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#1 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 05 October 2014 - 02:50 AM

What criteria do you use when choosing a Linux distro? I'm in the process of setting up dual boot on my laptop. I have downloaded Ubuntu as a kind of default it-seems-popular-so-can't-be-all-bad option. However, in the past it has been bad. I've tried to install it on two different computers in the past and it hasn't supported my hardware wither time. Zenwalk, on the other hand, has worked out of the box for me every time.

While I wrestle with my nonsensical-seeming choice, I'd love to hear how you choose your linux distro.

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Replies To: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

#2 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 05 October 2014 - 06:28 AM

For a dual boot situation I would choose something that I know I want to keep, for just experimenting stay with live disks.

I can't say how I choose a distro, because I really just pick at random. If I like it I use it more if not I format the disk.
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#3 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 05 October 2014 - 07:50 AM

Any distro needs a certain level of support. That is, enough packages in the repository. I mean, you can get by compiling everything yourself, but it gets old after a while. To that end, base hardware support is a must.

The next deciding factor is newness. If you demand cutting edge, then you want a distro that follows your need to bleed. Ubuntu does that. Fedora does that. For extra blood, Arch does that.

For work, I want super stable, which means not terribly new but runs things like VMWare and Oracle. I use CentOS at work for this reason.

For home... I've tried all the desktops. I want to like the newest, bestest, tabletyest interfaces. But, honestly, they eventually wear me down and are often unexpectedly buggy. I just need to find and run programs, I don't need the backdrop to cause me drama. I've used OpenBox in the past and been happy with it.

I keep coming back to MATE, which is essentially old school Gnome. If you like this kind of desktop, then Linux Mint is a good choice. Or, on the even lighter side, something with LXDE.
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#4 GWatt  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 05 October 2014 - 09:15 AM

I've been a Fedora user on and off since its initial release. What I look for most is a decent package manager, and a wide selection of packages.
Having said that, I do like slackware quite a bit, although I don't have it installed on any machines at the moment.
I use KDE out of convenience; I have no real attachment to its eye candy.
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#5 NecroWinter  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 05 October 2014 - 01:23 PM

most of the time, i just use kubuntu because it works and is very modern while not ditching the traditional desktop experience. Ive dabbled in Arch but I want the computer to work for me, I dont want to work for it. I like a lot of what arch does, and the philosophy behind it, but I just dont have the time to be reading manuals and forum posts when something weird happens.

the eye candy on KDE can be nice, but I too dont really have an attachment to it. What I really like about KDE is the ability to customize everything really quickly and easily.

This post has been edited by NecroWinter: 05 October 2014 - 01:24 PM

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#6 GWatt  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 05 October 2014 - 08:41 PM

I feel like expanding upon my earlier answer as it was pretty terse.
In all honesty, most of the distros I've used feel the same. This makes sense as almost all of them have the gnu tools/libraries on top of the linux kernel. The differences mainly come from the package/update manager and how the distros organize the software. You can get most any desktop environment for any distro (not sure about Unity,) so there's no reason to pick one distro over the other simply because you like its default DE better.
I previously mentioned Fedora, which I currently have on my workstation. What I didn't say is that I have a debian system in my home acting as a dns/dhcp server, a vps that's also running debian, the servers I manage for work are running a mix of ubuntu and debian, and finally the automotive grade PCs I program are running Wind River Linux. To me, all of those systems are basically identical. In the past I've used Gentoo, Slackware, and Arch and they also feel pretty much the same. (Gentoo feels the most different because you have to compile every single piece of software, and then go back and recompile half of them because you forgot to enable jpgs in your browser. Supposedly once you get Gentoo up and running it's great, but my experience was by the time you finished upgrading packages, new ones had already come out.)
It doesn't matter that some things are organized differently or that the software versions can be wildly different. It's all just gnu on top of a linux kernel.
I'm confident that pretty much any linux distribution you might choose will not be meaningfully different from any other.

This post has been edited by GWatt: 05 October 2014 - 08:48 PM

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#7 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 06 October 2014 - 01:27 AM

Thanks for all the feedback everyone.

To me my computer is a tool to help me program so hardware support out of the box is essential. Compiling stuff just so I can use it does not turn me on so a well-stocked package manager sounds good. I agree that bleeding edge might cause more problems than anything else.

I did not realise Ubuntu is bleeding edge. That puts me off a bit. I've heard good things about Mint from one of the guys at work. I might pester him later today.

Thanks again!
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#8 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Linux -- What do you look for in a distro?

Posted 06 October 2014 - 05:17 AM

View Postcfoley, on 06 October 2014 - 04:27 AM, said:

I did not realise Ubuntu is bleeding edge.


I should clarify that. Ubuntu has a six month release cycle. Their distos have release numbers like 12.04, 12.10. 13.04, because that the year and month of the release. This is warp speed compared to something like RedHat. And, yes, new releases are often followed by a flurry of updates.

However, they do have releases on a more leisurely basis, every two years or so, called LTS (long term support) releases. These will continue to get security patches and support. An LTS version is what to use at work.

Ubuntu chucked X11, the standard, a few years ago to pursue what they thought was a better choice. First it was Wayland, then it was Mir, I don't know where the hell they are now.

From one standpoint, it's annoying to chase these buggers around. However, they are actually trying to DO something and improve things. If they do something really clever, other distros will probably copy it. That's the cool thing about an open source ecosystem.
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