posted by Barry Smith on Mon 8th Dec 2003 19:40 UTC

"MEPIS Linux, Page 2"
Warren told me that:

"I care a lot about support. I think it's very important for users and therefore important to MEPIS and Linux as well. I have ideas and plans for using technology to make support easier for MEPIS. I hope that we have the beginnings of an infrastructure in place within a month or so."

Given the current pace of things with MEPIS, I would not be at all surprised if he actually does get something going within a month or so.

I also like the way that MEPIS takes current the KDE applications and puts them to practical use. Some distros seem determined to write their own customized version of various applications, while ignoring the fact that KDE already has many items that duplicate those functions. MEPIS tries to integrate existing functions into a coherent whole, without spending a lot of effort on re-inventing the wheel. I like that approach.

Another aspect of MEPIS that I did not get a chance to try is the USB keyring disk. Warren calls this a Traveler Disk and describes it thus:

"The MEPIS Traveler Disk seems to be misunderstood. It is a USB keyring disk that enables what I think is cool functionality. In (version) 2003.10.01, if you format the disk with the MEPIS System Center, then it contains two partitions. The first partition is fat32 and shows up in "Removable Disks." It can be used to exchange files with a machine running MS-Windows. This has been tested only with XP. The second partition is ext3 and it can be used in a number of different ways. This is experimental but it seems to work ok.

The MEPIS System Center can be used to synchronize part of your desktop to and from the disk. The speed of the sync varies depending on the firmware in the USB keyring disk. For example, you can sync between home and office. It contains a shared directory with global permissions and there is a corresponding shared directory in your regular home, so you can include arbitrary files when you do a sync or copy. But also, it is a working home directory. You can go to any machine running MEPIS, plugin the Traveler Disk, and then login to your desktop, via the guest account. This means, if you have access to MEPIS, you can travel and not carry a laptop, if all you need to have with you is your email account and some space for some files to edit or for a presentation.

Imagine going on vacation, carrying your Traveler Disk, and being able to use it in a cybercafe. It also means that you can simply keep a Traveler Disk around as an insurance policy. If your system crashes, and you have access to a second system that runs MEPIS, you can remain in email contact with people while your system is being repaired, and later you can merge that activity back into your main system.

I was flattered that Mandrake appears to have rushed a USB keyring app to market in their live CD, but I think they have missed the point."

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 upgrade?

I am really torn here. I am having fun playing with MEPIS. In fact, I haven't had this much pure fun tinkering with a distro in a long time. I also think that MEPIS is rapidly evolving into a force to be reckoned with. At the moment the MEPIS community is small but fierce, and growing fast. Warren is obsessed with quality and constantly hammering on the latest version of Debian to turn out a solid bleeding edge product. On the other hand, I can't afford to trust my day-to-day operation to a bleeding edge system. I just don't dare.

So I am going to compromise. I will keep MEPIS close at hand for use as a bootable CD and emergency repair kit. And I am going to watch this one very closely. For instance, Warren tells me that he intends to incorporate a standardized update option for MEPIS, as well as other additions. I can't use it for my daily desktop operations, testing (Sarge) is as close to the edge as I dare let my data get.

But I can't hold back from playing with it either. This thing is fun! And if you are not having fun, what's the point?

I intend to write another review of MEPIS down the road, just to check out how much has changed. I am certain a lot will have changed. And improved.

Next Victim...Xandros 2.0. Stay tuned.

(If any reader wishes to suggest another commercially released, Debian based distro for review feel free to send me an email. I will be glad to include it.)

Table of contents
  1. "MEPIS Linux, Page 1"
  2. "MEPIS Linux, Page 2"
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