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So I mostly use Debian (mix of testing, experimental, deb-multimedia and liquorix repos to get it the way I like). I love it, but I have too much pc hardware, and I don't want Debian on all of it. So looking for something else to run on a couple of machines.
I don't want anything based on Debian. I would like to learn new package managers.
What I'm looking for is:
Easy to install. Don't need a gui install, cli install is fine, as long as it's simple.
Prefer command line package management. The various GUI package managers work fine, but they're...slow IMO.
Up to date. I like modern versions of programs. I can understand if everything isn't latest and greatest, but Firefox and Thunderbird need to be.
No "mega"-packages. I always hated how in Fedora they use packages that include everything. While I can't remember a specific, it's like you can't install ktorrent without also installing kopete and kmail.
KDE available. Doesn't need to have a gui at all when first installed, but need KDE available. I think LXDE looks very promising, but so far it's proven itself a bit too flaky for me to use day to day.
Quick to install/configure. Basically nothing source-based. I always want to be able to use these, but I get soooooooooooooooo bored waiting for it to update stuff.
So anyone have any suggestions of OS's that I should try out? I'm tired of just randomly downloading images from distrowatch and figure I'll actually break down and ASK if anyone has any good suggestions.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
It's not precisely what you describe, but you ought to give Slackware a go. If you do a "full" (I think that's what it's called) install then you don't have to worry about dependencies. Since it doesn't have traditional package management then you can easily do things like installing the latest Firefox and Thunderbird from Mozilla (not that you can't on Debian, I do, just that it fits with the philosophy more).
Installing Salckware is very easy, it has KDE by default, and it "feels snappy" compared to some other distros due to not installing the kitchen sink to get a decent desktop.
I've been considering Slackware (again) for a while and installing a package manager. I know there's a ton out there (unofficial, I realize, but that's ok to me considering how much unofficial stuff I run on my Debian installs).
Slackware has a package manager, it just doesn't do dependency checking for you. If you want that slapt-get or sbopkg (in combination with queue-files) will do the job just fine.
Writing this on a Slackware 14 machine with the latest Firefox and Thunderbird installed (although I prefer Mutt for my mails).
Don't forget Slackware has a very small repository: it's all on the DVD. Yes, there are Slackbuilds, but you're still sitting round waiting for things to compile. I suppose it depends on what you need: OpenOffice is my most used program, and I wouldn't accept a distro that didn't have it. Salix gives you all the Slackware stuff, plus lots of extra programs ready to run. If you've installed Slackware by now, you can set up the Salix repository, install slapt-get, and get the extras software. The Slackers probably excommunicate you for doing that
PCLinuxOS does a very nice KDE and it's up-to-date without being bleeding-edge. The package management is rpm.
If you want bleeding-edge, try Sabayon (equo package manager) or an Arch-based distro (pacman) like Manjaro or Bridge.
OpenOffice is available using a Slackbuild, LibreOffice is available via AlienBob and a Slackbuild
When I (or most people) say a distro has a program, I mean that you can install the binary from a package in that distro's repository. If getting the source code and having it compiled and converted to a package counted, then every distro would have every program in existence. And if I had to do that with everything that I use and Slackware doesn't have in its repository, I might as well be using Gentoo.
Maybe you want to give Arch a try? Very nice & fast package manager, super-bleeding-edge packages. Not exactly *buntu-style ease of installation, but simple once you got that system running.
Beware, very bleeding-edge, i.e., you need to upgrade often (at least every few weeks) and sometimes something breaks as everything is so brand-new (requires backup before upgrading the system).
But the package manager (shell-based) is charming, to say the least.
Yeah, I used to use Arch. I got tired of having to fix my system every other week because the devs seem to have the concentration ability of a squirrel hopped up on crack. OH, shiny, lets implement it even though it'll break everything. Then 2 weeks later they go to something else, breaking the entire system again. And the new installer is utter rubbish. If I want to have to manually copy an install, chroot to it, bootstrap it myself, I'll run LFS. No, Arch went from my 2nd favorite distro to a distro I won't even consider getting close to touching.
I got tired of having to fix my system every other week because the devs seem to have the concentration ability of a squirrel hopped up on crack.
Yea well, thats why i moved away from Arch also. I only mentioned it because it seemed to fit several of the criteria you listed. Arch can be okay if you backup the whole shebang each time before you do an upgrade. Eventually, i also moved away from Arch because of the frequent, severe breakage due to the bleeding-edge nature of everything.
After long years of distro-hopping, for me, it's Gentoo and/or Debian. The only possible alternative for me to even consider would be Slackware, but i never got used to it (the missing dependency-resolving package manager somehow always kept me out) and meanwhile i got what i want anyway. I need control (Gentoo) and/or reliability/low-maintenance/stability (Debian).
Yeah, I use Debian heavily. I stay away from Gentoo because of the timeframe required to update. I don't leave my pc's on all the time, and so I need a full upgrade to take less than an hour often. I just want something DIFFERENT to also use. Slackware sadly failed to install, I was planning on using slapt-get for dependency resolution.
If Bridge ever gets their installer to work properly (currently I am unable to get it to install while using a separate /boot partition, it simply refuses to install a bootloader that points to anything other then / partition), I like the looks of that. Throw it on a laptop I don't use that often and keep nothing important on just to have an Arch based distro that I can reinstall every 2 weeks when the devs go after their latest shiny and break it.