Linux Containers Authors: Flint Brenton, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Why the ProMEPIS Buzz? New Linux Distro Is Increasingly Popular

Many Linux distributions have created a lot of buzz, exciting Linux fans that Microsoft Windows now had a rival

MEPIS has released two versions of Linux. SimplyMEPIS is designed for non-technical end users. ProMEPIS is designed for more technical users, administrators, IT professionals and web developers. SimplyMEPIS has become the sixth most popular desktop Linux distribution on www.distrowatch.org and recently MEPIS was number three in the monthly rankings. This is an amazing feat when you consider that MEPIS was founded in November 2002 and is mostly the work of one person, who like Madonna, only identifies himself by his first name, Warren.

Many Linux distributions have created a lot of buzz, exciting Linux fans that Microsoft Windows now had a rival. Lycoris created a stir because of its artistic Windows-like look-and-feel. Lindows, now Linspire, got a lot of press for telling future customers and potential investors that it was developing a Linux that would run Microsoft Windows applications. Xandros was actually able to run some Windows apps by bundling in CodeWeavers' CrossOver Office. Sun Microsystems claimed its Java Desktop System (JDS) would challenge Microsoft Windows for the corporate user.

While those Linux distributions were getting ink, a grassroots hum started around a newcomer, MEPIS Linux, which began with three major differences from those other distributions.

The first difference is that MEPIS is free. Anyone can download and distribute SimplyMEPIS at no charge. Not only is the software free, upgrades are free. MEPIS Linux does offer a subscription service and customization for resellers, as well as commercial support for MEPIS.

The second difference is that MEPIS is distributed as a live CD. This gives people a chance to test the distribution without having to install it on their hard drive. Users can make sure that MEPIS will work with their hardware before committing. For the newbie fleeing the Microsoft world, this is essential.

The third is that MEPIS has attracted a community around it to provide support and advice to MEPIS users. There are multiple web sites set up by the MEPIS community such as:


According to Warren, SimplyMEPIS emphasizes ease of use, removes the fluff, and provides only the basic applications.

ProMEPIS is SimplyMEPIS with additional tools and applications for the enthusiast or professional. ProMEPIS is also a bit "edgy" in offering the latest application versions. SimplyMEPIS lags a few months behind in offering more mature versions of the core applications.

International users should note that the space for the extra apps on the ProMEPIS CD was gained by removing part of the built-in support for French, German, Spanish, Italian and Swedish. That support and the support for many other languages will be on a supplementary ProMEPIS CD.

I installed ProMEPIS on a NorhTec MultiClient with a 1GHz Via MiniITX board. Previously, I had been running SimplyMEPIS. I first booted the CD to see if ProMEPIS supported my hardware. I had been running the 2.4.26 kernel with SimplyMEPIS, which is not an option with ProMEPIS. ProMEPIS currently only provides kernel 2.6.7. Warren says that MEPIS will offer 2.6.10 or perhaps 2.6.11 later as an upgrade, but the project encountered some hardware-compatibility problems with 2.6.8 and 2.6.9.

Booting up the live CD, I tested to make sure that all my hardware worked. One note of caution: before you install, you will want to boot or restart X in the graphics resolution that you want as your default. The install will use the same resolution that you are running from your live CD. A separate Install X Config function can be used so you can experiment with X configurations and then update or repair a hard drive X configuration from the CD at any time.

ProMEPIS running on a 1GHz processor was fast and responsive with no hint of sluggishness whatsoever. To test how good ProMEPIS performance is on older computers, I installed it on a 300MHz Pentium II laptop. ProMEPIS recognized all the hardware and ran amazingly well. It's possible to watch DVDs on this ancient laptop without any hardware DVD acceleration.

It only took 20 minutes and I had a fully functional copy of ProMEPIS running on my system. All of my hardware was recognized. The overall look of ProMEPIS is slicker than SimplyMEPIS. MEPIS distributions are looking a lot more like commercial distributions with each new release.

The ProMEPIS Tool integration is a bit tighter than SimplyMEPIS. The three icons that represented Utilities, System and Installation have been integrated into a single tool under the icon labeled OS Control Center. I appreciate this change. I would make one suggestion. I think there should be a shortcut to the KDE Control Center in case the user is looking for a function not found in the OS Control Center.

ProMEPIS uses KDE 3.3.2 and offers the Gnome 2.8 core for those who prefer it. KDE 3.3 is a very significant improvement over KDE 3.2, which is the de facto window manager for SimplyMEPIS 2004. I particularly like the significant improvements made in Kmail, including integrated spam and virus filtering. Kmail has become my default e-mail program.

ProMEPIS has tools that the casual user doesn't need, but some non-technical users might prefer ProMEPIS until SimplyMEPIS upgrades to KDE 3.3.2. I think most users will appreciate the improvement in the KDE 3.3.2 tools, Firefox over Mozilla, and the cosmetics.

Because both SimplyMEPIS and ProMEPIS are contained on a single CD-ROM, Warren must be careful about what applications he includes in a given distribution. Many of his application picks are made by polling users or by carefully testing applications to see which work best. For example, ProMEPIS originally installed Nvu as its default web editor but since it took up 30MB on the compressed CD, it was relegated to a second supplementary CD that will ship with ProMEPIS.

ProMEPIS, like Simply MEPIS, includes Skype for peer-to-peer Voice-Over-IP (VOIP). It also includes Kphone, which is a SIP phone client compatible with several free and commercial VOIP networks. For instance, I had no trouble setting up Kphone to work with Free World Dialup (FWD).

ProMEPIS includes various terminal emulation programs, development tools, languages and utilities that the casual user isn't likely to need. Although these applications are there, non-technical users can just ignore them.

ProMEPIS installs WINE, the software that lets some Microsoft Windows applications run on Linux. It's still alpha-grade and there's a significant learning curve so, although that curve's been eased by MEPIS integration, non-technical users who rely on a Windows program will be better served by buying CodeWeavers' WINE-based CrossOver Office.

When asked why WINE was included in ProMEPIS, Warren emplained that it may be a poor solution for running newer Microsoft apps, but it's good at running many legacy custom programs and gives knowledgeable users the ability to download and run many of the .exe packages distributed by hardware vendors for BIOS updates, CD-ROM firmware and such.

ProMEPIS has more sophisticated wireless capabilities than SimplyMEPIS. ProMEPIS includes integrated support for NdisWrapper. Combined with native Linux wireless drivers, this lets MEPIS support most wireless cards and chips out-of-the-box. NdisWrapper is a utility that supports many wireless devices on Linux through Windows drivers. Some Linux advocates are critical of NdisWrapper because they believe it discourages wireless card vendors from supporting Linux directly. I think that if the card vendors really wanted to support Linux, they would label their box with the chipset they are using.

ProMEPIS doesn't skimp on productivity tools. There are plenty of utilities and applications for graphics, multimedia, editing and sophisticated word processing.

When I was writing this review, ProMEPIS was still in beta, which means it can only improve. ProMEPIS is designed to give technical users the tools they need without alienating the non-technical user. Both technical and non-technical users will find all the tools they need to get most tasks done. Like SimplyMEPIS, ProMEPIS is easy to install, easy to use and easy to upgrade. And like SimplyMEPIS it is available for free but users are encouraged to buy CDs and download subscriptions from MEPIS.

MEPIS also has a commercial web site, www.mepis.com, which offers customization and commercial services. A recent success story for MEPIS was the release of a co-branded commercial version of SimplyMEPIS called SphinxOS for the German-speaking market. Warren assures me that while MEPIS is developing reseller sales channels for MEPIS Linux, the basic distro will always be available as a free download.

And what does the future hold for MEPIS? Warren says don't be surprised if you can buy a new PC with MEPIS pre-installed soon. Or if you're on a tight budget, how about an off-lease Optiplex?

ProMEPIS, like SimplyMEPIS, ranks at the top of free Linux distributions. I am running MEPIS on three of my personal computers. While I have purchased copies of most of the popular desktop distributions, I prefer to use MEPIS Linux. ProMEPIS is my current installation of choice. My wife is using Simply-MEPIS. Note: Mepis is following an aggressive upgrade schedule so the differences mentioned between Simply Mepis and Professional Mepis are narrowing.

More Stories By Michael C. Barnes

Michael C. Barnes is founder and president of NorhTec, a company that builds small, fanless, energy efficient computers for standalone embedded and mobile applications. He has twenty five years of experience with computers and related technologies. Mr. Barnes frequently writes about computers, technology and audio. During his career, he invented the inverted horn loudspeaker and coined the term Microserver for a new class of small servers. Mr. Barnes' was an early adopter of Linux. His first distribution was Slackware. At the time, Mr. Barnes was with Sun Microsystems and used Linux as a learning tool for Unix as he could not justify buying a Sun Microsystems server for his home.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Mark 'mos' Hill 08/05/05 11:44:25 PM EDT

A correction to several of the "facts" presented in the article

Warren does publish his name, it's Warren Wolford

ProMEPIS no longer exists in the form you speak of, all its features have been merged into 3.3 and greater releases of SimplyMEPIS. ProMEPIS should soon be released as 3 extra cds for mepis to install extra software.

It appears you are comparing ProMEPIS to the 2004 series of releases of SimplyMEPIS which are quite outdated, I suggest you try out the current version (3.3.1-1) and see how it strikes your fancy.

Users prefering a more server oriented version of MEPIS should try out the SOHO server version of MEPIS currently in beta and I strongly recommend you check out TaFusion versions of MEPIS offered at http://www.tafusion.com/

LinuxWorld News Desk 08/05/05 01:03:13 PM EDT

Why the ProMEPIS Buzz? New Linux Distro Is Increasingly Popular. MEPIS has released two versions of Linux. SimplyMEPIS is designed for non-technical end users. ProMEPIS is designed for more technical users, administrators, IT professionals and web developers. SimplyMEPIS has become the sixth most popular desktop Linux distribution on www.distrowatch.org and recently MEPIS was number three in the monthly rankings.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.