MEPIS 7 Upgrade FAQ

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Contents

What are the main differences between MEPIS 6.5 and 7?

The primary difference between Mepis 6.x series and Mepis 7 series is the move to the Debian tool chain. Mepis 6.x used the Dapper Drake tool chain in order to build programs available to the end user. The result is that most programs compiled against Dapper Drake were compatible with Mepis 6 series so users were and are able to use programs placed in the official Dapper Drake Repositories.
Mepis 7 series uses the Debian Tool Chain that is current with the Debian Etch (4.0) distribution. This means that programs compiled against the Debian Etch tool chain are generally compatible with Mepis 7 series, and users can access the Debian Etch Repositories without severe problems. Because the Debian Tool Chain is fairly consistent, this means that users can crossgrade or upgrade to the Debian testing repositories and have access to newer versions of programs packaged by Debian maintainers.
One of the problems with Mepis 6.x series is being addressed in Mepis 7 series. Due to the unique way that Ubuntu builds their various distributions it is technically difficult to smoothly upgrade from one version of Ubuntu Linux to a newer version of Ubuntu Linux. Sadly this means that users of Mepis 6.x series are fairly limited to packages only compiled against Dapper Drake's tool chain and there is no real upgrade path. Debian provides a smooth upgrade path even with major changes to the underlying system, and it is the opinion of the Mepis Development team that the Debian Etch tool chain will allow easy changing of the underlying structure of Mepis 7 series in such a way that users will not be faced with having to complete a re-install from a Disc Medium. This upgrade process is known as a "rolling upgrade philosophy."

Issues surrounding the newer Linux Kernel

Other differences between Mepis 6.x 32bit series and Mepis 7 32bit series is the move to a default SMP kernel compiled against i686. Currently the Linux Kernel development team states that SMP kernels should have no problems running on non-SMP hardware. The move to an SMP kernel enables Mepis 7 to scale from single thread Athlon's to Quad-Core Barcelona and higher on just one disc. An i686 kernel should result in faster performance on identical hardware compared against the i386 based Mepis 6.x series.
There is one caveat to the kernel change. Older processors such as Pentium II, AMD K5, and AMD K6 won't function with the i686 kernel. Considerations for providing i386 kernels for AntiX have been brought up before. To get involved with AntiX and to make sure that these older processors continue to enjoy Mepis, users can drop by the AntiX Forum
Linux kernel versions higher than 2.6.20 use a libATA that consolidates all disk drives into the SCSI/SATA schema. Since MEPIS 7.0 uses kernel 2.6.22, you will find all disk labeled sda, sdb etc. instead of hdx for IDE drives. In addition to any naming confusion, be aware that the kernel will treat IDE drives as if they were SCSI/SATA. Instead of recognizing up to 63 partitions per disk drive, only 15 partitions are capable of being addressed in the SCSI/SATA schema.
Plan ahead if you need to repartition any of your hard disks: after upgrading, your existing partitions hdx16 and higher will not be recognized.



Contents of Releases

What exactly do the ISO releases contain?

From the point of view of an end user, the ISO's released by Mepis contain all the various applications and tools released through the Mepis pools, as well as application updates released through the Debian Etch Pools.


So, if I already have Mepis Installed and I ran the updates through Synaptic, I don't have to download and install the new ISO release?

That is correct. If you already have Mepis Linux 7 Series installed and you keep on top of updates distributed through the apt-repositories, then you will already have the contents of the most recently released Mepis ISO.


I did the updates, but my login screen still says I am on Beta 4, Beta 5, Beta 6, or RC1? Am I still upgraded?

Yes. You are still upgraded if the yellow apt-notify box on the taskbar says 0. Currently Mepis Linux versions are only identified by a text entry on the login-screen. There are no either identifiers conveniently available to view. Currently the Mepis developers are not in the habit of issuing a new configuration file through the apt repositories in order to update the Login Screen's text. To change that manually, click KMenu --> Control Center --> System Administration --> Login Manager. Click Administrator Mode at the bottom of the screen, supply the root password, and alter the Greeting as you like.


I don't have Mepis installed, and previous versions failed. Should I try this new version?

The release ISO also contains updates to the hardware detection systems and drivers. These are things like changes to the kernel, and modifications to the install routines. From the perspective of somebody who does not already have Mepis installed, the new versions may contain fixes in the startup procedures that are not documented in release notes.

Upgrading from previous Versions of Mepis Linux

  • Can I upgrade from the Mepis 3.x and MepisLite releases to Mepis 7?
While the Mepis 3.x and MepisLite releases were based on Debian, attempting repository upgrades to the Mepis 7 releases is not a recommended action. The underlying kernel, X.org, and almost all of the KDE sections have been changed.


  • Can I upgrade from the Mepis 6.x series to Mepis 7?
No. The Mepis 6.x series was based on the Dapper Drake Tool Chain. Mepis 7 is being built on the Debian Etch Toolchain. These are not compatible releases. Changing repositories and attempting a distribution-upgrade is not a recommended action.


  • Am I going to have to format my /home partition in order to upgrade?
No. Currently there have been very few issues with upgrading from the Mepis 6.x releases to 7.x while using the preserve home partition feature of the Mepis Installer. There may be conflicts between various configuration files, so it is recommended to delete stock configuration files like /home/(username)/.kde/ before installing Mepis 7. TIP: you can use the MEPIS User Assistant to reset the KDE config files per user account. If the configuration files contain important information, such as /home/(username)/.mozilla-thunderbird, please make sure these folders are backed up to a safe location. You should also take care if you use Kmail, since it both has config files under ~.kde and ~Mail.

Support Questions

  • How long will MEPIS 7 series be supported?
Mepis 7 will be supported by the Mepis Development team until Debian releases their next major distribution, currently named Lenny. Afterwards users will be able to continue to upgrade their Mepis 7 installations using packages compiled against the Debian Etch tool chain.


  • How long will Mepis 6.x series be supported?
Unfortunately Mepis 6.x series users are limited to the updates made available to packages compiled against the Dapper Drake tool chain. One of the motivating factors to return to using Debian Linux was the poor to non-existent upgrade path available to Operating Systems using the Dapper Drake tool chain.


  • I'm not really sure I understand the updates process... could you clarify?
The objective for Mepis 7 series is to be able to provide continuous upgrades on both major and minor components of the Operating System without requiring a reinstall from a physical medium (the LiveCD). Key packages such as X.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice and KDE will be maintained and updated through the official Mepis 7 repositories.
Mepis 7 also strives to maintain binary compatibility with Debian's Etch distribution, relying on Debian Etch to provide non key, but desirable packages such as Python and Apache. The hoped for result is that users will get the benefits of Debian's extremely large pool of software while also having the benefits of an OS designed for Desktop use. Think of it like buying a Mustang from Ford Motor Company, then sending it to Roush Racing for a makeover.
Mepis 7 will also see the introduction of a community repository. Packages submitted to the community repository must be binary compatible with Debian Etch, and follow the guidelines set at in the Packaging Tutorial. Thus community members can fill in the gaps where a Debian Etch program is either out of date, or simply not present.
More information about the upcoming community repository will be made available on Mepislovers and in a Wiki Entry as it is made available.

Hardware Questions

  • Now that Mepis 7 has been released, are there any lists for known issues?
Work is under way to provide a proper bug tracking system for the Mepis Linux releases, which will be based on Mantis. Currently there is an entry for Known Graphics Issues - Mepis 7 which covers common problems, and there is a forum for discussing bugs in MEPIS 7.
  • Will MEPIS 7 support my very rare piece of hardware like 6.5 did?
If you do have an exotic piece of hardware that worked in the Dapper Drake based Mepis 6.x series that is NOT operational in Mepis 7 Series, do drop by the Mepis Lovers Forums and state in the beta section which hardware is not functional. It would also help to go ahead and have a snapshot showing the relevant sections in Kinfocenter. Snapshots can be taken with Ksnapshot available under the Graphics menu, and posted to a free image service provider like Photobucket.
Alternatively, install and run the lshw command in konsole, and copy the output of the test, although this does leave more information to crawl through.


  • My Hard-drive is not being recognized correctly, it says SDA, SDB, or SDC, but it should be HDA.
Mepis 7 series is currently using the 2.6.22 Linux Kernel. This kernel introduces changes in the drive structure standardizing all hard-drives onto SDA. This includes external USB drives as seen in the Mepisguides Ipod Hardware Report.


  • I have a Radeon 8500, 9000, 9100, or 9250 graphics card. I had 3D in Mepis 3.x series, now the fglrx driver won't work.
ATi dropped support for the Radeon 8500 series in August 2006. The last ATi driver to support these cards was the 8.28 driver release. Currently the Mepis 7 Betas are using the 8.40 driver release.


  • I have a Radeon card that is supported by FGLRX, but the driver won't install.
The Mepis 7 betas started with the 8.39 driver that when repackaged resulted in a hardware overlay in the lower right hand corner. A work around was made available on Mepisguides. In order to address the issue the driver packages was upgraded to the 8.40 release, which has resulted in another problem where the driver is not loading properly. A workaround has yet to be posted on Mepisguides, so sorry, no visual guide, but we can tell you how to fix the problem.
Open up the Mepis X-Assistant and start the Fglrx Driver install.
Give it about 2 minutes, then cancel.
Try to open up Synaptic. There should be an error and the Synaptic Icon on the taskbar will display a question mark.
Synaptic will instruct you to run the command dpkg --configure -a
Open up Konsole and SU to root
Run dpkg --configure -a
Close the console and REBOOT.
When Mepis comes back up, open the X Window Assistant back up and select the Fglrx driver again.
Reboot one more time.


  • I have a RadeonHD graphics card, when will it be supported?
Currently there are two drivers that provide support for the RadeonHD graphics cards. The official Open Sourced Driver in X.org, and the current Official Fglrx ATi driver. However, neither one of these are currently available for Mepis 7, and no information has been garnered as to when either of these drivers will be added. Currently Mepis 7 is using the 8.40 driver which is AMD/ATi's last legacy driver release.


  • I have a Nvidia Geforce 8x00 series card, when will it be supported?
Mepis 7 series currently includes the Nvidia Linux Display Driver Version 100.14.19. Geforce 8x00 series cards should work with this driver.


  • I have a Nvidia Original Geforce, Geforce2 TI, or a Riva TNT card and I cannot get the legacy driver to work with my card?
Nvidia currently has two separate legacy drivers. The default legacy driver used by Mepis 7 is the .96 driver release, although the .71 driver is in the repositories. See NVIDIA supported cards for more information about various supported cards under Nvidia-GLX.


  • My graphics card won't display anything at all.
A poorly shot visual guide is available at Mepisguides showing some of the boot options available on the Mepis Linux Live CD (current as of Beta 3). These options include the default X.org auto-detection, forcing a 60hz refresh rate, forcing a 75hz refresh rate, and the VESA mode. If the graphics card will not load on the Default X.org setting, try forcing a different resolution using F3, or by using a different display method.


  • I have an ATi Rage graphics card... how do I get DRI?
Short answer, Direct Rendering Infrastructure for Rage graphics is limited to 2D support only
Long answer: Alex Deucher has merged the old R128 driver with the X.org Radeon Driver. The merged X.org ATi driver means that users of Rage 128 chips will get proper DRI support. However, according to Alex, - DRI initializes correctly, but 3D apps segfault. Currently Mepis 7 Series does not appear to use the newer merged driver.


  • I have an XGI graphics card... is it supported?
Technically yes. IBM is working on an XGI driver for X.org.


  • I have one of the Intel motherboards that uses a chipset without the PATA support and I had to use the special Boot mode in Mepis 6.5. Will this motherboard and chipset work in Mepis 7 Series?
(still needs to be answered. Saist does not have any of these, and is talking about himself in 3rd person again.)
(a forum user has reported that Mepis 7 Beta 5 successfully booted with VESA mode on one of these Jmicron boards with a Geforce 8x00 series card.)


  • Is there a problem with Grub when both IDE and SATA drives are present?
Yes. there is an issue. Please visit Grub with IDE and SATA Drives


  • A new Graphics driver has been released, and it might fix my existing driver problem. How long till the new driver is added?
Warren has a stated preference for using Debian Sources rather than pulling drivers directly from Vendors pages. This simplifies the development workload for Warren, or any other developers interested in maintaining driver packages, but does leave Mepis at the mercy of the source providers.

Packages Questions

  • What packages are included on the Mepis 7 Beta's?
A user made list of packages is available through Filecloud. This list comprises Mepis 7 Beta 4 updated through synaptic, and a fresh install of Mepis 7 Beta 5. The file was archived by Ark into the .zip format and contains two separate .txt files.


  • Why was Beryl removed from the release?
The Beryl project has merged back into the Compiz project with a new title of Compiz-Fusion. Compiz-Fusion will be made available in the official Mepis Repositories. The version of Beryl available in Mepis 6.x series was removed from Mepis 7 due to file size restrictions. There is only a limited amount of space available on the Mepis Live-CD to add programs, and the current ISO size is being budgeted to account for the upcoming KDE4 release.
Compiz-Fusion will probably debut in the Mepis Repositories after AMD releases the 8.42 driver which will support AIGLX, the technology needed to support the Compiz-Fusion rendering. The will likely be an extensive beta before hand to insure that Compiz-Fusion works properly with Mepis 7 series.
Due to the file size increase in KDE4 and in Compiz-Fusion it is unlikely that an official Mepis 7 series release will include Compiz-Fusion as an on-disc option. If a community member wants to respin Mepis 7 series and maintain a version focused on providing a 3D Desktop, similar to how antiX respins Mepis for lower-end systems, please feel free to do so.
You can install Beryl by adding the following lines to your repo list:
deb http://debian.beryl-project.org etch main
deb-src http://debian.beryl-project.org etch main
This will not add an extra entry to the login menu, but you can activate and de-activate Beryl by using the Beryl Manager once logged on.


  • What Window manager is Mepis 7 Series using?
Mepis 7 Series is KDE based. The Window Manager in use is KDE's Kwin


  • When will KDE4 be added?
KDE4 is scheduled to be near-0-day upon final release. It is reported that Warren is maintaining a developers preview of KDE4, and KDE4 alpha snapshots of the the developers preview are available on the Mepis Subscribers site. KDE4 snapshots are currently provided in DVD ISO format only.


  • Is there a known issue with GTK+ (GIMP Tool Kit) programs?
Yes. There is a known issue with programs that require GTK+. The version of GTK+ used in Mepis 7 Series is newer than the version used in Debian Etch. Due to the upgrade there are various incompatibilities between GTK+ programs in the Etch repositories and Mepis 7 series. Currently GTK+ applications will be added to the official Mepis repositories on an on-demand basis.
We expect the much ballyhooed Community repository will assist in catching GTK+ based programs that the main development staff does not have time to work on.


  • I want to use the Gnome Desktop interface?
While Mepis is a KDE-Centric Linux distribution several applications used are built on GTK+ (GIMP Tool Kit). Gnome is one of these applications. Due to an incompatibility of the Mepis 7 Version of GTK+ to the Debian Etch Version of GTK+, a version of the Gnome Desktop interface is currently available in the official Mepis repositories. End users should be able to install the Gnome Desktop Interface through the Synaptic application.
The inclusion of Gnome in the official repositories does not mean that official version of Mepis 7 with Gnome the Gnome desktop is under development. As far as we are aware there are no plans to focus any Mepis staff on developing a Gnome based release.
However, if community members want to respin Mepis 7 to include Gnome, feel free to go ahead and do so.


  • I can't find NVU or any other program that were in Dapper Drake, where are they?
There is currently an ongoing forum thread on MepisLovers.org tracking packages that are not in the Etch Repositories. Work is also underway to provide a repository that community members can contribute packages to. Additional details will be made available in a separate Wiki Entry.


  • I have a favorite application that I think would be better in Mepis 7 than what is provided on the disc. How would I go about changing the default program?
Mepis 7 is limited by the amount of space that is available on a standard CD. The Current release ISO files are reported to have been budgeted for a file size that will include the upcoming KDE-4. Unless the replacement program has a similar memory footprint the application included on the disc, chances are slim that replacement will be considered.


  • How do I get Libdvdcss2 and w32codecs?
Mepis 6.x series included a non-activated repository for the Medibuntu repository. Medibuntu was essentially a non-authorized copy of Chris M.s Debian-Multimedia repositories. Mepis 7 series now lists a non-activated repository for Debian-Multimedia, as well as including the signing key for Debian-Multmedia.
Users are encouraged to use a localized Debian-Multimedia mirror instead of the main site. A full list of mirrors is located on the Debian Multimedia site. A partial list of mirrors is found on MepisLovers.
To activate or change the repository for Debian-Multimedia, simply open up Synaptic, click on settings, then click on repositories.


  • I am running Mepis 64 and I can't get w32codecs. Where are they?
w32codecs stands for Windows 32bit Codecs. Unless vendors provide codecs compiled against NT5 64bit or NT6 64bit the likelyhood of a Windows 64bit codecs package (w64codecs) is considered to be fairly low. The chances are even lower that these proprietary media companies will provide versions of their codecs for native use in Linux x86-64.
For those who wish to run some of these proprietary codecs right now with x86-64, Fluendo makes licensed versions available for purchase at their online store.
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