Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Linux

What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014? 303

An anonymous reader writes With 23% of the year remaining, Linux Voice has donned flameproof clothing to subjectively examine what it feels have been the best distros of the year so far, including choices for beginners, desktop fashionistas and performance fetishists, before revealing a surprising overall winner.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014?

Comments Filter:
  • Slackware (Score:3, Informative)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @09:59PM (#48098975) Homepage

    Minimal install footprint meaning no bloat. Install only what you choose plus no systemd bullshit.

    • Re:Slackware (Score:4, Interesting)

      by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:06PM (#48099023)
      While Slackware has stood the test of time as a distro favored by many developers and admins, it is still not exactly "user friendly" for the average person. It is the first distro I ever installed, so it holds a place in my heart. However, I've tried it a few more times over the years and it has not been the best fit for my non-guru abilities.
      • Re:Slackware (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:24PM (#48099139)
        You are doing it wrong. Slackware isn't for gurus, it makes them.
        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          And Debian is for when those gurus get tired of manually maintaining hundreds of boxes.

          Seriously, I've been dealing with an ancient legacy Slackware install at work that's being phased out. I expect to put in Debian boxes with a deb repository so that I can keep the rest up-to-date by maintaining the package server. These boxes are there to be used, not simply to be maintained. I don't want to have to fight with libraries and dependencies just to deal with simple commandline utilities. I've had this
          • Re:Slackware (Score:4, Interesting)

            by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @12:11AM (#48099829) Journal

            And Debian is for when those gurus get tired of manually maintaining hundreds of boxes.

            This is literally the *only* reason we use Debian or derivatives for work. We're just too small to have that kind of time, which is depressing. Especially with this SystemD crap... One of these days soon, when my Copious Free Time makes another appearance, I need to re-evaluate FreeBSD. Hopefully, the upgrade process has improved since "make buildworld." :) Otherwise, I dunno what we're going to do...

        • You are doing it wrong. Slackware isn't for gurus, it makes them.

          Sounds like an ad for a sex manual ... except for the slackware part.

    • Re:Slackware (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Spacelord ( 27899 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @07:07AM (#48101177)

      Minimal footprint? The recommended installation method of Slackware is still to install "everything". From the installation guide [slackware.com]:

      If this is your first time installing Slackware, the "full" method is highly recommended. Even if this isn't your first time, you'll probably want to use it anyway.

      This gives you a much bigger footprint than what Mint, Ubuntu or Arch give you by default.

      Mind you, I love Slackware for its straightforwardness and simplicity in configuration, but footprint is not really a reason to recommend it.

      Finally, I don't think that footprint matters a lot these days. What do I care if my distro takes up 5GB or 10GB... Sure I may not need all of the packages that are installed, but the convenience of having most commonly used libraries and programs at hand and not having to track things down as-needed is worth more to me than a few measly gigs of disk space.

  • Mint (Score:5, Informative)

    by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:03PM (#48099001)
    Mint has become the leader for home/desktop users. The Ubuntu base lends stability compatibility, while the more complete out-of-the-box experience and homegrown tools Mint offers make it a no-brainer (although I personally use Mint's Debian-based distro). For enterprise use I'd probably stick with RHEL, and perhaps CentOS for in between needs, but Mint just works so well that it has become a truly viable Windows replacement for many tinkerers and average, average people, and those who prefer not to support MS for whatever reason.
    • Re:Mint (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @11:08PM (#48099453)

      I had the pleasure of working with Mint for the first time today, actually. It was a strange experience; I'd been tasked with resurrecting an iBook G4 and needed to find a usable OS for it. I knew there were PowerPC versions of Linux, but the question was, which one? Once I learned that Ubuntu had a compatible version available I decided to check it out, which set off a long and difficult slog of troubleshooting and inexplicable flakiness. I expected this going in, of course, given what I was working with, but even after I managed to resolve the major issues (the OS outright not loading because of a firmware issue, no wireless connectivity at first, video problems, no sound, the whole nine yards) I thought it performed poorly. I figured maybe Ubuntu had simply outgrown computers of that generation, or something.

      Whatever. My next candidate was Mint. A coworker of mine had already tried but failed to get Mint working on the iBook already, but I suspected there was a problem with the discs he'd tried to use. (His Ubuntu disc didn't work either, while the one I burned did.) I wasn't sure what other issues he had, something about the kernel not installing and the system not booting right afterward. I figured it was worth another shot, and whaddaya know, on the very first try my disc worked. Mint installed without a single catch and immediately ran wonderfully; the computer ran smoother, didn't chug as much while opening programs or windows, it really felt like a new machine. There are still some firmware issues to iron out but fixes for the iBook G4 aren't uncharted territory (after all, researching them is how I got Ubuntu to work, and how I got sound working in Mint) so I'm certain that getting wireless and so forth working won't be too difficult.

      Mint's look and feel closely matches Windows, so it's easy to get used to. The programs that come with it are nice, too. If it can get a computer like that to run not just passably well but actually run good, and ready to perform useful work within fifteen minutes, I imagine the user experience on more modern i386 machines is even better. If I retire Windows from any of my current computers I intend to replace it with Mint first unless something better comes along.

    • by Soft ( 266615 )

      I personally use Mint's Debian-based distro

      How do you handle security updates? I thought this distribution (LMDE) was ideal for my needs until I realized that, apart from Firefox and Thunderbird, practically no packages were being regularly updated despite vulnerabilities being discovered: LibreOffice, ffmpeg, file, apt, libnss, qemu to name some recent ones. Bash did get updated recently, and openssl eventually did after heartbleed, though I'm not sure it got all the updates.

      I read some flamew^Wdeba

      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        I thought Mint just used Ubuntu packages?

        • by Soft ( 266615 )

          I thought Mint just used Ubuntu packages?

          Regular Mint, indeed, is based on Ubuntu and each Mint release is derived from the corresponding Ubuntu release. LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) is based on Debian, and doesn't really have releases: the packages get upgraded (from Debian Testing, I believe) perhaps twice a year.

          On paper, I'd prefer LMDE's update scheme, but the apparent lack of day-to-day security updates is a big no-no.

    • Re:Mint (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hendrips ( 2722525 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @10:00AM (#48102223)

      I'll throw in my agreement with Mint for desktop users.

      In my house, my wife is the Linux advocate, while I'm the one who's fond of Windows 7. This is in spite of the fact that I am usually the technically competent tinkerer, and she wants things to "just work." But my wife loves Linux because she never has to call me for help any more now that she got a new laptop and put Mint on it (that's not really a knock on Windows, it's just that her old laptop was a supremely crappy Vista machine that was always crashing).

      My wife doesn't have a clue what ALSA or Pulseaudio are, she just knows that she can play all of her music through Amazon Cloud Player. She could care less about open vs. proprietary document formats; she just knows that she can do word processing without paying for Office, while still saving to files her friends & family can read. And she certainly doesn't care about the finer points of human-computer interface design; she's just happy that all of the icons and buttons are in the "right place," where she expects them after almost 20 years of using Windows. Most of all, she loves the fact that Mint never crashes.

      Congratulations, Linux advocates. I never thought this day would come. But there's finally a distro out there that 1) can be installed and operated by a technically un-savvy but vaguely intelligent home user using only basic Google skills 2) requires minimal support from technically inclined friends/family 3) is rock stable 4) never, ever requires the use of the console 5) can perform all the basic functions an average home user would want (actual average users, not Slashdot's imaginary "average user") 6) and is still open-source, Unixy, and tinkerable.

      Heck, I don't even use Linux, and I'll still say that I love Mint. Why are you Linux On The Desktop advocates not making a bigger deal about Mint?

      I will note, however, that my wife flatly refuses to use the GIMP, both because of the weird interface and the awful name. It's the only thing that can make her switch back to her Windows partition. Can't someone come up with something better?

  • by hermitdev ( 2792385 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:04PM (#48099013)
    Enough said in the subject.
  • Clean, light, beautiful, fast.
  • Gentoo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:10PM (#48099041)

    1. Gentoo....... As a software developer the ability to freeze certain packages without giving up critical updates is a game changer! Nobody else seems to let me do this without some binary C/C++ incompatibility. For that I love Gentoo. I also do weird things like rebuild the linux kernel using my ICC enterprise license along with firefox/chromium/ffmpeg. ICC compared to GCC is just blazing fast. Nearly 360% speed increases in some areas. No other distro makes something that crazy as easy as Gentoo does. It's a real hackers delight. (not the new-age incorrect interpretation of hacker)

    Runners up

    2. Slackware
    3. Debian

    • by santax ( 1541065 )
      Well personally, being a hacker since the early 80's wouldn't consider setting some compiler-flags being a hacker. Second, Arch (and I believe most distro's actually) let you hold back packages while still being able to upgrade all the rest. In Arch AUR there is even a package cold downgrade... so you can compile any given package again from version control where you can pick one you liked better. If you really wanted keep a package at a certain version, you being a 'old-age-interpretation' of a hacker, co
      • by csirac ( 574795 )

        I think he means that it's trivial in Gentoo to run arbitrary versions of any old library or dependency for the sake of a given application that is stuck in the past, not just package-pinning as we do in Debian-land. For example, I have an old gnuradio application that was written for gnuradio 3.6.x, but this was never shipped in any official release of Debian (it went gnuradio 3.5 in wheezy -> gnuradio 3.7 in jessie).

        In gentoo it's trivial to have a specific old version of libfoo (and all the old, terri

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by lucm ( 889690 )

        Well personally, being a hacker since the early 80's wouldn't consider setting some compiler-flags being a hacker.

        Hacker since the early 80s with a 7-digit user id... Where were you in the late 90s and early 2000s? Parchman? Bedlam? A cabin in Lincoln, Montana?

        • If he's like me he stopped going to slashdot for a while, forgot his UID/password, realized the email address that was assigned to that UID no longer exists, and found it much easier just to create a new UID.
  • Dislike Arch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:10PM (#48099047)

    I used Gentoo a little over a decade ago, and it was awesome for exposing me to how Linux worked.

    Arch today reminds me of that. Problem is, I don't have the time or patience to sit around fixing my Linux machine and playing Mr. Package Manager like I did when I was 17. Now I need something that just works.

    I tried Arch about a year ago and was quickly turned off: the ISO that I downloaded wouldn't boot. Turns out they were shipping a broken kernel that week. No big deal, just hunt down the flag I needed to pass to the kernel, got it booted and installed. Configured, usable, a week later, do some updates, breaks something minor. OK, I can fix that. Wash, rinse repeat. I gave up, went back to Ubuntu.

    Arch does have great documentation and good forums. Both the documentation and the forms for Ubuntu are worse than useless.

    Yeah, I know, Ubuntu is too popular to be cool. But it has the right mix of recent packages (I used CentOS 6 at work for a while and was frustrated by how old everything was; installing package foo requires bar-2.4, but CentOS ships with bar-1.9.8 with 18 dependencies on that particular bar, so if you want foo you're stuck playing Mr. Package Manager) and support (I only go for the LTS releases). If a package I need isn't in Ubuntu's repositories (or the one that is there is too old), it's a good bet that there's a legitimate Ubuntu builds provided by the author.

    Anyone using Arch in production? What's your rationale? How do you keep it from breaking?

    • Not sure why this was posted anonymously, but someone needs to mod it up - a score of zero is plain silly.
    • Re:Dislike Arch (Score:4, Insightful)

      by santax ( 1541065 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:50PM (#48099331)
      One could consider using pacman on Arch for just that task. Or yaourt if you wish. (package managing ;) ) I am using arch for about 3 years now. I wouldn't use it an a production server, it's too bleeding edge for that and there is no such thing as LTS on Arch. But it's awesome as a dev system and as a general state of the art desktop/laptop. I would not recommend it to first time linux users or people who are afraid to open up vim. To get the most out of it, takes quite some time in the configs. After install it's pretty much naked, while being considered a good thing to me, might not be a good thing for someone who wants to start typing on a new book. I think Arch takes a bit more from the user in many ways. The community is helpfull, after you have proven to do your own research. It resembles openbsd both in docs as mentality. Because the documentation indeed is awesome.
      • Re:Dislike Arch (Score:4, Insightful)

        by marsu_k ( 701360 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @03:55AM (#48100667)

        I wouldn't use it an a production server, it's too bleeding edge for that and there is no such thing as LTS on Arch. But it's awesome as a dev system and as a general state of the art desktop/laptop.

        Very much this. We use some quite rapidly-developing technologies like node.js at work - the production servers are obviously updated very conservatively (and don't run Arch), but as a developer I can check out the latest version pretty much immediately after it is released and see if the updates cause some issues, or if there are new features that would benefit us in the future. And as said, works very well as a desktop.

        Also, I was pleasantly surprised a while back when this laptop had to be repaired for a while - I had an older laptop that I hadn't used / updated in over six months, and thought getting it up to date would cause a lot of pain (Arch had moved into systemd during that time - no, not getting into that debate here). All that was required in addition to a regular pacman -Syu was to alter my boot line a bit to use systemd.

    • Hmm. You must have had a device with particularly poor driver support. Was the issue with a graphics driver? I use Arch on my desktop and laptop, update it multiple times a week. I have never had an update break the system. That is part of why I like it so much.

      I don't use it for any production stuff but I imagine if you wanted to do that, it would be best to have a test machine to run updates on first. Or just stick to RHEL/CentOS.
    • by wrook ( 134116 )

      I use Arch for my day to day programming machine. I would not use it for an outward facing server mainly because it does work as well as some other distros for nailing yourself down to a known, stable set of versions. For a dev platform, though, it is fantastic. I've got bleeding edge everything (in fact, it is hard to stop it from being bleeding edge) and it is highly configurable.

      The best thing about Arch is that most of the configuration for packages is not done by default. You have to do it yoursel

  • They're all missing one key evaluation point: how do they handle system upgrades? Not updates, but major release upgrades.

    I'd been very happy with Ubuntu until it came time to do an upgrade, and it barfed when it encountered my DB/2 LUW server, crashed, and left the machine badly corrupted. Who knows if Debian will fare any better when the time comes, but that's one of the main reasons I chose Debian as my next distro: it doesn't force major upgrades every year or few. (I had been on the Ubuntu LTS cy

    • Arch is rolling release. It doesn't do "major release upgrades". In that sense, there are absolutely no issues with major release upgrades. Updates, on the other hand, can often have issues similar to major release upgrades, but they are usually less severe and occur more frequently.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @10:17PM (#48099085)

    If you're serious and doing serious business, RHEL is the only acronym you will ever need.

    If you believe you're serious, but happen to be poor, you've got CentOS.

    If you're one of those neurotic Linux on the Desktop folks, Mint is where it's at.

    If you're completely insane and are sexually aroused by compiler flags, you want Gentoo.

    If you're a crochety old bastard who writes out config files via echo and redirection, Slackware is your drug of choice.

    • Very well said, and accurate! And that it is why it is hard to name a winner of the "best distro" contest - there are so so many with so many different target audiences and points of emphasis that it becomes impossible to simply and concisely rank them all. So while this is a silly exercise I think you actually answered it correctly, on all points. I like Mint and Mint-Debian, I would definitely use RHEL for enterprise use or CentOS for a university or large non-profit (or with admins much more capable than
    • How exactly is RHEL and its derivatives different from Ubuntu-likes? Other than I assume the business OSes do not radically overhaul their interfaces every 3 months.
      • by armanox ( 826486 )

        RHEL's support cycle would be my first answer. Red Hat's support cycle is close in length to Microsoft, rather then Apple.

      • by xvan ( 2935999 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @12:06AM (#48099813)
        Some closed source hardware providers choose them as targets for their products.
        yum is better than apt
        Lots of time is put testing so you don't get nasty surprises on production services that support millionaire businesses.
        Long (really long) term support (and by support I mean security updates).

        On the other hand, It's not a fair comparison, you should compare RHEL against Debian Stable.
    • If you're serious and doing serious business, RHEL is the only acronym you will ever need.

      RedHat is the group pushing SystemD. I'm not sure they're going to be great for business much longer.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        RedHat is the group pushing SystemD. I'm not sure they're going to be great for business much longer.

        RHEL 6 which doesn't have systemd will have support until 2017, and extended support until 2020. So they may not notice the full impact of pandering to Poettering until later.

        I suspect that they think they'll get a large number of their customers to convert to using the cloud and no longer admin systems, so that it alienates admins doesn't matter.
        I believe they are betting on the wrong whores.

    • by Zugok ( 17194 )

      If you're serious and doing serious business, RHEL is the only acronym you will ever need.

      If you believe you're serious, but happen to be poor, you've got CentOS.

      If you're one of those neurotic Linux on the Desktop folks, Mint is where it's at.

      If you're completely insane and are sexually aroused by compiler flags, you want Gentoo.

      If you're a crochety old bastard who writes out config files via echo and redirection, Slackware is your drug of choice.

      Kinda reminds me of this post http://linux.slashdot.org/comm... [slashdot.org]

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      I gave up on RH somewhere around RH 7.0 where they fucked up badly gcc and glibs. RH also patches heavily a lot of things, always had. Nevertheless, got used to Debian, and, after RH, Debian is one of the hot items in the market. I have done versions upgrades LIVE and even with some nasty hacking, migrations LIVE from 32 to 64 bits.
  • The article is a bit fluffy and their favoritism for Arch is a bit puzzling, but props for their mention of Tails. It is nice because it makes security and privacy much more simple to achieve if you follow a few basic steps, which is useful. It does a good job of filling the niche of a light, portable, usable distro that covers your tracks well.
    But they did leave out another good distro that is also frequently used in live mode, Kali - my favorite distro for, um, "penetration testing." Yeah, "testing," tha
  • What's the best distro of 2014? The one that works best for you. It's a click bait article meant to start a flame war.

    Next up "Windows vs Linux: Is the king still supreme?" or "Coke vs Pepsi: Do we have a changing of the guards?"
  • Cyanogenmod (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @11:14PM (#48099507)

    Linux distribution? I'd go with Cyanogenmod.

  • Beautiful desktop on a great OS. I wiped my windows 8 laptop and put the beta on it...very nice.
  • No bloat and easy to customize for different needs. Focused on server use and virtualization but also makes a nice light desktop. Active development community.
  • Debian (Score:5, Informative)

    by Randle_Revar ( 229304 ) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @11:56PM (#48099759) Homepage Journal

    Debian

    • Debian 6. Before all the shiny shit infected Deb 7.
    • I'm not trying to start a flamewar, just asking a genuine question:
      What are the main differences between Debian, Mint & Ubuntu now?
      I took some time last month to install and test OpenBSD, Alpine Linux, Mint, Mint LMDE, Ubuntu & Debian.
      I just wanted a basic graphical interface + terminal + tabs + vim + zsh + ssh
      I was suprised to see that Debian wasn't that much smaller or faster than other Debian based distros.
      Ubuntu UI sucked, but I really liked the speed and small footprint of Alpine Linux.

  • by hAckz0r ( 989977 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @12:08AM (#48099815) Homepage
    If you are into system security then check this one out. Security by hardware isolation is very hard to crack. Even the NIC and its kernel drivers live in its own VM and protects your system via IOMMU.
  • by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @01:05AM (#48100091)

    The Systemd distribution (or GNU/Systemd/Linux as it is now called) deserves the Man of the Year award this year, because it has unified so many stand alone Unix style components into one unified quality program. By unifying everything into one program, we have eliminated redundant code, bugs, and rallied all of the Linux community behind the one user-space kernel. We can continue this trend of streamlining and eliminating waste, by merging in a compositor, a browser engine. We believe that molecularity will only allow the user to be confused with choices and that good incremental development is like making good stew. Throw everything in.

    • We can continue this trend of streamlining and eliminating waste, by merging in a compositor, a browser engine. We believe that molecularity will only allow the user to be confused with choices and that good incremental development is like making good stew. Throw everything in.

      But don't worry, like the pieces of a good stew, it's still modular!

  • I have often wondered if it would be worth building a new distribution. The existing ones all seem to make weird design decisions, none have conquered the desktop (I blame OSDL), they're nowhere near as high performance as they could/should be, and Linux Base is not necessarily the most secure layout. It's certainly problematic for multi-versioning.

    • How will jdLinux be different than the hundreds of other distributions [wikipedia.org] out there?

      Not saying that you don't have some ideas that haven't been tried, but it's not like there's exactly a shortage of existing distributions, so yours would have to have something pretty unique to gain any real traction.

  • I tend to mess around with them so much that it doesn't really seem to matter with which one I started anyway.

  • The word "codswallop" appeared in the first paragraph of TFA. I figured right then that this was going to be superficial review. Then again, I should have known from the summary that anything purporting to determine "The Best Linux Distro" is probably not worth my time. Yes, I read TFA. Yes, it was a waste of my time. The meaning of "How long is a piece of string?" still escapes TFA's author.
  • by chrish ( 4714 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @09:24AM (#48101907) Homepage

    Honest question that I haven't been able to find an answer to...

    Is there a desktop Linux distro that will play DVDs "out of the box"? Specifically, you stick it in the drive and it starts playing.

    I've got an olde Pentium 4 system that's currently running Windows 7, and I wanted to put Linux on it... the main use case for this machine is playing DVDs during workouts.

  • by Warbothong ( 905464 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @11:33AM (#48103087) Homepage

    Whenever I tried other distros, I'd always go back to Debian in the end, since its package management seems a lot saner than most.

    NixOS is refreshing, since it package/configuration management seems to be an improvement over Debian's. It's still a little rough around the edges, but perfectly usable (as long as it loads emacs, conkeror and xmonad, it's usable)

Between infinite and short there is a big difference. -- G.H. Gonnet

Working...