Friday, November 17, 2006

Been a long, long, long, long lonely time!

Well, it has been months and months since I have used this blog! Since last year, I have become much more a fan of the Debian based Ubuntu distros and their derivatives. The 6.06 release marked some major improvements, but the 6.10 release did even more. SimplyMEPIS 6.0 is now based upon Ubuntu, and it exceeds the simplicity of the Kubuntu components upon which it is based.

Xubuntu is a reasonably lightweight distribution if you have older hardware, and Xfld is a technology preview of XFCE that presents a nicely configured Live CD implementation of Xubuntu that you can, if you wish, install to disk.

Other desktop oriented distros that have done a good job this year include SimplyMEPIS 6.0, Freespire, Xandros 4.0, and one that I have recently come to appreciate - SLED 10: SUSE Linux Enterprise Distribution 10.

SLED is a GNOME based distribution that contains carefully chosen applications and a very nicely done desktop that is perhaps the leading alternative for enterprises to consider if they are contemplating replacing some or all of their corporate desktops with a commercial Linux distribution. Xandros 4.0 is also a very good implementation, but Novell already knows corporations and they know what to do with this. I give SLED a decent chance of getting a slice of the corporate desktop market if there really is one.

I have to say I am beginning to wonder about that. I have been using Linux productively at home since 2001. I used to use a UNIX desktop system at work all the time. To think that either a UNIX or a Linux desktop is usable is not even a question for me, but apparently it is for most other people, otherwise it would already be in widespread use.

I think people are reluctant, if not afraid, to try something new. They do not want to spend a lot of time learning something else, so unless it is a plug in and go kind of proposition, it often won't happen.

I am here to tell you that you easily could plop in either Xandros 4.0 or SLED 10 on a workstation either at home or in the office and immediately start to do useful work. Neither one is the most complete media giant distro, but they both contain the basic word processing, Email, and Web browsing components needed to do 90% of the corporate communications, plus other Internet tools and some media capabilities.

Personally, I have been using SimplyMEPIS 6.0 at home for months for about 90% of my work, Freespire for about 5% of my work, and many other test distributions along the way, and each of them has proven capable of reading Web pages (and I tend to use Web mail, so I get my mail, too). I have been able to do routine editing with them, so the bottom line for me is they all get the job done.

What is particularly nice about SLED and Xandros 4.0 is that they both have a physical resemblance quite similar to what someone used to Windows can get used to. Are they identical? No. Are they similar? Yes, in function, but different in the applications they run, which are functional equivalents with more secure interfaces to the underlying system.

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