The SUSE Yast configuration panel had many features for configuring every aspect of your Linux system. I wish that the modern Linux distributions like Ubuntu & Mint would have something like this. The Mandrake Linux 9.2 distribution had the Drakconf control panel that was also very comprehensive in terms of all the various hardware you could tweak as well as adding and removing software packages. Mandrake Linux used the RPM packaging method used by Red Hat Linux and was an incredible Linux distribution that worked very well and auto-configured your hardware splendidly. Sure SUSE is still around, and the Mandriva distribution has been forked to the Mageia distribution. Hopefully they will create a worthwhile distribution.
Debian has always been a favorite of mine, this screen-shot shows the KDE 2.2 desktop and the Eterm terminal emulator running. The Debian Stable distribution back then was very good, it ran the 2.2 kernel and you had to build the source for the 2.4 kernel to improve hardware support. But that was not very difficult at all once you know the steps involved. I had a Linux pocketbook back then with lots of helpful tips, which was good as I did not have too much Internet access back then. I had Debian installed for a little while, then I installed Mandrake Linux. I have used Mandrake Linux up to release 10. But OpenSUSE took over after that. The SUSE 9.2 dual-layer DVD I had was awesome. If only Modern distributions would ship on that. 8.5 Gigabytes of software is plenty.
This screen-shot to the right shows a Gnome 1.0 desktop running with the Enlightenment E16 window manager. This window manager is a very old one and looks very good with the right theme. With the buttons on each end of the Gnome panel that are used to slide it off the side of the screen when clicked, it is very different to the modern Unity and Gnome 3 desktops. I wish you could make the Unity desktop resemble this with a theme. For example the ability to skin the desktop to create a unique theme of your very own. That would make Unity better, and the ability to move the launcher/dock to the bottom of the screen horizontally. That is what some people want and they should be able to do this if they want. The older Linux distributions had a sensible Windows styled desktop, not the stupid Mac OS look we have now.
The last screen-shot shows the KDE 1.0 desktop with icons on the desktop and the panel that is very similar to the Gnome 1.0 panel. These two desktops were very similar when they first came out, of course they have diverged widely since these early days. And of course you can see the Netscape Navigator web browser running, this was not a bad browser in its day. Internet explorer took over the Internet for a while with the dominance of Microsoft, but using alternatives was always good. The Mozilla browser was awesome when it came out. I used to use Mozilla 1.7 for browsing the web before Firefox took over and became my favorite. I remember the old Firefox portable that you would install on a thumb drive and run it from there and all the settings would be saved on the portable drive.
A very cool application, you can install extensions in it as well. I think it is only for Windows though. There is a nice posting here from 2003 that shows a Debian desktop with Microsoft Office running under WINE and the old Staroffice software as well. This is back in the old days when KDE was very fast and usable, compared to the KDE 4.0 release. It is only with the KDE 4.8.0 release that this desktop is starting to speed up again. But it has changed considerably since the old days when it did not have Dolphin or all that bloat. Bloat seems to be a common thing with modern software, computers are becoming more powerful and software is expanding to fill the available space. But if the Universe is expanding why not software?
It makes sense that developers want to add more and more features but they should not sacrifice usability for the look of the software and adding all of those must-have features.