Saturday, May 17, 2008

The awlful truth about Linux

The awful truth about Linux is that there is more than one way to do things. So, when you change from one distribution, say Xubuntu, to another, Mepis, you gain some things and lose others. This is like the days of my youth, combing through a Boy Scout catalog and seeing a Swiss army knife. My dad buys me this other knife. It was twice as big and had three times as many tools. It did the job and then some, but was hard on the pockets. Xubuntu is slim in function, though you can nudge it to do anything. Mepis on the other hand has all the stuff and just works. Mepis is very impressive but I can see that certain applications are not in the repositories and might have to be compiled to run on my system. This is unfortunate for a point and click guy like me. I might have to learn something new. There is a lot to be said about simplicity. I bought a Pontiac car a while back. It had a lot of dashboard dials and buttons for extra stuff. Sort of made you feel you were in an airplane cockpit. They were not really needed to drive the car, but boy was it cool looking. I am working my way around KDE desktop. It looks spiffy but it is hard to settle on what I like, I keep tweaking this and that. I have a status panel on the top and a application icon panel in the bottom, that disappears. Not radical but very workable. I noticed that Mepis doesn't have quite the web presents that Ubuntu has and perhaps a smaller community too. But the Mepis forums are not filled with minor new user questions either. This is because Mepis just works for most people. Hey, it worked for me. Another truth is that the applications that matter are available for most distributions leaving the awkward installs for those projects that aren't so popular. Yeah, yeah, I could have moved to Ubuntu or Kubuntu but due to the compromises needed to make a distro popular, I don't think I would have gained as much. So, if you have a lean machine, give Xubuntu a try but don't expect to control the world without some work. Mepis is full-bodied and robust. The KDE menus are a bit much to remember where things are kept. The icon panels help out a lot. And so far I didn't have to install flash on the 64-bit Firefox, it just worked. And the video downloader extension installed and works too. Mepis is a little less work than Kubuntu and I like that.
Now, Elisa Media Center is not a convenient install on Mepis and I am looking into have it or something like it on my computer. But as I go around tweaking and adjusting my system, I will eventually will find a solution. Stay tuned, you'll hear it from me.

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