Archive for the ‘Other Linux Distros’ Category


Why Picking a Linux Distro is Like Picking a Girlfriend

January 10, 2009

Wow. Thanks to all for stopping in!

In case it wasn’t obvious, my last post was something done on a whim and on the fly. I set up some conditions and then performed some tests. I don’t thnk these were particularly rigorous tests. Like most nOObs, I’m more concerned about things that just work. If something makes a good initial impression, I’m more willing to tweak and work with it later.

Choosing a Linux distro is a lot like choosing a girlfriend. If she appears too needy or too high maintenance, I am probably not going for a second date. Of course, a pretty face doesn’t hurt, but as my previous review showed, there is a lot more to her than her looks. But looks and the amount of effort required are all subjective things. Most of us nerds enjoy fiddling with things and many will enjoy the challenge that the spirited and untamed distros bring. Some of us like a distro with a nicer personality. Some like a distro that is younger and others prefer ones that are more mature. Some are purists and prefer a distro that is totally pure and unsoiled by proprietary software. And some of us don’t particularly care and will take the one that is the easiest no matter what corporate entities she has gone to bed with. Whether you are a purists or a pragmatist, there is probably a Linux girlfriend distro for you. Or, you could stay with same whore everyone else purchases or the exclusive high classed beauty whose pimp only allows her to serve clients who can afford to use her in the more expensive accommodations.

Everyone has different criteria, and I didn’t think my initial criteria were that rigorous. Afterall, getting on the web, typing a document, watching some youtube and and having a bit of fun are minimum requirements that can be satisfied by many cell phones! My Dell laptop is hardly exotic so should not be beyond the reach of any modern distro.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of flavors of Linux so having some relatively quick way to screen them is important if you are on the hunt for a new one. The live CD provides a very efficient method for doing this. Not everyone has a bunch of extra machines sitting around waiting for a new OS to be installed/tried. Trying it out before having to commit is one of the first things that enabled me to overcome my own anxieties about trying a seemingly alien OS and if you want to see more people trying Linux, you can not underestimate the value of decreasing anxiety. And this is why it is so important that there is some robust functionality out of the box. Ubuntu and Mepis both brand themselves as being friendly for someone trying Linux for the first time. But if I fail to get sound or video working, my opinion of the OS will NOT be friendly. Yes, there are work-arounds and tweaks and fixes aplenty. But if I want work-arounds, why not stick with Vista which has better work-arounds for all of its ills?!? It’s only a live update or a service pack away!

I do appreciate the feedback and several people suggested Mint as a viable distro. It is on my short list of distros to try. What other distros would be worthy opponents for Mint 5? Are there any other tasks that a distro should be able to perform out of the box besides the ones I already tried in my last review?


Distros that did not make the cut

March 6, 2008

I’ve been downloading and previewing several distros.  A lot of them have done surprisingly well.  Others have done not so well.

I think Linux has really arrived at a place where the average computer user can handle it.  And a lot of people will like Linux.

Distros that have not made the cut:

1.       Open SuSe 11.0 – Went black after the splash screen and never returned

2.       Sabayon 3.4 – Same as #1

3.       Mandriva 2008 – Same as #1 and #2.  These were all disappointing but made those that made the cut look a lot better

4.       Damn Small Linux – This one did load but did not find my Ethernet  connection

Distros that made it:

1.       PCLinuxOS 2007 – It’s taken everything I’ve thrown at it in Live CD mode.  It’s real close to getting installed.  I’ll put Minime 2008 behind this as it does work off a flash drive but has a few niggling issues like not using the 8G of space I’ve given to it to expand out like I’d like.

2.       Mepis 7.0 – This has been my distro of choice for a long time, but one slip up and it will be replaced by #1.  It really does work well, but PCLOS seems to work better with more features.  It’s a tough choice.

3.       Ubuntu 7.10 – Killer graphics make this one very appealing, and it is a very mature distro very much ready for the desktop.  For business users, it could be a Vista killer.  Unlike its predecessor, this one is distinctive and out front in many ways.  I can respect people who choose this one over my choices, which was not the case a year ago.

4.       Puppy Linux 3.01 – This has been another one of my pet favorites the past year, but is falling from favor now that I no longer rely on a modem.  It can not connect with my Ethernet and is unreliable as far as wireless.  I found the look and feel of 2.15 to be better than 3.01 but that may be just me.  I’m ready to look at some other lighter distros for older machines.

5.       Linux Mint 4.0 – I need to give this one some more play time.  It did work well for me, but I chose Mepis mostly because of the familiar interface.  Now that I’ve been playing around with other distros, I can make a fairer comparison here.


Will Preinstalling Linux Make it more Popular?

September 13, 2006

I was reading an article where the author said the Linux would never be widely adopted on the desktop because it was primarily designed for and by geeks. The author then goes on to explain how geeks are different from ordinary Joes.


In the comments, one person made an astute observation: all software is essentially written by geeks! Those folks in Redmond are geeks! They just happen to be big corporate geeks. But they have just as many problems dealing with the using public as Linux-using geeks.


This is similar to Scoble claiming that the reason Linux hasn’t taken off is because of the poor quality fonts. Okay, so he’s an aesthetic geek. But it just goes to show that everyone is trying to come up with a reason why Linux isn’t making it.


The major consensus seems to be that if computer makers were to preinstall Linux, then the computer buying public would have a chance to see and get used to Linux. And all they have to do is use it and they will see how much better it is and then they will like it and tell all their friends and they will tell their friends who will tell their friends and so on and so on and so on…


I think I saw the tip of the iceburg in making Linux move with the Ubuntu hype, and I eluded to how it became successful. Ubuntu is following an AOL model as well as appealing to altruism with Nelson Mandela as a spokesperson. That is a very slick campaign. Making free disks available (in lots of 5, 10 or more) will have an effect. AOL managed to saturate the market and quickly build up an empire in short order long before it was preinstalled on so many machines. The first distro that decides to just send out a billion live CD’s is going to become THE linux distro that everyone is talking about. Put them in boxes of cereal, have them sitting in check-out stands at Wal-Mart, turn them into stocking stuffers, and make them so ubiquitous that every person in the country will be saying, “Oh, yeah. Linux. You must be talking about Ubuntu, right?” and people may get sick and tired of hearing about Linux.


Like AOL’s former legions, people will eventually seek out other distros and settle on other favorites.


Right now, a Linux desktop is not going to draw people to linux because they will simply avoid the unknown devil in favor of the one they know. Yes, Vista is going to be quite expensive and will render an entirely new generation of machines obsolete just like XP did to the P3’s. I may still buy a new machine and it will have Vista preinstalled. But when XP craps out, what will I do with my old machine?


When XP replaced the Win98 machines, Linux did not seem to have as much to offer. But look how many distros are blossoming up just in the past year? Linux is picking up steam. I think Vista is actually going to hasten and help Linux gain a greater foothold. People will still have it on their new machines but once everything is migrated over they will begin thinking; do they still want to be paying for yearly updates to their anti-malware packages on an old machine, while having to pay for the new one? Do they still want to continue babysitting an old machine?


Placing the OS on a few desktops at the store will not be the turning points to getting Linux on more desktops (or laptops) because people do not know Linux and are not comfortable with it. Make it extraordinarily common, and the common folks will check it out. If they like it, they will adopt it.


Which means giving up the command line.


I’m still trying to decide if I really want Linux to be as popular as Windows. I think that is a question folks might really want to ponder.





Thinking and Moving Forward

July 11, 2006

After getting some input from a couple of commenters (Rees and Limulus), and doing some thinking I decided to go ahead and order some more live CDs. I ordered the Ubuntu DVD, the SuSE live DVD and PCLinuxOS live CD.


Moving forward, my thinking is evolving more and more on the subject of making a Linux switch. While my Windows OS is clunking around, mauled and crippled, it still does things probably no other OS is going to do, including playing The Sims if I use the program manager to disable everything else. But there are still things I’m not ready to let go of and I think asking average Windows users to do that is not winning friends and influencing people. So, I’m going into this with no intention of making a switch. I’m looking for more features, enhancements and functionality. I’m anxious to see how these other distros fare against what I’ve already tried with MEPIS and against Windows.


Maybe someone can correct me, but my thinking is that the DVDs will contain more applications and I might get more mileage out of them in the way of usefulness. I’m talking about useful applications for me, a fairly average user. I’m well aware that Linux is chockfull of geek tools for people who are in to that sort of thing.


On a related note, reading this article about Xandros was interesting. I actually took a serious look at it in a recent Tiger Direct catalog. Most of the bundled software is stuff that almost all distros are including nowadays, with the exception of Codeweavers, Crossover Office, and the desktop emulator. The last one isn’t much of an addition, in my opinion but that’s just me. As for the other two, is it too much to hope that WINE might be bundled in with one of my DVDs?


I think you can guess what my biggest turn-off is towards the Xandros Premium Home Edition: $80. Considering I just ordered 3 different ones for less than $20, it doesn’t sound like a “best buy” by any stretch. I suppose they are hoping to cash in on the delayed release of Vista and offering a slightly lower price point. While going to Xandros won’t require a user to commit, as they can still run side-by-side with Windows via a partition, it will require activation and registration in order to get updates, patches and access to other goodies. And that does kind of violate the open source spirit a bit more than I’m comfortable with. So if my CPU crashes, I get to call both Microsoft and Xandros to get reactivated? No thanks. One call is too many.


It just came to me that a winner in the OS world needs to work well and offer functionality, but it also needs to NOT be something: Annoying. I think less annoyance will win many people over, or at least types like me who seem to find all sorts of things to be annoyed about. Linux, right now, has a bunch of annoyances. Enough of them to actually make Windows and worthy competitor. Part of that is my own learning of this stuff and part of it may be inherent to Linux and part if it might be just not finding the right distribution. I’m working on the first and the last and hopefully others are working on that middle one.