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Old 04-07-2015, 07:52 PM   #1
mindstormer
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Help me choose between 3 distros. How behind are packages being packaged in Ubuntu?


The general question is: How behind are packages being packaged in Ubuntu? I know that this depends on the package and a ton of things, but I just want to get a sense of (stable vs. cutting edge--is there a good balance of both?) Ultimately, I want a system that fast, reliable, up-to-date, and easy to maintain.

I find myself debating whether to go with minimal Ubuntu, Arch Linux, or Slackware. I did some reading and realize that Ubuntu and Slackware are considered stable while Arch Linux is considered bleeding edge (yes, I realize Arch and Slackware require more work to maintain) but never to what extent. For example, I don't mind at all spending a ton of time setting things up since it is a one-time process, but I don't want to spend more than say 10 minutes a month for maintenance and ensuring things to work. From what I've read, Arch actually doesn't require much.

I'm not sure how behind the packages in Ubuntu/Slackware are to warrant me switching to another distro. I'm also not sure how stable Arch Linux is to warrant me to switching to a cutting/bleeding-edge distro for up-to-date stable packages (NOT anything newer, I don't want bleeding edge). I know that Arch has tests its packages too, but people often say "expect breakage".

Thanks!

Some notes:

- Don't recommend Ubuntu simply because Arch/Slackware requires a higher level of understanding to make it work. I intend to read documentations.
- I get the sense that Canonical is in the direction of "my way or the highway" and I really align with the Arch Way, but these are just philosophies that shouldn't have too much say in choosing a distro.
- Package management is important to me in sense that the system is tidy. For now, I have avoided PPAs on Ubuntu for this reason (apt-pinning is a solution but I don't know if it's a complete solution--if it is, I would have no problems with PPAs and actually use them).
- I like a system where it is bloat-free and has what I want, perhaps building from the base up. I don't know if this would necessarily provide me better performance though. I think Slackware kind of goes against this, but it's not a big deal especially because I heard Slackware is quite optimized somehow.
- I was originally set on Arch, but there are people telling me "expect breakage", "never update before an important event because of this" , "too much work to maintain when I just want to get things done" , and highlighting the disadvantages of a rolling-distro. This while I read things like "the only time Arch has broken for me was cause of my mistake in 3 years of using it" , "maintaining Arch takes like 5 minutes a month" , "as long as you subscribe to Arch news and don't do crazy stuff, Arch is as stable as any distro".
- I intend on being a programmer/doing software engineering if that matters. Maybe it means I don't want to spend too much time maintaining (not setting) the OS when I've got other things to do.

Thanks once again.

Last edited by mindstormer; 04-07-2015 at 07:53 PM.
 
Old 04-07-2015, 08:13 PM   #2
frankbell
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Slackware tends to value stable over bleeding-edge, unless you run Slackware --Current, which tends to be more up to date, but still won't be bleeding edge.

I doubt that there is a single benchmark for "bleeding edge," but, if there is, it may be kernel version: I'm running Slackware --Current on this machine with the 3.14.33 kernel. My Mint machine is running kernel v. 3.13.0-48 (frankly, I was mildly surprised at that). The current stable kernel release, according to kernel.org, is 3.19.3.

You might want to take a look at Manjaro, which is based on Arch, but tends to be about a week behind it, and, I understand, is a bit easier to set up, but I have not tried it myself.

I'm not sure that bleeding edge is worth the effort; in 10 years of using Linux, I have not yet encountered a situation in which not having the most recent version of a program has in any way kept me accomplishing that I wanted to accomplish with a computer.
 
Old 04-07-2015, 08:17 PM   #3
JeremyBoden
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Just because there is a development version floating around, it doesn't make any other version "out of date".

Why not just use Debian Stable?
It will definitely be stable.

Canonical have a reputation for messing with the user interface to an undesirable extent.
 
Old 04-07-2015, 08:22 PM   #4
Timothy Miller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindstormer View Post


- I was originally set on Arch, but there are people telling me "expect breakage", "never update before an important event because of this" , "too much work to maintain when I just want to get things done" , and highlighting the disadvantages of a rolling-distro.

Thanks once again.
This was my experience. I ran ARch for about 2 years, and it seemed like every other week the developers would break something because they decided to do something different, so it was chrooting into my system from a live USB to fix things. Eventually, I got tired of fixing my system after every update, and just gave up and moved to Debian "Testing", never been happier since giving up on Arch.
 
Old 04-07-2015, 08:32 PM   #5
jefro
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Install distro's until you get what you like.
 
Old 04-07-2015, 08:44 PM   #6
mindstormer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyBoden View Post
Just because there is a development version floating around, it doesn't make any other version "out of date".

Why not just use Debian Stable?
It will definitely be stable.

Canonical have a reputation for messing with the user interface to an undesirable extent.
That's what I've been hearing about Canonical but I don't know too much about Ubuntu/Linux--what does this actually mean? All I know is that many people hated Unity/Gnome 3 Ubuntu and I used minimal Ubuntu with KDE as a result (does using minimal Ubuntu mean anything at all in regard to this)?
 
Old 04-07-2015, 08:47 PM   #7
mindstormer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
This was my experience. I ran ARch for about 2 years, and it seemed like every other week the developers would break something because they decided to do something different, so it was chrooting into my system from a live USB to fix things. Eventually, I got tired of fixing my system after every update, and just gave up and moved to Debian "Testing", never been happier since giving up on Arch.
I made a thread on the Arch Linux subreddit and was told by the majority that it is actually quite stable especially if you stick with the default repos--could be bias or maybe times have changed (Arch does seem to be moving in an upward trend so maybe things have changed?)

Of course I can just try it out on a VM but I'm in college and am quite busy so I doubt I will be able to test it somewhat extensively to be able to take away anything meaningful.
 
Old 04-07-2015, 09:06 PM   #8
Timothy Miller
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It's possible, I haven't used it in about 3 years.
 
Old 04-08-2015, 04:05 AM   #9
Germany_chris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindstormer View Post
The general question is: How behind are packages being packaged in Ubuntu? I know that this depends on the package and a ton of things, but I just want to get a sense of (stable vs. cutting edge--is there a good balance of both?) Ultimately, I want a system that fast, reliable, up-to-date, and easy to maintain.

I find myself debating whether to go with minimal Ubuntu, Arch Linux, or Slackware. I did some reading and realize that Ubuntu and Slackware are considered stable while Arch Linux is considered bleeding edge (yes, I realize Arch and Slackware require more work to maintain) but never to what extent. For example, I don't mind at all spending a ton of time setting things up since it is a one-time process, but I don't want to spend more than say 10 minutes a month for maintenance and ensuring things to work. From what I've read, Arch actually doesn't require much.

I'm not sure how behind the packages in Ubuntu/Slackware are to warrant me switching to another distro. I'm also not sure how stable Arch Linux is to warrant me to switching to a cutting/bleeding-edge distro for up-to-date stable packages (NOT anything newer, I don't want bleeding edge). I know that Arch has tests its packages too, but people often say "expect breakage".

Thanks!

Some notes:

- Don't recommend Ubuntu simply because Arch/Slackware requires a higher level of understanding to make it work. I intend to read documentations.
- I get the sense that Canonical is in the direction of "my way or the highway" and I really align with the Arch Way, but these are just philosophies that shouldn't have too much say in choosing a distro.
- Package management is important to me in sense that the system is tidy. For now, I have avoided PPAs on Ubuntu for this reason (apt-pinning is a solution but I don't know if it's a complete solution--if it is, I would have no problems with PPAs and actually use them).
- I like a system where it is bloat-free and has what I want, perhaps building from the base up. I don't know if this would necessarily provide me better performance though. I think Slackware kind of goes against this, but it's not a big deal especially because I heard Slackware is quite optimized somehow.
- I was originally set on Arch, but there are people telling me "expect breakage", "never update before an important event because of this" , "too much work to maintain when I just want to get things done" , and highlighting the disadvantages of a rolling-distro. This while I read things like "the only time Arch has broken for me was cause of my mistake in 3 years of using it" , "maintaining Arch takes like 5 minutes a month" , "as long as you subscribe to Arch news and don't do crazy stuff, Arch is as stable as any distro".
- I intend on being a programmer/doing software engineering if that matters. Maybe it means I don't want to spend too much time maintaining (not setting) the OS when I've got other things to do.

Thanks once again.
The Arch why is more than a philosophy it's the guiding principle of the arch community and effects everything they do. If you keep repos under control you probably won't have to much issues but that's not to say you won't though and no I wouldn't and don't update unless I've got a few minutes in case there is a problem. You should probably hang out in the Arch BBS before you choose it's a bit more bare knuckled than here or most communities and if that's not your speed stay away.
 
Old 04-08-2015, 05:53 AM   #10
millgates
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindstormer View Post
- Don't recommend Ubuntu simply because Arch/Slackware requires a higher level of understanding to make it work. I intend to read documentations.
Actually, I don't think Slackware needs a lot of understanding to make it work. I installed Slackware on a PentiumII 400MHz with 64 MB RAM. I installed Slackware on a brand new UEFI based system. I installed Slackware on a Raspberry Pi. I installed Slackware from IDE optical drive, SATA optical drive, USB stick, SSD card and NFS. Slackware worked for me out-of-the-box EVERY SINGLE TIME. Now there were things I decided to customize, but never had to set up anything to make it work, which is something I can't say about ubuntu. Maybe i was just lucky.
That said, if you need to install new software on Slackware, you often end up having to compile it yourself, which may be a little time consuming.
I don't have any experience with Arch, but they seem to have very good documentation.
 
Old 04-08-2015, 06:59 AM   #11
TobiSGD
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Slackware: Extremely stable, but some packages, even in -current, are out of date, while others are pretty new. You get a whole bunch of packages with the recommended default installation, but other than taking up some space on the harddisk there is no performance impact, since everything is disabled by default. It is possible to go for the "build it from a minimal install up to what you want" route, but due to the feature of not having automatic dependency resolution it can sometimes be a hassle to do that. Be aware that the default installation is all you get in regards to packages for Slackware, everything else has either to come from third party repositories or has to be installed from source (which is made much easier by the effort of the SlackBuilds.org people). Documentation is good and Slackware users in general are helpful when you have problems.

Ubuntu: Stability and how up to date packages are depends on the version you install. If you go for the interim versions (those without the LTS label) you are pretty up to date, but they are not as tested as the LTS versions, which are more stable, but a bit behind when it comes to package versions. Occasionally key parts, like the kernel, are offered in newer versions as an official update. Like most Debian based distributions, the APT package manager makes it very easy to build a system from the ground up.
Due to its large userbase documentation is very good and help can be plenty, though the large userbase also can sometimes lead to "the blind leading the blind" situations.

Arch: Arch is pretty up to date if you use the stable version and bleeding edge when you use the testing repositories. Using the testing repositories is only recommended when you really need a newer version of a software and due to its nature as development branch it can break. So far, didn't happen for me, I run Arch with testing enabled (and the pipelight repository to get wine-staging) on my laptop. It is designed to be build from the ground up and is pretty easy to maintain, if you spend attention to their website, they warn about larger updates that may cause breakage.
Documentation is the best of any distro I know, the ArchWiki is excellent and helped me often even when facing problems on other distros.

If you want a system that is built from the ground up to exactly the system you want (and you have no problem with reading documentation and own a reasonably fast machine) and up to date (using the stable version) or bleeding edge (using the ~arch version) you might also consider to have a look at Gentoo. I would go so far as to not consider Gentoo a "real" distro, but a framework used to build exactly the distro you want. Documentation is good, though sometimes lacking or behind actual package versions, which can be confusing.

Another thing that might influence your decision is your stand on technologies like systemd, if you are opposed to it you will pretty much be limited to Slackware (or Gentoo, CRUX, Void and maybe a few others), if you have no problems with it then you can use Ubuntu (uses Upstart currently, but the switch to systemd is announced and currently in the works), Arch or Gentoo. If you really want it you can use most distributions (exceptions I know of: CRUX and in the future Devuan), even Slackware, if you use bartgymnast's systemd packages.

Last edited by TobiSGD; 04-08-2015 at 07:00 AM.
 
  


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