MEPIS AntiX on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I’ve never worked with MEPIS or any of its derivatives before. I know about them, but I never took the time to install or investigate until now, and thus far it has been a very enjoyable experience.

I snagged the AntiX ISO after a comment left elsewhere here, and while I’m not a big Fluxbox fan, I find this to be one of the most pleasant setups I’ve seen yet. The disc booted cleanly and went straight to a clean, albeit dark-themed, desktop.

The installation tool, like Wolvix‘s, was a good step easier to run than Ubuntu’s, in my experience. It handled partitioning without any input from me, and had only a few questions to ask before it was done. Time to install was probably under 20 minutes, even on this old machine. (The only quirk was the root password — which is “root”. I guessed it and everything was happy.)

It found and configured the network without a hitch — the Xircom card never made it blink. Video went straight to the right dimensions and depth. USB mouse? Check. JP106 keyboard? Check. In fact, I can’t think of anything that didn’t get set up right, on the first try, and without my picking at it. It was a nice change.

AntiX seems to be set up with a good array of GTK2, GTK1.2 and CLI apps, for just about every need. It’s not as overwhelming a selection as some distros, but it’s plain that someone made sure a machine of almost any power has an option. As an example, Firefox is coupled with Dillo and something called hv3 — which I need to investigate a little more. Likewise, rox-filer is default, but Xfe is available. Xchat is installed, but so is irssi. Sylpheed plus mutt. And so forth.

Speedwise, AntiX ranks pretty well. I should repeat that it’s Fluxbox-based, which means it’s probably faster than an XFCE-based distro by default. But the numbers are still very good.

Firefox opens in around 12 seconds, but needs another 6 or 7 to finally render a working page. (Dillo, on the other hand, is up, loaded and finished in less than 4 seconds … but that’s to be expected.) Startup is in 1:25, which is pretty quick. Shutdown is about 25 seconds, which isn’t great, but usually doesn’t matter to me. Other applications are as peppy, or fall in a range that’s proportionally fast.

In fact, the only things I could complain about would be superficial. The gray theme is nice, but would be nicer if the GTK theme matched as well. The glossy clearlooks effects are a little out of place; something flat and gray, like a rezlooks variant, would probably fit better.

But that’s exceedingly trivial. The default desktop is sharp, and cosmetics beyond that aren’t worth mentioning.

One thing that does strike me as interesting, and I think I knew this from the Ubuntu forums, but MEPIS has some Ubuntu built into it. Since the repositories and kernel match the Dapper release, I decided to play a little shell game. I tacked the Gutsy repositories on to the end of the sources.list file and let it upgrade itself.

Which didn’t really work. Some packages weren’t exactly compatible, and I got a lot of errors out of aptitude. I could reboot, but after a point there wasn’t anything I could fix or install. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s always fun to try.

In all, I think AntiX, and probably Mepis by extension, is worth trying out. If you like Fluxbox, I’d definitely suggest it. And since it did a fantastic job setting itself up on a very peculiar machine, it wins extra points with me.

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15 Responses to “MEPIS AntiX on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb”


  1. 1 n2j3 2007/09/21 at 4:25 PM

    After about 5 failed attempts at installing ubuntulite on my craptop (Acer TravelMate 512 DX, 366 mhz celeron, 192MB RAM, 4 (four) gigabytes HD – no USB – connector’s broken >_<) I decided on installing Antix 6.5
    (in hindsight i should have gone for antiX-M7-beta2 as it seems to have a lighter set of apps).

    So far it’s the only distro that’s working so good, it takes a while to boot (haven’t timed it yet but will do in a follow up – definitely in the seconds zone though) but also has a very handy sysvconf that lets you minimally tweak what you load at startup. It detected my netgear(!) pcmcia nic card in seconds, took a little bit extra in configuring my 800×600 12.1″ lcd monitor though (dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg – nothing more). I think this distro is here to stay.Beats the pre-installed win98 hands down :)

    So far tried (without success): grml(both small and normal), gem elive, ubuntulite, puppylinux, dsl, xubuntu. Mind you I’ve only used linux/gnu stuff for 6 months now, so I’m no “pro”.

  2. 2 n2j3 2007/09/21 at 7:17 PM

    Excuse the double post, but the “root” problem could have been solved with a visit to the actual antix page

    http://antix.mepis.org/index.php/Main_Page#Quick_Tips

  3. 3 Kazuya 2007/09/21 at 10:24 PM

    You need to give some looking or trial of other distros such as zenwalk, vectorlinux for speed and ease of install. Mepis historically has always been more adaptable to varied hardware and just works or gets installed. The developer, Warren has typically done fantasticly in this regard. For a machine with those low RAm spec, the slack-based distros would run much faster. This has been my experience.

    Now, if you get puppy to install, it would run even faster as it comes in fluxbox as well..

    Great review though.

  4. 4 K.Mandla 2007/09/22 at 12:26 AM

    @n2j3: You’re right, calling it a quirk isn’t really fair. I would have looked on the AntiX pages next, if I hadn’t guessed it first.

    @Kazuya: Thanks for the suggestions, but. …

    Zenwalk
    Vector Linux
    Slackware
    Puppy Linux

  5. 5 James 2007/09/22 at 1:17 AM

    Good to see suggestions work :-) Glad you liked it. Good review. Antix is now, like its bigger brother Mepis, is based on Debian, with a few Ubuntu pachages. You could try upgrading with the Debian unstable repos and see what happens….

  6. 6 Luke 2007/09/22 at 1:48 AM

    Nice. I’m definitely going to give Antix a whirl when I get bored with ubuntulite.

  7. 7 Lydia 2007/09/22 at 2:13 AM

    Good review. AntiX is one of the best lightweight distros.

  8. 8 anticapitalista 2007/09/22 at 3:40 AM

    Thanks for a very nice review K.Mandla, though the link on distrowatch says it is antiX-M7-beta2 and not antiX-Mepis6.5 “Spartacus”.

    As you rightly pointed out Spartacus is based on Ubuntu “Dapper” repos and “Mepis” repos, which is why simply upgrading to Gutsy or Fiesty will break.

    This is the main reason why antiX-7 (following Mepis) moved back to the debian repos. Upgrading should be a snitch, in fact I have my installed antiX-M7 fully upgraded though the Debian sid repos.

    antiX-M7-rc1 (288MB) was very recently made available for testing, and the final should be ready (hopefully) not long after Mepis7 goes final at the end of the month.

    Once again thanks for the review and the positive comments.

  9. 9 guest007 2007/09/22 at 4:27 AM

    Great Article! Just saw a cool little flash video done about MEPIS AntiX 7.0 over at ReviewLinux.Com. Might be nice to link to it.

  10. 10 anticapitalista 2007/09/28 at 6:55 AM

    I know you have finished testing, but why not give BeaFanatIX a run. http://bea.cabarel.com/
    It is very, very good (at least as a livecd)

  11. 11 eriefisher 2008/12/30 at 10:56 AM

    Update for you.

    antix 8 is available for testing. Now based strictly on Debian(wise move as far as I’m concerned). It’s better than ever and keeps improving. Maybe a re-evaluation is in order. You may need to wait for the kernel being worked out to boot that old AMD though. Well worth another look.

    eriefisher


  1. 1 hv3: A new contender appears « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2007/09/26 at 8:52 AM
  2. 2 Skinning the proverbial dead cat « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2007/10/17 at 6:23 PM
  3. 3 Linux Mint Daryna on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2008/01/10 at 8:41 AM
  4. 4 SimplyMEPIS 8.5 is Out! | Operating System Blog Trackback on 2010/03/25 at 8:01 PM

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