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Beginner's Guide to Linux Distros 409

Posted by Zonk
from the pick-your-poison dept.
Martin writes "TipMonkies has a nice overview of various Linux distros for those of you with little time to research each distro yourself. The article also discusses some of the advantages/disadvantages of each distro." From the article: "SUSE- The 'U' is hard and the 'E' is soft. Almost like the word sue with an S on the end. SUSE is the other big commercial distro. It was when it was still it's own company in Germany, and now even bigger since being purchased by Novell."
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Beginner's Guide to Linux Distros

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  • Slackware (Score:2, Insightful)

    by big_groo (237634)
    Learn to do things without pretty GUIs. That's the best way to learn. Learn how your system works. LFS is good, but overkill, IMHO.
    • Re:Slackware (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pros_n_Cons (535669) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:48PM (#12854223)
      Learn to do things without pretty GUIs . That's the best way to learn

      I'm still learning when using a GUI, I'm just learning how to do a task without reading a manpage.
    • by CyricZ (887944) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:59PM (#12854264)
      Most people aren't interested in learning how to not use a GUI. They want to check their email. They want to browse the web. They want to pay their bills online. They want to track their spreadsheet. But most of all, they want to do such things easily and efficiently. That's why GUI-based systems like Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows are so popular.
      • Last I checked all those things were also possible on Linux. Are you under some impression that linux has no GUI?
    • Fedora is a "GUI distro" why do people think if there is a GUI scripting or CLI commands are not allowed? For every system-config* tool Fedora has there is an ncurses app, or file you can edit with VI that is compatible.
      When someone says CLI is more powerfull what they are really saying is, my favorite distro doesn't have a GUI for everything yet. Look guys, we all use the same apps, just some of us have the _OPTION_ of using a GUI to configure it. It doesn't make us less intelligent than you.
    • Re:Slackware (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rampant mac (561036) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:15PM (#12854315)
      "Learn to do things without pretty GUIs. That's the best way to learn."

      Why?

      I can't wait for your reply...

      • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Insightful)

        by big_groo (237634)
        "Learn to do things without pretty GUIs. That's the best way to learn."
        Why?
        I can't wait for your reply...

        What if there is no GUI? Not all servers have a 'Start' button...

        • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          This guide is for beginners. How many beginners do you know that are going to be setting up servers?
        • Re:Slackware (Score:5, Insightful)

          by barc0001 (173002) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:47PM (#12854420)
          Not all people need servers either...

          If you RTFM, it sounds like this is more geared towards people using it on a desktop.

          And it's that kind of zealotry that puts people off trying linux. You may be thinking you're helping, but what the average non-tech geek hears from a statement is this:

          "Learn to do it without a GUI. Only stupid people need GUIs"

          Now, like I say, that's not what you mean to say, but that's how "Learn to do things without pretty GUIs. That's the best way to learn." will be interpreted by a fair percentage of non tech people.
          • "Learn to do it without a GUI. Only stupid people need GUIs"

            Now, like I say, that's not what you mean to say, but that's how "Learn to do things without pretty GUIs. That's the best way to learn." will be interpreted by a fair percentage of non tech people.


            No, the non-technical people be asking, "WTF is a GUI?"
          • Zealotry? You call the guy a zealot because he says not all servers have a gui? Maybe you are the zealot have you thought of that? Anybody who calls somebody a zealot because of how they think OTHER people will interpret something he said is worse then a zealot. You are simply insane.
        • Re:Slackware (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vwjeff (709903) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @12:50AM (#12854625)
          What if there is no GUI? Not all servers have a 'Start' button...

          While I agree Linux/UNIX/Windows sysadmins (me) need to use a CLI for many tasks, my grandmother doesn't. She is never going to administer a server.

          The concept of a CLI is hard for some people to grasp, even though it is primative when compared to a GUI. When my mom or grandmother wants to open a disk, she double clicks a pretty icon. Simple enough. Typing mount /dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy is complicated.

      • Re:Slackware (Score:2, Informative)

        by kbranch (762946)
        Because sometimes it's just the best way to do something. I always keep at least one terminal window open, so if I want to find a file I just switch to it and type 'locate file'. In Windows, you'd have to click Start->Find->Files, then beat the clippy equivalent into submission, and then type in your search term.

        The same is true of most Start Button based things. If I want to install a new program, I just type 'emerge package'. Want to start an app? Just type the name. Check for wireless? 'iw
        • Re:Slackware (Score:2, Interesting)

          by norminator (784674)
          In Windows, you'd have to click Start->Find->Files, then beat the clippy equivalent into submission, and then type in your search term.

          How about "WindowsKey + F"? The first time in, turn off the stupid puppy, and set up the options the correct way, then a search is always just a WindowsKey+F away. No, I don't think the Windows search is all that great, but it's not that complicated or difficult to get to, either. You don't even have to switch to a terminal window. It's easier for people to lear
      • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mattdm (1931)

        "Learn to do things without pretty GUIs. That's the best way to learn."

        Why?

        I can't wait for your reply...


        Because a GUI only allows you to do tasks which the GUI designer thought to create a button for. The *nix command-line interface, with its "everything is a file" plus "tools do one small thing and do it well" design priciples, provides a rich environment where you can do almost anything you can imagine -- including shooting yourself in both feet. But *that's* very educational, and since it's onl

        • Re:Slackware (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          "Because a GUI only allows you to do tasks which the GUI designer thought to create a button for."

          Because with a command line you can execute commands that the designer didn't think of creating a command for?

          You can create inadequate command line tools just like inadequate GUI tools. The interface used doesn't dictate the coverage.
          • Re:Slackware (Score:2, Interesting)

            by kfg (145172)
            Unixy shell commands live in an entirely different universe than GUI commands, with completely different "laws of physics."

            Most of the really good Unix tools would likely be considered "inadequate" by someone who doesn't understand them, because they are designed and intended to work in conjunction with some other tool or tools.

            So the answer to your question is, yes, by design.

            That's the point. Unix tools are like Tinker Toys. Each piece has some nominal value in its own right, but are really pretty ina
      • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Speare (84249)
        If you learn how to do something at the command-line level, you also learn how to automate doing things at the command-line level. A simple program is just a list of commands to be performed. Few things that are GUI-driven support any notion of automation. You become a slave to the mouse wasting time shoving around widgets, instead of the computer being a slave to perform your bidding.
      • Becuase users are already familiar with pretty GUIs, and the things that they always need help with are outside of pretty GUIs.

        Therefore, when they just use the pretty GUI, they don't actually learn anything, whereas when they struggle to use the command line and eventually master it, they have learned something.

        Duh.
        • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NemesisNL (843573)
          what's this obsession with having people learn something? I just want to do what I need to do and the rest I'm not interested in. Si when I installed Suse and my nvidia card did't work I learned what to do to get it working and that's about it. Maybe the CLI is usedfull for setting up servers but maybe.....just maybe, a gui is apreciated so much by people because it is a damned good way of doing things. It's easier to learn how to use a gui so taht's what I want. I installed webmin and haven't looked back
      • Re:Slackware (Score:4, Insightful)

        by poofyhairguy82 (635386) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:50PM (#12854426) Journal
        Why?

        I'll tell you why I like the commandline: I can copy lines of commands that I don't understand off webpages and fix problems in Linux without having to read a bunch of GUIs.

        I yeah....I guess I don't learn anything. You're right!

        • reading webpages is faster for you than clicking a few buttons in a gui? man, I remember the fun I've had with linux editing obscure files trying to get the printer or sound working...YaST in SUSE 9.2 lets me flip stuff around in a minute or two as opposed to hours of guess-and-check, reading webpages, and 8 years-out-of-date manuals.

          So I'm not sure how the command line is faster. For some things yes, and certainly an expert user can do amazing things with it, but for the average user there should never b
          • "For some things yes, and certainly an expert user can do amazing things with it, but for the average user there should never be a need to drop into the command line."

            The question is what kind of a person are you? Are the kind of a person who wants to be just another average luser^H^H^H^H^H person or do you want to be an expert? If you want to be an expert learn the command line.
      • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Informative)

        by dtfinch (661405) *
        My first distro was RedHat 6, which I hardly touched after I installed it. I didn't really start getting into Linux until I tried Slackware, which taught me a lot about how it all works, like how to do stuff from the command line, how to configure everything, how to install software from source, and other important things like that.

        Some things are hard to learn unless I force myself, but afterwards I'm usually glad I did. It's not enough that something like a command line is available. It has to be all I h
      • Re:Slackware (Score:3, Insightful)

        by killjoe (766577)
        Because the command line more powerful then the gui. There are things you can do in a command line that you can't do in any gui especially with piping and redirection. Furthermore by learning the command line you can script these actions and run them later very easily.

        Why? Because the command line is more productive and more efficient. Sure it's harder to learn but once you learn it it's easier to use. That's why.
      • Re:Slackware (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Chaoticmass (213593)
        Such is the state of things in the Linux world that sometimes the way to get the most out of the OS requires plonking down into a terminal.

        It took me a long time to warm up to Linux because I didn't understand how things worked underneath the pretty GUI. Coming from the DOS/Windows world I just didn't feel comfortable having the command line there and not knowing how to use it.

        On one hand you have Linux distributions that largly allow you to run the system without ever needing to use the command line. Thi
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Learn to do things without pretty keyboards and monitors: use punch cards. That's the best way to learn. Learn how your system works. LFS is good, but overkill, IMNSHO.
  • I use Linux and there's some fairly major distros that I don't know that much about. The article seems fairly free from hype and bias. That's the kind of thing I really appreciate.
    • But it doesn't say hardly anything meaningful about the various distros. Let me pick on his treatment of Mandriva, just because it's the one I know the most about, but the rest struck me as equally shallow.

      1) In what way are Mandrake's /etc files less hackable than Fedora's? Or is this just a bland assertion made because the GUI tools are available? Unlike YAST, the drak tools don't get confused if you hand edit files, which I do all the time.

      2) Why does he mention yum and apt-get, but not urpmi which
      • Re:a good resource (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TheGuruMan (69477)

        Problem is, distrowatch doesn't do what this guy's trying to do, which is to produce a brief, easy to read, and easy to understand summary of the biggest distros.

        Unfortunately, his attempt at doing so isn't that great, for the reasons you mentioned. It glosses over lots of useful information while getting stuck in details that beginners probably don't care about anyway. And he succumbs to acronym soup (HAL, KDE, GNU, CLI) without explaining any of them.

  • SuSE Pronunciation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I always thought that SuSE was pronunced "zu-zah". This is the way it has always been pronounced by most German-speking SuSE experts I know.
    • With the small second letter, I always thought it was an acronym so I always referred to it as
      "S-U-S-E". No one ever corrected me.

      Oh well....

      • by big tex (15917)
        I'd always heard that it was an acronym, and wikipedia seems to agree.

        Apparently, SUSE = "Software- und System-Entwicklung" ("Software and system development").

        Apparently, it was originally based off of Slack, not Red Hat, so that's nested errors [slashdot.org].
    • I believe SuSE stands for Software- und Systementwicklung (software and system development), so the correct pronunciation would be "su-zeh".
      • Software- und Systementwicklung

        Are you sure that's not Software- und Systementwicklung? It makes a lot more sense to take the word that's being compounded rather than a random letter from a word you've already sampled. Crazy Germans.

  • Summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by 823723423 (826403)
    [1]
    Currently, the biggest distros not derived from RedHat or Debian are Slackware and Gentoo which also have their own package management systems with various advantages/disadvantages
    [2]
    Now with Lycoris (just purchased by Mandriva), Xandros, Linspire, and a number of others, Mandriva no longer is known as the most dumbed down distro, but still is very good for people new to GNU/Linux
    [3]
    There are plenty of ground up distros, but most are derived either from RedHat using RPMs (RPM stands for RedHat Package Ma
  • Progressing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Eternauta3k (680157)
    The user will change distros as he adquires skill... just start with an easy one.
  • Distrowatch (Score:5, Informative)

    by vasqzr (619165) <`ten.epacsten' `ta' `rzqsav'> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:48PM (#12854220)

    For a less biased review site, check out Distrowatch [distrowatch.com]. They also link to independent reviews.
  • eh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ltwally (313043) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:48PM (#12854222) Homepage Journal
    "...The beauty of Slack is in its simplicity. The core of the OS is based off of BSD, whereas Debian and RedHat are based off of AT&T UNIX..."
    eh... Is this guy smoking crack or something? I've played with Slack, and have multiple FreeBSD boxes. While Slackware might be the least graphical (and thus, more arcane -- like the BSD's) linux distro out there, it is not based off any BSD that I've ever seen. The kernel is linux, the userland utilities are all GNU, and the location and configuration of all the system files is definitely not BSD related.

    I dunno... while much of this dude's article seemed accurate, after reading the above, I've come to the conclusion that even after all his years of experience, he's still a newb... or he's just plain smoking crack.
    • Re:eh... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:09PM (#12854295)
      He is probably talking about the structure of everything, most notably the init scripts. Slackware uses BSD style init scripts, while the others he mentioned use System V style init scripts.

      It was poor wording, but what he said makes sense if you think of it that way.
    • by ari_j (90255)
      And he claims that "sue with an S on the end" is a long U and short E in SUSE. Last time I checked, "silent" and "short" are not the same. Newb, on crack, or whatever else - he's an idiot.
    • He's referring to the init system. Debian and RedHat use sysvinit (this is where you get /etc/rc#.d for each runlevel containing symlinks to scripts in /etc/init.d essentially), slackware uses the "bsd style" init which is basically just a bunch of scripts that just run on boot as far as I can tell (I've never looked at it that closely).

      Although I agree it's a very poor explanation.
  • I don't claim to be a linguist, but WTF is a "hard U" or "soft E"? I'm familar with "long" and "short" (and their accepted definitions in modern English) ... but hard and soft vowels?!

    Were they confusing this terminology with that used for consonants, such as "hard g" or "soft g"?

  • by mattbadass (165861) <[moc.reeb] [ta] [ssadabttam]> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:00PM (#12854267)
    I think he got the order of his debian trees wrong. He had it at stable>>unstable>>testing. It's stable [debian.org]>> testing [debian.org]>> unstable [debian.org]. Testing is to test it before it becomes stable. Unstable is, of course, unstable. Just in case anyone reads this and uses the info. And yes, i'm being pedantic :)
  • Slack-current (Score:5, Informative)

    by KillerBob (217953) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:14PM (#12854309)
    The guy's information is a little out of date.... For one, while it isn't a GUI-driven installation, Slack's install *is* menu-driven. If you read what you're presented with when you boot off the install CD, it's pretty obvious, too. It says very clearly, partition the disk, then type "setup". It even suggests using cfdisk to partition the disk if you want a "gui". I'd hardly call it arcane, since the information is given to you without your needing to hunt for it.

    There's some assumption that you know what you're doing, and Slack doesn't set X as the default runlevel, but there's also a really helpful book available for free at Slack's website. About the only thing you really need to know is that RL4 is X, not RL5. That, and that it uses BSD init placement (/etc/rc.d/) instead of SysV (/etc/rc.d/rc.X/). Other than that, it's Linux. What works for one distro will work for Slack. Only there's probably already a package so you don't have to compile from source, just check linuxpackages.net first.

    Also, Gnome has been moved to /pasture. It's not in -current.
  • I've tried installing Mandrake 8, 9 and 10, SUSE and Debian on my old P350, and the only install that didn't croak was Mandrake 8, and with that one I never could get the sound to work. I assume it's my hardware, but then of course that box ran Win98 just fine. I would like to learn Linux and get away from MS, and I have this nice old machine to play on. I keep hearing how easy it is, so wtf?
    • Well, it is always hard to get things to work on either a really old, or a really new machine. However, I suggest that you install Mandriva 10.2LE and install all the window managers and run KDE when you want fancy screens and IceWM when you want to get things done more quickly.
  • It should be:
    Slackware
    Debian
    Gentoo
    Redhat
    Suse
    Man d rake
    etc.

    Slackware is the oldest existing distro. It is also my second favorite. :)

    Debian is... Debian is just incredible. It should be covered early on because it defines a linux based distro for anyone who has been around for a while. I do not particularly care for debian though.

    Gentoo needs to be covered early because it can give you the most features with the least amount of hassle. Personally, this is my favorite distro.

    Redhat, and therefore Fedora, s
  • I'll join my voice to the ones praising Linux From Scratch [linuxfromscratch.org]. It's an amazing resource for learning how a Linux system is built.

    We used it as a reference when we built the first full version of GoboLinux [gobolinux.org] -- essentially following the steps of the book and adding our modifications (configure and makefile flags) to build the new directory structure, to make our "/usr"-less distro. :)

    To this day, I refer to their build instructions every now and then. They also contain a good collection of security patches, so
    • so if you're into compiling your packages by hand

      Everytime I hear someone say "compiling packages by hand" I think of some guy looking up assembly equivalents of the code in question, then optimizing the assembly in his head, and finally doing an opcode translation. :-)

      I wonder how long it would take to do a stage 1 install of Gentoo that way? Any takers?
      • Everytime I hear someone say "compiling packages by hand" I think of some guy looking up assembly equivalents of the code in question, then optimizing the assembly in his head, and finally doing an opcode translation. :-)

        As someone who has already done exactly what you described, in a distant Apple II past (6502 asm... large chunks of code any time you needed a 16-bit operation, what a pain) -- except for the "optimization in his head" bit of course; I resorted to plain-old paper, much easier to fix the j
  • Laptops... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skiflyer (716312) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:36PM (#12854379)
    I still just want a distro that works great with my Thinkpad laptop.

    I've been through Debian installs so many times, and I get so close, but there's always one thing or another I can't quite get (used to be sound, now I got that working but the darn thing won't sleep anymore)... I tried Kanotix, again the sleeping issue... downloading Ubuntu now. (Yes, in case you can't tell by the list I'm a big Debian fan... but Fedora is next on the torrent list, lousy 2.7GB download though)

    Is there a reason laptops are so tricky for linux, and yes I know all about linuxforlaptops.com and the other websites which cater, but still, the installs are frustrating, the wireless has finally gotten to a point where it's ok, but still not great (enabling wep and connecting to a varity of networks etc)...

    Does a "for laptops" distro exist?, I'd love it, hell I'd help with it if my skills could be used.

    Sidenote: The old debian installer had much better support for laptops than the new one!
    • Re:Laptops... (Score:2, Informative)

      by xsspd2004 (801486)
      I've had really good luck with PCLinuxOS www.pclinuxonline/pclos on ThinkPads. It's a good system overall and has Thinkpad utilties installed by default. I haven't tried PR9 but 8 and 81a worked well. I wouldn't try KDE of you have less than 256mb though.

      YMMV I mostly use Ubuntu now and just keep PCLOS around for a rescue CD.
    • I think you'll strike gold with Ubuntu. It works great with my Thinkpad T-20, and that's a pretty old model!
    • Mandrake 10.1 was done with a focus on laptop compatability. As a result all Mandrake/Mandriva versions since then (10.1 and LE2005) work very nicely on every laptop I have tried.

      Also means they have good GUI tools for setting up Wireless and managing it (connecting to new networks, WEP, etc.).
    • Re:Laptops... (Score:3, Informative)

      by MsGeek (162936)
      I have Debian Sarge running beautifully on my 600e. Sound and everything. http://www.thinkwiki.org/ [thinkwiki.org] is the place to go for Linux on ThinkPad goodness. Also get on the Linux-ThinkPad mailing list. Details also on ThinkWiki.
    • The best 'for laptops' distro is always the newest distro - whichever it happens to be - since then it is most likely to have the right drivers! So, presently, I'll recommend Suse.
    • Re:Laptops... (Score:4, Informative)

      by grammar fascist (239789) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @01:17AM (#12854724) Homepage
      SuSE puts an awful lot of work into making the OS work well on laptops. Their "powersaved" is one of the best power management tools I've ever seen.

      That, and I like the GUI stuff. You can be a power user on SuSE without having to remember arcane CLI commands. Of course, if you want to, you can.

      I tried Debian on my laptop and gave up after struggling with the devices for 20 hours or so. With SuSE it was all done for me.
  • I've been an avid BSD and Solaris user for the past 5 years, but never set foot in Linux-world (theme park anyone?) because frankly... I didn't know where to start.

    This article gave me a good ground to work off of as far as what I should be looking at to start with. I wanted something that would give me configuration flexibility and a good set of packages, but I really didn't care much for graphical configurations (99.9% of my unix work is on the command prompt anyway, and I actually like the OpenBSD inst
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:45PM (#12854411)
    Well, I just found another overview of several Linux distros [dyndns.org] that may add some information to TFA.
  • Suse Manuals (Score:5, Informative)

    by miyako (632510) <miyako@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @11:50PM (#12854428) Homepage Journal
    Although the article mentioned YaST and the overall refinement of Suse, it failed to mention what I think is perhaps the biggest incentive to buying suse for someone new to Linux. The Documentation.
    The Manuals that come with Suse are some of the best I've ever seen. Granted by the time I switched to Suse I'd been using Linux for several years and didn't find the user manual all that useful, but the administration manual is still a great reference. In fact I probably refer to it more than my Linux: Complete Reference book.
    The author makes quite a point of mentioning that Suse Professional runs about $100, but fails to mention the quality of the manuals you get with it, or that you can buy an "upgrade" version, which is the full version without the printed manuals, for around $40 from Suse's website.
  • I love Fedora 3 because of the way it sees my hardware perfectly, but I've wrecked my system once trying to compile and install a new kernel.

    Is there a howto for this?

    I sure do miss the nuts and bolts style of slackware, but the instant hardware recognition makes up for a lot of it. Also, RedHat FC3 is a snap to configure my LAN. I could never figure out the arcane commands needed to set up a LAN/internet connection over cable modem/router in Slackware (although hooking a single machine to DSL was insanel
  • I went through the install menus, fiddled with the partitions, and after a bunch of text screens later, it was alive.

    Then I easily got samba installed & running with the package manager. Yay. This failed previously when it was a debian box(none of the d/l sites worked).

    Much to my amazement, sound worked! I copied a mp3 file off a windows share(that was effortless) and boom, it was playnig in xmms.

    Then I tried to edit the samba config file, but it needed me to be root. Okay, let's just put in the roo
  • I've tried most of the major distros in the last 6 or so years: redhat/fedora, debian (I haven't tried Debian Sarge yet)/storm/ubuntu, slackware, mandrake, caldera, gentoo/etc and even a few floppy distros. The one I like best is Ubuntu. It's not a very pretty install (I was a little alarmed at the lack of input I had during the installation process), but it's polished, nimble and alot of the useless crufty apps is happily absent. A firewall is also amiss (not a good thing and the only beef I've got with Ub
    • The firewall isn't a huge issue becacuse it ships with 0 listening services by default. I guess that if you know how to setup SSH, mail server, etc. then you're smart enough to configure the firewall.
  • 1) Downside X of my distro is actually an advantage, but only if you a) are hardcore, b) need optimization.

    2) Downside X of my distro isn't a problem, you just...

    3) You left out that my distro does...

    4) My distro has apt/emerge, therefore...

    and the only reasonable response...

    5) Good. We need a simple guide to the pros/cons of the various distributions and of their intended userbase.

    He should, however, add that Ubuntu gives a linux user the best of both worlds - ease of use and power. My distro is
  • too many distros (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Loconut1389 (455297) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @12:06AM (#12854490)
    IMHO, we shouldn't need a guide to the different distributions. Ideally a couple basic types that could be extensible into what people need- for one simple reason: cooperation. Why have all these different people fixing security and other problems in all these different distributions when we could take all those same people and put those eyes towards a much lower number of lines of code. IMHO, there's more in namesake adoration in the different distributions than there are actual differences in functionality provided. All these distributions with all their different package formats makes it that much harded for the open source developers to release source. Why should every end user have to compile from source when a package could be available, or why should every developer have to make packages for the umpteen different distributions? There isn't even a common source package format that would let you quickly build the appropriate package for your distribution. It's quite a pain at times to find some of the less common packages even for a 'major' distribution like RedHat enterprise linux or fedora core. IMHO, we need to ditch some of these and work towards a couple of perhaps more flexibly administered distributions.
  • Anti-Gentoo bias? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zanderredux (564003) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @12:10AM (#12854495)
    Heck, Gentoo is the only distro where the author mentions that "more experienced" users left it but still recommend it to newbs as a learning experience.

    But he fails to mention where those "advanced" users went and why it would make sense to recommend a potentially more complex distro to new non-Linux savvy users.

    Being a Gentoo user myself, I agree that Gentoo is not a dpkg/rpm-based distro, and that it can take ages to compile stuff, but this blatant bias is just completely partial. He was somewhat neutral on other distros (the ones he mentioned, never mind the ones he just ignored, like Mepis), he even showed some ignorance on Slack, but Gentoo did not deserve those lines, imho!

  • from teh author (Score:5, Informative)

    by jwhamilton (725134) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @12:15AM (#12854509)
    So, first wow I'm on slashdot. Second, I'm shocked I'm not getting flamed more. Third, sorry I missed so many distros. MEPIS is super and definatly should have been included. It was late and caffine started wearing off. And I'm wrong about SuSE.
  • Ubuntu and Slackware (Score:4, Informative)

    by teslatug (543527) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @01:01AM (#12854675)
    Funny that the author mentions some Slackers going to Ubuntu, seeing as this slacker just gave it a shot. I haven't installed too many distros after switching to Slackware from Mandrake, but after hearing so much hype I decided to try it. At least for my system, Ubuntu turned out to be too much of a memory hog for my taste. On my laptop I have a gig of memory. With Ubuntu I had close to 600MB free with no apps running (just Gnome), whereas with Slackware I had close to 900MB free (just KDE).
    • by ptarjan (593901)
      Linux likes to eat up the memory and allocate it for itself. You free memory is not an indication of what is actually free. Try opening a program, it will just be given some memory that was previously allocated to the kernel.
    • I have to say I've had the same observation about Slackware to Ubuntu convertees. I think a large part of this stems from the fact that, for a while, Slackware+Dropline Gnome was one of the most straightforward, easy to use Linux desktop environments around to a lot of people.

      Ubuntu arrived on the scene at almost the exact same time that Dropline was starting to stagnate a bit - Todd had pretty much burned out on the project and started a transition from a one-man metadistro to the project being community
  • Distrowatch (Score:5, Informative)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @01:49AM (#12854829)
    If anyone wants to research which flavor of Linux to get, go to Distrowatch.com and read the reviews by online magazines. They also send out CDs for a small price if you can't download/burn your distro of choice.

    My personal suggestion for newbies to get a LiveCD like Knoppix or UbuntuLive. Then move on to an friendly system like Mandriva/Fedora/UbuntuInstall/Mepis, etcetera depending on their specific needs and research (distrowatch again).

    If they want to get even more into it, try something like Slackware or Gentoo. Maybe as a final stage of total mastery Linux From Scratch:D

    OTOH, if they really have spefic needs, there's no end to distros out there addressing a niche market and not just the desktop.

    Oh, and avoid those people who make "their" distro a religious choice and all other nonbelievers infidels.
  • The First Live CD? (Score:5, Informative)

    by torpor (458) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @03:36AM (#12855105) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, but Knoppix was not the first Live CD.

    The first Live CD was Yggdrasil. You young whippresnappers would do well to learn how to say that word, yo!

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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