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I've yet to use a bad Linux distro

opinion
#1

Sure, I’ve used a few that haven’t been all too great, but there’s never been one that has screamed awful at me.

I think this is part of the reason choosing one is so challenging. For instance, lately I’ve been considering switching back to SUSE (a distro I’ve used for years now). So, here’s the thing… Debian is really really good. There’s a lot to like that Ubuntu just doesn’t cover the basis of. I can have a development system running unstable while my desktop runs Debian stable for anything critical. It’s truly amazing in that sense. At the same time, openSUSE Tumbleweed is such an amazing rolling release (there’s really nothing like it) that’s so stable that if I truly wanted to it could be used as the basis of a home server. There’s so much interchangability in that sense.

Now, I can’t relate to Ubuntu users as it was technically the first distro I installed and I quickly tossed it away for Mint (the same day). Mint with Cinnamon is an interesting case. It’s probably the best distro I’ve ever used geared towards the average user… And that applies heavily to their Debian edition too… Though something feels more friendly with the Ubuntu base that I can’t put my finger on.

Then we have Arch… The one time I installed it, it was fantastic. One of the best rolling releases out there and if you’re into lots of configurability then it’s great in that respect… But it’s not for me. So, that’s why I’ve sort of got to give props to what Manjaro does. There isn’t an Arch based distro as polished as Manjaro for new users. And even with years and years of experience, I still like it. It’s like a more robust version of Mint… Though in comparison to Mint it doesn’t feel as streamlined if I’m being totally honest. But it’s a great rolling release that undergoes slightly more testing than Arch does… And if you want updates similar to how Arch receives them then all you have to do is enable the unstable repos. But something about Arch isn’t for me… Just like the Ubuntu based iteration of Mint I feel there’s more to be desired that Debian and SUSE cover so well.

And then there’s Fedora. I used Fedora for about a year… And I still LOVE it to this day. One thing it does better than any distro I’ve ever used is the OS just gets out of the way. It’s hard to explain. But it checks a lot of my boxes for the perfect distro. I don’t know why I’ve grown so distant from it but it’s the definitive distro for Gnome hands down. I personally prefer the Cinnamon spin but that’s only because the magnifier on Gnome, while it works okayish, jerks the cursor across the screen to where text input is. the problem with this is when you install something with the terminal and have another window open, the cursor will jerk back and forth. I had actually opened a bug report several years ago but apparently that’s how it is intended to work. I guess I have a different vision than the Gnome devs do and that’s okay… Every time I’ve had a problem with KDE on the other hand, the developers were quick to address it

I can’t comment on source based distros because while I definitely respect them, I don’t have the time for them. I’ve always wanted to try Gentoo for instance, but setting it up appears to just be very time consuming unfortunately. It is definitely worth it though if you’re into that

I’ve used LOTS of other distros too. I even used Pear OS at some point (a total ripoff of the UX of Mac OS at the time) though that was short lived. Peppermint was okay. I liked Kali a lot and have it on a flash drive somewhere… Used it at school once for something… And won’t ever again.

Point being, there’s a lot out there. I’m a seasoned Linux user and a developer… and I still distro hop from time to time. All the people wanting a definitive answer for the best distro need to genuinely put time into finding one and quit the whining. That’s part of the beauty of Linux

Have a nice night everyone. Just figured I’d get the rant out of the way

Honorable mentions of other distros I’ve used as I remember them:

-SolydXK
-SteamOS (RIP)
-GeckoLinux (a damn good version of SUSE that hasn’t been updated in over a year unfortunately)
-Korora (RIP)
-CrunchBang (BunsenLabs is it’s spiritual successor though I’ve never used it)
-Ubuntu Mate
-Elementary wasn’t for me, but it’s for a lot of people

There’s way way more… Obviously I can’t remember them all lol

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#2

So… the problem is the user not understanding the maintainer/architect’s version of Sane Defaults? (Not in a bad way, just an uninformed starting point?)

All are fundamentally equal, but each project just starts with a different initial set of standards and direction, and the informs the flow of packages, package manager and DE/WM?

I guess the only way to truly appreciate the difference is by experiencing the lot before making an opinion?

But to make an opinion, you need the experience, and how many of us are truly open minded enough to keep going when we encounter set ups that grate on our sensibilities?

I am fundamentally a newb, only scratching the surface, and while I kinda maybe see where you are going with the long post, in my limited experience, it is easy for me/a new user to unfairly tarnish a distro because a couple of courses don’t align with expectations?

Do you think there is a way to pass this knowledge on to new users? And why isn’t Linux Delta that way?

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#3

From my experience: The more distros you experience and the more you get into linux, the smaller the differences get.

I guess the point is, there is so much out there and all great, you don’t have to “put up” with anything. If you aren’t big into rolling your own, you can find a distro that does what you want out of the box.

It’s not about knowledge. It’s about taste. If a distro doesn’t allign with your expectations, you can move on to something else. This doesn’t mean that distro is bad.

And maybe, after years, you come back with more experience and start to appreciate a distro you put of back then. I personally have “hated” centOS and debian for a long, long time. Now, they are both on my favorite list to a point where debian is my weapon of choice on the desktop and centOS on the server.

There are no really bad Distros. Pick one. If you don’t like it, pick another one. There are no wrong choices and opposed to Windows or Mac there is no money attached to choosing one. It’s like that chinese all you can eat buffet. Try until you find something you love and then get as much of it as you can.

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#4

Precisely what I was getting at :wink:

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#5

Brilliant!

I would add that we don’t live in a perfect world, so our “favorite” distro isn’t always going to play nice on the hardware at hand. I was a notorious distro hopper, until encountering Solus a few years ago (YEARS!!!) and I am still using it on my primary machines. Apart from stuffing a few more apps into the repo, I wouldn’t change a thing.

But, Solus is AMD64 only, so that doesn’t help me with my netbook. So, out of Peppermint, MX18, Linux Lite and Sparky Linux, etc. what can I not only live with, but genuinely appreciate in this application? Well, the jury is still out, but now that Haiku is in beta, I just might reinstall this fascinating alternative.

And, being a packrat, naturally I still have a Shuttle XPC gathering dust (remember these barebones machines?). It has an Athlon 64 CPU and 2GB of RAM, so its no powerhouse. IIRC, the date on the BIOS is 2008, so god only knows how old this thing really is. All I remember for sure, is that Windows XP was still a thing, when I originally assembled this box. Being a 64-bit machine, it runs Solus, albeit reluctantly … very reluctantly. Another couple of GB of RAM would definitely be a shot in the arm, but where is the challenge in that, eh? Lately, I’ve developed a curiosity about Gentoo. What if I could build a Gentoo install, tailored specifically to this old machine? Well, I missed out on my Gentoo merit badge once again, but instead I ended up installing Funtoo, which is Gentoo taken to its logical conclusion. I now have a stripped down Funtoo/LXQt install running on this museum piece, in 166MB of RAM and the machine is quite responsive!!! Just imagine if I loaded Funtoo on a “real” machine, with actual hardware … the mind boggles!

So, the moral of the story is that just because you find something tasty at the Chinese buffet, don’t stop there. You can have Hunan chicken today, Szechuan beef tomorrow, Singapore noodles the following day and Lo mein the day after that and never tire of the buffet. In other words, under the right circumstances, just about any distro can shine. The more familiar you are with the options available, the better able you are to make lasting love connections between hardware and software, with the least amount of work/time invested. Of course, after you retire and have lots of time on your hands, you only really need to know your way around Linux From Scratch.

Anywhoo, if you already have your Arch merit badge, I would recommend that you have a look at Gentoo/Funtoo, as I find them to be absolutely fascinating. The price of admission is a not inconsiderable amount of time compiling your base install. Going forward, maintenance isn’t too onerous, especially if installed on “real” hardware. Besides, unlike Windows, you can choose when to update and allow the machine to do its thing over night.

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#6

I feel like the question “which distro is best” has gotten a lot less important over the last 17 years. Back in 2002 when I first played with Linux there were some pretty big differences. Every distro had its own customized sys V init scripts, and its own pieced together concept of system services. Today, everything worth running is systemd, and for all of its problems: I can distro hop and systemd is the same everywhere, I love that so much.

But I don’t think it’s just systemd where differences have disappeared. There’s much less reason to worry about Gnome vs KDE today. Pick the one you like and run your favorite programs from each, you don’t have to use all KDE apps to use KDE (you never did, but the word “RAM hog” wasn’t just cheap whiners on the Internet, it really mattered). And, thanks to web apps and the (often bad) UI they’ve been pushing, users expect every program to look different and work different anyway.

I’d also say that there’s been a trend to do fewer desktop environment customization compared to a decade ago. These days it’s mostly themes and configuration changes you can reproduce on other distributions. Mostly.

And then there’s package distribution. There’s still a mess of package managers out there, but they pretty much all offer: Search, info about installed packages, dependency resolution, and a one command update. Pacman, apt, dnf, flatpak, snap, they all feel fairly similar to use. And thanks to flatpak (and to a lesser extent snap) a lot of desktop software has an easy distro agnostic installation solution for users.

So there’s not nearly as much reason today to pick a specific distribution. You can probably bend any distribution to do what you want, so you don’t end up realizing, after six months of using a distribution, that you have to switch to get something you want.

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#7

" … are truly open minded enough to keep going when we encounter set ups that grate on our sensibilities? … "

Me. In spite of my " sensibilities" I keep trying Arch ( and it’s derivatives. and it appears that I will continue to try. ).

" … don’t align with expectations? … "

Ding! Ding! Ding ! We have us a winner!
Almost every “new” user, that is no longer a user, this is the number one reason for them not being a Linux user. The second reason being because they can’t ( it really is beyond them At which point they blame Linux. ).

" … Do you think there is a way to pass this knowledge on to new users? … "

Actually no I can’t. Based on my experience, because they wont take any “advice” or “help”. Because they don’t need it ( they are smarter than you/I are ). And again when they can’t, they blame Linux.

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#8

" … doesn’t allign with your expectations, … "

And that’s the problem, expectations.
Expectations that can’t be met. Because they have no real point of reference.

Well they do actually. They expect it to be like Windows or Mac OS.
And it’s not.
They expect it to be easy. I mean “brain dead” easy.
And it’s not. ( They whine about Linux drivers, not remembering/knowing that you have to install drivers for new builds of Windows. )

" … If you don’t like it … "

But do they actually “know” what they like? When all they know is Windows and Mac OS.

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#9

YES! This is the thing I love about iOS. I like literally can’t fuck it up. I can turn my brain off and just do.

Although, I do remember my Linux days fondly with being able to tweak a whole bunch of things to my hearts content. It was pretty cool.

But I think the statement of not coming across a bad Linux distro, comes down to how well the distro is supported on your hardware. Browsing different forums and such you can see that different people call hate on “x” distro because it didn’t support “y” hardware out of the box while another does.

For me, back in the day my laptop had a scroll wheel for volume that no distro was able to use. The thing was never able to go into hibernation. Other then those things, which could be glossed over depending on if you needed those services, I would say that I have never come across a bad distro either. They did what they were supposed to do.

The community side of those distros… well I don’t think that we all have ever come across a Linux community that was a good one overall. :wink:

You’re hitting me right in the feels. This was the second ever Linux distro I used, and it’s what got me to fall in love with the openbox wm. It’s a shame that the dev decided to end the project. It could have been much more. Especially since the RAM price crisis happened like two years later… something like that.

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#10

Those of us who grew up during the early era of Linux, your mileage varied from distros of what hardware worked and didn’t work esp with pre-fab PCs(All-In-One desktops & notebooks tend to have the most custom hardware)–with most major distros they do have a non-free drivers to make life easier compared to the past, if I recall Debian was more ahead of Red Hat/Fedora on non-free support mostly from universities which supported student usage & Ubuntu gained usage from word of mouth. Back in the 2000s Puppy Linux was commonly recommended as it “worked” on a range of hardware(Ubuntu wasn’t very good until 9.04) & SliTaz was the next option. Arch & CrunchBang were known to be another option if hardware compatibility wasn’t enough on Puppy.

In my time of distro hopping it was Red Hat/Yellow Dog Linux/Fedora, Debian & SUSE.

In the last few years there isn’t such a huge gap between Red Hat/Fedora/CentOS vs Debian vs Ubuntu as they all have more community support of other desktop environments–mainstream support of Linux such as Valve’s Steam works on more distros than just Debian/Ubuntu. In the early days of Red Hat you had Gnome as the default, Fedora for awhile left other desktop environments as “community spins” with some varying results(one version of Fedora might be great with KDE, the next wasn’t so smooth, etc) and some desktop environment spins were every other version of Fedora so you had to manually install a desktop environment.

When it comes to trying to push the limits of lack of CPU/RAM/storage space, there is always TinyCore & Alpine Linux.

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#11

CrunchBang was the first distro my brother showed me when I was eleven. I personally couldn’t use it for very long because it lacked magnification. But it’s really solid and I’m shocked more people weren’t using it

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#12

As far as package managers go, I will say that I believe zypper and pacman to have the best version control. That assertion could be pure ignorance on my part, but with apt I’ve always found it to be a mess

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#13

ANY " current, modern" OS is that “easy”.

  1. If you are currently use to it ( from say one update, upgrade to another ).
  2. If it comes “preinstalled”.

Yes there are some new things to learn, but still relatively easy.

Where they become “hard” is …

  1. Changing from what is familiar to that which is not ( learning curve of one OS to another ).
  2. Installing any OS on new, bare metal hardware ( changing from one hardware brand to another ). Even if you are familiar with it. Especially with an OS you have no clue about.

And then there is what I consider to be the biggest problem with attempting a new OS …

Expectations.

If you have ANY AT ALL, it will be “hard”.
Well any other then …

“I have no effing expectations at all.”

Even then you should expect that it will be hard ( Catch 22 ).

All of the above being said …

Having used Linux as my daily driver for 20+ years, and having actually “used” many different distros, I still expect that I will have problems ( some of them "hard ) when changing from one distro to another. Currently using Manjaro ( yes I know that many don’t consider it Arch. I am to old, and have become a bit lazy in my old age, to deal with actual Arch or Arch like distros. ), for several months, it still drives me crazy. I find it “hard”, in a relative way.

But that’s part of what drew me to Linux ( and what keeps me using it. The challenge. I like “hard”. And I refuse to be beaten by an inanimate object. ).

If it’s not “hard”, is it really worth doing?

(/ramble)

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#14

I can’t remember the exact command name, but does anyone else remember back when there was this special wizard like command you ran to tell XFree86 your monitor modes and video driver before you could get X to work?

I don’t exactly long for those days, cause it wasn’t awesome, but it was kind of awesome. It wasn’t exactly hard, but if you didn’t know what you had to do to get X to start, you were just SOL.

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#15

I know one.

Linux Mint

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#16

I remember those days and I also remember spending an awful lot of time editing the config file to get things to work the way I wanted. I think every linux distro these days is a lot easier than any linux distro was in that era. Back then I found it challenging and fun, but now I don’t really miss it.

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#17

Try Zorin OS on an older, C2D based thing with an older nVidia GPU - such as 8400m…
And then do the update…

Didn’t like it and stopped booting for whatever reason…

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#18

I’m happy on SUSE for the time being but I’ll take your word for it :wink:

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#19

I’ve seen them get a lot of flack lately, but I ran it for a while. The Debian edition is a lot better than the one derived from Ubuntu

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#20

Have you tried Fedora 30 Silverblue?

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