IN THE BEGINNING, I wanted to check out the ease of use between one package and the next but some packages failed too early in the set-up process to make such an evaluation. Instead, tests are made to find out how far along the installation could go before a critical failure brought it to a halt. Available machine is an AMD A6-3620 APU with a Radeon 6530D on the motherboard.

The steps following boot up where there were problems are

  1. Partitioning
  2. Expanding packages or RPM's
  3. Rebooting
  4. Setting up ancillary devices
  5. X-window manager
  6. Getting the modem to dial out
  7. Printing anything

Warning, with the change to 2.6 Linux kernel, things that did work under the older versions are now kaput due to a lack of drivers that can be compiled, even to date, mid-2007.


Review

Distribution
Failure
Comments
FreeBSD 10.0 RC5 AMD64
Reboot
Using the free player from VMware was my test to see whether a distribution could work on my system at all. FreeBSD can be setup and rebooted under VMware, but it never launches the X screen or whatever passes for its GUI. The most common problem with other distributions was that MBR could not be found. An installer script would write something to boot or GRUB that looked as though it should work, but would not effect the machine's booting after POST.
Bridge xfce 2013.06 x86_64
Reboot
BootMGR is missing.

Debian GNU/Linux 7.0
First boot
Blank screen: it is a plain-vanilla video card.
Fedora 20 Live LXDE x86_64
Reboot
GRUB rescue warning

Finnix 109
First boot
There was a very specific warning, "i8042 : no controller found," that I was too lazy to look up.
Makulu Linux 5.0
Works
I have no idea why Makulu installs correctly and Debian, from which it forked, does not. The Xfce version is what I am using now. There is an Enlightenment desktop available, but I found some problems with the screen resolution changing on its own. One may download a copy at http://www.makululinux.com .
Mint 16
Reboot
GRUB error 15 : file not found.
Oracle Linux R6.5
Reboot
BootMGR is missing
Sabayon
First boot
Blank screen
SolydXK
First boot
Blank screen
Steam OS
Reboot
BootMGR is missing
Trisquel
Works

Trisquel is one of the distributions recommended by Richard Stallman. Although Trisquel is a branch of Ubuntu, it does not install all that spyware that comes with that distro. Also, all the Ubuntu flavors I tried, failed on the post-installation reboot.

There is a problem with drivers. Trisquel does not incorporate proprietary software. Resolutions available are for 4:3 and 5:4 screens. I guess that means there are no free drivers for my 1920X1080 16:9 screen. You can install your own drivers. Being Debian/Ubuntu, that would probably be apt-get install something something sed -a -b -c. Help on the Trisquel forum is in the vein of "Why would you want to that evil corporate software on your open-source machine?" Well, I would have also liked to have bought my screen at some hippy commune made out of organic hair and twigs, but the standard set by those evil corporations for desktops has been for some time 1920X1080.

OpenSuSE 10.2 64-bit
Works
There appears to be no working modem drivers for ones I own, an internal HCF and an external BestData USB HSF. Conexant has freeware 64-bit drivers that will start up a connection at 14.4kb, just not my modems.
Mandriva 2007 (2.6.17) 64-bit
Works


rPath 1.0.3
X-window
This is for the 32-bit machine. Maybe I had a bad download, but nothing seemed to work.

Ubuntu 6.10 32-bit
Modem
Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft" came with a live DVD from OSDisc.com called Ubuntu Gamers. Interesting marketing concept. However, no working modem, even for this 32-bit system.
Mandrake 10.1 32-bit
Modem
No working modem, which is a shock, because I could get modems to work for 9.1. The difference being the new distributions using Linux 2.6 kernels. BestData's external USB modem came with its own drivers you could compile on a disk, but BestData stop support for these drivers and now refers everyone to Conexant. I don't know what the big change is between 2.4 and 2.6, but working modems is not a part of the new kernel.
FreeBSD 4.1
X-window
Would not start X from startx or xdm. However, you could start the xf86config and leave in the middle of the set-up to use other apps requiring X.
Mandrake 9.1
Works
They saved space on the CD's by leaving off documentation, but everything worked...the video cards, the odd modems, the printer, everything.
Redhat 7.0
Modem
Never got a good looking display, blurry.
Slackware 7.1
First boot
It failed so early. Not even starting with its own image file on a floppy could get this thing to work.
SuSE 8.0
Modem
They do a good job of packaging software with their distributions.
Caldera 2.3
Printer
Quick. Was on the web in 25 minutes.
Debian GNU 2.1
File copy
Could not find cd-rom again.
FreeBSD 3.2
First boot
Wiped out the master boot record.
LinuxPro 5.4
MBR select
Never rebooted, but at least it was not a FreeBSD in its destructive powers.
Mandrake 6.0
Partitioning
Does not like to share space with Windows 98.
SuSE 6.3
XF86Config
Documentation is in sort-of English, a language by Germanprogrammers invented.
TurboLinux 3.6
Printer
One of the few that I could get the sound card to work.