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Distro Test

I am hoping to test at least one distro a week and post the results here in this topic.

I will be testing them on a variety of platforms and making brief reports. Please join me and try to chart the ever expanding distro space. The trouble with sites like distro watch is they include the descriptions of authors which tend to be very complementary of their distro.

I will be looking for easily installable distros with packages suitable for office work. They should be small and have a fast desktop that can run with minimal RAM. I would prefer Debian, source or Slackware-based distros, but reckon Debian distros will fit the bill best. Fast installation is also a priority.

8 Responses to Distro Test

  1. rich December 10, 2003 at 10:49 am #

    First test: GNOPPIX 0.6 beta3.

    Fledgling distro based on KNOPPIX but sticking more to debian stable, and based on the gnome desktop.

    Pluses: Superb choice of software and Knoppix based hadware detection (i turn based on Red Hat’s hardware detection). Good fast gnome 2.4 desktop (back port for deb woody), well configured and with Nautilus running. Very friendly install and config (but see below).

    Minus: Trouble booting on some machines. Trouble detecting mouse on some machines. Trouble with SCSI detection. Trouble with boot after installation. No boot floppy available in this beta.

    Conclusion: This distro could be brilliant soon, but for the time being works on too few machines to be really useful. Keep an eye out for this one in the future.

  2. sean December 10, 2003 at 3:30 pm #

    We’ve got the ECC provisionally booked for a Linux install fest on Feb 28th or march 6th, we could have a Distro competition, 3 machines, 3 distros, up and running and useable by a judging panel of newbies race, make sure all the hardware is identical etc.

  3. zedkatuf_ December 11, 2003 at 12:58 pm #

    Knoppix 3.32 (14 November snapshot)

    Very good hardware detection for both laptop & desktop
    Very minor tweaking needed to playback DVD’s 🙂
    A nice way to get Debian up & running
    Came bundled with OpenOffice 1.1

    Uses custom (ie patched) kernel (2.4.22-xfs)
    ..but I suspect that’s part of the price to pay for ease of hardware detection.

    I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, having formerly been a Slackware8.1/9.0 user.

  4. rich December 18, 2003 at 11:43 am #

    More on Knoppix 3.3

    I just did an install of this too. One new feature worth mentioning is the new installer. Rather than putting on a basic debian with a few extra packages, the new KNOPPIX mode will leave the hardware detection intact, so it’s more like having the CD boot. You can still install in the old mode if you like.

    I am going to give the new machine to a friends, and it is great as he will be able to buy hardware, and so long as it is supported, it’ll work. Ofcourse, it might also cause the machine not to boot if the HW detection works.

    This is deffinatley the best of the boot CD debian distro I have so far tested.

    also negatives:

    2.5 GB install
    KDE = slow on small machines

  5. rich December 18, 2003 at 11:51 am #

    Distro: Morphix Gnome

    This was formerly ‘Morphix Heavy GUI’, to distiguish it from . Yeah, good. Lighter an faster than KDE, still a few h/w detection issues, but that should go when new tables are updated from knoppix.

    This is deffinatley the best gnome based boot CD I’ve tried, but KNOPPIX still makes everything easier. The morphix install is GTK, so maybe better for those who prefer a desktop GUI, rather than a CLI one.

    This is the distro GNOPPIX should have been, instead of using a less useful boot method, this stick with the KNOPPIX method. Still, not really there.

    positive: easy install, easy to boot. Fast desktop, all mod-cons, ready to go.

    negative: no openoffice 1.1, but could easily be provided as a set of .debs, or added with ISOMORPH
    needs 128MB ram to install

  6. sean December 24, 2003 at 12:03 am #

    You learn something everyday 🙂

    I didn’t know Lindows was a Debian based system

    Linux Desktop Distro Shootout Part IV: LindowsOS 4.5

    So far this series has checked out Lindows 4.0, Libranet 2.8.1 and MEPIS 2003.10. Meanwhile both and Xandros have been busy little beavers and spat out new versions of their software, each on the same day. Since I am trying to find the best bang for my buck in a Debian based commercial distro, and since I am already a registered user of LindowsOS, I felt compelled to download a free copy of Lindows 4.5 to have a second look at this thing.

  7. rich January 7, 2004 at 4:01 pm #

    Funny, Mepis often skips a mention when people talk about bootable distro’s, but apparently is the parent of the more famous Knoppix AFAIK.

    It is a commmercial distro, which in this case means that donwloads and updates are completely free. You can pay for support if you like.

    This is the best KDE based distro tested so far for office and wireless. It also has an ICEWM mode, though not as plush as the KDE one obviously.

    On the wireless side, it has autodetection and a pleasent configuration gui.

    Next time I install on a computer for me, MEPIS will be on it.

    *the most up-to-date of the distros so far tested, KDE 3.1.4, OOo 1.1.
    *very easy install, and to repair. (using GUI)
    *keyring feature (store all settings as a ‘guest’ account on a USB keyring)

    128mb RAM needed for proper boot and install
    (I think we are just going to have to live with this somehow if we use one of these distro’s to replace SuSe.)

  8. adrian January 21, 2004 at 1:17 pm #


    Just a quick one –

    Just installed Fedora Core1 on a PIII 500 128M RAM
    laptop without any problem.

    A big surprise while running GNOME desktop the "printer manager" GUI detects all shared printers on the network.
    Right clicking on one of the printers will select it as the DEFAULT

    Fedora is RPM based and can use uptodate, red-carpet, yum or apt-get for updates.

    It comes with the latest desktops but has also advanced technical features like Samba server precompiled with LDAP support …

    A very good impression so far.