Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Craig Lowell, Liz McMillan, David Paquette

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
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom 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. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...