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Open Source Linux

Unusual, Obscure, and Useful Linux Distros 221

angry tapir writes "Most people will be familiar with some of the big names when it comes to Linux — distributions like Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Debian, and Mandriva. Most of the well-known Linux distros are designed to be used as general-purpose desktop operating systems or installed on servers. But beyond these distros are hundreds of others either designed to appeal to very specific audiences or to fulfill the somewhat niche needs of some users. We rounded up some of the most interesting Linux distributions that you might not have heard of."
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Unusual, Obscure, and Useful Linux Distros

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  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @03:01AM (#32753860) Homepage Journal

    How do you propose adding to Debian to make tinycore?

  • by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @03:32AM (#32753978)

    What surprises me is no SLAX. When i first found it SLAX was a very usable live-cd which would fit on those tiny 8cm CDs (before large enough USB sticks were affordable enough to just have a few in your bag) and had an easy startup option to load the entire image into ram

    Then i check it a few months ago, it now offers an interface on the website to select from a very large library of software, click the boxes you want and presto, instant live-image completely to your own taste

  • by milbournosphere ( 1273186 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @03:34AM (#32753980)
    At first reaction, I laughed quite hard. Upon further examination, the software included in the distro looks to be quite useful. I have forwarded Xiphos (a piece of bible study software included in the distro) on to my grandfather, who immerses himself in study of scripture. If that's your thing, I would check it out. Guess I learned about a new project today. Look at that, Slashdot taught me something.
  • It only took 12 hours for the site to load, but lets have a look at the "distro" and their roots.

    Damn Vulnerable Linux unknown
    Tinfoil Hat Linux unknown
    CAINE Ubuntu
    CAELinux Ubuntu
    Ubuntu Christian Edition Ubuntu unknown
    Parted Magic Ubuntu
    GMusix GNU+Linux Debian
    Zeroshell Linux LFS methods (i.e., actually rolled themselves)
    Mythbuntu Ubuntu
    Damn Small Linux Debian
    Tiny Core Linux unknown

    Ubuntu 41.6%
    Debian 16.6%
    Known Distros 58.3%

    Unknown distros 33.3%
    Original works 8.3%

    Feel free to reply with updates if you know the origin of the unknown's.

    I know from personal experience, rolling your own distro is hard work. I tried, using other distros (Slackware and LFS methods) as a guide. Just taking someone elses patched beyond usefulness sources and calling them your own isn't your own work. You aren't building, and you can't go back to the original author and submit a fix. Mine was to stay true to the original author's work, since I've seen so many problems which are directly (correctly) attributed to some distro haphazardly patching (and breaking) things.

    I spent a lot of spare time writing and rewriting build scripts, hunting down sources (real quick, where is the authors site for the most current version of "ps"?), building a build environment, building the sources into installable packages. It sounds like an awful lot of fun, until you've already spent a month putting things together, and you've just gotten past the low level stuff (basic system utilities, filesystem utilities, compilers, major required libraries, and the boot loader of your choice). Wow, a month later, and we don't even have X, a desktop manager, or occasionally useful things like a web browser. Now you have to go back and check all your versions against the current version available from the author. Unless you have a rather dedicated team of folks with no day jobs nor personal lives, you'll spend your days just verifying that your packages are built from current sources.

    God forbid there's a change in say glibc, which breaks some other application. Now you're notifying the author of the application, which can be a job in itself to go back and forth with them about what distro you're running (built it myself). Oh, you're own? That's good and bad. What versions of the compiler and required libraries are you using? "Sign up to my mailing list, so we can all work on it." Two weeks later, you may have a patch which may become a released version two more weeks later. If you're a good guy, and somehow have way too much time on your hands, well versed in every programming language and methodology, a genetic disposition to not sleeping, and a serious speed habit, you may be patching it yourself, and handing that patch up to the author. What? Your patch was refused because it didn't follow his methodology? It doesn't work in recursion and will break older distros (like the one right before the glibc update). Now you've fallen into what others do. I'll patch mine, but just this one, I swear. It'll be the authors true code when he releases the right fix. On to the next!
  • Re:Gaming distro? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @04:57AM (#32754228) Journal

    You're kidding, right? Because the only games Windows users would want to play is 400 ripoffs of Quake 3 Deathmatch? Hey for some stuff Linux works great, for example it makes a damned good web server or embedded environment, but quality gaming sure as hell ain't one of them. It takes a shitload of money to even make a B class game these days, and getting thousands of guys across the planet to donate their time to the really hard work like designing a top notch game engine? Ain't gonna happen.

    That is why I'd say for the foreseeable future Linux games will be nothing but maps built upon whatever engine the guys at Id are nice enough to donate. Servers and embedded yes, gaming and multimedia? Not so much. The same as I doubt Myth will ever take the place of WMC, or even windows based add-ons like Mediaportal. It takes a hell of a lot of work to support all that hardware, and writing drivers? Really not fun. With Myth I spent nearly a week fighting the damned thing trying to get it stable, whereas with Win7 WMC it was plug and play.

    Which is why I guess I just won't "get it" with regards to all the resources wasted on trying to make Linux do jobs it simply isn't good at, when there are so many jobs that it is good at where those limited resources could be better put to use. Servers, embedded, forensics, HPC, kiosks, etc. Why waste all those resources trying to force a square peg in a round hole?

  • TA Spring? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:56AM (#32754532)

    I haven't checked on the TA-Spring (or simply the spring project) updates anymore... but a year ago, that seemed like one of the best (ever) real time strategy games - as far as I'm concerned up there with the likes of Starcraft... meaning it's up there with the popular windows games.

    It has it's problems for the installation (you need separate bots, maps, and sets of units), but that's really why I was hoping to have it included in this gaming distro.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @06:47AM (#32754818) Homepage

    Its always been a great distro for people who just want a stock Unix on their PC rather than a Wannabe-Windows clone but it was frequently a bugger to get some hardware working properly and also Xwin configuration was very tedious. I defected to Suse for a while because of this but now Slackware is more or less plug and play. I installed 13.0 on my Acer laptop and desktop Dell at work and it Just Worked. The only issue I had was with the wifi on the laptop but that was a kernel bug - I compiled a later kernel (yeah, slackware can still be hardcore) and wifi worked fine.

  • Re:mod up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jwsmy[ ].com ['the' in gap]> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @06:54AM (#32754858) Homepage Journal

    I only did it to differentiate between those who have chosen to use Ubuntu, and those who didn't. I know Ubuntu is a pretty skinned Debian with some extra patches. Ubuntu patches on top of Debian patches, on previously good code, what could possibly go wrong. Oh, lots.

        It's similar to CentOS being a patched derivation of RHEL. It's another layer of people messing with perfectly good code, and making it not so perfectly good. In the list provided, there were no CentOS, RHEL, nor Fedora variations, so I didn't mention them.

        I'm anything but a fan of messing with someone else's code, unless it's for internal use. Sure, I'll make my own changes to your code, but I won't then distribute it as if it was as good as the original. I know there are a lot of authors and software companies/groups who agree with me on that. My changes are usually performance patches (as necessary), and usually commented in the code that the change may be acceptable. For example, here's one I use on Apache for my web servers:

    cd apache_$apache/src/include ; cat httpd.h | sed -e s/HARD_SERVER_LIMIT\\ 256/HARD_SERVER_LIMIT\\ 4096/g > ; mv httpd.h.

        (that's just one line of my 152 line Apache/PHP/mod_ssl build script. It's 76 lines without the comments and stdout messages showing the status of the build)

      I don't pass it off my Apache as the official Apache version though. It's known if you use my Apache/PHP/mod_ssl build script, it will make some minor changes like this. If you use my build of Apache, it's a given I've made some changes. It's amazing, I can drop this on just about any server, and it's blazing fast compared to the RH provided one. I can't comment on what changes Debian or Ubuntu make to their installed version of Apache, I haven't needed to deal with that yet for a high load production environment.

  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @07:07AM (#32754912) Homepage Journal

    What is it with Slackware that attracts so many wannabe "hacker" types like yourself? Those "Wannabe-Windows clones" you speak of can all be just as "hardcore" (as if compiling a kernel is hardcore in any way), and the only notable architectural difference between Slack and "Wannabe-Windows clones" is that Slack uses a BSD style init instead of the not exactly Windows-like SysV.

    Yes, Slack is good and well respected, but I swear that among the clueless faux-elitist morons I've come across, more are using Slack than all the other OSes combined.

  • The Ubuntu Satanic Edition []. This list had the Christian Edition, it really should have included the Satanic as well, which is just as much of a legitimate distro as they are both based on Ubuntu anyways. Yet for some reason this one gets snubbed regularly, even having difficulties getting listed at distrowatch for some reason (while their Christian brothers have no such problems).
  • Re:Gaming distro? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:22AM (#32756814) Journal

    Example please? Because with mine (Windows 7 HP x64) I had a grand total of TWO downloads to have everything as pretty as you please (and one wasn't really necessary as Windows 7 had a driver for my tuner, I simply wanted the latest) and everything purring like a kitten. I simply went to Ninite [] and had it auto install the latest Klite Codec Pack (Along with FF, Irfanview, .NET, Foxit, Flash, Silverlight, ImgBurn, great site for new builds) which gave me support for all the funkier formats, installed the latest for my USB Tuner, and Voila! Everything "just worked".Now I can't tell you about HD-PVR, since my cable is analog, but it is certainly less of a PITA than Myth to setup by a LOOONG shot!

    Considering my 67 year old dad, whose is about as PC clueless as they come, was able to set up his own WMC because he decided he didn't want to wait until the weekend when I was free, I'm really gonna have to ask for citation please. Does ANYONE here think my dad could have done the same with MythUbuntu or any other Myth based and had a snowball's chance in hell of having a working system? With WMC it is beyond simple for him to set up recording, schedule shows, pause live TV, watch Internet TV like Netflix or, I honestly don't know of any way they could make it more simple.

    So while there are things I would criticize MSFT over (don't like the new system restore layout, you need to make shortcuts to keep from scrolling sub layers to get to common networking tasks) I'd say WMC isn't one of them. It is easy to use, automatically downloads DVD covers for your vids, is plug and play with most current TV Tuners, and like I said if it passes the "dad test" then you know it is easy and intuitive. And it is certainly head and shoulders easier to set up and the client/server model Myth uses and a hell of a lot less of a PITA, at least with my hardware.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis