MX Linux 17: An upgraded distro made for beginners

This powerful operating system's efficient performance, intuitive interface, and exceptional collection of apps make it a top choice for all users.
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348 readers like this
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There are tons of operating systems coming out all the time, from free laptop systems like EasyPeasy to Manjaro, Mandriva, and Kubuntu. But all of them have their share of kinks.

Naturally, many of us are scared of change, and not everyone is an early adopter when it comes to these kinds of things. While operating systems like MacOS and Chrome OS still claim larger market shares in 2018, it bears mentioning that newer operating systems have a lot to offer.

Systems like Windows go straight out the, er, window once you've used MX Linux 17.

MX-17 changes the base to Debian 9 (Stretch) and provides upgraded artwork, fresh MX tools, and better live operation courtesy of antiX. Users get persistence (a whopping 20GB) and remaster along with a full suite of updated MX-apps including mx-tweak, mx-conky, and NVidia.

Here's why MX-17 is a worthy distro, and what you stand to gain from this midweight Linux operating system and its antiX components.

By us, for us

The first thing that should be acknowledged about MX Linux 17 is the people behind it. MX Linux is a cooperative venture between the former MEPIS Linux and antiX communities. That's where the MX of the name comes from.

For this reason, it's been called the “best of both worlds” by tech reviewers. And that's about as accurate as you can get because the system is based on Debian 9.3 with an upgraded version 4.13.0-1 Linux kernel and Firefox.

The developers clearly care about the preferences of the community and are committed to giving noobs a new distro that won't leave them scratching their heads.

Smaller and faster than the competition

Although it's far from the lightest distro in terms of hard drive space and memory consumed, it is one of the lighter models to come along. Compared with mainstream distributions like openSUSE and Fedora, MX Linux 17 is much smaller and much faster, without sacrificing user experience.

The startup speed is four seconds, which is pretty remarkable when compared to, say, Windows 10, which takes at least 11 seconds.

Features

  • Platform—AMD64, i386 (available in 32-bit or 64-bit ISOs)
  • Kernel version—4.13.0-1
  • Beginner-friendly interface theme and performance
  • Xfce version 4.12.3 default desktop
  • Approx. 1.2 GB size
  • Simple installation via DVD or USB drive

Setup

You can burn MX Linux 17 ISO image onto a USB drive without any glitches. You'll find the taskbar to the left of your screen. The Xfce theme is easily customizable and the software app is loaded with preinstalled treats for game fanatics.

Utilizing a graphical system installer with multiple steps, installation takes longer than Ubuntu, but it's still easy. It starts by asking the user to choose which disk the distro will be installed on.

Anything the average user would want to do can be done with MX 17. It's about as ergonomic as an operating system can get.

There is the option of launching the GParted disk utility for setting up partitions, but beginners will likely opt out of that one.

When you boot it up, a welcome window will be automatically loaded. As you can see, several links appear for you to choose from:

MX Linux welcome window

Everything is fairly easy to locate, no matter what you're looking for. The Xfce theme has an attractive background and the vertical panel is intuitive.

xfce intuitive interface

You can change the appearance at any time with the click of a button.

MX Linux customize desktop

As you can see, the visuals are excellent.

A hefty collection of advanced Xfce packages

AntiX distribution is an innovative tool for maintaining the integrity of aging computers. In the case of MX Linux 17, that antiX technology is merged with the best components of MEPIS to form a superior product.

Built on the Debian Stable base, MX 17 comes with the Firefox 56.0.2 browser, but Chrome is also available. It comes with LibreOffice v5.4.1-1 and a full bundle of apps, from the email client Thunderbird v52.5 and the Clementine music player to password and key security and the Gufw firewall.

Multimedia apps are also integrated, including PulseAudio and SMTube. Gamers will be happy to find AisleRiot Solitaire, Chromium B.S.U., Lbreakout2, Mahjongg, Peg-E, Swell Foop, and the Hearts card game.

Other advanced apps include the following:

Scanning, CUPS printing, cron, and sudo are other services that can be enabled by checking boxes during installation.

For those of us who value our online privacy, the Network Manager will help you to connect via a reputable VPN client. Their troubleshooting page walks us through the steps.

Command prompt

One of the first things users notice about MX Linux 17's terminal is the bright, vivid colors of the command prompt. It really stands out.

MX Linux command prompt

As we can see here, the command line can be used to accelerate system administration tasks, troubleshoot hardware devices, configure or install advanced software apps, or launch a GUI app to evaluate its error output.

This terminal is called Xfce Terminal, and it can be used for other distros, like Fedora and Ubuntu.

Reliability

Not all operating systems are known for their dependability, but MX Linux's reputation is well-established online. Users swear by its stability and compatibility, with forum members raving about how well it runs on legacy hardware.

It's very close to the ideal distro because it's dependable. It works equally well on older and newer computers. It boots in the blink of an eye and runs efficiently. MX-17 works right out of the box—a box, I might add, that contains Firefox 57.0.2.

Hardware

Performance is a plus with MX 17. You get optimal resolution and speed, and the distro uses only about 280MB of memory and 4.5GB of hard drive space.

Software control

Synaptic, MX's package manager, makes software management a breeze. You can install, upgrade, or uninstall programs with a simple checkbox. MX Package Installer enables you to browse through different software categories or choose popular apps.

MX Package installer

Closing thoughts

After testing this baby out for three weeks, I can honestly say that I've never been more satisfied with an operating system. If MX Linux 17 has a weakness, the only one I've encountered is the relative lack of help or support, though this is not uncommon for new Linux distros.

Although I would strongly recommend it to novice users because of the coherent battery of prompts that come up during installation, it's hard to determine just how user-friendly its media codecs and configuration tools would be to someone who hasn't dealt with Linux before.

The bottom line: MX Linux 17 is a powerful, simple, and lightweight platform that doesn't gobble up system resources like RAM or burden the user with arbitrary software. Its exceptional bundle of MX utilities should appeal to both the seasoned Linux user and the new kid on the block alike.

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Sam Bocetta is a retired defense contractor for the U.S. Navy, a defense analyst, and a freelance journalist. He specializes in finding radical solutions to "impossible"​ ballistics problems. He covers trends in IoT Security, encryption, cryptography, cyberwarfare, and cyberdefense.

17 Comments

I ran the LiveDVD, on bare metal, a couple of months ago (along with antiX). Very impressive - both of them. One program, in particular, peaked my interest. It was called mx-viewer.

Apparently it's their own viewer for, html-based, help files. It's only 26.3kbs, so I'm sure it's using gnome-libs under the hood. Still, I found it to be lightning fast (as fast as dillo). It opened up near borderless pages in the same way MS's HTA handled html pages.

No mention on their forums but a nice viewing solution that could be a good replacement for something like ICE - depending on the type of html tags. I'd like to run the LiveDVD one more time just to investigate this further.

MX-Linux is simply the best distro for the Xfce desktop; stable, lightweight and good looking. Oh, and Debian-based. Just perfect!

I've been using MX (first MX-16 and now MX-17) for over a year, and have never had an issue with help and support! The forum is quite helpful, and I also use the facebook group. But I agree: it really is a great distro!

Very nice review--we appreciate the careful attention. One thing that puzzled me greatly was your comment about "the relative lack of help or support." Given a 175pp Users Manual, a large and very active Facebook group, a Wiki, a set of instructional videos and a Forum known since the Mepis era for its user-friendliness, I can't help wondering what you think we are missing.

This review reads a little bit like an advertisement.

Would the author care to say anything about the distro's security update policy?

I forgot to add ... the user's Manual is fantastic.

I enjoyed reading the review. And first i have to say, mxlinux is my primairy distro. Though i have a slight comment aboit compair mxlinux with opensuse or fedora. If you compare with puppy, its slower, beside that i still come back to mxlinux. The functionality wins above the speed of puppy. Mxlinux is the winner. The mx tools are great and looking foreward to its development.

Another distro you might want to review is Siduciton.
I have been running it for about 2mos and have had no issues.
Kernel i 4.15.2 with all Meltdown/Spectre stuff enabled.
The forum is very friendly and since it is basically Debian, with some newer apps, courtesy of being SID, nothing to lose trying it.

Just another distro. Also, comparing Windows 10 and Xfce boot times is bullshit.

Naz:

Two things:
1) No, this is NOT another distro. I've been using Linux in different forms since 1996- and of all of the distros I've used, this one is definately among the easier of them, but it's chock full of features that aren't necessarily found in other distros.

2) Why would you bother comparing Win10 and Xfce? Either you are a bloatware fan, or you have no idea what you're talking about. I have a feeling it's the latter of the two. You're full of shit, son....

In reply to by nazded (not verified)

MX Linux is, by far, the best GNU/Linux operating system I have ever used in ten years of using Linux. It is also the easiest distribution to set up once installed. The Xfce desktop environment is extremely well-designed and is simple to configure to one's liking.

I am a bit perplexed about the comment that support and help are lacking.

In my own experience, having used MX Linux for over two years, I have found the MX Linux Forum to be the best forum I have ever had the pleasure of using. EVERY question or comment I have asked or made has been answered completely and politely. Frankly, I wish that MX Linux were better known. And I wish that all forums were as helpful and friendly as is that of MX Linux.

If there were ever an operating system which could be recommended to people wishing to migrate from Microsoft Windows or Apple MAC, MX Linux is, in my opinion, positively the one.

I've been using Linux for 13 years. Using it, playing with it, reading about it, and checking out different versions on my multi-booting machine. The latest addition to my multiboot is MX and I'm impressed by it.

More impressive to me, is the quality of this review. It is well written and thorough. It's hard to find either of those qualities in linux writing, and rare to find both.

I tip my hat to the author.

Well said. I used Mepis Linux ages ago, and loved it for its ease of use and thoroughness. Congratulations to Mx Linux for making things that little bit easier. Thanks.

MX Linux is definitely one of the easiest distributions to install and use, as most review comments agree. MX Linux is also very well documented (see the manual, if you have any doubt, and also check out the online forum and the distribution's Web site, which also point to other good documentation.

If there is anything at all you are unsure about, be sure to check out the information at https://mxlinux.org/wiki/ - it is excellent.

I have personally used not only MX Linux, I have used antiX since it was first made available on June 6, 2007 as the Development Release: antiX 6.5 RC5. The official Distribution Release: antiX 6.5 was announced to DistroWatch on July 9, 2007 and the MX parent MEPIS was introduced
on May 10, 2003.

Notice that MEPIS was about a year before Ubuntu was first introduced to the public.

At that time there were only a few relatively easy Debian alternatives, and
Debian, while very solid, did not yet have an installation and configuration program that novice computer users were comfortable with. KNOPPIX was one of the distributions that helped to make Debian software easily accessible; MEPIS came along shortly thereafter.

What agreat distro! Currently my favourite. Everything works so well.Just switched to the dark theme & added Chrome and a few other favourite apps.

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