Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

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TL7
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Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by TL7 »

Hello.
Because this question has not been asked yet on the forums, I will ask it now:

What are some Linux and BSD distributions you have experience with, you make use of, or you recommend for which purpose?

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by louisw3 »

386BSD, because it's the first.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Darkstar »

louisw3 wrote:386BSD, because it's the first.
The first what? BSD? no. There were a bunch of others before. It might be the first that ran on x86 (for some definition of "ran", as it was very peculiar about which hardware it supported) but there were definitely earlier ones that are easier to set up if you use an emulator (SimH, GXEmul, etc.). 386BSD 0.x is very hard to install in qemu (or any other emulator), you will probably have better luck with ancient versions of NetBSD (0.8 is still easily obtainable and runs on much more hardware than 386BSD does)

I always liked ULTRIX because it is easy to setup and run, it has TCP/IP networking built in (in contrast to some of the earlier BSDs) and it came with a lot of add-on packages. Also, many older versions of the GNU software compiles and runs just fine on ULTRIX so you can very easily extend it.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by RentedMule »

I started with Slackware and used it for a majority of my linux years. I still feel incredibly comfortable with it and use it on more exotic hardware, but it was always somewhat tedious. Especially now that linuxpackages.net isn't around anymore. I dove into Gentoo for a couple of years, back when you could still do a stage 1 install. It was fun as but it was work to maintain the bugger. When it became stage 3 only and killed support for 486, I gave up. Now I use Debian, as it just works and it seems to work on everything, including my old Sparc pizza boxes. It works really good with Xen.

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by louisw3 »

I found Ultrix at least supported more than AIX or IRIS, but I typically had to share the VAX with 80 or so other users which sucked.

I was saying 386BSD as the first, as in the first freely available. Although substituting more 4.4 is really needed.

On the VAX, 4.3 Uwisc is my go to, it's got more SunOS like features and software post 89 ports much easier to Uwisc than straight 4.3

I'm still trying to figure out how to build Mach 2.5 which is a 4.3BSD Tahoe for Vax, Sun and i386.

The snobbish attitude of the BSD folk to the 386 basically condemned them to an obscure position forever. And the horrible job Bill & Lynne did with refusing to at least collect patches and update kernels cost the community that critical 1991-1993 where Linux grew up and ate almost all Unix.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Windows OS »

My personal favorite Linux distro is Linux Mint. I absolutely LOVE Cinnamon for it's default simplicity and it's deep customization options.
For BSD, I'm going with FreeBSD, as that is the one that I have the most experience with. Although, could macOS count?
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by SistemaRayoXP »

I'm getting started in Linux, but as my short personal experience, I recommend Debian and Xfce, since both are lightweight and compatible with many software, as an example many Ubuntu software is available for Debian too, since Ubuntu is based on Debian. As for Xfce, it will run just like would run XP on a newer machine (Pretty damn fast!), and here I can highlight its compatibility too.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Darkstar »

SistemaRayoXP wrote:I'm getting started in Linux, but as my short personal experience, I recommend Debian and Xfce, since both are lightweight and compatible with many software, as an example many Ubuntu software is available for Debian too, since Ubuntu is based on Debian. As for Xfce, it will run just like would run XP on a newer machine (Pretty damn fast!), and here I can highlight its compatibility too.
Vanilla Debian is all fine and dandy, if you want really ancient software on your machine. If you want anything remotely recent (like, say, newer than 6 years or so), you won't be having much fun with Debian (you'll have to fiddle with custom repos and breaking dependencies all the time).

Now I use Debian only for servers which I don't want to touch, software-wise. For desktops it's a real nightmare.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by oscareczek »

Darkstar wrote:Vanilla Debian is all fine and dandy, if you want really ancient software on your machine.
Being always on testing or even sid doesn't make your software ancient.

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by SistemaRayoXP »

¿Ancient? I've used many new software NOT 6 years old, maybe 1 or 2, but Debian is easiest to setup than others, and I don't want to be aggressive, Darkstar (Which I think I am just answering you), but isn't my fault if you had problems 4 years ago with Debian and just for that you think it's still the same for all Desktop users, switching to other OS is hard, but if you make enough research, this will always be pretty easy. And Linux (Debian specifically)won't be always 'updated', since it's maintained by the community, and even taking in mind that the community is big, is nothing compared to MS, so don't think that you'll find the newest software in ANY Linux Distro.

And please don't disqualify me, it seems like you know many about Linux, but you must have respect for the others that doesn't
SistemaRayoXP wrote:I'm getting started in Linux,
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Darkstar »

Well maybe 6 years was a bit of an exaggeration but a quick testing showed that almost all packages I searched for were *at least* 1 year old (the exception was openssl which is "only" 9 months old, no idea how many security fixes they backported...)

Packages I checked were gcc (6.3.0, dec 2016), KDE5 (nov 2016), scummvm (oct 2016), wine (feb 2017), nginx (jan 2017) and qemu (dec 2016)

If you want the Debian experience, with more up-to-date packages, you should try something like Mint (which has far surpassed Debian in popularity by now) or Ubuntu (yes, people seem to split hairs over this, but it seems that for people new to Linux this is one of the distros that gets recommended the most so I added it here as well)
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by SistemaRayoXP »

What about lightweight? Nor Ubuntu nor Mint are as light as Debian is. Both have a footprint as 7 does, but Debian is like XP in weight (In my experience). And where are the mirrors from? I've seen newest versions of Qemu and Wine for Debian, the software in the Debian official mirrors is always a bit outdated. And well, newest isn't always better, example iPhone X vs iPhone 7.

For novice users and Windows users (Me, hehe) Ubuntu and Mint are just fine, for old PCs, Debian is the right one, and for those that want to burn their resources, Ubuntu + Gnome3 or KDE
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Darkstar »

SistemaRayoXP wrote:for old PCs, Debian is the right one
Well if you say so. You are obviously more knowledgeable about that "Linux" thing than me... *sigh* why am I even talking to you
SistemaRayoXP wrote:And well, newest isn't always better, example iPhone X vs iPhone 7.
Wow. just wow
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by DOS »

Mint is certainly popular, but I would suggest doing some research as there have been some concerns about its security in the past and I don't know if they've been addressed. For example, this article says:
The default update settings of Linux Mint would not update the Linux kernel or notify the user when security updates and bug fixes were published upstream (from Ubuntu, which Mint is directly based on, or Debian, which is the basis of Ubuntu). This default behavior left users vulnerable to root exploits, and potential hardware issues for which patches were issued alongside security fixes. Other upstream updates were also blacklisted from Linux Mint for conflicting with the design of the Cinnamon desktop.
The article suggests that some improvements were made in this area, but it's not necessarily perfect. I would question whether the maintainers of Mint have their priorities correct in terms of their users' security.

I wouldn't touch Ubuntu because I have concerns about choices that Canonical have made in the past, e.g. from this article describes a feature of older versions:
In currently supported versions of Ubuntu the Dash sends search queries the user enters to a remote web server run by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu.
Not respecting privacy out of the box, and instead requiring you to change settings, is too much like Microsoft behavior for me. Perhaps they are better these days.

Ubuntu does have the huge benefit that there are lots of users, so anything you want to do on Linux, you can search for it and there will often be instructions on how to do it with Ubuntu.

I think Debian is probably one of the best for security, stability and privacy. As already noted, stability generally means not the latest versions of packages, because new versions often bring new bugs. Debian is probably also the best in terms of ports - it looks like they currently support some ARM, MIPS and PowerPC platforms in addition to the standard Intel platforms, and you can even get (in-development) ports that use non-Linux kernels (FreeBSD and HURD).

I don't think any RPM-based distributions have been mentioned at all yet? Here are some:

Red Hat has two freely-available distributions, CentOS (based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and Fedora. Fedora is fairly bleeding edge, whereas CentOS is highly stable and at this point in the release cycle, many of the packages in CentOS 7 won't have received any new features for 3.5 years, and will continue to be supported for security and other bug fixes for another 6.5 years I think (for a total of 10 years of support). For some packages like Firefox where an update won't make your server stop working, they just follow the Firefox ESRs (Extended Support Releases), so you tend to only be up to a year behind the bleeding edge. There are also far fewer packages available than for Fedora. But Fedora releases a new version every 6 months, and only supports a release for 12 months, so you need to do a major upgrade at least once a year to maintain security updates, and that's work (and potentially breaks things). I can think of better things to do with my time, so I use CentOS and generally compile the additional packages I need.

There's also openSUSE. I haven't used it but I think it is less extreme than Fedora and CentOS in terms of stability/instability. I used a much older (1990s) SuSE version and it was quite friendly in terms of setup, hopefully they have continued this tradition.

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Darkstar »

DOS wrote:I wouldn't touch Ubuntu because I have concerns about choices that Canonical have made in the past, e.g. from this article describes a feature of older versions:
In currently supported versions of Ubuntu the Dash sends search queries the user enters to a remote web server run by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu.
Not respecting privacy out of the box, and instead requiring you to change settings, is too much like Microsoft behavior for me. Perhaps they are better these days.
I would suggest doing some research ;) as the very article you linked to states that this has been disabled since 16.04. It has been opt-in ever since...
DOS wrote:Ubuntu does have the huge benefit that there are lots of users, so anything you want to do on Linux, you can search for it and there will often be instructions on how to do it with Ubuntu.
That's why I usually suggest it to people new to Linux, because I don't want them coming to me all the time if they can't find their OpenOffice icon or something :-)
DOS wrote:I think Debian is probably one of the best for security, stability and privacy. As already noted, stability generally means not the latest versions of packages, because new versions often bring new bugs.
Yes, but for some packages like gcc, qemu, wine, etc. you generally want newer versions on a desktop because of the new features they offer. Using newer versions does not automatically mean that the software is not tested and crashes every few minutes, as some people seem to believe...
The thing is, when I see people asking for help in some of the official IRC channels for these (and other) projects, they are often told "this has been fixed in version x.x, you're using a version that is too old, please install a newer version and try again". I am tired of helping people who are new to Linux with building a new Wine (or anything else) version from scratch just because their distribution can't be bothered to include something a bit newer. Also, I don't want to search the internet for the best unofficial repo that includes a newer version of software X for their distribution.
DOS wrote:Debian is probably also the best in terms of ports - it looks like they currently support some ARM, MIPS and PowerPC platforms in addition to the standard Intel platforms, and you can even get (in-development) ports that use non-Linux kernels (FreeBSD and HURD).
Yes but this is irrelevant for 99% of people who actually want to use Linux. Do you know anyone with a MIPS or PowerPC laptop/workstation? Or anyone actually using the HURD? I certainly don't.


I can't say much about CentOS/Fedora since I know nobody who uses it on a desktop, but reportedly OpenSUSE is also very good nowadays as desktop Linux system. OpenSUSE comes in two flavors, the traditional OpenSUSE Leap and the rolling release, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed. Everyone I know is on Tumbleweed though, for the same reasons as with Debian: In a Desktop OS you generally want some more recent packages than what's available in Leap. Hardware support has improved a lot (it was terrible back when it was still called SuSE Linux) and even more exotic hardware (like older USB scanners and such) works out of the box.

Some other distro that has not been mentioned is Arch, or one of its many derivatives like Manjaro Linux. It is a perfect way to learn more about how Linux works (as opposed to just passively using/consuming it), is very resource friendly and can be customized in just about every way imaginable. It's package manager, for example, is faster than yum, zypper, or apt so any updates are installed within seconds. Manjaro is currently the second most popular Linux distribution, according to DistroWatch.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by DOS »

Darkstar wrote:I would suggest doing some research ;) as the very article you linked to states that this has been disabled since 16.04. It has been opt-in ever since...
If it's in Canonical's nature to do that kind of thing once, I'm not sure how confident I would be that they won't do it again.
Yes, but for some packages like gcc, qemu, wine, etc. you generally want newer versions on a desktop because of the new features they offer. Using newer versions does not automatically mean that the software is not tested and crashes every few minutes, as some people seem to believe...
The thing is, when I see people asking for help in some of the official IRC channels for these (and other) projects, they are often told "this has been fixed in version x.x, you're using a version that is too old, please install a newer version and try again". I am tired of helping people who are new to Linux with building a new Wine (or anything else) version from scratch just because their distribution can't be bothered to include something a bit newer. Also, I don't want to search the internet for the best unofficial repo that includes a newer version of software X for their distribution.
I use an older version of Qemu than Debian provides and I survive *hehe* But yes, you're right, it probably makes sense for anyone who isn't able to figure out for themselves how to get or build a newer version of a package to stick to a distribution with the latest versions.
Yes but this is irrelevant for 99% of people who actually want to use Linux. Do you know anyone with a MIPS or PowerPC laptop/workstation? Or anyone actually using the HURD? I certainly don't.
Yes, it certainly is irrelevant for 99% of people, but I think that on these forums we're part of the 1% who want to do weird things with OSes, like when I ran Linux (pretty sure it was Debian) on a 68k Macintosh sometime last century just for a fun challenge.

Oh yeah, I forgot Arch. Another thing that it has going for it is a strong community - the Wiki is great!

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Wheatley »

I'm quite fond of Gentoo (testing) myself. It's extremely flexible thanks to USE flags, the ability to specify your own compiler flags, and because the user compiles their own kernel with the options and drivers they need or want. So called live ebuilds also make it quite easy to use development versions of a lot of things (for example mesa). Of course, a huge con to any source-based distribution is that compiling software can take quite a lot of time. For example, Chromium can take several hours on average and even quite decent hardware. If the machine just isn't good enough to compile nearly everything and I still want a rolling release distro, I go with Arch, as it still has a lot of flexibility thanks to the minimal base install.

When it comes to non-rolling distributions, I am huge fan of Fedora. It's stable, has recent software versions, and gets updates quite quickly. It also works well OOB on a lot of hardware, thanks to it keeping up with kernel versions.

When it comes to BSDs, I only really have a small amount of experience with FreeBSD. It seems quite stable, and I know it's well-suited for servers. Even desktop use is possible, but getting it to be optimal for that takes a bit of work (or you can just download TrueOS).
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by nixie »

Wheatley wrote: When it comes to BSDs, I only really have a small amount of experience with FreeBSD. It seems quite stable, and I know it's well-suited for servers. Even desktop use is possible, but getting it to be optimal for that takes a bit of work (or you can just download TrueOS).
PC-BSD is a popular desktop-oriented offshoot of FreeBSD. Ultimately, it is just a repackaged FreeBSD with the usual desktop toys installed by default, graphical frontends to most config tasks, and prebuilt binaries available. But as already stated, it's still a stock FreeBSD under the hood.

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Wheatley »

nixie wrote:
Wheatley wrote: When it comes to BSDs, I only really have a small amount of experience with FreeBSD. It seems quite stable, and I know it's well-suited for servers. Even desktop use is possible, but getting it to be optimal for that takes a bit of work (or you can just download TrueOS).
PC-BSD is a popular desktop-oriented offshoot of FreeBSD. Ultimately, it is just a repackaged FreeBSD with the usual desktop toys installed by default, graphical frontends to most config tasks, and prebuilt binaries available. But as already stated, it's still a stock FreeBSD under the hood.
Yes, I know, and I even mentioned it in my post (PC-BSD was renamed to TrueOS in 2016).
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by nixie »

Offtopic Comment
Wheatley wrote: Yes, I know, and I even mentioned it in my post (PC-BSD was renamed to TrueOS in 2016).
Sounds like I really need to patch :)

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by SistemaRayoXP »

Check this, Darkstar. I surely don't know more than you about Linux, but I know how to read...
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I know it's in spanish, but there is clearly a version number for WineHQ which is 3.0.0~jessie. It'0s from Debian 9, so if you want more info, just tell me and I'll screenshot it ;)
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by F1nger8 »

TL7 wrote: What are some Linux and BSD distributions you have experience with, you make use of, or you recommend for which purpose?
Debian testing is my favourite distro because have a lot of software package always update. Use debian for my job and home server. instead my favourite DE is XFCE because is very functional and light for my job, since 13 years.

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by AlphaBeta »

SistemaRayoXP wrote:What about lightweight? Nor Ubuntu nor Mint are as light as Debian is. Both have a footprint as 7 does, but Debian is like XP in weight (In my experience).
The great thing about Linux distributions is the great package management system. You can have a Mint or Ubuntu system that's as lightweight as Debian.
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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by Ghast »

Being limited by hardware, I found NetBSD to be a wise choice... compiling sources was hell, given the power of my hardware at the time... but in general very stable and fast.
Moved on to Debian because I got incredibly lazy, then moved over to FreeBSD when systemd was introduced.

Those have been my server solutions at least, on non-exotic hardware.
Desktop? Mac OS / X or Slackware for working... Windows for gaming.

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Re: Your Linux/BSD distribution and recommendations?

Post by TheDosProgrammer »

I have NetBSD on my old DELL OptiPlex gx260 (I've upgraded RAM to 789mb), I use it as a small file server (for backups). NetBSD is (somewhat) easy to install for people with some experience with BSD-based OSes. Keep in mind that desktop environment and UI in general isn't something I care about on a server (I've installed CDE on it just because it's fast and I'm familiar with it).

And just as a recommendation:
If you want to speed up your 10+ years old low-end PC with something that at least looks modern (and won't eat up enormous amounts of RAM), there is Raspbian (OS for Raspberry PI) x86 that's based on Debian and comes with basic stuff preinstalled on it (desktop environment, web browser, LibreOffice etc).

(No, I'm not saying that it's better than Vanilla Debian but I tried it on the DELL PC mentioned above and it was fast)
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