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Old 06-19-2009, 12:34 PM   #1
james100
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What Linux distro should I use? Maybe not as easy as it sounds.


Hi

I have been using Linux for a few months now and I have tried out several different distros, eg Ubunto, Fedora, Mandriva, Mint, Zenwalk, PCLinux, Puppy, Debian, Mepis, OpenSUSE, Slackware. I have noticed good and bad points about most of them, but I am having trouble deciding on the version that will best suit my needs. I have tried several webpages that purport to assist people to find the perfect distro for them, but most of them ask questions about matters that I consider to be irrelevant or unimportant, so the results are usually not ideal for me.

For the record, I am currently using a 3GHz, Pentium D (Dual Core), with 2 GByte memory , 165 Gbyte HDD and an Nvidia QuadroFX540 graphics card. I am looking for a distro that will meet all (or at least most) of the following specifications:

(a) Mainly for routine desktop use (ie word processing, spreadsheets, etc.), but also some conversions of CDs into ogg format.

(b) A fairly stable 64 bit distro that does not require me to compile major system components before I can run it. However, if possible I would like the applications software to be as up-to-date as possible.

(c) I want to be able to log in as root and easily change config files etc to what I want them to be if I want to. I am aware that doing so is frowned on by many, and that it can involve some degree of risk to my system, however, if I am prepared to accept that risk I don't want a system that will do everything it can to make it difficult to achieve. I am aware that this can be done using "su" or "sudo" in almost all distros, but this works mostly for commands; in some distros it is all but impossible to open some programs (eg file managers) as root.

(d) Where possible I want a distro that comes complete with programs (including the appropriate codecs) that allow me to view commercial DVDs, DivX, XVid, AVI etc, and to convert audio into various formats (eg MP3, OGG, FLAK), and to run Flash, PDFs, etc. with no problems. To be clear, I would prefer this all to be part of the initial download, and not to require additional downloads after installation.

(e) I would like it to have a good sized repository of additional software that has been compiled for that particular distro but, where possible, I would like to be able to easily access those programs without always having to use a package manager to download them. For example, if I wanted to download a statistics program from a repository, I would like to be able to download it onto a USB stick from a PC in one location, and then be able to easily install it on a different PC in another location without requiring a direct internet connection between the final PC and the repository.

(f) Ideally, the distro should be quick to load, and not overly bloated. For example, I am not a programmer so I do not require any developer software unless it is required by other programs that are necessary for the function of the distro; I only speak one language, so I do not require the distro to contain libraries or dictionaries for several languages; I only ever use a handful of fonts, so I do not want a directory filled with dozens of fonts that I never use. So in essence I want to have some control over the types of software that are installed, although I do not want to have to choose every one of the thousands of files that will be installed.

What do you think? Am I just being too fussy, or do you know a distro that meets my requirements?

Last edited by james100; 06-19-2009 at 12:36 PM.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 12:41 PM   #2
amani
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Kubuntu


For c)

#sudo -c

You have a root terminal, from which you can launch GUI programs

add medibuntu repos



With Fedora c) is harder
 
Old 06-19-2009, 12:43 PM   #3
noctilucent
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Arch Linux. Doesn't match: "To be clear, I would prefer this all to be part of the initial download, and not to require additional downloads after installation."

P.S.: Finding a distribution one can be happy with does not sound "easy" to me [referring to the thread title].

Last edited by noctilucent; 06-19-2009 at 12:44 PM.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 12:53 PM   #4
brianL
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SlacDebFedMandUbuGentArchFromScratch.

Last edited by brianL; 06-19-2009 at 12:55 PM.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 12:57 PM   #5
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james100 View Post
I have been using Linux for a few months now and I have tried out several different distros, eg Ubunto, Fedora, Mandriva, Mint, Zenwalk, PCLinux, Puppy, Debian, Mepis, OpenSUSE, Slackware. I have noticed good and bad points about most of them, but I am having trouble deciding on the version that will best suit my needs.
You should be past asking that question. Most of the important differences are more important to a beginner and you're not a beginner anymore.

Quote:
(b) A fairly stable 64 bit distro that does not require me to compile major system components before I can run it.
Mepis 8.0 is that. So are many others, but see below.

Quote:
However, if possible I would like the applications software to be as up-to-date as possible.
That's a harder question

Quote:
(c) I want to be able to log in as root and easily change config files etc to what I want them to be if I want to.
Mepis 8.0 is a lot friendlier about that (more and easier ways to work as root) than the other distributions I've tried.

I like the concept that the software writers don't assume I'm an idiot. I know enough to use non root for web browsing and most ordinary activities. I like the fact that when I explicitly decide to use root, I can use the same (mainly GUI) programs (konqueror, kwrite, etc.) that I use as non root, rather than switch to tools I rarely use and will make mistakes using. (and/or get distracted by extra layers of nonsense needed to start the desired programs).

Of course all that easy root access can be turned on in other distributions if you know how. The difference matters to a beginner who is trying to use root to configure the things he needs to start learning the things that so much of the Linux culture assumes he is supposed to know before he starts.

Quote:
(d) Where possible I want a distro that comes complete with programs (including the appropriate codecs) that allow me to view commercial DVDs, DivX, XVid, AVI etc,
Would be nice. Is it that important? Its easy to enable the multimedia repository (despite the stupidity I recently demonstrated on that detail in another thread) then use Synaptic to add whatever media programs are there. I expect that is a large fraction of what you want.

If you're asking about things that aren't even in Debian multimedia, maybe you have more of a point.

Quote:
I would prefer this all to be part of the initial download, and not to require additional downloads after installation.
But additional download/install is so easy, it isn't an issue worth worrying about.

Quote:
Am I just being too fussy
For most of what you asked, I think you are.

Last edited by johnsfine; 06-19-2009 at 01:07 PM.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 01:02 PM   #6
james100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianL View Post
SlacDebFedMandUbuGentArchFromScratch.
ROTFLMAO - I'll be the first to admit that I probably desrved that, but I will continue to look for the distro that best suits me.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 01:03 PM   #7
unSpawn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianL View Post
SlacDebFedMandUbuGentArchFromScratch.
Ah. You mean SchizoidOS ;-p

Makes me wonder though what package management system or slogan such an abomination would use...
 
Old 06-19-2009, 02:08 PM   #8
james100
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johnsfine

Thanks for your detailed response, I really do appreciate it.

Quote:
Quote:
Am I just being too fussy
For most of what you asked, I think you are.
I'll take that one on the chin as I agree that you are probably right. On rereading my post I probably come across as a bit petulant; hopefully this is not the case in reality. All of the Linux distros that I have used have been good, and they are a credit to the untold hours of work that must go into their making. However, I can't see any problem with individual users, such as myself, looking for a distro that best meets their needs and personality. With so little in the way of choice with Microsoft and MacIntosh, it is somewhat difficult to come to terms with the wide variety of choice available with Linux.

Perhaps I should have added in my original post that one of my major problems is that, for various reasons, I cannot get internet access to my home. From time to time I can use my friend's computer to access the internet, as I am doing tonight, and I also have access to the internet from work. This may explain why it is so impotant to me that a system be as complete as possible and not require me to download additional software after it has been installed. This is also why I would like to be able to download software from a repository without having to use a package manager on a direct internet connection, if that is possible.

Quote:
Quote:
(d) Where possible I want a distro that comes complete with programs (including the appropriate codecs) that allow me to view commercial DVDs, DivX, XVid, AVI etc,
Would be nice. Is it that important? Its easy to enable the multimedia repository (despite the stupidity I recently demonstrated on that detail in another thread) then use Synaptic to add whatever media programs are there. I expect that is a large fraction of what you want
I spend most of my time on the PC using applications software, for complex data analysis and report writing. I probably spend less than 10% of my computing time on more frivolous matters. However, I like to transfer music from CD to MP3 to listen to on the train when travelling between home and work.The six points that I made are pretty well in their order of importance to me. So you are right; music and videos are not make or break matters. I would be happy to use a distro that did not provide audiovisual codecs if it met my other needs, but given a choice between two otherwise similar distros I would choose the one that provides them.

Thanks for suggesting Mepis. I had looked at it before, but possibly I did not evaluate its benefits as well as I should have. It is still loaded on my PC, so I will re-evaluate and see if I missed something, especially in terms of its access to root, which is certainly higher in priority for me that access to codecs.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 02:10 PM   #9
thorkelljarl
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A true story, or what you can get...

In the story of the Princess and the Pea, note that it is not the Pea alone that decides the state of the Princess.

Good Luck

Last edited by thorkelljarl; 06-19-2009 at 02:17 PM.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 02:19 PM   #10
NeddySeagoon
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james100,

If it wasn't for
Quote:
(b) A fairly stable 64 bit distro that does not require me to compile major system components before I can run it. However, if possible I would like the applications software to be as up-to-date as possible.
I would suggest Gentoo. This requirement is a contradiction to all the others, which can be summed up as you want your distro your way, which is what Gentoo gives you. That means building it *all*.

Gentoo isn't really a distro at all. Its a meta-distro. It provides all the tools for you to build your own distro. Stable? I have a 6 year old gentoo thats been updated monthly with never a reinstall. Its as current as its last update.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 02:24 PM   #11
farslayer
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Debian Squeeze, Base install then add what you need. Huge repository, relatively Up to date software (sid would be more up to date, but sometimes has glitches..), Very Stable. You are in control of config files, the system will not interfere with you customizing configurations unlike some other distros.

Sidux - Managed Debian Sid. More up to date, stable, customizable.. http://sidux.com/index.php?module=pnWikka&tag=whysidux
 
Old 06-19-2009, 02:45 PM   #12
brianL
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You're not going to find a distro that does everything you want it to do "out of the box". They all, to differing degrees, need bits adding and/or adjusting.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 05:03 PM   #13
craigevil
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sidux then run exnoodles for all the multimedia stuff. % minutes to install then 5 minutes to install the multimedia things you want.

Or Mint since it comes with most of those things.
 
Old 06-19-2009, 08:43 PM   #14
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james100 View Post
(d) Where possible I want a distro that comes complete with programs (including the appropriate codecs) that allow me to view commercial DVDs, DivX, XVid, AVI etc, and to convert audio into various formats (eg MP3, OGG, FLAK), and to run Flash, PDFs, etc. with no problems. To be clear, I would prefer this all to be part of the initial download, and not to require additional downloads after installation.
That one requirement makes things more difficult; for legal/organisational reasons; you'll probably have to relax that a little to get anywhere, but once you have accepted the need to do that, it does get appreciably easier.

Quote:
(e) I would like it to have a good sized repository of additional software that has been compiled for that particular distro but, where possible, I would like to be able to easily access those programs without always having to use a package manager to download them. For example, if I wanted to download a statistics program from a repository, I would like to be able to download it onto a USB stick from a PC in one location, and then be able to easily install it on a different PC in another location without requiring a direct internet connection between the final PC and the repository.
And you are prepared to do that with, eg, a stats package, but you aren't with a codec?

Quote:
Perhaps I should have added in my original post that one of my major problems is that, for various reasons, I cannot get internet access to my home.
I agree that this is a real, and often overlooked, problem, but I'm afraid that you will have to 'bite the bullet' on using the sneakernet for, eg, codecs. Having accepted that, the rest of the problem does become manageable and one of several distros is suitable (albeit with different procedures for the sneakernet part...essentially maintaining your own repo, somewhere on your hard disk that you 'top up' from your usb stick can be made to work with most distros/package managers, although the details of how to do it vary completely depending upon package manager).
 
Old 06-19-2009, 11:41 PM   #15
chickenlinux
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Try ubuntu. With some 3rd party repos, and the GTKsu stuff, you'll be able to do plenty of things as root without actually being root but sudoing or suing to it. (drove me crazy at first, but after 2 weeks, it becomes just as good.) XVid and stuff can be easily installed. Ubuntu is easy to update and comes with plenty of applications. I would recommend you check out slackware too if you're not a noob. For both, because some of the codec software and stuff is restricted, you have no choice but to install all of that fun stuff after the initial install. It's inevitable, sorry
 
  


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