what might suck when trying out a Linux distro

After first impression running or installation of various distros, from old to new, from server-style to desktop-style, i would like to list some of the points that came up and were sort of annoying. If i were an impatient or non-techie user i might have given up with that version of linux.

Ok, just to put things clear, what i am going to list here is my experience of various distros, considering versions of quite some time ago too (well, lets talk of about a year or two). This means there are many distros which don’t show any of this what i will tell, and the ones i had seen with this behaviour might be working fine in the latest version. I am trying to relate a historical playback of this sort of experiences. This is mix of experiences, with installed distros, and also when running live cds.

Generally speaking the issues might be classified as hardware, software and localization issues (my focus on spanish) mainly on the out-of-the-box behaviour.

according to the phase of usage..

live- or any -boot up:
– keyboard doesn’t work
At grub menu stage already the usb keyboard doesn’t work

– video/sound detection
for some reason bootup gets stuck, ends up in text only mode, or comes up with incorrect graphics resolution, or sound configuration (example: disabled microphone input)

– i changed my mouse or monitor, and the system doesn’t come up any more
example mouse – during install i used PS2 later wanted to boot up with an USB version..

– i don’t know the access password
a login screen appears, but i have no clue which user and password would work

– system clock messed up, especially in some multiboot cases
some mixup of different treatment UTC and locel time in the different systems on the same machine

installing the system:
– keyboard selection doesn’t work
although selecting keyboard layout for installation process, some keys don’t work as expected (they remain in the layout of another language)

– shock on disk preparation message:
A message says it will format the entire disk, even if in another step before i indicated a single (spare) partition to use for installation.

system maintanance:
– I installed the application in my preferred language, but dictionary doesn’t work example openoffice
– i would like to install something usefull, but i don’t know which one of this long list it would be
– i am trying to install something, but some dependency messages pop up and installation fails
– i have successfully updated one installation, why do i have to download all that stuff again to do the same job on another machine ?

– some systems start up or allow (..too easy) root session (administators nightmare)

desktop usage:

– some messages in my program appear suddenly in another language
– i cannot write a file on my windows partition from linux

– live cd doesn’t eject after shutdown
– shutdown only leaves graphical mode, need to enter shutdown command manually
– shutdown stops system put doesn’t power down

ok, on the other hand there are some very good components in several of the distros. It would be marvellous if one could have them all in one box.
i know it is subjective, just my opinion, and it depends very much on what use you need to give Your linux installation.

in my opinion, taking into account the distros i tried, or at least got in touch with, my ideal combo of features would be:
in general:
– stability as in Slackware or Debian (maybe add Gentoo, but i don’t know it that well)
– Hardware detection like Mepis, Knoppix, PCLinuxOS
– light and responsive like Vector, Zenwalk, Austrumin, Elive, maybe add Wolvix

for desktop and common users:
– combination of usefull desktop software like Debian, Fedora, Suse, Slackware
– or at least combined in a compact way as in: Wolvix, Pardus, PClinuxOS, Mint…
– compact download size, ideal only 1 CD … (long list of examples)
– Administration control panel intuitive like Suse, PClinuxOS, Pardus, Mint
– Package administration like in Pardus, or at least Synaptics
– Packages out of the box for office desktop like Sabayon Business edition

desktop specials:
– localized in spanish.. there are many, here some: Mepis_es, Tuquito, Pardus, Suse, Fedora, KateOS, Vector, Guadalinex, Molinux, GnuLinex, MAX, Resulinux
– look and feel – well i think this is too much a matter of taste of each user. I skip this one for now.
– for old machines: Austrumin, DamnSmallLinux, DeLi, Vector, Alinux(Peanut)

for system administrators and developers:
– Administration control panels for network services like in ?? (some sort of web interfaces of some router linux distros that i saw looked practical and nice)
– Packages for server out of the box like Suse, Univention, Scientific Linux, or at least CentOS (this might be a long list, because ther are very many distros which bring server related packages in the box)
– Packages for a developer box like … depends on the kind of developer..

— well but in fact there are also some which have an interesting collection of software out of the box. Some with a toolset for rescue or network diagnostics, multimedia tools, games, development tools, or educational software or documentation (example math and geographical GIS tools), or tailored especially for weak hardware, or special processors (Apple..).

you might wonder why is there no Ubuntu on my list ?
well, in fact some of the mentioned above are enhanced or localized clones of Ubuntu, or at least compatible with.

Maybe this will be all a bit confusing for newbies, but maybe someone working already with linux might consent with me or not in several point, and maybe it gives some “consultant” an idea which other distro might be worth a look. I am thinking of my collegues, which might be, like me, still in search of the ideal distros, according to the use of the computer – eehm and its user, of course.


~ por clickdimension en 10 agosto 2007.


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