After a few days of experience with MxLinux, I am very impressed. I may end up replacing Ubuntu on the physical hosts with MxLinux owing to it’s fast reliable boot.
Ubuntu uses systemd for booting. Systemd is fast because it launches each program as soon as it’s prerequisites have registered that they are up and running, thus it launches everything as fast as possible and takes maximum advantage of parallel resources like multiple processor cores and multiple disk controllers that are common in modern machines. This is good in principal but systemd is buggy and often gets “stuck” during boot resulting in the machine hanging.
System-V is an older init that launched scripts alphabetically and so to control launch sequence each script was numbered. This limited the opportunities for parallel launching and make boot up relatively slow.
MxLinux uses System-V init with a program ordering program and a Systemd shim allowing applications that expect systemd to work with it and ordering the launching of software. It has the speed of systemd without the bugs.
Further, MxLinux kicks out releases monthly so when you install you always install from an ISO less than a month old resulting in minimal updates being required. MxLinux also keeps VERY current on critical software like kernels, more so even than Ubuntu which up to this point was the best in that category.
MxLinux is also light! Before considering the weight of the desktop, a default install of MxLinux uses 200MB less RAM than Ubuntu. And the default Desktop, XFCE is also impressively light and the most complete implementation I’ve seen.
Further, it ships with a multitude of Desktops, I have installed only those that are known to work with X2Go, but so far I have installed and tested KDE, Gnome, LXDE, XFCE, Mate, OpenBox, and IceWM and every one of them has worked perfectly out of the box.
The one and only bug I’ve personally run into is that if you setup the networking with the Live CD/DVD/USB Thumb drive, then install, it screws up the Network Mask. This is easily fixed by resetting the network connections after install so is a trivial problem.
If you’ve got an aging laptop, this is an excellent distribution because it is so light weight. It also has a very good set of drivers included so things tend to work right off without any twiddling necessary. On the other hand, if you have a really heavy duty server it’s also good because the start up is so quick and reliable that it minimizes downtime.
One downside, the virtio disk drivers are not included in the stock kernels, so if installing this on a virtual guest, the disk I/O is slightly sub-optimal. In practice, I’ve found the QEMU emulation of real SATA devices is so efficient that it is not noticeable and in any event it can be corrected by building your own kernel with virtual machine drivers included.
Because this distro is based on the current stable Debian release, you can use Debian repositories with it, usually without conflict. To make KDE install properly, I had to lock the version of libgstreamer-plugins-bad because the newest version conflicted with some components of KDE. I am told if I had used the MX Package Installer that would have been handled automagically but I am a Synaptic fan and that is what I used to install everything and so far this has been the one and only glitch (and easily managed at that). They’ve basically taken Debian and fixed all it’s flaws, it’s slow boot, it’s lack of up to date things that are critical, and fixed the boot process to one that is ideal compromise between systemd and system-V init.