The last time I looked at SimplyMEPIS was the 8.0 release. In this review I’ll be taking a look at the latest version, SimplyMEPIS Linux 8.5. SimplyMEPIS is based on Debian, and it uses KDE as its desktop environment.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new stuff you’ll find in this release:
The SimplyMEPIS Welcome Center
The Welcome Center
SimplyMEPIS now comes with the MEPIS Welcome Center. The welcome center provides helpful links to support resources, language packs, popular applications and additional community software. The welcome center is a nice addition to SimplyMEPIS though it’s not quite as slick as the one that comes with Linux Mint.
I love the fact that the SimplyMEPIS developers did not default to the heinously annoying sliding KDE 4 menus. It is so much easier using the KDE 3 style menus. This was a smart move on the developer’s part and I wish more KDE-based distros would emulate it. The sliding menus in KDE 4 are atrocious and counter-intuitive.
The NDisWrapper Manager
If you need to use legacy drivers for wireless access, you’ll love this new tool.
Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run SimplyMEPIS 8.5:
an i686-compatible processor at 300 MHz
256 MB RAM
3 GB free hard drive space
an X.org supported video processor
AMD Athlon64, Athlon64-FX, Athlon64-X2, Opteron, Sempron64, Turion64, or Intel Core 2 Duo desktop, Core 2 Duo mobile, Pentium4 Prescott with EM64T, PentiumD with EM64T
256 MB RAM
4 GB free hard drive space
an X.org supported video processor
an i686-compatible processor at 700 MHz
512 MB RAM or more
8 GB free hard drive space
a CD/DVD reader
Installing SimplyMEPIS is very easy and quick. It’s certainly no harder or longer than installing Ubuntu. You can try SimplyMEPIS via the Live CD desktop before deciding to do an install. SimplyMEPIS can be installed from the Live CD desktop too.
The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.
Booting & Login
The bootsplash screen shows the SimplyMEPIS branding, along with boot options and a preview of the desktop wallpaper.
The login screen also displays the wallpaper, and it allows you to change your session type or opt to logout or shut down your system.
The desktop contains icons for Documents, Trash, the MEPIS Manual (see the help section for a screenshot of the manual), and the MEPIS site. I generally dislike icons on the desktop but, in this case, I don’t mind them. The MEPIS Manual is certainly something worth having available to new users, as is the link to the MEPIS site.
One of the best things about SimplyMEPIS is its assistant menus. These menus let you configure users, x-windows, networking, system settings, etc. Here’s a list of them, along with screenshots of each to show you what they look like.
MEPIS Network Assistant
MEPIS User Assistant
MEPIS X-Windows Assistant
MEPIS System Assistant
These assistants offer real value to SimplyMEPIS users and help set this distro apart from others. You can access these by clicking on the Application Launcher Menu button on the panel, then by choosing Settings.
The SimplyMEPIS desktop won’t wow you with glitzy wallpaper. In fact, it’s rather drab and dreary looking. But perhaps that’s appropriate for a distro that’s more a workhorse than a showhorse. Still, I’d like to see something a little more upbeat than the current wallpaper.
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.
K3b Disk Burning
Kdenlive Video Editor
The Synaptic Package Manager icon is available on the panel. You can also find on the System menu.
Synaptic is relatively easy to use but it’s rather ugly and primitive looking compared to the Ubuntu Software Center. It would be nice to see SimplyMEPIS have a spiffier software management tool some day. Still, Synaptic is functional and it will get the job done for most users (albeit in an unattractive way).
If you click the Sections button in Synaptic you can browse applications by category.
To add or remove repositories, click the Settings menu in Synaptic and then choose Repositories.
Adding & Removing Software
Just find the application you want to install or remove in Synaptic, then right-click it to mark it for installation or removal.
YouTube & Flash
YouTube videos looked and sounded great. There was no need for me to install flash.
For my test video, I picked one by Ronnie James Dio. Dio passed away recently from stomach cancer. His death was a sad passing for an amazing singer. Check out his videos on YouTube if you get a chance. There’s a fair amount of stuff available there.
You’ll need to install the appropriate codec to run DVDs in SimplyMEPIS. For legal reasons it is not included with this distro.
Problems & Headaches
My experience with SimplyMEPIS was very good, I didn’t run into any problems of note to talk about here.
One thing I would like to see though, as I’ve noted in other reviews recently, is more could integration into SimplyMEPIS. Peppermint OS has spoiled me and made me want to have various web services included by default in each distro’s application menus. It would be very nice if SimplyMEPIS incorporated some cloud services into a future release in the same way.
Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.
You might also want to check out the MEPISLovers forum, the online manual, and the wiki.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
SimplyMEPIS 8.5 is a nice alternative for KDE users. It’s obviously not going to appeal to the GNOME crowd, and that’s fine. The SimplyMEPIS assistants provide some real configuration value and help set this distro apart from some of the others.
I feel comfortable recommending SimplyMEPIS to pretty much any Linux user. While it certainly won’t win any award for the “slickest” or “coolest” distro, it still has a lot to offer. SimplyMEPIS is definitely a workhorse, not a showhorse. And to me, that’s a good thing.
Check it out.
|Pros:||Good selection of applications. MEPIS assistants add real value for users.|
|Cons:||Drab desktop wallpaper. Lacks the cloud integration of Peppermint OS One.|
|Suitable For:||Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.|
|Summary:||SimplyMEPIS offers a viable, KDE-based alternative to some of the better known desktop distros. It’s worth considering if you want a workhorse desktop distro rather than a showhorse.|