About linux distros

inspired by the current weekly at distrowatch (see http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20070611):

Here some of my experiences, and opinions about my testing of distros.

Besides that i am still looking for the 100percent optimal distro for me, i also have several scenarios and equipments which correspond to them.

  • At work our main official distro is from redmond, but since i work partly in software development, partly (enterprise) server management and partly in software and communication troubleshooting support, i use to have some space reserved for testing tools and configurations on the office desktop, and sometimes on the support notebook.
  • At home i have some partitions on several disks, which i can use as playground, although i prefer live cds for a quick impression. When testing at home i have in mind the questions and expectations of my house-members, and friends, besides me, which generates also several scenarios. I would have in mind a hassle free management, that means simple package management, spanish language support would be fine. and for some of them – tools and distros for soundstudio and video editing. Ah, and maybe some child-proof/easy version would be useful too.

You can imagine that i have done lately quite some testing, although i couldn’t tell you a verdict.

  • in the server section i try to stick to redhat/centos-compatible (tried recently centos 5, and now running scientific), since for enterprise systems – and some special tools, there seems to be more support for rhel and suse (and i have collegues with preference for fedora..). I remember very good experience also with Suse, but the reason’s i haven’t tried the latest is that it seem a.) tooo bloated and b.) time problem for testing such a big distro, within my work. I think univention is something very interesting too, however i had some password/access problem after installing, it is as simple as that. I tried Pioneer, worked very well, but i had expected it to be more “professional”.
  • On the service notebook lately i tried to make a change of system. I had resulinux running (after slackware before). Very nice and clean, but a little slow for this notebook. I wanted to put zenwalk or vector, which i remember as very friendly and fast systems (alinux/peanut would be some of the next choices, but i didn’t have a current version at hand). I also considered backtrack, which brings many interesting networking tools out of the box. But had some trouble installing them, maybe some mbr problem, or some dislike of the other ntfs partitions. at the end i put on sidux, the debian based succesor of kanotix/knoppix.
  • In my service “handluggage” i use to have some recovery tools live cd like insert, partedmagic, ubcd, slampp, helix.
  • At home on my disk with my audio repository 😉 i put ubuntustudio. Just to keep on testing the various tools. The ArtisX livecd has many more tools, but doesn’t have an installer. Although musix is spanish (it is from argentina), i haven’t changed the ubuntustudio yet. english is fine for me, too.
  • On my other “developer playground” disk at home, i lately tried KateOS. Which seems to be a be magnific and friendlier replacement for Slackware, even comes in spanish. I wonder why it is that low ranking in distrowatch. But i know there are quite a lot distros around which bring maybe some very interesting developer/academic tools or infos out of the box: Kuliax, Seminarix, Quantian, Poseidon, MAX, Kurumin, or simply Knoppix

although, thinking again, maybe for an student developer i should say try slackware (to learn) or use one of the big like suse or fedora, which brings almost everything. Sorry that i cannot say debian, because it is simply tooo big. If you can pull it from the internet and have a real big hard disk it would be very very interesting though.

  • on my personal box i am running Pardus 2007.1, which seems magnific to me. very simple package manager, and very user friendly, and comes in spanish too..

on the other partition i have guadalinex, which is a ubuntu clone, but in full spanish. the current problems i have with both of them (sound input) seem alsa or xorg-specific, but i can live with it at the moment. Shouldn’t have changed my old notebook maybe.

I don’t know if i will make big changes here, because i like pardus, and – on the other hand – i think guadalinex would be easily to recommend in my current spanish speaking environment. Although i am also eager to see trisquel and gnuLinex, when the new versions will come out.

  • I tried some others too. I like PCLinuxOS, seems very nice, but i remember mandriva (which is the father of PClinuxOS) as too bloated, so i try not to focus on this. Generally, having in mind popularity and support, i think some ubuntu/debian compatible version would be ok for many people (- to recommend at the moment). personally i don’t like ubuntu that much. gnome is not my preferred desktop, and kubuntu doesn’t even come with openoffice (out of the box). Of the clones the most interesting seems to be mint, although if mepis would come out in spanish (final), this would be worth testing i suppose. Would be very interesting a pioneer version in spanish too, but i don’t know if they are working on this. I remember Freespire and Famelix, but for me i wouldn’t sacrifice speed only to have some nice visual effects (well, i have my pardus tuned like MAC at the moment. maybe this argument wouldn’t matter in the future..).
  • Of the child-proof (or simply childish maybe ?) the most interesting distros i remember are Symphony and SqueakLiveCD (by gnuLinuex, i think) and maybe MAX (Madrid Linux).

I tell you there are a lot out there i didn’t have a chance to try yet, believe it or not.
i know there are very good ones out there, like slackware, gentoo, arch, or simply bsd too, but i have to try at least to focus.. and measure my time too.
Beryl/Compiz visual effects are not my focus at the moment and are not relevant for me right now.
I know there are some distros with several interesting concepts for package managing, dependency management (see for example NixOS), directory structure (for ex-mac or ex-M$ freaks), and other tricks for usability. Seem interesting to have in mind, to learn from, but to switch entirely ?? only if the rest convices too.

  • I notice that i missed to mention the pocket-desktop versions. Maybe simply because although they have real interesting concepts, they are simply not “complete” enough for me. I like Austrumi and Puppy a lot, but as i said, they use to be too small for me. There is also damn small, feather, deli and surely some other good ones around, and i am sure knoppix and Ubuntu took some of their ideas and incorporated them into their versions.

Whet more will the future bring ?

Well i think i will go on testing more the virtual side – server related especially, and still have in mind my projects for testing usb-stick based installations, specially for service/troubleshooting scenarios.

I think i stop with this topic for now. i hope it is not too confusing, but i think you can capture my impression, there is no generally ideal distro at the moment, it depends on your use you want to give it. I think all of them have some PRO’s. i hope that in the future especially the big ones would cooperate to go collecting the best ideas and join them to convert into better linux distros, getting closer to the ideals, for the developer side, the administrators and the users (last no least). I think we are not far from it, and even as we are i think with a little bit of goodwill using some linux version is very recommendable for the desktop, even for non-technicians.

p.s. tal vez voy a hacer proximamente una version de lo mismo en español para mis compañeros en Paraguay.

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~ por clickdimension en 11 junio 2007.

Una respuesta to “About linux distros”

  1. an additional comment to my personal box:

    of course i updated to Pardus 2007.2 + some updates, and on the “other” partition i am using Dreamlinux at the moment, although i am considering switching this one to Wolvix

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