Why does asking for a good Linux distro turn into a holy war?

For most of my techy life (about 15 years), I have mainly used Debian/Ubuntu at home and RHEL/CentOS at work. I started using Arch for the past year and I like it, but personally, I find myself going back to Debian\Ubuntu based OS’s.

When you go to places like Reddit as soon as you ask “what distro is good to use” it becomes some kind of holy war with Arch/Gentoo users bashing Ubuntu\Debian saying it’s bloated. What makes even a minimal install of Debian/Ubuntu bloated?

People become very opinionated on their choice and then they go out and preach that distro to others. Their is also a very large amount of gatekeeping in Linux land.

It’s very sad. I don’t get it. Also, stay away from the Linux subreddit.


@Goalkeeper I find myself coming here more now than Reddit for a lot of things.


We have our moments, but I’ve always held the belief that reddit isn’t as enjoyable as here, although, I’m a bit biased, huh.

I think it’s a holy war because everyone is right in a way. Arch is great if you need to have absolute control. Fedora is awesome for up-to-date packages, with a rhel feel. Centos is a great stable base, just like Debian. Solus just works, but lacks some packages and a huge amount of funding. Ubuntu has an 800lb gorilla backing it, so you know it’s not going anywhere soon.

They’re all good, but a specific distro might not be best for a user, and a lot of people don’t often take the time to consider use case, they just want to see more people on x distro.


It’s rather funny that when someone asks a community what distro to use, and they list their requirements, people still throw out distros that won’t fit OPs requirements. It’s as you said, they just want to increase the user stake in the distro of their choice.


@SgtAwesomesauce with a minimal Debian or Ubuntu install do you not have as much control as Arch?

@Goalkeeper Yeah, for now it’s just sysadmin stuff and I think Ubuntu\Debian works well for that. I work for a development house and most of the dev engineers use a Ubuntu-based OS for there desktops while we use CentOS for DEV/UAT environments and RHEL for prod.

I think it is pretty pointless to debate over which Linux distro is the best. Generally speaking, it will always come down to user experience and what environment/ GNU configuration suits your personal tastes. entry level easy-mode vs power user, simplified UI vs fully featured, bleeding edge vs long term stability, productivity vs casual use. Just use whatever works best. I mean, most distros are pretty similar to each other these days anyway, when it comes to compatibility. And things like dependencies across different distros are becoming less of a discrepancy as time goes on anyway. Especially with Flat’s Snaps and all that stuff.

Eh. I think its down to how you want to use your OS and how new of packages you want. Like, today I went to update manjaro and I forgot what distro I was using. Linux is linux to me. So I don’t give a fuck what anyone uses. If people want to try Void or Arch, cool! I’m a huge proponent of those distros. But I don’t like screaming about it.

@FaunCB I actually have tried Arch and Void and I liked using both. Voids IRC channel was really helpful since it’s wiki is not like Arch’s.

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Re: bloatedness vs minimal distroism.

As an illustration, at some point, you probably figured out you wanted to get rid of packages on your system you think you don’t need or don’t care about, like for example Plymouth, and it’s unneeded reverse deps. It turns out because dpkg has a whole bunch of features, it’s not that easy to figure out how to mark things you need as manually/explicitly installed. It also turns out that sometimes it’s kind of hard to do because it ends up not being an optional dep for some things that you want to keep around.

I think untangling these is easier on Arch, but I haven’t used Linux on a desktop for better part of the last 10years, (my attempt last year failed due to lack of fractional scaling and retarded drivers, that I naively assumed would work) I do plan to give it another go soon.

@risk What distro do you currently use?

Mostly Arch and Debian (testing), but I’d just ssh into them from a ChromeOS and up until recently a MacBook.

Is Debian Sid as bleeding edge as Arch? Some people say not to use Sid and others say it’s not that bad to maintain.

I think when @SgtAwesomesauce said Arch if you need absolute control he referred to the fact that on Arch almost nothing is installed if you didn’t install it. On a minimal Ubuntu install there are still allot of things being installed/config for you which is not the same. (Guessing - could be wrong)

The reason I went over to Arch was trying to run Ubuntu with up to date software usually ended up in a broken system. Arch was meant to be up to date from the start.

But I’m biased as this is my experience. Could be working fine for others. I think that’s why people are so opinionated. On Linux things can sometimes break in elaborate ways so everyone has their own experiences of what works best.


I mean they’re so similar that its kinda null. The void wiki is basically there for the weird stuff void likes to do.

I think this a transcendent human nature thing.

“You’ve got to taste this, it’s so good!” and “This is so gross, you’ve got to try it!” are essentially the same. People want to have their experiences validated.

I think this at the root of the distro tribalism that plagues the Linux community.


Partially. Not only that, but arch doesn’t really use any sane defaults and forces the user to configure almost all of the packages installed.

Additionally, arch is of a mindset that the user knows what he/she is doing, leaving a lot of the decisions up for grabs.

It’s your decision if that’s a good or a bad thing. I see the argument for both.


I know this is a bit off topic, but if you have problems, definitely let us know. (for the record, KDE has fractional scaling, if that’s a make or break situation for ya)

I’m not using sid (aka. unstable); but buster (aka. testing) (ref.)

I don’t care about ‘bleeding edge’ as much as I generally care about having something reasonably recent. It’s kind of my personal philosophy that there’s no point in stabilizing on versions past a couple of weeks as developers typically don’t care about anything older than that.

@SgtAwesomesauce Thanks, but I needed this with a laptop that I’ve since given up for a Chromebook (needed 1.5x scaling on built-in monitor and no-scaling on two 4k external displays). Next time I try it’ll most likely be a desktop where I won’t need scaling.

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