Linux Distro choices [was: Ubuntu...etc]

Peter Alcibiades palcibiades-first at
Tue Dec 9 03:51:56 EST 2008

Of course its a thorny issue, and it depends what you want, who you are, and
what your machine is.  I don't think you lose anything by moving from
Ubuntu.  Like many other long term Linux users, I'm a bit baffled by its

On old machines try Zenwalk (slackware based and uses Xfce).  If this is
still too slow, try a minimal Debian with fluxbox as the WM.  If this is too
slow, Puppy.

If you want to learn, really learn, Linux, but do not have unlimited time
and energy to do it (if you do, Linux from Scratch is the one), get
Slackware and study the user guide.

If you are an active user, but don't like the command line, and speed of
machine is not an issue, Mandriva.  If you can manage with the slightly
reduced package selection in its repositories, PCLinux is also a sensible
choice.  Mandriva is larger and better resourced, PCL is a bit of a one man
band, but a very good community.  Its derived from Mandriva.  But be
prepared in both cases to do a new install when you want to upgrade, which
will probably be every couple of years or so.  Do not install Mandriva 2009
if you want to use KDE. In that case use 2008.1 And use the ONE version, not
the FREE version.

If you are ready to use the command line for administration, value
stability, dislike doing full installations for system upgrades, don't
require exhaustive and up to date user documentation, and are not all that
bothered about having the latest versions of everything, Debian Stable.  At
the moment that means Etch and not Lenny.  This is also a good choice for
the lay user who just wants an appliance for email, web, office, if you are
going to maintain it for them.  But do not give Debian to an enterprising
but relatively non-technical user - what they try to do will involve more
than they bargained for.  For them, Mandriva or PCL will be a lot better. 
You should use the 386 not the 64 bit version of Debian, unless you really
need to address the extra memory.

My own strategy with Debian has been, stay with Stable until Testing has
been in the field for a year or so, and is on RC1 or RC2.  Then move to
Testing.  I've had some problems however lately installing the latest build
of Lenny, which suggest rather that the smart thing is probably to stay with
Stable all the time.  I used to install Mandriva for naive users because it
was easier to administer, but then discovered that administering it was the
last thing they had in mind!

Its hard to judge from people's posts, so it would be a hard choice, but
tentatively, for you, I'd go to Mandriva One 2008.1, KDE version. Or PCL. 
You can try Mandriva out as a live CD first.  

But in the end, for the committed, Debian is where we end up, and if you
stick with Linux, you'll end up there too.  Its just a question of when. 
One day you wake up, look at your machine, and you know this is the time to
go to Debian.

Debian or Mandriva will do equally well on laptops.

Mikey-3 wrote:
> OK, to sum, we have a couple of opinions on a client distro.  Do we
> have a recommendation on Debian vs. Mandriva?
> This is a lappie.
> What am I giving up by punting on Ubuntu?

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