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Thread: Which version of Linux to use

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  1. #1
    Senior Member gore's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Which version of Linux to use

    Which version of Linux?

    This is a text written in Vi, by gore, because I'm tired of seeing this question everywhere. Almost every message board I go to has at least 100 questions asking "Which version of Linux should I get?"

    This should help clear up a few things since no one ever listens when we say "It depends on what you would like to do with it". So I am going to go over a few versions of Linux, name some strong points, and try and give some opinion on what they tend to do well.

    Linux itself is nothing but the kernel. That's why people put "Distros" of Linux together. They take the kernel, sometimes customize it, and then load it with software they think people would like.

    Some software almost always comes with Linux; Vi, Emacs, Links, and Bash. All of these are included in almost every distro of Linux I've ever used.

    Now to start with the distros:

    I'm going to start with what I know best:

    SuSE Linux:

    SuSE Linux is in my opinion the best of the best. It comes with more programs than any Linux distro in the world, even Debian. It's easy to install, partitions Windows for you, and you also get a fat list of software.

    SUSE has become "OpenSUSE" and is now a community project. Novell bought SUSE and has been doing a lot of work to make it the best out there. You can still buy SUSE if you want support for the non business related versions, and you can also buy corporate and business aimed versinos from

    Buying SUSE, you still get huge and nicely done manuals and instructions, but I haven't seen the stickers for a while. The number of CDs isn't AS big but is still pretty large. You can also download DVDs now if you want all the stuff it used to come with, which I recommend. However if you don't have a DVD burner, and or you just don't want to download that, you can get the LiveCD, install it, and set up a NEW option in YAST to download free packages from the net that you do want.

    Basically you'll install whatever you want, and then when you get to the finished desktop being done, you can add sources to YAST2 to look for software and download stuff that wasn't on the install media.

    SuSE installs fairly quickly, and also comes with YAST2 as it's confuguration tool. YAST2 does everything from install, remove, and update software, to setting up security, and setting up the SuSE2Firewall.

    SuSE Linux comes with a gigantic amount of software. There is almost nothing you need to download. It comes with about 8 web browsers, 30 editors and document editors, instant messaging tools, about 12 Window Managers, MP3 tools, you get the idea.

    SuSE is great for everything unless you work for Microsoft and are trying to make people think Linux has no software or nice looking interfaces. SuSE can be used as a server, a workstation, music creation desktop, MP3 server, imaging station, graphic designing, web design, programmer workstation, anything really.

    SuSE doesn't really have any bad points, it has great hardware detection and support, and it comes with so many packages it's hard to really find a problem. Just make sure you do a custom install. You should do it when you have free time too. Going through 5,000 software packages can be time consuming.

    It can take a bit to learn how SuSE does things, but if you are like me and can read a manual you'll be fine.

    All around, SuSE can be used for anything.

    Another thing, don't let anyone tell you another version of Linux is "more reliable" than SuSE, or more secure. SuSE has more security tools than any distro I've ever seen. There are about 200 tools just for security.

    I don't want this to turn into a big SuSE ad, but it is my favorite distro. It comes with a lot, has a lot to offer, and is cheaper than Red Hat Linux.

    Right now I would like to remind everyone that most of this is just an opinion. I'm just trying to give an opinion on which version of Linux can be used for what. Any distro can be used for just about anything you'd like, but some are geared more towards a specific topic. Like trusted and server Linux Operating Systems.

    These obviously have been tweaked for use in a server, or secure environment. Any other version of Linux can do this too, but these usually have a modified kernel to match what was asked of the operating system.

    Red Hat Linux:


    Red Hat Linux is by far the most popular distribution in the US. Anyone can walk into Best Buy, or even sometimes super markets, and see Red Hat Linux on the shelf in the software section. I've seen Linux even at Target. Which is like a big K mart store.

    Red Hat Linux has done some good for Linux in the form of the "RPM", or "Red Hat Package Manager". Which makes installing software a lot easier. But before Red Hat takes a bunch of credit for this, remember that Debian has a package installation utility too.

    Red Hat has the RPM which is nice, and also nice because you can use it with Mandrake, SuSE, and a few other distros. SuSe of course can use RPMs, and .deb packages also. .deb packages will be discussed later, as they deal with Debian.

    Red Hat was one of the first Linux companies to make a Linux distro aimed at being easy to use, which is probably how a lot of people used Red Hat as the first Linux distro they ever tried.

    This is also probably why Red Hat is so popular; A sort of brand loyalty was formed when they booted up for the first time.

    Red Hat comes with a decent mixture of programs to use, and also has a firewall on the installation CDs. Personally I don't like how much they charged for the distribution, and now they have dumped the home users completely for more money making corporate users.

    Another annoying thing about Red Hat is the annoying RHN, or Red Hat Network account you have to have to update anything. If you think that scheisse paper clip from Microsoft Office is annoying, just try red Hat Network out, you'll almost apologize to the paper clip.

    This may sound biased against Red Hat, and it's true, it is, but with good reason. Red Hat had the ability to give support for users who were new to Linux, and they did for a while, but now they have completely dumped all of them.

    They have however stolen the name Fedora so they could have a freely download able distro of Linux. Fedora is the exact same as Red Hat, except the annoying Red Hat Network account is no longer needed, Thank God.

    Charging a bundle for their Distro, and stealing ideas like Fedora, is what made me refer to Red Hat as "Red Hat XP". It's the only other Operating System on the shelves that has a 200 dollar price tag.

    Red Hat also has no MP3 abilities. You have to actually download it. I still am not sure why this is the most popular distro. It is still Linux though.....Under all that "Red Hat tape", Pun intended... So it can be used as a server or workstation, or desktop machine.

    Slackware Linux:


    Slackware Linux is what most people go to after using Linux for a while. I'm not sure why, but who cares really? Slackware has a horrible reputation for being hard to install. I completely disagree with this as I have yet to read a manual, and I have made a tutorial on installing it step by step.

    The installation is text based and slightly resembles the Free BSD installation. The Slackware distro is completely free, and is a very good distro.

    It can take some getting used to, but it is an amazing Linux to use. It can be used as a server, workstation, desktop, or whatever you can think of. It doesn't rely a lot on GUI based tasks but this of course can be configured.

    Also, the OS needs to be updated manually. I guess Slackware is a pun, as you can't Slack using Slack. Slackware does not come with as many programs as some distros, but it comes with enough. You can download and install whatever you want really. It's an all around good distro of Linux.

    Some updates have happened with Slackware too; When you install now it makes a boot USB instead of a floppy... Probably because most laptops and desktops don't even have a floppy anymore now.

    Also you can use swaret and a list of other tools for Slackware to do the updates and things for you if you need your hand held.

    Mandrake Linux, now Mandriva:

    Mandrake Linux is a very good distro. It's easy to use for beginning users of Linux, and comes with a fair share of software too. It comes with a nice firewall, a nice GUI, and can be used as either a server, workstation, desktop, or a box you want to learn Linux on. It comes with a good assortment of media applications, so using it to listen to music and make digital images in GIMP are good ideas.

    Mandrake has been around a while now, and although it is Red Hat compatible, you can rest assured the Red Hat price, and RHN account are no where near this Distro. Very good.

    Mandriva / Mandrake have also made improvements as well; You can buy a USB version of it that runs off a USB device too, which is kind of cool, and they have done the same thing a lot of Linux companies are doing:

    Make a community version, and a paid version. This doesn't mean much other than you can get either one and they'll do very similar things. The paid version I DO recommend if you're new to Linux, because you'll get better support than if you try using Linux forums where people will just tell you to read manuals. This is also changing though as people are starting to be a little more helpful than before.

    Debian Linux:


    Debian Linux is one of the most amazing distros in the world. The install is text based but it is great. The .deb package management works very well, and updating, installing, removing, and upgrading are simple. Debian is very elegant. It works very well at almost anything you want it to do.

    It can be a server, a workstation, desktop, development box, anything. It also comes with an amazing amount of software. If you want to do it, Debian can probably help you get it done. Don't let the installation scare you. It's mostly pressing Enter.

    Gentoo Linux:


    Gentoo Linux is what happens when you mix BSD and Linux. It can be very good, but if you're completely new to Linux, and not feeling like walking on the hard core side; Leave it alone. The install is not as bad as people say it is if you get the stage 3 install.

    This however is a nice distro...or at least it is IF you want complete and utter control over everything:

    You can load the system from scratch. Which isn't fun unless you enjoy it.

    You can set this up completely by hand, which some people like....But for some reason I really don't see how sitting around installing for 3 days is helpful. I don't need to set up my boxes like this, so I don't.

    However for those of you that have tried it, you can see it is reliable.... Just like BSD and Linux are already. This is more or less if you want to try Linux and BSD at the same time. The "ports collection" and "update world" are stolen from Free BSD.

    The initial boot screen you see was taken from SuSE. Gentoo Linux is like a big mixture of every Linux and BSD OS in the world. It's got a Linux kernel, Linux commands, BSD based commands, and generally is used by power users and elitists that think bragging rights mean something.

    I personally don't like it. I know this may shock some of the readers, but I don't. If I wanted to use BSD I would install BSD. If I wanted to build the system from scratch....You know..

    If you really want to do everything by hand, then this is very much so something you should try, but, if you don't have the 3 days or so of your life that you will never get back, and don't really have time to do something like this, and don't give a rat's furry ass about bragging rights, then maybe it is not a distribution for you.

    OK, so I was somewhat serious. It is a good distro, but personally, I think Debian is way more powerful. apt-get install, apt-get upgrade, apt-get update... And so on... Give you just as much power I think. And besides, Debian has a cooler install screen! I mean, who doesn't like that pic of Tux holding a beer mug?!?!?

    In all fairness, Gentoo works very well at a lot of tasks. If you decide to use this, talk to Shrekkie / Raiden, and get on his good side. He is to Gentoo, what I am to SuSE: An elitist.

    Personally, Gentoo is a lot like Debian and Slackware Linux. They are completely easy to get freely, and built to be more reliable than pretty.

    Turbo Linux:


    Turbo Linux is a nice distro. It is more popular in Asian countries, and has very good support for people who speak those languages. Turbo Linux is nice, and has an easy install. It is aimed more at business users than desktop or server use, but any Linux distribution can do either.

    I have not had a lot of time to toy with this one, but it seemed very nice. It could use more applications, but it is still nice. If you work in a company, and you need to upgrade the desktops and workstations with a new OS, you may want to have this on your list of "try outs".

    ASP Linux:


    ASP Linux is another I have not had time to toy with much. On the bright side, I have yet to read an installation guide, and I installed it easy....Then again I did the same with Debian, Slackware, Free BSD, and most others.

    The install has an XP style theme to it, which looks nice, and also is fairly efficient at finding hardware and so on. The install went fine.

    If you're bored and want to play with a spare box, I would recommend this to anyone.


    A lot of new updates in the Linux world have happened since I first made this post. For one thing, LiveCDs seem to be all the rage now, and a lot of distros are just LiveCDs to show your friends how leet you are =) lol.

    I've updated most of the points in here with newer info now, and if you are in fact new to Linux, or you haven't tried it but want to do so, and aren't sure what to use, feel free to reply to this thread with some distros you want to know about. If I can, I'll answer questions about them, and if I've used them, I'll add them to this post so you can get a better grasp of it.

    A lot of members here use Linux so finding help shouldn't be a problem. Just remember that some people DO get a little pissy about someone asking a question you can find an answer to simply by googling for it.

    So for you who are new to the world of UNIX in general, try these:

    This is a way to search google for Linux related materials to help you out in your search for whatever you're looking for.

    This one is the same but for BSD related searches.

    Most of the problems people might have are generally well known with very easy fixes, so you shouldn't have to worry much.


    Well, this is about it for the time being... I think this is long enough for now. I did not get to add Ice Pack Linux because I hardly used it, and didn't want to give an opinion on something I hardly worked with. I also left out Open Linux.

    I left a few out actually... Mainly because I had no time to actually test them.

    So to everyone reading this:

    If you have used Linux before, and actually used it, not just installed it and don't know about it, but actually have used it, and would like to give a review on it, feel free to add to this list. The more that gets put here, the less likely we have to look at ANOTHER damned "Which Linux" thread on the front page.

    So, write a review and post it!
    Last edited by gore; July 29th, 2008 at 09:57 PM. Reason: gornix --update && gornix --install

  2. #2
    Senior Member deftones12's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    cali forn i a
    if you can run slackware, you can run anything.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2006
    At a keyboard
    A very good post. I have to agree with Gore about all of them but Suse. I can't stand it for some reason or another. Personally I'm playing around with gentoo, portage rocks. And no, I didn't do the 3day-compileeverything install.
    "I have died, I will die, It's alright, I don't mind"

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Apr 2007
    can someone give me a lowdown of their opinion of whether to go for ubuntu or kubuntu (and their differences) and how both compare to Suse?


  5. #5
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    Apr 2007
    I am primarily a mac user and care a lot about interface and basically how nice things look. I hear Kubuntu looks good, but what about Suse?

  6. #6
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
    United Kingdom: Bridlington
    Quote Originally Posted by eoin09
    I am primarily a mac user and care a lot about interface and basically how nice things look.
    No comment

    I hear Kubuntu looks good, but what about Suse?
    SuSE would be the distro I would select right now, given that criterion. They have just signed up a partnership agreement with Microsoft and MS will be supporting commercial installations.

    Remember that Novell own SuSE. They are just as commercial and user aware as MS, so I would expect SuSe to move ahead of the game somewhat, given this recent partnership.

    REMEMBER: The definition of a partnership is: "Two thieves who have their hands so deep in eachother's pockets that they cannot independently plunder a third"

  7. #7
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    If you are considering SuSE condider the open source version.

    It's what makes Linux beautiful.
    West of House
    You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
    There is a small mailbox here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gore's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    I don't like Ubuntu. It's Debian with a paint job and newer packages. My personal opinion of course. It has potential of course which has yet to be reached.

    If a GUI is what you're after distro doesn't mean a thing since the GUI in Linux BSD and UNIX is something you can install yourself and use whatever you want. SUSE by default, has a nice one.

    I have a Slackware box with Enlightenment E17 which puts most GUIs to shame. So in other words, use whatever you want, and look for window managers and desktops like KDE and Gnome and pick whatever looks good to you.

    Ubuntu is very very different in the way root works which for me is a pain in the ass so I only used it to test and nothing more. I generally use SUSE and Slackware for Linux, and FreeBSD for BSD.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2006
    Seriously speaking, Ubuntu did not work for me EVER!! I am still using openSuSE 10.3. Ubuntu did not use the Bluetooth DUN connection to get packages off the net while it used the same connection at the same time to get the web paghes open on the same system the much anticipated compiz-fusion was not present in the menus!

    The most important packages that can be installed were said that they were not made for the system I used! I have seen a lot of people who run an i686 machine and ubuntu says that the machine type is i386.

    It crashes a lot on machine. However openSuSE 10.3 is a much better product. It did everything in the right way. I loved the oneclick install that they have added recentely! I have used compiz-fusion on opensuse 10.3 and it rocks. I defeated the AERO UI of vista in all aspects. I just love this OS.

    I really hate the way of the root. You just cannot use your own password as root in any application which is not graphical and needs root access!!
    "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

    - Albert Einstein

  10. #10
    Junior Member benstoked's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    okc, ok
    i am not a hardcore linux user, but i have not had any problems with ubuntu 7.04 . i have tried fedora(cores 4-7) and found them (personal taste) to be lacking. although the gui of choice for fedora was gnome, same as ubuntu, the unbuntu ran smoothly, install was comfortable. i would like to see an option for partition resize in the install, which it may have in the newer version.(easliy solved with gparted, but not used during the install).
    I like to test OSes in VMWare, to allow me to get a feel for the flavor.
    one aspect i enjoyed from ubuntu is the debian package management. with fedora, the rpms seemed no better than a zip file. the deb files installed with little user interaction. please bear in mind that my experience with other distros is hindered by lack of experience based on actual usage.
    Whats this button dooo...?

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