse Mdk and Red hat ...easy isn't it)
Just I wish they find a way to give more help for newbies coming to debian because to find a suitable debs reposit it' a mess.
Of course I know it is still a beta mixture but so well born that it deserve to become one of the major distro to come... if the work already done continue this way.
Bravo et Bon courage....A bientot

by eightiesdude on Mon 8th Dec 2003 22:56 UTC

Have not tried out this distro yet. But it is amazing that one person is working on this solo. I wish him luck and this is the spirit that got me into Linux and continues for me to use Linux. Among other things ;)

The articles are great. Cant wait for the next one on Xandros 2.0 as well.

West Virginia
by mikesum32 on Mon 8th Dec 2003 22:57 UTC

Morgantown is home of West Virginia University. It's a college town.

More correctly, the motto is "Montani Semper Liberi"

/from Charleston

v Bah
by Maxamoto on Mon 8th Dec 2003 23:08 UTC
Volunteers wanted
by STIBS on Mon 8th Dec 2003 23:18 UTC

Well, Warren still works alone at most of the technical things yet. But he already built Team MEPIS, consisting now of 63 persons from the whole world.

We're indeed at the stage of setting up the infrastructure for a community based development approach.

What we look for are volunteers of all levels of knowledge and skills. Docs need to be written, marketing needs a boost, questions need to be answered in the forum and in the chatroom @ (/join #mepis) and software developers and packagers are never at the wrong place.

Mepis will appear 1st time at the Magazine DVD of the german Linux Intern magazine with three or four feature articles. The december issue should be at your dealer around 15th.

Thanx for the nice review Barry!

Hope we meet soon @, cheers from Germany!

by i_got_a_haircut on Mon 8th Dec 2003 23:43 UTC

Knoppix is still the best live-cd/debian variant.

Uh, yeah
by Erwos on Mon 8th Dec 2003 23:52 UTC

"I also like the way that MEPIS takes current the KDE applications and puts them to practical use. "

The reason most distros decide not to use them is that they're usually inferior or harder to use than those other programs.


By Jason wrote:

>Also, I do not believe you can use two drives (I like /home >on a separate drive).

>If any of the above is untrue please enlighten me.
I used the last release of Mepis for a while (2003-08-xx), I think. While it's true that the installer did not give me even the ability to create a seperate /boot, never mind adding a second drive, it's not that hard to do manually. Basically, you need to edit /etc/fstab (as root) and add the new hard drive or partition. To do this you have to specify the device (eg /dev/hdb1 for the first partition on the second IDE drive), the type of filesystem (Reiserfs in my case), the mount point (/multimedia for me), and some other stuff that you can figure out from looking at your existing /etc/fstab or by running man fstab.

While I didn't move my /home to a second drive, I'm fairly sure you could also do this manually: first create the new /home partition on the second hard drive, then initialize it with your file system of choice (mke2fs, mke2fs -j, mkreiserfs, mkxfs, etc), then mount it as root ("mkdir /newhome", "mount -t ext3 /dev/hdb1 /newhome") and copy the entire contents of your /home over - rsync is a good way to do this - making sure to preserve file ownership and permissions with the appropriate option (-a for rsync). Then edit /etc/fstab to make the new partition your /home, unmount /newhome, reboot, and you should be in business.

I used this approach to add a large second hard drive that contains most of my music (ripped from my CD's using the awesome FLAC lossless codec).

I too have been very impressed by the level of quality Mepis shows this early in it's development, but experienced a few niggles that have kept me from keeping it on my system. In particular the version of Mepis I used had trouble using a third very large (200 Gig) hard drive mounted via a Promise PCI IDE controller card, while Knoppix 3.3 had no troubles with the exact same hardware. Also on my system (Athlon XP 2400+, 512 MB DDR 2100, ECS motherboard) Mepis ran incredibly slowly after being installed to the hard drive - at about the same speed as Knoppix running from the CD! A third problem was that Mplayer could not play DVD's without incredible numbers of missed frames under Mepis (problems with poor Soundblaster Live card support, I think), while Mandrake 9.1 had absolutely no trouble playing DVD's with the same hardware.

It is possible some of these issues have been fixed with the new release of Mepis, and I intend to give it a try. And whether or not these problems have gone away yet, I would like to congratulate Warren on probably the most impressive start to a new Linux distro that I've ever seen! If Warren doesn't suffer burnout before he gets the community help he needs, this promises to be a fine distro one day. My best wishes to the project.


Joe's Mepis
by Joe on Tue 9th Dec 2003 00:05 UTC

I have been running Mepis for a couple months on a laptop and pc, so I guess I'll share my thoughts. Installation, hardware detection, and auto-configuration were all excellent (I think it uses the Knoppix script for this).

The install stuff is important to me, but not as much as having a distro that's upgradeable and stable over the long term. This is one area of Mepis that I feel needs change, which I have posted on their forum before with no real feedback. The issue at hand is they use a mix of stable, testing and unstable. Anybody that has used Debian before knows that you are asking for trouble when doing an apt-get update/upgrade/dist-upgrade. The first few times I did this I ended up with broken packages all over the place, it was a nightmare to fix and got worse as new packages were introduced (primarily from unstable).

This time I'm using priority pinning (which is not used by default), as in a /etc/apt/preferences file to manage this a bit better, and changed the apt.conf file to read “testing” instead of “unstable”.

Here is what my preferences file looks like:
Explanation: see
Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian,a=testing
Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian,a=unstable
Pin-Priority: 50

Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian
Pin-Priority: 30

This way, when I run apt, it will only pull packages from testing to upgrade, and over time it will turn into a pure testing distro without busting up my current unstable and stable packages. I'm an intermediate/advanced GNU/Linux user, so I have no issue digging in config files, but the average user would have problems with this I think. I started using pinning on my Morphix (Gnome, KDE, and Lite) box, which uses testing and unstable and it has worked excellent over the last several months; not one broken package.

Other than that, I would highly recommend this distro, as it has excellent hardware detection and configuration, includes a well though out group of apps, and little things like flash and JRE out of the box (lots other little things like this). FYI, I've ran FreeBSD, Debian, Morphix, Knoppix, Gentoo, Redhat, Mandrake, SuSe, Damn Small Linux, Ark and others I can't remember on a variety of pcs and laptops, and none has topped Mepis for overall out of the box excellence. Give it a try.

Great Laptop Distro
by shoegoo on Tue 9th Dec 2003 00:40 UTC

This is one of the best distros for laptops. Warren has applied the acpi patch to the kernel. I have a Toshiba 5205-S505, and this is the only distro which also has the special Toshiba ACPI patch integrated into the kernel (Warren has a Toshiba laptop too). As STIBS sais, if you are in need of support, come visit #mepis on or visit the Mepis forums at

by MYoung on Tue 9th Dec 2003 00:58 UTC

I've used Mandrake for about a year now. Have tried other distros and have stuck with MDK 9.1 - UNTIL I INSTALLED MEPIS 2003.10

Amazingly simple install. A couple of clicks and 20 minutes later I'm using MEPIS from my hard drive. It's fast, it's stable (so far) and, like the editor, I'm having a GREAT time just tinkering around with it.

To be fair, I did have a problem with my onboard NIC, a Broadcom 4401. I emailed Warren with some information he requested and he emailed me back in no time flat. It took several emails until we discovered that the module used by MEPIS for my particular onboard NIC (it's on an ASUS A7V8X mobo) wasn't kosher. So I downloaded the latest drivers from Broadcom and Warren sent me detailed instructions on how to remove the old module and insert the new one once it was compiled. Now everything works like a charm.

My hats off to Warren!

Mark M Young

by mario on Tue 9th Dec 2003 01:19 UTC

Can you do a minimal install and avoid KDE?

by Joe on Tue 9th Dec 2003 02:22 UTC

"Can you do a minimal install and avoid KDE?"

No, I don't think so, this is a KDE specific distro, although GTK libraries are there. It does install IceWM by default as well. If you're looking for Gnome, you can apt-get it and then remove KDE. However if this is your plan, you'd be better off using Morphix (Gnome and XFCE), and Gnoppix which are pretty decent.

by Anonymous on Tue 9th Dec 2003 04:52 UTC

>Now perhaps it is becoming clear why I am not assigning values on this one.
>How can I rate something that is in startup mode and in a constant state of

So what do you think of the Linux kernel, which fits the above description?

MEPIS - doing a fine job
by Mark on Tue 9th Dec 2003 05:27 UTC

I came to MEPIS after stops with a few versions of Mandrake and also freeBSD. I ran MEPIS 2003.8 for a couple of months and now run 2003.10 on both and Athlon XP1800/512mb system as well as a Duron 700/256mb.

MEPIS just flies on the main box and performs very well on the Duron. Both installs were flawless, and the NVIDIA support included in 2003.10 was a nice touch. I've found it very stable. The included QtParted disk partitioning software did a nice job resizing my NTFS partition and as noted the install is very simple and fairly quick.

Seeing the added polish and refinements that 2003.10 brings over 2003.8 I can imagine that the future may hold more flexibility when it come to install time. Warren has done a tremendous job so far.

I recommend MEPIS to anyone looking for a change.

My $.02 on Mepis
by Paul on Tue 9th Dec 2003 12:42 UTC

Benn using Mepis for about 6 months now. The latest release is a very stable release.

I have been very pleased with this OS. I have Slack9.1, JAMD, Mepis and WIN2k.

For daily use Mepis work very good and is fast. However, not as fast as Slack.

I ma waiting for future releases of this distro. I also would like it to contain a update feature besides Apt. I am glad warren is addressing this issue.

Overall Mepis is a solid distro.

Mepis User
by Marcus on Tue 9th Dec 2003 13:45 UTC

I've tried the newest (as of Dec 4, 2003) live CD version of Mepis on my Dell Inspiron 8100 laptop as well as on an old 450mhz Gateway desktop. I've been very impressed with it so far on both machines. The desktop is probably the best default desktop I've seen on any linux distro--it doesn't waste space with huge taskbars and icons and the wallpaper is clean. Aside from that the config tools are done well (networking with XP was a breeze) and for me, the most important software is all there.

I also had a brief email exchange with Warren who was very cordial and helpful. I'd recommend this distro. I'm definitely partial to Debian, and of the Debian based distros I've tried, this one comes out on, or near, the top.

MCSE becomes turncoat
by Tcat on Tue 9th Dec 2003 14:09 UTC

I've been playing with MEPIS for a while and it amazing how fast it has matured. After 30 years of using MS, this is the one for me for the next 30 years.

Mepis has grown
by Chris on Tue 9th Dec 2003 14:33 UTC

I actually downloaded Mepis back in June and put it on my laptop, not always the best ideas. Linux still doesn't seem to get along too well with it, but its fun to test against. Honestly, I was impressed with Mepis but the version I downloaded ages ago never correctly installed a bootloader, no problem though, just used Mandrake to repair it ;)

I do have to agree though, the creater is insane...he never sleeps. I posted about the problem and within 10 minutes he was helping me through a fix. I hadn't gotten a response like that from any other distro group so I was impressed but, it still wasn't quite useable enough for me and I was still too lacking in the knowledge to fix some of the problems that cropped up. I might give it a try again though, can't hurt.

I am crossing my fingers that it wont have any problems with keyboard (USB) and mouse (USB), as it uses the hardware detection based on the one by Knoppix, which was the only distro that I tested that didn't have any problem with them.

I don't really care if it is not as fast as slackware is, as someone said.

I care about upgrading the system and will use all the tips that I can get on how to do it safely.

Oh well, I am still looking for a distro that will support the new 2.6 kernel from the installation on.


US International keyboard support?
by Marcel Gommans on Tue 9th Dec 2003 19:23 UTC

Hi there,

does MEPIS have US International keyboard support?
Can't wait to give it a try. Will get the Linux Intern Magazine as soon as it's available.
I quite happy with MDK 9.2 at the moment, but would like to give a debian-distro a try...........


Did I miss part II of this series?
by DK on Tue 9th Dec 2003 19:56 UTC

Where is a link to the first two installments? I remember the first one, but did not get to read the second. Any links would be helpful.



by B. Smith on Tue 9th Dec 2003 22:14 UTC
Mepis and ACPI
by Anonymous on Tue 9th Dec 2003 22:23 UTC

I'm actually running it on a brand new toshiba satellite A30. I have not seen any review of linux on that laptop so I was a little scared. Mepis activated ACPI on boot and everything looks fine so far. Battery level is reported correctly and the fans are doing their job at cooling the 2,5 GHz cpu. I think I'll make some space on the drive and run it from there. I just hope Xandros 2.0 will support ACPI that well.

"Grudging afterthought"?
by Ander on Wed 10th Dec 2003 09:45 UTC

> MEPIS took the concept behind Knoppix and went one better.
> Instead of focusing on a bootable CD with installation
> to hard drive as a grudging afterthought...

Eh? This implies that Knoppix's developer looks down on h/d installs, or that they're difficult.

I'm not a very experienced Linux user, and I found Knoppix's install script quite easy. In fact, I installed it _because_ it was so impressive as a "live-CD" distro:

_ It showed its excellent autodetection abilities.

_ It had such a good package assortment (including the latest KDE, not in the normal Debian release).

_ It required downloading only one CD image (with 2GB of compressed software).

Well, sorry for the rant. But although Klaus hasn't gone out of his way to advocate installs---obviously, that's not his focus---he's never "begrudged" people who liked Knoppix enough to put it on their hard drives. It's a compliment.

No trust?
by Oliver on Wed 10th Dec 2003 12:11 UTC

I find it quite amazing that the author has troubles trusting the 'bleeding edge' aspect for his day to day work. First of all, debian's bleeding edge is not bleeding edge for the rest of the world (not even in unstable). Next to that, everybody trusts it's MS Windows desktop for it's day to day work. I myself found debian's bleeding edge ofter more reliable then any Windows product out there.

Love it!
by Michael on Thu 11th Dec 2003 21:55 UTC

I downloaded the iso's after reading the article. It was a very easy install. Found my network, ethernet, hardware right off the bat. I'm able to transfer files to/from my Winxp box. I love KPackage with Debian. I am actually using Linux, not just playing with it. Thanks Warren!

P.S. I just registered my copy of it!

Disapointed :(
by Forum on Fri 12th Dec 2003 16:53 UTC

I really liked the 2 first reviews/experiences better, I see nothing here as entertaining as they were. Hope the 4th one will go back to the roots ;)