Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Anders Wallgren, Tim Hinds, Robert Reeves, Elizabeth White, Flint Brenton

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:

www.MEPISLovers.com
faq.mepis.net
eyecandy.MEPISlovers.com

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
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...