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Old 06-10-2004, 06:23 AM   #1
CompDude
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Information, Questions, and Comments about Linux Distributions

Please post any/all questions you have about specific linux distros in this thread. That is the purpose!

I don't know if it is worth anything but here are my general opinions on distros that I have used:

Red Hat / Fedora: heavily based on GUI instead of CLI. This is fine for a client only, but once you start getting into the backend server department it can lead to problems. GUI is inherently less efficient to use If you need efficiency, you should not think about GUI and go straight to CLI(command line interface). GUI also is just one more thing that a hacker can take control of. FOr servers it is essential to usethe least amount of programs to keep things more manageable and secure. With the included installer it is very easy to install and you can strip the system down to just CLI for servers. Thus, it can be just as secure as the next distro. The package manager is very easy to use. Fedora -- 64 Bit Capable

Slackware / College Linux: I used to prefer these two distros, slack for my server and Colelge for my graphical client. Slackware is a very clean system to operate and has an intuitive installer although it is a bit harder to use. Because it is text based during the installation there is greater harware compatibility because it doesn't have to deal with a GUI installer. It is a bit more challenging but nothing, even a newbie, couldn't handle. The package manager is just as good as Red Hat / Fedora although often times you will have to run rpm2tgz to make an installable package for Slack.

Gentoo: Wow! Thats all that I have to say. The installer is very inuitive and productive because it is so easy to install if you follow the online documentation. After a few times installing it, you should be able to go fine without the book. Great because you can customize everything in the distro, even what compiling options to use. It can be compiled from scratch, completely, or can be installed with binary pacges just as if it were another distro. I personally did not notice a difference between a compiled KDE and a Binary KDE on the same computer. That however is just a personal finding. The bad thing about Gentoo for newbies is that you will just be entering a lot of commands that you have no idea what it means. If you decide to go gentoo, it is imperative that you search for the commands in online help so that you actually understand what is being passed to the console instead of just transferring the information from paper to console. Emerge has to be the best tool for Linux. I absolutely fell in love with it because it automates installs. Gentoo is challenging to get going, but nothing that will be impossible. I believe the learning experience is absolutely worthwhile during the install.

Mandrake: I have to say I did not use Mandrake very much. Thus, I will not be able to comment in depth. I have heard things about it sending a bad flush command to certain CD drives that have caused them to fail and must be RMAed.

Knoppix / Overclockix: These two distros are quite nice. They can be installed to a hard drive with ease, but their primary function is to run a diskless client or to be used as a rescue diskon a prior Linux or Windows installation. They are very simple to use and support a wide variety of hardware. All that is required is to place the CD rom in the drive and boot up the computer from CD Drive. From there you have a fully functional system that can be taken on the go if you prefer to use Linux instead of Windows. Overclockix is based off of Knoppix with graphical enhancements and added tools. Both are based off of Debian. Any Linux user should have atleast one of these two distros or a similar bootable livecd in his/her repetoire. Very good for recovery.

Yoper -Yoper or Your Operating System reminds me something of a corporate distro(more on that later). When I isntalled this distro it asked whether or not I wanted a base KDE system or a CLI system and then will use apt-get later. For the purposes of this small review I decided I was a completely newb and chose the KDE base systeme. In my opinion it installed very quickly. There is one thing that stands out in particular about this distro that few others have. It comes with a 2.6.7 kernel straight off the disks. That is a great feature when most distros are still stikcing with 2.4.*. I had one hellacious time trying to get my monitor setup though. I edited the config files, ran the configuration script, and even did it through KDE. None of which worked. I figured it was just a monitor problem and I was right. I used a different monitor and erased the XF86Config file and setup it up again. It worked perfectly. I didn't notice any speed improvements over Slackware 10 at all. If there are it seems to be minor on my system. One thing that I hated about this distro is the fact that the kicker menu had Y and yDesktop plastered on the side and as the logo. That irked me because it reminded me exactly of a corporate desktop, and I found it funny that "Your Operating System" has their name all over the place.. Once again its a small annoyance, and does not affect the use of this product.

At the end the distro decision must be made by YOU. I have given all my opinions on the top distros that I have used. I cannot recommend something to you, becuase what is best for you may not be best for me and vice versa, but you can take these opinions to heart and find out which one you want to try first. The key to finding a distro is trying a whole bunch of different ones.

If anyone wants to add their opinions to this thread I think it would be very beneficial.

7/24/04 -- Added Yoper

Last edited by CompDude; 08-22-2005 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 06-10-2004, 09:48 AM   #2
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ok, well, firsthand, i have to say, mandrake sucks compared to a distro like slack. and this is coming from a die-hard linux n00b! I tried installing gentoo... didnt get a thing of it, dropped it, tried installing slack, and i was aaaall set! slackware had one of the best installers, but if you want ease of use, stick with anaconda (the installer for rh9 and fedora).

Have fun fvcking up your system,
Munki
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Old 06-10-2004, 09:55 AM   #3
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Thanks CompDude Maybe we can ask the mods to make this a sticky.

It's kinda funny that you posted it just now... last night Stefan (bluebird) was telling me someone should start this exact thread and make it a sticky.

I'll add some opinions after I get off work.
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Old 06-10-2004, 09:57 AM   #4
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hehe someone read my mind

thx compdude
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Old 06-10-2004, 08:10 PM   #5
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You're welcome guys, and thanks to the mods for making it a sticky!
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Old 06-10-2004, 10:44 PM   #6
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Sweet!

OK I think I've made my opinions known in other threads but since compdude has stepped up and the admins have made a sticky it seems like a great time to state them again.

Distros I have had the pleasure of using:
-Slackware ( 1995-1997, 2003->? ): This was my first Linux adventure. I downloaded it to floppies at the local university. Took me the better part of 2 weeks to get the disk sets I wanted installed. It wasn't love at first sight. When I returned to Slack 5 years later I was extremly impressed. Currently using 9.1.... It's current installer is perfect, no GUI compatibility issues, very powerful, no restrictions, and in-depth package selection. I should add that while it can be installed after booting from floppy, this is no longer the preferred and it has become cumbersome when needed (my lappy with no internal cdrom). The software installed is complete, relatively recent, stable, and conforms to the Linux developers expections. By this I mean that you can download an application and compile it with no problems. Libraries and compilers act as they should.

-Redhat ( 1998-2001 ): Very happy at first. Easy to install, it held my hand the whole way. It worked great into I really got into alpha/beta software and development. The versions I was using were not great development platforms. They had incompatible compiler suites and poor library organization. Most developers would not offer support for RH because of these issues. Decided to try debian

-Debian ( 1999-? ): This is all kind of blurry. I was running RH and Windows at the same time but I remember the installer being very difficult to deal with. This may be attributed to my lack of knowledge. I know it was much more suited for application development then RH was. But I found myself torn between the ease of use and the powerful development environment. Debian's package management was interesting but I found myself moving away from packages for applications. RH package management was very popular (hence RPMs). But it's "auto" upgrade utility never failed to break things... particularly when the kernel was involved. In the end I never grew attached to the package management of either so I moved on.

-SuSE ( 2002-2003 ): Excellent distribution. Installer offers a FTP based install so you don't waste time downloading packages that you have no intention of installing. Solid GUI installer. Once installed I found YaST (the upgrade utility) cumbersome but it worked. I also noticed the development environment was very "mature" and never had serious issues.

-OPIE/Familiar ( 2001-? ): This is only for certain PDAs but it has turned into a quite powerful tool. I won't even describe the installer since it doesn't even compare to a text installer... it's non-existant (imagine installing a new boot loader and upgrading a embedded device over a serial line... pretty frightening when it's you $500 on the line). It's based on Debian and uses a similar package management system. It's not exactly a "development" environment but it's a full linux backend with a embedded QT (read KDE libs) frontend. It has Konsole, Konqueror, a very nice PIM, desktop synchronization, wifi/BT/etc support, MMC/SD support, etc. Very sweet.

Links:
Slackware: http://www.slackware.com
Opie: http://opie.handhelds.org
Familiar: http://familiar.handhelds.org
SuSE: http://www.suse.com
Debian: http://www.debian.org
Redhat: http://www.redhat.com
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Old 06-10-2004, 11:21 PM   #7
etement
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I'm planning on getting a distro that's easy to update without reinstalling because new versions come out much quiker.

I'm a noobie to Linux, I've used Red Hat with no GUI installed. I would be using Fedora/Redhat or Mandrake right now but after installation during the boot process It freezes on "loading modules"

The distro's that I've used are both Live ones, Knoppix and Morphix. Both are very good and based off of Debian.

If anybody wants to look for a site with all the Disto's go to http://LinuxISO.org/
The mainstream distro's are on the main page
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Old 06-11-2004, 07:55 AM   #8
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Slackware - great distro, but no matter what I did, it wouldn't recognize my USB mouse.
College Linux - installer is a piece of ****. Virtually no options to change; because of this, when it didn't install right, I was just screwed.
Redhat - Can you say no modprobe?
SuSE - Nothing compiled right.
Debian - Installer is harder than it should be.
Knoppix - HDD installer was like College Linux; no options and didn't install right, so I couldn't use it.
FreeBSD - only used on my server, but was very hard to get things working with.

*puts on flame-protective suit*

Windows XP - crashes sometimes, but not very often, and usually due to 3rd-party programs. If you're a complete ****tard you'll get it ****ed up a lot, because of all the spyware and viruses around, but if you use common sense like I do you will be virus-free (I'm on like a year now) and have no spyware except for cookies. Not very customizeable without using 3rd-party software; i.e. I use bb4win instead of Explorer.

Last edited by wicka_wicka; 06-11-2004 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 06-11-2004, 08:53 AM   #9
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FreeBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD = best for servers imho...
Monowall = best for firewalls (strictly firewall distro)
Slackware = best for intermediate users
Redhat = best for n00b linux users

just my opinion though
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Old 06-12-2004, 06:29 AM   #10
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Knoppix is based from Debian... for a reason - its the best true "free" OS... no licenses. All code is fully GPL.


Debian is ideal for most real "server" tasks. THe instally is one of the best. Ideal if that. Now a company is re-doing it to be similar to a RedHat installer (graphical). I'm OK with that... but a text version is nice too.

Mandrake is good all around. A PERFECT alternative to WIndows. Easy transistion, install (MUCH faster install).
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Old 06-12-2004, 10:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dygital
Knoppix is based from Debian... for a reason - its the best true "free" OS... no licenses. All code is fully GPL.
Debian yes, knoppix I'm wondering about. As I understand things knoppix uses captive filesystem for ntfs partitions. Anyone know if captive has become 100% MS binary free? That was the aim but I'm wondering if it reached that point. If it did thats great news for the dual boot people.
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Old 06-19-2004, 04:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wicka_wicka
Debian - Installer is harder than it should be.
The Debian installer works best when used in a very different way from the other distros. It wants you to install as little as possible right off the bat. Really, install base, a compiler, enough to get you logged in and on the net, and that's it. Maybe X but probably not even that.

Once you're installed, you grab the other things as you need them with apt-get. This method does assume you're always or nearly always on the net and can afford to do this.

FWIW, I switched from RedHat in 1998 and have been running *the same* Debian install ever since. I just move the HD from machine to machine as I upgrade, occasionally copying / onto a fresh filesystem when the old disk gets too old, too small or too slow. "apt-get upgrade" has kept me up-to-date ever since. When I need something I don't have "apt-get install foo" and when I want to ditch something I don't want anymore "apt-get remove foo".

Yes, occasionally things break. Welcome to the infinite customizability of UNIX and the downside that comes with it :-) If you don't want to have to deal with occasional low-level maintainence, really, UNIX isn't for you (sadly, Windows isn't either. You might want a Mac in that case. MacOSX is a fine graphical UNIX. Very nice, very robust, this is not meant as a dig against Mac users in the least.)

Monty
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Old 06-21-2004, 05:31 PM   #13
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ok i think i should say some words according to my experience with different distros i tried:

1. RedHat 7.x/8.x/9.x: this distro totally sucks in my opinion. the installer crashes very often (doesnt matter whether you rig is overclocked or not). the configuration is semi-automatic. the standard desktop (gnome) is quite good, although its not really userfriendly in some cases. so not a real noob distro. you should install this distro only,if you really know what youre doing.

2. slackware 8.1/9.0: very good distro.although in some very special cases only for experienced users. the installer is very simple but can be a pain in the *** for full noobs. there is no real fully automatic configuration. you really need to do everything by hand. so you learn by doing!!! all in all a very good distro for programmers and non-noobs

3. SuSE 5.3 up to 9.1: very easy to install distro (latest versions). the first versions hat a lot of problems with installing non-rpm-based packages. SuSE is/was based on slackware although the made a very nice installer (YaST - Yet another Setup Tool). With version 2 of this tool suse gets more and more a noob-prooved distro. so the installer guides you through everything starting with the network and ends with the sound-setup/x-windows. only problem with the distro is: DONT BUY THE PERSONAL EDITION.you wont be able to compile programs by hand or do any kind of development. Everything can be done with yast or by hand. so you can learn it by doing or learing by let it do

4. knoppix: very nice distro for a tryout. nearly everything works just from the cd (like network, x-windows...) if you really just want to know how linux looks but dont wanna install it, go with knoppix.
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Old 06-22-2004, 08:48 AM   #14
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Redhat/Fedora- Good to start on. Does things its own way though and can be bloated. Might hurt you a little once you try to switch to something else. Nice to see more options than just RPM for package managment finally being integrated.

Gentoo- Love it. Started with it. Very low-level. Tough on a noob. But overall nicely done. Gentoo and also slackware have the most BSD-like feel of any Linux.

Debian/Knoppix/Spawn of Knoppix- Love it so much I made my own version of it! Very useful for rescue/repair live CD. An OS you can carry around in your pocket. Easy to customize your own live CD. Cutting edge features. Excellent demo of Linux. Fast and Easy to install. I rate knoppix(es) as very good noob distros since they don't require installation to use. They are also a nice gateway/introduction into a "real" distro- Debian.


Note on captive NTFS found in Knoppix- still requires windows kernel and drivers for use (It's just the nature of this particular beast). It will search your hard drive for them, and download them out of a windows service pack if needed. This may or may not be legal depending on licensing and laws in your locale. To use you must manually mount the partition with -t captive-ntfs as an option. The actual writing operation will be performed as soon as you unmount the partition. It is a little slow, but very reliable.
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Old 06-26-2004, 10:27 PM   #15
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Distros ... oh ive got distros

i believe that i have tried every distro on linuxiso.org and many others.

some here that havent been mentioned:
ASP linux - slick installer, not glitchy on the box i was testing on, redhatish, but the libs didnt seem so helter skelter. Very sleek look to it. problem: if you need support its not in englsih... its in some strange forein lang with a different charset then us lol.

DSL linux - ^_^. thats all i have to say. works great on slow old boxes.

Lunar linux - i forget

Gentoo - rocks

request a distro's info and ill tell you about it if ive tried it, ive tried about 30 diff linux / bsd / darwin distros out.
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Old 06-26-2004, 10:40 PM   #16
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have you tried peanut linux? i hear it looks pretty nice!
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Old 06-27-2004, 04:05 AM   #17
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Why nobody says anything about Mandrake?
I think it's very powerful, and you get a lot of control (specially if you just use linuxconf), extremely stable, secure, and nice. Easy install and great bundles.

What else can I say?
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Old 06-27-2004, 08:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Copycat
Why nobody says anything about Mandrake?
I think it's very powerful, and you get a lot of control (specially if you just use linuxconf), extremely stable, secure, and nice. Easy install and great bundles.

What else can I say?
I ran it for two days, I just didn't feel comfortable with it. I am guessing people just don't use mandrake and cannot have a truly valid opinion.
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Old 06-27-2004, 11:49 AM   #19
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I have used it several times. Worst. Distro. Ever. it comes default with no compilers, and almost everything starts at startup. Bloatware, anyone?
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Old 06-27-2004, 12:04 PM   #20
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Unfortunately that is true, but just like any other distro you can fine tune it just how you like it. You can configure things to startup, aswell as downloading the compilers with the package updater(Or so I have heard)

Just presenting a counterpoint.
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