What distro?

Every technology writer who talks about Linux eventually babbles about distros and “which one is right for you”.  The problem with these kinds of articles is the simple fact that a technology writer, even a really good one, can’t possibly know what’s going to work best for you.  He or she can only generalize and make an educated guess at it, like “If you like to do X, Y, and Z, and you’re about this technical, you should probably be using this distro”.

Which is pretty close to what I’m about to do here, so bear with me if you’ve heard it all before.  I’m going to try to avoid some of the typical buzzwords and glitter, however, and just bring it down to brass tacks.

What choice you make about deciding to try Linux is purely about what you want out of using a computer.  There are different types of users out there.  There are users like me, who want a computer to do EXACTLY what they want, and want to understand as much of it as they can so that they can tweak things to their hearts’ content.

And there are users on the complete opposite of the spectrum, who use a computer for a very specific set of tasks every day, and ONLY those tasks, and are not interested in any nuts and bolts, aren’t interested in understanding any of how it works, and just want it to do the job and stay out of their way.

I’m going to be honest here… if you are one of the latter, this discussion probably isn’t for you.

That is to say, you probably aren’t reading this to begin with, much less contemplating operating systems (or are even aware of what an operating system might be).  That doesn’t mean that Linux isn’t a good fit for those people — on the contrary, I think those types of users will be the ones that will often be the easiest converts, since many of them don’t know what they’re using to begin with, and don’t CARE, philosophically one way or another, as long as they can do what they need to do and be done with it.

But it means that people on that end of the spectrum won’t bother to try different distros and won’t bother to care.

So, let’s talk about everyone else.  I’m not going to talk about the dizzying array of choices and options out there with which most “what distro is for you?” authors out there confuse average people.  I’m only going to talk about two, and believe me, with these two, you can probably fill most niches quite nicely, based on your technical skill and desire to dig around under the hood.

3 thoughts on “What distro?

  1. Pingback: Where and how do I get it? « The Linux Critic
  2. I’d been using Linux only for a bit over a year when I started running Slackware, so though I wasn’t an utter newbie and even to this day I wouldn’t say I’m horribly advanced,there was a bit of a learning curve as I learned the ways of the Slack…however, since I’ve been using it I’ve found that the time spent troubleshooting and with maintenance is far less than with any other distro I’ve used-including Debian and Ubuntu.
    I’m not a highly technical Linux user, though I certainly enjoy that aspect of Linux and I hope to improve further my technical understanding of it-which is a certain part of the reason I feel Slackware is perfect for me. That, and just it’s speed, simplicity (though not necessarily to be confused with ease), stability…and most important, the fact that I can count on it to work day in and day out.

    • “… the fact that I can count on it to work day in and day out.”

      GAWDS yes. It takes more work to get things up and running than some other distros, but once you have a Slackware box configured, it’s rock solid (unless you’re like me and you keep tweaking things until, a year or so later, you finally have a system so borked you can’t even boot… but that’s my own goddamned fault, isn’t it?).

      I play around with other distros, and I really like the eye candy I find in some of them, but in the end, Slackware is, to me anyway, Linux in a nutshell. It’s a stripped down set of essentials laid out in front of you to do exactly what you need.

      And I don’t care what anybody says… Slack is an excellent desktop/laptop distro, not just for servers.

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