|| ||Tres Melton <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|| ||Distribution Tracking|
|| ||Sat, 12 Apr 2003 03:18:48 -0700|
Fellow Linux Geeks/Nuts/Addicts/Users,
I think The Linux Weekly News is the best, un(distro)biased, and
most informative news site on the 'net today. Therefore, I think that this
is the most appropriate place to post such an issue. If it were to be
posted to Slashdot there would be too much crap to wade through to find the
answers (not to mention the flames, flame-baits, and trolls -- its like
going fishing at a fish hatchery: you catch everything). The basic
question is "What distro do you use?" But I am curious about more than
just that; I'm curious about the path that people have taken to arrive at
Let's start with our esteemed editor: Mr. Corbet. Since he started
writing the device driver articles I know my estimation of his abilities
has increased considerably. They are really the only articles on LWN that
require all of my synapses to fire properly in order for me to understand
them. I consider myself a fairly good programmer, I've been building my
own kernels since the beginning, I'm not afraid to patch the kernel, and
I've spent many hours browsing through the source code. I think its a safe
guess that he doesn't use an out of the box configuration from any distro.
I'm curious what distribution he uses. I know that a custom kernel can be
used with just about any distro out there but a lot is lost by not using
the kernel that the distro has provided you with. The kernel is just the
most obvious example at hand.
It was Mozilla that got me started on this project. I'd like to
have a version that I built from source code but that goal has proven
elusive. I use Mandrake 8.2 at the moment and spent an evening in
dependency hell before I decided to just use the nightly builds. I'm
building up an old machine with Debian that I intend to take from Woody to
Sid to testing soon. The reason is to be able to build Mozilla and a
number of other programs so I can play with the source code.
I think it would be very informative to have a questionnaire to try
and chart the distros people started using, their intermediate distros and
why they switched, and finally the distro that they are currently using and
how happy they are with it. I would be willing to work on this project, in
conjunction with LWN, if there is actually a desire to see it done. It
would be nice if enough time went into the questionnaire to make it truly
useful for people -- newbie through kernel hacker -- and could be allowed
to run indefinitely on LWN so that data can continuously be collected and
it would have relevant data from now on.
For instance, if someone asked me what distribution they should use to
'try' GNU/Linux on I would recommend a CD based Live version or if I
could remember the name of the Linux version that lives as a file in a
Windoze partition and can be executed from Windoze. On the other hand
if a small business asked me how to use Linux to run the Internet stuff
I would probably suggest RedHat with a support contract. A desktop user
I would probably point to Mandrake; and a programmer with at least some
Linux experience I would probably point to Debian.
There are reviews galore for every kind of distro that you can
imagine. What we need is an aggregate of information that can be used
by everyone who doesn't spend their time reviewing distributions. The
pros and cons of each distro should be voted on and ranked. The recent
article about source based distros is an excellent article, especially
the part about the dis/advantages of going to source. That data should
be integrated into the questionnaire by those that are actually using
I've included the distros that I've used and the reasons that I no
longer use them below as a starter:
Year Distribution Reason for changing
1993 Slackware First Distro
1996 Redhat Slackware fell behind
2000 Mandrake Newer Packages
2003 Debian Hoping apt-get removes the dependency hell
???? Gentoo This will remove the dependency hell
I would also want to put a number of questions that say between
1-10 how would you rate:
Upgrade-ability of packages
Upgrade-ability between minor upgrades
Upgrade-ability between major upgrades
Desktop hardware compatibility
Laptop hardware compatibility
Server hardware compatibility
Rating as a desktop distribution
Rating as a server distribution
Rating as a newbie distribution
Rating as a programmer distribution
And some multiple choice questions:
Why did you switch to/from a particular distribution
newness of packages
What kind of users would you recommend this distro for
What kind of uses would you recommend this distro for:
I would list the results in terms of most popular distribution.
They could be resorted based upon your level of expertise, the function
that they will perform, and the hardware that they will be installed upon.
Each distribution could then be expanded to show how they are rated on
individual details as listed above. If LWN agreed to host this and help me
out we could even put it into a database so that you could use it to
compare and contrast the different distributions. It might even be
possible to place a front end on it that would allow a user to say: "I'm an
intermediate UNIX administrator/programmer, a beginning GNU/Linux user, an
expert LAN administer and I need to deploy DNS, HTTPd, SMTP on a single
server in a DMZ." The next user could say: "I'm a Linux expert that wants
to deploy a firewall on an old P100 with a DMZ for servers and a NAT setup
for the internal corporate users so they can share the DSL connection too
(without spending a week building and configuring my own)."
The first thing that I need to know, as I'm sure Jon and the other
staff at LWN need to know, is what kind of interest is there in the
community for such a database? Can I get some more feedback on the types
of questions that should be listed and how I should format the results?
This is just an idea and it won't be very useful without a lot of data in
it so if there is just a passing interest I guess I'm stuck reading distro
reviews and installing the most promising ones when I have the time.
Best Regards to the Community,
Tres Melton <email@example.com>
Comments (17 posted)
|| ||"Arthur Torrey (no spam please!)" <atorrey at cybercom dot net>|
|| ||Searching for software or having an itch...|
|| ||Mon, 14 Apr 2003 21:23:55 -0400|
Once again, LWN gets it right in pointing at something I was experiencing
just as I was going to write about it anyway... (I have to read a week late
due to unemployment = don't spend money that isn't essential)
Your pointer to the article "Open Source needs centralized PR, not
development (NewsForge)" seemed right on the money, as did the article itself.
I just had a need to make a few campaign signs for my effort to get elected
to Town Meeting locally. I'm a really lousy artist, so I had the idea of
printing out the content of my signs on letter paper using very large type,
and either gluing the paper printout onto my poster-board signs, or cutting
them out in order to make stencils.
I've done similar things at my old job (where the boss made me use M$
products) with no problem, as M$ Word goes up to around 190pt. type (about 6"
tall letters) I also have a vague memory of a DOS program that did "ASCII
art" banners with different size letters.
My girlfriend and I spent a couple of hours searching then, and I've spent
several hours since, trying to find a Linux program that would let me do the
equivalent, with NO success. None of the Linux word processor or presentation
programs seem to come with fonts over 96 points (about 3", or half what I
wanted) We couldn't find anything on Google, searching on things like 'Linux
Large Fonts' gave lots of advice on changing font size on the video display,
but no programs. The Linux equivalency chart referenced in the comments
didn't have anything that seemed to fit the description. The Gimp didn't have
big fonts available in it's text tool (that I could find). I suspect that it
would be possible to get large fonts out of TeX, but we didn't have time for
the learning curve that TeX is reputed to require.
So I ended up feeling very frustrated, and going back to making the signs
from scratch. (They were ugly, but I won the election, which is what counts I
I'm not a programmer, I do hardware, not software; so I can't write a
program to do this myself. My girlfriend probably could, but she has a
'yellow-dog' employment agreement that says her boss owns her brain 24/7 so
she can't work on open source stuff. Besides, I'm SURE there must be a
program out there that does this kind of thing IF ONLY WE COULD FIND IT!
We have had several other times when we were looking for other applications,
and it has consistently been a challenge to find out what options we had to
choose from. I never really tried to find stuff for Windows, but back in my
DOS BBS days, I never had as much trouble finding (legal) down-loadable
software as I do today finding things for Linux on the Internet.
I'm not sure what the answer is, but it seems to me like the Open Source
world needs a better CENTRAL catalog of available software, or perhaps a
"HOWTO" on finding software that lists all the major sites and gives
suggestions as to what kind of search strings will be most likely to give good
Comments (6 posted)
|| ||"Jay R. Ashworth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|| ||Is Linux ready for the desktop?|
|| ||Tue, 15 Apr 2003 11:30:18 -0400|
That's the question asked (and supposedly answered) in an article linked from this
But as far as I can see, that's not the real issue.
Check out this
piece from the Inquirer, which points out that "Windows 2004" (aka
Longhorn) will be *completely backwards incompatible* with everything,
If this turns out to be, in fact, accurate, then that's going to serve
as a tipping point for Linux. If you have to throw out everything you
own *anyway*, then what do you want to replace it all with? Programs
that already exist and run on a rugged, reliable, secur(able) operating
system with 30 years background?
Or the Next Big Thing from the people who brought you Windows 2.03?
And the time to be evangelising ISV's, folks, is *right now*. If you
want to see Quicken2004 for Linux, and Turbo Tax, and all that kind of
stuff, open your mouth! Write letters! Tell Intuit that you're not
*going* to Win2004, and you'll have to switch to some other product if
they don't support Linux. Tell 'em LSB makes it more practical than
Remind them that multiple distros aren't *that* scary -- they already
have to support Win3 (in some cases) and 4 95's and 2 98's and ME and 4
NT's and 2 XP's and...
Make some noise. It's another opportunity to change the world.
But hell... what do I know? Maybe it's just me.
So many things are just me...
Jay R. Ashworth email@example.com
Member of the Technical Staff Baylink RFC 2100
The Suncoast Freenet The Things I Think
Tampa Bay, Florida http://baylink.pitas.com +1 727 647 1274
"If you don't have a dream; how're you gonna have a dream come true?"
-- Captain Sensible, The Damned (from South Pacific's "Happy Talk")
Comments (6 posted)
Page editor: Jonathan Corbet