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Choosing a distro: Pros and Cons from real users


With the hundreds of distros that are out there, I figured this would be a good place to start a discussion to truly help the new users decide on a distro to use.

I would like as many people as possible to outline the Pros, Cons, included Desktop Managers, intended users and your personal feelings toward distros that you currently use or have used, please make sure to note the first and last version numbers of the distros you used so people know if your input may be out-of-date, noobish or highly experienced. Also, please feel free to attach screen-shots of your desktop, because the appearance may be important to some users.

I thank you all in advance for your cooperation and input.;)

Please do not try to turn this into a flame war, each person is asked to state their opinions of various distros, if bickering and arguments start they will be cleaned or removed to preserve the informative nature of this thread.



  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    Distro Name: Slackware Linux
    Versions Used: 9.0 - 13.0 and I run Slackware-current
    [ul]Pros:[li]Stable[/li][li]Fast[/li][li]Highly Configurable[/li][li]Secure[/li][li]A good distro to learn on if you really want to learn about Linux based distros[/li][/ul]
    [ul]Cons:[li]Non-graphical installer[/li][li]A lot of terminal based(Command Line) administration[/li][li]By default it boots to command line[/li][li]Does not carry proprietary drivers[/li][li]The package system does not work around dependancies[/li][li]The packaging system does not do automatic repo pulls and installations[/li][li]A limited selection of pre-packaged apps[/li] [/ul]
    [ul]Included Desktop Managers:[li]KDE[/li][li]xfce[/li][li]fluxbox[/li][li]blackbox[/li][/ul]
    Intended Users:Experienced Linux Users, System Administrators and those that really want to learn about the core processes in Linux based Distros

    Personal Feelings/Opinion:
    Slackware is my distro of choice because when I started I ran various distros that couldn't deliver on stability, they were pretty but crashed alot, when I started using Slackware I found a stable system that required me to learn more about my system which in tern also help me to become more capable of running deep level functions on various distros without having to know the specifics of those other distros. Additionally the community may be a little cranky (including myself) but that is because we voluntarily help people and expect that if someone is trying to use Slackware that they want to learn it which includes how to research and resolve many issues on their own. Please don't start using Slackware and expect the community to resolve your issues for you, we will guide you to the answer but do not want to do all of the legwork for you.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    Distro Name: Ubuntu Desktop Linux
    Versions Used: 7.04 - 9.10 beta
    [ul]Pros:[li]Stable[/li][li]User-Friendly[/li][li]Can retrieve and install from online repos[/li][li]A large application catalog[/li][li]Easy to learn[/li][li]Most tasks can be performed by graphical tools[/li][li]Always trying to be pretty[/li][li]Default boot into the Graphical User Interface[/li][li]Will download and install proprietary drivers if necessary[/li][li]Can be installed into an NTFS formatted partition so it can be tested along side windows without having to make major modifications to your system[/li][li]Automatic dependency resolution[/li][/ul]
    [ul]Cons:[li]Limited Stability[/li][li]Can be difficult to fully customize[/li][li]Tends to make too many assumptions on behalf of the users[/li][/ul]
    [ul]Included Desktop Managers:[li]gnome[/li][/ul]
    Intended Users:New Users, Windows converts, users that want everything to just work

    Personal Feelings/Opinion:
    I always recommend Ubuntu to new users that don't intend to me full scale administrators, it does what they want and it is easy to learn. however, I am finicky about stability and Ubuntu tries to implement the latest and greatest very quickly which can result in some crashes and sudden change in officially supported apps, however the team at Canonical (the company that makes Ubuntu) is working hard to make that a concern of the past.
  • vonbiber
    installed linux system: slackware 12.0
    I have installed slackware 13.0 but haven't got around to use it yet.
    slackware is the very first linux system I installed (can't remember the version number but it's one-digit).

    I also use live linux systems that I carry on a usb stick: slax, grml, RIPlinux, pmagic

    I concur with karma's pros

    A non-graphical installer: that might scare people away
    People might think that you have to type in cryptic command lines on the console.
    True: it's not as slick as some other distros (with flashy icons, messages,
    the ability to use the mouse ...). However it doesn't mean you have to type in
    cryptic command lines on the console. The installer uses the ncurses-based dialog.
    You can do your selections by navigating through different options (brief help messages provided).
    Rather than a limitation I find this an asset.
    Also you don't answer an endless string of questions. It's kept to the minimum.
    Once you've made the initial selections the installation is blazingly fast.

    the only boot loader offered is lilo
    fortunately you can choose not to install a boot loader

    slackware is a source-based distribution. It's less dependency-prone than other
    systems that use prebuilt packages.

    intended users:
    I do think that slackware is for everone including noobs.

    Over the years I have installed (and sometimes briefly used) a few other distros:
    redhat, caldera, debian, libranet, vector linux, mandrake, opensuse, (k/x/)ubuntu, ...
    Mostly out of curiosity.
    But slackware is definitely my distro of choice.
  • EJFreed22
    Slackware +1

    Very Stable and dependable this distro has been around for quite a while and has worked out alot of the bugs. Very fast and customizable... you can get a very fast system with a very low footprint. However it takes a while to get use to alot of cli interface configurations but once you get the hang of it its really easy and well laid out. Also there is alot of good documentation and people within the community to help you out if you have issues.
  • Zanpaktou
    All the Linux variants are way too similar with only a few differences between the software in each of them.
    The most important thing is the people behind the distribution. How skilled they are at Linux development, how strong the community is, forums that aren't troll infested, bugs betting smashed all over the place and software innovation being embraced instead of stifled and regressed.

    The quality of the people behind the distribution is so important and it's nice to chat to them on irc or by email on mailing lists because you can really get a good feel of the community, see how things work and watch development progress.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    Zanpaktou wrote:
    All the Linux variants are way too similar with only a few differences between the software in each of them.
    The most important thing is the people behind the distribution. How skilled they are at Linux development, how strong the community is, forums that aren't troll infested, bugs betting smashed all over the place and software innovation being embraced instead of stifled and regressed.

    The quality of the people behind the distribution is so important and it's nice to chat to them on irc or by email on mailing lists because you can really get a good feel of the community, see how things work and watch development progress.

    Very good point, this is something that people may want to keep on their mind. The newer distros may seem fancy and worthwile, but if they don't have enough support then they can become short lived products which can cause issues in production systems.
  • nanouk
    For the reasons that most have already listed, I have chosen Ubuntu for my clients and newbies for the wealth of support forums, length of time in the public domain, and different choices to meet their needs from:

    Developers: Ubuntu
    Graphics/Multimedia: Ubuntu Studio
    Home Entertainment: Mythbuntu
    New to Linux: Kubuntu
    Recycled machines: Xubuntu
    Education: Edubuntu
    ARM devices: Ubuntu on ARM
    Ubuntu MID: Ubuntu for mobile devices
    Servers: Ubuntu Server
    and most in 32 or 64 bit versions

    finally, of course, don't forget the ease of "dual booting" Ubuntu with Windows (XP, Vista, Win7) to ease the transition from the Redmond "mindset" to the Open-source environment. It will take time for the user experience to metaphor from Windows to Linux, but with enough help and tolerance, Linux can truly become the alternative to Windows that has been touted for years.

    Additionally, the progression from ease of installation for the new users of Linux to the heavy-hitting, non-GUI based versions of Ubuntu can keep the ex-Windows user involved for a significant length of time.

    Take care,
    Nanouk (Coming Home, Finally!)
  • EJFreed22
    Slackware +1

    Very Flexible, Fast, and stable once you get a good knowledge of the file system.
  • altNull

    Picking a Linux distro is more like picking between a car, truck, or suv...or perhaps more like picking between a Tank, an APC, and a jet fighter build-it-yourself kit. Each distro has its place, but ultimately you can usually get any Linux distro to do anything the other distros can by installing different packages/sources. So that is really where differences lie - the packages and support that comes with the Distro. I will taking it from the perspective of: [ol][li] A Sever/Network Admin [/li][li] A Developer (web/programming)[/li][li] A Computer Enthusiast [/li][li] A Noob [/li][/ol]

    Server/Network Admin

    Profile: A person that is in charge of a series of Servers or a Network. Tends to be interested in efficient scripts, servers, routers, security, and the best ways to control everything.

    Suggestions: [ol][li] Servers - RedHat (commercial), Fedora (free), CentOS(free) [/li] [li] Routers/Firewall - PfSense (freeBSD), M0n0Wall(freeBSD), SmoothWall(Linux) [/li][/ol]
    You will instantly notice, and some will try to insta-flame me for posting freeBSD in a Linux forum, but when your a Network Engy you really just want to use what works best. For most things that's pfSense. My only compliant with the OS is that you can not manually edit the firewall rules, but must use their WebGUI. Admittedly, I have not used M0n0Wall or Smooth Wall in an applicable environment, but I have several friends in the Networking world that do and they love them.

    On to servers. I love CentOS - why? Its free, easy to use, easy to setup, and it has most packages that come with Redhat - why? Because it and Fedora are both RedHat distros. This means they will have all of the non-commercial packages that RedHat has. So why not go with RedHat - well it costs money. If your company can afford it, then go for it. The support they give is top notch and way less expensive then any Windows Server setup. Technically the OS is free, but you really do need to pay for support from RedHat to get the most from the OS. For your personal use, I would go with CentOS all the way. For virtualization there are two basic options - VMWare and Zen. Both are good, and both work on Linux.

    Note: upper languages like Perl, Python, and Ruby are very easy to implement in any version of Linux, and Bash scripting of course comes with every Distro.

    A Developer

    Profile: Someone that is developing software on the professional level for either websites or OSs. Tends to be interested in processing speed, IDEs, Compilers, ect.

    Suggestions: Linux (lol), Fedora, OpenSuse, Ubuntu, ect.

    Yes, I did say Linux, in truth, any Linux distro is probably the best for compiling code. If your program in something more than C#, then you've heard of GCC and how it is used to compile almost anything (except C#). The nice thing about using Linux to write and compile your code is that you don't have to spend 1000s to get the IDE and the compiler from Micro$oft. The other big advantage is that Linux servers can be easily setup to Cluster compile your code. If you don't have a cluster try talking to your Server Admins about setting one up.

    For editing your can literally use vi or vim to do it (which can come with linux or is easily installed). Also the gui editors in KDE and Gnome come with color coding from almost every language under the sun (COBALT to Python/Ruby). But if you want an easy to use IDE, I would recommend Code::Blocks for C/C++. You can get plugins for Code::Blocks to edit Java (not compile), but in that case I would recommend Eclipse. As for other languages, well I don't have enough experience in those languages to say for sure. \

    Another really nice thing about Linux - Virtual Box. Yes you can run it in Windows, but Windows takes up sooo much resources that it makes running more than 1-2 other OSs hard for even a quad-core 3GHz, 4Gb machine to do. With Linux, I have had over 4 VBox machines running at the same time. this

    Note: C# can be done by using the Mono Project but its a pain in the butt.

    Computer Enthusiast

    Profile: Someone that will do everything and anything to an OS (even unspeakable things). This person wants to rip it, burn it, and change it.

    Suggestions: Gentoo, Linux From Scratch (LFS), ect

    Well, if you called a computer enthusiast and you have never played with Linux, then you sir/ ma'am are a lair. Linux is one of the ultimate OSs for anyone that wants to do anything to an OS. Yes, freeBSD is another good one, but freeBSD doesn't fall under the GNU GPL. Why is this important, well if you have ever wondered what the code looks like for an OS - this guarantees that you get a crack at it. For example: OS X is really a freeBSD rewrite that Apple put out, but since freeBSD is not under the GNU GPL, Apple doesn't have to let you see what the code is.

    Another really kewl thing about Linux is Gentoo which is a build yourself OS kit that allows you to literally customize your OS from the ground up. It has a huge support group and tons of docs. I recommend this as a first stop for computer enthusiasts. After you conquer Gentoo, I would go to LFS (Linux from Scratch) which is really a manual on compiling and building the OS from the ground up. It can be really hard since the document has to be absolutely up-to-date otherwise somethings wont work. The reward is that you will know more about the inner workings of Linux than any Windows Guru could know without working for Micro$oft. Plus, its all Free.


    Profile: Windows User, a person that might think Linux is L33t H@ker tool or Ubuntu is a pokemon. Tends to be arrogant and whines when something doesn't work right the first time.

    Suggestions: Sit down, shut up, and use Ubuntu.

    Well every Linux user saw that coming. Ubuntu is for noobs and grandparents. Its a great OS. It just works (until you really try and screw with it) and it has a massive support forum. 9/10 google searches of Linux problems displays Ubuntu forums.

    Now many noobs will say that they are ready for another Linux distro. Here's how you tell if your ready.
    [ol]Linux Noob Must Do to stop being a Noob[li]Install the OS[/li][li]Learn how to manually install Graphics Drivers[/li][li]Install/Remove a package without the help of the Package Manager[/li][li]Help another noob with a simple problem that you have mastered[/li][li]Learn how to add/mod users and groups without the GUI[/li][li]Learn VI or VIM[/li][li]Post helpful info on a forum[/li][li]Install and use another Distro of Linux[/li][/ol]
  • scottco229
    the comment about picking the distro that will work on your computer is the most important thing. I would like to run openSuSe but can't, it won't work with my video card in my laptop, just like Fedora 11 or 12 won't either, but Ubuntu will as will CentOS. Personally I like CentOS the best, I think I know it the best out of all I have mentioned. I did like Ubuntu however, I found myself getting lazy and not using Terminal when installing software, or configuring packages. And since I want to learn, I need to force it.

    Hold your head up, and move forward...
  • altNull
    The other problem with Ubuntu is that it really doesn't conform to corperate standards for User/Group management (ie sudoers doesn't configure like it does in other Linux distros) and it doesn't use init daemon which I prefer over the other options.
  • wurstdog
    the groupmanagement in ubunt could be an safty feature, or?
  • Zanpaktou
    Zanpaktou Posts: 30
    No one's really mentioned Fedora and as a Fedora user currently, I'd have to say that with isps currently throttling traffic and giving everyone raw deals on their Internet speeds, Fedora has a delta rpm system which works with yum.
    What that means is that if you update using Fedora, the amount of bandwidth you use will be considerably less than any other distribution because for most updates yum will only download what is needed for the update instead of (Like most other distributions) The entire software package.
    I'm often seeing a 40% reduction in size in downloads using yum and delta rpms.
    (I suspect that OpenSuSe's Zypper does something similar.)
    If you are not on an unlimited Internet contract, it is something to take into serious consideration. Updating your OS to the current versions of installed software is very important to fix security bugs and software regressions to prevent your machine being exploited in the wild.

    If you are doing any kind of software development (C, C++, php, ruby, phython, etc) Fedora rawhide (Development version) Is certainly a worth while consideration.
    Updating rawhide frequently provides you with the very latest versions of software, it allows you to build software using the latest dependencies, you can also get involved with bug reporting (Should you find any) And actually give something back to the Fedora project in the way of testing.

    Pros :
    Delta rpms mean less bandwidth for upgrades
    Excellent communication channels
    Actively developed
    Apparently twice as many users a it's nearest rival (Ubuntu.)
    The project is supported by the largest enterprise Linux vendor on the planet. Redhat.
    Linus uses Fedora (According to what I've read.)

    Cons :
    Packagekit : You are better off learning yum from the command line. Packagekit is absolutely awful. People like me just uninstall it first thing after an install.
    It is a bleeding edge distribution, so you can be faced with bugs and unstable software but it's your job to report anything like that on the redhat bugzilla (For some like me, it's not an issue because serious Fedora specific regressions are quite rare.)
    It's more of a gnome centric distribution but kde sc versions and packages are available. (I actually use kde sc in Fedora and it is quite good.)
    Uses rpm : The official rpm community project was forked a while ago but Redhat refuses to recognise it. Rpm is also flawed like all the other common Linux package formats in that a roll back or entire system roll back is impossible. Creating Rpms for distribution is also an extremely steep learning curve, one which has been detrimental to the Linux community for a long time time IMO. Not such a problem if you have no intention of tinkering under the hood.

    All in all Fedora is a very strong choice for everyone but particularly for software developers and those who want the latest package versions.

    I think the :
    You don't give newbies Beta software!
    Comment is BS because beta software is mostly only one step away from release pending testing which will have mostly already occurred during the alpha release stages anyway. Many beta releases of open source software end up with very little or zero changes before they are tagged as an official release.
    Confusing "This isn't quite finished software" With "We've finished this, could you please test it software" Is a quite an easy mistake to make and I do feel sorry for users with apparent upgrade fear, maybe having come from the roller coaster rides that are Windows updates.
    You'll actually find that in pretty much all distributions, that software pulled from trunk branches of svn, cvs, git repos are being used to fix bugs and that software is even less tested than beta quality software.
    More often than not, beta releases fix important security exploits and are more stable than older versions of the same software. So I don't think depriving someone code which prevents them from running a security exploit or makes their system more stable just because it is marked as beta holds any ground.
    It is easy to say "Don't give beta to newbie" But only if you don't actually understand or develop software yourself. It makes little or no sense to make that statement. New users should be reporting bugs just like the rest of us and if anyone is not doing so, they are letting themselves and the FOSS community down. We all have a responsibility to make the software better. Beta does not mean "Definitely contains bugs or does not work." It means ready for release pending testing.
  • InTel_GB
    InTel_GB Posts: 1
    I like Slackware, because with it I learned a lot about Linux. When I was using Ubuntu everytime I install it I indicate auto partitioning and I learned how to partition my hdd only when tryed slackware, because there I have not choice. Playing in the CLI there are more experience, while with the newer distributions and graphical tools is boring me. I just search more experiences and cleaner things ;)
  • MALsPa
    MALsPa Posts: 1
    I think that either Mepis, Ubuntu, Linux Mint would be good for a new user. In no particular order.

    Mepis -- nice hardware recognition, quick and easy installation, great user forums; closely based on Debian, so a lot of Debian solutions work fine in Mepis

    Ubuntu -- easy installation; there are so many users out there that once you learn to search the forums and documentation you'll probably be able to find an answer to any question you might have

    Linux Mint -- quick and easy installation -- most things "work" right away; closely based on Ubuntu, so often you can use the Ubuntu forums and documentation for help in Mint

    Those are some "pros." Every distros has its "cons" and Linux folks are never shy about pointing those out! Best thing to do, in my opinion, is to try a distro out, stick with it for more than a few months, and see for yourself. Where one person sees something negative, you might see something positive.
  • Toast2120
    Toast2120 Posts: 4
    Yeah I think Linux Mint is a great way to start for any new user. Comes with all sorts of packages pre-installed, with most video and sound working right out of the box.

    The control center is a basic one stop for most things that basic users need to worry about, ex video sound users passwords desktops menus on and on.
  • nanodiamond
    Ease of install, an attractive user interface with familiar-sounding software labels and familiar-looking icons, a friendly support mechanism, simple package mangement, plus the OS being a good match for the hardware's capabilities are all-important to most newbies As such, a Linux distro that installs as easily as Unity or PCLXDE, looks like the new openSUSE, has the support of Ubuntu and Fedora, possesses a Synaptic-like package manager with a selection of software like Debian, and performs like antiX would, in my judgment, be ideal for a newbie. Alas, such a distro does not exist!

    Unfortunately, the new LTS versions of the Ubuntu family seem, at present, to have install problems and video issues. As such, I must at this point in time choose the new PCLOS in all its flavors for most newer machines with lots of RAM, high BUS rates and fast CPUs and pick antiX for for those new Linux users with limited-resource machines (including notebooks, laptops and older machines of all types, down to a PIII with 256MB RAM). Modern 64-bit users can go to Fedora first, openSUSE second and Salix third. Netbooks I do not claim to know, so I defer to others on these minis.

    There, you have my considered opinion based on experience that is not too extensive. It's the best I can do. At Present. full_Wanne.jpg
  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    That pic is a keeper...LOL
  • saurabhkmr
    Well, I my self have used a couple of Linux distros, starting from RHEL4, RHEL5, Fedora7, Fedora8, Fedora9, CentOS5 , SUSE, Mandriva, Ubuntu7.10-Ubuntu 10.04.

    Among all these, I liked the Ubuntu series most. The Ubuntu has a very nice package manager and binaries of almost all the popular Linux softwares (like Google Chrome, Opera, Skype and all). Apart from these Ubuntu has got a wide online support.
  • saqman2060
    saqman2060 Posts: 777
    Ubuntu Desktop version 8.10 - 10.04

    I installed unbuntu to learn the realm of linux. Because I am a Windows descendant, a system managed by GUIs was what I was hoping to get. I did actually.

    Is very easy to use and learn. It takes a little after windows by offering the ability to manage your system with little interaction to the CLI, which was not one of strong points. A good Distro to start with if you are new to linux.


    Huge selection of packages which are downloaded and easy install procedures
    Boots fast and allows dual boots with an existing windows OS
    Completely GUI bases
    offers proprietary drivers for most hardware devices
    easy system customizations
    Desktop manager allows easy navigation throughout the system
    simple remote setups to other windows systems
    File system builds a good archive organizing files and folder and allows quick file access
    can access NTFS drives


    Config files are hard to understand
    wireless devices are tricky to setup
    Setting up network workgroups can be a daunting task
    enhancements are made too quickly which could crash the system if not debugged

    Recommended users: noobs
  • leechy
    leechy Posts: 5
    Linux Mint is great for new people, because it has nearly everything a beginner would need: Codecs, a friendly community, stability, flashplayer, java, etc.

    I would have to recommend to look on ubuntu forums for troubleshooting, and the archlinux documentation pages for when the user wants to delve deeper into linux and wants to know how things work.
  • crmsagnstlbty
    I started with mepis it was easy and fast to install then I found my way to knoppix for root access and easy ramdisk access for programing and hope to use fedora for a project for public consumption because I can by a license for a couple hundred that makes me feel like I don't have to be a gurue to know if my program has bugs or is in some way spoiled.
  • myposts
    Well, there are many distros, and frankly speaking, for a beginner user, there's not much differences between them, the difference mainly is under the hood. My advice is, try few distros by yourself, see which you like the best and stay with it. Most people, who work with Linux on everyday basis, done this before. Take a look on Linux Jazz sets as an example, it may be exactly what you need.
    Hope it helps...
  • Apiman
    Apiman Posts: 5
    During my Win ages I used to have Linux installed in a dual-boot configuration, using Mandrake, Debian (I think it was woody) and Gentoo was my last dual-boot Linux. During that time I removed Win completely from my machine (I kept some VM ;) ) and kept Gentoo as my solely OS. I've made two distro switches since then. I'll describe my experiences for each distro:
    Gentoo: 2005-2008
    Pros:[ul][li]You might learn a lot[/li][li]Updated software[/li][li]Rolling Release[/li][/ul]
    Cons:[ul][li]Very Time consuming[/li][/ul]
    My experience:
    I have very good feelings towards that distro. It made me learn so much about the whole Linux software stack that I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Linux internals. Building form source forces you to check dependencies, choose supported compile options, etc., which makes you acquire the picture of how different programs and libraries are related in a Linux system. It's very well supported through the wiki with all howto's you may need to build your complete system. The problem is that the compile every package approach is very time consuming and you might have to do some real work on your machine other than compiling packages ;) .
    Ubuntu: 2008-2010
    Pros:[ul][li]User experience[/li][li]Closed software vendors support[/li][li]Integrated Web services[/li][/ul]
    Cons:[ul][li]Six months distribution updates[/li][li]I don't feel very comfortable about some Canonical moves towards Open Source[/li][/ul]
    My experience:
    If you don't care so much about the OS but about doing your stuff this is the way to go. I had no big troubles with it and worked fine for me. Nevertheless, as Ubuntu grows I feel like your are trading some of the Open source values and freedom (specially with the new cloud services embedded by default) for comfort and a worries less experience. I also got tired of updating my system every six months, so I decided to go for a rolling release.
    Arch: 2010-today
    [ul][li]Updated software[/li][li]Rolling release[/li][li]Performance[/li][/ul]
    Cons:[ul][li]Some Linux experience is recommended[/li][/ul]
    My experience:
    I'm very happy with this distro. Once you have some experience on Linux you will feel quite comfort with it. As I've said I switched to it from Ubuntu, mainly because I was looking for a binary based rolling release with updated packages. It has all the goods of Gentoo (simplicity, latest software, etc.) but without requiring you to waste time on compiling things. As you only run what you need my system boots lightning fast. Faster than Ubuntu 10.04 with all it's boot tweaking and upstart. I appreciate not having to spend an evening every six months updating my system. Another plus for Arch is that it's so close to upstream that you don't have to wait months to get the last versions of your beloved programs, some hours are enough most of the time and I haven't had any big issue with updates since I'm using it.

    I've done some administration work, and from a company perspective I'll choose Debian stable. I've had good experiences with it. It's solid and supports many hardware platforms, but sometimes it's packages are too old, so you might want to use Debian testing for some non critical machines.
  • disi
    disi Posts: 11
    I started with the most common distributions like Debian, Suse, RedHat, Slackware and Mandrake. The problem was always this hunting for .rpm,.deb or tarballs from the developers website.
    Some were packaging it as .rpm only some only .deb and others again only provided the source code in a tarball.
    The apache1.2.blabla would only work with php version blabla and so on, there was no real version control.

    Then came Gentoo and had the first really cool system to handle software installations (Portage), which was adapted from BSD system at that time. You could install, clean uninstall, handle config files and even had version control. You also always used the same tool to do it, "emerge".

    The available software in the portage tree was always very big and if it is not there, write a bug report and or write the ebuild script yourself (not sooo hard, but barely documented).

    Gentoo becomes a little like the unknown distribution behind other more fancy ones... like Debian is behind Ubuntu and CentOS is a "copy" of RedHat Enterprise and OpenSuse based on Suse, while Fedora is the testing ground for RedHat itself.

    If you check http://oswatershed.org/ Gentoo is still one of the most up to date distribution to be able to report bugs upstream, rather than trying to fix the old versions of software to work with the rest of the distribution. (with the current ~unstable directly between Archlinux and Fedora).

    In Gentoo, if I want to test or use something that is uncommon, I just do it. After all it's all about choice in Gentoo.
    I do not have to wait until some developer builds a package or changes a setting for me. In reality every person who installs Gentoo is in some way [his|her] own developer, because only [he|she] knows what's going on in the system and what is installed in the first place. Gentoo is too flexible and customizeable to give generic support.

    This is just some experienceof a Gentoo user :)
  • jlee1546
    jlee1546 Posts: 3
    I am quite new to Linux. Currently, I am running Ubuntu 10.10 on an old Presario. The only issue that I have had is one of support for a wireless USB adapter. However, a friend gave me a Belkin Wireless G adapter. Since then, I have not had any issues.

    My words of advice:

    1) Without installing, run Ubuntu from the CD. This allows you to see any hardware issues that you may have before doing an install. If there are too many issues, you might consider another flavor of Linux. Or at least, you will have a chance to research any conflicts or issues before you begin the install.

    2) If and when a person chooses to do an install, it makes the process super easy if the system can connect to the Internet.

    3) Enjoy!

    I am blessed that I have not had any real issues that I could not repair. And believe me, I am not a guru, by any means.
  • Lman
    Lman Posts: 52
    Distro: Ubuntu (xubuntu)

    Pros: Easy to understand, as Ubuntu/Xubuntu is so similar to windows that any noob can use it. Love the fact that Ubuntu software center is there, no clue what I would do without it.

    Cons: None so far. As time goes on, I hope none come up.

    I have the Xubuntu 10.04 LTS and the thing I like about it most is that I can run it on alot of computers that I come into contact with, especially the ancients. I have an older HP desktop that it works pretty well on. Hoping to sell it on Craigslist.
  • atreyu
    atreyu Posts: 216
    I've used/am using:

    Red Hat: 4.x - 9.0
    RHEL: 2.x - 5.x
    CentOS: 4.x - 5.x
    Fedora Core: 3 - 6
    Fedora: 7 - 12
    Ubuntu: 8.x - 10.x
    Debian/PA-RISC: ???
    Mandriva: ???
    Various Debian-based embedded Linux Operating Systems (ARM/x86)

    For me, it comes down to one thing, basically: package management. To me, everything else doesn't matter (b/c at the core it is mainly the Linux kernel and the GNU utilities) - as long as you're willing to spend the time to customize and learn. If you have a favorite app/desktop/widget/whatever, you can probably get it onto your Linux OS somehow - hopefully easily, but that is the real trick. I know that this philosophy doesn't work for n00bs, but that's okay, i'm just saying why it works for me. N00bs need an OS that "just works" and lots of people here can make good suggestions.

    What I mean by package management is: how do you install some app, say ethereal? Do I have multiple ways to install it? (from one or more command line tools, from a GUI, etc.). Is it easy to query the package to get information about it? How do I check for package dependencies? Can I add a repository of software from some other (trusted) source?

    I cut my teeth on Red Hat (and thus the RPM/Yum package system) in the beginning, and naturally migrated to CentOS and Fedora. I have not tried many other non-RPM-based Linux OSs, but I was impressed by Ubuntu's totally different but equally efficient package system. but in the end, yum install firefox, apt-get install firefox - whatev.

    I also do a lot of my own packaging of software for RPM-based systems, and I'm very happy with the tools provided by the RPM developer suite - they are rather extensive and quite sufficient enough for my purposes.
  • RickSMO
    RickSMO Posts: 123
    This part confuses me, "Pos: Stability" "Con:Limited Stability" please elaborate.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    RickSMO wrote:
    This part confuses me, "Pos: Stability" "Con:Limited Stability" please elaborate.

    Which review are you referencing?


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