Saturday, March 19, 2005

What Distro ??

Well, I have done so much research on this question, I still have no definite answer.
I tried the following: Redhat Enterprise Linux 3.0, Fedora Core 3, Ubuntu and Mandrake 10.1.
I finally settled on Mandrake!

Each one has benefits and drawbacks. Eventually, it boils down to the community, and the amount of support, drivers and people that are using it out there.
Ubuntu seemed to locked down .. I didn't like the whole sudo trick, that you don't really have root and all .. It felt to chewed ...
RHEL 3.0 - installation was very easy, but then the biggest drawback was that it supported a 2.4 kernel .. so any peripherals were a nightmare to install. Also, some newer utilities for digital pictures management and such did not work on the old gnome. And finally, it's a really old version of OpenOffice, which had all kinds of issues .. (RHEL 4 came out only a couple of weeks ago...)
The pros are that there is a huge following to RH in the US, and there are a ton of resources out there. Also, RHN is awesome.
If you do choose to go this route, and you don't want to pay the ridiculous amount of money RH is asking for, look closer on their site .. they have student rates ! All you need is a student friend, and you can get RHEL for $50 !! (including RHN).

A few weeks later I decided that I really need a newer kernel, and installed Mandrake 10.1. The installation was very smooth, and the user experience is awesome! It supports plug&play hardware and so far, anything I wanted to do was a breeze. Moreover, the Mandrake community (although it seems rather small in the US) is pretty big worldwide.
Mandrake provide great resources on their site. First of all, you have the Mandrake club, which gives you access to any RPM you'll ever need, and to user forums, and to much much more.
Then, they have MandrakeOnline, which is just like RHN !
Finally, MandrakeExpert - a kickass service ! After you spend two days trying to figure out something .. you can just post a question, and usually within 24 hours someone from the community will help you. Great idea, and great results.
I subscribed and paid the Mandrake fees. MandrakeClub includes MandrakeOnline membership. It's a little pricy ($130) but .. it makes life easier. You don't have to subscribe to run Mandrake. Almost any RPM can be found somewhere else on the net ( is a great source). But, it just makes life easier.

So my verdict thus far - Mandrake 10.1 rocks!
Even if you don't choose Mandrake, just make sure you use a 2.6 kernel, it makes a world of a difference.

At work I run FC-3 - it works great. It runs a 2.6 kernel, but it is clearly geared more towards a server than it is towards a Desktop. So while it does the job, I still vote Mandrake.

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