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Old 09-26-2013, 09:03 AM   #1
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Question What do we expect of a distribution? Not a problem, just a question.

The question arises because I was trying out a distribution the other day (oh OK, Manjaro) which advertises itself as "User Friendly" & "easy", which descriptions lead me to certain expectations from a modern distro. I expect it to detect my wi-fi without a lot of mucking about , and I expect it to make at least some effort to recognise an external USB device, among other things. If I install a from-scratch system such as ARCH then fine, I'll expect to have to work it out, but a system ostensibly for the general user surely needs these things out of the box as standard? (I'm a happy CrunchBanger and yes, #! does these good things ). Anyone got any thoughts?
Old 09-26-2013, 09:06 AM   #2
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Manjaro is pretty cool and has lots of nice features. This being said, I will not use any distro that requires you to go to the terminal just to set the correct time (more than once sometimes as well). I installed it using the CLI (text mode) installer and selected "my computer is set to local time" - it ignored this and messed up the clock anyway. The crowd over there thought I was overly critical for even mentioning this quirk...
Old 09-26-2013, 09:45 AM   #3
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I want an OS that gets out of the way and lets me work. I don't want it to try to take over everything because it usually just screws it up (see Mac), or prevent me from being able to control things if I need to (see Windows). But at the same time I don't want the OS to sit there like an idiot and force me to control every single tiny aspect of it (see Slackware), because that keeps me from being able to actually USE the computer to do something productive.

Most standard Linux distros fall into this happy middle ground (RHEL/Cent, SUSE, Debian, etc.), so at that point it's a matter of finding the balance between new and unstable vs old and reliable. And of the utmost importance is that when I set something up, I want it to STAY set up, and not change itself and decide to stop working for no reason some time later (see Ubuntu).

Your complaints seem valid, the distro should be able to detect, connect, and maintain a wifi connection without a whole lot of futzing around in config files, and it should be able to recognize a USB drive without issue. I don't care either way if it auto-mounts that USB drive, as long as it picks it up and throws it in fdisk's output and allows me to mount it I'm fine, and I haven't found a distro that has any issues doing that yet.

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 09-26-2013 at 09:49 AM.
Old 09-26-2013, 09:40 PM   #4
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I think a lot of what one expects from a distribution in the eye of the beholder.

I started with Slackware v. 10.0 and spent a lot of time learning the command line, but, as I started with DOS v. 3.2, the command line was no stranger to me. I have always rather looked at the GUI as being an overlay on the command line (much of the kludgery in Windows is from trying to convert simple command line operations to complex GUI ones). The command line is always faster than the GUI, as long as you know the commands.

Consequently, adding commands to rc.local seemed no more onerous than tailoring autoexec.bat and config.sys.

As regards finding hardware, such as wireless, much of that depends on how friendly the hardware's manufacturer is to Linux. Broadcom wireless and NTFS filesystems are good examples of this: aggressively free distros such as Debian, which don't include proprietary stuff by default, will require some extra steps to get Broadcom wireless or NTFS devices working.

Just my two cents.

Last edited by frankbell; 09-26-2013 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:19 PM   #5
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IMHO, a distro that calls itself "user-friendly" should offer the same features (or more) than the OS mostly used by (no offense) unskilled users: Windows. So it should without a problem find the correct drivers and install them (Ubuntu does a great job with their jockey program, aka "Additional Drivers") and it should without a problem mount an external storage device that contains a supported filesystem or offer to start an image database program if you connect a photo camera. While Windows may not be perfect it has set the standard for such things and any distro that caters to this type of users should at least fulfill most of that standard.

Other people may have a different view what makes a distro perfect. I, for example, want my computers to do exactly what I tell them to do, not less, not more. I don't want them to do anything in the background without my knowledge, I don't want them to automount anything that is not in my fstab, I don't want them to automatically change anything in my configuration files. When we are it already, I prefer well documented text-files for configuration to GUI dialogs.
That is the reason why I use Slackware, it can be easily configured to do exactly what I expect from my OS (and you can easily configure it to be a user-friendly system).

Maybe you want to have a look at something different than Manjaro, I haven't tried it for a while, but from what I read it seems openSuse is pretty good.

Last edited by TobiSGD; 09-26-2013 at 10:20 PM.
Old 09-27-2013, 12:32 AM   #6
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+1 frankbell
What do I expect from a Linux distro? Consistency; fast boot-up times and very good performance; a command line package handler with some sort of dependency-checking capability; decently stocked repositories, the abilities to "shell out" to a console when I want using F1-F6 and get back the GUI by typing either F7 or startx; not having to worry about automatic updates I do not have control over or about keeping my anti-virus/malware up-to-date; a good support forum targeted to the distro and/or excellent documentation; not to have spyware included in the devs' included software; and a choice of Install types (Core, Base, Full). But, above all, I expect the freedom to do what I want with it, when I want to and howsoever I choose without it costing me monetarily or ethically.
Old 09-27-2013, 12:35 PM   #7
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I expect a distro to get the job done. I don't care how, whether with a nice graphical tool or by editing a file, just so long as it works and it's properly documented.

I write reviews of distros and my bete noir is getting my usb speakers recognised. Some distros (like the two I use) have a nice configuration tool. Debian (and many of its derivatives) is actually set up to block usb sound devices! Fedora does the job so long as you have Gnome or KDE; anything else and you have to write a script as if you were using Arch. The difference is that Arch documents it, Fedora doesn't. And the script won't work in Fedora unless you join the audio group. That's not documented, either. There, rant over! But I think I have a point.
Old 09-27-2013, 03:43 PM   #8
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there is a microsoft time and a every one else in the world time

and the two do NOT get along well

so any dual boot with MS Windows MUST !!! use the Microsoft way of handling time

I am in the RPM camp so for me
OpenSUSE and ScientificLinux

they both do things a bit differently and have there uses

OpenSUSE , though a bit "ODD" , in the way it dose things .Is rather automated

an i do not have to worry about the os much
RHEL / SL / CentOS they allow me to get work done
Old 09-27-2013, 07:00 PM   #9
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It depends on what I'm using it for.

If I want stable, reliable, configurable, and "not-in-a-constant-state-of-beta," then it's a no-brainer... I go with Slackware.

If I'm just messing around, and stability, etc., is not an issue, I'll try most anything, but generally stick with Debian sid (unstable), as I know it best.

Choice is great, I guess, but at a certain point in your Linux usage, you realize that most distros are just re-spins of the major distros, with a bunch of obfuscation (GUI config tools), a different installer, a different icon theme/color scheme, a different package manager, etc.

Wanna step out of your comfort zone? Try this:
Old 09-27-2013, 07:37 PM   #10
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My experience is limited to only a few of the major distros, Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, and Slackware, and one of the BSD's (FreeBSD). Out of all of those, I find Slackware the easiest to install, configure, and use. From a user perspective, the default desktop and system services configuration is sane and fully functional. Configuring the additional services I want to use via text files is about as straightforward as it gets. There are some GUI systems management interfaces in KDE if you want to use them, but you aren't forced to use them. Nothing is obfuscated, nothing is hidden from you. You can do all system administration from a simple command line. There are community-developed and supported SlackBuilds available for most of the additional software I want to install and use. That is what I call user-friendly, although I realize that is not what most people mean by the term.
Old 09-28-2013, 11:36 AM   #11
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Being old enough to have used things like CP/M, OS9, and MSDOS, doing everything without the GUI seems just a step back into a past littered with things like config.sys and autoexec.bat. Been there, done that, NOT going back.
Old 09-28-2013, 11:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
I expect a distro to get the job done. I don't care how, whether with a nice graphical tool or by editing a file, just so long as it works and it's properly documented.
This is how I like it also.
I mostly use Debian which does most things for you but, to my mind, doesn't hide the complexity in the way that Mint or Ubuntu seem to at times.
I like Slackware also, which to me is a distro based upon documentation and logic. It's not the easiest to install or use but it's not difficult either as everything is explained and consistent. It does mean more work than something as automated as Debian but it's honest and effective.
Old 09-28-2013, 12:51 PM   #13
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For me, I expect something different than most. My primary choice of distros is based on the availability of easily installed, preconfigured software. I don't want to do dependency resolution. I don't want to install from source. I just want to install it and use it without a ton of hassle. After that criteria, I prefer an OS that works well with my hardware, but MOST modern distros work well. Not surprisingly, given my preference, Debian is my OS of choice given the size of their repos, although I also have OpenSuse and Chakra installed on machines, and am fairly impressed with both of them (once the packman repo is added in OpenSuse).

As far as the configuration, I'm not all that concerned. I PREFER simplistic tools (apt-get instead of synaptic, zypper instead of whatever the gui is in opensuse, etc), but can use the bloated tools if it's all that's available.
Old 09-28-2013, 02:57 PM   #14
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I like distros aimed for intermediate+ linux users. I hate distros that are bloated with crap I will never use and I like distros with a solid community backing as well.
Old 09-30-2013, 03:58 AM   #15
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Unfortunately I am attracted from distro that need much time devoted before having a little satisfaction.
Exactly as for the girls.
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