Welcome to the most active Linux Forum on the web.
Go Back > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Distributions
User Name
Linux - Distributions This forum is for Distribution specific questions.
Red Hat, Slackware, Debian, Novell, LFS, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Fedora - the list goes on and on... Note: An (*) indicates there is no official participation from that distribution here at LQ.


  Search this Thread
Old 10-16-2009, 01:10 AM   #1
Registered: Jul 2006
Posts: 44

Rep: Reputation: 16
[rant] DIstro frustration and alienation/suggestions for stable distro

I've used quite a few distros over the years. First thing I installed was an ancient Slackware distro. Wasn't easy as back then my CD controller was on my soundcard which gave Slackware fits LOL. But I got it working.

Eventually after trying dozens of distros I really fell in love with the Redhat series. It was rock solid, easy to install an came with the best drivers around. If you couldn't install Redhat out of the box on a machine you likely were not installing ANY distro on that box.

Me I USE my machines heavily. Each has literally thousands of apps installed, most of which I use on a frequent basis for various tasks, often leavin hundreds open for months at a time. I want to work WITH my computer not ON it. Sure when I was a computer noob I thought it was cool and made me tech savy to have the latest greatest this and that, to always be chaning my machine around and such. I'll leave that too the new generation of noobs. I discovered with Redhat that I didn't have to change much. I kept up with updates and every few years a feature would come out that I absolutely needed or wanted. Then and only for the machines I needed those features on I'd upgrade. It was usually about 5 years per version before it became rather hard to find software that would work with that version. So an install typically lasted me 3 to 7 years.

That is one of my favorite things about Linux, or at least used to be. Except to patch the machine once I had it like I wanted it I didn't have to mess with it for years on end. It normally takes me a good 2 to 4 weeks to really customize a machine. I'd rather physically move than upgrade a machine. Takes less time to move all my stuff than to reconfigure everything on a new install. Less damaging too. Every time I upgrade that means accounting for literally 10s of millions of user generated files and making sure they survive the uprade. Every upgrade shows me nooks and crannies that I forgot to add to backups and dirs that I meant to move but didn't and accidentally formated the drive they lived on. So physically moving to a new abode is less damaging than upgrading.

Today that seems like an impossible dream. Fedora frustrates me with end of life and copying windoze UI features which suck on windoze and make even less sense on Linux. Both Fedora and Ubuntu end of life versions in just a few years years if that long. Takes that long to really break in a version. Raw distros have no decent package management so it's back to tarball dependency hell with them. None of the commercial stuff supports them. Often even OSS packages do not support them.

What exactly has Linux added in the last 3 years. Lets be honest, the newest distros look different. Some have added/subtracted default packages. FC7 and FC12. The difference between them aside from look an feel is? Not much I can discern. Sure they have different kernels but if you could still upgrade FC7 you'd have the same kernel as FC12. Glibc, the kernel, none of that makes a distro. That's just Linux. What does the lastest Ubuntu version do that Hardy didn't do? And why could that not be back ported to Hardy?

Eventually you build enough real changes to make obsoleting a version worthwhile but I'm just not seeing major changes in the new distros.

I finally found an out of the box RT kernel distro that supports JACK. If I didn't know better I'd swear there's some secret Linux developer cabal who hates musicians LOL. Think about it, you have all this cool software like Aurdor and Rosegarden and such, yet I have yet to meet more than 2 people who actually can get the stuff to work. Why because it all depends on JACK and JACK doesn't run work and play well with any distro known to man, not until Jacklab came out. They release once based on OpenSUSE. Rather nice distro then they go away !!!!!!!!! Worse it's based on OpenSUSE 10.2 and 10.2 is obsoleted. Nnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Can't even keep it running as is. Too many security issues and dependency hell has gotten so bad that even something simple as Gaim is a four hour ordeal to track down all the dependancies IF you can get it all to work and play well with the other stuff you have installed. A very big if.

Is there ANY distro out there with decent repositories that you can install and forget except for upgrades for the next 4 or 5 years? Any distro that still has that Linux spirit of not changing version numbers for pure cosmetic reasons? What exactly is wrong with 10.14? If you really haven't changed much don't obsolete older versions. Just build off what you have. Right now by the time a version is mostly bug free it's obsoleted. Is there some compulsive need to imitate M$'s mistakes?

This forced upgrade mentality is leaving Linux noobs in the lurch and unprotected. They buy a Dell laptop for example with Linux on it. Then a year later Ununtu obsoletes that version. It has propriatory Dell drivers that your not likely to find in a default distro yet. This is a daunting and time consuming task for a Linux vet and impossible for a noob without extensive help. So they don't upgrade, and get hacked or they do upgrade and lose their soundcard or something else and get a bad taste for Linux. Come on people this is sheer insanity. Who wants to hand compile drivers? Not many of us are that masochistic these days LOL. Once long ago in the bad old days we had to such things out of necesity. Why force people to contend with that. The Linux community has grown. No longer are IT geeks the only ones using Linux. Today granny Jones and 11 year olds are using Linux. No way these folks are going to find, then hand compile drivers for an upgraded version, then port them on a thumb drive (assuming USB even works) to a command console (since the vid drivers are one of the drivers you have to hand compile) Arrrgg come on!

We need longer lifespans with the versions. A version should last longer than the average computer. Even Windoze users often use the same version of windoze the entire lifespan of the computer. Why should Linux users now suffer?

So I'm open too a distro with good drivers, supports KDE, and doesn't obsolete a version in 2 or 3 years. Not just open I desperately need one. I refuse to become a minimalist user. Reduced to just web browsing and email and a few other common tasks because Linux has left me and so many other users behind.
Old 10-16-2009, 02:00 AM   #2
LQ Newbie
Registered: Dec 2006
Distribution: ARCH Linux
Posts: 15

Rep: Reputation: 2
This is going to sound a bit heretical, but...

Try FreeBSD. (Or NetBSD or OpenBSD if you want to go hard core). Start with the desktop-oriented "tweak" of FreeBSD, PC-BSD.

In the BSDs everything from the kernel and device drivers through to the user applications is kept in sync by the same "release engineering" team. There are no problems with independent "upstream developers" who do things at a different rate to the distro packagers. No "dependency hell".

The FreeBSD package management system has always been better than any of the Linux ones - and by that I mean it works. Provided you have a fast internet connection, security updates and upgrades are painless. Sure, they change wersion numbers, but it's just a single command (and a bit of a wait) to upgrade. No glitches.

And the BSDs don't have ALSA! What's not to like? ;-)

I say these things as as a past and present user of Corel Linux, Red Hat (one of the early ones), Mandrake, PCLinuxOS, Debian, and Ubuntu. (And D*mn Small Linux, on occasion.)

If you insist on sticking with a GNU/Linux distribution, the one that will salve the most of your sore points is Ubuntu. Get one of the LTS (long-term support) releases of Ubuntu- the last was 8.04, and I think the next will be 10.04 or 10.10. Install KDE on it.

If Dell didn't use a LTS release, then that's a reason not to buy your OS from Dell, that's all.
Old 10-16-2009, 02:52 AM   #3
Simon Bridge
LQ Guru
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Waiheke NZ
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 9,211

Rep: Reputation: 198Reputation: 198
Usually I'd suggest you go to Ubuntu LTS releases for the ease of use and upgrades.
For configure and forget - you want Slackware, Gentoo, or the stable release of Debian.

The caveat is that the machine must be 100% supported by free software drivers. That fixes most of your rant and, as you point out, vendors would do well to take note. Linux keeps getting the blame for vendor failures.

It is sad and frustrating, but not our fault, and there is nothing more we can do about it.

We need longer lifespans with the versions. A version should last longer than the average computer. Even Windoze users often use the same version of windoze the entire lifespan of the computer. Why should Linux users now suffer?
The average computer is guaranteed for less than 3 years. People run their computers longer against manufacturer recommendations.

2-years seems to be what everyone is settling on as reasonable, even MySQL is abandoning the 5-year release cycle. Usually there is an extra year or so of support at the end. But 5 years is more common for the server. (Though I know servers still running RH9 - so it happens.)

The reason for this is the different development paradigms of free software vs proprietary. The development of free software is typically very fast - so the condition which requires a full new release arrives sooner. (The windows equiv would be the service patch level - in linux XP SP2 would be a different release to XP SP1).

A commitment to security usually means that updates are daily occurences, as opposed to monthly on other systems where convenience is considered more important.

Offset against the inconvenience of these updates, the free software world offers:

rapid bug fixes
rapid development
participation in the development process
flexability in managing the updates
wide choice
ownership of the software
low to zero acquisition and upgrade price
software that respects your freedoms

I'm sure others can add to this.
Note that debian has famously had a very long release cycle - I think it was three years from woody (2002) to Sarge (2005) - which was criticized.

Probably the best option for a user like yourself is to either manage the upgrades so they are not onerous or use a set-and-forget distro and manage the security implications.

A long release cycle is not going to give you what you say you want.
Old 10-16-2009, 10:27 AM   #4
Registered: Dec 2008
Distribution: Slack 13 + JWM
Posts: 101

Rep: Reputation: 23
Good rant, I can relate to that.

IMHO some of the best MIDI hardware ever made for PCs had ISA interfaces. So even if your music software stayed perfectly stable, you couldn't replicate your favorite hardware environment without going to ebay for antiques.

For many kinds of applications, virtualization could be part of the answer. If a favorite app needs DOS or CP/M or PS/8, why not run in a virtualized environment or on an emulator? It's klunky but it immortalizes the apps that can work that way.


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Most stable server distro unkie888 Linux - Distributions 2 06-05-2008 02:30 PM
General rant about certain distro installers KimVette Linux - General 4 09-24-2005 12:20 PM
A journey of frustration, secure logging. [rant] darklogik_org Linux - Security 2 02-14-2004 03:57 PM
Stable distro J0nathan Linux - Distributions 5 09-18-2003 12:59 PM
Rant on distro discussions netmatrix0 *BSD 1 07-20-2003 12:43 AM > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Distributions

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:48 AM.

Main Menu
Write for LQ is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration