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Old 12-13-2012, 02:06 PM   #1
bvbellomo
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Help choosing a distro


I am a software developer who knows more than anyone would want to know about the windows environment. I am trying to get up to speed on Linux, and prefer to run Linux on my home machines.

For my first Linux experience, I picked Ubuntu. I decided I do not like Ubuntu as a distro, since it was so heavy. Any time anything went wrong, I'd have to understand everything relevant to Linux, and then learn everything that Ubuntu changed, and then figure out how to fix my system. Ubuntu may be targeting less technical people, but it is definitely NOT easier to use. It is great for setting up a 'surf-the-web' box quickly, but for a developer machine with tons of packages installed, reformatting every month is not fun, and troubleshooting bugs took all my time if I didn't do that.

So I moved to Arch. Arch was great as far as being lightweight and simple, documentation is great, and I found it much easier and faster to get a machine installed the way I wanted it, as well as to troubleshoot problems. The problem is how often the problems occur. If you do a full update (pacman -Syu) daily, you eat hours troubleshooting bugs at least weekly. You can avoid updating your system, but that only makes the problems that much worse when you finally run it. I like the simplicity, but not the 'bleeding edge' beta quality of everything installed on the system, and switching every day.

So I moved to Chakra. I prefer KDE, and I liked there 'double-rolling-release' idea. Unfortunately, documentation is almost non-existent (beyond what is there for arch), anyone on an Arch forum will close your thread with 'Chakra is not Arch' if they find out you run Chakra, and the Chakra community itself is too small to address any issues. The updates are less frequent, which for me is good, but the quality of the updates is not any higher as a result.

So I was thinking of moving to Fedora. It has been long known for stability, and it is widely used in academia, which appeals to me as a PhD student. Then I started reading about all the bugs in Beefy Miracle, and how it is not up to the usual standards. I started reading about how Spherical Cow has been delayed for several months because of show stopping bugs. So should I do an install of Verne, which is almost end of life, or Beefy Miracle or wait for Spherical Cow? Fedora also seems to prefer Gnome over KDE, so maybe it isn't the disto for me.

What I want:
1) A stable system where I don't have something broken every week. I like spending time debugging code - MY OWN CODE, and I can't do that if I have to debug every driver and package on my system.

2) A simple distro, and by simple, I mean does not include tons of distro-specific stuff, not simple for my grandparents to surf the web.

3) Reasonably up to date software, so long as it doesn't come at the expense of 1) or 2)

4) Something I can customize to install and run any hardware or software that works with Linux.

Is Fedora my best bet? Any other suggestions?
 
Old 12-13-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
millgates
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What about Slackware? It perfectly fits your requirements 1,2 and 4. As for 3, it's more "stable" then "bleeding edge", but it depends on what you consider "reasonably up to date". Anyway, Fedora is nice, too.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 02:31 PM   #3
bvbellomo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millgates View Post
What about Slackware? It perfectly fits your requirements 1,2 and 4. As for 3, it's more "stable" then "bleeding edge", but it depends on what you consider "reasonably up to date". Anyway, Fedora is nice, too.
I am considering it. It has a reasonably large user base, but it seems people are leaving it for other distros. It's package manager doesn't track dependencies, which could be a stability issue. I am not sure how well the 64-bit version works.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 02:37 PM   #4
TroN-0074
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Another vote for slackware here. Version 14 is already out. Very stable, updates I find to be no too far from the rest of the big guys distros out there. Download the install DVD from a torrent site, the DVD contains the majority of the packages including Xfce and KDE and some other windows manager.
The SlackWare forums here on LQ functions pretty much semi Official. So head that way and post your questions about SlackWare there.

Good luck to you.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 02:39 PM   #5
snowpine
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You pretty much exactly just described Slackware.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 02:45 PM   #6
sycamorex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvbellomo View Post
I am considering it. It has a reasonably large user base, but it seems people are leaving it for other distros. It's package manager doesn't track dependencies, which could be a stability issue. I am not sure how well the 64-bit version works.
The fact that the package manager doesn't automatically install dependencies can be anything but a stability issue, imho It's not as inconvenient as some people describe it. As far as the 64-bit version is concerned, it works just fine. Why wouldn't it?
 
Old 12-13-2012, 02:54 PM   #7
TobiSGD
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Slackware is also the distro that I would recommend. regarding the package manager: No, it doesn't resolve dependencies. this is actually a benefit for stability, since you can decide which software you want to have installed on your system with which optional dependency in which version. Except of Gentoo and LFS i don't know of any distro that allows you to do that (if you don't want to roll or your own packages, which can be quite a hassle with DEB and RPM packages, but is delightfully easy on Slackware).
The 64 bit system works fine, but keep in mind that it is pure 64 bit, if you want to compile and run 32 bit software only you have to use AlienBob's multilib packages.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 03:21 PM   #8
markush
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Slackware meets your requirements. It is rocksolid. I've used Arch for several years but went back to Slackware because of the stability. I've never had a broken Slackware system in 18 years.

We have a very helpful and knowledgeable community here at LQ http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/slackware-14/

Markus
 
Old 12-13-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
sycamorex
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Also, if you decide to install Slackware, don't forget to check Slackware Documentation Project.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 03:46 PM   #10
cheese1343
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+1 for Slackware, but if you prefer automatic dependency resolution, you could try a Slackware derivative such as Salix.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 04:04 PM   #11
bvbellomo
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Given my goal is stability, should I try version 14? Or will an older release be significantly better?
 
Old 12-13-2012, 04:06 PM   #12
TobiSGD
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Slackware is tested very well before it is released, so it is safe to go for 14. Running it since release date without any issues here.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 04:07 PM   #13
markush
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvbellomo View Post
Given my goal is stability, should I try version 14? Or will an older release be significantly better?
No, 14 is ok, as stable as always.

Markus
 
Old 12-13-2012, 04:52 PM   #14
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+1 for Slackware.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 09:14 PM   #15
chrism01
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Can I just point out (for general info) that this
Quote:
So I was thinking of moving to Fedora. It has been long known for stability
is exactly wrong.
Fedora is RH's bleeding edge R&D distro; definitely not stable. Stable would be RHEL or Centos (free rebuild of RHEL).

BTW, if you're in the Sciences or Engineering, consider Scientific Linux; another rebuild of RHEL from Fermi/CERN. Comes with extra Sci/Eng pkgs.

Last edited by chrism01; 12-13-2012 at 09:17 PM.
 
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