[Techtalk] What distro?

Miriam English mim at miriam-english.org
Mon Oct 4 01:59:24 UTC 2010

Kathryn Marks wrote:
> After a year and a half of refusing to fight with hardware incompatibility
> and Fedora (I've stuck with Fedora 10), I've decided to jump ship.
> ...Distros with LiveCDs preferred.  KDE definitely preferred.

You might be a little interested in my recent experiences with Puppy, 
Debian, and Ubuntu:

I normally prefer Puppy Linux because my computers are old and slow and 
Puppy has the snappiest performance of any recent OS I've seen. Also its 
installation CDs are all live-CDs. Puppy installs astonishingly quickly. 
Being a cut-down Linux it is also very easy to use, yet can have many 
new packages added. It doesn't normally come with KDE, though there are 
some Puppies now that do (e.g. Lighthouse Puppy) and you can add KDE if 
desired, though this can be a pain. (Note that if you want to compile 
programs on Puppy you need to add the devx package.)

Recently I had to install an OS for the charity shop I volunteer at. 
Naturally I tried Puppy first, but getting it to work with their 
Hewlett-Packard all-in-one printer-scanner ended up becoming a 
nightmare. After a lengthy period of fiddling and adding packages from 
other distros and getting tangled up in dependency hell, I gave up.

So I tried installing Debian Etch (I had some old disks handy). It 
couldn't use the printer/scanner either, and adding programs to enable 
it became a major headache, so I abandoned that too.

Next I tried a more recent Debian-xfce live CD, but I couldn't find any 
way to install it on the computer -- it didn't even seem to be able to 
see the computer's hard drive! Weird. So be careful about spending too 
much time and bandwidth downloading a Debian live disk -- make sure it 
can actually install.

Lastly I tried Ubuntu. I'm not a fan of Ubuntu because it is enormous 
and slow on my old computers, but the shop's computer was new and fast. 
I had a recent Ubuntu install/live disk that I'd used to help a friend 
rescue and upgrade her Ubuntu system. After the very lengthy (but 
surprisingly easy) installation I tried the printer, and Ubuntu just 
found it and worked! Then the same with the scanner. I was amazed. In 
this case Ubuntu's 'kitchen-sink' approach definitely paid off.

I've tried many distros in the past (SuSE, Red Hat, Mandrake/Mandriva, 
Debian, Ubuntu, Puppy) and each seems to have its special capabilities 
and weak points. Which one you opt for probably depends mostly on what 
you want from your computer.

Good luck,

	- Miriam

If you don't have any failures then you're not trying hard enough.
  - Dr. Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Website: http://miriam-english.org
Blog: http://miriam_e.livejournal.com

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