| DistroWatch Weekly
1 • happy with my current distributions (by Eavy at 2004-01-27 09:19:54 GMT) |
My favorite distributions are Debian GNU/Linux as well as the Fedora project - wish they'd merge... ;-)
2 • gentoo/debian (by bookmark manager at 2004-01-27 09:27:26 GMT)
I'm 100% satisfied with gentoo and debian, but if i got bored (wich i wont) i would try arch linux, the last time i checked out arch it was looking good.
3 • languages based on visitor's IP address (by bookmark manager at 2004-01-27 09:43:37 GMT)
We have at least 2 major languages in my country and i always get the wrong language on distrowatch, i would be more than happy to just read english and manually change language if i ever needed.
4 • RE: languages based on visitor's IP address (by ladislav at 2004-01-27 09:52:28 GMT)
You can change the default language by selecting a different one from the preferences box (main page, left column). This is cookie-based, so you'll have to accept cookies for this work.
5 • languages based on visitor's IP address (by bookmark manager at 2004-01-27 09:56:08 GMT)
We have at least 2 major languages in my country and i always get the wrong language on distrowatch, i would be more than happy to just read english and manually change language if i ever needed.
6 • refresh didnt work the way i thought (by double oops on 2004-01-27 10:05:19 GMT)
i just hit refresh and got a double post thats not a bug, but i tried to write about it and that message did'nt show up.
7 • tried about 60 so far (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2004-01-27 10:19:11 GMT)
I've tried dozens of distributions at several version numbers. DistroWatch is a staple for junkies like me who just HAVE to try everything and find the best one. That's why I found JAMD to be such a gem. For a long time, I was really happy with Red Hat 8.0, but I was always spending my time looking for a faster, more powerful distribution. I didn't much care for Debian. I may give it another chance. I finally settled on SuSE 9.0 and Slackware 9.1. SuSE 9.0 would have satisfied me when I first started using Linux and didn't know what I was doing. As I started to learn how Linux worked, I more and more wanted an un-fooled-around-with distribution, so Slackware became my personal favorite. I put SuSE on customer's systems, and I flip-flop between SuSE and Slackware for my own systems.
An interesting thing happened. I stopped visiting DistroWatch.com on a regular basis! I actually felt satisfied with what I had and stopped looking around.
"Make install, not war." (interestingly, it's now finally possible for many in Iraq to read this statement.)
8 • Can I ask a question? (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2004-01-27 10:28:46 GMT)
Maybe this is not the right place to ask it, but I have a concern regarding SuSE Linux. According to a review shown on the front page, SuSE doesn't permit distribution under the GPL. From what I've seen, there isn't a single distro that fully complies with the GPL, including Fedora, which uses MPL for a few items. But before using it at all, this was a big concern for me, so I read all the licenses thoroughly. It seems that there's the conveyed set of licenses (GPL and such) in the freely distributed software, then there's the YaST license, which is pretty close to GPL. Wine Rack has a bit of code in it written by *ahem* less fundamentalist programmers, but Wine Rack isn't part of the distribution. Plain Wine (which I affectionately call Vanilla Wine) is included.
Of course, they don't make the installation process exceedingly easy by providing ISO images, but they have every right to make it inconvenient in such a way.
So what am I missing? If I'm wrong about this, then I'll have to get back into my old routine of trying out more and more distributions!
9 • SuSE (by MixMatch at 2004-01-27 10:29:36 GMT)
I recently returned to SuSE after a couple years away, mostly because Mandrake and Fedora failed to scratch my itch. So far, it has had the best hardware recognition-module matching I have seen in any distribution. I have been impressed by its stability and configuration utilities. As you can imagine, the v9 software is getting slightly outdated, so I am looking forward to the next version...
10 • Are you happy with your current distribution? (by Sven on 2004-01-27 10:30:20 GMT)
After using different versions of SUSE Linux during the last two years, I replaced my SUSE Linux 9.0 box with Fedora Core 1. I hadn't used or seen a working distribution from Red Hat before, and was very pleased when I started to use Fedora. Even though it's "just a testbed" for Red Hat's enterprise products, Fedora is still a mature and well-working distribution. There might be some uncertainties with the state of the Fedora Project, but I hope that it keeps alive.
11 • Refresh Problem (by MixMatch on 2004-01-27 10:36:06 GMT)
Just had the aforementioned refresh problem myself. seems that there should be some redirect after a submission that would take the field data out of the url to prevent thos...
12 • Are you happy with your current distribution? (by Dexter at 2004-01-27 11:07:18 GMT)
I've been using RH9 on my desktop since it came out, then switched to Fedora when that came out. For my laptop, I stuck with RH9 at first, then did reinstall during the holidays. I'm glad I did, as it seems quicker and more stable for my everyday tasks of financial work (gnucash, openoffice, calculator), multimedia work (playing music in rhythmbox, watching videos on mplayer), web-based work (email and surfing), as well as game work (frozen-bubble!). There are a few bugs that are quite annoying... but I'm hoping they get that fixed by FC2. Can't wait!
13 • Happy with my distro? (by altorus at 2004-01-27 11:23:04 GMT)
Having used linux for over 5 years, i gave tried many a distro. From RPM based (Redhat/Caldera/Mandrake/SuSE) to next to no package maanagement (Slackware) to fansastic package management (Debian)
I have currently settled on Gentoo, and have been using it for over 8 months now - i think that is a testimony to my happiness with the distro. It offers all the features a loved in Debian (stability, fantastic package management) with very new software. I had always had problems with untable Debian, but in Gentoo, once compilesd, everything just works.
While Gentoo may seem a bit more advanced to some users, i'd say that anyone that is comfortable with linux, should give it a try.
14 • Slightly OT: (by Harald Korneliussen at 2004-01-27 12:35:09 GMT)
I visited a friend of mine who runs Windows XP, and he mentioned in passing that his expensive graphics card had been forced over to a generic driver by windows update.
"What, you have driver problems in windows too?", I said, "why don't you switch to linux? perhaps you'll have them there as well, but you don't play much games anyway, why not have a cool system?"
He answered something that I think is very true:
"In windows, if something doesn't work, you can ask around and someone says, do this and that. You do that, it still doesn't work. Well, that's just normal, windows sucks after all, they tell you.
In Linux, if something doesn't work, you ask around, someone suggests a fix. It still doesn't work, but instead of saying windows sucks they now say YOU suck."
He had tried linux, he had this idea that to use Linux you have to be leet, and you should choose the hard path "in order to learn". So he tried to install debian, failed, went back to windows.
I think many adherents of "leet" distros like slackware, crux and gentoo hurt the community in this way. Personally I don't see the benefit in manually detecting my hardware, setting the X refresh rate any more than I see the benefit of tangling out a dozen dependencies.
We use tools to solve our problems. If it isn't easy, it often means our tools aren't good enough. If all I wanted was experience, I'd build my own operating system.
I use Fedora. Though it has a couple of annoying bugs I can't quite fix, it's more than good enough for my needs.
I don't think slackware or its ilk is "leet". Knoppix, now there's my idea of leet.
15 • Distro satisfaction (by evangineer on 2004-01-27 12:42:44 GMT)
I'm a satisfied Slackware user. I do however find Rock Linux fascinating and may try it out when it reaches 2.00final.
Mepis is another distro I find interesting, even though Debian-based distros aren't to my taste. If I ever find myself using a Debian-based distro, Mepis will be the one.
16 • Happy So Far ... somewhat ..... Looking for more to add/play with (by Ronald L. Gibson at 2004-01-27 13:48:53 GMT)
I use Mandrake. I started using URPMI but after installing new software, it says that the list of files on the download site is not correct. They all run OK except Ardour. I used the PLF website. I tried five local download sites (closest is usc.edu, ftp then rsync) and a fresh new install each time to make sure that there would be no problem from the previous install. Sometimes there is software that cannot be installed because of a library incompatibility. Running Ardour kicks me out of X every time and need to log in again. I tried to install VCDImager and it needs 'libraw1394' v0.9.0, so I installed v0.9.0 and it came back after trying to install VCDImager saying that I need v0.9.0 or later. I bought another drive and going to try Gentoo, Conectiva, Debian, and maybe FreeBSD.
17 • Are you happy with your current distro? (by Jeff McCoy at 2004-01-27 13:57:51 GMT)
Yes - I've tried a number of distributions and have settled on Slackware (since 8.1). It's up to date, stable, and fast, and while it doesn't come with graphical tools to manage the system, it also doesn't overcomplicate things with nonstandard/patched software or configuration files, so it's easy enough to learn how to configure and maintain the system. Every so often, I'll try another distro; in particular, I liked JAMD a lot and will try out Ares when it comes out. I like the idea of Debian but I've found it a little difficult to use in practice; Debian seems to do lots of things its own way. I also like the excellent documentation in FreeBSD. But every time I come back to Slackware; I'm very happy with it.
18 • Happy with my distro? (by Michael Hopewell at 2004-01-27 14:08:09 GMT)
I'm just a dabbler in Linux, but coming to distrowatch is like being a kid in a sweetshop, so many to try :o)
I've got pretty up-to-date hardware, so the first deciding factor in choosing my next 'sweety' is does it find all my hardware - especially my Nvidia FX graphics.
Tried the 'big three' ( Suse, Red Hat and Mandrake ) and apart from SuSe, I'm not too impressed with what equates to M$ bloatware in the quest for user friendlyness.
I tried Slackware and Debian, but couldn't get all my hardware working. Then Libranet 2.8 *cough* found it's way onto my HD - for evaluation purposes, obviously !
I was intrigued by a headline for it - Its Debian that just works, and indeed it was, it's excellent :o)
I used it for a month before my conscience got the better of me and went in search of the perfect Linux once more.
I've since tried lots and have been impressed by most of the Debian based ones like Knoppix, Morphix and Mepis, and tend to stick to Debian based ones now. I'm always open to persuasion though and College 2.5 and PClinuxOS have both proved that I don't have to stick to Debian to get my hardware automatically installed.
I tried the MandrakeMove live CD and didnt like it, but PClinuxOS ( based on Mandrake) is very impressive, impressive enough to have found it's way onto my HD as my current Linux of choice
19 • Satisfied Slackware User (by wallison on 2004-01-27 14:08:25 GMT)
I've tried many distributions in my 5+ years of using GNU/Linux. I wish I would've tried Slackware sooner! I've been using it for just under a year (since 9.0) and never had a more satisfying computing experience. And Harald, not all us Slackers think we're "leet", in fact most of the folks at the linuxquestions.org forums and #slackware on freenode.net are quite helpful and friendly.
20 • More happy than I was with others (by Hez on 2004-01-27 14:16:48 GMT)
I seem to be in the minority recently, but I really enjoy Mandrake. The setup/installation is easier than most other distros I've tried, and it doesn't, in any way that I've found, limit development options. And urpmi is probably as good or close to as good as apt-get.
It certainly has its problems, but I've found them to be less than any other distro I've tried. And the fact that they keep the entire development process open, plus PLF, just makes them seem to be, for me, the best option.
21 • Happy? (by jlowell on 2004-01-27 14:46:38 GMT)
Until about three weeks ago, I'd been using Gentoo as the main distro on my network. I'd been quite happy with it for over a year. At the same time I'd played a bit with a number of other distros, Sorcerer, Lunar, Sourcemage, Arch, Crux, among them, so as to stay aware of possible alternatives. After a lot of very hard work getting Gentoo into the condition I'd wanted for it, unexpectedly an emerge -u world blew out my window manager and associated packages - there were no discernable warnings about the package changes that brought this situation about, just the damage, and it was not going to be easily restorable, if at all. As time consuming a distro as Gentoo is, what with the need to manage subtle things like use flags and the usual, daunting accumulation of configuration file changes, what enthusiast with a developing back problem needs something like this? So off it went and Arch, long ago installed as a possible replacement, now reigns. Arch is half the size of Gentoo, much, much simpler to install and maintain and offers very nearly the same capability Gentoo has respecting building and updating packages from source - there are even unofficial scripts available at their site that automate a full system rebuild should you wish to employ them. And I've learned a lot there from a number of very knowledgable people with backgrounds from other distros that typically demand something extra from their users. You move on and grow with each step. My journey started with the Manhats and the Reddrakes about four years ago. I'm having a lot more fun with distro that are at once more obscure and challenging.
22 • Another happy gentoo user here... (by Vishruth at 2004-01-27 14:58:13 GMT)
After trying many distros I tried Debian. I liked it a lot. Then I tried Gentoo and it perfectly fitted my needs. So, I've been happily stuck with Gentoo for many months now.
23 • Another nod to Slackware (by Rob on 2004-01-27 15:18:07 GMT)
I started out in RedHat 5.2, and have used most of their releases up to and including v9.0. The release I stayed with the longest was v8. It gave me the least amount of problems.
Keeping RedHat as my main distro, I experimented with many of the others, including SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, and a few of the smaller players. It was interesting to see how they all worked. But I became concerned when RedHat changed their business plan. So I tried Vector Linux after reading that it is Slackware based. It looked and worked pretty good, even on an old 400mhz Pentium (which I use as a test box; my main rig is an AMD XP1700).
That gave me the urge to try Slackware 9.1 when it came out. After a few weeks, I decided that I liked it better than all the others. I reformatted and set up Slackware as my main distro. No regrets.
As for Slack being 'leet', well, that just sounds ridiculous. People who like to talk about being 'leet' should grow up. That stupid term is not part of my vocabulary. Slackware is not 'leet', it is just a well put-together distribution that doesn't like to muck things up with non-essential bloat.
24 • Linux is in a time of change (by Bill Savoie at 2004-01-27 15:23:41 GMT)
I use to be a RedHat fan, but switched to Suse with 7.3. I keep trying out other distributions, but love the comfortable desktop of KDE. As I learn more, I find YAST to be limiting, and I miss a good SuSE forum. I want to understand more than SuSE wants me to. I want to do more of the driving and less riding along as a passenger.
Since I got laid off last month, I don't have a T1 line and dial up is really limiting. I also had to turn in my fast laptop. My old 166 mhz NEC laptop has been my few places to play. Damnsmall, feather, flonix and Morphix GUI-lite are all wonderful distributions. They all support apt-get and have wonderful forums. Education and learning more about linux is a good way to deal with layoffs. This website is also a great place to start at after dinner. (the phone line must be open for job calls.) I can then switch to Google and start a new job search. At 10 pm I start another all night download with wget. Thanks for the great website.. Bill Savoie
25 • debian & everything (by david at 2004-01-27 16:36:58 GMT)
I started using linux a few years ago, with a redhat 2 and a slackware 3. I used redhat 5.2 for a while as well, and now I 've been using debian for the past year and a half. I have to admit I am perfectly happy with it, and don't consider switching at all.
I have given mandrake a try, but disliked it (urpmi isn't apt, IMHO). I tried gentoo as well, which was not (IMHO, again) worth the compilation time. I simply don't understand what you gain from it (I know the USES flags, but still). Moreover, I like knoppix & mepis, which are all debian derivatives, which means that for me, debian is a winner.
26 • Enjoy Mandrake (by Dan on 2004-01-27 16:39:35 GMT)
Before using Mandrake, I have tried Red Hat many many times as a Windows user. However, I never could get my hands on Red Hat. Then, I tried Mandrake and it fits me very well. I have since used it as my main OS. Don't have many problems with Mandrake and it runs very stable with my machine. I have tried Debian and Slackware and I like them both, but there is not enough motivation for me to abandon my Mandrake box.
27 • A question of taste (by David on 2004-01-27 16:44:17 GMT)
I would say it's a question of what you want in a distro. I used Mandrake at home, Debian on my old Sun Sparcstation LX and Slackware at school. I like all these distro, they all do a great job.
Of course, what really matter is what applications you use and if it installs/works correctly. The rest is mostly personnal taste.
As for mandrake "Pulling a Red hat", everything will stay O.K. if they stick to the golden rules:
28 • Why people may be more devoted to certain distributions... (by Elijah at 2004-01-27 17:09:35 GMT)
Ladislav noted (and I agree) that Debian, Gentoo, and Slackware users are unlikely to switch distributions, while Fedora and Mandrake users are more likely. One would also easily notice that the first three distributions take considerably more work to get running than the latter two. I don't think that's a coincidence. The more time people put into things, the more they appreciate them. People switching from Fedora or Mandrake don't have much invested time to lose. However, I think this also has another related effect--namely, new people don't want to put much time to get a system up and running, and thus significantly more people will start out with either Fedora or Mandrake than the other three and those two will probably always have a larger user base for the same reason (that is, unless Debian, Gentoo, or slackware adopt simple installers and configuration wizards). That's not to say that either extreme is better--in fact, I think it's wonderful that nearly anyone can find a distribution that caters to their specific preferences.
29 • Happy Libranet Users (by James Phillips at 2004-01-27 17:11:47 GMT)
Over at the Libranet forum you will find a lot of very happy Libranet users (including myself), as Libranet this week released its update-safe repository for its flagship 2.8/2.81 edition. They also announced a policy of using the repository to maintain a constant "virtual release", right up to the point of a new actual release. See the announcement at
30 • MEPIS still gone (by DaveW on 2004-01-27 17:28:03 GMT)
Glad to hear MEPIS website was back at least for a while, but I'm still getting the "not found" message. At least now it seems this is the result of a site change, not bad news. Thanks for the info.
31 • MEPIS never left for me? (by Anonymous on 2004-01-27 17:57:40 GMT)
been running MEPIS since 08 - and I've been on their site all week reading the forums and whatnot and it works fine for me. Maybe it's a DNS thing?
I'm really loving this distro - I'm also a member of the beta team and I think Warren's dedication is amazing and I registered my copy after a few days.
32 • Mepis offline?? (by Kent Kelly at 2004-01-27 18:10:53 GMT)
I could get to the Mepis web site from work using www.mepis.org but from home I had to use the IP address. DNS thing? Go figure.
33 • Please don't criticize Mandrake, Fedora, etc. (by Serge Matovic at 2004-01-27 18:37:17 GMT)
Many people are upset about the free versions of Mandrake and some other Linux Distros regarding an occasional bug or lack of support. C'mon people, what do you want? A free product, free life-time support, etc.,etc. It's just not possible, nor fair to ask Mandrake and others for all this for free. With very little effort, those "criticizing" people should spend a couple of hours and contribute to the Linux Community by testing and reporting problems, so we all can benefit.
Also, Distro Watch is GREAT !!! Keep up the good work.
Best of luck to all.
34 • Gonna do my own "thang" (by AndrewK on 2004-01-27 19:01:47 GMT)
I prefer source based distros, but I've been very disatisfied with all the distros out there. Either they break unexpectidly (such as Gentoo) or are too Microsofty in their practices(Suse, Redhat, Mandrake, etc). I've decided to throw them all away. I found the website www.linuxfromscratch.org, so I intend on making my own distro from scratch with the software on there that I want. It'll probably take quite some time to get it going, but I think it'll be worth it.
35 • Are you happy with your current distribution? (by Gary on 2004-01-27 19:59:13 GMT)
Yep... I've used Redhat (now Fedora) and Debian for all of their lives. IMHO they are completely different and I use them both on and off. My preference has always been RH but after the latest events I find myself using Debian alot more often. Debian is a tad bit too behind for me though. The best thing about RH is it's compatibility with vendors. There seems to be more vendors (IMHO) that test their software and/or there are more commercial packages that test on RH (albeit older versions like7.2 etc.) I have tried just about every distro you have here and even some you don't (like FreeBSD etc... I know, I know... they're not Linux). RH and Debian seem to be the best for me. So I plan to stick with both and see what turns up.
36 • Are you happy with your current distribution? (by Kaspar at 2004-01-27 20:23:59 GMT)
I have installed (and used) A LOT of Linux distributions over the past year and a half. I have around 50 current Linux distribution disks, and about as many outdated ones. I have never been completely satisfied with any distro, though a few have come close (Evil Entity, Libranet, Mandrake, Gentoo, and Vector come to mind) But none have been 'everything' for me. I'm looking for something that us easy to install and configure and use (Like wondows with the hardware support, minus the driver nightmares and the crashing, with the configurability of Gentoo), fast, (Vector) fun (Evil Entity) Attractive (Fedora, Mandrake) Easy to maintain (Debian) and with great comminity support (Gentoo) and attitude (College). I know it is a lot (of vague concepts) to ask, but naything is possible with Linux. (The next release of Evil Entity may be just that, keep your eye on it.
37 • Am I happy with my current distribution?... (by wouter on 2004-01-27 21:41:39 GMT)
I run Debian now, with an LFS (Linux From Scratch) partition I'm always working on, but never really gets finished. I use the LFS system to try things on, which is fun, but it's not really doable to install everything from scratch on all machines you have to admin... On servers I tend to run Debian or Slackware, depending on erm... the weather, I guess. Or a *BSD, but that's not really relevant on this site.
I'm *quite* happy with Debian and Slackware. I've been using linux (and unix in general) for quite some time, I know my way around the system, and I love to get things done exactly like I want them done - the freedom of the opensource approach. But I can understand that beginners or people who don't want to spend their time tinkering with Linux, are intimidated or just fed up with the trouble of getting stuff to work, especially (1) drivers for recent hardware and (2) proprietary codecs and formats, such as that Microsoft video format and whatever stuff is hard to get to work on Linux (mostly because of non-software related circumstances).
The cool thing about Debian is, that it won't go away overnight, or turn (over)commercial. It's there, you know what it is and what it isn't, it's not going away, and although it isn't perfect, you can rely on it. Especially the automatic security updates are nice, when you have to admin a bunch of machines and some vulnerability has been discovered. Or you don't have to manually update all desktop software on all machines every couple of weeks. If only the software in the stable branch would be updated more often...
And Slackware fits in there nicely too, not perfect, but allowing you to easily make it what you want it to be, starting from a solid base. The perfect distribution is a bit of an illusion, but when you know enough about the whole system, you can make it like you want, and then it's very important that the distribution doesn't get in the way. More commercial distributions tend to be too 'binary' (so it's hard to replace or patch certain software - especially libraries - yourself) and with bossy package managers that make it hard for you to compile stuff. That's why I like Slackware and Linux From Scratch.
Once you know a bit what you're doing, it's not so important anymore which specific distribution you run, IMHO, as long as it doesn't get in your way. Debian and Slackware have been around pretty long, and are both pretty respectable when it comes to stability and security. They form a nice base, and the rest I do myself - like with LFS - so I can only blame myself. I'm quite happy with them.
What I'm not happy about, is those proprietary movie, audio and document formats, and bad driver support. Soft- and hardware companies ought to be more supportive for alternative operating systems, or at least open up their specifications. But that's not directly a Linux problem, really...
38 • well, (by nico at 2004-01-27 22:03:21 GMT)
i've been using redhat rawhide for a year and i'm using fedora devel now.
but i know it's only a question of time - finding a free week-end and installing debian unstable.
39 • Mandrake (by ajc on 2004-01-27 23:01:53 GMT)
I have been a very happy Mandrake user for several years now. I think it is much maligned as a distribution - I also use Debian on a small server - but for my workstation and laptop, Mandrake has been unrivalled. Yes, they push the technical envelope (and slip sometimes) but Mandrake was the only Distro to support ACPI on my Dell Laptop out of the box. People consider mdk a newbies distro but compare it to something like Ark Linux (a real newbies distro - and a good one).
I have great respect for Slack, Deb and Gentoo but remember that there are a great many power users out there who are NOT clueless but do not want to take weeks getting their Workstation just right. The SuSE desktop is substantially the same market but you don't hear people hammering them as "Newbies-only."
Also - get it right. Mandrake is not discontinuing any support for their distro. Read the friendly website. Remember - they are one of the few Commercial distros who release all their own code under the GPL, give the distro away for free, AND give free updates. Yes, Deb & Gentoo do the same but Gentoo is for 3% of the crowd and Deb woody is prehistoric.
40 • oddly enough... (by david at 2004-01-27 23:32:18 GMT)
as much as it might suprise you, i've cycled through all three of the distros mentioned as being unlikely to change. i started with slack, but got fed up with having to bum around all over the web looking for tarballs, compiling them only to find out i was missing some library as a dependency. so i switch to debian, and liked it a great deal. however, even running sid lots of the packages were out of date. when i built a new computer over christmas and needed xfree 4.3 to get the video working right, i gave gentoo a try, and so far i LOVE it to death. power of tarballs with the convenience of package management. best one i've tried yet (and i tried redhat, knoppix, and a few others in the interim). so i guess, in short, yes, i'm quite happy with my distro. still love to browser here though just in case something exciting comes along.
41 • Done some distro switching lately (by gnobuddy at 2004-01-27 23:38:34 GMT)
I've been looking for an alternative to Windows since 1999. Caldera, Corel, TurboLinux, Red Hat, BeOS - all came and went (BeOS was my favourite, by far, but was too incomplete to replace Windows).
The first useable Windows replacement on my PC was Mandrake 8.1, followed by what (in hindsight) may have been the gold standard Linux distro for its time: Mandrake 8.2. However, that was then, and this is now. Mandrake 9 was a dud on my hardware, 9.1 was good in some ways, but had some annoying problems; 9.2 was so flaky and bug-riddled that I *had* to find an alternative.
I'm in exactly the position that Ladislav mentioned: looking for a new distro that I can live with for a while.
I tried (and quickly discarded) CollegeLinux 2.5, Peanut Linux 9.5, and Vector Linux 4. Vector impressed me as having many good qualities, but was too bare-bones for my taste and intended usage. As for College 2.5 and Peanut, suffice it to say that at least five utilities or programs provided with their installs broke within the first fifteen minutes of using each...
Based on enthusiastic reviews here on Distrowatch and on OSnews.com, I now have JAMD 0.0.6b linux on one PC, Mepis 2003.10.01 on another, and Gentoo 1.4 on a third. The Gentoo install is still half-baked at this point, I don't even have sound working yet.
JAMD surprised and delighted me, all the more because I have had nothing but bad experiences with its parent distro, Red Hat. Everything worked, I could not improve on most of the default configuration, and I didn't even have to go looking for a new KDE theme as I liked the default Acqua theme. If all that wasn't enough, I had very little trouble getting JAMD to do what it was never intended to do: run Apache and PHP, so I could learn PHP while running my existing Perl CGI scripts on the intranet at my workplace. JAMD 0.0.6b is a sweet piece of work, and I am saddened that it's creator has abandoned the project. I hope the new Ares desktop continues where JAMD left off.
Mepis has turned out to be the dark horse: at first glance another ho-hum new distro, but the more things I tried with it, the more I found that everything just worked. The install was easy, the firewall config easy to modify (I use ssh over my local network, also use Apache on my home LAN to develop Perl CGI scripts). I had my Wacom Graphire 2 graphics tablet working in no time - something I had never managed with any distro before. My Nikon digital camera works perfectly with Mepis, showing an icon under "removeable disks" on the desktop when I plug in the USB cable. My Epson Perfection 1260 USB scanner works perfectly, though I had to hand-edit two config files. Encouraged, I ran "apt-get install wine", and after a little tweaking, I now have Photoshop 5.5 running on Wine. (My wife teaches PhotoShop, and if I can get it and a few other Windows apps to run on Linux, I no longer have to deal with the headaches of maintaining her Windows 98 SE box.). Kmail came preconfigured with SpamAssassin, funnelling most of my spam straight into a "spam" folder.
I am quite impressed with both JAMD and Mepis, as of now. JAMD is fully polished and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone for desktop use, despite its being slightly outdated and having a somewhat uncertain future. Mepis could use more cosmetic tweaks, being cluttered with hideously over-full menus, a dozen or so ugly icons over the desktop, and a plain to ugly default KDE background and theme. But it is a beautiful piece of work, full of great touches, and the structure under the cosmetics oozes quality and stability - in only it's third release version!
I think it says something for the ongoing progress of Linux distributions that there are now several truly useable distros, all of which provide a good desktop experience. I would not have been able to say the same as little as a year ago.
And in closing, thank you, Ladislav. Distrowatch has been one of my main sources of information about new Linux developments over the last two years. (OSnews, Slashdot, desktoplinux.com, and a few others have supplied the rest).
42 • Primarily Slackware (by Scott C on 2004-01-27 23:57:44 GMT)
I keep my system set up as a triple boot setup. I keep WinXP (little used, but necessary unless you can get TurboTax ported over), and Slackware. It is my primary OS. The stability and simplicity of it is exactly what I was looking for. The third setup is just for trying different distros. I have gone through all of the main ones, currently I have Mepis on it. So yes, I am satisfied with my choice of Slackware but I am still always looking for a new one to tinker with.
43 • Pleased with CollegeLinux (by echalon at 2004-01-28 00:20:43 GMT)
I too have done lots of distrohopping. I used RH9 for a long period of time, but once the word on the ending support i decided it was time to look around. I went through many many distros for about a month, but eventually I settled on CollegeLinux. I like it because it has most/all the advantages of Slackware wih ease of use. Don't get me wrong: i still do most stuff in the command line. But installation and basic config is no hassle: that way I can concentrate on the real stuff. And it has a great user support community. Occasionally I get "the urge" and download a few distros, but I just go back to CollegeLinux. I would highly recommend trying to anyone: its only one cd and a very easy install so why not try it for a while?
I am highly satisfied with CollegeLinux, but I think the great span of choices is one of the great parts of Linux.
44 • Kurumin Debian (by spearmint at 2004-01-28 00:33:27 GMT)
I'm a linux newbie but i'm posting my opinion anyway. My first distro was Mandrake 9.0 (december 2002) and i liked it so much that i bought the Mandrake 9.1 box. After that i tested knoppix which was a surprise for me. I'm currently using a KURUMIN a brazilian distro based on knoppix. The reason of this choice is the support i get from this distro forum. Being able to talk the same language as other users really helps you to know more about linux :) This distro also have some good documentation for newbies like me. As a Debian distro, the apt-get really kicks ass and new software installation are so easy...
45 • Happy with your distro? I'm am, kinda (by Aussie on 2004-01-28 03:00:54 GMT)
I've used quite a few distro's in the past and am always downloading and trying out new distro's on test pc's.
I reciently tried DamnSmallLinux and was very happy with the results, so much so that I'm going to be doing a hdd install of it and will endevor to take it with me in my wallet!
My main distro is RH9.0, which I have to say I'm not that happy with. I'm currently looking for a better workstation distro, after that's sorted I'll be looking to replace my RH9.0 server which hasn't missed a beat, but I think now that RH9.0 is "old school" to a certain extent I need to change it to something current.
46 • type B+ (by Grover at 2004-01-28 03:02:11 GMT)
I've only been tinkering with linux for about a year and a half now. over the last ooohhh lets say about 6 months, I've come to a point that im cozy with my drive install of Debian/Knoppix.
Most of the work I do with computers is pro audio related. Only now is linux even looking as if it may be able to play on the field in the future. I keep tabs as I can .
I have 3 main systems
one just for the audio work (no linux here.. yet aside from making backups of my OS/apps partition
the other two are my day to day whatever else i wanna do systems.. my desktop and lappy... both of these systems are duel booting knoppix.. win2k on the desktop and xp on the lappy..
Slackware made me learn a bit about whats going on under the hood. But i dont have a lot of time to spend with my distro. for my everyday non audio work i tend to stick to my linux boot now.. I dable with assorted distros on a spare old p166 for fun at times...
But im just hanging out and waiting for the mother of all Linux/DAW distro's to pop up on distro watch :)
I'm a realist.. I give it 2 or 3 years...
In the meantime I'm learning quite a bit about linux.
Thanks for maintaining this great site
47 • Mepis for a Linux Newbie (by Pat K at 2004-01-28 03:05:36 GMT)
Over the past 4 months, I've done considerable Linux hopping. I tried Redhat 7.2 and 9, Suse 8.2, and Slackware, and went through configuration hell with each of them, but finally learned enough through Slackware to have a semi-usable system, but no great shakes for someone looking for a Windows replacement. I then tried Gentoo, and did not get everything set on it, although it, like Slackware, provides an intense learning experience. Then I came across Mepis and never looked back, as others have mentioned, the thing just works. I've changed the desktop theme, which is otherwise pretty boring, gotten my 10 year old son hooked on it, and even my wife has become addicted to the penguin freecell, although she will not log in for herself yet. Anyway, Warren is doing a great job and earnestly works with users to quickly correct their installation issues. Once installed, the Debian basis comes through and additional software is quickly found to do anything that I have thought of to get the system to do, with the exception of running WordPerfect via Wine, but the Wine website lists it as non-compatible, so I didn't have much home going in. All in all, I recommend Mepis without reservation.
48 • Found happiness - but still polishing (by happyg on 2004-01-28 03:23:26 GMT)
I first loaded linux on Easter 1995 - an early Slackware. Have spent lots of time on various mainstream distros like Red Hat, SuSE, Debian but finally found comfort and full satisfaction back on Slack 9.1 with Dropline. Its my main production workstation 7 days a week.
But, still have an itch to scratch from time to time and there is always more to learn. My test box was starting to gather dust on the keyboard so I turned to FreeBSD and found it excellent for growing my skills. That new found FreeBSD knowledge transfers over to my Slack 9.1 very nicely! I get lots of satisfaction out of tweaking and polishing my Slackware - kind of like having a shiny classic car in the garage.
Think I might turn my exploring towards learning some more Python and just get rid of that test box.
49 • Happy with your distro? (by Phil Taylor at 2004-01-28 04:07:54 GMT)
I think I have tried all the major distros in the past few years.
I liked Lycoris early on, but the last update broke my video.
I'm typing this on SuSe 9.0 and it is doing just about everything I need/want. Mandrake 9.2 is also a contender. I like URPMI. I liked College 2.1, but 2.3 wouldn't connect to the internet for me.
PCLinuxOS looks promising. I also like Knoppix very much.
Why is it that Knoppix has the best hardware detection. Can't the other distros fiind out what Herr Knopper knows about hardware?
50 • Happy with Gentoo (by Stew on 2004-01-28 04:53:53 GMT)
Gentoo was really daunting at first, but it quickly grew on me and now it's my distribution of choice. I still dabble with other distributions, as I'm not religious about Gentoo. I recently tried Fedora and I quite like it. I'm spending about half my time in Fedora and Gentoo on my main box. I check Distrowatch daily because I'm interested in Linux news. I'm willing to switch to another distribution if I find it better than what I'm currently using.
51 • Happy Slacking off! =) (by Nick at 2004-01-28 07:36:36 GMT)
I am a Slacker and satisifed because I can customize my system on _any_ level. True, you can do this with any open source distro, but Slack is ideal for many reasons: 1. Everything's vanilla (no 'easy' distro level configuration scripts to patch) 2. no dependency tracking (apache does not require emacs ppl) 3. environmentally friendly (no online updating -- conserve bandwidth, save the trees) 4. learning curve (by the time you want to do something different -- you know how because Slack 'learned' you) 5. little documentation (everything's vanilla so you go to the developers' sites for their documentation)
* To expand on 1 & 5 (and some of 4), there's no 'Slack way' of doing ___. For example in a distro, you may have scripts with a command like 'service httpd start'. Apache would have no documentation on such a command because that's unique to the distro. By using the standard (vanilla) 'ways', you have knowledge you can carry to any distro in the future -- important points to consider.
* Point 2 was a true story.
* On point 3, I (and I guess most?) Slackers keep a set of ISO discs and any package updates in the form of source code (tar.gz, tar.bz2, not srpm or such) on disk somewhere.. I consider this ideal for dial-up. If you can't download the discs or order them, you many options for downloading just the packages you want.
[Lengthy, but what the hey! =)]
52 • Arch Linux (by Luk van den Borne at 2004-01-28 07:50:21 GMT)
I've tried a lot of distro's the past few years. I started with Mandrake, which I've used a lot. After that I tried Debian, but was unable to get it working.
Then switched to RH. It was pretty much the same as MDK, but less fast and less stable and less feature rich. So I switched back to MDK and learned a lot about Linux in the meantime.
I tried Debian Sid again and got it up and running with X & Gnome. I really loved APT and Debian and stil do, but I wasn't satisfied with Debian's performance. Mandrake felt way more responsive.
So after using Debian a couple of months I switched to Gentoo, but I didn't like having to wait so many hours to get something installed. GRP didn't exist yet, or I wasn't aware of it. I started looking for another distro again.
This time I chose Arch Linux and I'm really satisfied with it. Binary package manangement (source based also possible), great performance, and latest packages with the -current tree. It's a perfect combination between Gentoo and Debian. The only drawback is there are not nearly as many packages available as for Debian.
53 • another happy Fedora user (by krillehb at 2004-01-28 11:36:05 GMT)
I tried the big three and all ended up in Fedora Core1.
I am really satisfied with it except the missing multimedia addons.
So i am really curoius about Core2.
Suse is such a disappointing one.......Never again !!!
54 • favourite distro (by deeLer at 2004-01-28 12:47:32 GMT)
Lorma Linux 4 based on the Fedora Core is very underestimated !!!
give it a shot, it's fast and lean!
55 • Types of people. Types of webpage. (by adrian15 at 2004-01-28 12:58:51 GMT)
Here's a suggestion. You've told us that there are three kind of people who come to the website.
1) People that want to satisfy a particular requirement.
2) People interested in lastest news and improvements.
3) People interested in replacing existing distribution with a new "better" one.
Your webpage is very great for the 2) type of people because they can see the piece of news everyday you post.
For the 3) type of people they can just see the pieces of news and see "This distribution is desktop-based and built from Fedora base". Or they can also take a look at the distro reviews.
But for the 1) type there's a problem because if I want to satisfy one requiremente that is not in the "today" piece of news I have to read all the webpages in order to find my perfect distro.
Here's my proposal: Make a webpage with all the distros: Two columns: One with the distro name (Which links to the distrowatch distro webpage) and the other one with the distro description.
With a simple Find Command from the browser I can search for Home, Enterprise, Media or whatever I am interested in.
No need to make a search script or whatever. (So far I've seen that search page is a 4 link page to the 4 different kind of distros that they are)
56 • YDL and Mandrake (by S. Barret Dolph at 2004-01-28 13:36:54 GMT)
I am moving over to Sourcemage. Five years ago I lost a lot of work because of some problems with Word. I installed Mandrake and decided to give Linux a one month try. Never looked back. I don't like the way KDE and Gnome are taking over distributions. I don't even really like graphical installations. I am not a power user I am more of a minimalist. It is harder and harder to keep things light and simple on my machine. So I am moving to a source based installation. Anyhow...with YDL many programs must be installed by source as they don't have much available anyhow.
57 • RedHat/Fedora happy user (by KaZeKaMi on 2004-01-28 14:28:26 GMT)
Starting the first time with Mandrake 7.0, I switch to RedHat 7.2 when it was released.
I tried a lot of distribution (Slackware, RedHat, Debian, Mandrake, Knoppix, Lunar etc...) in many versions, and I always come back to RedHat.
I really love to use RedHat. Novodays I keep on using RedHat 7.3 on tests servers, because i know how to use it, more than the others distros.
At Home I use Fedora Core 1, and I can't stand waiting for the beta FC2 !!
i'll test it as soon as it will be released
58 • Xandros (by Devilotx at 2004-01-28 16:05:25 GMT)
I jumped around, sticking with Redhat for a short time, going to SuSE 9 that I bought from best buy, tried Vector linux for a short time. Found my self most happy with a KDE based Debian linux, Loved Xandros 1.1 but the out of date KDE killed me, so I floated to Knoppix installed to the hard drive, and ran that for about 6 months before getting a copy of Xandros 2.0
Runing Xandros 2.0 on my laptop, currently dualbooting Xandros 2.0 and Sun Java Desktop 2003 at home.
59 • Am I happy with my distro? (by Steven T. Fricke at 2004-01-28 17:52:40 GMT)
Yes with all of them. I use 4 different distros, each serve their purpose well... BUT... I think it was a *little* unfair to compare the Mandrake hits with PCLinuxOS since the time period you referred to had specific interest in PCLinuxOS. PV5 was due out the weekend before, and information was leaking out that it would be available at any time. People were probably hitting it several times in a day just looking for updated information in hopes the new preview was out. Considering the URL is not as straight forward as many distros (It is NOT a released product yet), some people may have used your web site to get there. After all, http://www.pclinuxonline.com didn't even have a link to the page. You either knew the URL, or you followed the place you discovered it.
BTW, I use PCLinuxOS 2k4 PV5 on my laptop, and it is humming along just fine... looking forward to the final release...
60 • Libranet:" the stealth distro" (by David on 2004-01-28 22:56:10 GMT)
Someone reviewed Libranet and didn't
Realize how important Libranet's 'safe archive' is. It is
not only a backup if Debian servers are down, as we
recently remember, it is an upgrade of major import.
Libranet has been tested thoroughly, however the
creators of it have graciously taken the time to answer
questions personally and it would be difficult to find a
better forum. Having used Libranet since version 1.9.1
(several years) I felt it was necessary to add this.
61 • Distro Advocacy (by garbage at 2004-01-29 00:39:53 GMT)
I see huge amounts of unqualified 'fan mail' about this or that distro.
The question a mature adult ask's is :
'which distro(s) attracts the most amount of PAYING customers'
This is the ACID test ( IMHO ).
Think about it.
I use SuSE 9.0 Pro
62 • What happened to MEPIS (by Warren at 2004-01-29 01:35:20 GMT)
First, my thanks to everyone who has been concerned about MEPIS.
The MEPIS server moved 2 1/2 weeks ago. All DNS servers should have been updated worldwide within 48 hours.
If you haven't been able to reach MEPIS, it is because there is a problem with your ISP's DNS servers.
This situation is scandelous. Apparently a number of isps, especially cable providers have improperly configured servers. Among the offenders are
comcast and road runner. When challenged ISPs have updated their servers but I doubt if they have corrected the underlying problem.
BTW, a lot changes are happening at the site. I'm really sorry people are having so much trouble reaching it.
63 • No subject (by Anonymous at 2004-01-29 08:31:52 GMT)
should we decide which distribution because of a popularity contest?
Don't feed the RTFM trolls
64 • PCLinuxOS (by jMALOY at 2004-01-29 10:59:38 GMT)
PCLinuxOS IS THE best wINDOWS REPLACEMENT SO FAR. It installed everything that I have in my computer, except my raid.
65 • Distro flavuh and "attitudes"... (by torque2k at 2004-01-29 12:18:05 GMT)
Ladislav, thank you for one of the most interesting sites in my bookmarks! Your site has always inspired me to continue trying Linux, and I now have an addiction for downloading and installing new and interesting distros!
That said, there is one thing I'd like to say about this comment -- "I think many adherents of "leet" distros like slackware, crux and gentoo hurt the community in this way. Personally I don't see the benefit in manually detecting my hardware, setting the X refresh rate any more than I see the benefit of tangling out a dozen dependencies..."
From what I've seen over the years, Slackware and Gentoo users have been among the most helpful of any distro out there, so this statement doesn't make much sense. Gentoo's user forums have been lauded as being one of the main reasons to switch to that distro! And if you don't see the benefit, it means you don't "get" the reason to install those distros in the first place. Yes, they are are pain to set up, but that's part of the challenge of putting together "l33t" distros.
I've been a newbie. I've come from the Windows and Mac worlds to dip my toe in the opensource pool, and the water was never too cold for me to not want to jump right in. :) I do agree that there is an elitist feel to some distros, and I do wish that less "RTFM" comments were used and more links to sites such as linuxquestions.org were posted.
My distro of choice right now is SuSE 9 Pro. It seems to work best for me across a wide range of PC types (homebuilt towers, notebooks, old PCs) without too much tinkering. I used to be a staunch Gentooist, but with Portage breaking every month it seems, I got sick of a small update hacking up everything. Maybe one of the upcoming versions will drag me back... I also FINALLY got Debian 3.0 to work for me as a server, and I really like that (it's now my server OS of choice). But, I still like to tinker, especially with Knoppix and other LiveCDs such as SLAX (really slick!) and PHLAK (still buggy).
Oh, and Ladislav, please fix the following phrase in the storie above: "assword auditing (crackers) and servers." ;)
66 • Warren... (by Oliver at 2004-01-29 21:57:34 GMT)
Are you sure this is a problem with people's ISP? I haven't been able to reach mepis.org (and still am not) , but I'm quite sure my ISP is pretty good (they have a name to keep up). In the mean time I registered 2 domains myself and those records got picked up with 24 hours.
67 • PCLinuxOS (by bojster at 2004-01-29 21:59:10 GMT)
After my MDK crashed again (don't ask...), I fell in love with PCLinuxOS. And I don't change my likings easily :-)
68 • Mandrake for the time being (by steve on 2004-01-29 23:13:21 GMT)
I first tried RH 5.1 somewhere back in prehistory. Then I tried Caldera OpenLinux 2.2, at the time I thought it was the best distro around. It had the best module mangement set-up that I have seen. When Caldera abanoned the desktop I went back to RH and stayed with that until the first time I tried to install on a laptop. None of the early Graphical installs would work on my then fairly new IBM 770ED. The only distro I could get up on the first try was Slackware 7.1. I found Slack quite easy to admin, eventhough it is purly text based. I used Slack up until about a year and a half ago when I first tried Mandrake 8.1. It installed on my desktop better than RH 8 and RH 8 would not run out of the box on my laptop at all. Now I am using Mandrake 9.1 and waiting for 9.2 to arrive. I like Mandrake for the time being because it just works, unlike M$ Windoze XP.
69 • RE: • No subject (by Anonymous at 2004-01-29 08:31:52 GMT) (by jlowell on 2004-01-30 00:03:16 GMT)
The very special and courageous Anonymous,
"should we decide which distribution because of a popularity contest?
Don't feed the RTFM trolls"
If you'd RTFM yourself you'd have realized that the question being so very well treated here by so many distrowatch readers concerned their satisfaction with their present distros. No one's even come close to seeing their comments as a participation in a popularity contest, they've simply reported on their own experience.
Your comments and the spirit behind them remind me all-too-much of the pig-speak so typical of abusers on too many linux mailing lists, the ones that give this community a black eye. You're among human beings here, you can take off the Nazi uniform.
70 • The other 90% (by Iridesce at 2004-01-30 00:07:44 GMT)
In order for linux to become mainstream to the other 90% of home computer users, a simple ( yes, I realize this translates to bloatware ) installation interface is essential. They want an installation to be able to find the cards and configure the monitor and at the end of the process, be able to get online. Next they want the multimedia programs to work the first time. Down the road they want to be able to play games on it.
While I have no illusions of calling myself an experienced Linux user, I have used and played with Mandrake ( 7 - 9.2 ) for the past 3 years or so after someone I trusted recommended it for an utra newbie that I was. I have dabbled in adding libraries, finding and installing required dependencies and have had to reinstall a few times. I am comfortable recommending it to my friends stuck in MS hell and have coached more than a few installations of it. Everyone has been quite pleased with the results and amazed at the ability of it to mirror MS functionality while not being MS.
As I got a new motherboard for Christmas ( and subsequently built a new box around it ) , I came here to find a more efficient distro and will be downloading Gentoo when I leave here as it has good reviews and great reviews for it user group.
I guess my point is that while I am in awe of all of you gods of Linux ( I am not worthy, I am not worthy ... ), the more MS users that get that there are easy distros to install with comparable functionality, the more will end up contributing to new and existing distros as their comfort envelope expands.
Finally, props to Distrowatch and all of you who have gone through the 'learning curve' - and specific thanks to all who answer message boards with something other than RTFM.
71 • Re: The other 90% (by gnobuddy at 2004-01-30 08:00:17 GMT)
Congratulations on your successful exit from "MS hell", to use your own (well chosen, I might add!) words.
Congratulations also on building your own PC. I hear so many complaints on the Web along the lines of "Linux saves me no money and is no use to me because I already paid the Microsoft Tax when I bought my (insert Dell, Gateway, Micron, etc, etc here) PC!". Well, the solution is simple: don't buy from the Dells, Gateway's, Microns, and so on; either have a local mom-n-pop store build you a PC, or, better yet, buy the parts and put it together yourself. You'll get more PC for the dollar, you'll know exactly what's inside the box, and if you do a little advance research, you'll have a fully Linux-compatible machine.
For anyone out there who thinks building a PC is impossibly complicated: honestly, it isnt. These were designed to be assembled by uneducated workers, remember? The pieces mostly snap together like Lego blocks.
Anyway, to get back to my main point: some of the, erm, less emotionally developed Linux fanatics go on and on about how some distro that is hard to install will "make newbies learn Linux" and is therefore a Good Thing (TM). Here's what these folks don't understand: there are two kinds of knowledge in the world. The first kind is fact-collecting; the second kind allows you to understand new things, and is far, far more valueable.
An example of the first kind of knowledge is the motorhead who knows by heart the casting numbers on every Ford 302 cylinder head, or the Linux junkie who knows where to find every configuration file in his distro. This kind of knowledge can be useful, and may possibly impress someone else, but is extremely limited in scope. It does not help you to really understand anything better, any more than memorizing a dictionary will make you a great writer.
An example of the second kind of knowledge is understanding, say, Newtons laws of motion, or the basis of TCP/IP networking. With this kind of knowledge, you can now begin to understand new scenarios you have *not* already memorized. With Newton's laws you can, for instance, figure out how fast a stunt driver has to drive his car to make that 50-foot jump successfully. With a basic understanding of TCP/IP, you can, for instance, tell if you can't access the internet because you LAN is down, or because your PC can't resolve DNS queries.
The second kind of knowledge is far more important, far more rewarding, far more more worthwhile than the first kind.
So I'm totally in agreement with Iridesce - Linux distros should install easily, because any knowledge you gain from dealing with inept installers is the relatively worthless first kind of knowledge. Save your brain cells for understanding what you can do with Linux *after* it's installed and configured, not for memorizing trivial details of configuration files. You don't learn to ride a bicycle so you can boast about how difficult learning to balance was; you learn to ride a bicycle so you can go places, or get more exercise, or simply enjoy being outdoors more. In the same way, you don't learn to use Linux to boast about how hard it was to install; you (hopefully) learn to use Linux for any of a variety of good reasons (better stability, lower cost, more freedom, more potential, you know the list!).
I am very much a Linux newbie, though it's been my main operating system for the past two years (and the other OS I've dabbled with in that time is FreeBSD, not Windows!). No matter. With Linux, I've learned what a Web server is, what a CGI program is, and how to set up a small intranet at work; I taught myself enough Perl to write CGI programs which automate much of the donkey-work I formerly had to waste hours doing manually; I learned just enough about databases to have my CGI programs work with one (though I kept things simple by using the DBD::CSV Perl module, which lets you treat CSV text files as databases!). And so on and so on. In the end, Linux saves me money, time, and effort, while providing me a platform on which I can learn a great deal.
The *real* Linux gurus, of course, have both kinds of knowledge. The folks who create new distributions, or maintain complex pieces of software, have to understand both the down-and-dirty bits of trivia about config files and init scripts, and the high-level concepts of the OS itself. My hat is off to these folks; without them, we would have no Linux. These people are usually too busy doing real work on Linux to be out flame-baiting on the Internet, telling newbies that they should start with the most arcane Linux distro so that they will be "forced to learn Linux".
In the early days of the automobile, anyone who drove one had to know a lot about the details of their construction and functioning. As he or she drove, the drive had to manually adjust knobs for spark timing, air/fuel mixture, and a host of other things, simply to keep the car running. Since early engines and electrical systems were unreliable, and early auto tires and tubes ditto, the driver also had to frequently stop and repair her malfunctioning vehicle.
As the decades went by, methods were found to automate these adjustments (first with vacuum diaphragms and carburetors, later with EFI and microprocessors). Today most people who drive a car have no idea what spark timing or air/fuel mixture are; and that's as it should be. The function of the car is transportation, not teaching the driver to be a mechanic...
I think the analogy is clear. Our Linux distros are somewhere in between Daimlers first curved-dash runabout and Ford's model T in evolutionary terms (Windows and Macs are not much better in some areas, and are worse in others). We have to manually partition drives, configure desktops, download security patches, and otherwise futz with them to keep them running. As time goes on, Linux distro's will evolve to where modern automobiles are: you turn the key, and they start up and take you where you want to go, with little fuss. It's clear that JAMD, Mepis, Arch, Knoppix, Lindows, Xandros, and quite a few others are heading down this very road.
More power to them, I say.
72 • MEPIS Web sit down???? (by MYoung at 2004-01-31 03:27:19 GMT)
I don't have a clue what you are talking about. I am a regular on their site, EVERYDAY for the past month (at least). NO problems, NO TIME! Excepting the times that my ISP (cablelynx) is down, but I can't get to anything then ;-).
BTW, my favorite distro?
Why MEPIS of course, followed a close second by Slackware.
73 • No more Mandrake - I've lost too much money consulting (by mvodka at 2004-01-31 05:21:52 GMT)
I started out with Mandrake 8.1, which was a super disto. Ever since then I've had too many problems. I am a consultant trying to push more small businesses to Linux and I must report that they have all been happy with the results. After my last few installs with Mandrake 9.0 and 9.1, I found myself eating too many hours with quirky problems just getting to the desktop. So I decided that enough was enough and that I can't afford to push Linux on my customers and spend a bizillion hours of my time setting just installing one server or desktop copy. Now after a visit to distrowatch, I've been experimenting with the Debians and Slackwares and maybe I'm getting better, but I swear some of these distros are easier to setup and manage than Mandrake. I especially like the Debian package manager over RPM.
74 • Favorite Distro (by dlh at 2004-02-01 02:19:38 GMT)
I want to particularly and publically thank the creator of DamnSmallLinux, though I have not yet sent him $$. With that distro I was able to demonstrate the lucent beauty of a linux system to some truly hardcore Windows people. Now they are doing network Debian installs and RTFMing like dammit , running BLAG and screwing around with the Knoppix cheat sheets. Amazing.
75 • my favorite distro (by Janek Kozicki on 2004-02-01 09:43:31 GMT)
is debian ;)
I tried following distros: slackware (2 years), debian (1 year), mandrake (6 months), redhat (1 year), suse (1 month)
after the tryout peroid, I decided to go with debian. It's now 4 years and I use debian on all my boxes, and I install it on my friend's and family's boxes as well.
76 • You get outta it what you put into it... (by KnightMare at 2004-02-01 20:06:17 GMT)
I read other's speaking about how their distro is superior. I hate to break it to everyone, but they are all basicly doing the same things. Linux is Linux, no matter what kind of purty wrapper they put around a app, it is still doing the same fundamental things it is doing, if you were to do it from a command line. I use Slackware, i started out trying the Redhat's,Mandrake's and the like. They sure put a pretty gui around everything, but guess what. I had more problems with these distro's than i ever have with Slack. I installed Slack on 3 different computers last week. All 3 installed without a single error, found all hardware, and booted into X without me having to touch a thing. And here's the bonus, i aint going to have the nightmare i had when compiling from source that i had with Mandrake and Redhat. Computer runs faster seeing how it don't have all the bloat of the newbie distros.
I always see people saying that they are going to learn on Redhat or Mandrake, then move to Slackware...
This makes no sense to me, an old saying rings true here "Learn Redhat and you learn Redhat, learn Mandrake and you leran Mandrake. Learn Slackware and you learn Linux."
So why waste your time learning the others when they won't actually do anything but confuse you when X crashes?
77 • Re: You get outta it what you put into it... (by gnobuddy at 2004-02-02 09:26:28 GMT)
Firstly, the majority of new arrivals to Linux are not interested in learning Linux - the're interested in getting their work/play done.
Not everybody is interested in operating systems for operating systems sake; nor should any sane person expect them to be.
I'm happy for you that Slackware meets all your needs. But how many man-hours did you put into it before you figured out how to get a fresh Slackware intall configured to your liking?
It takes a beginner hours and hours to, for instance, find out how to get an IDE CD-RW drive to burn a CD using one of the "configure everything manually" distros. And that knowledge is really, in the larger scheme of things, completely useless information, since it pertains to nothing except limitations and specific poor design choices within the cdrecord tools (why the heck is SCSI emulation even necessary at a time when SCSI CD-RW's are about as widely available as fresh dinosaur eggs?). Would you be happy buying a new car and finding out that it wouldn't drive until you opened up the engine, measured the end-gap on the piston rings, and then entered that specification manually into the car's onboard computer?
It may have been worth your time to learn Slackware, because your goal was to learn how the Linux OS is put together. But that's not every users goal, and it makes no sense to expect it to be. I recently gave my 70 year old mother-in-law a computer, with Linux installed, so that she could read her email, browse the web, and write the odd letter or document, without having to worry about Windows viruses, BSOD's, crashes, freezes, and all the other Windows headaches. My mother-in-law is a Linux user; is she somehow not worthy to be a Linux user until she knows intimately all the parameters that go into /etc/inittab ?
The oddest thing about all this is that the original comment - you get out of it what you put into it - isn't even true. If you try to build a car from scratch using only a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, you can put all the effort you want into it - but you won't get great results, because you're working with limited tools. Right now there's an Ark Linux review over on OSnews at
. The writer of the review is an experienced Slackware user, yet he mentions that he has never successfully got to the point where his USB drive automatically shows up on his desktop when he plugs it into his Slackware box. I'm currently running Mepis, and, with no manual configuration from me, my USB key shows up under the "Removeable Disks" icon on my desktop. Mepis provides more sophisticated tools than Slackware does for this job; why is this somehow less good than if I had manually searched /proc/bus/usb/devices, edited /etc/fstab, and manually mounted the USB drive every time I needed to use it?
The necessity for manual configuration is a sign of Linux's immaturity at this point. As it matures, there will be less and less need for this kind of down-n-dirty work, at least for typical use. The manual configuration will be left for those with unusual needs, such as running a high-powered server.
Judging by Knoppix, Mepis, Xandros, and their ilk, it looks like we're well on the way to that goal. And I'm all for it; that way I can concentrate on what I want to do, rather than on how to get my computer set up to the point where it will let me do what I want to do.
78 • Happy Mandrake user, may add others (by Wesley Parish on 2004-02-11 02:31:09 GMT)
Yep, that's me, a happy Mandrake user. I've been using it since 8.0, and so far it's been good.
I've had some problems with installing databases - mostly commercial ones, so I've been thinking, since nearly all databases come as RedHat directory/library setups, it mightn't be such a bad idea to get Fedora and put it on another PC - wired down with the SELinux details of course.
And of course, set aside a major part of the hard disk as a db-files partition - since they all need their own database files and tend not to like the presence of all t'other dbmses.
What do people think about that? Adding a /db or /var/db partition to soak up all the /db/db2, /db/oracle, /db/informix, /db/sybase, /db/mysql, etc files one gets a hankering for? After all, we do have the /var/www and /var/ftp directories!
79 • No subject (by salparadise at 2004-02-11 08:03:46 GMT)
Mandrake's the one for me.
Have tried RedHat 6.0,7.0,7.3,8.0,9, Slackware 9.0,9.1, Phat Linux, SuSE 9.0 and one or two others. And always I end up going back to Mandrake. It fits, it works, it looks cool and it's not American.
I don't suppose we'll ever really understand why I like Mandrake and "you" like RedHat or Gentoo. It's a taste thing. But Mandrake is just so....right!
Except of course that it doesn't really matter which distro you use if you use Linux cus they're more alike than they are different.
80 • My distro, so far Red Hat 9+ , (9.0 updated) (by Andre G- at 2004-02-20 21:02:54 GMT)
So far I am still using RedHat 9.0 updated (I call it RH9+).
I have used several distros:
Suse until 7.3 was very satisfied overall, maybe too manythings hidden. Documentation was bulky, but poor quality in my view.
I understand it has been re-written.
I have tried Mandrake 9.2: impressive at first, but unstable on my system (Athlon, Asus A7NX), software updates do funny things.
1) I have updated RH9 kernel to 2.4.20-30.9 (for Athlon).
2) I had to install manually the NVIDIA video driver: it is too bad RH9 does not detect this one, the manual install is poorly documented.
3) I had to change system parameters to rip a CD at a fair speed: was very slow.
4) I had to manually tweak to get RealPlayer to work (Too bad)
5) I have updated several RPM's to get a recent version.
6) Like on other distros I have tried the CD-ORM driver creates some significant system slowness (mostly on a write). I suspect the interrupts are disabled too long or some semaphore pb in the kernel?
7) Like other versions of RH I have never been able to get the console to work properly with accentuaed characters.
8) I am happy to find lots of recents RPM's for RH..
9) I use mostly YUM for upadates of RPM's: works well, I also like apt-get/Synaptic (GUI): good tools.
10) RH 9 Documentation is not perfect but quite good.
At some point I wish it to be streamlined and re-written.
But this chapter will never be closed.
11) In spite of lots of fiddling with my system RH9 is still very stable, and this is a big compliment: I really do not accept the "blue screen of death" on LInux. Recoverable errors are acceptable for most applications.
This is probably why I have sticked with it, because the install leaves a lot to desire!
12) Which distro will I use next:
Difficult question to answer: mostlikely FC2 because I am in known ground, and they seem an easy upgrade from RH9.
But Gentoo appeals to me, along with Knoppix, I may give them a shot.
Number of Comments: 80
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