I installed each version of Linux on three systems, an older Gateway Pentium III/500 dual-processor system, a Dell Pentium IV/1.2 GHz server, and an HP dual Xeon 2.8GHz server. All four distributions were able to detect the hardware installed in each system, including single and dual processors, both new and old video cards, a variety of network interface adapters, and SCSI controllers.
I went through the installation of each OS several times, looking at both the default installation and the options that were available under the custom settings. After setup, I configured and started a firewall, the Apache Web server, a DHCP server, and an LDAP server, noting the difficulty of the configuration and administrative tasks with each OS.
I installed a third-party application, GIMP, to capture screen shots. Mandrake was the only one of the four to include GIMP as part of the release, so installation here was a simple matter of running the configuration. The other three releases required the same installation process, relatively cumbersome by Windows standards, of installing code, adding C compiler libraries, and compiling the application.
Finally, I used WebLoad 5 to simulate up to 500 users browsing the Apache Web server. Since all four distributions performed identically within the limits of error, within 3 percent of each other, this data was not included in the review.