Desktop Linux

So I’m curious… If you had to work with a Linux desktop OS – regardless of what your general OS preference is – which of the Linuxes would you choose?

Our game servers currently run on Fedora 8, but I smell the scent of imminent demise on Fedora: The community appears to have died off to the point where the only active maintenance is on the next release aside from the occasional emergency/security patch. And so many of the official packages are long, long out of date. Things like “lightscribe” labels stopped appearing around Fedora 7 (current release is 9 with 10 in beta).

I was about to install FC8 on a spare partition here at home but then I remembered how much I hate working on my Fedora box at work.

Everything about it is slow – although I have the livnv nvidia kernel installed. Aside from the RAM, it’s not that bad of a box – P5 dual core 2.8Ghz, geforce 6800.

None of the IDEs I’ve tried runs comfortably on my Fedora 8 box: both Code::Blocks and Eclipse are pale shadows of their windows builds on the same hardware although Eclipse suffers the most from it and becomes borderline unworkable (one of the things which contributes to my ongoing poor impression of Java).

Anyway, for historical reasons, Fedora makes a good build for the servers (although, I must profess I’ve been wondering about porting them to Windows if only for the convenience of being able to dev with Visual Studio :) But I’ve always had my doubts about its suitability as a Desktop, and it does seem Redhat is backing out of the desktop arena.

My three top candidates are Debian, Ubuntu and Gentoo – all three of which I’ve heard good things about. But I just don’t have the time these days to research and explore three new desktop setups.

I figured that the poll might at least attract some input from the lurkers since I figure there’s probably only a handful of people reading who will actually post feedback :)

18 Comments

FreeBSD if I wanted to do all the tweaking myself, Ubuntu for brainless install/usage

gotcha’s with debian/ubuntu is the 32/64 bit modes – both suse and redhat use mixed mode, the .deb based distros are 64bit only.

We’re sticking to Centos for servers – not that fussed by userland stuff (though we do have a few ubuntu boxes for that stuff)

Eh, first commentor: if you’re going to refer to a Linux platform as ‘brainless’ it would behoove you well to first actually read and understand the question :)

Linux is what’s on the table, I didn’t choose the hand and changing the hand is not an option. The best I can do is pick a Linux variant that causes me least grief as one of my workstations, so “what about X OS” is – at least – unhelpful and – at worst – irritating. It also has the end result of making you sound like a Mac user sounds to a Windows user when they insist that “that’s so much simpler on a Mac” because they don’t know how to use a PC.

Thanks, Mike: that’d definitely be an obstacle as the hosts are currently decidedly 32-bit :( Although my Makefile already specifies -m32 so that shouldn’t be too big a problem.

processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 15
model : 3
model name : Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.80GHz
stepping : 3
cpu MHz : 2806.446
cache size : 1024 KB
physical id : 0
siblings : 2
core id : 0
cpu cores : 1
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 5
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe constant_tsc pebs bts
pni monitor ds_cpl cid
bogomips : 5616.08
clflush size : 64

(and it lists two of those)

Would love to hear some Whys :) Ultimately I want a Linux that’ll drop in real easy, that will run my IDE and something like DDD happily and do it all without being horribly slow. It’s not going to be the machine I read email or web-browse on (although I will undoubtedly use the browser).

So what’s so great about Ubuntu over other Linuxes you’ve tried? What does Gentoo offer? And why would you pick Fedora as your desktop?

Eh, first commentor: if you’re going to refer to a Linux platform as ‘brainless’ it would behoove you well to first actually read and understand the question :)

Actually, you should have read his response. He was saying that installing and using Ubuntu is easy.

And the advantage to Ubuntu is there’s a lot of development and ‘ease of use’ work going into it. That’s all. Once your version of linux has RPM they’re all pretty much the same.

But if you want a linux that doesn’t chug you’re going to have to dig a little deeper my friend. The problem with linux is that it installs everything by default. And they all run, by default. So your fedora has a mail server, ftp server, apache, all kinds of crazy shit going at once. You have to go through and configure that stuff to not start up(or remove their packages).

If you’re just looking for an environment to program in you can try Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux. They don’t come with all the extra crap.

Everytime I have played with gentoo it’s needed far too much tweaking to get everything set up. Debian and Ubuntu pretty much seem to install off the disk

Whale – I did put a big smiley at the end there :) I’d just really been hoping that the first reply wouldn’t be “try ” :)

I’d toyed with DSL a while back but I ran into immediate problems trying to get this and that running – the dependency tree to get even simple dev tools going is a real PITA.

I’ve tried Fedora as-comes and with a heavily pruned install tree and variations between, but the net result is always … a cow. It’s a great little server environment, particularly for our apps, and the desktop does (eventually) install most of what I want and, usually, there is a Fedora RPM for anything that isn’t installed – although there was a rough patch where it seemed nobody was offering Fedora RPMs up until about FC7.

My next box will be with unbunto. It does have a single force with deep pockets behind the project. It seems to help focus it and keep it active.

I think Fedora is losing the usefulness for redhat. The rate of innovation has definitely slowed over the last few years.

When you are comparing Linux distros you must consider what you want to do with them. The different distros have different aims and so the results will be different. Ubuntu aims for a stable desktop with simple installation. OK for general use if you don’t want to have to make many choices for yourself.

Fedora is a development distro with its aim to push the envelope. Hence it tends to have some rough times particularly when a new version is released. If you want stability with Fedora stick to one release back ie. F8 at the moment until F10 is released. Updates for F8 will end about a month after F10 is released so that is the time to go to F9 and so on.

Many of the distros have a Live CD option, both Ubuntu and Fedora do so you can try them before you install. But in my experience hardware support on the live CD is not as good as an installed version.

the dependency tree to get even simple dev tools going is a real PITA.

Wait, you wanted something that’s not a pain in the ass? I thought we were talking about Linux?

The package management system is pehaps the most important thing when selecting a distro. The Debian system works extremely well, which puts it and Ubuntu about 2.53 lightyears ahead of the competetion.

I’ve personally stuck with Debian, but many people seem to have jumped onto the Ubuntu bandwagon. I guess they want more a) untested or b) up-to-date software – take your pick :)

I would recommend Gentoo or Arch Linux. Both have excellent package managers, a rolling release cycle, less bloat, and more configurability. Gentoo is obviously a build from source distro, but Arch is not (although the packages are optimized for i686). The Arch install is also much simpler. Watch out, though, Arch64 support 64-bit binaries only. If you need to run 32-bit apps you’ll need the 32-bit version.

Debian owns all other distros for servers… (yes, i consider it far superior to Red Hat enterprise actually). SuSE is also good, but i choose Debian if i can.
Ubuntu is the best for desktop, and is basically a Debian.

I work as network admin of more than thousand last gen blade servers, SANs, and More than 5000 desktop clients working intensively on Databases, X-Ray images, etc…

Ubuntu is definetively the best linux for desktop fully compatible with all the Debian stuff plus some other advantages for newbies in the linux arena.

And it’s “almost” British :) so… Ubuntu is for you Mr. Kfsone.

In my desktop i have a dual configuration: WinXP 64bis / Debian Sid 64 bits

Debian 64 is my main desktop.

I always more freedom with Gentoo. The possibilities are amazing with it. The package manager, as mentioned before, is just awesome! I love the lack of bloat and how configurable it is as a desktop solution. If you are looking for something seriously powerful, configured for *just* or system (and thus making it even more so powerful), Gentoo is the way.

For an easy, point-n-click walk in the park… Take Ubuntu or something. As a coder, I like my systems to have and do only what I want them to.

You could always tackle LFS… But I doubt you have that time or patience for that! Just think of the possibilities though… ;)

I know this is a tangent and a revive of an old blog post.
But, I am going to install Linux on my PS3 game console. I heard YDL was made for PS3, but is slow. Gentoo sounds like a win (fast). I was thinking of Ubuntu but it sounds like it has some issues with HDTV.
Any thoughts?

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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