Adventurs in Mepis – Day 1

I installed Mepis (pronounced like Memphis) on my second machine last night. I wanted to do a Debian distro because I’ve heard such great things about apt-get. I have messed with several Linux distors before but all were RPM based.

Mepis comes as a live CD, meaning you push it into the machine and it runs Linux. As it turns out this was an extremely useful feature. I was installing on a drive I had previously used to back up some data. The drive had an NTFS partition and I wanted to move some of the data off the disk before I erased it. I was able to use SMB to transfer the files over my network to my windows box. Now this is something new for me, iv heard of Linux reading NTFS partitions but it was always ‘experimental’. Mepis auto mounted the partition and it was a breeze to share out via SMB. Score 1 for Mepis.

I proceeded with the install and weirdness ensued. The partition editor kept quitting or crashing after every operation. I think this had something to do with the auto mounter but I never stopped to figure this out. I set up swap and two reiserfs partitions and finished the install. This was probably the easiest Linux install I have ever seen, aside from editing partitions there are no questions to answer and even that could have been done automatically.

Reboot into my new Linux install and everything works. All hardware got detected even the on-board sound, the PCI NIC & the USB mouse with scroll wheel support working right out the box. Then I noticed that the screen resolution was set to 1024×768 and there did not appear to be any way to change it in the GUI. Off to /etc/X11/XF86config-4 to see what’s the matter. Well the monitor (Hitachi CM812) was detected and had all the correct modeline’s set for every resolution the monitor supports. It was even more correct that Windows which thinks this monitor cant do 1600×1200 @ 85Hz. The display section, however, only had one resolution for all the colour depths; 1024×768. So I mess with this, break it once, make a trip to the shell, reboot several times and finally I’m booting at 1600×1200. Seems some things never get any easier.

The next thing I notice is that fonts just look wrong. In Firefox bold text is being substituted for italics, and the font kerning is way too close. So I discover that Mepis doesn’t ship with descent TrueType fonts, and its not exactly their fault, the fonts aren’t free. So I used SMB to copy all the fonts off my windows box and then told X where to find them. This helped things some but it wasn’t perfect. Firefox would not remember my font preferences when I entered them in the dialog. I made a trip to about:config and set the options there. I also had to set matching options in KDE & Konqueror. Now my Linux box looks almost like my Windows box. The Linux font situation is apparently in flux so I suppose haven’t to wrangle the fonts is understandable.

Stay tuned for day two where I mess with Apache and pimp out my desktop to look like Mac OSX.




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