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(most stable? a rock can be considered
powerful as it can not be moved with
ease.. running heavy tasks most easily?
getting the most out of your hardware?
in my opinion it comes down to user
configuration - without that no distro
will work as the user wants it to work;
and it can not be powerful then.. or
perhaps not even useful..)
It's kinda like when people buy sports cars and don't know how to use them.
They get all muscled up and don't know what it can do for them.
I'd have to agree with the configuration issue. It really boils down to what YOU MAKE the system do... not what the system makes you do.
Try something all pretty and candy like. Along the lines of RedHat, or SuSE. After you play with it for about a week (and I mean use it like you would the wintendo)
Then try something like a Slack9 distro. You'll see the difference right away. (err... assuming you are fluent enough to get the distro up) but it isn't all that hard at all... but I'm sure you've heard that too.
Would a distribution be more powerful to you if it was simple to install and included everything you needed or install what you wanted and add what you needed?
Otherwise they do pretty much the same thing.
I consider powerful as the MOST required toolset with the MINIMUM number of space required and ease maintaining of installed software. I dislike RPM-distro's though just to point that out ... I'm a Debian addicted :-)