[Techtalk] Same old question -- which distro?

Vera Childs vera at dc-vc.net
Wed Feb 5 16:23:37 EST 2003

On 2/5/2003 at 3:05 PM Lisa Marie wrote:
>Up until last April (2002) I was running Windows 2000 on my desktop and
>Red Hat 7.1 on my gateway/fileserver/webserver.  Fed up with Windows I
>decided to see what was out there in the Linux World.

I had a similar experience. I got fed up with Windows after Win98 'forgot'
all of my hardware (the device list was completely empty *after* a
reinstall of the OS!), and subsequently Win2k decided to stop letting me
install a printer, and it forgot about my existing printer. I had Redhat
7.3 on there as dual boot, but read about Mandrake 9.0 that had just been
released (also read about Redhat 8.0 at the same time, but decided to try
Mandrake first). The install went flawlessly, and I really loved having all
the configuration tools I needed in one tool. I didn't have to edit any
text files! KDE 3 really felt good, and I just fell in love with Linux all
over again. :)

At work, I tried to install Mandrake 9.0, but I have a hardware problem of
some sort and was not able to get it installed (and no, the hardware
problem hasn't been resolved, but I'll probably get a new machine sometime
this year).

I installed Redhat 8.0, but did *not* like the look and feel of KDE in
there, and the configuration tools are all spread out, etc. After using
Mandrake, I just wasn't impressed.

I then put Redhat 7.3 back on there (work has an FTP server mirroring
Redhat, so it only takes a few minutes to install:). Then I researched
other distros. I decided to try Gentoo. The nice thing about it was that I
could install it while running Redhat, and thus continue working (albeit
with less processing power:). So that's what I did. I really really really
liked the installation instructions and the way the system configuration
was laid out. I didn't find myself wishing I had a GUI. I also liked the
portage system quite a bit. Mandrake's urpmi is a step above Redhat's rpm
evilness, but Gentoo just made it even easier, IMO. The problem with
Gentoo? When you're running a 750MHz processor with 256MB RAM, compiling X,
KDE, etc. takes a long, long time. I got too impatient.

So next, I decided to check out Debian. Again, you can install while
running another Linux system (using chroot for the install), so that's what
I did. I found the install to be relatively painless, and I liked the
apt-get system. What I didn't like was the fact that even unstable was
still running KDE2. I like to have the latest and greatest, and Debian's
testing system just doesn't allow for that (that's not a black mark on
Debian - it's just a tradeoff that they've chosen to make).

In the end, I've decided to stick with Mandrake for now, but will keep my
eye out for other distros. What I'd really like would be a Gentoo but with
precompiled packages. I liked their configuration system, and I liked their
package management system. I just don't have all week to build an OS. :)


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