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Linux.com Announces The Best Linux Distros for 2017 (linux.com) 224

Friday Linux.com published their list of "what might well be the best Linux distributions to be found from the ever-expanding crop of possibilities... according to task." Here's their winners (as chosen by Jack Wallen), along with a short excerpt of his analysis.
  • Best distro for sysadmins : Parrot Linux. "Based on Debian and offers nearly every penetration testing tool you could possibly want. You will also find tools for cryptography, cloud, anonymity, digital forensics, programming, and even productivity."
  • Best lightweight distribution: LXLE. "Manages to combine a perfect blend of small footprint with large productivity."
  • Best desktop distribution: Elementary OS "I'm certain Elementary OS Loki will do the impossible and usurp Linux Mint from the coveted 'best desktop distribution' for 2017."
  • Best Linux for IoT: Snappy Ubuntu Core "Can already be found in the likes of various hacker boards (such as the Raspberry Pi) as well as Erle-Copter drones, Dell Edge Gateways, Nextcloud Box, and LimeSDR."
  • Best non-enterprise server distribution: CentOS. "Since 2004, CentOS has enjoyed a massive community-driven support system."
  • Best enterprise server distribution: SUSE. "Don't be surprised if, by the end of 2017, SUSE further chips away at the current Red Hat market share."

Wallen also chose Gentoo for "Best distribution for those with something to prove," saying "This is for those who know Linux better than most and want a distribution built specifically to their needs... a source-based Linux distribution that starts out as a live instance and requires you to then build everything you need from source." And surprisingly, he didn't mention his own favorite Linux distro, Bodhi Linux, which he describes elsewhere as "a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment".


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Linux.com Announces The Best Linux Distros for 2017

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  • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

    year of the distro! what's a distro?

  • Debian (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cobbaut ( 232092 )

    Parrot Linux and *buntu are based on Debian, so why not use the original ?

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Ease of installation. It saves time not selection and unselecting all the packages. If you won't forget anything, you will waste a lot of time.
      Why do the work a second time if somebody already has done it?

      There will be people who will use Debian and make something identical or similar, but most people nowadays are not hobbyists tinkering with their OS, not that there is anything wrong with that. Most will want to install and start working with their system, not for their system.

    • Is Parrot systemd, or the pre systemd distro of Linux?
    • It's missing a lot of stuff (codecs, etc), that are included with the derivatives. This may not matter to you, but it does to me and many others. Yes, you can add in repos and get that stuff yourself, but new linux users won't do this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2017 @11:37AM (#53623623)

    I'd just like to interject for a moment. What you’re referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.
    Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called “Linux”, and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project. There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use.
    Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine’s resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called “Linux” distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    CentOS is a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux without Red Hat support contract. You still get the same updates from RHEL, though usually 2-3 weeks later. A lot of big companies don't care for support (since they can deal with it in-house) and use CentOS which is free.

    • Or they can use CentOS on 90% of hosts, and if there's a bug, triage on their 10% redhat servers, get the bug fixed, and it works its way through centos.

  • Best Linux Distro (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @11:56AM (#53623717)

    Best Linux Distro for people who just want to get stuff done: Linux Mint

    • Re:Best Linux Distro (Score:5, Informative)

      by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @12:43PM (#53623957)

      Best Linux Distro for people who just want to get stuff done: Linux Mint

      Yeah I'm pretty much of the same mind. Debian for my servers and Mint for my desktop. I do prefer debians more stripped back but-with-options server chops, its familiar and I like it. But mint is a desktop setup that just works and doesnt have ubuntus baffling UI.

      • I do find it interesting that there are four distros of Mint, each touting different desktop environments. The last time I checked, there's no info on their web site highlighting the differences between them other than, "if in doubt, use Cinnamon."

    • Mint is what I've been using for probably around 7 years now (can't remember exactly). Before that it was Ubuntu, and before that Gentoo and a couple of other things as I tested the water.

      It's not perfect (no OS is), but I feel really comfortable using it, there are usually minimal surprises when upgrading, and I'm not afraid to recommend it to other people interested in trying Linux.

      • Same here. I've been using it for months on my laptop and a couple of desktops and I love it. It's solid, stable, and does pretty much everything I need.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      I think that calling Centos as the best non-enterprise server distro is really funny. A huge number of enterprise users are using Centos and Redhat together. They buy Redhat for a few servers and then use Centos when they need to spin up a VM or 20 because they do not need to worry about licensing it.

      • Or run prod on RH because if it goes pear shaped you want it fixed yesterday.

        Dev, testing & shitpit can go on CentOS.

    • I do wonder about Mint now. I mean it really jumped into the limelight as an Ubuntu alternative back when every project was doing their best to screw over the standard user interfaces but with the rise of Cinnamon and it's support in mainstream distributions I eventually switched back to Ubuntu, albeit without the Unity garbage.

      • I do wonder about Mint now. I mean it really jumped into the limelight as an Ubuntu alternative back when every project was doing their best to screw over the standard user interfaces but with the rise of Cinnamon and it's support in mainstream distributions I eventually switched back to Ubuntu, albeit without the Unity garbage.

        I'm not the kind of guy that is always chasing the new shiny or jumping ship for the latest version of whatever. I've been using Mint for a while now on my laptop and I see no reason to change. It works well for me and it would something pretty compelling for me to switch. It just works, and like I said earlier, I just need to get stuff done.

        Elementary OS or some other distro might be a better choice for some other people, but I'm very happy with Mint so far.

        • My thought process was actually a bit different. Not that people should jump on something new, but is there a compelling reason to migrate to Mint? Obviously for those who are using it there may not be a reason to migrate away from it, but it rose to fame providing an alternative to some real garbage moves by other distributions / projects.

          What's its state now? Does it still have a killer feature?

          • What's its state now? Does it still have a killer feature?

            The killer feature for me is that it just works and does pretty much everything I need it to do. With that said, it seems like most OS' have more or less leveled off in terms of functionality.

            As for its state, there are probably people here who could speak more knowledgeably on that than I can.

            Out of curiosity, what would you consider to be the killer feature in Windows or the Mac OS? Would you count Siri or Cortana as a killer feature?

            • Out of curiosity, what would you consider to be the killer feature in Windows or the Mac OS?

              The only thing that draws me to Windows is the software. Otherwise I don't see it having a killer feature. In fact in terms of Windows 8 I saw every other OS having a killer feature in the form of not having a ballsed up UI, but Windows 10 mostly resolved that.

              Would you count Siri or Cortana as a killer feature?

              Not on a PC. On a phone tethered to a car on the other it is fantastic. Voice recognition in this regard is a major feature. Not having used a Windows 10 phone however I would say that the other platforms have mostly enough functionality in their voic

              • The only thing that draws me to Windows is the software. Otherwise I don't see it having a killer feature.

                On that I wholeheartedly agree...there are still quite a few serious applications that will run only under Windows.

                Even using Wine or CrossOver there are some applications that won't run or are too unstable to use in a production environment. But with that said, I've found Wine and CrossOver will get you about 95% of the way there, even for finicky stuff like Photoshop.

                And before too many people chime in saying, "But you could use GIMP....", let me respectfully say "no". Photoshop is THE graphics applicatio

    • I am using LMDE but am seriously looking for other things.
      Their fight with google is just stupid.
      I get tired of setting up google each time I create a new user or profile.

    • I do not doubt that Linux Mint is a good distribution. I used to be a staunch Fedora enthusiast, but in my mind, Fedora is dying and will disappear within two to three years.

      It will disappear because it is not a Desktop system for all users. It is a workspace distribution for code hackers. To survive, Fedora must recognize and accept REMIXES and SPINS. (Remixes cannot be produced within the USA because of patents). However, offshore, Remixes allow video and music codecs, and some software that RedHat

      • On the otherhand, Look at Korora or Chapeau Linux or even a Fedora based Linux from outside of the USA. Those versions shame Ubuntu.

        What would you say are the things that set Korora or Chapeau apart from Ubuntu? (I'm not familiar with either of them so I'd be interested in what the differences and/or benefits are.)

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @11:58AM (#53623733) Homepage Journal

    The Website seems fairly low on information - essentially there's a (front) page of marketing which gives no sense as to what the environment is like, and then it's support/buy/involve yourself links.

    I moved from Ubuntu to Mint last year and I'm on the verge of going back, partly because Cinnamon is now well supported within Ubuntu, and partly because Mint has some horrible design decisions, from being unable to upgrade in place, to the fact core UI components run Webkit under root (including the login) (I'm not kidding about that, and they don't disable plugins either, so I regularly get to confirm I accept the Adobe Acrobat license on the lockscreen login page because I haven't accepted it under root yet and because the login page loaded Webkit which loaded the Acrobat plugin.)

    But... hey, if I'm going to change distro anyway, I'd be curious to know what the distro-of-the-year is like...

    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @12:24PM (#53623863)

      When I switched to Mint several years ago, I didn't like that they didn't support "upgrading in place". However, one of the reasons I switched to Mint (from Ubuntu) was because I had upgraded so many times in place (7 or 8) that my system wasn't stable and was slowing down. So I made the decision to change my partitions and go with the idea of keeping my base install small, my home directory on a separate partition, etc. My upgrades since then have been very painless and faster!

      However, they DO now support upgrading in place, it's called their Package Upgrade. I haven't done it yet, but am on 18 and may upgrade to 18.1 that way. Although I used to be a KDE person (back on Redhat, then SuSE, then Kubuntu) I switched to XFCE many years ago and haven't looked back.

      • "Support" upgrading in place is a dubious term. They say it's possible, but they go out of their way to discourage you from doing it, and provide no instructions. Citation, for those who need one... [linuxmint.com]

      • Most distros don't support (or at least recommend) in place upgrading, if you define upgrading as changing the integer part of the version.

        You found the solution, just look out for checkboxes that say "format" and backup /home first.

        • Most major distros do. Minor distros, which make up the majority of distros but, for obvious reasons, only constitute a small percentage of use, frequently don't because it's hard to implement (kinda.) I understand, though the "You need to partition /home separately anyway because it's, uh, good practice, yeah, that's it!" excuses I find unfortunate.

    • I've used it in VMs on occasion. It's basically trying to be a 1:1 clone of Mac OS-X, on a Linux userland and kernel. If you have ever used OS-X you will find the interface and alt-tabbing to be quite familiar, but overall it just doesn't have the manpower to be fully polished like Apple can throw at their GUI. I've seen a few better LOOKING clones, but Pantheon really does do a fair job at integrating everything into a whole DE.

      It's Ubuntu with their own DE ( Pantheon ) thrown on top. It's pretty decent, t

  • But I use Gentoo. How does this affect me? (Since I'm not running systemd.)
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @12:29PM (#53623889)

    These types of lists are always biased in a "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" kind of way. I've been using linux for 20 years now and don't really agree with most of their choices. These lists might get someone new started with Linux, but people eventually gravitate towards what works for them once they get their sea legs.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:30PM (#53624227) Homepage

      These types of lists are always biased in a "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" kind of way. I've been using linux for 20 years now and don't really agree with most of their choices. These lists might get someone new started with Linux, but people eventually gravitate towards what works for them once they get their sea legs.

      Most people gravitate towards what they already know, whether or not it is longer the best choice. I've used outdated or sub-optimal tools many times because I know exactly what the workflow, limitations and quirks are and if you avoid the pitfalls it works, even though I know newer versions or other software does it better. You can waste a lot of time chasing a better solution, switching distros fixes one problem and gives you two new ones. To be honest I don't like that being used as a suggestion very often, pick one roughly right for you and unless it turns consistantly sour or is a real deal breaker for you most of the time you're better off trying to fix it or live with it than jumping ship.

  • Unfeasible. I chose a desktop distro some years ago and still stick to it. Same for servers. Same for embedded boxes. This ranking makes no sense to me.
  • systemd has not taken over everything in the Linux OS yet?

    Glad to see Gentoo is still in the running, if you are building a small fast lightweight OS, Gentoo is a good. I avoid using it on my desktop since recompiling X for an update is painful.....

  • by keneng ( 1211114 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:18PM (#53624173) Journal

    This article certainly does not reflect what I perceive are the best distros and certainly does not elaborate or go far enough to compare the different capabilities with an extended list of other distros in a matrix.

    For me, the proposed comparison criteria would be:
    -user able to create customized live thumb image with a reasonable amount of time
    -user able to update the packages quickly and easily
    -user able to find packages of interest quickly and easily
    -user able to create own packages quickly and easily
    -desktop agnostic. No default desktop. Users must choose themselves which one they want.
    -user documentation up-to-date enough to most relevant and trending Linux Distros issues: security configuration for server and non-server alike, desktop, printer, network, filesystems, media player softwares, peer-to-peer softwares, digital-freedom and anonymity.

    Arch IMHO is the best. It covers the above with archiso, pacman, yaourt, kde/gnome/other desktops, archwiki covers how to make packages easily and make them available through "Arch User Repositories"(AUR) and installing them through yaourt.
    b2im tool for manjaro was the closest and fastest way to customize a thumb-image, but lacked support for customizing an image with AUR packages. archiso can be customized with AUR packages.
    http://www.xcfa.tuxfamily.org/... [tuxfamily.org]

    Debian Sid is equivalent, but I have classified it as second-best because it takes more time to create & customize a live thumb image especially with an extra persistent partition on the thumb itself. It should be straightforward to do and yet it still is not straightforward to do. live-build takes more than a couple of weeks to customize and it is complex procedure to succeed with both bios and uefi.

    Antergos and Manjaro were inspired from Arch. Parrot, Backtrack, Kali, Ubuntu were inspired from Debian BUT ARE NOT DEBIAN. Dare I say a LINUX DISTRO is like a food to be prepared and consumed. If that is the case, which would you prefer depends on your personality. If you prefer to prepare your food yourself, you will go to a grocery store with fresh, unprocessed food products(i.e. Arch/Debian/Fedora), but if you are in a hurry/tired then you could possibly prefer something prepared for you(i.e. Redhat, Ubuntu, Parrot, Kali, Manjaro, Antergos.)

    I wouldn't impose my opinion on others to use a particular distro, but I am of the opinion everyone would be healthier by preparing/using the fresh produce and straight from the source: Arch, Debian, Fedora. When you go with the faster food(i.e. Redhat, Ubuntu, Parrot, Kali, Manjaro, Antergos) there are always consequences/constraints, less-recent packages, vendor-lock-in/"take or leave it".

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Agree. Everybody who knows anything knows Arch is the best for desktop, but I wouldn't use it for server.

      • by nnull ( 1148259 )

        Why not? I've been using it for my production server setup just fine. It works great and does the job pretty well. I don't recommend it for everyone, but the LTS and rolling updates doesn't hurt me. If it breaks something, that's why I have a backup to take over so I can figure it out.

        To be honest, I haven't had anything break for my business for years on Arch. It's been running my machines, connecting to PLC's for data, running my database, all the good things just fine. I think probably the worst thing wa

    • by nnull ( 1148259 )
      I don't know why Arch isn't on this list either. It has a great package manager, a comprehensive wiki and if you want the latest and greatest, it's not a problem to get it.
    • What is the security environment for yaourt packages? Are they vetted in any way? Is this different from mainstream distros such as Debian, Redhat and their progeny?

  • Best enterprise server distribution: SUSE. "Don't be surprised if, by the end of 2017, SUSE further chips away at the current Red Hat market share."

    Last time I used SUSE, it felt like I had jumped through a time warp to about 5 years earlier.

    • Not sure of this "award"

      Best for A - some distro

      Best for B - some distro

      Best for C - some distro

      Best for Enterprise, mention one distro possibly gaining ground on another... Confusing

  • by corychristison ( 951993 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:32PM (#53624247)

    I really, really like Funtoo Linux. I've posted about it in the past.

    It's a lot like Gentoo, as its based on Gentoo, built by the original founder of Gentoo. But it has a few subtle differences: - Portage uses git to sync the portage tree instead of rsync (though I think Gentoo back ported this feature).
    - boot-update. Gentoo lacks this program. It handles updating grub2 and lilo configuration based on the presence of kernels and initrd files in /boot. No mucking about with grub2-mkconfig.
    - systemd is unsupported, though its there if you want to use it. If it breaks, its on you.

    I find myself using ArchLinux's wiki more and more these days. It seems like it is almost a binary version of Gentoo/Funtoo in many ways. I've been trying it out in a VM. Not having to compile everything is nice, but lacks tuning dependencies that I am so used to with Funtoo/Gentoo.

    • by zwede ( 1478355 )

      Portage uses git to sync the portage tree instead of rsync (though I think Gentoo back ported this feature).

      Thanks for this. I'm a long time gentoo user but didn't know they added git as a portage tree option. Just switched over to it and it's a lot faster than rsync.

  • by jasnw ( 1913892 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:04PM (#53624383)
    I've seen Elementary OS mentioned several times in discussions among unhappy Apple users as a good bail-out option. Those of us who moved from Linux to OS X in the early 2000s, back when OS X did indeed "just work" (particularly compared to the Linux desktop) are now tired of rushed/botched software upgrades and increasingly poor HW offerings. I want a system I can depend on rather than one I can (or have to) fiddle with so I can focus on the things I want/need to be doing with the computer. That's why I'm not looking at a hackintosh solution. Any Elementary OS users want to comment on how this distro is working for them? I'll probably want to install Gnome, which I think is not the out-of-the-box configuration.
    • by armanox ( 826486 )

      Isn't that the sad truth. OS X used to be so nice - I have machines here running 10.4, .5, and .6 (a PPC G4, G5, and a MBP 1,1 and a 2008 MB (don't remember the exact model but it could run Lion if I wanted). From 10.0 - 10.5 things really improved each version (save dropping classic in 10.5). When 10.6 came it was a little heavier, but still very nice to work with. Then Lion hit, and it was downhill from there.There are a few features in the newer versions that I like, but they could be back-ported to

  • Disappointed not to see ninnle linux Cowboy Neal edition.

  • But what about those of us who build PCs and install OSes to impress ladies? I mean when they come over I always direct them to my computer. Come to think of it I haven't been laid in awhile

  • by Anonymous Coward

    manages to *get stuff done* with Windows ?
    And they don't spend a lot of *time* on their OS, they just somehow, god alone knows how, manage to live with the defaults in the OS ?
    and it doesn't bother them cause the have like, say, 50,000 things that are more important then worrying about some minor problem in an OS ?

    reminds me of joel on software: the real expert always leaves the OS/software at default as the real expert uses a lot of diff computers, and the default is the only thing that makes sense .....

    mu

  • by erktrek ( 473476 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:45PM (#53624579)

    Started with Gentoo - awesome learning experience. Harder to maintain in a production environment especially if you're lazy like me.

    On the desktop went thru various distros - Ubuntu, SolydXK, Mint, Manjaro/Arch and am now using Korora/Fedora. Have been very surprised at how well Korora works - always avoided Fedora for whatever reason.

    Tried Elementary OS a few years ago and liked the look but the packages just weren't there and some things were broken. No doubt things are better but I've moved on.

    LXLE looks cool especially for older tech - I like the LXDE and LXQT DEs a lot - simple and old school windows-like.

    CentOS seems a little outdated for my tastes but it works well enough especially in environments that are fragile. Using Ubuntu LTS for most of my server stuff - for me it has been the easiest to maintain and keep current with a great range of compatible devices and packages.

    Haven't tried Parrot Linux yet but will check it out - have used Kali & BackBox.

  • Mint with Cinnamon is arguable the best Linux Desktop distro.

  • by luther349 ( 645380 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @04:26PM (#53624995)
    i moved to a\manjaro thats based on arch and never looked back everything is faster then anything Ubuntu based and never a issue with being stable.
    • by shanen ( 462549 )

      I'm such a lightweight Linux user I didn't even realize that they were all (save one) Ubuntu based, but I've just been using the main Ubuntu stream for some years now on a few of my boxen... I wish one of the categories had been international support because the flaky Japanese support in Ubuntu has become my biggest problem with using that OS for my minimal needs.

      (I only have two 'pure' Ubuntu boxen, one multi-booter and a couple of VMs. Most of the time I'm using Windows 10, Android, or macOS.)

  • The best "Linux distro" is FreeBSD.

    • BSD userland reminds me of SCO -- it's that musty. If you want the kernel that bad, there's Debian kfreebsd -- nice, devoid of systemd. Although with BPF now in Linux and ZFS sort-of working, the number of claimed reasons to use BSD grows thin.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        BSD userland reminds me of SCO -- it's that musty.

        Citations?

        with BPF now in Linux and ZFS sort-of working, the number of claimed reasons to use BSD grows thin.

        He-he, as long as you don't know, what else you are missing... Yes, I suppose, ignorance is bliss.

        • with BPF now in Linux and ZFS sort-of working, the number of claimed reasons to use BSD grows thin.

          He-he, as long as you don't know, what else you are missing... Yes, I suppose, ignorance is bliss.

          Well, yes -- I'm just quoting the two reasons that are nearly exclusively said. I don't run FreeBSD myself other than to port my programs to. I guess this is a wonderful place to say "please enlighten me then".

      • What is so inferior go pkg install or /usr/ports?

        We dont't want kfreebsd. Freebsd is more i integrated, Works just fine and is more tested. We don't want beta quality software

  • I am using FreeBSD 10.3 - it's not bad. I am thinking about moving to slackware.

    Mint 17.3
    Slackware 14.2
    Gentoo
    CentOS 6.5
    Calculate Linux
    FreeBSD 10.3
    Something else?

    • According to this page [distrowatch.com], CentOS has just started w/ systemd, starting w/ 7-1611. OTOH, you could try PCLinuxOS, which despite being Mandriva derived, doesn't have it.

      One thing I'm curious about - why are you looking at moving out of FreeBSD? While some of the Linux distros you listed ain't yet w/ systemd, some are just starting to come on systemd. So if you want to stay away from systemd, why go to Linux? Also, 10.3 seems a tad dated for FreeBSD. I just got a TrueOS DVD and upgraded, and it right now

      • Sorry both PcBSD and TrueOS have e been terrible versions of Freebsd. Buggy as hell and TrueOS broke Freebsd standstands

    • Slackware is usually considered the most BSD-like Linux distro. When I found the BSDs impractical for home use (insufficient ACPI support) I went with Slackware. That was about 8 years ago, and I've never looked back.

  • I want a system I can depend on rather than one I can (or have to) fiddle with so I can focus on the things I want/need to be doing with the computer. That's why I'm not looking at a hack-in-tosh solution. Any Elementary OS users want to comment on how this distro is working for them? I'll probably want to install Gnome, which I think is not the out-of-the-box configuration. Also we at Noavard [noavard.co] use Linux as our web server, in Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP architecture.
  • Still relying on OpenBSD, and sometimes also on a trimmed-down FreeBSD with Capsicum for security-related work; but I'm wondering what the most hardened (minimalist) Linux distro you guys are recommending? I understand that the less software, the smaller the attack surface, but I'm also thinking along the lines of SELinux-by-default, settable access policies (not just discretionary access policies but also rules-based access policies), etc...

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