One Mark of a Good Distro

by Susan Linton - Sep. 09, 2011Comments (6)

linuxEveryone has their favorite distro. I try to remain neutral, but in Linux it's hard to hide your true feelings sometimes. Of course, all rivalries are supposed to be in good humor. Needless to say, I've tried a lot of distros. Some I've used a lot longer. I've found there are a few basic characteristics that make some distros better than others.

To me having a large and up-to-date repository is always a plus. In fact, it's probably one of the most important features. I like a distro that I can equo, urpmi, or apt-get me whatever obscure piece of old software that I love. The less of these I find, the less I like the distro. Magiea is doing pretty good, but it's missed one or two*. Sabayon always had whatever I wanted - almost always. I'm sure there were times I might have been disappointed, but I can't remember any.

Mandriva used to well stocked as well, but I don't think anymore. PCLOS was always pretty well stocked too, and users have the added advantage of asking for packages from the small (sometimes very small) team of developers. openSUSE's is okay, but I don't like having to go hunting for proprietary software. I prefer those who offer them in their package manager.

Linux Mint is really well stocked, but half their inventory comes straight from Ubuntu. Which is a good thing. And which is the main reason Mint is better. The value added from Mint's contributions is evident in the money they make. I'm not really sure how their revenue compares to other distros, but for a small independent team, they seem to do okay. (They publish their donation and subscription receipts each month. Something other distros don't do either.) And that my friend is something especially hard to do in Linux. Most developers make little or nothing (unless they're on one of the big guys' payrolls - which is good work if you can get it). I get the impression Mint users are quite happy.

A lot of distros offer a pretty face and ease-of-use, but if their repositories are small, so is their following.

* But we have to cut Mageia some slack cause they are really just getting started. This is their first release and I stick around because its KDE (or more specifically Kontact, or even more specifically KMail and Akregator) is really stable. I've had maybe one Akregator crash since version 1 was released. The way KDE life has been for the last couple of years, this is a nice little oasis.

Khürt Williams uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


I can see why having a wide range of packages available would be appealing... But I prefer YaST's package manager. It is excellent, and very versatile. One-click downloads are also a very large plus (not to mention the soon-to-be implemented one-click-uninstalls, which is great for starting Linoobs such as myself :D)

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Do you suffer from Small Distro Syndrome?

Almost all men experience anxiety about the size or appearance of their distro at some time. For most men, these feelings will pass but, for others, they can be persistent and disabling. A man's concern about his small distro can lead to avoidance of lan parties, coffee shops and other activities where other men might see his small desktop distro. Such men are not only embarrassed by the apparent smallness of their distro, but frequently also feel ashamed and silly about their anxiety, too. If you're tired of suffering from Small Distro Syndrome (SDS), we have help available now! Get a super large distro! Be the envy of other men! 100% guaranteed!

The most common side effects with Debian were headache and upset stomach. Eye Strain and wrist ache were also reported, sometimes with delayed onset. Most men weren't bothered by the side effects enough to stop using Debian. As with any distro, in the rare event of a configuration session lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate geek help to avoid long-term downtime.

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Great article.

It's obvious, from your comparative style, that you know what you're talking about. A jarring change from "technical journalists" who re-type and submit for publication press releases generated by various organizations.

I agree with you regarding Mint, and have long held that Clement Lefebvre has a very high level of class, integrity, and hard-work ethic; and that it really shows in his product lines (so send him ten or twenty bucks, all you guys and ladies who want to reward a truly hard worker who makes a great FOSS product, even if you don't use Mint! Then try Mint--or simply visit their web site--to see what a great distro and distro organization should look like).

Thank you for the information on Mageia; it sounds really interesting. Might just take it out for a spin (pun REALLY not intended).



Please let your editors know that something's wrong with the registration service. Reg process never asked me for a password, but upon sign-in, in order to write a response to your article, I've got to give my password!

I went through the "I've forgotten my password" routine, but have heard nothing back. Username is same as on this comment. Please pass along; thanks.

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so where's the rest of this "article" lol

i get

"A lot of distros offer a pretty face and ease-of-use, but if their repositories are small, so is their following."

and then an afterthought under an asterisk.


well okay i'll comment on what's here while you post the rest:

"...but half their inventory comes straight from Ubuntu..."

me too! this is what i also always likes to emphasize: ubuntu brings 30,000 + packages developed and maintained by ubuntuers to the table, plus great marketing for all of linux, plus unity shell!

and then some ingrates wonder "what's ubuntu contributing".

that's what.

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"" Do you suffer from Small Distro Syndrome? ""

Now that was funny !!!!

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