Recommend me a distro?

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Arancaytar
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Recommend me a distro?

Postby Arancaytar » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:24 am UTC

(I'm posting this here, but the question is really about what matches my usage profile rather than what is "best" or what best represents the Holy Essence of Linux.)

So basically, I've been using Ubuntu for around five years now. Since then it's made some fantastic improvements, but also done a few things I don't like. Most of those are easy to fix by replacing some packages, like replacing Unity with Gnome. It may not be as well-supported; for example it's always been annoying that the Evolution mail client was so deeply integrated with Gnome that you couldn't easily remove it, but it's not a disaster.
But as stuff like the increasing "app-store"-ification of the package system piles up, I'm wondering if I could save effort by just using another distro in the first place.

The obvious choice for graduating from Ubuntu is Debian, since it's essentially the same system with none of the "dev team knows best" changes by Canonical. I've used Debian too for several months, but compared to Ubuntu it's update cycle is really slow. Prioritizing stability isn't a bad thing, but even with the "testing" branch I ended up compiling a lot of software from source to get newer versions.

Is there any other distro that resembles Debian on the user-friendly/developer-friendly scale, but is less conservative with software updates than Debian?
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Xenomortis
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:33 am UTC

When I (briefly*) used Debian, I used the experimental branch, Sid.
That worked out much better; updates are more common, although stability is less of a given.
If I was to try it again though, I'd probably replace Gnome 3 for something that keeps the conventional desktop.

*Not due to problems with the system, but I damaged the HDD it was on and never got round to replacing it.
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Iranon
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Iranon » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:41 pm UTC

Ubuntu uses Debian Unstable snapshots and does more risky stuff with it, so Debian Unstable shouldn't scare you.
However, it's part of a testing process rather than a first-class citizen in Debian's development. Derivatives like Aptosid and Siduction add a little polish.

I've had better experiences with the Debian ecosystem than any other but Arch, which doesn't seem to fit your needs (very up-to-date, but more DIY-oriented).
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Arancaytar
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Arancaytar » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:31 pm UTC

Thanks for the tips. =)

Yeah, I think I'll give sid a go this time. I'm normally okay with DIY stuff, but hardware drivers (particularly graphics drivers) consistently manage to stump me. :)
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Jplus
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Jplus » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:13 am UTC

I'm not really experienced with Debian and Ubuntu, but could Mint be a solution? For what I know, it's basically Ubuntu but with a different approach to the desktop environment.
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Iranon
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Iranon » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:44 pm UTC

Sort of. Main difference in approach to the desktop environment: Ubuntu reinvents the wheel for questionable reasons, Mint reinvents the wheel for no reason at all - their creations don't really do much for user experience that a slick XFCE implementation couldn't do more efficiently and with fewer bugs.
LEGO won't be ready for the average user until it comes pre-assembled, in a single unified theme, and glued together so it doesn't come apart.

joshumax
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby joshumax » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:16 pm UTC

It aggravates me that I'm recommending an RPM-based distro as I've been a loyal Debian user for as long as I can remember,
but have you considered Fedora? The community is knowledgeable and good for developers, and the packages are
up to date, however I've found it to be slightly more stable than the "Unstable" branch of Debian.

wumpus
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby wumpus » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:34 pm UTC

Iranon wrote:Sort of. Main difference in approach to the desktop environment: Ubuntu reinvents the wheel for questionable reasons, Mint reinvents the wheel for no reason at all - their creations don't really do much for user experience that a slick XFCE implementation couldn't do more efficiently and with fewer bugs.


I expect it to be at least slightly easier to replace the desktop with your choice on mint. I'm running Ubuntu LTS due my insistence on using software mdRAID (mirroring) for /home. This means the debian installer which is available on debian and now only on some Ubuntu distributions [labeled alternate](I had been using debian, but it seemed dead set against allowing any nvidia non-free contamination). Mint uses the ubuntu installer, which looks great but doesn't have nearly the options of the debian installer.

If you're looking at rpm-based systems, I've also used (briefly, my machine had to be replaced with a windows box due to software requirements) scientific linux (Redhat Enterprise forked for desktops by CERN). I'd expect it to be slightly more stable than fedora (also I'm biased against red hat. I don't think I've gotten a red hat product to install since 1997, mostly due to using a standard (not red hat made) fdisk program that causes red hat installers to throw a hissy fit and demand to wipe the drive).

Paradigm_Arsonist
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Paradigm_Arsonist » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:20 am UTC

If you're looking for an Ubuntu replacement, I find OpenSUSE nice. Otherwise the other big one is Mageia. Don't mess around with anything more obscure.

If you're looking for an intermediate distro like Debian -- something fairly automated where you don't have to compile your kernel, but free of n00bcandy like Ubuntu Software Centre or whatever it's called -- then look at Fedora. It's much less conservative with package versions than Debian -- in fact, it prides itself on being the latest stable software.

I personally found Debian too buggy. I personally would consider Slackware for an intermediate distro, but you have to learn how to use it and the software versions are old.

Are you sure that software versions matter? I used to have a kind of novelty-seeking addiction to new software. Just a thought.

dalcde
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby dalcde » Sun May 19, 2013 8:23 am UTC

Iranon wrote:Sort of. Main difference in approach to the desktop environment: Ubuntu reinvents the wheel for questionable reasons, Mint reinvents the wheel for no reason at all - their creations don't really do much for user experience that a slick XFCE implementation couldn't do more efficiently and with fewer bugs.

Since this is "religious wars"...

Well, it's you who like xfce. Old GNOME 2 people who don't really like xfce don't take it as a suitable replacement. If I were to choose between MATE and Xfce, I'd choose MATE. I can't say what's wrong with Xfce, because I didn't really use it much, but it just doesn't feel right.[citation needed]

If you are referring to Cinnamon, well, it "looks" sleeker compared to Xfce/MATE, and certainly has a different audience.

Iranon
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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Iranon » Sun May 19, 2013 11:09 pm UTC

I don't like XFCE... I find it dull. Coming from a highly twerked FVWM, I find most environments dull.

However: XFCE is sensible, distro-agnostic, modular, freedesktop-compliant, gives more to the open source ecosystem than it takes and seems to have a sustainable development path. Mate by comparison seems an attempt to keep a corpse from rotting away entirely (Cinnamon is tricky: similarly backwards-looking but Gnome developers do make it unnecessarily difficult to use their base without breaking off entirely).

I expect most things that make XFCE not feel right to be quite shallow - it certainly doesn't get much love where contemporary look&feel, visual cohesion and other nontechnical parts of user experience are concerned.
The Mint team has some reputation to get exactly these things right, and they could pull off something slick on top of many established interfaces if they made it their priority. Their track record with sweeping changes under the hood isn't nearly as stellar.
LEGO won't be ready for the average user until it comes pre-assembled, in a single unified theme, and glued together so it doesn't come apart.

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Re: Recommend me a distro?

Postby Thesh » Sun May 19, 2013 11:33 pm UTC

I originally went with Debian, but when I couldn't get SageMath to compile I went with Fedora and never looked back. I liked both, just Debian isn't as up to date with its packages.
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