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Thread: Hello... Distro recommendations

  1. #1
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    Default Hello... Distro recommendations

    OK...

    I need some advice from a 'non-fanboi' board.

    I have tried Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora Core 8, Debian 'Etch' and Debian 'Lenny' on my home PC.

    Intel DP965LT C2D E6600 Nvidia 8800GTS 320
    I have some issues with 'Etch' with the sound card not being loaded properly (updated ALSA would likely fix that) and the network card being reported oddly with network tools.

    I am torn between KDE / Gnome but a slight lean on Gnome.

    So I am curious what Distros people like -- and the reasons you like them.

    Thanks (no flame wars please)

  2. #2
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    Wow, that's like the Ultimate Flame-bait (J/K)... Lets see...

    Personally, I use Fedora on my systems. The reasons for it are several, but among them the most prominent is its balance between CLI and GUI tools. The Red Hat tools (system-config*) are very nice and, even though many people think they are fairly basic (and indeed they are, for a reason) they are very good to have a basic configuration and from which to expand by manually tweaking.

    Another reason I like a LOT about Fedora is its focus on the latest stable software, even though it may not always work as intended or expected. It is certainly a distribution very easy to use, BUT not necessarily intended for new users, as it won't always do things for you and it some time feels like you should really know what you are doing as there is no way to tell if you are doing anything wrong or not (until it suddenly explodes in your face). Another reason I like Fedora for is its speed. Though some people may say the performance delta across recent Linux distros is negligible (and I'm not talking about source distros like Gentoo or LFS), for some reason Fedora (in my very subjective opinion) feels a bit snappier than others, particularly in GNOME, which for some obscure reason GTK redraw seems to be a bit slower than Qt's.

    I don't like Ubuntu, though I reckon it is THE Linux distribution nowadays for new users. Particularly those who don't want a rather steep learning curve, and focus more on learning a new GUI (like it would be the case with Mac OS X, for instance). There are several reasons because I don't like Ubuntu for, but most prominently I have come to believe it boils down to its focus. The one reason I dislike it the most has to be the lack of a proper root account, sure it falls outside of its scope, and you can enable the account at any given point, but the system lacks the account on a default installation, giving away its focus. I particularly dislike doing administrative tasks with sudo.

    (Open)SuSE and Mandriva (IMO) fall in the same category as Ubuntu, in terms of user friendliness and to some degree their scope and focus. It's been ages since I last used Mandriva, when it was still named Mandrake, so I can't comment on recent developments (it was, and I assume it still is, a very good distribution). SuSE is amazingly good, but the lack of adherence to standards (particularly to kernel standards) draw me away. I must admit that I dislike, almost hate, with a passion YaST2. It used to be very slow (Ok, Ok, YUM used to be slow, but not so the admin tools in Fedora), and for some reason never felt comfortable using it.

    Debian is very nice, I like it and all, but for some obscure reason I don't like .debs, I feel much more comfortable with RPMs. Maybe I've spent much longer time with them and I'm more familiar with it, the .deb format seems to be (IMVHO) a bit less thought through than RPM, also dpkg seems to be more difficult to use than plain rpm. However, it's got one of the best front ends for package management, apt, where as yum is slowly evolving, apt has been very robust for quite some years. For the rest, Debian is my second choice.

  3. #3
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    Gentoo -- very easy to install, bleeding edge packages (so bleeding edge that they occasionally require CVS/SVN sources of other libraries ), very easy to create cross-compilers, but it takes longer to install stuff (due to everything being
    compiled from source by default. I have never even seen
    openoffice finish compiling since after 48hrs I lose
    patience and kill the build )

    I dislike Ubuntu for reasons similar to Thetargos', but with one additional: It breeds a new kind of Linux user: "The clueless", which cannot appreciate the simplicity
    of editing config files in a shell, and stare at you when you give them "do a svn checkout and recompile"-style advice.
    But... It's easy to setup and use, the buzz of the year, and certainly suited for people who just want an OS which enables them to
    browse the web, check email and play audio/video files.

    (However when someone tells me (s)he uses Linux I expect them to somewhat understand how the system is built and works and how to do the "configare;make;make install"-dance, but thats just me)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlau View Post
    Gentoo -- very easy to install, bleeding edge packages (so bleeding edge that they occasionally require CVS/SVN sources of other libraries ), very easy to create cross-compilers, but it takes longer to install stuff (due to everything being
    compiled from source by default. I have never even seen
    openoffice finish compiling since after 48hrs I lose
    patience and kill the build )
    And that is exactly why I gave up on Gentoo as a Desktop system... As a slim gaming system, though... It has LOTs of potential I too believe Gentoo is actually fairly easy to install, you can actually install the whole system by "emerging" a Desktop group and return 3 days later to your desktop

    Quote Originally Posted by mlau
    I dislike Ubuntu for reasons similar to Thetargos', but with one additional: It breeds a new kind of Linux user: "The clueless", which cannot appreciate the simplicity
    of editing config files in a shell, and stare at you when you give them "do a svn checkout and recompile"-style advice.
    But... It's easy to setup and use, the buzz of the year, and certainly suited for people who just want an OS which enables them to
    browse the web, check email and play audio/video files.
    You have nailed it in the head! THAT's about the most important issue with Ubuntu and the new breed of "brainless Linux distributions". However, it is just that geeky-ness aspect of Linux that was preventing it from picking up steam. Stupid little things in Ubuntu (and other distros following trend) may very well be the Achilles heel of Linux security. Stuff like default user automatically added to the wheel group, and having sudo for everything (instead of a proper root account) could be source of exploits. It is known that regular users (especially the kind of users Ubuntu is targeted at) use weak passwords, and this could mean security compromises. As sudo will only prompt for the user's password once per session. A cleverly built attack may cause the user to give sudo his pw, and then execute arbitrary code with root privileges... Rendering "Linux" as vulnerable (or more) as Windows... scary stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by mlau
    However when someone tells me (s)he uses Linux I expect them to somewhat understand how the system is built and works and how to do the "configure;make;make install"-dance, but thats just me
    Assuming that they use Linux and have read upon it, sure. More than building stuff, what I use as "user-benchmark" is the knowledge of basic commands and even how to obtain help if anything goes south (like info or man). If a user, even a newbie who has never touched a PC before and is just starting, can do that, in my book s/he has a very prominent future in Linux

  5. #5
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    you can actually install the whole system by "emerging" a Desktop group and return 3 days later to your desktop
    it takes me 2 hours and i don't really have a powerful hardware, as my machine is 3 years old and new hardware is riduculously expensive when it comes to our shops. so my pc is average "4 years ago" system by US / western europe standards i guess.

  6. #6
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    Little hint: Try Kanotix Thorhammer with

    screen=auto nvidia

    extra cheatcodes (requires internet connection). You will get 3d support even in live mode.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies folks. I will check out Fedora Core 8 again. I really do like the apt-get aptitude synamptic in Debian and currently Debian would be my choice, but I think they are a little zealous when it comes to their excluding Firefox due to copyrighted icons.

    I may also give Gentoo a try, but when I did try it on my older machine it took forever and I am a bit worried that it will not 'see' my CD-ROM which apparently is a big problem for distros. With Debian I had to add the generic.all_generic_ide=1 to the boot parameters to get it to read the CD.

    All in all this seems like a pretty good place to discuss things without the 'zealot' nature of some of the other boards.

    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    There are Firefox and Thunderbird in Debian just renamed to Iceweasel and Icedove. I don't get your problem...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    There are Firefox and Thunderbird in Debian just renamed to Iceweasel and Icedove. I don't get your problem...
    I understand that Iceweasel and Icedove are 'rebranded' Firefox and Thunderbird... but I disagree with the application of Debian's belief that such a move was necessary due to Firefox trademarking the logos.

    Was there a reason beyond the logos that caused the Debian Dev Team to rebrand the browser and associated programs?

    Beyond that Debian 'Etch' did not properly recognize my sound card; from what I can tell it needed an updated ALSA. There was also problems with the network card. Debian is running on my work machine, but my home machine presents a bit of a problem unless I move up to 'Lenny'.
    Last edited by indigo196; 01-08-2008 at 09:16 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by indigo196 View Post
    I am a bit worried that it will not 'see' my CD-ROM which apparently is a big problem for distros.
    Problems like these are kernel-dependent, not at all distro related; it could happen on any provided they
    use the same kernel. So when something like this happens
    grab the latest kernel package offered by your distro and try again. Or better yet, compile and test the
    latest git sources ;-)

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