“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Tinkering With Distros.

with 7 comments

Foolish me, a week or so ago I thought I would have a quick play with some Linux distros and see if any could beat Antix for functionality, speed and ease of use.

After installing four of them, I came back to Antix, more prepared to over look its few failings.

So to remind myself for the future, here’s my incomplete, partial and rather limited summary of what I found.

First up Salix, which is at version 13 so you’d expect a polished product and it is, if limited. Salix seems to be Slackware plus XFce 4.6.1 and that’s it. No customized Salix admin apps, so if you like all that XFce provides all well and good, but if not you’ll probably play around on the command line to sort things out.

Pro: Slackware and latest XFce. Better package management.

Cons: Textual install limited to LILO. New Xorg doesn’t always make sense of screen setup. Need to manually fix static IP setup. Overall an unscientific and subjective 5/10. No LiveCD installer.

Zenwalk 6.2, has a lot of history, improving incrementally. I used version 4 onwards on some slow machines. Again Slackware and XFce, not bad but package management is lacking. Offers EXT4 file system but issues when you are installing with other older Linuxes.

Pro/Cons similar to Salix, X setup slightly better,but more importantly the lack of grub and the idea that it might have to co-exist with other distros on the same machine doesn’t seem to have occurred to the developer, is a bit annoying.

Not bad but no compelling reason to keep. 6/10

Xubuntu 9.10 beta 1. I had hoped that this version would revise my poor opinion of recent Ubuntu releases, but sadly it didn’t. Installation didn’t seem to offer a “re-use this partition” option, so had to blank out the chosen one manually. Wanted to use new EXT4 file system, no obvious option to revert to EXT3. Resorted to manually setting up static IP, seems a bit sluggish, fair but not compelling. This newer Xorg setup is a regressive step. On the plus side, faster boot, co-exists well and the latest XFce is nice. 7/10.

Finally to Mint 7, the older version based on Ubuntu 9.04, and there the similarity ends. Installation was fast, still best to zap the desired partition first. Shame they don’t offer a “re-use existing partition” option as MEPIS does. Downsides: Openoffice, not Abiword, Xorg setup seems flaky and not too smart with dual screens. Plus side, networking was easy to setup and plenty of thought has been given to Mint’s customizing tools. Not bad at all. Overall a bit bloated with Ubuntu stuff but offset by good design and consideration for the user. 8/10.

I’d recommend that Ubuntu get Mint to do the Xubuntu version next time, their’s is a nicer way and less rushed.

Written by modernityblog

18/10/2009 at 02:53

7 Responses

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  1. thanks for this, mod. I’m about to ditch linpus and want something for a linux learner rather than a sophisticated user, so i might go with a release with an active and mutually supportive usergroup and good help files…


    18/10/2009 at 18:47

  2. For a Linux learner, then I recommend Ubuntu.

    If you are on a netbook best look at the remix and try to go *one* release back, which allows for plenty of info about bugs and “features”, then after you are used to Debian type install, play around on a spare machine with other ones, and finally once you are happy give MEPIS go (it is debian based), then if you find these distro a bit top heavy, try antix.

    Best try a distro out on a spare machine, first, just so you are happy with the install.

    I’ll do a few more posts on Linux if you like, I like Mint, but have a bias against bloated distros.

    PS: supportive usergroups are a bit rare 🙂

    PSS: Whatever you try best create a USB stick and boot that way, as a starter, alternatively you’ll need an external CD/DVD drive as the initial boot medium.


    18/10/2009 at 19:45

  3. I was using Antix for a while and it’s an exceptionally good distro. And anticapitalista who cooks up antix is a bit of a leftie to boot!

    For my part zenwalk just pips antix at the post for my laptop. On Debian and rpm based systems my laptop overheats and shuts down when doing anything with package menagement or audio work. Haven’t found out why. But with Zenwalk it’s not an issue.

    Zenwalk has netpkg to deal with software installation, just as good as any in my opinion, but being slackware based you can always just compile and play hunt the dependency to get things working!

    Chris H

    19/10/2009 at 13:22

  4. If it works for you then it works 🙂


    19/10/2009 at 14:26

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