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Old 07-26-2005, 08:57 PM   #16
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Australia
Distribution: Slackware Archlinux FreeBSD
Posts: 218

Rep: Reputation: 30

Hi Murdock1979

I have tried approximately 20 distro's in the last 9 months. For around 6 months of this I had around 4 distro's running at one time. I ran Arch exclusively for 6 weeks and then moved to Slackware. I use Slackware as my main distro, and I believe this to be the best distro for me.

The quailities I look for include a clean install, a lean initial system, fast operation, easy package management, wide selection of packages, stability, good community support, low or easy maintenance for continous use, and near bleeding edge packages.

So I thought I would share with you my opinion of the various distros available, as food for thought.

My setup

P4 intel 2.8Gz
Aopen AX4PE M/B with Promise Fasttrak TX2
512Mb ram
Nvidia MX440 VGA
Creative Audigy live S/C

Debian and Debian based:- These include Debian Sarge, Bonzai, Libranet, Zen, Mepis, Ubuntu

I put these all together for a few reasons. They all act very similar, and except for Debian tended to run slower than other distro's. This is due to the package management apt-get. This is a fantastic tool for ease of use, but the dependencies are many and unless you know what your doing each distro soon turns into a massive installation.

a) Debian - by far the best from this group. Simple install, lovely community. Able to groom to whatever you want. Debian is well documented, with fantastic support. 3 repositories to choose from, just apt-get it. Have nothing against it, just didn't feel right for me.

b) Libranet and Mepis - 2 great distro's for newbies. GUI stuff everywhere, visually appealling, almost automatic install. Both contain a lovely control centre. I found with both of these after updating consistent problems. I was a newbie at this stage though.

c) Ubuntu - Fantastic distro if you never want to look under the hood!! Grandma could use it! Ubuntu is diverging away from it's mother Debian. Package management is still based on deb, but as time goes on, I think it will get messy. Great communtiy. This ran the slowest of all distro's I tried.

d) Bonzai and Zen - early day for these two, but light Debian distro's. Both interesting!

Mandrake 9.1 & 10 - Ahh my first real attempt at linux. I dabbled with redhat but not enough to give it a good chance. Initially this was a great introduction to linux, especially since I was a "point and click" user at this point. This distro was had it tough, with lawsuits etc, and have done a great service to the open source community IMHO. Would I use it now????? No. The default setup looks like a comic magazine, and it runs quite slow. One of the best installers for newbies though. Would I recommend it???? As an intro to linux absolutely.

Suse 9.1 - A reasonable distro. I don't like their philosophy, and closed door policy. A scorpion should be it's logo because everytime you start trusting it, it seems to sting you. In the 4 weeks I ran it, I spent more time fixing it than using it. I even installed this one on my 8 year old's computer as I thought it was newbie proof. It looks great, and has a quality feel, but.................

Arch Linux - This is a distro to watch for the future. Pacman is fantastic, and the config files are arranged very nicely in /etc. This is a bleeding edge distro, that will suit anyone who likes to tinker at the CLI. A little unstable for me at this point, but I can forgive that as it is a very young distro still. You can choose to build it yourself with the ABS (like gentoo) or pacman it. Speed is equal to slackware, great community, and although the repositories are fairly small, the ABS part makes up for this, as many members offer their PKGBUILD files for nearly anything you want. I reckon this distro will be one of the largest front runners in the distro ranks in a few years time. As more newbie tools are made for this...... I highly reccommend this one.

Gentoo - Best documentation around. Three word describe this distro. Compiling, compiling.... and you can guess the third one :-) Ran this for two weeks and then got weary of the continous load on the ole' CPU. Yes even on the P4. Great linux experience though and definately worth having a go at for the pure learning experience. Good community, but a little RTFM for me. If you are toying with gentoo then you are already trying to learn and you dont need a lecture about how to read.

Linux From Scratch - Have tried this 3 attempts, and each time I run out of time. This is one for a project to build your own distro. Things to be wary of is the updates and security patches etc are up to you. This is your distro! If you want to do a university course on linux, do this instead and save yourself a dollar or two in student fees. If you can maintain this for a year, then you've got a pretty good idea of linux.

Slackware - you know this one This is the one for me. Hard packagement I hear you say! No not really. A little learning initially, but this suits every criteria I look for. Slack speaks for itself. Just try it - you'll see.

Vector Linux - If you like Slack - then try this one. This is possibly the best newbie intoduction to Slackware because it is based on it. Simple install, very attractive setup with lovely tools to manage the distro easily. This is what my 8 year old runs, I think that says it all!!

There are others I have tried, but not for long enough to mention. Needless to say, I am now biased. I encourage you to try what you want purely for the experience. Grab a CD/R and have a 5G partition spare to try it out on. If you like the feel of it after a month, reinstall in with your prefered partition scheme. Feel free to contribute or purchase the one you settle with.

My opinion of linux and the opensource philosophy is it is a reflection of the world that made it. You don't have to like everyone or every distro. You are obligated to at least strive to understand your neighbour. Negitive criticism only demoralizes, positive criticism is neccessary for a strong foundation. Diversification is the spice of life. Freedom allows endless possibilities. Oh... and be nice to your mother!

rm -rf aikidoist_soapbox
Old 07-26-2005, 09:48 PM   #17
Registered: Mar 2002
Distribution: Slackware, OpenBSD, FreeBSD
Posts: 731

Rep: Reputation: 171Reputation: 171
I agree with the other posters -- try some other distros. I'll bet that you come back to Slack.

I started with Mandrake 8.0, then switched back and forth between Mandrake, SuSE, RH, and Debian over the years before finally trying Slackware. LIke someone else said, it's like a well-fitting shoe. Once I tried Slack it was like I suddently "got it." Not in the sense that I know anything at all, but in sense that I got what "simplicity" meant and how great it was to actually learn Linux as opposed to having GUI tools do everything for you.

Have fun on your distro adventure!
Old 07-27-2005, 06:22 AM   #18
Senior Member
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: England
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 1,469

Rep: Reputation: 46
are you all rather missing the point?

Yeah he might come back to slackware.

but if he wants to encourage other people to start in Linux, maybe he should introduce them to something else. OpenBSD? for a complete newbie. hmmm

Maybe try your windoze friends on Ubuntu or Mepis. Then if they like it you can slyly introduce them to slackware....

I dont think slack is ever going to wow new users who aren't actually seeking the experience. as much as I love it.
Old 07-27-2005, 01:09 PM   #19
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: Utah, USA
Distribution: Slackware 11
Posts: 816
Blog Entries: 2

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It wowed me as a newbie, but then I've always been a bit odd.
Old 07-27-2005, 04:58 PM   #20
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Buenos Aires
Distribution: Slackware64 14.2
Posts: 39

Rep: Reputation: 15
It may be true that windoze people may prefer a big distribution, Suse in my opinion is the best for them, I think it is very nice. It has a great graphical design, lots of gui tools that do almost everything right. But that may be the problem. When a gui tool fails to do something, it can be very frustrating in those distributions. At least thats what happened to me. I even started to think that linux was not so ready yet, and I may be better in windows. But then a friend introduced me to Slackware, and now it is all the way around. I can't go back to windows, and I can't use a big distro.

So, in my opinion, recommending a big distro to somebody new to linux is dangerous. It can go wrong and that person may feel desapointed with linux. Once that happended, well, how can you recommend Slackware after that? But of course that is only what happened to me. If nothing goes wrong, Suse (or other like it) is a good way of converting office windows users.
Old 07-27-2005, 05:07 PM   #21
Registered: Jun 2005
Location: The Pudding Isles
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 573

Rep: Reputation: 59
Try out debian or ubuntu . Debian for power and stability similar to Slackware, Ubuntu if you want an ugly brown ui on top of debian And like aikidoist72 said, even grandma could use it.

Last edited by Eternal_Newbie; 07-27-2005 at 05:15 PM.
Old 07-28-2005, 10:04 AM   #22
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2005
Posts: 11

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If you want to get a feel for the different distros here's what I recommend:

RedHat: CentOS 4.1. Forget RH it's too old. RHEL costs money but CentOS is a rebuild of RHEL without the costs.
Debian: Debian 3.1. I tried ubuntu recently and egads I felt like I had no control at all.
BSD: FreeBSD 5.4
Something different you'll really like: Arch Linux 0.7. BSD style init scripts is a nice touch. Best package manager of them all. Great community. Bleeding edge.
And give Solaris10 a whirl too.

As for compiling a kernel, nothing is forcing you to use a package manger to do it. I still do it the old fashioned way of downloading the source and compiling it myself.
Old 07-28-2005, 12:17 PM   #23
LQ Newbie
Registered: May 2002
Location: Orange Park, FL
Distribution: NetBSD
Posts: 7

Rep: Reputation: 0
I would suggest that you experiment with other distributions, or even try the BSDs. I have experimented with many of them and I like NetBSD and Slackware the best.

Plus, it is free to try them out, so it isn't like you have anything to lose.
Old 07-28-2005, 02:55 PM   #24
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Florida
Distribution: Slack 10.1
Posts: 56

Rep: Reputation: 15
(let's face, there is no better way to get under the hood of the PC than DOS, even for Linux fans)
could you explain that statement?
Old 07-28-2005, 04:02 PM   #25
Registered: Oct 2003
Distribution: Slackware Debian VectorLinux
Posts: 429
Blog Entries: 2

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30

I was waiting for someone to ask me that question. Thank you. My statement is pretty simple, but I'll explain.

DOS is probably the simplest of simplest operating systems. It is not mulit-tasking nor has any GUIs. It is a core system for putting your binaries (ie. executables) into the CPU and memory. What happends after that is up to the program that is running. (It is actually used as a bootstrap for loading Windows 9x.)

So when I mean it is the best OS for getting under the hood of a PC, I mean that as a DOS programmer, you have complete control over everything that goes on. I'll give a few examples.

Terminate and Stay Resident (leave a program in memory after it stops running) programs are almost exclusive to DOS, because no other OS allows a program to have that much control over memory and the CPU. You can also directly access video memory, kernel memory, etc. without any permission violations - that means you can directly manipulate your screen (which I have done many times by simple changing the bits in the video memory).

Any DOS programmer understands what I mean. You just don't have this "mask" between the PC and the program as you find in other OS - even in Linux. DOS is a really fun operating system if you like to experiment with your CPU and memory.

I hope I made myself clearer.

Of course, any comments would be welcome.

Thank you again,
Old 07-28-2005, 04:35 PM   #26
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2005
Location: Lafayette, LA
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 1

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well, now I get a chance to say something, I started using Linux w/ redhat 7.3/8.0/9.0 and recently FC4 I would definitely suggest FC4 to a brand new user, just to get a feel for Linux, however, I switched to Slackware 10.0 a month ago and have learned more about what's going on inside the box than I did in the 4 years using redhat. Now that I am forced to configure most hardware directly, I've learned just how capapble linux is, it just takes some research, the ample howtos in /usr/doc have solved most problems, other than that I find the slackware community much more knowlegable and helpful, a lot less frustration with slack, and more consistency in effectiveness of intructions. Of course I decided way back that I would never go back to the money pit, slackware ensures I don't have to
Old 07-29-2005, 03:58 AM   #27
Registered: Oct 2003
Distribution: Slackware Debian VectorLinux
Posts: 429
Blog Entries: 2

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Welcome Giant2012,

Congratulations on your first post (a very complimentary one for us Slackers too) on LQ. We all hope you will find yourself at home here to share experiences and help each other out.

The Slackware community is like the Harley Davidson community in the Driver's Vehicle world. We tinker with our systems, treat each system as a unique vehicle, and are very devoted to other users in the community.

Welcome aboard!

Last edited by Murdock1979; 07-29-2005 at 03:59 AM.
Old 07-29-2005, 02:21 PM   #28
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 173

Rep: Reputation: 30
I am running a 24/7 web/mail/ftp server and i would'nt want to configure this one with anything else than Slackware, really, i lately looked at SuSE but the configuration files are such a busy mess (IMHO offcourse) .. Debian lookes a little better, but NO linux distro i have seen has more simplicity than slackware.

As for my workstation, since i'm used to slackware, configuring the "standard" things that don't work on a default slackware install (like scrolling mouse and those little thingies) i could also call slackware a good distro for a workstation, but a distro that will be used for a workstation it should all work (IMHO) right after installing. I recently downloaded Slax (live distro based on slackware) and I REALLY liked it. Run like a charm, installed like a charm and I even installed it very easily on a USB stick I also use this live cd verfy often since it detects almost all hardware (specificly the network stuff that i like when i boot a live cd, and still have a CLI by default )

I've also tried these (in order from best to worst), but kept running back to Slackware/Slax


Last edited by nukey; 07-29-2005 at 02:22 PM.
Old 07-29-2005, 05:51 PM   #29
Registered: Jun 2002
Location: Texas
Distribution: Slackware 10.1
Posts: 105

Rep: Reputation: 15
I really don't like to say that Slackware isn't for newbies. I started with Mandrake and didn't like it much. Then to Red Hat for a few weeks and developed the same opinion. I had stayed away from Slack because everyone said it's real hard on newbies. Being a DIY kinda guy at heart I fell in love with Slack and will always be a Slacker.

I think its fine for a noob provided the noob does his homework before hand. When he gets his first good install and starts tweeking he'll learn and understand more about Linux in a few hours than he will in weeks of using the wonder distros. I know I did.

I will still periodically install a new version of MDK, FC, Suse, etc. on a spare box but it always comes off pretty quick and I go back to Slacking. For one thing I have never seen the likes of "dependency hell" on Slack as I have on the wonder distros. Right now the only other distro I would like to try is Gentoo.

Try lots of stuff but I can just about bet "once a Slacker, always a Slacker."

The Slackware community is like the Harley Davidson community...
I like that! So true!

Last edited by WingNut; 07-29-2005 at 05:52 PM.
Old 07-29-2005, 09:17 PM   #30
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Ohio, USA
Distribution: Arch Linux
Posts: 464

Rep: Reputation: 30
I recently built a computer for a friend. He i not just a Linux noob,
but a computer noob alltogether.
I installed an RPM distro to make things easier for the both of us.


I learned that when the phone calls start coming in... you had better
know what you are doing! I could not help him with anything unless
I was in front of his machine, and even then it was hard for me.

There's a moral here... stick with what you know.

His machine now has Slack and all issues (human error only of course) are
handled quickly and easily!


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