The first look

When you insert the MEPIS LiveDVD into your optical drive and restart your computer, the system will usually look to the CD-ROM automatically during the boot process, but in some cases you may have to enter the basic hardware system configuration (called the “BIOS”) by hitting the appropriate key (usually one of these: DEL, F1, F2, ESC, F10) to change the boot order. The correct key for your system is usually indicated very briefly on the first screen you see during boot up. Many late model systems have a special key that enables a one-time boot device selection, which eliminates the need to change the BIOS. Please check your system's documentation for more details.

Booting the LiveMedia

Grub Boot Screen

As the booting process begins, you will see a menu offering various choices (GRUB) and a count-down timer running in the lower portion of the screen, which can be interrupted/paused by pressing your keyboard's up or down arrow. The default boot choice should work for most computers, though some may need one of the other options, or a "cheat code" added to the boot commands at the bottom of the screen

  • Default — will boot after a 10 second countdown if no other key is pressed, or you can bypass the timer by pressing your Keyboard's Enter key.
  • AUFS_rw_Filesystem — This is a special mode that allows you to make system-wide changes to the Live-Session as if installed to a hard disk, except that changes are not retained across reboots and are not transferred to a hard disk install. We recommend a minimum of 1GB RAM when using this mode.
  • Minimum_for_Testing — Use this mode if you have very old hardware, or if you have difficulties booting the Live-Media.
  • Test_and_explore_hardware — This special diagnostic toolset allows a user to run certain hardware tests and to see some very detailed information on their systems internal hardware.

Tab to edit a menu entry The Linux bootloader allows one-time cheat codes to be added to the boot process. Pressing the TAB key in any of the menu entries will reveal the boot code at the bottom of the screen for the selected menu entry. Cheat codes can be simply typed into the boot code to add or remove processes run during bootup. A popular example is confx, which forces the graphics detection engine to write a special file to the Live-Session to aid in configuring the Graphics card. Another example which may be useful to some is res=widthxheight (e.g., 1400x900 which attempts to force a graphical screen resolution of 1400x900). For other common boot codes, please check the Mepis Wiki.


KDM Login Screen

When GRUB hands off the booting process to the Linux kernel, you will see a terminal screen and read the booting messages on the screen. They may not mean much to you, but sometimes this can be helpful in troubleshooting boot problems.

If all has gone well, you should be looking at a graphical login screen asking for a username and password; if you end up at a command prompt instead, reboot and use one of the other display boot options. If you end up at a black screen, check the Users Manual for options. For security reasons, MEPIS Linux is an account-based operating system, meaning that no program can run on it without a user account to run under, and any running program is limited to doing only things allowed to the user. For this reason, everyone must log in as a user that is known to the system through the action of the administrator ("root"). So you will see on the MEPIS LiveMedia login screen 2 default user accounts, "demo" and "root," each with its own password

The password for the user named "demo" is demo
The password for the user named "root" is root

Please log in as the user "demo," since that lacks the authority to make any system changes that could accidentally alter or erase vital data. In general, Linux users NEVER need to log in as root, since administrator level access is only a password away when operating as a regular user.

Introduction to the desktop


The MEPIS Linux Desktop uses the familiar point-and-click interface most Windows and Apple users are accustomed to, with a classic-style menu available by clicking on the MEPIS icon at the bottom left of the screen on the panel. Before we take a look at its major components, let's review some big differences Windows users will notice right away:

  • Single mouse click replaces double click (e.g., to open a folder or run a program)
  • Program names are different, but should be mostly self-explanatory. On the menu, you will find the program categories with programs listed first by their name (e.g., Kdenlive) then identified by function (e.g., Video Editor)
  • Harddisk locations. Drive letters are not designated with letters C: or D: like in Windows. Linux uses names like sda, sdb (or hda, hdb), and they appear in the filesystem either in /media (for removable media) or in /mnt (for permanent drives)
  • Drive names.
    • Permanently attached storage devices like your hard disk drives are labelled by their connection type and partition number.
      • Each physical drive's name begins with either hd (older computers) or sd (newer computers with SATA drives)
      • The name then is assigned a different final letter for each drive of the particular type (so you might see sda, sdb, etc.)
      • Finally, each physical partition is assigned a number
      • Thus, for example, the drive name sda1 indicates that it is the first partition of the first SATA drive found.
      • All permanent media appear in the filesystem under /mnt.
    • When removeable storage media are plugged in (such as an external hard disk, USB thumb drive, digital camera or memory card of almost any type), they appear in a multi-purpose device notifier - which pops up a dialogue box box, making it easy to select a run option for the device. All removeable media appear in the filesystem under /media.

Around the desktop

Kmenu and Panel

MEPIS 11 introduces a very user-friendly implementation of the new and exciting desktop environment known as KDE 4.5.

Here is a quick tour of the Desktop you first see (for details, consult the Quickstart document or Users Manual on your desktop):

  • Icons. Pretty self-explanatory, but let us draw these to your particular attention:
    • Documents. This link automatically opens the File Manager (Dolphin) at your 'Documents" folder. This is where you will likely store most of your personal files.
    • MEPIS Site. Opens the Firefox browser, and takes you to the official MEPIS website.
    • Users Manual. Your basic guide to MEPIS Linux at your fingertips!
    • Mepis Quickstart. A very helpful miniguide to help you get acquainted with MEPIS and the KDE 4.5 Desktop
    • Install. Click to start the install process.
  • The panel across the bottom of the screen is similar to the Windows equivalent. It is broken into three areas:
    • Left side: icon tray. Contains the Menu icon and any others that the user wants quickly available.
    • Center: taskbar. Here is where running applications are tracked.
    • Right side: system tray. Contains icons for various system applications ranging from the sound mixer to the calendar.
  • Menu, opened by clicking on the MEPIS icon in the left corner of the panel.

    *The number of applications supplied by default is limited by the space requirements of the LiveMedia. From the excellent LibreOffice suite, for instance, only the word processor (Writer) and the drawing program (Draw) are included. But it is extremely easy to add applications after installation by using the Package Manager (Synaptic) to install whatever else you need or want. See the Users Manual for details.

Internet access

Mepis Network Assistant

MEPIS Linux comes preconfigured for a standard LAN (Local Area Network), and wired access will work in most cases as is. For other forms of wired internet connection, please consult the Users Manual.

For wireless, most of the time you will be able to get online by clicking on the wireless icon in the System Tray on the right side of the panel, then clicking the interface that shows on the list to make a new connection, and following the prompts. If that doesn't work, then you have a detailed tool in the MEPIS Network Assistant. Click KMenu --> Settings --> MEPIS Network Assistant for the Mepis Network Assistant. More information available in the Users Manual, the Wiki, and personal help is readily available on the forum (see How to get help).

Exiting the LiveMedia

When you are finished with the LiveMedia, click on the menu icon and select Leave at the bottom of the list. This will bring up a screen that gives you a choice of ending your session and returning to the login screen you saw earlier, shutting down the computer, or restarting.

Back        Next