I decided that it was time for me to test SimplyMepis 8.5, so that I could have a closer impression of this efficient Linux distribution to write a non-technical review. As I promised, I have been running SimplyMepis consistently for four days now and these are my first findings:
DAY 1: Access to networks and browser customization
Mepis magic was a perfect match for Mandriva magic concerning picking up networks, both wired and wireless. I had to do absolutely nothing: just click to see the available networks and then click again to pick one Actually, I am typing this post from Mepis, using a wireless connection down here in campus four days after the experiment started. I downloaded my favorite add-ons for Firefox and customized it.
DAY 2: Desktop configuration and package installation
I had anticipated that, being a Mandriva user, the lack of an orchestrator of all the processes in Mepis could bother me a little. After all, Mandriva Control Center has become an innovation that some other Linux distributions aspire to emulate. However, my previous training with Linux Mint enabled me to use Synaptic without a great effort. Visually, there was a difference between downloading packages with Synaptic and doing it with MCC, but it was nothing to be traumatized about. I tried to customize the KDE desktop a little. I noticed some unresponsiveness of the desktop cube, but that was nothing I ignored, so I counted it as a minor bother. What actually became a major headache was the placement of four different wallpapers on each side of the cube. Everytime I booted the computer, the wallpaper images would play hide and seek with me. Sometimes, the images I selected went to a different cube side; some other times, they would be replaced at random and I would get a solid light blue wallpaper instead. I was also familiar with that behavior because Mandriva 2010 (Adelie) was shipped with the same KDE environment and, consequently, would show the same Kproblem...after several trials, I think that the four wallpapers have finally stabilized.
Package installation went fine. I installed Cheese! for the cam (it can take snapshots, but I do not get cam image) and then tried to install aMSN. That was a real problem because it would not finish installing a dependency, so used Kopete.
DAY 3: More installation and configuration
I tried installing aMSN again and it turns out that a Debian server might have been down because the installation went smoothly. Aside from that, there is not much to say because the computer is working perfectly.
DAY 4: General use
I have used SimplyMepis for my everyday work (typing letters, checking email, sending documents, opening video/audio files) and it has met all my needs magnificiently. I hardly find any problem other than my Mandriva customary behavior. Well, and maybe the visual impact was also a minor concern when I started. However, I am used to seeing the Mepis dark blue by now.
To sum up, my experience as a Mandriva user handling Mepis is satisfactory up to this point. SimplyMepis is not simply a disappointment. I think that it rivals Mandriva in its KDE handling...maybe a simplified experience than the one I am used to with Mandriva, but Mepis had given me little to complain about.
What's next? The following days I will try a multimedia class. This will let me assess the video display and the sound quality.