Archive for July, 2006

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Ubuntu: The AOL of Linux?

July 27, 2006

More and more, it seems like a person can not have a discussion about Linux on the desktop without talking about Ubuntu. I compare different versions of a distro and someone wonders, “What about Ubuntu?” Someone wants to write about the history of Linux and people start suggesting the release of Ubuntu as some sort of major milestone. Just like I can’t pick up a PC magazine without reading about Windows, I can’t talk about Linux without mentioning Ubuntu. Just like a person could not have a web address without an AOL keyword in the 1990’s, one cannot have a Linux application without having a version for Ubuntu. See a trend?

Ubuntu sits at the number one spot on Distrowatch because of…what? Is it because it is the best distribution in existence? I don’t hear anyone saying that and it would be silly to say that unless a person tries several. Is it because it is the easiest to use? No, I have already posted to that issue twice. Is it because Ubuntu is the latest? No, because new distributions come out every day.

So what is behind this big Ubuntu hype? For one thing, it is the only distro offering to send out bundles of CDs absolutely free. I can order 5, 10 or more of these things and as long as I’m willing to wait 6 weeks for it to arrive from France, I’m okay. In this way, it does begin to look a bit like AOL, who still sends out free CDs. Once you get the CD, what exactly do you get? Well, you get some lovely programs that can be found on other distros. You also get a lovely multimedia presentation including a video featuring Nelson Mandela. No tutorials and not much of a help file, though. You do get access to a large repository of applications, which appears to be the biggest bonus that they have going. That looks a lot like AOL, since they also boasted huge repositories of free games for downloading in their early days. And for Mac users like me, that was no small selling point.

AOL marketed itself as the internet, and for millions of people it really was the only internet they had ever known for YEARS. Nevermind that is was high cost, and there were better ISPs out there and that it was difficult getting help from a live person when needed. One of the biggest complaints about Ubuntu is the lack of useful help available on its forums. I have read some posts but I don’t feel I’ve spent enough time with anyone’s help forums to make a fair comparison.

I’ve spent enough time with Ubuntu to feel comfortable in saying that it is neither the best Linux distro nor the easiest Linux distro. It is merely the most hyped. Fans of other versions of Linux can learn a thing or two from folks marketing Ubuntu because it really has been cleverly promoted within the community. A recognizable icon, a clever motto (An OS for human beings) that also happens to be short and easy to remember. A snazzy and cool spokeperson in the form of Nelson Mandela, and making the thing extemely painless to acquire in the form of free postage. Not that free downloads are that difficult. Who would have ever thought that the color brown would suddenly become so cool?

I’ve tried to like Ubuntu. I wanted to like it. I really wanted to understand what all the fuss was about. Maybe someone can educate me (in newbie-speak) and explain what is so great about this distro. What is being done with it that is so different and better than what anyone else is doing? Besides generating the hype?

Is the hype bad? I don’t know. My fear is that people new to Linux will first get exposed to Ubuntu (which is not the easiest of distros) and that will be their first and last point of contact before going back to Windows. Like me, people who are generally savvy with computers will feel so foolish for even trying this thing that everyone in the community feels is the best thing since sliced bread and not knowing why it isn’t working. So in this way, Ubuntu departs from AOL which made the internet easy and accessible to newbies by the busload. They came, they stayed and then went on to better Internet options. If the same happens with Linux, it might be a good thing in the long run if they stay around long enough for an enjoyable experience.

dick

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Mepis 3.3 v 6.0

July 26, 2006

Using Mepis 3.3 on the network at work, I was able to easily download Mepis 6.0 and burned it on to a CD, creating my very first live CD thus saving a buck or two from ordering. Actually it took some time to download since the network kept stalling. But otherwise the process was fairly painless.

So now I’m looking at the new Mepis running on another machine via the live CD. To someone like me who is familiar with Mepis, the destop does not look very different from earlier versions. The 3.3 version has many more things on the desktop than later versions. Some things taken off for version 3.4-3 were put back on for 6.0.

When reading a review by Rees, he was talking about some of the applications he was adding, including GIMP. Looking at my 3.3 menu, GIMP is included, but I see it was left off of the 6.0 distro. In fact, the 6.0 version is quite a bit lighter on applications compared to 3.3. Having 6.0 run from Ubuntu seems to be mostly to take advantage of the Ubuntu repositories so that a person can download the applications that they like. The 3.3 version actually offers more applications and more choices than the latest version. For instance, in addition to Firefox and Thunderbird, 3.3 offers all of the KDE software (Konquerer, Kmail).

So to a an average user, is 6.0 a superior distribution? I suppose it depends on how old your hardware is. I’m sure 6.0 has updated drivers to automatically detect devices. I’ll let you know if it does, but I’m seriously doubting whether this will improve anything with my home machine as far as getting the modem to work. Otherwise, my initial observation is that 6.0 offers a few cosmetic improvements but it really does not look or feel new to me. I can not notice improvement as far as speed, but haven’t spent as much time with the newer version.

So I absolutely can not say that I will be upgrading this machine from 3.3 to 6.0 at this time. I suppose there might be some enhance security or something, but I don’t notice any significance performance differences between this installed 3.3 and the 6.0 live CD. With things getting busier at work I won’t have as much time to play around. but at this point as far as getting the things done that I need to do, Mepis 3.3 fits the bill nicely. That may change if see some differences at my home machine. I’m especially thinking about some of the multimedia applications Rees has going and I might be tempted to do something with it just so I can sort of follow along. My work machine doesn’t have a DVD drive, so I have no need here. But the home machine it a totally different deal, so we’ll see.

dick

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Mepis 6.0

July 25, 2006

Whilst tinkering with Mepis on Saturday, I accessed the Mepis Lover’s site, and noticed they had announced the release of 6.0.  The version I was tinkering with was 3.3, which is older than the one previous to 6.0 which was 3.4-3 (which was screwy numbering, even for Linux).  So yeah, I’m a bit behind.  But I’m also ahead.  Reviewers are just now catching up to some stuff that I’ve been saying all along the past few weeks about this distro. 

 

Some noteworthy converts are Rees, E@syVG, and Gerald CortezThe latter has an awesome in-depth review with screen shots.  All of these folks have some good input that is worth reading.  In fact, their raves have me getting kind of excited about getting myself a copy of this thing to see for myself how much of an improvement it is.  But I have a thing or two yet to learn before implementing some of the cool things I’ve learned, especially from Rees.

 

First of all, I did try to download 6.0 from an ftp site and for some reason I never got the full thing.  I was running Firefox and without a download manager, I really had no idea where I was in the download process.  The second thing I have to learn is burning that CD so it will act like a live CD instead of a beverage coaster.  I have successfully burned files using the older Mepis (in live CD mode, no less) so this might be easy once I manage to get the whole file.  Then again, we’re talking about a machine that rarely seems easy to a noob like me. 

 

The whole downloading and installing of repositories is something I’m fine with while using that high speed connection at work.  But then I have my crippled modem-bound machine at home.  When I download Windows programs at work,.I burn them on a CD and then go ahead and install them at home.  I have a couple of CDs with basic software apps I can reload if I have to reformat.  Synaptic did the downloading and installing in one fell swoop, which is sort of nice in one case, but inconvenient if I have a machine that is not on the network.

 

Hmmm.  I suppose I could take my home machine to work and plug it into the network…

 

Just thinking aloud, here.  Or thinking and writing at the same time.  I like having everything I like on a CD, though, even though it is out there in a repository somewhere.  But maybe that’s just me. 

 

In any case, I’m glad to see Mepis getting some attention and seeing that my view of it is not so far off base as a distro worth more than at least 2 of the distros that were sitting above it in the Distrowatch list.

 

I also have another story  on my teacher blog about trying to give away those Ubuntu CD’s.  Those things will probably get me in trouble before the year is out!

 

dick

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Whining about WINE

July 22, 2006

I’m spending the day at work, plating with my new toy, which happens to be one that is fully installed with MEPIS. Mepis 6.0 just came out and I wouldn’t mind giving that a try, I still have figured out how to download the whole thing.

I just discovered something sort of neat. I had to reboot (more on that in a minute) and when it came up it put me right back where I was i.e. with the same windows on the desktop. So I didn’t lose my place, which is nice.

So I’m going to talk about WINE, which is the Linux answer for when you absolutely have to have an application running under Windows, for instance some games. The games that come with most distros are lovely, but silly and stupid. Except for the 3D Tuxracer on Mepis 3.3; that is truly cool game.

I went to the Mepis site and attempted to get some guidance on obtaining and installing WINE. Fortunately, once pointed in the right direction, it is somewhat intuitive. Like most things in Mepis, a user has a couple of choices in how to do things. I could use Kpackage or Synaptic Package Manager. I chose the latter because that is where the first Mepis forum I googled sent me. And there truly is a ton of stuff out there, but the trick is knowing what you’re looking for. I obtained enough guidance in getting through this process, which was no small thing.

It’s worth noting that I hooked this machine in to the network, meaning I could do some very heavy and serious downloading that could never be attempted over dial-up. There was some checking for updates and since I was using a pretty old Mepis release, there were plenty.

Next, was the quest to download WINE. One the repositories were selected, it was just a matter of scrolling down and reading the descriptions. Once selected, I hit ‘apply’ and it downloaded the stuff I picked out.

This downloading and updating process was not as short as it sounds. It actually took a couple of hours for me to figure this out while surfing around and letting the machine update. In the midst of things updating and installing, a window would pop up looking very much like the old DOS window. This would inform me of progress and occasionally prompt me to make some decisions regarding the installation or whether or not I wanted to update. Nothing appears to be hurt, so I guess I made the right choices!

Since I’ve been using open source stuff for awhile, I’ve become more familiar with the “Open with…” choice when you right click on a file. Sometimes I want to open a document with OOo and sometime with office XP. This was the key to getting my first Windows application to work with WINE.

I didn’t really have much at hand, so I chose the first thing I grabbed; a CD from a ceral box containing the game Backyard Baseball. This is actually a pretty fun game and is all Windows. Right clicking baseball.exe and then typing ‘wine’ in the box brought up the wine launch window telling me it was trying to open it. Then it it did! I hit the ‘play’ button, and then the dialog came up telling me it would play better in 256 colors. And then it proceeded just as if I were playing on XP. The only glitch came when I tried to exit. It might have been very slow to respond, but being the impatient noob I am, I tried alt-control-del and I got a dialog to log out of this session, which I did and ended up rebooting.

I then tried a program called ‘Dollars and Cents’ which is an educational game about money. It wouldn’t run off the CD so I tried hitting the install.exe as above with “open with…” and typing ‘wine’. Then I got the installer which went right along working just like it would in Win9x which is how old this thing is. And that was it. I couldn’t get the thing to run because it is supposed to be in a program file on the ‘C’ drive and I have no idea where the C drive is supposed to be. I found something promising by searching and digging around, but never did get this program to work. What’s worse, it wouldn’t let be eject the unmount or CD even after logging off. So I ended up having to paper clip it out. Lovely. Logging back in, it finally let me unmount the thing so I could open it.

I did eventually find where it was loaded and clicking the appropriate program launched it. But since it wanted 256 colors, it sort of created a garbled mess that would confuse my students more that they already are. So I clicked the ‘quit’ but and it logged me out.

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided try another game. It was the home version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. This took a couple of tries to find an installer that would work. Then it began working the installation, taking a few minutes. I skipped the product registration and then came to the part about restarting the computer. Sure, I pressed “finish.” and then the Window’s window disappeared. So how do I start Windows again? I tried starting it again after finding a millionaire.exe file, buut it went looking for directX and that was the end of that.

Logging out in order to get my CD back put me in the bloody Unix command interface. So I totally had to reboot.

After a good 4 hours of fiddling and playing, I had enough for the day.

Obviously, there’s a good amount of work to be done, here. I would hope that the commercial version of Wine would yield a bit more in the way of usefulness and productivity. The Tafusion version of Mepis does ship with the crossover application, but at $100, it’s more than I want to spend.

Funny thing is, is that the more I fiddle and play around with Linux the more in begins to feel like Windows!LOL!

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PCLinuxOS: Another Look, Plus: Installing Mepis

July 21, 2006

In my short review, I sort of dismissed PCLinux because I was concentrating on some specific goals with my home system, namely getting on the internet using the modem. I’m STILL working on that one.

Now, at work, after everything is finished for the day, I can play for a little bit. Since my work machine does not have a DVD, there is no fooling with either SuSE or Ubuntu so that leaves me with the later release of MEPIS or PCLinux. I chose the later, mainly because the IT guy here at the school gave me an old machine to play with that is currently being loaded with MEPIS 3.3. After 15 minutes, it is 40% into the installation.

Back to PCLinux…

I complained a bit about that Gnome desktop, but after spending more time with it, my whining was not exactly warranted. If you want a desktop looking like XP, PCLinux is a good choice. You have the green start button in the same spot, the taskbar looks similar…everything looks similar. I would say the PCLinux actually has a superior feel to XP, but that could just be because it is new.

The live CD comes with 15 games and 24 applications, 6 of which are part of the office suite. In fact, I am typing this up using Open Office 2.0 right now. It has Firefox, Thunderbird, Gimp….all of the standard stuff that all of the other distributions come with. PCLinux had no problems detecting my hardware or detecting the network. It’s obvious that this distro was developed to look and feel like XP for folks like me coming over and playing with another OS.

One annoying thing I discovered about using Open Office on this distrobution, is that it takes you through a registration process when launching it. Registration is not required to use it, but it is still a needless annoyance.

PCLinux scores higher than other distros in my book for a couple of reasons. First, it does not have the misleading hype that Ubuntu does. It is much easier for a Windows XP user to use because it looks and acts like XP almost exactly. I don’t need a lot of extra directions on using this, because of that quality. If Ubuntu wants to look different, that’s fine, but don’t go around saying that it is a substitute for Windows. It is not.

Secondly, the PCLinux distro beat Ubuntu and SuSE live DVDs because I was able to successfully locate and browse my hard drive, and even open documents using the Office application. I could not even open (or mount) my hard drive with Ubuntu or SuSE live DVDs. This feature makes the live CD version of PCLinux a likely candidate for rescuing data from a hard drive where Windows has crashed or become corrupted or excessively crippled.

This is the OS you might give to someone with extra simple needs, mainly email, internet and a few basic office applications. There is nothing terribly complicated or sophisticated here. For $1.95 from www.Linuxcd.org it is a fair distribution. For some people, this could be a suitable substitute for Windows with a minimum of fuss as long as they are not using a modem to get online. That one single snag seems to trip up almost all distros. PCLinux is #10 on Distrowatch, but I think it warrants being a bit higher simply because of the ease of use factor.

Having said all of these nice things, PCLinux still does not beat MEPIS (#4 on the DistroWatch list). PCLinux does look more like XP than MEPIS, and runs more like it. However it does not have as robust of a group of applications. I have a number of needs, and PCLinux meets only part of the list. MEPIS meets more of them than anyone else I have tried so far. It is the only one, for instance, that includes personal finance software with the distrobution. Okay, so there are only a few games, who cares? I can always boot up a live CD of the others and play all the games I want!

Done!

Mepis took about 30 minutes to install on a machine running less than 800 Mhz with a 10 gig hard drive. I began counting applications, and lost count. There are over 100 with 14 games. Many of these applications (probably over half) are Linux geek tools for tweaking the system, programming, compiling and using the command line so you propeller heads might want to give this distro a serious look.

So now I do have a machine that is 100% committed to Linux since I went ahead and reformatted over Windows. So far, I’m liking it but I haven’t actually tried to do anything constructive with it. One of the things I’m going to work on is getting it up on the network in order to download and install some more applications. WINE is at the top of my list, as I’m intensely curious as to how it works and behaves with various windows applications.

 

dick

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More on Ubuntu

July 20, 2006

Okay, I decided to try Ubuntu again as I felt my review in the last post gave it the short shrift.  I was writing from memory so I decided to try to write with the thing in front of me and give something akin to a more detailed review from a newbie of the live DVD.

 

I spent more time with Ubuntu and I’m sorry, but my view of it has not warmed much.  I am warming to the Gnome desktop, with the taskbar on the top with its menus.

 

I stuck a USB SD card reader in, to see if it would recognize it.  The good news is that it did.  The bad news is that while I could locate both my hard drives, I could not browse through them.  This live CD would not be very useful for data recovery or trouble shooting.

 

I counted the applications.  It wasn’t difficult, since there are only 18 of them that load on live DVD mode, with 4 of those being parts of the OOo suite.  However, there are 16 games that load.  Am I the only one that sees a problem with this?

 

The initial task was trying to see if I could watch and capture video using my capture card.  While Ubuntu could “see” the card, there were no applications for watching, much less capturing video. 

 

There’s an example file folder with various documents and examples of things made with the Open Office suite, some video and audio files.  But really nothing in the way of a tutorial that might be useful for a newbie.  XP had a tutorial.  I think Win98 had a tutorial.  If you can get Nelson Mandela to explain the concept of Ubuntu, would it be so hard to present a bit more in the way of guidance with this thing?

 

So my second assessment is pretty much the same as the first; Ubuntu is a cow.  I saw nothing on that live DVD that gave me any sort of urge to install the thing.  Am I asking too much?

 

With all of the noise people have been making about this release, I feel kind of dumb.  Am I the only one to see that this distro has no clothes?!?  Of the 4 distros I have tried and reviewed, Ubuntu seems to offer the least of all “out of the box.”  A DVD can hold over 4 GB of info, and THIS is what I get? 

 

Basically, Ubuntu is a bare bones OS, with a few extra things.  You’ll get more online, provided you’re not using dial up.  I’m not going to be playing much more with it or talking much more about it short of some big revelation that makes it worth booting.  I’ll see how it likes the network at school, but that will be about it.  I’ll read what others write about, mainly to see if I can understand what all the fuss is about.

 

I’m also feeling a bit misled by a Linux community that has become so rabid for this distro which lacks so much.

 

dick

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Battle of the Distros

July 18, 2006

My disks came today and I absolutely could not wait to see what these things could do.  Would I find a new favorite in the bunch?  Would I find a replacement for Windows?  Am I typing this using Linux?

 

I’ll answer the last question first; yes, I am using a Linux kernel to type this.  But not from any distro you all might be using.  I’m using my Zaurus PDA!  In fact, I’m not sure I could get anything to you through any distros that came in the mail today as it presently stands.  But this is preliminary, as I just spent a little time with each.  I spent enough time to form some opinions which I’m sure will be unpopular to many.  Too bad.  Let us begin…

 

PCLinuxOS

 

The first distro I tried was recommended by Limulus, which was PCLinuxOS.  All 3 disks I ordered were live CDs, but this one was the only one of the 3 that was not a DVD.  Boot tome for Live CDs is typically quite long, so I put the CD in, made some iced tea, did laundry and cut the grass and came in just in time to see it get to a screen asking for a user name.  I typed in my name which was, of course, incorrect..  I then typed “root” for both name and password and all was well.  If I had not had experience with MEPIS, I would have been frustrated right then and there.  Neither of the other two distros had the password prompt.

 

Once inside, I was greeted by a nice, friendly, clean brand spanking new desktop.  That’s the cool thing about trying out these OSs as it’s just like getting a new computer!

 

Okay, I need to take my fellow newbies aside for just a moment to talk about desktops.  When you get a windows desktop, that’s what you get… a Windows desktop to sort of fix up the way you like but you pretty much have the basic elements: A taskbar at the bottom with a “start” menu, a clock and some icons on the desktop.  In Linux, the are two predomininant types of desktops.  One is called KDE, which contains the same basic elements as the Windows version, plus a few more things.  This is what I had with MEPIS.  With PCLinux, I encountered the Gnome desktop for the first time.  This, being unfamiliar caused me some confusion.  I had some icons on the desktop and then (I think) some menu options at the top.  But I never felt like I was seeing everything offered on this CD and seemed to be trying to search for things that should have been more accessible. 

 

My primary concern and mission was to find a distro that would deal with my modem.  In this, PCLinux failed.  In fact, I never did find any sort of modem connection options at all.  Would PCLinux play my Gladiator DVD?  No.  None of the distros would because of some proprietary thing which is screwy.  Isn’t a DVD player a DVD player?  The logo on my Memorex is the same as the one connected to my TV, isn’t it?

 

PCLinux had the Office suite, some games and a suite of multimedia tools typical of all distros.  It was not a terribly complicated distro, but it seemed light on applications.  Not bad, but not as good as Mepis in my opinion. 

 

Ubuntu 6.06 – Dapper Drake

 

Numero Uno on DistroWatch, I was anxious to give this distro a try.  I have 5 more CDs of this on the way, and have read about Ubuntu all over the place.  You absolutely can not swing a dead cat in the desktop Linux world without hearing about Ubuntu.  An OS for humans.

 

Okay….

 

First off, this was a live DVD.  My first DVD drive had no idea what to do with it, and booted to Windows.  However, once in Windows, putting the DVD in gives one access to open source programs like Firefox, Thunderbird and The Gimp.  That was kind of cool, throwing Windows users a bone.  So I stuck the disk in my DVD burner and rebooted.  This time we were in business. 

 

After washing and waxing the kitchen floor, changing the oil in my and my wife’s car and doing my taxes, I came in just in time to witness Ubuntu loading the desktop.  Ubuntu, like PCLinux, loads the Gnome desktop. 

 

I spent some time poking around.  I never found whatever Ubuntu/Gnome uses to configure or run a modem so we struck out there.  Ubuntu seemed to have a lot more games than PCLinux or Mepis.  I actually, I did find a list of Ubuntu applications and it seemed pretty extensive.  I found KPPP but was informed that I could not load it because I was not connected to the internet.  DuH!  If I was connected, why would I need a dial-up client?

 

I was rapidly disillusioned with Ubuntu.  Yeah, I could play a bunch of cheezy games I suppose, and type something.  But could I save it?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to investigate more with it later.  Maybe.  Right now, I feel like I wasted $7 on this thing. 

 

Ubuntu vs. PCLinux = PCLinux by a hair.  PCLinux just felt easier to use.  Lots of searching for applications in both, but Ubuntu did not impress me.  Could it be the Gnome desktop?  Maybe, but PCLinux also runs it.  Now, Ubuntu was a disappointment.  No newbie coming from Windows is going spend much time with this cow.  At least it’s cheap.  But seeing as I bought the DVD, PCLinux becomes the better buy at $5.95 vs $1.95.

 

Ubuntu Vs. Mepis = Mepis  Mepis is by far the easiest to use so far. The applications far easier to find and use. Will this still hold true at the end?  Let’s see.

 

SuSE 10.1

 

#2 on DistroWatch, this was also a live DVD.  However, unlike the other two contenders, this had no option to install.  It is intended to be used as a live DVD and that’s it.

 

I booted this DVD up the same as Ubuntu in the DVD burner.  I have no idea why these live DVDs don’t like my regular DVD player, but that is a strike against them compared to the CDs that had no problems in either drive.

 

SuSE presented me with something fairly quickly.  In fact, it was so quick, I missed it and had to reboot.  A screen comes up offering several choices.  I can boot off the hard drive, which is Windows and since that was the default that’s what it did before I realized what was going on and digesting all the choices.  Mepis does something similar, although not as rich in options as SuSE in the choices.

 

We might have a contender.

 

The other two choices were SuSE with a KDE desktop or SuSE with a Gnome desktop.  I picked KDE.

 

After having the dog and the cat neutered, picked up my dry cleaning and remodeled the upstairs bathroom, I walked in just in time to see SuSE throw up the desktop and a message mentioning  something about registering for access to more programs and Novell support.  Okay, that was nice.  SuSE then promptly acted like a slovenly drunken sow by seeming to hang and then take forever to execute anything at all.  So I rebooted again.

 

Things went better this time.  I quickly discovered a modem tool right on the task bar and went into it.  The modem I had recently installed supposedly ran on SuSE 9.x, so I had high hopes. However, no amount of tweaking around got me anywhere.

 

 Of the 3 distros that came in today, SuSE seemed to be the easiest for me to manage.  The KDE desktop was more familiar to me, as it did look like Windows, only much better organized.  Still not playing my DVDs, though.

 

Of the 3, I spent more time with SuSE as it seemed to have more applications and tools beyond the same things everyone else has.  More choices is good for everyone, so there are more office applications and more multimedia and photo tools.  However, SuSE did not seem to detect my analogue TV card, so that was a disappointment.   

 

 

 Also, SuSE would not let me mount and explore either of my hard drives which is a serious gig if I can’t figure it out.

 

 

Of these three, SuSE wins the prize for versatility, ease of use and comfort.  I thought it was MUCH easier than Ubuntu, which comes in last in my own distro survey.  I find it does nothing and adds nothing to what anyone else has and seems to me to be a very pooor choice for breaking in new users coming from Windows.  Those free CDs that they are sending out are akin to the days when AOL sent everyone floppies then CDs to drum up business.  Thing was, users would leave AOL as soon as their minutes were up.  Newbies looking for a decent experience with Linux should avoid Ubuntu.  But this is an early impression.  It also decreases the amount of time I’m willing to spend with the Dapper Drake

 

Mepis beats the lot for ease of use, number of programs and versatility. Curerently #4 on distro watch, it should be higher.  Ubuntu’s position is a severely inflated one, and will absolutely NOT be bringing Linux to desktops across the nation.  

 

I know Ubuntu fans will hate it, but security and repositories will do no good if I can’t   even get online.

 

Linux remains the domain of the propeller heads and geeks for the time being as it is too much trouble for an average home user newbie using dial-up.  Without access to the internet, there is no support, no extra applications, no connection and no taking advantage of the extra security.  It is such a fundamental thing and such a fatal flaw.

 

I’m not finished, yet.  When I go back to work, I’ll try these on my new work computer to see how they do there and perhaps my experience will be different.   We’ll see if anyone has trouble detecting my network, plus I can better try the “On the Go” feature of my latest edition of Mepis.

 

I’m also going to dig deeper into these distros and see if I am missing some important feature, especially with the Gnome desktops.  Feedback would be helpful, here.  Of course, desktop preference probably doesn’t mean much to those who come from UNIX and are using command lines any way.  Again, unless the Linux community can successfully minimize the UNIX experience (without abandoning the benefits) they can forget about getting more users, more applications, more drivers, more Desktop Linux machines and making more of an impact on the personal PC business.

And if Ubuntu is half the cow it seemed like for me, people need to stop peddling the bloody thing and promote something that might work better.  It would be interesting to see if Kubuntu would be a better choice for me, but I’m not too willing to invest much more money and time in any more distros.  I’m okay with some tinkering, but have a ridiculously short attention span for stuff that does not seem to work.  When I get bored enough, I’ll give it another go.

 dick