Show stoppers that must be fixed
I am really disappointed that Mepis still lacks the ability to mount USB Flash drives without hacking into the fstab file. The documentation claims that this is really not an issue, but my research and own experience dictate otherwise.
Even worse, this has never been an issue with any other distribution in recent memory outside of SimplyMepis. I'm sorry, but when Ubuntu easily mounts pretty much anything from external DVD drives to USB Flash drives, Mepis needs to get its act together if the goal is to attract new users. What's worse is that this is hardly a new problem! I have seen issues to this effect since 2006.
To be fair however, I must point out that this latest experience with the USB drive mounting problem is on both a beta release the Mepis Live CD. It is possible, be it unlikely, on an installed system this is not a problem any longer. The same applies to mounting a CD from an external DVD drive.
The other show stopper that must be addressed for a proper Mepis comeback is the "shotgun approach" to placing key menu items. Clearly, most of this insanity can be blamed on KDE and the desktop environment's approach to burying the user in way too many options, some of them redundant. But those for the sake of new users, how about desktop links to the Mepis only add-ons such as the Mepis networking assistant? The development team did such a great job with it, seems like a real waste to have the new user clicking on random icons to locate it?
SimplyMepis becoming User Friendly Distro v2?
It has been said that under different circumstances, SimplyMepis may have very well ended up where Ubuntu is today. A shining example of what desktop Linux aspires to be.
So even considering the fact that Ubuntu takes a stronger stance on multi-national cooperation thanks to the cash/time coming from Canonical, SimplyMepis has a lot going for it. And had its development not have been so stagnated just as Ubuntu was up and coming, I honestly have to wonder if SimplyMepis might have kept the super popular Ubuntu off of its Linux throne.
But who cares? So long as one desktop Linux distro is doing great, we all benefit, right? I disagree with this sentiment.
Despite my own frustrations with issues seen with Ubuntu 8.10, I use Ubuntu 8.04 on my main desktop PC. Thanks to the international acceptance of this distribution, we have cooperation unlike anyone has ever seen from the desktop Linux community. GetDeb.net for the very latest releases of popular software, Alberto's Envy installer for the very latest video drivers for NVIDIA or ATI users. And of course, the mighty Ubuntu community itself.
Yes, SimplyMepis was certainly among first truly newbie friendly desktop Linux distributions. And yes, there is no question that the Mepis approach provides a vastly more stable experience. This is good, as SimplyMepis is designed for the new user.
But I remain hopeful that my experience with the USB device mounting is simply a fluke, due to my running the distribution off of a Live CD only. Because if it is not, it will push people back to Ubuntu or onto other distributions altogether.
Three to four years ago, this might have been forgivable. But today users expect more. Their time is valuable, and hopefully SimplyMepis continues to keep its focus on this fact for the distros future benefit.