Originally Posted by Paul
I had a look at elive Topaz. It's very pretty, but you do have to make a contribution if you want to install it.
Indeed you do. Funny how opinions change after a test drive. I spent the weekend testing OSs and based on the list from my prior post, here is my experience thus far: Compiz
. Yes In know this is not an OS. I start with this since this seems to be the main compositing windows manager for linux (yes I know KDE uses Kwin, but I haven't tested it yet). It seems like most desktops use this is their main source of eye candy in combination with some form of dock and applets/desklets/widgets. The issue is how well it is integrated into the underlying desktop software and how well it works with your hardware. Some OSs I tested (M9 & Elive) do a wonderful job of integrating compiz, while others (moonOS & OpenGeu) not so much. Linux Mint 9
. WOW this is one seriously impressive piece of software. At first I was a bit apprehensive because it was like exploring through some new house without knowing where all the rooms are or what is in them (remember, I'm coming from windows - and to a lesser extent, Android). I had to do a little configuring to get it in a format that I was more comfortable with, but now that it is there, there are just features of this that I'm amazed others haven't used before. for example, their package manager and installer is freaking awesome (love the reviews). Their revised start menu with scrolling categories allows for massive amounts of information to be made available in a virtually painless way to navigate. IN many ways I would say this is the most professional of all the systems I've tried thus far. I wish that the system had better desklet/widget support. As it is, I had to install a dock (cairo-dock) in order to get desklets enabled on the desktop (as opposed to the dock or the panel). What can I say, coming from android, I've turned into a Widget junky, and having multiple desktops, is an invitation to dedicating desktop space to them. I still have a lot to learn about the software, but for now, all I can say is WOW, Most impressive! I'm definitely sticking with M9 and will do a dual boot of it on my old 700m. PCLinuxOS 2010
: I've heard wonderful things about this software - especially if you are coming from windows, as it is supposed to be one of the most similar to a windows environment. Sadly I was only able to load it on safe mode on my 700m, so I wasn't able to test it fully. From what I could see though, it was indeed very similar to windows in look and style. I loaded the gnome variant and immediately noticed that the start menu here is a more traditional set up than the awesome one in Mint. Not bad, but after using the mint one, I can't imagine wanting to go back to something more like microsoft. I understand that Kwin is very well integrated into the KDE desktop and that PCLOS supports widgets much more easily than other Linux variants, including Mint. I can't wait to test this, but for now, I'll reserve judgment on PCLOS. MoonOS and OpenGEU
: Disappointing. I tested both and I'm throwing them together because they are so darn similar. They are basically lightweight Ubuntu (easy peazy I believe) based distros using the enlightenment E17 desktop. In the case of OpenGEU, they have replaced some of the components of E17 that are not yet stable (E17 has not yet had a stable release) with stable equivalents from Ubuntu. Both systems are preloaded with E17's standard dock, which is not a bad thing, but it is neither as flexible or as intuitive as many other app docks. It is made more for maximizing small screen real estate than true usability or customization. Both also come with a secondary side dock which can be enabled, but which both softwares pre-load with a mixture of regularly used programs and desklets. Both use Enlightenment's version of compiz, but both seem to have stripped it so much of usability that the effects come across as cheezy (this is especially true of MoonOS). Both are made for netbooks, but I'm afraid I just don't like the approach. They seem a little too restrictive for my taste, and from a user POV, they seem a little crowded. That said, every review I've read loves OpenGEU, for it's rock solid stability. While I was not a fan, both seemed like very solid netbook distros with very little differentiation. OpenGEU is more solid and a little more usable, but also configured to lock you by default out of a lot of functionality. Moon OS is configured more openly, and encourages you to customize it more than OpenGEU and has less software pre-installed. Because it uses pure E17, MoonOS is a bit more unstable than OpenGEU. Frankly I had higher expectations for both OSs and found them both to be somewhat disappointing. Elive
: Now this was one impressive OS! If you want a unique look, speed and gobs of eye candy, then you should seriously consider trying this one out. This one is Debian based and also uses the E17 enlightenment desktop. Unlike the MoonOS and OpenGEU, this one has MUCH better compiz integration and is blindingly fast. Unlike every other distro I've seen, when you load from the USB, you are given the option to test the prior (unstable) version for free or "donate" (ie buy) the new (stable) version 2.0 for $15. If the version I tested is anything to go buy, I would have no problem spending $15 to install this. Thus far this is the best integration I've seen of a full fledged OS specifically targeted to netbooks and older machines. Not only is it blindingly fast (faster even than mint 9), highly configurable, and with a small footprint, but it also intentionally occupies little screen real estate. Though different from Mint 9, I loved how they integrated the start menu on this one. It's basically nowhere to be seen on the screen, but if you left click on any open section of the screen, the menu pops open where your mouse is located. The menu is also pre-arranged into categories in order to help you utilize less screen space. The dockbar here is not the standard e17 dock used by MoonOS and openGEU. Instead it reminds me much more of Cairodock, which is not a bad thing. Speed, configurability and a well thought out layout, make this a very impressive piece of software. I think this is the one I'm going to default to for the 1012.
A friend has insisted that I try OpenSusse and that will probably be my next test. From what I can see it is similar to PCLOS in their approach to give Linux a similar look and feel to Windows. Will see how much similarity there is between them after I have a chance to test both. One thing is for sure Mint 9 will be the very tall standard by which they will be measured.