A Tour of the SimplyMEPIS KDE Desktop
The SimplyMEPIS distro is based on a fusion of Debian and Ubuntu sources, and ships with a slick KDE based GUI/desktop. If you are familiar with the Linux Mint LXDE desktop, you may experience some feelings of deja vu! Both SimplyMEPIS and Linux Mint distros both have similar aims: to provide a complete O/S that is usable straight out of the box.
One of the big plus points of SimplyMEPIS over it's rivals is the amount of software that it comes pre-installed with
There are two big players in the Linux desktop GUI arena: Gnome and KDE. The SimplyMEPIS GUI is based on the latter, whereas distros like Ubuntu and Fedora use the former . Both provide similar functionality -and each one has fiercely loyal advocates. However, if you are new to Linux, then which desktop you choose will depend purely on personal taste: both do the job brilliantly!
One of the huge plus points of SimplyMEPIS over it's rivals for the Linux newbie is the amount of software that it comes pre-installed with - meaning that you can start using it straight out of the box. Here is a taster of some of the applications the latest release (11) is currently shipping with:
|Word Processor ||LibreOffice Write|
|Web Support||Adobe Flash Support, PDF Viewer|
In addition, it comes with all the system tools you would expect - as well as the ability to fully customize the look and feel should you so desire.
Note that even if an application is not in the default installation, it can be easily downloaded using the Synaptic Package Manager within minutes.
The downside is that the SimplyMEPIS distro is larger than most (-although smaller than Mint), so it will not fit on a CD - and will require more disc space. Also, should you prefer different applications to those supplied, you are going to have to remove the unwanted apps and install the desired ones anyway, so the pre-install might not give you anything!
In summary, SimplyMEPIS could be a good option for users new to Linux, with the only real reservations being the amount of disc space needed and the (relatively) small user community to draw on. It's Debian base should ensure that there is no shortage of applications available should you find a gap in those that ship as standard/
For old hands at Linux, we have yet to be convinced that it has anything to offer over Ubuntu or Fedora. In use, it is slick - and if you have a grudge against Ubuntu - or are not experienced enough to throw your lot in with Fedora - it is definitely worth a try!
Note: the screenshots in this section were taken from SimplyMEPIS version 11, which was the latest version at the time of writing.
When you boot SimplyMEPIS, the desktop will display:
As can be seen, the default desktop is a fairly spartan one - with a line of icons (-either invoking the file manager or giving access to documentation), the KDE panel and the context cashew in the top right corner. The desktop background can be customized as desired, using the System Settings window.
Open windows and applications display in the main desktop area.
MEPIS allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, by simply dragging the desired file to the "Desktop" heading in the left hand pane of the file manager window. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.
The bulk of your desktop interaction with MEPIS will be through the KDE panel at the bottom of the desktop:
This can be divided into four main parts:
Each Main Menu option will, in turn, have a sub-menus off it listing various related applications.
SimplyMEPIS uses the Dolphin File Manager - and this works very much like that of it's Ubuntu counterpart with only superficial differences (-mainly the general KDE look and feel).
The File Manager can be accessed directly from the icon in the KDE Panel - or via the "System" option on the Main Menu. Both with open up a window to your user home directory, similar to that below:
Left-click any item to select it:
Double-click a directory to navigate down into it. Double-click a file to either open it or run it (-depending on whether it is executable or not). Generally, executables are shown as a cog icon (-see above example).
If you right-click on any blank area of the MEPIS desktop, the Context Menu will display:
From here, you can create a new file, access the File Manager, configure the desktop, exit MEPIS, etc.
If you click on the icon in the top left corner () (-aka the cashew) a menu will pop up:
This allows you to configure the desktop. Note that, to avoid accidental changes, you need to first unlock the widgets. Once your changes are completed, lock the widgets again.
If you click either on the icon in the KDE Panel or the "Settings" option in the Main Menu, then the System Settings window will open up:
This allows you to configure the operating system to your specific needs.
If you click on the icon in the KDE Panel a window to the Kmail email client will open up:
Initially, this will allow you to configure the email client, then to read and write emails from these accounts.
When you have finished with MEPIS, select the "Leave" option in the Main Menu:
From here, you can select from a number of options:
- End Session : log out of the current user session
- Lock Screen : lock the terminal (e.g. while you are away from the PC)
- Start a parallel session as another user : log in as a different user whilst retaining the current user session
- Suspend to RAM : save the current state in RAM and go into power-save mode
- Suspend to disc : save the current state to disc and power down
- Restart Computer : reboot the PC
- Turn Off Computer : power down the PC, losing everything in memory
Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out. If you decide you wish to continue with the current session, simply click away from the menu on the desktop.
If you choose to shutdown the PC, you will be asked to confirm your choice, prior to carrying out the action:
The computer will restart in 30 seconds by default: if you click "Cancel", you will be returned to the current session; if you click "Turn Off Computer" it will shut down immediately.