I really am on a search for a Linux desktop solution that just works. I have lowered and lowered my expectations along the way. Or at least I have changed them to fit into something that I might expect from a secondary PC.
So I have this P3 866 MHz PC with 512 M of RAM. I have Mepis 6.0 installed but also run Puppy 2.15CE on top of it. So let’s talk about what I’ve learned about this thing over the summer.
First off, Puppy seems to be the distro that gets me on the internet the fastest. I’ve fiddled and fiddled with the Mepis KPPP program and it still has no idea where my serial modem is. Puppy detected it with ease and within a few minutes I was off and surfing.
Puppy has issues with my sound card, having no idea where it is even after running the sound wizard. Mepis has no issues with sound, and will play small videos I’ve downloaded. But of course, since I can’t get on the internet with Mepis, these would be downloaded with Puppy or Windows XP.
Neither of these two distros knows what to do with my Lexmark X75 printer. Both Mepis and Puppy had previously ran an HP 640c printer. But no go with the Lexmark. This model is even listed in the Mepis drivers, but there was still no acknowledging the thing was there. The printer never installed. A big part of having a second machine was making that scanner/printer work.
Actually installing a program has been problematic for both programs. Mepis does decent with items in the repository, but that doesn’t help at all if I’m not online. Puppy is online but they have switched to some sort of extension-like format which is difficult to navigate around, much less actually install something that works.
Abiword, on Puppy, is a lovely program but I have not been able to install a US English dictionary in order to do spell check. In fact, there are no dictionaries of any kind installed with it. Such a simple thing and yet with the above problem of installing and running programs it has been a persistent annoyance.
By contrast, the Windows version of Abiword comes with a dictionary built in. And this has been the ongoing lesson. If I have learned nothing else, it has been that Windows programs install and run better than Linux versions. The one exception might be Open Office, which opens slightly faster in Linux than Windows. At least OOo has a working dictionary in both versions.
Linux, as an operating system or kernel or whatever, has issues. It has issues with programs that were supposed to be more native to open source. Windows versions continue to be superior in ease of installation and getting them to run.