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GNU is Not Unix Operating Systems Software Linux

Fedora, SuSE And Mandrake Compared 459

gmuslera writes "This weekend 2 comparisions were made between latest Fedora, SuSE and Mandrake Linux distributions. The first one was done by FlexBeta and in general goes deep, done by people that seem to know Linux, and good around its 9 pages. The later one was done by The Washington Post (yahoo news link) and shows another view of those 3 distributions, from someone that seems to dislike Linux and don't know enough about it. In what of those extremes are the average new user experience with those distributions?" Update: 07/06 01:01 GMT by T : Note that long-time Washington Post tech writer Rob Pegaroro doesn't seem to dislike Linux -- far from it; he's just writing what he sees as truth.
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Fedora, SuSE And Mandrake Compared

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  • Where was this last week when I was looking for this exact comparison?
    • It was in that "Mysterious Future" box that us subscribers get ;)
    • www.google.com (Score:2, Informative)

      by gerf ( 532474 )

      Check reviews on google, it's not too difficult. Please be more self sufficient. Not for yourself, but for all the people who you probably keep asking for help. "Is rpm revolutions per minute?" "I hope Linux has a Windows Update." ect

      I however, am currently (yes, this second) installing BeOS on my laptop (or craptop, as I call it). You just have to ask yourself what you want to do with your computer, and pick and choose the OS, software from there. For me, aim, simple web browsing, and word fuctional

    • It was right here [slashdot.org]. The Washington Post and FlexBeta have just been playing catchup with my journal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2004 @07:54PM (#9616872)
    The only Linux based distro I've tried recently was Suse... and it blew me away. Previously, Linux Distros in general, weren't too friendly and you had to spend a lot of time configuring things yourself. When I installed Suse, EVERYTHING was detected on my text box... which is no small feat considering I had some rather obscure hardware in there. It literally blew me away... I don't think I've seen anything better than YAST at this point, even in my best case senario with Windows installations. Unfortunately, I can't say much about Mandrake or Fedora... but Suse was enough to convince me (and some other very leary friends) to make the switch. Mainly because of Yast itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2004 @07:55PM (#9616879)
    It would seem to me that new users would know nothing, if not less than the Washington Post guy, at any rate. Plus, unless they had some friends that ran Linux, they'd probably dislike it as well.
    • Especially when he makes comments like ...

      it's secure and it can run on any Windows-ready machine.


      Unfortunately, to install any of these versions without wiping out most Windows installations, you'll need to buy a third-party program to partition your hard drive

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:03PM (#9616919)
    I've been using Linux (almost exclusively) for probably 8 or 9 years now. I set out to install Mandrake 10 on my new network last week (old thinkpad laptop and new shuttle MB). It took me several days and lots of "ifup" hacking to get my Netgear WG511 wireles card finally working. (It still causes a 60s pause during bootup, but I'm happy that it works)

    I still can't get xdmcp to work right. What the hell are all those MIT_MAGIC_COOKIE-1 errors that I'm getting from my Xserver?!?

    Linux is great and all, but it requires more persistance than most people have. I think that Washington Post fellow struck the correct tone. Linux still isn't for everyone. Maybe when more hardware vendors get on board and release open drivers....
    • by skyshock21 ( 764958 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:07PM (#9616949)
      FWIW, www.linuxant.com makes a "middleware" program you can use with Mandrake 10 that enables you to use the windows drivers that came with the wireless card. I have one of those Netgear wireless cards, and use Linuxant's middleware. I gotta say, it works PERFECTLY. No pauses on startup, and it functions exactly like my wired NIC.
    • by AmVidia HQ ( 572086 ) <gfungNO@SPAMme.com> on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:15PM (#9617001) Homepage
      Yes, that's why I'm still have Windows on my desktop. Although Linux has all the power, security and reliability, spending a day to get IM working under Mandrake is not worth my time.

      Linux server is there (minimal setup, high performance and stability), desktop is not. Redhat's CEO was right.

      But of the 3, I would say Suse is the best for desktop. Feature packed and have the least number of things broken in my opinion. Fedora is nice, but only if you want the bleeding edge. I wouldn't recommend Mandrake (sorry)
    • [flame]If you use xdmcp over wireless you're not even worth the time to root.[/flame]

      joking aside, XDMCP is an insecure abomination - at least I hope you're tunnelling it over something more secure. What do you need it for that can't be done with ssh+Xforwarding anyway?
    • Maybe when more hardware vendors get on board and release open drivers....

      As I've posted before, it's often not the vendors that are the problem. Hint, hint. See the discussion about "Linux's Achilles Heel [slashdot.org]." Soundblaster drivers were released by Creative. Even completely open source ones. Support is intermittent at best, even with new, current distros. Pushing the problem off onto the vendors not releasing drivers is no excuse for a lot of Linux's problems - modern, newbie-oriented distros tend to j
    • What the hell are all those MIT_MAGIC_COOKIE-1 errors that I'm getting from my Xserver?!?

      That is usually caused by a process running as some user trying to create a window on an X Server owned by another user. Either make sure that they both run as the same user, or use xauth to fix it (ie xauth list, then xauth add [blah]).
  • fedora core 2 gripes (Score:4, Informative)

    by i621148 ( 728860 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:05PM (#9616941) Homepage
    several of the gripes the reviewer mentioned about fedora can be solved by the following:

    # get rid of the graphical boot in fedora
    edit the /etc/sysconfig/init

    # change your gnome splash screen
    replace /usr/share/pixmaps/splash/gnome-splash.png

    # reset nautilus to default browsing
    gconftool-2 -t bool /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser -s true
  • forshame. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dignome ( 788664 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:06PM (#9616943)
    Unfortunately, to install any of these versions without wiping out most Windows installations, you'll need to buy a third-party program to partition your hard drive.
    Yeah right. This guy has obviously never tried installing windows on a linux machine. Just see how friendly the windows setup program is towards your boot sector... yeah. Unlike most linux software which will try to preserve and inform the user of the current drives partitions and status so all can be worked out peacefully.
    • Re:forshame. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Too Much Noise ( 755847 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:23PM (#9617054) Journal
      On top of that, he's also wrong. Mandrake and SuSe (afair) ship with ntfsresize. Provided that no ugly accidents happen, you only need a defrag before starting the installation.
    • Re:forshame. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zurab ( 188064 )
      Yeah right. This guy has obviously never tried installing windows on a linux machine.

      Forget that. The guy never even tried installing Linux. You can tell from the quote you gave because at least SUSE (out of the distros he "tried") does ask you if you would like to resize Windows partitions during installation.

      You can basically ignore the rest of the article as a manufactured lie.
  • Festivix? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rpbailey1642 ( 766298 ) <robert...b...pratt@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:07PM (#9616948)
    Am I the only one who is getting tired of these "One Distribution _MUST_ be better than the others" articles? They never comment on that fact that open source means you can mix and match features for the perfect distribution. We need some sort of "Festivix: A Linux for the Rest of Us" that will capitalize on that fact, instead of leading readers to think that the Linux market is fragmented and dying.
    • Yes, thats exactly what I was thinking. MORE distro's, thats the answer!
    • " They never comment on that fact that open source means you can mix and match features for the perfect distribution."

      I doubt you're the only one bothered by it, but obviously you're also informed enough on this topic to go get what you want. To those of us not using Linux, too many choices is a right pain in the ass.

      A couple of years ago, I installed Redhat. It was nothing but a pain in the ass. I bitched about it on Slashdot and everybody told me what an idiot I was because I used the wrong distro.
    • Lemme guess... before installing you'd have the airing of grievances, followed by feats of strength? Would it's logo be some sort of pole, perchance?

      P.S. If you've never watched Seinfeld, don't bother to mod this. :-P
    • You don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @10:58PM (#9617901)
      Most people (me included and I'm plenty geeky) want to run an installer and have everything come out nice without much user intervention. In this sense, each distribution is rated by how it installs out of the box. Any hardware that is unsupported reflects badly on the distro even though it may be the hardware vendors fault for not providing support. IMHO, there are perhaps 10-20 apps that need to be present for 95% of people to do 95% of the stuff they want. The number one application is naturally a good one for installing additional packages. This isn't even very important if the really useful stuff is there - especially for out of the box evaluation.

      Sure, you can roll your own, but most people don't want to. Let me restate that: Sure YOU can roll your own, but most people CAN'T. Just because it can be done doesn't mean the general public is capable. If you can't deal with that reality don't read reviews intended for the general public.

  • Hello--I used Mandrake exclusively for a couple of years on a Dell Laptop. It was the easiest system to install & use.

    However, I wanted to learn Linux more, so I'm trying Gentoo & Debian. I like Gentoo's "from scratch" installation & that I can choose each item. However, emerging sucks--if I need to get something done but need new software, it's a pain in the ass to compile every freakin' program & dependency. I don't have time to sit around & wait for the process to complete.

  • Partitioning (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Omega1045 ( 584264 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:10PM (#9616975)
    From the Washington Post Article:

    Unfortunately, to install any of these versions without wiping out most Windows installations, you'll need to buy a third-party program to partition your hard drive.

    Do any of the Linux Distros come with some sort of "Magic Partition" style software that can be run on install? If not, this might be a very nice addition. I know Live CD allows you to try out Linux without risk to your windows install, but a partition manager that creates a linux or windows boot up automatically would be very cool. And of course, the windows partition could be mouted under linux and directories like "My Documents" could be linked into the GUI on Lunx.

    • Well if you have blank space to install on it'll automatically make a boot manager to choose the OS on bootup (set default during install process or afterwards). You can also just mount the Windows partition in linux and put it in /etc/fstab to automount each time you boot. Then you have some shared space like that.
      • I thought this was only if you had a blank partition to install it on. The newest distro I have installed outside of VMWare is Mandrake 8 so I am a little behind on what options the current installers give you on a "real" system.
    • I don't know about the current versions but both Mandrake and Red Hat used to ship with good, graphical, non-destructive partioners. (Fedora now offers a somewhat different "magic trick" for Windows dual-booters, but that's another matter.)

      I precede new Gentoo installs with a run through the Mandrake 7.2 install process, to handle Windows re-partitioning and to generate an XFree86Config file and some other things that are iffy to write from scratch.

    • QTParted (Score:4, Informative)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:20PM (#9617035) Homepage Journal
      This is a grapical partition editor that is shipped with several distros.

      It allows you to resize/move/delete/create/etc, as one would expect.

      I dont have a list, but i know that it comes with Mepis, and a couple of 'rescue-distros'.
    • Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 )
      They ALL can do this. Linux has been able to resize partitions since... well, a long time ago. Newer incarnations even resize NTFS, although I don't know if I trust it. But VFAT partitions are no problem.

      Geez, some of the partition foolery that I've gotten up lately to would frighten the pants off of the old Windows-using me of the past. QParted and GParted are my new favourite software tools.

    • Do any of the Linux Distros come with some sort of "Magic Partition" style software that can be run on install?

      Xandros does. It holds your hand the minute you boot up with the install cd in and very nicely sets up a dual boot system, with very minimal input on your part (just answer a couple of basic questions). I asked a Xandros rep at a Linux trade show I was at recently and he said that Xandros uses Partition Magic in the background to do this.

    • Mandrake 10.0 will even resize NTFS partitions...

      Linux is so easy to install, that you don't even need to install it - just boot up Mandrake Move or Knoppix from a CDROM.

      Try doing that with that other windowing OS.

  • by Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:11PM (#9616976) Journal
    For the Windows user, one might tend to gravitate toward Mandrake for preconfiguration. Some say it's too dumbed down.

    For the tinkerer, one might tend to gravitate toward Fedora for ease of use and configurability. Some say it's buggy.

    For the admin, one might find that Suse fills their need for control and power. I can't comment too much on Suse, I only know one person who runs it.

    These 3 distros don't even scratch the surface of what's out there. I'll elaborate on a few other distros.

    Gentoo, Slackware & Debian: For those who wish to learn by doing. These distros do very little to automate your installation and configuration.

    Be prepared to read man pages, how-to's, and write config files.

    Slax, Knoppix and a number of other Live CD distributions: For those who want it running NOW.

    These distros are running from boot with little configuration thanks to hardware detection and automatic module loading.

    LFS (Linux From Scratch): For those who want intimate knowledge of the inner workings of their system.

    This distro takes much time to get running....and...it's not really a distro as much as a set of basic instructions.

    As I stated in the subject, there are a number of distributions to suit your level of expertise and style of system administration. When choosing a distro, be aware of the available support options and understand that Linux is (for the most part) a 'help yourself' kind of Operating System. In some cases you can pay a support team to assist you, but in most cases you should expect little direct (one on one) assistance.

    My suggestion.....if you've got a buddy who's a Gentoo guru, you should run Gentoo because you've got a support system and someone to mentor you.
  • Repartitioning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:13PM (#9616989) Homepage
    From the Post:
    Unfortunately, to install any of these versions without wiping out most Windows installations, you'll need to buy a third-party program to partition your hard drive.
    Which is, of course, wrong. Using parted and a graphical frontend like QTparted, you can easily resize partitions. The last SUSE install I helped out with had a partition resizer during the install. Did they take this feature out?
  • Its the fairest review of the three I've seen _ I'm a Fedora fan, yet I can understand what they liked about Suse and Mandrake.

    One thing the reviewer missed about KDE in Fedora - Konqueror is right in the root of the KDE menu. Just click 'Home dir'.
  • To be fair, the article on Yahoo DID point out some of the frustrations in Linux that many clusers face when using Linux.

    * Not all hardware is detected and/or supported (and when it gets supported, it's at least a year after Windows had the driver)
    * Installing stuff (while automated over the internet) requires something called a command line... which scares the living hell out of Grandma. Not to mention binary &'%+$*%& only modules!
    * Fedora STILL doesn't want to give us MP3 and NTFS
    * Then there's t
  • Why I use Fedora.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CyborgWarrior ( 633205 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:16PM (#9617009) Homepage
    Let me begin this with the disclaimer that I am fairly new to Linux. I can do all of the basic stuff fairly well, but when it comes to having to hack out wierd stuff that doesn't work right off the bat, I'm...well, deficient.

    Anyway, my first choice for Linux is definitely Mandrake. The interface is beautiful, fast and easy and it runs stable (I've had some stability problems with Fedora) all of the time. So why don't I used it? Well, first of all, Mandrake HATES my trackball mice. I have two of them, one from Logitech and one from some other company I can't remember. Anyway, both the mandrake install and mandrake itself refuse to recognize these mice. That wasn't too too bad, I can handle using the regular kind of mouse. But then came the USB problem. No distribution of Mandrake that I have tried up to and including 10.0 liked my USB flash drive. On Fedora I just mount /dev/sda1 to /mnt/jump and I'm all set. But for some reason Mandrake doesn't set up an sda1 and I'm too newbed to know how to fix that myself.

    The final thing I have against Mandrake is its configuration tools. Fedora comes with a nice set of tools to configure all of the stuff I want to use / customize and it always works. Mandrake's on the other hand, have a bad habit of reverting to the settings it liked without even trying my new ones.

    I'm running Fedora 2 right now and it works fairly well and does all of the stuff I need it too (it's much better than Fedora 1 for reliability IMHO), but as soon as Mandrake gets to liking my trackballs and jumpdrives I will have no hesitation in switching over.
  • When i learnt abt Linux, I dont know for some reason i chose Redhat .Looking back , Its the marketing for Redhat that pushes into the lead whne the compettition is tight.Easiness of use , good looks , robustness , help and support were the features that i relished.I never compared Redhat with other flavors as i was busy customizing my linux to defeat the co existence of windows .

    And i never looked back for other Flavors.

    Moral is : First impression is the Best impression.
  • by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:18PM (#9617022) Homepage
    From the Post:
    The better solution is the smart package-installer Fedora employs; its "yum" utility fetches a program from an online archive, resolves dependency issues and sets it up with one command. It's a clever system. Except -- duh -- there's no graphical front-end to it, forcing users to use a text-only, command-line interface.
    Cobind has a GUI [cobind.com]
  • by citking ( 551907 ) <jay@cit[ ]g.net ['kin' in gap]> on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:20PM (#9617036) Homepage
    I've always wondered if this is perhaps one of the stumbling blocks for Linux's adaptation to a wide market share of the Joe Sixpack desktop world. While everything is technically correct (mounting a hard drive, loading a graphical window manager, etc.) people tend to scratch their heads and be like "huh?"

    One thing that may work wonders is to just change some of the syntax to something perhaps easier to understand. For instance, instead of "mounting hda0", change it to "browse (disk label name)". Refer to a "window management system" not as a graphical interface but as the desktop or icons. Most people know what you mean when you say desktop or icons, but if you get into the KDE vs GNOME argument here then people will just get confused and leave.

    As far as the Washington Post article reads I can relate to it. I tried using Linux before knowing how to code - that's rough. After learning a bit of c and c++ (enough to do some basics) I found it much easier to comprehend why things act the way they do. Perhaps Linux could stand to have an average Windows user hanging out by a programmer's desk saying "Why does that do this?" and "Can't you make this happen?". For example, my mom, who happens to be a nurse, has been attending a developer's conference in Oklahoma lately because the hospital is purchasing some new software being developed exclusively for them. Rather than just work off of the hospital's "to-do" list the developing agency asked for 15-20 end users to come down, play with the software, find any points of contention, and the developers would take care of it. I velieve this went on for 3 times at 2 weeks a pop, and the end result is a piece of software that cost a bit more to develop but was created with the end user, not the programmer, in mind.

    I do believe that Linux's time is coming soon. I think the major sticking point might be some fragile egos and the "Well, EVERYBODY SHOULD know how to compile from source, download dependencies, and run command line syntax that looks like a keyboard went under a hammer." (I saw a comment in an earlier thread suggesting that ANY end user ought to be able to run complex command line code. Alas, this is not going to fly in the face of Windows or Macs, where command line is secondary to the GUI, whereas in Linux is is the exact opposite). I'm not asking for dancing paperclips or those damn pop-up balloons that won't go away...just an easy way to accomplish what can be done at the command line.

  • He could be right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:21PM (#9617041)
    This will instantly be modded as flamebait, I know -- but he's right. For all the open-source community is waiting for that eleventh hour of deliverance when an intern in a cheap Penguin suit exclaims publicly that "the era of the Linux desktop is here" -- it's not happening for a while.

    Why? Because every post thus far has been about why the gripes he has about various distributions can be simply, oh-so-easily changed by typing a few lines into a prompt, or replacing this file with that file -- or "God no, not the command line, sarcastically".

    A few days ago I was teaching my friend how to use a few command line programs (like 'ls' and 'cd') in FreeBSD. This ended up turning into a two hour circus regarding where the spaces go.

    Yes, the command line is that bad for normal people. And even a dancing paperclip?


    Especially the paperclip. I don't care if it's a dancing penguin that takes up your entire screen, if it ends up being annoying as opposed to just plain hard for the normal user, that's a step up.
  • by pyrrhonist ( 701154 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:24PM (#9617062)
    The later one was done by The Washington Post (yahoo news link) and shows another view of those 3 distributions, from someone that seems to dislike Linux and don't know a enough about it.

    This article submission was written by someone that seems to dislike English and doesn't know enough about it.

  • - granted, one of the reviews was published by the Washington Post, or as it is more affectionately termed by the clueful here inside the Belchway, "The Washington Fishwrap," due to its many mindless liberal-biased headlines and stories... - however, Pegoraro has regularly covered Linux/OSS issues in the Fishwrap's Tech section (hidden inside an embarrassingly small Business section for a major daily), such as Red Hat's distros and OpenOffice.org... he has done so with an objectivity not found on other tec
  • On the surface... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MOMOCROME ( 207697 ) <momocrome@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:29PM (#9617086)
    Can't you see the fundamental wrongness of the bias presented here?

    I mean, the write-up clearly soft-peddles the advocate review and downplays the consumer-oriented review. I think it is because the first review panders to the satisfaction unix-monkeys get in knowing the arcane and counter-intuitive technologia extremis of Linux, and condemn the consumer oriented approach for its simple, direct perspective of coming at Linux with no pre-conceived notions. The things they mention in the Washington Post article are quite accurate, if you are new to the Unix system layout paradigms.

    The thing that bothers me is that there is an undercurrent of hysterical hatred for anyone speaking frankly about Linux and her Unix derived cousins. It's as if the question of OS somehow meant something deeper than what you have installed on your computer. All sorts of strident idealism and contempt for different opinions grip this community, and the community welcomes it!

    This same undercurrent pops up from time to time through history, and it is quite dangerous! Consider all the book burning, witch hunting and other such miserable episodes in our collective past, and realize that what drove (and drives today) those awful episodes is the same contempt for difference that lies at the heart of the slashdot bias.

    Now, I certainly don't want to conflate the relatively benign Linux over-advocacy problem and the tragedy of those horrible times in the past, but you people should realize that if you start allowing yourself to act like this here and now, indulging in what amounts to simple-minded bigotry, what is to stop you from carrying through with that thinking in realms more directly related to personal liberties, civic safety and common decency?

    It's high time some of you stepped up to the plate and decry such flagrant ill manners along with me. It's not a matter of MSFT or APPL vs. Linux, it's a matter of being a decent human being. This sort of indulgent wankery is not decent at all.
  • Linux stupid stuff (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:40PM (#9617153) Journal
    I know people that really want to like Linux, but they're not hardcore geeks, and the run into dumb problems:

    Fedora is an RPM based distro. Fedora's default desktop is GNOME. Fedora's GNOME does not have a default file association for *.rpm files. DUMB

    When you do have a program associated with RPM, you can double-click the RPM, only to spend a few minutes realizing that each of the packages you downloaded need each other installed first. Sure, you can do an "rpm -ivh blah-*.rpm" from the command line (or whatever the switches are - I don't use RPM distros anymore), but is it so freaking hard to have the graphical RPM tools "see" the other RPMs sitting right there in the same folder, and handle them intelligently? DUMB

    Way, way, way, way too many packages that aren't available through the distro's repositories themselves. There's only about a dozen RPM repositories for Fedora Core to chase various packages down from. This is the one biggest thing that makes me dump SuSE every time and head back to Gentoo. Instead of Pacman and usr-local-bin and etc. etc. etc., would it really be so hard to have a "contributed" repository maintained by SuSE (and "known" to YaST at install time), where these places (and god knows what others) just submit their packages to? Virtually everything I can imagine, I could get through Portage in Gentoo. Why can't the "big" distros have their prebuilt package repositories be similarly comprehensive? It was such a task for one of my buddies to get/install divx4linux - all the guy wanted to do was watch a little pr0n on his fresh Linux install! Even though it's not that hard, nobody should *have* to fall back on tarballs and ./configure / make / make install. DUMB

    There's a lot of little things that keep pissing off potential Linux users, and sending them back to Windows. It's the "little things" that the Mac platform usually does so well. It's those same "little things" that Linux distros, desktop environments, etc, need to pay attention to.

    • by mshiltonj ( 220311 ) <(mshiltonj) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday July 05, 2004 @09:47PM (#9617529) Homepage Journal
      Even though it's not that hard, nobody should *have* to fall back on tarballs and ./configure / make / make install. DUMB

      Very true. I made the mistake of selecting a "desktop" install instead of a "workstation" install when (finally) setting up my wife's pc with FC2 -- (she's off Win, yeah). I didn't realize that desktop installations did NOT install gcc! Then I wanted to install Scribus [scribus.net], and I was nixed right there. I sighed, shuddered to think what else might be missing from a desktop install, an proceeded to re-install, working with a "workstation" setup the second time around.

      I hope AutoPackage [autopackage.org] can address these types of issues, looks promising .
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All of them are about the same.

    What I recommend is Fedora, this is because of the widespread support of Yum and the abundance of online sources of RPM repositories.

    Dag, FreshRPMS, and a couple others offer much of the software that Fedora lacks by default.

    Yum makes it easy to update your OS, install new programs etc etc.

    In fact I beleive that tools like Yum and Apt are the killer application for Linux.

    Hundreds of programs at your fingertips, just type apt-get install progrname, or yum install progname,
  • by Jim Ethanol ( 613572 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:50PM (#9617197) Homepage
    IMHO the place that these distro's keep missing the target is when they try to do too much for too many.

    Linux is massively customizable by its very nature regardless of how it's packaged. So let the people that want to customize every little aspect of their system figure it out for themselves.

    A desktop disto should be a windows workalike or work-better. Like Mozilla's Thunderbird or Firefox. That's how you steal market share... work better.

    The desktop distro should be able to do (and do well) everything that a windows box can do from a default install. Workalike interface, SMB networking, browsing, mail, music and video, brainless hardware detection and configuration, printing, and IM. Out of the box, default install.

    Anyone who has an answer to the question "KDE or Gnome?" does not need this sort of distro, But the rest of the world does.

    If you want to see unix working better than windows on the desktop then you need look no further than OS X. OS X has it's problems too (like being handcuffed to Apple hardware), but it can do all of this out of the box, it's *nix and my grandma can (and does) use it.
  • by Knight2K ( 102749 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @09:17PM (#9617364) Homepage
    I actually thought the mainstream media account was pretty well-balanced. I've used multiple distributions, including Red Hat, Mandrake, Debian, and most recently, Gentoo.

    Many of the experiences I've had match what the author experienced. I have yet to have a distribution where everything worked 100% out of the box. I've run into numerous occasions where I've had to play musical chairs with RPMs to get things to install.

    I generally have had pretty good luck sorting out these problems out since I'm a pretty advanced computer user, but I have also had problems that were very perplexing. I could see how the experience for a user who does not have the experience or the inclination to spend hours configuring their computer would still find the experience daunting.

    While the author brings up all of these issues, he also notes that some of these problems are due to poor manufacturer support. He also expresses faith that the user interface problems with yum will quickly be solved. The fact that a mainstream news outlet would note Linux's strong security record and mention it as a strong possibility for replacing Windows is encouraging since it will raise the visibility of Linux for the mainstream.

    I've seen great improvements since starting to use Linux. I enjoy the fact that my scanner now will only work on Linux, while the drivers for Windows 2000 are fairly worthless. Gentoo has been pretty satisfactory on my 64-bit Opteron, while Microsoft is still not shipping 64-bit Windows XP.

    Let's acknowledge that works needs to be done and keep improving. I'm looking forward to trying new versions and seeing this platform mature.
  • by ONOIML8 ( 23262 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @10:22PM (#9617691) Homepage
    " Unfortunately, to install any of these versions without wiping out most Windows installations, you'll need to buy a third-party program to partition your hard drive."

    Nobody told me that! I've installed Mandrake 8.0, 9.0, 9.1, 9.2 and 10.0 on computers with pre-existing Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, 2K and XP. Not once have I ever required anything but the Mandrake and Windows CD's.

    So now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess all those computers are going to burst into flame or something because I didn't purchase a third party program?

  • by robp ( 64931 ) on Monday July 05, 2004 @10:40PM (#9617762) Homepage
    I should have known from my overflowing inbox that my story had gotten posted on Slashdot...

    Well, after reading all 118 e-mails to date and re-reading the column itself, I'd like to address the questions that have come up about it. I'll start by addressing the contention that I am some sort of shill for Microsoft: Please read a few [washingtonpost.com] of my recent [washingtonpost.com] columns [washingtonpost.com] and tell me if you think I'm doing any favors to the good people in Redmond.

    Second, the "why didn't you cover distribution X, Y and Z?" question. Since there are only so many hours in the day, I decided I'd only look at distros using the 2.6 kernel; I'd also only look at the distributions readers might already recognize--either by seeing them for sale in computer stores, or by seeing books about them in bookstores.

    Third, my comment about NTFS disk partitioning. Throw all the rotten tomatoes at me that you want, because I got this wrong; SuSE and Mandrake can resize NTFS partitions, although Fedora and many other distros cannot. (Granted, there are apparently a few bugs in their implentation of this [rulez.org], but still...)

    Fourth, the "what's so hard about using the command line?" gripe. Command-line interfaces have gone out of style in consumer operating systems for Very Sound Reasons. They're not remotely "discoverable"--unlike a row of menus or toolbar icons, a blank command-line prompt has no way of telling you what you *can* do. They're unforgiving--one typo in the command and it won't work.

    Fifth, my complaints about the problems of installing software in Linux: The results I reported came from my attempts to install software as most Windows refugees might: by downloading fairly well-known applications (for instance, Firefox and AbiWord) and double-clicking them once they had landed on my desktop.

    I went on to note that there are automated package-installers, then focused on Fedora's in particular (I did give Cobind's YumGUI a whirl too, but since that's a) in beta and b) not included with Fedora, I can't consider that the answer). I could have discussed Mandrake's rpmDrake instead, in which case I would have criticized the way it's buried four menus deep (will any new user even think to look under the "Packaging" sub-menu?). I also could have used SuSE's YAST2 as an example, in which case I would have had to note how this was smart enough to alert me of dependency issues while installing downloaded SuSE RPMs, but not smart enough to fix them automatically.

    If anybody's actually read this far, I'd add that my goal in this column was to try to assess these three releases not as a Linux expert might find them, but as somebody moving from Windows might find them. I.e., the vast bulk of the potential user base.

    I personally found all three of these distributions quite usable once set up properly--certainly much more so than the versions of SuSE, Mandrake and Lycoris that I reviewed two years ago [washingtonpost.com], or the Red Hat release I tried out in late 2002 [washingtonpost.com]--but that doesn't mean that, say, my brother or my mom would put up with the initial setup work. And I'd be lying to readers if I didn't tell them that.
    • by steve buttgereit ( 644315 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @12:19AM (#9618347) Homepage
      Well said and a well written article.

      I am someone that is less interested in the technological elegance of any solution and more interested in how the solution empowers ordinary people to work, or even play. I think you address the issues generally right on (even if not 100% correct on every detail). I think the typical Slashdot user may miss the bigger picture: just because you can do something with a system is different than being able to do it well or easily.

      I've read through a number of the comments and many are missing this big picture; many are getting it, too. Hopefully the more serious members of the open source community will hear this and respond, not with flames but with better solutions.

      Thanks again!
  • Pegaroro Is An Idiot (Score:3, Informative)

    by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @06:11AM (#9619708) Homepage
    He says in his piece you have to buy a third-party partition manager to install any of these distros in a dual-boot configuration.

    This may have been true five years ago - it's not now. Mandrake at least can resize even NTFS partitions during the install.

    Which means his article is about as accurate as Bush's next statement about "WMDs".

    He also drags up the notion that installing Linux is a nightmare of unsupported hardware - which is also no longer true (in most cases).

    It's just more bullshit FUD.

  • by big ben bullet ( 771673 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @06:46AM (#9619841) Homepage
    I installed SuSE 9.1 professional 64bit yesterday on my AMD64. It worked like a charm...

    It detected my SATA controller and HDD in the blink of an eye. (WD on a Promise controller of my Asus K8V mobo)

    Konqueror has a flash plugin installed out of the box. This is supposed to be a big issue on 64bit distro's, but SuSE manages this just fine.

    I installed the nVidia driver update through Yast and reconfigured X (also trough Yast - SaX) with 3d acceleration without a problem. Tried out UT2004 (bought the SE DVD) and this runs very smooth.

    Though I have not tried any other 64bit distro, I strongly doubt they'll be as easy to set up as SuSE 9.1 is.

    Now if i could just get my eMagic MT4 USB MIDI Hub to work i could finally get rid of my Win XP installation... but i won't see this happening very soon.

    Anyway; Nice Work SuSE!

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson