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Choosing a distro: Pros and Cons from real users

Link to this post 08 Oct 09

With the hundreds of distros that are out there, I figured this would be a good place to start a discussion to truly help the new users decide on a distro to use.

I would like as many people as possible to outline the Pros, Cons, included Desktop Managers, intended users and your personal feelings toward distros that you currently use or have used, please make sure to note the first and last version numbers of the distros you used so people know if your input may be out-of-date, noobish or highly experienced. Also, please feel free to attach screen-shots of your desktop, because the appearance may be important to some users.

I thank you all in advance for your cooperation and input.;)

Please do not try to turn this into a flame war, each person is asked to state their opinions of various distros, if bickering and arguments start they will be cleaned or removed to preserve the informative nature of this thread.

Link to this post 08 Oct 09

Distro Name: Slackware Linux
Versions Used: 9.0 - 13.0 and I run Slackware-current
[ul]Pros:[li]Stable[/li][li]Fast[/li][li]Highly Configurable[/li][li]Secure[/li][li]A good distro to learn on if you really want to learn about Linux based distros[/li][/ul]
[ul]Cons:[li]Non-graphical installer[/li][li]A lot of terminal based(Command Line) administration[/li][li]By default it boots to command line[/li][li]Does not carry proprietary drivers[/li][li]The package system does not work around dependancies[/li][li]The packaging system does not do automatic repo pulls and installations[/li][li]A limited selection of pre-packaged apps[/li] [/ul]
[ul]Included Desktop Managers:[li]KDE[/li][li]xfce[/li][li]fluxbox[/li][li]blackbox[/li][/ul]
Intended Users:Experienced Linux Users, System Administrators and those that really want to learn about the core processes in Linux based Distros

Personal Feelings/Opinion:
Slackware is my distro of choice because when I started I ran various distros that couldn't deliver on stability, they were pretty but crashed alot, when I started using Slackware I found a stable system that required me to learn more about my system which in tern also help me to become more capable of running deep level functions on various distros without having to know the specifics of those other distros. Additionally the community may be a little cranky (including myself) but that is because we voluntarily help people and expect that if someone is trying to use Slackware that they want to learn it which includes how to research and resolve many issues on their own. Please don't start using Slackware and expect the community to resolve your issues for you, we will guide you to the answer but do not want to do all of the legwork for you.

Link to this post 08 Oct 09

Distro Name: Ubuntu Desktop Linux
Versions Used: 7.04 - 9.10 beta
[ul]Pros:[li]Stable[/li][li]User-Friendly[/li][li]Can retrieve and install from online repos[/li][li]A large application catalog[/li][li]Easy to learn[/li][li]Most tasks can be performed by graphical tools[/li][li]Always trying to be pretty[/li][li]Default boot into the Graphical User Interface[/li][li]Will download and install proprietary drivers if necessary[/li][li]Can be installed into an NTFS formatted partition so it can be tested along side windows without having to make major modifications to your system[/li][li]Automatic dependency resolution[/li][/ul]
[ul]Cons:[li]Limited Stability[/li][li]Can be difficult to fully customize[/li][li]Tends to make too many assumptions on behalf of the users[/li][/ul]
[ul]Included Desktop Managers:[li]gnome[/li][/ul]
Intended Users:New Users, Windows converts, users that want everything to just work

Personal Feelings/Opinion:
I always recommend Ubuntu to new users that don't intend to me full scale administrators, it does what they want and it is easy to learn. however, I am finicky about stability and Ubuntu tries to implement the latest and greatest very quickly which can result in some crashes and sudden change in officially supported apps, however the team at Canonical (the company that makes Ubuntu) is working hard to make that a concern of the past.

Link to this post 09 Oct 09

installed linux system: slackware 12.0
I have installed slackware 13.0 but haven't got around to use it yet.
slackware is the very first linux system I installed (can't remember the version number but it's one-digit).

I also use live linux systems that I carry on a usb stick: slax, grml, RIPlinux, pmagic

I concur with karma's pros

A non-graphical installer: that might scare people away
People might think that you have to type in cryptic command lines on the console.
True: it's not as slick as some other distros (with flashy icons, messages,
the ability to use the mouse ...). However it doesn't mean you have to type in
cryptic command lines on the console. The installer uses the ncurses-based dialog.
You can do your selections by navigating through different options (brief help messages provided).
Rather than a limitation I find this an asset.
Also you don't answer an endless string of questions. It's kept to the minimum.
Once you've made the initial selections the installation is blazingly fast.

con:
the only boot loader offered is lilo
fortunately you can choose not to install a boot loader

slackware is a source-based distribution. It's less dependency-prone than other
systems that use prebuilt packages.

intended users:
I do think that slackware is for everone including noobs.

Over the years I have installed (and sometimes briefly used) a few other distros:
redhat, caldera, debian, libranet, vector linux, mandrake, opensuse, (k/x/)ubuntu, ...
Mostly out of curiosity.
But slackware is definitely my distro of choice.

Link to this post 10 Oct 09

Slackware +1

Very Stable and dependable this distro has been around for quite a while and has worked out alot of the bugs. Very fast and customizable... you can get a very fast system with a very low footprint. However it takes a while to get use to alot of cli interface configurations but once you get the hang of it its really easy and well laid out. Also there is alot of good documentation and people within the community to help you out if you have issues.

Link to this post 12 Oct 09

All the Linux variants are way too similar with only a few differences between the software in each of them.
The most important thing is the people behind the distribution. How skilled they are at Linux development, how strong the community is, forums that aren't troll infested, bugs betting smashed all over the place and software innovation being embraced instead of stifled and regressed.

The quality of the people behind the distribution is so important and it's nice to chat to them on irc or by email on mailing lists because you can really get a good feel of the community, see how things work and watch development progress.

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