30 Days of GNU/Linux: Day 20,21,22,23
I have been testing distro’s so often in the last few days, my mind is bonkers. I wanted to quickly detail what I though of each, coming form my technical background up to what I think a new average user would think. I have finally settled on my desktop and laptop distros for the time being, which is also explained. Read on for more…
It all started with deb (no, not a common street girl):
Debian has always been a favorite of mine. It’ stable, its solid, and it does what I consider a service to a wide range of users and devices. Architecture support is broad, and it is stable enough to be a production server as well. I have been off and on Debian for a few years, as I was always left with wanted more. See, I like playing with the latest technology and running the best software out there. If you are in pursuit of a desktop distro to run a media server with software such as Plex, MakeMKV, Handbrake or a gaming machine with the newly released Steam for Linux, I do suggest looking elsewhere. Stability comes at a cost, which Debian severely lacking in new technologies and updated code. For those who are willing to sacrifice that for stability or test the waters of Debians unstable and testing releases, I then suggest this distro.
For a new user of Linux, Debian is acceptable for most, but most new Linux users have even heard of it. For those users, I suggest nowadays a derivative such as Linux Mint, or Ubuntu. Most users I believe would be much more comfortable in those environments, with media capability out of the box, well almost, and access to a huge array of applications. Debian has its place among many users, and as a distro that has withstood 2 decades of great releases and software, we must respect its roots.
Debian can be found at: www.debian.org/distrib/
Linux Mint is one interesting animal at the moment. With it’s built in array of codecs, software, alternative gnome desktop, and very up to date packages, it is a formidable alternative to Ubuntu. What I liked most about Mint, is its commitment to usability, especially so with its Driver control center application, which works very well. Speed wise, the distro is fairly ok, evident with its cinnamon desktop environment. Mint has a strong following, but I found forum chatter and support to not be as strong as Ubuntu. The better help I received was from the IRC channels, rather that the forums.
As a new user, you really could not ask for any better. The flipside is Ubuntu with its Unity Desktop, so a tough call between that and Mint. I think Mints menu is more Windows-traditional in its presentation, despite the scrolling options, as the windows key and auto search works perfectly, similar to the function in Windows 7. This distro was the easiest, aside from Ubuntu to get the newly crowned Steam for Linux client up and running. I truly applaud them for making Linux easier for users, in a way that doesn’t seem intrusive*.
Linux Mint can be found at: http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
Arch Linux (my preferred choice)
Arch Linux is what I have settled on, despite claims for around communities that it is not a distro that is “long term.” Forget what you hear about that and just backup like a normal person and be prepared to fix a few packages if they break. It is not* the end of the world. I used to use Arch Linux back in 07-09, and I am very* glad to be back with this distro. I love new gadgets and software, and you get that with Arch, everything is bleeding edge, and it also teaches you to learn about Linux in a way that makes you want* to learn it, not by force or necessity (by default). The community is top notch, and the availability of the AUR (Arch User Repository) and subsequent “helpers” such as cower, it is a huge resource that make life just lovely for compiling from source. You can still compile from source however you want. Arch puts control in YOUR hands, and lets you build the system how YOU want it. No fluff, no needless crap packages that you will never use (aside from ones that lovely desktop environments install, *cough gnome3*). The rolling release cycle is highly usable on this distro, and as any Arch user will tell you pacman (the default package CLI tool) is amazing. I could go on and on, but it is truly a marvel, this distro.
For a new user, I would def. not recommend this distro. That said, if you are a new user, the beginners guide is very well thought out, even if you don’t understand it. I would def. acquaint yourself with a system such as Debian, Ubuntu, or Fedora before getting into Arch. But trust me, give it a shot someday, you might love it! As it stands, but default with my system, Gnome 3 has stability issues when I start X (the windowing system), so I am on the MATE desktop environment, but I have learned to love MATE over Gnome 3 anyway. Adding a dock such as “docky” makes life easier and tolerable.
Arch Linux can be found at: https://www.archlinux.org/download/
In the end, it is up to you, but be on the lookout for more test drive articles in the future, as I install a few on some VMs here and there.