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Debian Operating Systems Linux

Best Linux Distribution ( 215

Linux Journal: We started things off with Best Linux Distribution, and nearly 10,000 readers voted. The winner was Debian, with many commenting "As for servers, Debian is still the best" or similar. One to watch that is rising in the polls is Manjaro (7 percent), which is independently based on the Arch Linux. Manjaro is a favorite for Linux newcomers and is known for its user-friendliness and accessibility. And, now for the top three LJ winners: Debian (33 percent), openSUSE (12 percent), and Fedora (11 percent).
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Best Linux Distribution

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  • No link to TFA? Then again, this is modern day slashdot.

  • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @02:56PM (#56123511)

    Best Linux Distribution?

    Well, that's one way to start a, cough, cough *debate* ... now where did I leave my flame resistant suit?

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @02:59PM (#56123541) Homepage


      • by jmccue ( 834797 )

        I do not know why this is funny, but since we are doing meaningless polls, Slackware was rated the best server in LQ for 2018: []

        • -wear : A suffix applied to mean the garb associated thereof.

          Slacks, n : A name for fancy pants, as opposed to informal jeans or sweatpants. The sort you wear with a suit.

          Dude asked where his "flame-resistant suit" was. Other dude made a garment pun.

          There. The joke is dead now. It died in a fire.

      • For almost 20+ years of sysadmin work and IT direction, Slackware has been my Linux choice if I needed something quick, reliable and straightforward. If I went away from MacOS on the desktop, I have no doubt I'd be running Slack there again as well. Simplicity is a great thing.

    • Hell, I don't need a flame-resistant suit, burn it down for all I care!

      Fanbois unite! Go and crowd around whatever is the popular flavor of the week. Oh, Debian again? LOL awesome! Black gets to be the new black this season!

      I get no benefit at all from others making the same choice as me.

      Linux is for experts. If you have a good reason to use linux, you probably know what it is. You can probably select the distro that best meets the needs of your use case. I prefer the business-y one that has been unpopular

      • Linux is also good for mostly clueless end users who use nothing more than a web browser and email client. Since I put Mint on my mom's computer (she's 81... ) a couple of years (when the "auto upgrade to win10" crap started) I've stopped getting calls about fixing her computer from viruses, expired trialware crap, etc.

        • Right, but Mom has you, and you understand her use case.

          Clueless users that don't have an i.r.id10t around to do it for them would have an easier time buying some sort of netbook, running who cares.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:22PM (#56123731) Journal

      I don't see much to argue about. Different uses and different users have different needs and preferences. As sqorbit said, the question itself is silly. Like asking "what vehicle is best?" - kinda depends on whether you want to haul 10,000 pounds of cargo, race a slalom, or impress your date. Sometimes a semi truck is the right thing for the job, sometimes a motorcycle is.

      I run different distributions for different roles, and other people will prefer other distros for those same roles because they have different preferences. For example my "default" distribution for general computing is CentOS. One reason I choose CentOS is simply because it's the one I'm most familiar with, having used that lineage for 15 years under various names. Someone else might choose Debian or Ubuntu for the same reason - it's the one they know best.

      A major difference to consider for desktop / laptop use is whether you prefer cutting edge new features or stability and reliability. In the Redhat / CentOS realm, Fedora is cutting edge, Redhat / CentOS is stable. Neither is right or wrong, better or worse, it just depends on what you want. So instead of spending time trying to find "the best", spend that time asking "what are my needs and which fits my needs best?"

      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        For me with other non-Linux OSes like Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows, etc. They have their strong and weak points to me.

    • The best Linux for
      • datacenter nework switches is probably Microsoft's SONiC [] distro.
      • cell phones is (god I hope it's not Android - but it's certainly not SONiC or Debian either.
      • servers running open source software is almost certainly Debian.
      • servers running closed source software (Oracle, etc) is probably Red Hat or some Canonical offering.
      • my laptop - Debian.

      Linux is in far too many places for "a" "best" distro.

      But it's not hard to pick candidates for the best for specific purposes.

      • by Bigbutt ( 65939 )

        This is probably the better answer for my server use. In our environment, we have lots of closed source software like Oracle. In addition, the backup and monitoring software didn't work on non-Red Hat distos for many years. Since we're not a large team managing 1,200 servers now, consistency in the Unix environment is important too hence we have mostly (for current systems) Red Hat.

        And since I'm working on similar stuff at home, my home environment is CentOS for the most part with a few Red Hat systems.


    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      Of course - there's a lot of ways to be "best." Best end-user experience, best server, easiest to maintain, etc., etc.... offering an opinion here is pointless.
  • Best for what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqorbit ( 3387991 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @02:57PM (#56123527)
    It's like asking what the best car is? Are you trying to transport 8 people, or 5 sheets of drywall? Asking what the best linux distro is silly and only adds to the confusion for those not familiar with linux. Personally I'm a huge fan of Debian and it's my go to unless I need some speciality distro. If someone asked me for a recommendation of install Linux for the first time they've ever done it on a laptop, Debian might not be my answer. I understand the need for Top 10 lists, and ranking systems in our lives. It makes for the best click bait. Best linux distro is just something not needed. One of the best things about Linux is the distro's can be drastically different and fit different needs. Why do we need to try to narrow it down to one?
  • Just use Windows. Choice sucks for the average user. Preinstalled is the way to go. People have no idea there is a difference between hardware and software and that you can choose to install your OS. Microsoft understood this. Why can't Linux world understand that?
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Just use Windows. Choice sucks for the average user. Preinstalled is the way to go. People have no idea there is a difference between hardware and software and that you can choose to install your OS. Microsoft understood this. Why can't Linux world understand that?

      You realize there are companies that make computers with Linux pre-installed, right? Dell is one of them.

    • by Yunzil ( 181064 )

      Just use Windows. Choice sucks for the average user.

      Unironically agree.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:05PM (#56123577) Journal

    ...After Mint I never looked back.

    Windows 10 gives me hurdles of issues.

    Mint Linux? Works, and works - and works. Love it.

    • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:12PM (#56123639)

      An interface that never changes? Yes please.

    • You can install the Windows subsystem for Linux.

      • You can install the Windows subsystem for Linux.

        You can wack yourself over the head with a 2x4 as well, but a discussion of the merits of 2x4 wacking, does not belong in this thread either.

      • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
        IDK if you're being sarcastic or not, but while I still have Linux partitions I can boot with, I use WSL and find that it actually works great. Of course, it still requires installing a distribution (and there are now several to choose from).
        • While I wouldn't recommend using WSL for your primary computing needs (just because it is rather slow, compared to native Linux) however it is rather good for those random Linux only tasks, and with a choice for Ubuntu, Fedora and Suse gives you the core features that you need from the distributions.

          I see WSL and Wine as different side for the same need. If you are using mostly Linux and need the random Windows App, then a Linux OS with Wine, works. If you are using mostly windows with the random Linux too

    • by Major_Disorder ( 5019363 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:19PM (#56123703)
      Mint on the desktop. Debian on the server. Makes life easy.
      They are alike enough that you don't need to relearn every time you need to do something, but philosophically they are different in ways that make sense.
      Linux Mint (cinnamon) installs basically all the software you will need for a desktop, this gets you up and running quickly and easily.
      On the other hand Debian installs just about nothing then you add the features and services you need. Making for a more secure install out of the box.

      This is a winning combination in my book. I am even starting to get used to systemd.
      • I have tried many desktop Linux distributions over the years, but one thing really stands out. Every time I used Mint is was a positive experience, not so much any of the others. I reinstalled my desktop OS a few months ago, removing Ubuntu (the last time I will ever give it a try I think) and installing Mint Cinnamon.

        It was the correct thing to do.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        I use Debian on my server and Debian on my portable and Debian on my desktop. The reason is that I have only one thing to do. I have used openSUSE in the past.

        For the portable the more important question to me is not what distro, but what Desktop. I do see little to no difference between using XFCE on openSUSE or on Debian after I am done configuring it how I like. I have not tried it, but I doubt that it will be much different to Mint and XFCE.

        I rather have only one thing to do that I can do on all machine

    • by Frederic54 ( 3788 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:28PM (#56123779) Journal

      Same, started with Mint 13 or something, now at 17.3 with Xfce, I like it, it just works, everything works, nvidia GPU, wifi, BT, sound, etc

    • My daughter is taking game programming and was struggling with working with Ogre and another graphics engine (I can't remember which one right now) and was struggling to do the builds on Win10.

      I pushed her onto Mint and she was able to get up and running in a few hours despite being very nervous about wanting to learn Linux. She's still scared of Ubuntu (my default) but she loves Mint.

    • My only complaint about Mint is the upgrade path is more complex than other distributions. It's basically a clean install.
      • I've not found that to be the case.

        After changing the sources I run apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade to update to the new version.

        Admittedly I do keep a bootable USB key to hand for the times this causes GRUB to eat itself.

        I've had very little in the way of reinstalls since I started using Mint, but I still prefer Arch.
        • This process has worked for me as well, although it is always best to be prepared for the worst. With my /home mounted on a different device (well, RAID-1 setup actually) reinstalling from scratch if needed is quick and easy and doesn't endanger my own data files.

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      Windows 10 gives me hurdles of issues.

      Windows never gives me even one hurdle of an issue - most likely because I took the time to learn how to work with it, and given the fact that around 95% of desktop end-users also use Windows, I think you are an outlier.

      • Windows 10 gives me hurdles of issues.

        Windows never gives me even one hurdle of an issue - most likely because I took the time to learn how to work with it, and given the fact that around 95% of desktop end-users also use Windows, I think you are an outlier.

        My spell-checker didn't get the word "outlier" and neither did I (I'm not natively English).

        But besides that, I'm actually a windows supporter. We've recently rolled out Windows 10 in our organization, and I challenge your windows fancy any day of the year. :p

  • Alpine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:11PM (#56123631)
    My favorite is Alpine because it is systemd-free, light-weight, and security-focused.
  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@gm a i l . c om> on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:18PM (#56123691)

    I guess I'll have to manually compile my own list...


    • Have an imaginary funny mod point, as I have no real ones at the moment.....
    • Thanks for the laugh. I haven't used gentoo in years, but I might need to go back to it at some point soon. I bet compiling it is soooo much faster on modern processors. I have yet to use an OS that was snappier and more responsive than my old gentoo installs.

    • by crow ( 16139 )

      I still use Gentoo on my systems, but I'm increasingly worried as they seem to be struggling to keep all the packages current. I suspect the number of packages a distribution should have available is increasing over time, but the Gentoo community has shrunk, which is a dangerous combination.

      That said, having a source distribution makes running with local patches trivial. I also really like openrc, but I'll admit that that's in large part due to my extensive experience with it, so I really understand how i

      • having a source distribution makes running with local patches trivial.

        It also makes building or developing non-distro software much simpler. With binary distros, you always run into the issue of installing "devel" packages of libraries if you need to compile against them. You may also need to worry about compilers -- I mean, who needs a compiler when you're only trying to "use" a system? But in practice you often need to compile stuff even if you're not developing it.

        Mac and Windows users may be used to this artificial separation between users and developers [], so I have a h

        • It seems to me that Gentoo has settled into a core group of users who have been using it for years and its popularity percentage has stabilized at that level. My primary workstation has been Gentoo since 2004 (with an occasional emerge @world when I buy new hardware). In that time I've noticed on the forums a number of regular users who have been there as long as I have. I suspect a large number of those users are like me--engineers, software developers, and other folks with technical backgrounds who aren't

  • Best for what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:19PM (#56123709)

    It all depends on what I'm trying to do with it.

    Desktop, Laptop, Server, Router, DVR, NAS, Phone, IOT device?

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:31PM (#56123807) Homepage Journal

    Debian is a pessimized distribution. It's compiled for the worst possible case. It has a filesystem layout guaranteed to cause conflicts between packages and they've not bothered to resolve those except where it's "noticeable". The default disk layout is sub-optimal. It puts ideology over getting anything done.

    I'm not impressed by the others, either.

    Frankly, I'm horrified by the state of Linux distributions. That people voted Debian up is not a surprise, however, because nobody expects the best from their computers any more. I used to run three MUDs on a 16 MHz 386SX, in addition to a mail server, DNS server, modem pool and an instance of X. I could compile GateD or Perl in the background without interfering with anyone's work. Did it do less? Well, it had just as many fonts in LaTeX, so I could still do all the DTP that Libre Office can do. Admittedly, I couldn't WYSIWYG it but nobody does that with LaTeX anyway and anyone who does it for regular documents is paying far too much attention to presentation and not enough to content.

    (I forget where I saw the article on PowerPoint, but it argued that this emphasis on presentation was endangering R&D, promoting really bad ideas over much better ones, and was responsible for endangering the modern economy and several western democracies. Ok, maybe they overstated the threat to the economy, since you have to have one to endanger.)

    Modern Linux is not as fast because of poor design choices by distros. We have no Linux Desktop because of even worse design choices by distros.

    https://itvision.altervista.or... []

    These problems are THEIR fault (and the fault of OSDL's closed-door meetings with vendors). Yes, in almost every respect, Windows is worse. But Windows has mindshare and enough money to afford to be worse. Microsoft should have been broken up in 1998 when it was ordered to do so by the courts, but the appeals court reversed that - probably under government pressure - and we have to live with the fact that we're competing against Sauron.

    And, yes, GET OFF MY LAWN!

    • I think the book you are trying to remember is this one: How PowerPoint Makes You Stupid: The Faulty Causality, Sloppy Logic, Decontextualized Data, and Seductive Showmanship That Have Taken Over Our Thinking – February 28, 2012 by Franck Frommer (Author), George Holoch (Translator).

      If you just google "PowerPoint Makes You Stupid" you will find a range of articles on the topic.

    • In terms of UI, it's kind of hard to say that Windows is worse than Linux. Almost every new Windows system is being shipped with Windows 10, which has a (more or less) consistent UI across the board.

      Someone used to using a Linux system with KDE is going to have some issues using LXDE or Gnome, though. The menus and control panels are pretty different.

      Sure, Windows totally screwed up their UI in Windows 8, but they learned from this mistake and haven't repeated it. If you take someone who's used to Windows X

      • by jon3k ( 691256 )

        Almost every new Windows system is being shipped with Windows 10, which has a (more or less) consistent UI across the board.

        Windows 10 is the LEAST consistent Windows UI ever. It's split between this Windows 10 interface and the traditional old windows system. Just take the control panel for example. Some settings are in this new UI model which is a rip off of the OS X system configuration and the other half are still a jumbled mess in control panel. In every version of Windows up until Windows 8 I probably would have agreed with you but it's an absolute mess now.

    • Modern Linux is not as fast

      Citation needed. The modern Linux kernel may have more in it and may require more resources to run, but KPTI aside Linux has never been faster. Aside from a few minor dips as some features are added without maturity Linux kernels have mostly seen slight speed improvements between versions, with a few introducing good step changes in performance improvements.

      What you're complaining about is the software that we expect to do more. That's not an OS issue.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      We have no Linux Desktop because of even worse design choices by distros.

      No. The real reason is pre-installed systems. If there where pre-installed systems, people would buy them. People now use happily a Windows PC with an iPhone and an Android tablet at the same time and they have no issue with it. If their portable would be bought with Linux, they would use that and happily be using KDE, Gnome, Slack or anything else you trow at them.

      The people selecting their OS are a minority. Most people would ask you

  • I suspect people who are paid to do Linux system administration do not make up a significant percentage of Linux Journal's readership.

    • Yeah, I'd imagine that professional sysadmins would mostly go for CentOS or RHEL, with handful going for Ubuntu or SUSE.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:41PM (#56123851) Homepage

    It's working. Suse got me off Windows back in 2009 then I tried Mint a year later and been using it since and have had minimal hw/sw issues.

  • by ( 3412475 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:42PM (#56123855)

    I'm sharing my opinion: I think Debian is still king because of mostly 3 key areas it shines: simplicity, choice and community support.

    Ubuntu thrived for some years on Deb's back, as it brought its simplicity front and center, all wrapped up in tried and true UI choices with Gnome (2) and Xorg (eventually birthing its own now defunct attempts at GUI - Unity, and dserver - MIR), and they spiced it up by pulling a RedHat on the support part: "hey, we got all the good things of Debian 6 months later, bicuzz pro QA and commercial level polish yadayada". Choice was, barely, still there, through different flavoured ISOs ranging from GUI preference to architectures and whatnot, and naming each individually for branding purposes, something typical from consumer-grade software.

    It was well and good, until QA and polish stopped losing focus to marketing and stupid endeavours like dethroning Android or the tablet "market".

    Like many, I was the kind who believed [insert letter]Ubuntu-like flavouring was essential in a distro. But now, in all honesty, I believe there are exactly 3 separations a distro really, truly needs - to GUI or not to GUI (Desktop vs server/headless), net-install vs 5 DVDs with all the internet in 'em bicuzz Africa and pacific Islands; and obviously, if you can live without compiling (most of us do), architecture. Release-wise, there should still be LTS, stable and, well, straight-from-the-chunk, but those are a matter of politics involved and not exactly "static" choices, such as the afforementioned architecture, server/desktop-bound or www-availability. Debian follows all these principles, and packs each flavour with exactly what they need.

    The thing Debian makes best though is not their choice of flavouring, but the way they pass control onto you, the user. From the simply amazing installer:- you want a GUI? Pick from this not-so-verbose, yet essential list. You wanna continue this installation from ssh? Kewl, install ssh now, set up basic drivers, network and creds, and you're good to go. Do you want that graphical install instead? Maybe you want the ncurses one bicuzz you fancy them Nvidia GPUs which won't work until you can wget them from ? Install gparted for all-you-can-eat partition choice. I'm not even getting on the REALLY advanced stuff.

    Systemd, grub, dpkg, so straightforward, no complications. Aptitude and that god-send APT. Debian has the tools to get everyone NOT thinking too hard on stuff like dependency management, but still make an effort, ever feeling in control if need be. Updating, and UPGRADING are a breeze, both for individual packages and the distribution itself. Unnatended, or even hot upgrades work as intended and crash much less than most others - something only achieved with a very deep level of organization on the core development. Migrations to new releases are easy. Migrations to new machines are feasible without dedicated backup tools (although they are great if you can get them configured properly), and even when you have a problem, it's usually recoverable with a Google search or 2.

    And the thing I love most about Debian, pretty much the same thing that makes me still love Windows: it doesn't fail on 95% the hardware people want to get it working. To y'all OS developers out there - packaging your distributions with the "bare minimum" of drivers is NOT that great a feature when you want your software to have the support a stable OS deserves (*cough* Archlinux*cough) - if you don't have a community large enough ABLE TO BOOT your OS effortlessly, there won't be a community to WANT to give back, and will end up with LACKING community support - read: death sentence in FOSS (well, unless you're RedHat).

    It's that simply really. If a critical mass doesn't get to even install your OS successfully, you won't ever get the traction you need for it to be mainstream. But hey, maybe that's not what you want...


  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @03:44PM (#56123871) Homepage
    Ive noticed this poll does not take into account Linux enthusiast community activity and for that im truly offended. How can you enjoy a debian or fedora properly if you've never taken the time to learn and appreciate the minutia of linux?

    My personal setup --which i know slashdotters will find more than substantial in its refinement-- is a punch-card copy of Linux from Scratch operating on a 1986 Teddy Ruxpin with a custom 4.15 kernel, emulating the disk elevators from the 2.2 kernel, and of course operating within a Docker/Rancher/Kubernetes/Mom's spaghetti abstraction layer. Dont worry, I'm always keen to run the Ruby/node.js implementation of this kernel for mission critical applications such as my custom Teddy Ruxpin compiled drivers for the Ge Signa HD magnetic resonance imaging machine. Mouse support can be found in my Arduino/openRISC implementation using a small shopping cart packed with old Tamagochi's. as one would typically come to expect for performance, they run Go drivers sandboxed in a Rust framework. Teddy Ruxpin is, without a doubt, the only hardware true Linux fans should be using in 2018
    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      That's great and all, but did you remember to grab legacy drivers for Voodoo3 and Aureal?

  • SCO (Score:4, Funny)

    by bigdady92 ( 635263 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @04:16PM (#56124163) Homepage
    Every other distro is illegal.
  • Best support?

    Best security?

    Best feature set (for what purpose?)?

    Best for non-technical users?

    Best for power users and/or developers?

    Most mature/robust?

    Highest performance?

    Best to know for getting a job?

    I use Mint for casual use and CentOS for heavy lifting. Mint because I like the interface and CentOS because having Red Hat skills is useful for finding and/or continuing employment. I'm sure that if my criteria were different my Linux flavor would be different also.

  • was it a best free Linux poll?
    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      RHEL doesn't exactly inspire 'enthusiasm'. It's whole raison d'etre is to provide solid environment without threat of unexpected disruptive technology. For example, the most recent RHEL is still producing an environment that resembles state of the art 4 years ago.

      The sort of people who are enthusiastic enough to be so proactive about it are going to be more impatient with the cadence than appreciative of the stability.

  • by shoor ( 33382 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @05:15PM (#56124611)

    No systemd and it does all the things I want. In particular, it let's me run me-tv, which doesn't run well on ubuntu because of something to do with gui libraries. (Each side blames the other last I checked, which I admit was quite awhile ago.) Before Devuan, I had to run me-tv on Linux Mint, which is a very good distro (if you're comfortable with systemd, which I'm not.)

  • This is an easy question. People make it way to complex. The best Linux is the one you like.
  • I got meself a refurbished ThinkPad X220 for college and portable web development, pimped it out with 8GB RAM and a 250GB SSD and thought I'd try something new off the beaten Debian/Ubuntu track.
    Manjaro i3 [] seemed like a nice candidate. And sure enough, it holds up nicely. Rolling updates (manjaro is arch based) and i3 is a very neat tiling WM that's really fast and nice and easy to configure. The manjaro i3 defaults are nice as is the turquoise on dark-grey design. Technical but still modern and sleek.

    Manjaro is the new kid on the block and might just be yet another passing distro-fad but for now it holds up and I'm enjoying it. yaourt is a CLI tool for installing non-standard packages and so far everything I've needed could be found on AUR [].

    Bottom line: Wanna try something new with i3 as default? Yours truly recommends Manjaro i3. Give it a shot,

  • News for nerds, indeed. But does it matter?
  • It might be Mac OS X... Well if not that lets see how well it does what Mac OS X does:

    1) easy way from the startup disk/usb drive create a Mirror system(all partitions)
    2) easy way from the startup disk to install to a SSD/HD accelerated system
    3) easy way to get WIFI working
    4) easy way to get accelerated 2d/3d graphics working as good as Windows 10
    5) easy way to boot the thing from UEFI
    6) easy way to get chrome/Firefox to work
    7) easy way to get a known/modern Antivirus to work

    I am telling you the linux comm

  • I ordered from Amazon Distribution Network my "Penguin Stuffie" and placed it on my desktop.

  • Overwhelmingly, most organizations, at least in the US, run RedHat, or one of its children, with, so far as I know, CentOS being the most-used.

    We were using RH at AT&T 9 yrs ago; where I work now, for a federal contractor (civilian sector) we have a few RH licenses... and the other 97% of our systems are CentOS.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI