Linux Containers Authors: Andreas Grabner, Elizabeth White, John Mertic, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez

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
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, discussed how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from millio...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...