Although Xandros introduced me to the world of Linux, Mandriva was my definite choice for both desktop and netbook use. I am a regular computer user, not a techie, so Mandriva became a perfect selection because it is easy to use, beautiful, and functional. However, among the many Linux distributions, there is one that generally goes unnoticed: SimplyMEPIS. This is a distribution that can beat Mandriva's simplicity and, thus, I decided to install it and test it for a week to compare them. Of course, my feedback is not technical; my impressions are those of a common computer user that has used Mandriva for almost two years without any formal Linux training. In the last days of my experiment, this is what I saw:
A. Repositories: Synaptic vs Mandriva Control Center
I had assumed that my previous usage of Synaptic in Linux Mint was enough training to use Synaptic in SimplyMepis. However, I stumbled on the installation of VLC because I used the Debian repositories for that purpose and they have dependency conflicts. I tried to undo what I did, but I could not trace my steps back appropriately and could not improve the quality of video.
However, I could solve the low volume problem. I also had some problems adding the Mepis Community Repositories.
I guess that my problems were generated because you cannot transfer the experience of using Mandriva Control Center to Synaptic so easily after all. In Mandriva, you have Mandriva repositories by default, so it never occurred to me that you had to add Mepis Community Repositories manually.
B. KDE/Plasma crashes
Even though both distributions work with KDE very well, they both have certain issues:
MEPIS: When opening kmplayer, KDE crashes. I think that it is because of the mess I made with codecs trying to install VLC. Sometimes MEPIS suspends the composition and the effects are therefore disabled temporarily.
MANDRIVA: The clock sometimes freezes (only in the netbook). This is corrected by enabling the display of seconds in the clock options.
Concerning performance and ease of use, both distributions can satisfy the needs of users who lack technical computer knowledge or formal Linux training. I feel that SimplyMepis might be a better choice for users who want a simple system and do not really care much for eye candy. In addition, Mepis comes with Java pre-installed, whereas you must install it in Mandriva.
I decided to keep Mepis next to Mandriva in my netbook's HD for further learning.