Tinkering With Distros.
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.