Distro War! (sort of)

Live forum: /viewtopic.php?t=40


14-10-2004 14:24:36

This one is for Despite :D

At the risk of starting a huge flamefest, I actually think this is a fun topic to discuss. Everyone has their favorite distro, and I'm interested in finding out what it is that people like about what they use, why they like it better than the ones they don't use, and what they use it for in the first place. There are a lot of distros that I haven't spent much time on, mainly because I don't know enough about what they offer to have a compelling reason to do so.

I'll start it off.

My Linux distro of choice is Debian.

What I use it for:
Mainly servers. I prefer OS X on the desktop. /me ducks :P

What I like about it:
- Minimal base install size. This is great for machines like routers.
- Entirely community developed and supported. This is something that you either love or you hate. Sometimes waiting for concensus can be frustrating. The wait is worth it for me because I know that when Debian does a release it has been widely tested and hasn't been rushed out the door to meet some marketing deadline.
- Non-commercial. Debian's not gonna go out of business, get bought out by another company, decide to change names and business models with no upgrade path, etc.
- Takes free software seriously. Debian makes it very easy to run a system of free (as in "libre") software, keeping the non-free components in a separate branch that users can include if they desire.
- Runs on almost everything. Debian supports something like 11 architectures. I like playing with somewhat random hardware, and it's nice to be able to run the same distro on everything.
- APT. Portage is cool, but just with the base-install on my Blade 100 I ran into two circular dependency issues. This does not happen with APT.

Why I prefer it to other distros:
The only distro that I have used enough to actively dislike is RedHat. RedHat was the first distribution I ever used, and I can't ever say that I liked it. As soon as I felt competent enough to try out other distros I went looking for other options. I run Yellow Dog (basically RedHat/Fedora for PPCs) on one of my Macs, and I don't like it either. They just feel too abstracted from the "Linux feel" of things for me. They give me a Windows-ish vibe that the command line is an afterthought, and one should configure everything with GUI tools. I don't like the installer - it's really easy to get a desktop install done, but you end up with 20 editors and 5 browsers and 6 mail clients, etc..

Out of everything that I've tried, Gentoo is probably my second favorite. It's just a cool idea, and it runs pretty nicely on sparc. Documentation is excellent, and the developers (at least the sparc ones) are very helpful. Install can be minimal, though slow ;-). I'm very impressed by the hardened Gentoo project.


14-10-2004 16:16:02

Debian Rules!

Gotta get that out of the way early.

I use it for everything except gaming. Debian is my preferred dev platform for everything, including the limited amount of windoze programming I did in my unemployed days.

I run it as my desktop, it's installed for my wife, my children (when I get around to having money for hardware and building the computer) will have Debian Jr., it's on my router, it does everything.

Why I use it? Well, I started with Slackware, but had issues with the install (I was using about 40 floppy disks... to their credit it worked - just didn't look very nice). I moved on to RedHat (version 2.1) which had a much nicer install program, and RPM was cool because I didn't have to download and compile all the source like I did with Slackware at that time. (Nothing against Slackware as a distro, just didn't know much about it then). However, RPM sucked because I could never easily install anything. The dependencies always killed me. I stuck with it for a long time though, eventually working for da Vinci which has always been a RedHat shop. About the time I got frustrated (again) with RPM around RH 5, I found Debian and decided to give it a whirl. It took me 3 times to get Debian Hamm installed. Which shows you how mad I was at RPM's dependency issues.

Well, I traded RPM dependency issues with dpkg dependency issues. That was frustrating too, but people kept talking about apt. Apt is the biggest reason I stayed with Debian initially. Once I got past the dpkg dependencies to get it installed, I apt-get updated my system for the first time. That was a 'wow' moment. I couldn't believe how easy it was.

Later I managed to break my system by installing some random debs (from a different branch -- I hadn't got the hang of stable, unstable yet) and apt-get fixed my system so it would boot again. You'd think I would learn, but in reality I did that 2 more times. Apt always came through and fixed stuff up for me.

About the time I installed (rather than upgraded to) Debian Slink, I finally went to http://www.debian.org and read what Debian was really about. More free (as in free beer) software, more packages available, a community without corporate constraints, no sales force, and super helpful on #debianhelp irc channels. If I wasn't sold before, that stuff alone would do it.

I stay with Debian (although I have tried other distributions -- Arch linux is pretty cool too) because of the community, the support, the well updated and maintained packages and, of course, apt.

The second place winner in my mind is a tie between Arch and Gentoo. Arch has a very nice package scheme and it is very easy to download a .tar.gz file and in very short order have an installable package built for it.

Gentoo is on my game machine because all the games I want to play (and many more) have ebuilds for them, so I just emerge enemy-territory, ut2k, etc. I like the portage thing, but it takes too long for most software to get installed on Gentoo when compiling from source. Yeah, I could just use the binary versions, but since I only play game on that machine anyway, what is an overnight build to get software installed. If I need to do work, I use debian. :-)


18-11-2004 06:30:39

Your right fun topic :)

My favorite (even thoguh it's only my 6th day using it) Would have to be gentoo but it's Almost tied with slackware. the first Distro I used was Red hat which I started to realize was not that great of a distro very quickly. I then (stupidly enough) got up the money to get a copy of SuSE Professional 8.2 which was a nice but also like Red hat in that it had stuff I NEVER used about 3.5 disks worth of it to be precise I then found out about slackware which was a dream come true it didn't do ANYTHING for me and was a VERY good learning experience I used it for about a year and a half(I've been using linux for about 3 years minus the almost 7 month break from computers recently) I recently had a problem with slack about a week and alf ago when I success fully installed it and the permissions were set wrong on my header files and I decided I would try a new distro which I then remember a very good friend preaching the word of gentoo. Right from when I started the install and setting up my /etc/make.conf I was in love I opened a new tty and started up irssi and thanked her for showing me the light hehe I have yet to try Debian but if I ever get a second bow I garantee you I will. now time for feature bragging :P

Reasons for gentoo:

Portage. This is the BEST package management system I have ever used it automatically downloads and makes the package the update system is Superb instead of having to go to each package I uses site and check for the stable safe version I just type in the command and it does it for me

Installation: No GUI here (nice backspalsh included though) with a web browser and irc client to pass the time I was happy with it.

Security: As I said before you get to choose only the packages you need and their dependencies and update them very easily. other than that I have't seen yet

Every Day use: I installed (not running yet) qmail yesterday morning with just emerge qmail and some config stuff which is normally a good 5-8 hours process. I have enough to keep me occupied and only have about 60% of a 3.1gb HDD used for /

Server capabilitie: May come antoher time so far all I have tried setting up is qmail

---Kody Manharth


18-11-2004 20:27:58

Nice to hear another person enveloped in the gentoo goodness :)

If you need any help setting up qmail let me know mine install is running well, and recently got clamd, spamassassin and some other things running with the help of qmail-scanner.

Gentoo is soooooo schweeeeet.

I have been running gentoo for 2+ years and don't think I will switch to another distro any time soon.


19-11-2004 08:18:19

French distros rule!!! rawr!!!


19-11-2004 08:42:10

French distros rule!!! rawr!!!

if I press you on this issue, will you surrender?


19-11-2004 10:03:22

No, don't shoot!!!

*throws out a white flag*


08-12-2004 06:56:13

I use Debian. Period.
I have tried RH back from 7.2 to just before enterprise and MD from the same period with a recent stab at the newes md. I never got the rpm based distro. I would load it (if I could get rh installed, there were problems in the early ones) get a desktop and then nothing.

I would not know what to do, or how to do it. The few times I tried to update software I would get rpm hell. Very bad thing for a complete newb. cli was HARD: what the heck is man rpm and what do all those things mean?

After much googling to find a solution (after all I was smart, and lots of people used linux, I could not be the dumbest of them all, could I? I was starting to wonder.) I found apt4rmp. I was in love. It was VERY hard to install it (cli again), but it mostly worked. I liked it so much I googled apt the utitlity it was founded on and found debian.

I learned more about computers and linux installing woody from a net install then running rh or md for three months. I knew where my X was confiugred and how to change it. Cups made perfect sense, samba could be editited. Mysql, no problem, edit the config. I felt free of gui's and what others thought I should do to config my box. Been with debian ever since. If it aint broke, why fix it?

The ironic thing is that what I did not like about rh and md is what most newbies say they want, gui config tools and an easy installer. But I wanted to learn about linux and those things got in the way of my understanding. Now we have the Debian-installer, which is easy and if you know the name of the gui config tool, it prob. is there also. Next dentist visit I think I will not have any pain killer.

The reason I stay with Debian is choice. My apt repostitory lists over 16000 apps I can install in 5 min or less. Plus I can (like all other distros) install most any other rpm package out there. I decide if I want to upgrade twice a year, once every three years or daily. I am always just two commands from having the latest and greatest bugs you can install! If I prefer, I can just point to stable and use old, tried and true sources for my servers and if I have to use newer software, find a backport for it and install it, viola, non of the other server packages are affected.

Anyway, just a few random thoughts of my religon, err os of choice.


09-12-2004 04:03:58

Gotta throw in a vote for Slack. Like "they" say, it just works!

I revisitied slack recently after a so-so impression a year ago. Swaret makes updates/upgrades to essential packages easy, especially for my server. For packages not on an official slackware mirror, I download and install from source, using checkinstall to create the package at the end, so it's still easy to uninstall/upgrade later w/o leftovers scattered about the system. If it weren't for those two goodies, I probably would have moved on to something else post mandrake/fedora.


10-12-2004 23:20:50

Well, hello. I'm just going to jump in here with my first post since finding this here group. I'm kinda new to OKC but was fairly active in the Linux in Boise Club (http://www.libc.org/) which was the club in, you guessed it, Boise :)

My vote goes to Arch Linux (http://www.archlinux.org/) with a close second to Slackware (get well Pat!). I started out with Debian 1.3 (bo) sometime in the mid 90s and used Debian all the way to '99/2K when I quit using Linux for a couple of years (too much hype in the late 90s early 2Ks). When I came back I ran Slackware starting with 9.1...current...10...current. I was pretty happy with Slack but there were a few small things that irritated me including the rumor that Pat was going to drop Gnome. I like Gnome - a lot. So, I mosied on over to distrowatch and started looking. I considered going back to Debian but unless I ran Sarge/Sid then it was too outdated for me. I tried Bruce Parens' UserLinux and didn't care much for it. I played with Xandros, SuSE, Fedora Core, etc., etc. and didn't find anything that suited me. I was this close || to just saying to heck with it and going with some kind of Linux From Scratched based something. I'd already worked through most of it as a learning exercise and knew it wasn't that bad but then I tried Arch. Oh joy, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you! Arch rocks, rocks and then rocks some more.

What I like about Arch (and Slackware) - simple vi based administration, very few scripts to do stuff for the admin. One of the things that I got tired of in Debian was the debconf or whatever it is called. I know you can admin Debian by hand, you can do that with any Linux system but some make it easier than others and Arch/Slack are just designed thataway. The init scripts / config files in both are simple, to the point and get the job done.

I have no problem with Gentoo or LFS but I don't want to compile most stuff, if I wanted to do that I'd just use FreeBSD. Daniel Robbins (sp?) is a bona fide genius in my opinion though but Judd Vinet of Arch is pretty dang good too.

I still think sometimes about making a custom distro but I'd use the Arch package manager 'pacman' so I might as well just stay with Arch.

Anyways, it's good to see an active group here in Oklahoma - there was some other group I found but they weren't very lively. I hope to be able to make a meeting one of these days.


17-12-2004 03:02:32

been using slackware for several years. initially i downloaded it
because i'm a slacker and the name sounded right. it was a bit
tricky to install, and i found that some others (redhat, caldera, redmond)
installed very easily. i didn't like what i found in the other distros,
so i used google, and learned to install and config slackware. i can
do it with my eyes closed now, and use it for desktops, servers,
routers, laptops, my tablet, carcomp, etc....
also i like the similarities i find between it and solaris.

i've been listening to jeff preach gentoo for quite some time now,
and i have to admit that i'm tempted to try it out, but i'm just SO
comfortable with slack. maybe i'll try an install and config if i can
get someone to hold my hand.


17-12-2004 03:30:51

i've been listening to jeff preach gentoo

You have to watch out for those "preachers". :shock:


17-12-2004 03:35:47

pffft, gentoo rocks


17-12-2004 08:19:29

Amen brother!


17-12-2004 08:33:33

Debian boulders! (bigger rocks)



17-12-2004 09:01:39

Amen brother!


09-01-2005 23:12:15

While this looks more like a topic for the "General Discussion" section, here goes: CRUX. (Unfortunately the main site is down at this time, sorry.)

To summarize, CRUX is a 686-compiled distro that focuses on simplicity from the installer onwards. It's got a text-based installer, no internationalization support, very little reference documentation installed, no package dependencies support, and libraries are stripped. Those are the main points, feel free to check out the homepage and handbook for the rest, when it's available again.

A lot of users don't like the lack of internationalization support but CRUX was designed so on purpose. If you need it, you'll use something else. :) It's a lot of cruft if you don't ever use it. What I mean by "very little reference documentation installed" is stuff like the info pages, gtk-doc, etc. etc. If you want it, you can install it yourself, but it's all available on the net so it's not included in the install. The ports system (similar to freebsd's) doesn't support dependency tracking by default but there are several tools contributed by users that do, such as prt-get.

Anyway, I'll quit babbling about it, that's just a quick intro since the site is down. There are lots of contributed ports and documentation, too, at community sites (CLC) and elsewhere on the net.

As I understand it, Arch Linux was based on CRUX.

I like it because it's lightweight and doesn't get in my way. I use it on all my desktops, a couple servers, and several laptops in the past. Just recently we ported it to the sparc64 architecture so I've got it running on an Ultra5/360 at work. There's also a ppc port but I've no experience with it since my powerbook g4 has a dead motherboard. (If anyone sees a cheap 15" PowerBook Titanium (500MHz) motherboard for sale, please let me know.)

Nothing against other distros in general. I've used Red Hat, Slackware, Gentoo, Debian, Stampede, Mandrake, SuSE, and a few others in the past. Just never liked any of them quite as much as CRUX.

So there it is.