Posts Tagged ‘picking a linux distro’


Why Picking a Linux Distro is Like Picking a Girlfriend

January 10, 2009

Wow. Thanks to all for stopping in!

In case it wasn’t obvious, my last post was something done on a whim and on the fly. I set up some conditions and then performed some tests. I don’t thnk these were particularly rigorous tests. Like most nOObs, I’m more concerned about things that just work. If something makes a good initial impression, I’m more willing to tweak and work with it later.

Choosing a Linux distro is a lot like choosing a girlfriend. If she appears too needy or too high maintenance, I am probably not going for a second date. Of course, a pretty face doesn’t hurt, but as my previous review showed, there is a lot more to her than her looks. But looks and the amount of effort required are all subjective things. Most of us nerds enjoy fiddling with things and many will enjoy the challenge that the spirited and untamed distros bring. Some of us like a distro with a nicer personality. Some like a distro that is younger and others prefer ones that are more mature. Some are purists and prefer a distro that is totally pure and unsoiled by proprietary software. And some of us don’t particularly care and will take the one that is the easiest no matter what corporate entities she has gone to bed with. Whether you are a purists or a pragmatist, there is probably a Linux girlfriend distro for you. Or, you could stay with same whore everyone else purchases or the exclusive high classed beauty whose pimp only allows her to serve clients who can afford to use her in the more expensive accommodations.

Everyone has different criteria, and I didn’t think my initial criteria were that rigorous. Afterall, getting on the web, typing a document, watching some youtube and and having a bit of fun are minimum requirements that can be satisfied by many cell phones! My Dell laptop is hardly exotic so should not be beyond the reach of any modern distro.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of flavors of Linux so having some relatively quick way to screen them is important if you are on the hunt for a new one. The live CD provides a very efficient method for doing this. Not everyone has a bunch of extra machines sitting around waiting for a new OS to be installed/tried. Trying it out before having to commit is one of the first things that enabled me to overcome my own anxieties about trying a seemingly alien OS and if you want to see more people trying Linux, you can not underestimate the value of decreasing anxiety. And this is why it is so important that there is some robust functionality out of the box. Ubuntu and Mepis both brand themselves as being friendly for someone trying Linux for the first time. But if I fail to get sound or video working, my opinion of the OS will NOT be friendly. Yes, there are work-arounds and tweaks and fixes aplenty. But if I want work-arounds, why not stick with Vista which has better work-arounds for all of its ills?!? It’s only a live update or a service pack away!

I do appreciate the feedback and several people suggested Mint as a viable distro. It is on my short list of distros to try. What other distros would be worthy opponents for Mint 5? Are there any other tasks that a distro should be able to perform out of the box besides the ones I already tried in my last review?