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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

K.O'd by Zenwalk -> Time to give MEPIS a go

Yesterday I decided to upgrade the packages installed on my system ("netpkg upgrade"). Apparently this wasn't a particularly good idea. Today as I booted up my computer a blank screen greeted me instead of expected login one. I suppose I managed to break up my graphics driver or something yet again. I didn't figure out how to boot in "safe mode" or similar (probably simple if you know how :) ) so it was time to seek another Linux distribution to give a go.

This time I decided to give MEPIS 8.0 a go. Installing it was easy. The installer was almost as smooth as one provided by Ubuntu (I'm a bit biased towards the simplicity Ubuntu installer provides :) ). By default Mepis provides KDE 3.5.something based desktop. It uses apt-get/Synaptic combination familiar from Ubuntu for handling packages. So jumping in was not quite that hard.

After getting my feet wet I decided to install some programs I happen to need and give 3D acceleration a go. To my surprise Blender ran well. Even bigger surprise was that there were no problems with PyOpenGL whatsoever!

MEPIS includes special utilities which can be used to install drivers/whatnot. This made it easy to install the proprietary driver (fglrx). After installing the driver it booted up just fine. There were some minor artefacts in the lower right corner of the desktop. Unfortunately running Blender or glxgears resulted in instant freezing of the system. I suppose this means fglrx is unusable but that's just fine considering the open source driver (radeon) appears to work well on MEPIS.

I still have many things to test and figure out (DVB-T card does not appear to work out of box so it's time for another firmware "hack" I suppose) but at least it has worked quite well so far.

I got the DVB-T card work just the way as previously (all you need to do is to copy the missing firmware file to right place). The DVB playback works but it has nasty artefacts (blue/red vertical lines). I had this same problem in Ubuntu (Jaunty) as well so that was to be expected.

Volume up/down (fn+arrow up/down) didn't work by default so I had to set my keyboard model (Control Center -> Regional & Accessibility -> Keyboard Layout, Keyboard model) to "Acer Laptop". After this tiny tweak it appears to work just fine.