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Linux ADD: Part 2

March 10, 2009

On the distribution side of things, I have been all over the map. I’ve tried to give a fair shot to Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, opengeu, Mint, Mandriva, gOS, and gentoo.  I’ve also toyed briefly with  PCLinuxOS, Simply Mepis, FreeBSD, Arch, Ubuntu Studio, Mythbuntu, and Sabayon (the most latter two being in just the last few days).  As we speak, I’m installing CrunchBang on my laptop, and I liked it as a virtual machine, so we’ll see how long it lasts. (this post is taking much longer than I expected to finish, and as you can see from this post, I LOVE it so far.)

No I’m not joking.  I have actually done a full install (not in a virtual machine) of all of the above Linux distributions.  A few of them in the ‘toyed briefly’ list lasted all of a few hours before being wiped off my machine for something that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out.  (Mythbuntu was really awesome, and I would LOVE to set up a dedicated DVR box with it, but it is less useful as a desktop distribution, so it came off quickly)

Keep in mind that I would classify myself as a ‘novice-to-intermediate’ Linux user.  I’m nowhere near writing my own programs, or contributing to the kernel.  I DO, however, feel crippled if I don’t have a linux terminal handy (I usually prefer command-line over gui for administrative tasks), and feel very comfortable following extensive ‘how-to’ documentation just to get a simple task accomplished (which fortunately is becoming a less common occurence in Linux).

Having said that, here’s my take on all of those distros. In my experience, NO ONE *gets* the end-user experience like Ubuntu and Ubuntu-derived distros.  For the hardware I’ve tested it on (quite a few different configurations of laptops and desktops) and the software packages I’ve tried out, it ‘just works’ better than any other distro.  Quite a few of the flavors are *close* but miss the mark here and there.  In fact, with Ubuntu, I rarely ever have to go searching for drivers (which used to be the longest process of re-installing Windows).  I also have not found any other distribution that has such an extensive software repository.  If it’s a Linux program, it’s probably in the Ubuntu repository.  For those programs that for some reason AREN’T in the repos, the developers almost always host their own repository for Ubuntu.  It’s a simple matter of adding their repo as a resource for the package manager, and then ‘apt-get install’ing the software.  I haven’t seen that type of support for the other repositories.

Speaking of the repositories, I’d like to point out what I feel is one of the greatest advantages of using Linux (especially one that has everything you need in the repository).  Since I use a package manager to install ALL of my software (including the operating system itself), I am able to very simply update ALL of my software with a few simple commands.  Any time a new version of ANY of the software I have installed is released, I get the update immediately.  I don’t have to go looking for new versions of my software separately, it just comes to me, automagically!

Well, I’ve been enjoying using Crunchbang for a while, but just read today about Zenwalk 6.0.  It’s a distro based on Slackware, but it uses the XFCE interface I love so much.  Version 6.0 has incorporated the brand newest XFCE 4.6.  I downloaded the ISO today, and I think we all know what I’ll be doing this evening.    🙂

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