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TestDriving SimplyMepis 6.0-4 Beta 2

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SimplyMepis is in another development cycle and version 6.0-4 beta 2 was recently released. I wasn't overly impressed with the original 6.0 release and was a bit curious as to how things were progressing. So, I downloaded the 32bit beta 2 to give it a test run. This is what I saw.

The initial boot screen remains mostly unchanged. Your choices still encompass options for graphical compatibility and I booted using the default "Boot Normal." I was testing this release on my newly acquired HP laptop as my desktop was busy with a long compile. Mepis detected the graphics and display correctly and booted in a well proportioned resolution. The new silent boot splash is quite attractive and definitely much improved. It is still Mepis blue and has a discreet logo at the bottom center featuring the Mepis pyramids under the sun. The matching login screen is updated and looking very pretty as well. So is the KDE start splash. Things were looking good for Mepis so far.

        

At the desktop I found the correct resolution of 1200x800 used and the touchpad working properly. Sound was detected, configured, and working although the volume buttons on the laptop didn't. However, sound could be adjusted using kmix. I wasn't surprised that the wireless wasn't detected and I didn't have much luck with ndiswrapper and the windows drivers. However the wired ethernet was detected and with a cable plugged in, the internet connection was ready to go upon login.

The default desktop wallpaper is much more attractive than in Mepis past. The color seems more fashionable and the design much more modern. The panel stretched about 75% of the screen width in a normal mode. Obviously missing this release was the old cartoon aquarium. This was a cool little applet - six years ago. But it does seem quite antiquated now. It was a good decision to lose it. Kweather is still present as well as ksensors, which seemed to be functioning properly on my laptop. The trash can is now in the panel as well, but other icons still occupied the desktop. Those included a shortcut to Demo's documents folder, the mounted cd/dvd disk, a mepis help link, and a link to the Mepis harddrive Installer. I think if you're gonna put the trash can in the panel, you should lose the rest of the desktop icons as well. One good point is that all the commercial adverts/icons are not present. At the other end of the panel is this really nice start button icon featuring the updated Mepis logo. In fact, all the icons were updated to a much nicer theme. Taking all into consideration, the desktop of SimplyMepis is looking really nice.

The menu structure is still basically the same as found in 6.0, but it seems like the number of applications has decreased. There are still plenty available including of course all the KDE apps as well as some that don't come in the KDE releases. Firefox is the main browser and is the latest available version, 2.0.0.1. However, OpenOffice.org is still 2.0.2. They will need to update that, especially in light of the latest vulnerability reported. Gaim is still present as well as ebay bidwatcher. Kino, digicam, showfoto, and Xara Xtreme are included as well as, of course, The Gimp 2.2. Thunderbird is included if you prefer it to Kontact. Kmplayer, amarok, and RealPlayer are featured for multimedia enjoyment. There is KlamAV and Guarddog for those who are security conscious. All of these apps worked really well. I didn't test every single application in the menu, but I did try to hit all those that aren't part of the KDE packages. All I tested fired up and functioned.

        

One of the apps that worked really well was kmplayer. I was quite tickled to be able to watch some downloaded movie and sample files. Another was browser plugins. I was able to watch videos at google video as well as quick time trailers, although I had some trouble with the trailers at gamespot.com. Flash and java(script) worked wonderfully. It's nice to run into a distro that includes this kind of support.

        

And of course there are a few system tools and utilities. They are still using synaptic for package management, which did not function here on the livecd. Kcontrol has been replaced by System Settings, as we saw last release. Kcontrol is still present, even if not in the menu. System Settings calls up all the kcontrol modules, so I'm still wondering why. I couldn't seem to find anything like a system wide configuration utility for hardware management and the like, but perhaps my eyes are beginning to show their age. There is also Mepis' harddrive installer that always worked well in the past. We'll test it out again when this cycle gets closer to gold.

Under the hood we're looking at kernel-2.6.15 and gcc 4.0.3. Xorg is version 7.0 and KDE is 3.5.3. I was a bit disappointed at the older kernel and especially the older KDE. 3.5.6 is due to be tagged on January 15, perhaps they'll upgrade for the next beta. It's hard to detect Ubuntu's influence beyond some of the package names and that System Settings (as found in Kubuntu).

All in all, SimplyMepis is beginning to get back into their groove again I think. Overall, I liked what I saw in this beta. They are spending more time or thought in the appearance of their offering as well as trying to make it more utilitarian. Hardware detection and setup was very good. It was looking great and seemed to function really well at this point. I was disappointed in the age of some of the included applications and KDE, but again, despite this they functioned well. Mepis was once at the top of the game and hopefully they'll find themselves there again. The playing field is a bit more competitive these days, but SimplyMepis is still a very good choice for newcomers and experienced alike. They paved the way for many of today's distros in many areas and I'd like to see them reach a higher level of popularity again. Perhaps this release will help. Time will tell.

Quick Update.

Thanks.

I've been wondering about the status of the new Mepis release, so thanks for another good write-up.

I'll definitely check out the Mepis 6.0 release when it's out of beta and officially released.

But, of course, what I'm really anxious for is the imminent release of PCLinuxOS .94--with all the packages compiled with the updated gcc compiler and associated c/cpp libraries, they'll no longer be those few applications that I can't compile myself to run with PCLinuxOS.

I did not renew my Mandriva silver level club membership, and I'll be sending those dollars to tex, next month, to support PCLinuxOS.

re: Thanks

Thanks for saying. Yeah, I'm anxious to test pclos on that laptop as well. I got opensuse working on it real nice, but I really want to use pclos on it. I hope I can get the wireless working. A lot of distros' ndiswrapper is complaining about the windows driver being 64bit. So far none I have found on the internet will work. I could go with a 64 bit system, but I don't think Tex is gonna put out both a 32 and 64. And if I can't get pclos to work on it, I might as well stick with opensuse. I'm not gonna mess with gentoo on it. Tongue

I let my mandriva membership run out in 2004 I guess it was. I'm not overly impressed with their releases anymore. But I keep checking 'em out. They could always turn it around like it appears Mepis is doing.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Well, I like 'em both

gfranken wrote:
I've been wondering about the status of the new Mepis release, so thanks for another good write-up.

I'll definitely check out the Mepis 6.0 release when it's out of beta and officially released.

But, of course, what I'm really anxious for is the imminent release of PCLinuxOS .94--with all the packages compiled with the updated gcc compiler and associated c/cpp libraries, they'll no longer be those few applications that I can't compile myself to run with PCLinuxOS.

I did not renew my Mandriva silver level club membership, and I'll be sending those dollars to tex, next month, to support PCLinuxOS.

I do really like PC Linux OS, and I now prefer it to a default Mandriva installation, (but I still enjoy playing with the Cooker). Nevertheless, for me, Debian distros win it for me.

Some have said that PCLOS has superior graphic art, and I cannot argue with that. I also like the way Texstar has taken a base Mandriva system, done a vastly superior job to Mandriva One, then add integration features. I do want it on my keeper's list.

But I've been a Warren Woodford fan, too. His distro, in my mind, opened previously unopened doors in the Debian desktop space. He took a blend of Knoppix and/or Morphix, put a really nice set of working packages in it, then worked tirelessly with the community to improve on it.

The only thing that held it back was a time period in which Warren was seriously ill. But that led to the opportunity to leverage another good base system's work, and that is where MEPIS now bases its efforts, on top of a solid (K)Ubuntu core.

I definitely will be testing and using both PCLOS and MEPIS. Based on today, I will, more than likely, continue to use MEPIS as my main desk, but I'd love to see if PCLOS can move up, maybe into the number two slot. I keep around ten desktop distros. My top five are EXCELLENT!

Brian Masinick
masinick .AT yahoo .DOT com

I have long been a MEPIS fan

I liked MEPIS back in 2003 when the direction for the distro was first being established. Back in those days, MEPIS ran like a rabbit around a track with a lightweight window manager guiding it, IceWM. Therefore it worked great with a Live CD. Most people do not use IceWM, even if the geeks do, so it had to do something else.

In 2004, MEPIS signed a deal with Robin Miller and Prentice Hall publishers and came out with Point N Click Linux, and SimplyMEPIS 2004 was born.

MEPIS has continued to evolve and grow since then.

It was after the DCC and the slow kernel and application maintenance that Warren Woodford set MEPIS on its current course, tracking Ubuntu releases and adding simplicity to the installation process and better handling of devices.

I see that process continuing to improve. The one area where MEPIS was weak was in the Graphic Arts department. Volunteers have greatly improved that. I have not had a chance to review this edition, but I regularly use the current release and I do run the package updates. MEPIS as it exists today is stable and maintainable. I expect this release to be an incremental improvement, with somewhat better graphics and somewhat better hardware suppport.

I anticipate installing the final version. I have tested beta releases many times in the past and I have been delighted with them. MEPIS is one of the few distros where 75-95% of things work even in an Alpha release, and all but a few things work right up until the final release. Stable and product quality are things you can expect. I expect the final version of this release will be no different. But since I am spending more time as a desktop user rather than a tester, this time I will wait for the final version before upgrading, but I expect to make the final version, once again, my default desktop partition.

Brian Masinick
masinick .AT yahoo .DOT com

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    Adam Jackson (5):
          simple-dmabuf-egl: Allow QueryDmaBufModifiers to report no modifiers
          gl-renderer: Fix possible memory leak when no dmabuf modifers are supported
          libweston: Fix integer underflow in weston_layer_mask_is_infinite
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          tests: Fix undefined left shift in internal-screenshot-test
    
    Ankit Nautiyal (6):
          backend-drm: Add support for content-protection
          libweston: Add functions to modify disable_planes counter for an output
          libweston: Add function to schedule idle task for updating surface protection
          libweston: Notify the client, when output recording is started/stopped
          man: Declare drm-backend support for HDCP
          backend-drm: Check for HDCP Content Type property before setting
    
    Daniel Stone (8):
          renderer-gl: Assert function presence matches extensions
          remoting: Use DRM FourCC formats instead of GBM formats
          Revert "backend-drm: Teach drm_property_info_populate() to retrieve range values"
          config-parser: Export get_full_path and destroy
          backend-drm: Use aspect-ratio bit definitions from libdrm
          config-parser: Make get_bool be bool
          tests/config-parser: Remove useless duplicate test
          option-parser: Make bools boolean
    
    Drew DeVault (1):
          simple-dmabuf-egl: update to xdg-shell stable
    
    Eero Tamminen (1):
          Add include for missing symbols
    
    Emmanuel Gil Peyrot (1):
          shared: Use memfd_create() when available
    
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          gl-renderer: Censor protected views when output is recorded
          clients/window: Add viewport destination support
          desktop-shell: Set 1x1 buffers for solid-color backgrounds
    
    Jeffy Chen (2):
          clients: Drop corresponding touch points when destroying windows
          clients: Add more sanity checks to catch destroyed window
    
    Leandro Ribeiro (11):
          build: bump libdrm requirement to newer version (2.4.83)
          backend-drm: remove unecessary ifdef checks
          backend-drm: remove unnecessary ifdefs
          move frame_signal emission to weston_output_repaint()
          screenshooter: stop using frame_signal void *data parameter to get weston_output
          tests: stop using frame_signal 'void *data' argument to get weston_output
          renderer: change frame_signal emission to pass previous_damage as data argument
          screenshooter: get previous_damage from data argument instead of weston_output
          screen-share: get previous_damage from data argument instead of weston_output
          Revert "move frame_signal emission to weston_output_repaint()"
          libweston: remove previous_damage from struct weston_output
    
    Link Mauve (1):
          xwayland: Remove unused variable
    
    Loïc Yhuel (1):
          libweston: fix possible crash after a view is removed the layer
    
    Marius Vlad (53):
          weston-log: s/scope/sub, leftover from the logging framework
          libweston: Fix rename of weston_compositor_destroy() reference
          weston-log: 'new_subscriber' is actually 'new_subscription'
          weston-log: Add 'destroy_subscription' callback for the subscription
          weston-log-internal: Allow to hang-off data over the subscription
          weston-log: Add a subscription iterator
          libweston: Clean-up timeline to make room for a new approach
          libweston: Introduce timeline subscription and timeline subscription object
          libweston: Create the 'timeline' scope
          libweston: Convert timeline points to use the timeline scope
          libweston: Notify timeline of object modification
          libweston: Remove timeline-object and clean-up
          doc/sphinx: Add some documentation about timeline points
          compositor: Allow protocol to be displayed when asked for, even if we're not supplying debug argument
          libweston: Init weston_output's 'destroy_signal' before timeline has a chance to emit a
          compositor: Pass the entire string in one-shot when writting logger data
          weston-log: Avoid prefix-matching the scope name when checking for a
          backend-drm: Teach drm_property_info_populate() to retrieve range values
          backend-drm: Teach drm_property_info_populate() to retrieve range values
          backend-drm: Add zpos DRM-property
          backend-drm: Add a helper to display plane type as a 'string'
          backend-drm: Hard-code zpos values if HW doesn't exposes them
          libweston: Add a new helper weston_view_has_valid_buffer
          libweston: Add a new helper to check if the view spawns the entire
          backend-drm: Construct a zpos candidate list of planes
          backend-drm: Place pixel format checks for the overlay plane in its own
          backend-drm: Place pixel format checks for the cursor plane in its own
          backend-drm: Check pixel format before constructing the zpos candidate list
          backend-drm: Allow for views to reach overlays/underlays planes
          backend-drm: Pass the plane to prepare_overlay_view
          backend-drm: Pass the drm_fb to each prepare_overlay/scanout_view functions
          backend-drm: Move plane's availability in drm_output_try_view_on_plane()
          backend-drm: Print whenever a view will reach the renderer region
          backend-drm: Print whenever a view could not placed on the primary due to
          compositor: Fix some warning when passing debugoptimized to meson
          protocol: Add weston-direct-display extension
          libweston: Add weston-direct-display server side implementation
          libweston: Add the ability to determine if a dmabuf is scanout-capable
          backend-drm: Add dmabuf scan-out check for DRM-backend
          renderer-gl: Avoid retrieving the EGL image it direct_display flag was set
          renderer-gl: Display a solid shader color when direct-display is in use
          clients/simple-dmabuf-egl: Make use of direct-display
          clients/simple-dmabuf-drm: Make use of direct-display
          backend-drm: Assign the primary plane the lowest zpos value
          backend-drm: Skip testing plane state if plane is not enabled
          backend-drm: Turn zpos duplicate check into an hard assert
          backend-drm: Further checks to skip plane assignment to HW planes
          weston-log-flight-rec: Add a global variable to access the ring buffer
          weston-log-flight-rec: Don't allow more than one flight recorder to be
          weston-log-flight-rec: Fix useless comparison when displaying the
          doc/scripts/gdb: Added gdb script to dump contents of the flight recorder
          clients/fullscreen: Refuse to resize the surface size when fullscreen'ed
          gitlab-ci: Update ci-templates to latest SHA commit
    
    Miguel A. Vico (2):
          desktop-shell: Avoid NULL output dereference when getting surface label
          compositor: Do not trigger invalid destructors when hotunplugging
    
    Nicholas Niro (2):
          backend-drm: Fix for gbm modifiers when they are not available.
          backend-drm: Added support for legacy fd_import
    
    Olivier Fourdan (1):
          xwm: Use Xwayland allow commits for repaint
    
    Pekka Paalanen (73):
          backend-headless: fix comment on use_pixman
          backend-headless: refactor into headless_output_enable_pixman
          backend-headless: refactor into headless_output_disable_pixman
          backend-headless: make renderer type an enum
          clients: fix len-string formatting
          gl_renderer: remove unused NO_EGL_PLATFORM
          gl-renderer: fix typo native_window to native_display
          gl-renderer: remove platform_attribs
          gl-renderer: remove gl_renderer_display
          gl-renderer: remove gl_renderer_output_surface
          gl-renderer: remove print_egl_error_state
          backend-drm: use format db for fallback too
          gl-renderer: move into egl-glue.c
          gl_renderer: introduce gl_renderer_get_egl_config()
          gl-renderer: use gl_renderer_get_egl_config() for display_create
          gl-renderer: do not even pick a config with configless_context
          pixel-formats: add RGBA bits and type fields
          gl-renderer: use pixel_format_info internally for EGL
          gl-renderer: fuzzy EGLConfig matching for non-GBM
          backend-wayland: use DRM formats for EGLConfig
          backend-x11: use DRM formats for EGLConfig
          gl-renderer: remove EGLConfig attributes from API
          gl-renderer: configs for pbuffers too
          gl-renderer: pbuffer config for non-surfaceless
          gl-renderer: prefer the base EGLConfig
          gl-renderer: improve get_egl_config errors
          gl-renderer: print detailed EGLConfig list
          gl-renderer: use EGLConfig printer for window outputs
          build: shells do not need matrix.c
          build: use dependency for matrix.c
          xwm: dnd does not need cairo-util.h
          Unify the include style of shared/ headers
          build: simplify include_directories
          xwm: no need for compositor/weston.h
          gl-renderer: display_create needs surface type
          gl-renderer: document display_create
          gl-renderer: document output_window_create
          gl-renderer: add EGL surfaceless platform support
          noop-renderer: zero-initialize struct
          headless, gl-renderer: support pbuffer outputs
          compositor: add use-gl option to headless
          gitlab-ci: fix pages
          build: separate deps for int and ext libweston users
          build: link libm explicitly
          build: link libdl explicitly to DRM backend
          backend-x11: need libdrm headers in build
          build: reduce sub-dependencies of libweston
          compositor: turn weston main() into a lib
          cms-colord: work around unresolved symbols
          backend-rdp: work around unresolved symbols
          Link Weston plugins to libexec-weston.so
          tests: surface-screenshot needs libshared
          build: do not allow unresolved symbols
          libweston: drop a misleading dmabuf comment
          tests: remove static data from viewporter
          tests: remove static data from ivi-layout-test-plugin
          tests: remove static data from ivi-shell-app-test
          tests: remove static data from ivi-layout-test-client
          tests: remove static data from presentation
          tests: fix test-shell init error path
          ivi-shell: fix init error path
          colord: remove destroy listener on clean-up
          Use weston_compositor_add_destroy_listener_once() in plugins
          libweston: allow double-loading modules
          compositor: allow double-loading modules
          tests: write image to current directory by default
          tests/subsurface-shot: hardcode reference image names
          tests: replace fprintf() with testlog()
          tests/xwayland: do not call exit(SUCCESS)
          tests: rename struct weston_test to weston_test_entry
          tests/ivi: rename test_section
          tests: drop FAIL_TEST
          libweston: do not include weston.h
    
    Sebastian Wick (7):
          shared: add read-only anonymous file abstraction
          CI: build wayland from source
          input: bump wl_seat version to 6
          clients/window: bump wl_seat version to 6
          input: bump wl_seat version to 7
          clients/window: bump wl_seat version to 7
          input: use ro_anonymous_file to minimize duplication of keymap files
    
    Simon Ser (4):
          build: reopen master for regular development
          clients: drop simple-dmabuf-drm
          clients: remove leftover from simple-dmabuf-drm
          build: bump to version 7.0.91 for the alpha release
    
    Stefan Agner (10):
          backend-rdp: don't use shadow buffer for the RDP backend
          backend-headless: fix build issue without gl-renderer
          clients: avoid build error without gl-renderer
          gitlab-ci: add build configuration without gl-renderer
          backend-drm: use DRM_ constants everywhere
          remoting: make sure GL renderer is enabled
          backend-drm: separate out DRM virtual support
          backend-drm: make GBM optional
          weston-launch: show when a signal is sent to a child
          weston-launch: use exec to ensure signal delivery
    
    Veeresh Kadasani (1):
          simple-dmabuf-egl: make application generic
    
    Vivek Kasireddy (2):
          gl-renderer: Replace EGL_*_WL macros with locally defined enums
          gl-renderer: Add support for XYUV format (v2)
    
    sichem (1):
          libweston: Bring back 'weston_output_move'
    
    git tag: 7.0.91
    
    
  • Mesa 20.0 Now Includes Intel's Gallium3D Driver To Build By Default

    As part of the ongoing effort for Intel's plans to use their new Gallium3D OpenGL Linux driver by default on next quarter's Mesa 20.0 for Broadwell "Gen8" graphics and newer, another step in that direction was achieved on Friday. Intel's "Iris" Gallium3D driver is still making good progress in its goal for Mesa 20.0 to switch the default "i965" classic driver to Intel Gallium3D for Broadwell and newer hardware. Earlier this week was adding a build-time option to change the Intel OpenGL driver default so those building from source or distribution vendors can change the default on their own with ease.

Linux 5.5+ Development

  • GRUB Now Supports Btrfs 3/4-Copy RAID1 Profiles (RAID1C3 / RAID1C4 On Linux 5.5+)

    When it comes to the storage/file-system changes with the in-development Linux 5.5 kernel one of the most prominent end-user-facing changes is more robust RAID1 for Btrfs with the ability to have three or four copies of the data rather than just two copies, should data safety be of utmost importance and concerned over the possibility of two disks in an array failing. The Btrfs "RAID1C3" mode was merged last week for this three/four-copy RAID1 while now the GRUB boot-loader has adapted support for these new profiles in order to be able to boot to said arrays.

  • Linux 5.5 Adds NFS Client Support For Cross-Device Offloaded Copies (Server To Server)

    With NFSv4.2 is the server-side copy (SSC) functionality with the Linux 5.5 kernel's NFS client-side support for that support in allowing "inter" copy offloads between different NFS servers. This support allows for server-to-server efficient file copies with NFSv4.2 SSC rather than first having to copy to the client system. The NFS client changes also introduce new RDMA tracepoints for debugging congestion control and various other fixes.

  • Linux 5.5 KVM Adds POWER Support For Secure Guests/VMs

    IBM's work from over a year ago in working towards secure virtual machines on POWER hardware is finally coming to fruition with Linux 5.5 due out early next year. After those original Secure Virtual Machine POWER9 patches were posted last year, the ultravisor / secure bits landed in Linux 5.4 in preparing the foundation. As explained in that earlier article, "The Ultravisor / SVM support is part of IBM's approach for protected computing that is akin to the approaches of Intel SGX and AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV). IBM's Ultravisor code runs with higher privileges than the virtualization hypervisor and in turn the virtual machines rely upon IBM Protected Execution for verifying the behavior of the hypervisor/ultravisor."