Linked by Howard Fosdick on Thu 28th Mar 2013 21:49 UTC
Linux Like many OSNews readers, I use Ubuntu. I also use several less popular distros. What is it like to use these lesser-known distros compared to the dominant systems? How does running, say, VectorLinux or Puppy or PC-BSD, differ from using Ubuntu or Fedora? This article offers a few ideas. Obviously, it broadly generalizes about distros for the purpose of discussion.
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Not a distro
by twitterfire on Thu 28th Mar 2013 22:31 UTC
twitterfire
Member since:
2008-09-11

PC-BSD it's not a distro. It's FreeBSD tailored to GUI/desktop users.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not a distro
by acobar on Thu 28th Mar 2013 22:56 UTC in reply to "Not a distro"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

Can you explain what is the difference? It always seemed like it had the same coupling present on Linux Mint Debian Edition -> Debian (except that PC-BSD is older than LMDE, I think) and we call LMDE a distro.

Actually, to me, if someone gives a new name to a new generated system install, they create a new distribution. This is precisely what CentOS does (well, there is the problem related to compilation order too on this case).

Edited 2013-03-28 22:57 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Not a distro
by YALoki on Fri 29th Mar 2013 02:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Not a distro"
YALoki Member since:
2008-08-13

I used to be an IBM Linux instructor and that is where I learned that Linux is only a kernel around which many purveyors put their own choice of userland programs and applications.

So Linux packaged with other stuff makes a distribution.

I use OpenBSD which, like all the BSDs that I have ever seen together with other Unix and Unix-like OSes, comes with a comprehensive collection of typical Unix-derived tools.

All those pieces are compiled using the toolset that produced the matching kernel. Thus we get an Operating System. AIX, SunOS, Micronix, HP-Ux are others.

PC-BSD is an OS. Linuces with BSD bits hung on are still distros.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Not a distro
by terra on Fri 29th Mar 2013 04:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not a distro"
terra Member since:
2012-11-01

PC-BSD is an OS. Linuces with BSD bits hung on are still distros.


However, PC-BSD is a FreeBSD "distro" which does not use Linux kernel at all.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Not a distro
by cb88 on Fri 29th Mar 2013 16:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not a distro"
cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

PC-BSD is a BSD guess what BSD stands for... you know Berkley System Distribution. so clearly it is a Distro ;)

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: Not a distro
by krreagan on Fri 29th Mar 2013 19:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not a distro"
krreagan Member since:
2008-04-08

FAIL! "Software" not "System". Trying to be clever?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkeley_Software_Distribution

BSD's are distributions of UNI*. Linux distros are a kernel (Linux) with *BSD, Solaris, AIX, GNU... user land utilities slapped on and configured in various ways.

BTW PC-BSD is still a complete FreeBSD. All the userland apps/utils are still FreeBSD + some additional ones.

KRR

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Not a distro
by laffer1 on Sat 30th Mar 2013 19:06 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Not a distro"
laffer1 Member since:
2007-11-09

I think the fact that PC-BSD contains FreeBSD is what makes it a distro. They're just value adding stuff on top of someone else's operating system. There are no customizations to the base system.

It's FreeBSD + a different package manager + packages for GUI apps. Debian is a Linux kernel + GNU tool chain + a package manager + packages. I don't see a difference here.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not a distro
by judgen on Fri 29th Mar 2013 11:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Not a distro"
judgen Member since:
2006-07-12

I never saw the benefit of LMDE compared to Neptune or aptosid. Would you plase care to enlighten me?

(neptune seems to have newer packages of almost all Qt software i use.)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Not a distro
by acobar on Fri 29th Mar 2013 13:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not a distro"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

I think it depends on whether you miss/want Mint artwork, extensions and Cinnamon/Nemo or not. Like with lots of Debian derivatives it is all about details, and most of the times they are really "subtle".

Anyway, my time trying a lot of distros is over now. I settled around openSUSE (my main option mostly) and LMDE for desktop. On servers I use the usual suspects, CentOS and Debian. For NAS it is OpenMediaVault or FreeNAS. And for a media center is XMBC + Debian.

I really like the fact that with Debian there are lots of stable applications pre-packaged and ready to use but I like also the up-to-date nature of openSUSE for development and yast to easy configuration.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Not a distro
by terra on Fri 29th Mar 2013 04:27 UTC in reply to "Not a distro"
terra Member since:
2012-11-01

PC-BSD it's not a distro. It's FreeBSD tailored to GUI/desktop users.


It is a FreeBSD distro tailored to desktop users where as FreeBSD is a BSD distro(distribution).


http://www.freebsdwiki.net/index.php/FreeBSD-Distros

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not a distro
by Soulbender on Fri 29th Mar 2013 06:57 UTC in reply to "Not a distro"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

PC-BSD it's not a distro. It's FreeBSD tailored to GUI/desktop users.

Well, you could call it a FreeBSD distro....

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Not a distro
by twitterfire on Fri 29th Mar 2013 08:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Not a distro"
twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11

Nope. It's just FreeBSD with a new installer and PBI system. Any change in FreeBSD base will reflect in PC-BSD. Anytime FreeBSD version is bumped, PC-BSD version is bumped, too.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Not a distro
by Doc Pain on Fri 29th Mar 2013 10:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not a distro"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Nope. It's just FreeBSD with a new installer and PBI system.


Partial-nope. :-) It's a bit more than that. PC-BSD first of all is the FreeBSD operating system plus a new installer and the PBI packaging system. Furthermore it includes a desktop environment and preinstalled and preconfigured applications. This provides a nice "out of the box experience" for novice users who take those components as granted, usually in conjunction with desktop systems.

FreeBSD as an operating system, consisting of a kernel and the userland programs that comprise a fully functional OS, is created and maintained in a standardized way by the FreeBSD team. The big difference to Linux distributions is that they are based on a kernel, maybe add changes to it, and then add packages to deliver the functionality they intend: Lightweight distros or server systems are composed completely different from desktop, gaming or multimedia systems. So everything on a Linux system can be considered a package, even the kernel. There is no OS per se. Instead the creator of a specific distribution has to deciede how he wants his system to appear, e. g. which shell is the scripting shell, if there is a different default dialog shell, what packaging system to use, what mail subsystem and so on. There are many differences among the Linusi.

If you would remove the /usr/local subtree from a FreeBSD or probably even PC-BSD system, you would still have a fully intact OS. This differentiation between "the OS" (maintained by OS tools) and "additional applications" (maintained by package management) is often considered a disadvantage, as updating "the whole thing" consists of two parts. On the other hand, it can be really nice if a recent "simple update" renders the boot process unfunctional, as it can happen a few times on some Linux systems. On PC-BSD, binary updating for OS and applications has been mostly unified with PBI, so the desired experience can be delivered. But the means to do this in "the FreeBSD way" are still present: You can update world (the OS) and ports (installed applications) from source, if you wish, or use a port management tool, or even the new pkg tool.

Taken this consideration into mind, PC-BSD can be considered a "distro of FreeBSD". However, PC-BSD is not a Linux distribution. I still remember having read an article in some german computer magazine, titeled "FreeBSD - the professional Linux"... :-)

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Not a distro
by twitterfire on Fri 29th Mar 2013 11:04 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not a distro"
twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11

I still remember having read an article in some german computer magazine, titeled "FreeBSD - the professional Linux"... :-)


Ha ha, I love when non tech guys write articles about IT.

Reply Score: 3

I agree with the author
by sforstall1983 on Fri 29th Mar 2013 02:16 UTC
sforstall1983
Member since:
2012-09-28

I have found that some of the smaller ones have better support. OS4 which I have mentioned on this site, http://www.os4online.com and PCLinuxOS, http://www.pclinuxos.com are two great examples of this, Roberto and Mike with OS4 are always very helpful and get me answers QUICK whenever I have problems. They recently ventured into the Enterprise sector with OS4 Enterprise and it was a great way to support the distribution. At first I thought, $100.00 USD was a little steep but when I bought it, installed it and the capabilities are well worth the money. It has become my main distro and now that they went with a more traditional desktop layout, its become a really great distribution.

PCLinuxOS is my favorite KDE based distribution. Texstar and team are always on top of it when it comes to service and support. Its fast, very professional looking. A couple of the apps crash and dont work well unlike with OS4, but for a good XFCE professional distribution, OS4 is the distro of choice. KDE which seems like the red headed stepchild on most other Linux distributions with PCLinuxOS, its the distro of choice.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I agree with the author
by benali72 on Fri 29th Mar 2013 04:56 UTC in reply to "I agree with the author"
benali72 Member since:
2008-05-03

I had the same experience with PC-BSD. When I had an installation issue due to having two kinds of disk controllers on my machine, Kris Moore himself stepped in to help out. You just don't get that kind of personal attention with the big distros.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: I agree with the author
by toast88 on Sun 31st Mar 2013 09:10 UTC in reply to "RE: I agree with the author"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

You just don't get that kind of personal attention with the big distros.


Did you actually really try that? From my experience, there is no problem which people in the various Debian IRC channels and mailing list couldn't solve. Just ask.

Adrian

Reply Score: 3

RE: I agree with the author
by toast88 on Sun 31st Mar 2013 09:09 UTC in reply to "I agree with the author"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

At first I thought, $100.00 USD was a little steep but when I bought it, installed it and the capabilities are well worth the money.


You'd better donated these $100 to the Debian project where the *actual* work on the distribution is done.

Such mini distributions do some theming amd custom configuration, that's it. They can't do any real engineering, they simply don't have the man power.

We have over 1000 official developers in Debian (Debian Developers) and even more Debian Maintainers. We are the ones who are doing the actual job. Without Debian, Ubuntu, Knoppix and anything Debian-based wouldn't even exist in the first place.

And I don't even understand the advantage of these mini distributions. If want a certain theme or configuration, I can just configure my Debian that way. Supporting more than 10 official architectures plus some more in the ports section makes Debian the most universal distribution ever and many people profit from it. Yet so few people don't contribute back to Debian ;) .

Adrian

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: I agree with the author
by twitterfire on Sun 31st Mar 2013 09:41 UTC in reply to "RE: I agree with the author"
twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11

Yet so few people don't contribute back to Debian ;) .
Adrian


Because people only care about graphical crap and design and are fooled by marketing strategies and bling.

Technical prowess alone doesn't matter. Just look at Apple products.

Reply Score: 3

Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by twitterfire on Fri 29th Mar 2013 09:26 UTC
twitterfire
Member since:
2008-09-11

Ubuntu announced few weeks ago that it won't use Wayland display server like the rest of the linux world, instead developing its own display server, Mir. Mir won't be compatible with Wayland and will support Android graphics drivers. It will be used on both mobile devices and desktop.

Using Unity on top of Mir, talks with Nvidia and Amd for graphics drivers, exclusivity for Steam, switch to Qt, we can see where this is heading. They will try to head towards a better integrated system with a stable api but at same time higly differentiate from the rest of linux world and break compatibility with the rest of linux distros. Kind of the Apple of the linux world.

They will probably fail. I don't think they have the know how and developers to release a quality and stable display server in a year as they say. I don't think Nvidia and Amd will write graphics drivers for them, unless Canonical puts their money where their mouth is and pays for development.

But if they manage to do this, release in time, have GPU vendors release drivers for Mir instead KMS/Gallium3d, have Valve release some AAA titles on Steam, they may become the only linux derivative with a desktop market share worth mentioning.

Edited 2013-03-29 09:28 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by PieterGen on Fri 29th Mar 2013 10:33 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
PieterGen Member since:
2012-01-13

Yes, but what does this have to do with big versus small distributions? Most of the big distributions stick to the standards. There will always be discussion on what the "way of the standards" is.

- Gentoo and Debian are true to things like the original init., the standard file hierarchy and so on.
- Fedora introduced SystemD. Arch adopted this soon. I lack the expertise to judge if this is a good step forward or a breakaway from the unix philosophy.

Like many of us I have used lots of distros. I agree with Howard that a small community small can be fine. On the other hand, in small communities (let's say Salix, Siduction or Funtoo) it can take quite long before your question gets answered.

Larger communities with knowledgable users (Gentoo, Arch) are fine with me. Large communities with mostly less experienced users (Mint, Ubuntu) are of less value to me.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by toast88 on Sun 31st Mar 2013 09:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

Debian are true to things like the original init., the standard file hierarchy and so on.


No, we aren't. We are going to switch to systemd with Jessie. We're just currently in freeze, so we can't make such fundamental changes.

There was a talk by Michael Biebl and Tollef Fog Heen on the systemd integration for Jessie at FOSDEM.

https://fosdem.org/2013/schedule/event/debian_systemd/

Gentoo will probably make the jump sooner or later, they already admitted at FOSDEM that their udev fork is pointless ("a toy project").

Adrian

Reply Score: 3

RE: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by toast88 on Sun 31st Mar 2013 09:14 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

No, Ubuntu does not pull an Apple. Pulling an Apple would mean doing actual work and contributing back upstream.

Apple is the largest contributor to WebKit, CUPS, llvm to name a few. They also help maintaining X.Org and open-sourced many other, smaller projects to the public:

http://www.macosforge.org/

while Canonical usually only releases stuff that's usable on Ubuntu only: Mir, Upstart, Software Center, Unity etc.

Apple is NOT a bad company when it comes to open source. Without Apple, we wouldn't have Google Chrome and all the mobile browsers derived from WebKit. gcc would still be without competition and maybe fallback. Software rendering for the GNOME3 desktop wouldn't be possible either (that requires llvm) and CUPS would probably be unmaintained.

So stop making these dumb comparisons.

Adrian

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by twitterfire on Sun 31st Mar 2013 10:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11

Actually we have to thank University of Illinois for llvm and KDE for Konqueror which was the basis for Webkit. Apple contributes to open source only when they use open source projects. If they start a software from scratch, it is closed source.

But you are right about contributing upstream.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by Valhalla on Sun 31st Mar 2013 17:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

If they start a software from scratch, it is closed source.

Well, Clang originated at Apple and is open source, so that's not entirely true.

But overall I agree, Apple is primarily a proprietary leaning company.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by Valhalla on Sun 31st Mar 2013 17:06 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24


Using Unity on top of Mir, talks with Nvidia and Amd for graphics drivers, exclusivity for Steam, switch to Qt, we can see where this is heading.

'Exclusivity for Steam', where did you get this idea from? Steam is already out and it's not exclusive to Ubuntu, distros have also been given the go-ahead to repackage Steam in their repositories.

As for drivers, from what I've read they (Wayland/Mir) use the same base drivers and the same EGL interface, so on there should be no problem there.

Of course getting NVidia and AMD to write proprietary drivers for these new display servers is another story. Their big Linux customers are primarily doing 3D and GPU accelerated computations and likely couldn't care less if it's running X or Wayland/Mir and therefore won't ask for such support.

The Steambox could perhaps cause such a demand if Valve wanted to use Wayland/Mir but as it stands it will also use X (atleast in it's initial incarnation).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Ubuntu pulls an Apple
by screamingturnip on Tue 2nd Apr 2013 16:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu pulls an Apple"
screamingturnip Member since:
2012-04-05

Damn it, why'd I have to read the original comment, it was 10 times cooler when I thought that guy was a cosmonaut... on a crashed satellite. I was thinking ubuntu allows you to use steam in SPACE and update your drivers, that's frigging amazing.

Reply Score: 1

v dqhvdaod@gmail.com
by Anonymous on Sat 30th Mar 2013 05:05 UTC
RE: dqhvdaod@gmail.com
by twitterfire on Sat 30th Mar 2013 08:32 UTC in reply to "dqhvdaod@gmail.com"
twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11

Je veux dire que vous mangez de la merde.

Edited 2013-03-30 08:37 UTC

Reply Score: 2