What Linux distro's are really worth checking out?

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 62
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jimbauwens

Dec 29, 2010
4:40 PM EST
Well, I have been using ubuntu as my main desktop now for a while, but it occurred to me that I never tried another distro for my main OS . Now I've been wondering what the LXer community uses, and what they would recommend me to try. I have a fairly good Linux knowledge, so it doesn't have to be a simple one. The real reason I haven't tried many other distro's is because I want a good working package management. I have seen that rpm has matured allot, but I want to know what you lads think about it.

So, would you recommend me? Also, I have to take in account the download size of each distro, as I have a limited internet plan (well, its 30GB a month, but I have a huge family, so all I can get is a few GiB)
helios

Dec 29, 2010
5:30 PM EST
That largely depends on what you need and want.

Personally, I've become distro-agnostic as far as fanboi-ism goes. It's way too much work for the results...which are more negative than positive.

However, I have been playing with some other distros lately and while they may be Ubuntu-based, I think they merit enough difference to be distinct.

I don't sweat and panic over "free" software as some do. If there are bits and bytes of prop or non-free code on my machine and I want those bits or bytes to be there, then they have a home on my machine. Nothing irritates me more than to find missing codecs or applications on a fresh install. While the free versions of software such as moonlight, openjdk and gnash are available, most times they fail to do their job and I simply install the parent apps or libraries.

I've recently found Pinguy to be a perfect replacement for the various netbook versions of Linux. I have a X60S thinkpad with a small screen and Pinguy seems to work for smaller displays well, although I don't think that was the intent. I also use it on another partition of my home computer...I'm exploring some of the great alternate software available in the Pinguy repositories...some of it is really good and I've never heard of it before. I sincerely appreciate the docky and conky implementation in Pinguy.

Linux Mint has remained to be a great distro for me, however I have become a heavy user of UCK, which allows you an easy and intuitive gui for rolling your own distro. Unfortunately, UCK only works on Ubuntu and some of it's spinoffs. Mint isn't on that list. However, it does come with most of the codecs and apps you want to work out of the box. If I remember right, even libdvdcss is iincluded.

And yes, some of the RPM based distros have matured nicely. PCLinuxOS has endured with a good and generous community. While I do notice the absence of some of my favorite apps in their repositories, it will do the job nicely for most people, especially the new Linux user. One thing I like about PCLinuxOS is their implementation of Apt-get, They've done a good job in making Linux both user-friendly and geek-usable.

h
Sander_Marechal

Dec 29, 2010
7:04 PM EST
If you like Ubuntu, you're going to love Debian Sqeeze. It's nearing release so quite stable. I've upgrade all but one of my machines to Squeeze. Give it a whirl!

Just one note: Make sure that your apt/sources.list says "squeeze" and not "testing". Because after Squeeze is released, sid will fork a new testing that will recieve all the stuff piling up in experimetal now. The first few months after a release can be a bit of a wild ride, so you may want to avoid that by making sure you stick with squeeze.
hkwint

Dec 29, 2010
7:13 PM EST
If you're on a limited plan, I'd suggest checking out TinyCore.

It's not a distro for everyday use(r), but in my opinion definitely worth checking out!
Steven_Rosenber

Dec 29, 2010
7:50 PM EST
I think many of us in LXer land are drawn to distro-hopping. You can certainly learn a lot by trying different distros and even dipping your toes into BSD waters.

That said, I agree with Sander. If you use Ubuntu, give Debian a try. It's way more similar than different as far as overall functionality goes. If you know your way around Ubuntu, you can make Debian work.
vainrveenr

Dec 29, 2010
8:21 PM EST
This just in: Spotlight on Linux: VectorLinux 6.0 Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Dec 29, 2010 4:58 PM EST Linux Journal; By Susan Linton LXer story link at http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/146367

Like TinyCore, Vector might be another non-Debian-based distro to quite-seriously consider.

And for those who do not mind the "fanboi-ism" of its adherents, Puppy Linux is yet another flexible and actively-developed non-Debian-based Linux distro. See the Distrowatch Puppy "page" at http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=puppy AAMOF, Barry Kauler has just today announced the release of Puppy Linux "Wary" edition, a distribution for older hardware.

jdixon

Dec 29, 2010
9:26 PM EST
> I want a good working package management.

Then Debian based distros are your best bet. The Red Hat based distros are also good, but rpm still doesn't seem to be quite as robust as deb.

You might want to take a look at Arch, which seems to be a very good distro with good package management.

Of course, it depends on exactly what you mean by package management. Slackware has excellent package management tools. What it doesn't have is dependency resolution. The two aren't exactly the same thing, in spite of many people conflating them.
bigg

Dec 29, 2010
9:38 PM EST
Arch.
Steven_Rosenber

Dec 29, 2010
10:42 PM EST
Don't compare rpm to deb. Instead compare yum to apt. The months I spent with Fedora 13 made me a believer in yum. It's a robust utility, and I didn't miss anything from apt or Aptitude.
jdixon

Dec 29, 2010
11:59 PM EST
> Instead compare yum to apt.

True. That is the level at which most people are going to use their package managers. However, I'm not really qualified to compare them at that level, never having used yum.
Steven_Rosenber

Dec 30, 2010
12:32 AM EST
My two favorite things about yum:

The Presto plugin allows you to download only the parts of the file that have changed, speeding downloads (but using a bit more CPU, a tradeoff I'm comfortable with)

You can add a repository by clicking on a link over the web

Overall I think trying an rpm-based distro after mostly deb-based is a great idea. If you're a Ubuntu user, trying Fedora is a good way to go.
tmx

Dec 30, 2010
12:39 AM EST
@ jimbauwens I recommend try Fedora, different from Ubuntu it uses RPM packages instead of Deb, but it comes with a package manager so installing apps should be easy. Fedora is backed by RedHat and stay very up with latest technologies. Over the years we see Canonical applies many thing by RedHat/Fedora for Ubuntu, ie. Palimpsest Disk Utility.

One thing you need to notice about Fedora project is they're more reluctant to include proprietary softwares, see Forbidden Items: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/ForbiddenItems Though you could always install them afterward.

Also the two most popular desktop environment for linux are GNOME and KDE. You can try a KDE distro such as PCLinuxOS or Kubuntu.

Personally because of your limited bandwidth, I would use the library/school internet and download something like "Linux Mint Debian" dvd which preloaded a lot of apps.
jimbauwens

Dec 30, 2010
4:54 AM EST
Thanks for all the sugestions!

I had Linux Mint on one of my computers for a time, but to me there wasn't enough difference with Ubuntu for me. Linux mint debian on the other hand looks very interesting. I think i'll go try debian squeeze, because it looks really nice. What I want to do, is to be able to do certain tasks quick and easy, without that certain thing come in my way. I like to program in python, and I do some webdesign. But that you can do in every distro =) I think an apt-get based distro is the best for me. But as Steven noted, yum has the presto plugin, which is very tempting =)

@hkwint, I usually keep a tiny core iso on my harddrive, and boot to it through grub, as it is a nice handy tool

>Personally because of your limited bandwidth, I would use the library/school internet and download something like "Linux Mint Debian" dvd which preloaded a lot of apps.

I do homeschooling, so I don't have that option. And the library here doesn't allow you to download big stuff :-)
Ridcully

Dec 30, 2010
5:13 AM EST
Okay......looks like I am on the outer, but I still love openSUSE. It's possibly not a great beginner's distro, but once you know your way around, it's a delight in my opinion. I'd agree that it takes a little work to get it exactly how you want it, but once there, I find it's sheer pleasure with respect to its admin controls and stability. And that is NOT saying other distros cannot match it.......it's just my personal preference.

I know it has been under cloud because of Novell's flirtations with Microsoft, and looking back, the worst thing that was ever done to the original SuSE, in my opinion anyhow, was its takeover by Novell...but that not withstanding, it's a great distro in my humble opinion.....Of course, part of it is that I am extremely familiar with its foibles....and if I didn't vote for openSUSE, I think I'd be a Linux Mint user......even if I'd have to learn .deb instead of .rpm. :-) Nowadays it isn't rpm anyhow, it seems to be ymp files in the repositories. Things are changing so rapidly I need rocket powered roller skates to keep up.
phsolide

Dec 30, 2010
1:00 PM EST
I'd like to put in a good word for Arch, and even Slackware. They're quite different than other distros, in that Arch does "bleeding edge" stuff, and Slackware does stable.
jdixon

Dec 30, 2010
2:24 PM EST
> ...and even Slackware.

I'm hesitant to recommend Slackware to someone who wants "good working package management". Most times that means they want the distro to handle dependencies for them, which Slackware (out of the box) doesn't do. You have to add slackpkg, slapt-get, sbopkg, and GSB to get even close to the repository size and dependency matching Debian and Red Hat based distros have out of the box. Most people simply aren't up to doing that.

I use Slackware, and I honestly consider it to be the best distro out there for many purposes, but it's not for everyone.
jimbauwens

Dec 30, 2010
5:25 PM EST
@Sander, I know this might sound stupid, but what is the best way to get Debian Sqeeze?
tracyanne

Dec 30, 2010
5:32 PM EST
No one has mentioned it, but if you want a really easy to install debian distro try Linux Mint Debian

NOTE: I think the bbcode for url isn't woking properly

(Moderator's note: You had a cr after [url= Removing the cr fixed the problem.)
jimbauwens

Dec 30, 2010
5:43 PM EST
Actually, tmx has mentioned it =) I have downloaded Linux Mint Debian a while ago, and it really looks nice, but I wanted to know what you lads really like and recommend.

tc: The syntax of the url tag is like this (without the space in the front) : [ url=http://lxer.com]LXer[/url] --> LXer And [ url]http://lxer.com[/url] --> http://lxer.com
tracyanne

Dec 30, 2010
5:49 PM EST
Well I use buntu and Linux Mint, mostly Linux Mint these days, I have Linux Mint Debian on a test machine, and I'm very impressed, now that they have the 64 bit version I'm thinking very seriously about installing that on my main ( currently Linux Mint 9) machine.
jimbauwens

Dec 30, 2010
5:52 PM EST
Well, then maybe I should reconsider it =) Its just that it is a rolling release, and it will continue updating and updating for ever, and that is allot of downloading :-)
tracyanne

Dec 30, 2010
7:40 PM EST
There's a lot of downloading with standard Ubuntu and Linux Mint. I've got my updates set to daily, and I use a h#ll of a lot of packages, both standard and from PPAs. So I can't see that it would be all that different. In fact I can't see any difference right now.

Hot and sweaty right now, just got back in from Mowing our lawns, haven't been able to mow for 3 weeks due to the rain we've had for most of that time. Lucky we're on high ground, a lot of people round here got flooded out when the rivers peaked.
bigg

Dec 30, 2010
7:53 PM EST
> Its just that it is a rolling release, and it will continue updating and updating for ever, and that is allot of downloading

You might consider Mandriva in that case.
jdixon

Dec 30, 2010
10:41 PM EST
> ...but I wanted to know what you lads really like and recommend.

I like Slackware. I just don't recommend it to everyone. :)

> ...a lot of people round here got flooded out when the rivers peaked.

I saw the news reports of the flooding when I was checking on my wife's status. She touring New Zealand for the next 2+ months. Sounds pretty bad.
tracyanne

Dec 30, 2010
10:50 PM EST
@JD, most of Queensland and Northern NSW. Up north around Townsville they were getting 200mils an hour. Where I am the Burrum and Chervil rivers were in flood. People living in Pacific Haven, where the two rivers meet were evacuated. The Burrum Bridge at Burrum Town, down the road from us was under water, it peaked at about 6 or 7 meters, the bridge is about 4 meters.
jimbauwens

Dec 31, 2010
5:12 AM EST
@tc, Linux Mint Debian is based on debian testing, and right now is becoming more stable because Sqeeze is nearing release (as Sander noted). But as soon squeeze is out, bang, all the latest versions of all the software, and then during a 2 year period you will get the latest version of allot of software. Instead of getting just security updates, you will get new version updates and such. (this is at least what I think)

@tc again: a month ago many street in my country (Belgium) were flooded, because it was raining so much. The only difference is that it is winter here :)
Bob_Robertson

Dec 31, 2010
4:25 PM EST
Jimbauwens,

> I usually keep a tiny core iso on my harddrive, and boot to it through grub, as it is a nice handy tool

Now _That_ is cool. I didn't know GRUB could do that.

> But as soon squeeze is out, bang, all the latest versions of all the software

Pointing to Debian "testing" right after a stable release is not a safe thing to do.

I much prefer to just point to "unstable" from the beginning. It means there are more updates available on a continuous basis, but they're mostly lots of little changes. The big packages, like OpenOffice, Iceweasel, etc, get updated in Backports/Volatile, so they will be updating on a stable system anyway.

> a month ago many street in my country (Belgium) were flooded, because it was raining so much.

Gee, I thought it was because Belgium has a mean altitude of like 3 feet. :^)
jimbauwens

Dec 31, 2010
6:30 PM EST
Bob, Grub2 supports loopback devices, and If you know how to work with it it is a simple task. Something like this:

loopback loop (hd0,1)/path/to/iso linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz

You just change that to the settings of isolinux (or syslinux) in the iso.

>Gee, I thought it was because Belgium has a mean altitude of like 3 feet. Well, on many places were it flooded, there shouldn't even have been build houses on =)

>Pointing to Debian "testing" right after a stable release is not a safe thing to do. Well, I don't have experience with it, but I guess so, and that is why I'm a bit scared from Linux Mint Debian (although I can be totaly wrong)
Bob_Robertson

Dec 31, 2010
7:07 PM EST
> > Pointing to Debian "testing" right after a stable release is not a safe thing to do. > Well, I don't have experience with it, but I guess so, and that is why I'm a bit scared from Linux Mint Debian (although I can be totaly wrong)

Sorry, I should have mentioned this in the prior posting:

When you want to point to Squeeze, don't use the word "testing". Use "squeeze" specifically in the repository list. The same name will be used throughout the testing-stable freeze, and there is no worry about getting caught in a "testing" flurry of changes that could break who-knows-what.

Thanks for the loop-back stuff, not that I can think of a reason to use it right now. I have live CDs which I keep on hand for rescue work.
jimbauwens

Jan 01, 2011
6:22 AM EST
Bob, what I mean is that Linux Mint Debian is based on debian "testing" , and I was thinking that because of that they might have to problems you described, of course, it can be that they found a solution for this. But I don't know how they would do it, because its a rolling release, and just pointing to sqeeze would stop making it a rolling release.
jdixon

Jan 01, 2011
8:23 AM EST
> ...and just pointing to sqeeze

Just because a distro is based on another doesn't mean it points to that one's repositories. I'm pretty sure Mint maintains their own respositories, and only pulls from Debian when they think it's safe to do so.
jimbauwens

Jan 01, 2011
8:25 AM EST
Actually really stupid from me not to think on that! Thanks jdixon =)
bigg

Jan 01, 2011
8:57 AM EST
> only pulls from Debian when they think it's safe to do so.

I don't think that's the case with Mint Debian. Most of the time pointing to Debian testing is safe, but at least when it came out, Mint Debian was not intended to be a "safe Debian testing".

@jimbauwens

When I gave up on Debian testing (must have been Lenny) the Debian testing GNOME was 9 months behind Arch. There was also a piece of software I needed - don't remember what it was because it was so long ago - and not all of the necessary libraries were available, so I couldn't even compile it.

Realize that Debian testing is a development distro, not a rolling release, no matter how many times you hear Debian testing called a rolling release. Arch is a rolling release, which means there is an expectation that new packages will be made available as soon as possible. I was lectured several times from the Debian fans that Debian testing is a development distro, that some packages may not be updated for long time periods, and that you should use stable if you want to do anything other than test the latest Debian.

Just wanted to make sure you are aware of that. Because if you complain, the Debian community is pretty touchy. You will hear many times that testing is safe. Then when you have a problem, the only response is that you don't understand how Debian works, and should have been running stable.
jdixon

Jan 01, 2011
12:09 PM EST
> I don't think that's the case with Mint Debian.

Well, obviously I'm not certain. I'm certain they do have their own repositories. But how often they sync to Debian and what their stability standards are I can't say. Their website is less than informative on the subject.

> the Debian community is pretty touchy

Are you trying for understatement of the year already, bigg? :)
jimbauwens

Jan 01, 2011
1:13 PM EST
I tried installing debian sqeeze, but ran into some trouble. Probably quite easy to fix, but don't have the time now to do that. So I installed Fedora (14) and it looks quite nice =) I'm now configuring it to fit my needs, and it looks like all my hardware works.
Bob_Robertson

Jan 01, 2011
6:50 PM EST
> I'm now configuring it to fit my needs, and it looks like all my hardware works.

I'm as blatant a Debian fanboi as any here, but Jim, this is all that really matters.

It works for you. Bravo.

I salute the F/OSS driver writers and reverse engineering hackers in making the most hardware-compatible OS that has ever been.
chalbersma

Jan 02, 2011
8:48 PM EST
If suggestions are still open give PCBSD a whirl. It may not be your cup of tea but it has some nice features.
jimbauwens

Jan 03, 2011
8:05 AM EST
@chalbersma: Suggestions are always open =) @When I have time I will see if I can check it out :-)

To the others: Fedora was looking good, nice futures, stuff that I would like to see in ubuntu. But then I entered dependency h#ll...broke my system..allot Yum just isn't for me (sorry fedora users) So..I wiped fedora, and install Linux Mint Debian (You will think i'm crazy if you read my previous comments about it). It installed good, but when I booted it it gave many errors that indicated that the harddrive was mounted read only. For some reason there were bad entries in /etc/fstab (duplicates and such, really weird) and grub passed the 'root=/dev/sda2 ro' option to the kernel. This was fast fixed, and then it booted fine. The only problem now is that text in webbrowsers look a bit stretched. But that isn't a big concern. So, its has apt-get, is based on debian, and has all the codecs. Quite good and nice =)
bigg

Jan 03, 2011
9:12 AM EST
I haven't seen dependency hell from Fedora in a while. The last few releases have worked really well. I'm surprised that you had such a problem.
jimbauwens

Jan 03, 2011
11:55 AM EST
Well, I also had another problem, updates took really long, a whole night to be exact, maybe then something went wrong. I don't know if you can call it a dependency hell, but there were lots of dependency errors, and some programs failed to start. In the end I got some kernel panics, and then I did not want to continue trying to solve it.
bigg

Jan 03, 2011
1:56 PM EST
@jimbauwens

Yes, that happens. I've had one desktop running Fedora 14 since the beta. I've had something like that happen three or four times. Restarting the update sometimes works. Other times you have to go to the command line. In my experience it's not dependency h#ll, just failure to download properly.

As you've got Mint Debian installed now, you shouldn't see such a problem.
Sander_Marechal

Jan 03, 2011
4:47 PM EST
@jim: There are two ways to install Debian Squeeze:

1) Install Debian Stable, edit /etc/apt/sources.list and s/etch/squeeze, then run an upgrade using your favourite package manager (apt, aptitude, Synaptic, whatever).

2) Use the installation CDs. Personally I love the netinstall CD. It's tiny and it downloads everything from the internet. That means you always have the very latest versions and you don't need to update right after an installation.
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 04, 2011
3:12 PM EST
Has anybody here done a successful Lenny-to-Squeeze upgrade? How does the system handle the old/new kernel issue?
Sander_Marechal

Jan 04, 2011
4:38 PM EST
@Steven: I have. Twice. Using `aptitude full-upgrade`. I've had no problems with kernel upgrades. As usual, old kernels are kept around as a fall-back option in grub. The only issue you may run into are some modules that need to be build using module-assistant (e.g. ATI binary drivers, VirtualBox OSS kernel drivers).

I also had a little problem with grub 2, but that was entirely my own fault. I was running grub 2 from Squeeze even in Lenny in order to get support for booting from LVM on my server. That upgrade didn't go quite flawless. But nothing that a manual boot(*) and update-grub could not fix.

(*) I highly recommend anyone to learn how to manually boot your machine. That is, from grub(2), drop to a shell and then (by hand) load the correct modules, find the partitions/files, set the root paths and boot Linux. Very useful to know in a pinch.
azerthoth

Jan 04, 2011
5:07 PM EST
A simple answer for an undefined question. Try everything that strikes your fancy stick with the one that makes the most sense. There is no 'best' distro, only the one that works best for you. Anything else is allowing others to form your opinions along their biases.
Bob_Robertson

Jan 04, 2011
5:56 PM EST
> `aptitude full-upgrade`

That's a new one for me.

I've always changed the names in /etc/apt/sources.list, then

# apt-get update ; apt-get dist-upgrade

or use

# dselect

For some reason, aptitide never works the way I expect it to, so all I ever got was confused. I'm a "dselect" person.
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 04, 2011
6:32 PM EST
I, too, have never heard of full-upgrade. I've always used dist-upgrade.
jimbauwens

Jan 05, 2011
5:36 AM EST
Sorry for my late reply, I'm a bit ill =) @Sander: Thanks for the info, I didn't know that you could upgrade from Lenny. @azerthoth: The reason I asked was to know what most people used and why, not to find the 'best' distro. I totally agree that the best distro is the one that works for you.

Thanks everyone for all of the info =) With Linux Mint Debian I'm getting sometimes twice the fps in a game than in ubuntu. Isn't that strange!
fewt

Jan 05, 2011
11:26 AM EST
If you like Fedora, take a look at http://www.fuduntu.org. It's Fedora with a lot of enhancements aimed at technically savvy users.
jimbauwens

Jan 05, 2011
11:33 AM EST
Fuduntu looks really interesting. Since you are the creator, I have a question: does Fuduntu have app indicators? Or will it possibly get it? The reason is, that I like app indicators allot more than normal gnome indicators, since it works better and more doesn't hang as often.
jdixon

Jan 05, 2011
1:27 PM EST
> The reason I asked was to know what most people used and why...

I started using Linux in 1994. The only real options at the time were Slackware and Debian. Red Hat was just getting started. Caldera wasn't even out yet.

I picked Slackware, from memory because its documentation seemed more approachable. I've tried a number of other distros over the years, but never found a good enough reason to switch.

Slackware's main limitations, for most people, are it's lack of dependency checking and relatively small package selection compared to Debian and Red Hat based distros. Those can be worked around, but they're a show stopper for some.
Bob_Robertson

Jan 05, 2011
1:47 PM EST
> The reason I asked was to know what most people used and why

Like JD, the choices in 1995 were not as varied as they are now.

I went the Debian route, and have returned to it every time I try something else.

> Isn't that strange!

The lesson from "Herbie The Love Bug", even a car built in an assembly line (or an install of Linux) is not, cannot be, identical to every other.

Strange? I would instead say "Interesting".

...and "Fun!"
fewt

Jan 05, 2011
2:16 PM EST
No, Fuduntu probably won't get app indicators.
jimbauwens

Jan 05, 2011
2:24 PM EST
@fewt: ok, thanks anyway =)

>Strange? I would instead say "Interesting". ...and "Fun! That is what I ment, love those differences :-)

What I disliked on Fedora, is that some command line apps like nano and wget weren't installed. Of course this is easily fixed, but still its a bit annoying.
Sander_Marechal

Jan 05, 2011
2:37 PM EST
`aptitude full-upgrade` is the same as `apt-get dist-upgrade`. They just renamed the command to make more sense. A full-upgrade means that extra recommendations get installed and packages will be removed to bring everything up-to-date. A standard upgrade (safe-upgrade) will not remove packages, except for automatically installed dependencies. IMHO the rename makes sense since you can use it a lot more often then just when going from one distribution release to the next.
Bob_Robertson

Jan 05, 2011
7:39 PM EST
As I recall, another difference with dist-upgrade is that it WOULD remove packages that were no longer included and that would cause conflict problems.

apt-get upgrade would simply say that x and y new packages were not installed/upgraded, and investigation would show it was because of the conflict with previously installed packages.

Steven_Rosenber

Jan 05, 2011
8:55 PM EST
So aptitude full-upgrade is the same as apt-get dist-upgrade? How about aptitude dist-upgrade?

I actually have a Lenny laptop that I'd like to upgrade, but I'm pretty sure I don't have enough disk space to successfully do it. It's a 1 GB / partition ...
hkwint

Jan 06, 2011
4:08 AM EST
@Jim: I use Gentoo.

Mainly because I learned to work with a few years ago. Then I built up experience with the system up to the point where migrating to another - maybe easier to administer system would take a considerable amount of time, effort, learning and maybe some disruptions of the things I need to do (almost) daily, like checking mail, reading internet with my addons /bookmarks / passwords enabled and editing some documents from time to time.

I think the above paragraph is the best explanation why people use certain distributions, probably also for Windows or (any) BSD.

Working with Gentoo takes some effort, most of it in configuration. Compilation is a breeze and no hassle at all, except it takes some time. It's rather easy to adapt the package manager to do what you want, I feel it puts the user more in control then for example apt-get, but that's just my opinion. Installing non-free packages most of the times is far easier than with Ubuntu, Debian etc. as Gentoo installs GPL packages in the very same way as proprietary packages whcih may not be distributed by third parties (such as VMWare). Making a 'package' of a newer version of some software is also much easier than with Debian, you only have to change the version number in the filename of the package-recipe-file and make new digest.

Moreover, when it comes to "build/compile-system" I think Gentoo offers the best environment in the default installation. Installing compiler & tools on Ubuntu is a real hassle, while on Gentoo it works out of the box.

However, maintenance is also a PITA from time to time. There are far too many USE-flags to manage. Even while the system IMHO is much better than the "every addon is a separate package" philosophy of Debian. Like making links-ssl a separate package while on Gentoo SSL is a USE-flag for the package links. But sometimes the package system fails. apt-get usually offers solutions - which may or may not work - but portage is pretty dumb (and slow!) and refuses to proceed unil you manually fixed all problems. Of course, it has the advantage of requiring the user to fix any problems encountered. Updating configuration files in /etc is also a very clumsy process in Gentoo, though etc-proposals works pretty OK. I'm not sure how other distro's solve this issue. And with Gentoo (but I think also Slackware and some other more bare systems like NetBSD) you're pretty much your own system integrator, so no integration done by the distro like with Mint, Fedora and the like

But the first paragraph is the most important reason for sticking with it. If it was "seven years ago" again and I could choose again, I migth have invested my time in another distribution which today would require less time to administer. But because I didn't, I'm mildly locked-in to my distro, just like I believe most users are.
helios

Jan 06, 2011
9:07 AM EST
@Jim: I use Gentoo.

Mainly because I learned to work with a few years ago


Me too but using Gentoo gave me an indication that my marriage could use some work.

"Honey, are you coming to bed?"

"Yes dear...just as soon as OpenOffice compiles..."
jimbauwens

Jan 06, 2011
10:00 AM EST
Well, I always as attracted to gentoo, but never managed to install it (read: never even tried). The thing is, that my main computer is a netbook, with a cr@ppy ssd (5-9mb/s write speed). So gentoo wouldn't really work on it, as it would take to long to compile stuff (at least I think)

I'm thinking of taking Bodhi a spin, as Enlightment looks really attractive.
hkwint

Jan 06, 2011
12:46 PM EST
Ken: Hence OpenOffice-bin (and firefox-bin), greatest inventions since sliced bread!

Apart from that, Gentoo is compiling while I sleep, and I don't compile more than about once in two months.

On slow hardware it can be a hassle, though you can do cross-compiling.

Anyway, most of the time it's what you invested in the most, which works best for you.
Sander_Marechal

Jan 06, 2011
4:11 PM EST
Quoting:So aptitude full-upgrade is the same as apt-get dist-upgrade? How about aptitude dist-upgrade?


You get a notice that the dist-upgrade command has been renamed to full-upgrade, and then runs full-upgrade. Like I said, it's the same thing. Just with a more appropriate name.
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 06, 2011
4:19 PM EST
Very nice!

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