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Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

For help or questions about 64-bit version of MEPIS, this is the forum to use.
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Silent Observer
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Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#1 Post by Silent Observer » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:14 am

I've been using MEPIS 11 "exclusively" for over a year now (WinXP is still installed, but I haven't booted into it since mid-2013), and ran it on an occasional basis alongside Windows for a year before that. With Debian Squeeze having transitioned to "oldstable", and even in "stable" having been short on package upgrades (to the point I've had to learn a lot about installing things without the help of a package manager, which I don't mind; I'll need that knowledge), I'm looking for a replacement. I have a few desiderata, qualities that I'm looking for now that I know my way around Linux well enough to have reasonable odds of success with a potentially less "noob friendly" distribution.

First, I want a rolling distribution (which, with Debian, pretty much means using testing repos, which seems to mean having a lot of stuff not quite work for a period every time a new version transitions from testing to stable, as Wheezy has recently done; obviously an undesirable side effect), so I don't have to shop around for a new distro every two or three years in order to be able to have up to date software packages available. Second, I need to be able to run a very current version of Wine (I have a couple Windows programs that had broken features -- like the installer, which is critical since the updater still doesn't work -- in most of the 1.7.x generation and have only recently started working well again in 1.7.19). Third, relative to Wine, I need to be able to install Pipelight to give modern Flash capability to a browser (Firefox or SeaMonkey) that can also use Java (at present, I have Flash 14 with Firefox for Windows, but can't get Java to work in that, and of course there's no current Flash for Linux -- and Chrome won't install in MEPIS 11, and, at least in Linux, won't use Java anyway). Fourth, I'd like a KDE/Plasma desktop, though I don't demand it be identical to the one in MEPIS 11 (which is, IMO, the nicest computer desktop I've ever used in any OS); I've briefly tried XFCE in MX14 and don't think it's an improvement (I'm aware that most distros can be converted, hence this being almost the last on the list). Last, I don't want to get into another distribution that'll be abandoned a couple years down the line, so I'd prefer to avoid single-creator distros (no intention to disparage Warren, but the fact that MEPIS isn't on version 14 by now is the problem I'm referring to; life comes ahead of Linux, but that doesn't help users left hanging).

I've got plenty of horsepower available; not a bleeding edge system, but Core2Quad 2.7 GHz with 4 GiB RAM ought to run pretty much any distro, and upgrading my video is an option I'll explore if I find I need more there. I'd prefer either 64-bit or PAE kernel, since the half gigabyte of RAM that non-PAE kernels ignores makes a difference in a few things (GIMP editing large images, one of my Windows games, or opening multiple programs); there's little performance difference, and if 32-bit PAE will give better compatibility with Wine I'll go that way.

My most recent candidate has failed me; antiX 13.2 64-bit with testing repos has too much stuff that simply won't work or won't install after the recent transition of Wheezy to stable. I can't get Wine (from MEPIS 11 or MEPIS 12 repos) to install at all due to dozens of broken dependecies. An option I'm already considering is antiX 13.2 32-bit with a PAE kernel (I've got some experience upgrading kernels in antiX; I'm running 3.14.4 on the antiX on this machine, and 3.14-0.bpo-i486 on my Pentium II laptop, and I've seen PAE kernels available in the repos); that should at least resolve the architecture conflicts that keep Wine from installing in the 64-bit version. What I don't know is how much (if any) better function I'll get with other stuff running the testing repos in 32-bit vs. 64-bit -- and at present I'm finding neither Chrome nor Firefox (nor SeaMonkey) works very well in 64-bit testing antiX, though I don't have any way to tell if this is due to the recent transition of testing repos from "almost-stable" Wheezy to "barely better than Sid" Jessie, or an issue with architecture conflicts (given Chrome, at least, is a 32-bit-only browser).

At present, I'm even willing to drop back down the learning curve to a distro based on another core flavor, like an Ubuntu derivative or something else. I won't be starting over as a Windows user lost in a sea of strangeness, I'll just be translating what I've already learned into a new system's layout and command structure. What I need, though, is some experience-based suggestions for where to look -- "dig through DistroWatch" isn't much help, since I don't have an unlimited supply of blank DVDs (at present, don't even have a DVD-ROM on this machine, never mind a burner -- but I can boot from USB for tests and installation, so that's only a minor handicap) and, more telling, free time to test distros. There seems a veritable paucity of rolling distros based on Debian -- what else should I be looking at?
MEPIS 11 64-bit, MSI P6NGM-L motherboard, Core 2 Quad 9400 2.67 GHz, 4 GiB PC2-5300 RAM, 1 GiB nVidia GT520 on PCI Express x16.

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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#2 Post by kmathern » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:46 am

Silent Observer wrote:...My most recent candidate has failed me; antiX 13.2 64-bit with testing repos has too much stuff that simply won't work or won't install after the recent transition of Wheezy to stable. I can't get Wine (from MEPIS 11 or MEPIS 12 repos) to install at all due to dozens of broken dependecies. ...
Your problem with Stevo's Wine package(s) in the M12 CR is because you're using antiX 13.2 with the Jessie/testing repos, it installs just fine if you use the Wheezy repos (remember this very long post I made: http://forum.mepiscommunity.org/viewtop ... 71#p342271), and I thought antiX 13.2 used the Wheezy repos by default. By going with the Jessie/testing repos, for the most part you aren't able to take advantage of the work Stevo has done in backporting Wine and Pipelight to M12/MX14/Wheezy.

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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#3 Post by Silent Observer » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:33 am

kmathern wrote:
Silent Observer wrote:...My most recent candidate has failed me; antiX 13.2 64-bit with testing repos has too much stuff that simply won't work or won't install after the recent transition of Wheezy to stable. I can't get Wine (from MEPIS 11 or MEPIS 12 repos) to install at all due to dozens of broken dependecies. ...
Your problem with Stevo's Wine package(s) in the M12 CR is because you're using antiX 13.2 with the Jessie/testing repos, it installs just fine if you use the Wheezy repos (remember this very long post I made: http://forum.mepiscommunity.org/viewtop ... 71#p342271), and I thought antiX 13.2 used the Wheezy repos by default. By going with the Jessie/testing repos, for the most part you aren't able to take advantage of the work Stevo has done in backporting Wine and Pipelight to M12/MX14/Wheezy.
Mostly right. An antiX 13.2 CD/USB contains stable packages (which were Squeeze when it came out), and defaults to the stable repos (I'm not certain, but I don't think it upgaded to Wheezy unless you selected "testing", though if I'd changed to the Wheezy-specific repos before Wheezy went stable, I wouldn't have gotten changed over to Jessie). But that way, I still have to replace my distro every two-three years, which differs from running Windows mainly in that it doesn't cost me $150 for the software and $500-$1000 to upgrade my machine each time (though the latter will still catch me eventually). Better, but not there yet.

If I want to avoid having to install from scratch, reinstall all my applications (and one of my Windows apps is quite a process to install) and learn a new distro every couple years (not my desired use of my limited free time), I need to be on a rolling distribution, which for Debian based systems means testing (not Wheezy, not Jessie -- testing, which will continue to roll when Jessie changes to stable in a couple years, as it did when Wheezy changed a few weeks ago). As I understand it, I'll have my current issues with function and compatibility every time that transition takes place, if I stay on testing; hence my openness to a non-Debian distro (in hopes there's one that's genuinely rolling).
MEPIS 11 64-bit, MSI P6NGM-L motherboard, Core 2 Quad 9400 2.67 GHz, 4 GiB PC2-5300 RAM, 1 GiB nVidia GT520 on PCI Express x16.

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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#4 Post by anticapitalista » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:34 am

Silent Observer wrote: Mostly right. An antiX 13.2 CD/USB contains stable packages (which were Squeeze when it came out), and defaults to the stable repos (I'm not certain, but I don't think it upgaded to Wheezy unless you selected "testing", though if I'd changed to the Wheezy-specific repos before Wheezy went stable, I wouldn't have gotten changed over to Jessie). But that way, I still have to replace my distro every two-three years, which differs from running Windows mainly in that it doesn't cost me $150 for the software and $500-$1000 to upgrade my machine each time (though the latter will still catch me eventually). Better, but not there yet.
Wrong. antiX-13.2 default is Wheezy.From the antiX homepage: http://antix.mepis.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

05 November 2013

Updated antiX-13: 13.2 released

November 05, 2013

The antiX team is pleased to announce the second update of antiX-13 full version for 32 and 64 bit (codename "Luddite") based on Debian Stable/Wheezy. This update includes those made upstream in Debian Wheezy (http://www.debian.org/News/2013/20131012.en.html) and various bugfixes specific to antiX. We have also included some new user-requested features for you to enjoy.
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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#5 Post by lucky9 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:47 am

As you've noted rolling distributions are going to be based on Testing....so these two criteria (stability and rolling) are not compatible. Some are based on Sid which is even less desirable for a reliable system.

debian is going to support Stable for a longer period of time now so that's a plus. A Wheezy-based system is where you need to be unless you're willing to do a lot of fixing along the way.

(As a for instance, kubuntu is reasonably stable but will have updated in a year's time the same amount of bytes as were originally on it's .iso. Plus it may break occasionally. Not very often, but it can happen. They have recently announced 14.04 LTS. That gives 3 years of support. I have no knowledge about their wine or java implementations. I got tired of the several hundred MB upgrades pretty quickly. But my needs are considerably different than yours. Overall kubuntu 14.04 LTS would be what I'd suggest you look at first.)
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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#6 Post by kmathern » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:53 am

Silent Observer wrote:...If I want to avoid having to install from scratch, reinstall all my applications (and one of my Windows apps is quite a process to install) and learn a new distro every couple years (not my desired use of my limited free time), I need to be on a rolling distribution, which for Debian based systems means testing (not Wheezy, not Jessie -- testing, which will continue to roll when Jessie changes to stable in a couple years, as it did when Wheezy changed a few weeks ago). As I understand it, I'll have my current issues with function and compatibility every time that transition takes place, if I stay on testing; hence my openness to a non-Debian distro (in hopes there's one that's genuinely rolling).
Not a "few weeks ago", over a year ago. Wheezy was released as "stable" on May 4th 2013. There was a point release last weekend, 7.5 -> 7.6. But there's no transition involved with that, all the updates are still based on Wheezy.

edit: more on what point releases are here: https://wiki.debian.org/DebianReleases/PointReleases

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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#7 Post by Silent Observer » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:47 pm

Okay, as usual, I don't know what I'm talking about, but that doesn't change what I want/need: not to have to install clean (i.e. spend a weekend making my tools usable again) every couple years, and to have the software I want/need to use work correctly. MEPIS 11 is doing most of that, but failing the upgrade part (since there's apparently no such thing as an upgrade any more, either in Linux or in Windows; there are only varying degrees of clean installs). Large, frequent updates aren't a big deal; they don't take up a lot of space, because they overwrite the old files and I have control of what does and doesn't get cached by the package manager. I've been getting rolling updates on my laptop on top of the original antiX 13.2/testing, which has 16 GB of redneck SSD and shares with about 3.5 GiB of Win98 install, and it doesn't run out of space at all rapidly (I have space monitoring via Conky on the screen all the time, the free space in root hasn't changed noticeably since I got the update from stable to testing).

I'll see if I can get Kubuntu in a live form to try from USB, though I'd probably have to install it to see if it does what I need to do. My reading (trying to get stuff to work on antiX testing) has suggested that Pipelight works fine in Ubuntu variants, so maybe that's the way to go. I'm not sure I understand how there can be limited support lifespan for a rolling distro, though -- if it never gets obsolete, I don't know why support would abandon it, unless it's just that the developers can't stand to not fix what isn't broken, or let anyone else do so.
MEPIS 11 64-bit, MSI P6NGM-L motherboard, Core 2 Quad 9400 2.67 GHz, 4 GiB PC2-5300 RAM, 1 GiB nVidia GT520 on PCI Express x16.

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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#8 Post by lucky9 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:12 pm

The LTS releases are not a true rolling release. They are updated/upgraded through that period. As stated all the rolling releases that I'm aware of are based on Testing or Sid. kubuntu 14.04 LTS will remain upgradable within their repositories for about 3 years.

Arch or Gentoo may be more of a rolling release type OS. But they are not for the faint-hearted.
For debian-based distros, if you pay attention to their forums, (and don't upgrade as soon as something appears) you can take a look at Siduction and/or Aptosid. They are still based on Sid but in the past Aptosid caught problems fairly quickly. Someone will have to comment on Siduction as I've never booted it. Plus, I wouldn't use a system based on any of them as a main system. They will break. It's not a matter of if, but when.
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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#9 Post by Silent Observer » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:40 pm

lucky9 wrote:I wouldn't use a system based on [Sid] as a main system. They will break. It's not a matter of if, but when.
I agree completely; I won't be using Sid (the system I settle on will replace MEPIS 11 as my primary OS on my main desktop machine -- the one with 1+ GiB of storage and the fastest processor in the house, the one I write on, when I write, the one I use to scan my negatives, the one I play games on; the only one I use that's less than ten years old). I've had no problems running antiX/testing, however, until I wanted to install something cutting edge like Pipelight or a version of Wine new enough to support it (and with recent changes in Jessie, none of the Debian versions of Wine I've tried will install, at least on 64-bit). On my older machines, a 1.8 GHz Athlon XP and a 300 MHz Pentium II, cutting edge stuff not working isn't a big deal; they don't have the speed or RAM or video to run that stuff anyway -- but for the main machine, sometimes I have to have cutting edge stuff (current Wine with Pipelight or equivalent, or ability to run both Flash and Java in a Windows browser under Wine) to accomplish what I need to do.
MEPIS 11 64-bit, MSI P6NGM-L motherboard, Core 2 Quad 9400 2.67 GHz, 4 GiB PC2-5300 RAM, 1 GiB nVidia GT520 on PCI Express x16.

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Re: Looking for a successor to MEPIS 11

#10 Post by Silent Observer » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:00 pm

lucky9 wrote:The LTS releases are not a true rolling release. They are updated/upgraded through that period.
I just took a look at the Ubuntu and Kubuntu web sites -- this may be closer to what I'm after; apparently both (and presumably Xubuntu and Lubuntu, haven't checked them, but based on my limited looks at XFCE my current preference is for KDE/Plasma) offer an actual upgrader that would convert an existing system already running (K)Ubuntu 12.04 to current version 14.04 LTS. Seems reasonable to suppose that they'll offer a similar option when Kubuntu 16 comes out. A biggish download/update process when the point releases come along isn't a big problem; I've got 30 Mib/s internet (fiber to the house); I just downloaded the approximately 1 gigabyte Kubuntu 14.04 LTS iso image in under ten minutes.

To be honest, that upgrade option (as opposed to clean install every time I need a new version) is just about enough to sell me on an Ubuntu variant. Let me see how it behaves live from USB.
MEPIS 11 64-bit, MSI P6NGM-L motherboard, Core 2 Quad 9400 2.67 GHz, 4 GiB PC2-5300 RAM, 1 GiB nVidia GT520 on PCI Express x16.

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