I never used SimplyMEPIS before so when I decided to try it, I knew that whatever I was getting into was going to be important. The reason being, I won't be comparing it with SimplyMEPIS itself. I will be looking at it purely from the point of view of a new user. I will be focused on the user-experience and not on learning how to use it.
Why I suddenly picked SimplyMEPIS? Gone are the days when I was student and had ample of time to play with new distros. It helped me learn about GNU/Linux and open source. I used to stay up late at night compiling broadcom drivers or playing with Xorg settings. Now, I don’t have the luxury that many of you have -- to play with a distro and make it work.
I have a 9-5 job, even if I work for myself, and I have to deliver in time so, I don't have much time to experiment and play with immature products. The reason I moved away from Ubuntu was Unity. It is a promising technology and once all the wrinkles are ironed out, it may be one of the most popular things in the GNU/Linux world. But, at the moment, being a power user, Ubuntu 11.04 is not for me. I have taken a break from Ubuntu after almost 6 years.
Quitting Ubuntu doesn’t mean quitting Ubuntu, my main desktop is K(DE)ubuntu and I love it. The power of Ubuntu with the mature interface of KDE brings to me the best of both worlds. I might switch back to Ubuntu, once Unity is a bit mature and stable. I am impressed with the amazing job Ubuntu team, especially Neil Patel, has done with Unity. I am eagerly awaiting the 10.10 release so as to be able to enjoy the fruits of Unity.
So, while I was looking at Ubuntu replacements I wanted to try out something new which was based on Debian (no match to .deb packages and apt-get). I ended up with SimplyMEPIS.
SimplyMEPIS comes with KDE as the default DE, so I was expecting better integration with the rest of the OS (I am already familiar with KDE). Another advantage of using SimplyMEPIS (which I can't talk about at this moment until I spend considerable time on it) was that its a rolling release which means I won't have to reformat my PC or go through the 'upgrading' process every 6 months. SimpleMepis used to be based on Ubuntu, but they switched back to Debian in since version 7.
I downloaded the ‘latest’ version of SimplyMEPIS (11) and created a LiveUSB using the UNetbootin from Kubuntu. The disk creation and booting into the new system was a charm. The Live session offered everything that I needed -- a working netbook.
I was running it on my Dell Mini, which uses old Broadcom Wi-Fi, so I was not connected to the Internet. But, I have a LAN cable which I connected, update the repositories vis KDE’s software manager and searched for broadcom drivers. Once installed I was good to go mobile.
Since I have Lubuntu and now SimplyMEPIS installed on this Dell Mini I can compare the two and see which one suites me better.
I have not come across any problem on SimplyMEPIS other than the fact that the Dell Mini TouchPad misbehaves. Two fingers confuses it and you may struggle to find where the mouse arrow is. I have not looked into solving the problem yet so can’t complain, and its not a deal breaker. Since the Dell mini is only 6 months old, so the battery life on SimplyMEPIS is good, giving me 5.30 hours once fully charged.
I did notice that SimplyMephis is running a bit hotter on my Dell Mini as compared to Lubuntu, but I would blame it on KDE which is a way more resource hungry that LXDE, so that’s a conscious choice.
I am not a developer, so I fall in the category of a desktop users whose sole contribution to the free software movement is by spreading the word about it and by filing bug reports -- there are quite a lot once I started using Unity.
As a desktop user, I find SimplyMEPIS to be extremely easy to use. It is pleasant from look an feel point of view, easy to manage -- thanks to Debian base; and excellent packaging and integration -- thanks to SimplyMEPIS team.
As a desktop user, I did not feel for a second that I was using a non-Ubuntu distro. The software installation is extremely easy via Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager. Since it's Debian base you get access to several thousands of applications stored in Debian repositories. It also keeps you away from the RPM hell of Fedora or rpm based-distros.
If you are one of those adventurous kinds who wan to try new packages, SimplyMEPIS is a good choices as it's a rolling release so you can easily start playing with it getting newest packages.
There is nothing bad to talk about SimplyMEPIS. It is based on rock-solid Debian, which you can trust blind-folded. It is stable and offers you a wide range of applications. It uses matured KDE so, all that’s good in KDE can be found in SimplyMEPIS. When you have two trusted and stable technologies, there is no scope for any Ifs and Butts.
There is nothing bad because it doesn’t use immature or unstable packages which interrupt you during work. SimplyMEPIS seems to be aimed at those who want to use PCs to work and not for those who want to spend time on their PCs to make it work.
I will recommend SimplyMEPIS to anyone who wants to try a Debian based non-Ubuntu distro. I would put SimplyMEPIS in the elite club of distros that I use and recommend. The club includes -- Kubuntu, Lubuntu, openSuse, LinuxMint and now SimplyMEPIS.
Do try it. Even if you don’t need to change your distro, just try it for the sake of fun. Don'y blame me if you get addicted to SimplyMepis.