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Hi, I am a Gentoo user and I have been asked by professors in the CS department in our school on what would be the best distribution to one manage the server and two to live on the workstations. They've asked me and ofcourse my answer was right away Gentoo, but I need to hear from those that are not blinded by emerge.
This new lab will consist of about 30+/- Workstations, most likely Dell PC with Intel. We want the Server which I don't know the details about other than it has Fedora (yuck) preinstalled, to manage all the accounts for the workstations with linux and windoze.
I think that the criteria for selecting the distro has to start by assessing the knowledge of the technical staff, after all if they know one distro better than the others then it's quite logical to use that distro.
Then I'll consider the level of knowledge of the users of the Workstations, it's critical to create a productive environment for the people who will use the lab, for what type of work is intended the lab?
If I could choose the distro for just technical merits then I would choose Debian. If you use Sarge is very stable, don't think you can find the stability of Debian in other distros, it also has the benefits of apt-get for software management so you have plenty of software. It's highly customizable.
I also like Gentoo, put in simply it's rock solid. I'd use it in the Server. Unfortunately Gentoo demands more knowledge than other distros.
As for other distros, Fedora Core, SuSE, Ubuntu. All of them are also good options. Again you have to weight which is more important: an user-friendly environment or stability.
Distribution: Kanotix HD Install, Debian Testing, XP Pro,Vista RC1
If you are going to help set this up and Gentoo is what you are the most familiar with it would be the choice to use. It would be an easier setup and configuration if you use what you know about instead of learning different package manager, etc. when setting up a system from scratch. One distro is not really "superior" to the others. I hope that statement doesn't start a war, we all think what we "run" is the best. Familiarity goes a long way to preventing headaches. Good luck.