Kaspersky antivirus and comondo firewall have rendered my windows 2000 laptop to be very slow. So I decided to give it a try with linux.

My set-up: A Toshiba 2450-S203 laptop (P4@2.8), an nvidia video card (don’t remember the details of the chip) and a wireless pcmcia linksys WPC11 version 4.

My experiences:

Mepis 6.5

First I tried Mepis 6.5. It worked very well out of the box and the wireless card connected to our router without a problem. However since Mepis 6.5 is based on an older version of ubuntu its repository has reaaaaly old versions of software. This was a problem and since Mepis 7.0 is coming out, I decided to try version 7.0 RC2.

Mepis 7.0RC2

Installed well, but I couldn’t make the wireless card work. I sent a post to the mepislovers forum and received a number of useful answers. It could be the version ndiswrapper that comes with Mepis 7, or the driver. So I had to either download the latest source code of ndiswrapper and compile it, or try different version… Too much work for a RC version.

Kubuntu 7.1

As I have been a windows user, I decide to go for another kde distribution, kubuntu. The installation went smoothly. However I couldn’t connect the wireless card to our router. Kubuntu would recognise it, but as soon as I tried to connect to the router… kernel panic! The caps lock light flashed and the system was unresponsive. I tried to blacklist the native drivers and use ndiswrapper with my windows drivers… but to install ndiswrapper it asked for the installation cd! (Even though I was already connected to the internet with my ethernet cable).

I managed to make it word with ndiswrapper and the system was quite stable. So, now let’s try ubuntu for a change…

Ubuntu 7.1

As expected I had the same problem with the wireless card and  resolved it using ndiswrapper again. I have to confess that I liked the interface better than KDE. It was quite fast and stable. The problem is that I need windows anyway (some .NET development, software which don’t have a linux version) . I can use virtualization (vmware) to run windows from within linux, but to do that I need more hard disk space and probably I will need again the firewall and antivirus installed.

The verdict?? I might try to switch to linux after I finish writing up, but right now I don’t have the time, resources (i.e. hard disk space) to do it properly. However there are some things I didn’t like. First of all in (k)ubuntu, when the native wireless card drivers crashed, NOTHING was logged in the log files, no warning, no nothing (at least a windows blue screen gives you a message with the address/module that caused the crash.).  The other annoying thing… why do you need the installation cd if you are already on the internet and the package manager can find the binaries on the internet?

I mean ok… you blaim windows for the blue screens of death, you blaim them for asking the installation cd all the time… so people say switch to linux (or get a mac).. you switch to linux and see things are not much better there.

Having said that I hope that some day I will have the time to be actively involved in a linux distro.

2 thoughts on “Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mepis: Personal Experiences

  1. A very interesting article you have there Mike. I will try Linux Mint at some point as you have recommended.

    However in my short experience with the linux world so far, I have learnt that for better support go with the most popular distro. I really liked Mepis, but going through their forums for a number of feature requests/compatibility issues I found a few answers like: “we don’t have the resources to solve it..”.


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