Linked by Anthony Hicks on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:17 UTC
Linux This (quite long) article has been written by me for two primary reasons: One, to hopefully save someone else the time and hassle associated with trying out various Linux distributions, and two, to promote some discussion and feedback regarding what a modern Linux distribution should be, and of course to contrast this with what is currently available. I am exploring the offerings of MS Windows, BeOS and MacOSX, and then taking on a number of well-known Linux distributions.
Order by: Score:
by Darius on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:48 UTC

I see on 7 distros listed in this article. IMHO, you'd need to review at least twice that many to do an article such as this, especially if you plan on recommending one over the others. I notice that Debian, Xnadros, Lindows, Slackware, etc are missing from the list - that's kind of a large ommssion.

missing some things
by all your linux on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:49 UTC

what about debian. you need to add a distro with binary package capabilities such as deb/apt-get, the article includes mandrake and redhat, which are both rpm based, and gentoo which is source based, so add debian to make it complete!

Mac OS X corrections
by Chris on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:50 UTC

First, Mac OS X is not based on FreeBSD. FreeBSD is unix base of Mac OS X's closest cousin but Mac OS X is based on Darwin, a BSD operating system based on BSDLite 4.4 and the Mach kernel. Originally, Darwin also had some NetBSD and OpenBSD in it. Nowaways, Darwin stays in sync with FreeBSD userland commands but the two are distinct, different beasts.

What is the thing about the Mac's one button mous?. You can get everything done with one button on the Mac OS. It was designed that way. Two, three, whatever buttons is purely optional. Any smart buyer will research to see if their mouse work with a new OS before plunging in.

Apple will not go x86. Forget it. Apple's future is sound. They are a healthy, vibrant company. Not like Gateway which is bleeding to death. Apple will almost certainly go with the PowerPC 970, IBM's new 64 bit chip. It is sampling now and will go into production in August.

Mac OS X can run umodified right now on the PowerPC 970 though that would defeat the purpose of a 64 bit chip. Mac OS X will have to have to havesome tweaks but all apps will run unmodified on the new chip since it will handle 32 bit PPC instructions as well. Your hardware wont be obsolete in 6 months.

And that Adobe FUD? c'mon. Even Adobe later expressed regret at posting errant information. They mistenterpreted a study that was showing Photoshop was faster on Mac OS X. They didn' read the fine print.

Obviously this reviewer is biased toward Linux. If you think you have repurchase apps for Mac OS X, wait to see how many won't run on Linux. period.

RE: Incomplete? Not really
by Eugenia on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:51 UTC

Well, one can't try all that, it is a HUGE job to do so. Linux is linux, no matter if the flavors are a bit different.
For the most part, Xandros, Lycoris and Lindows have a common goal (the desktop), so their offerings are similar and they were represented in this article by Ark Linux. Slackware and Debian are the geek/dev person's Linux, and were represented by the similar Gentoo (even if they are not source-based exactly).
Overall, I believe that the article had at least one representative of each "Linux category".

Oh and...
by Chris on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:52 UTC

I might add I love Linux (Libranet Debian Linux!) and BeOS so don't think I am some blind Mac fanatic.

Re: The Quest for the Perfect Linux System...
by FH on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:55 UTC

It seems as though you were looking for the perfect precompiled system - and I'm glad you have found something close to it with Vector Linux.

Had you truly been looking for the perfect Linux System, there should have been only one stop : Linux From Scratch. You could have built yourself the perfect GNU/Linux OS - but then again you did say that you didn't want to get your hands dirty (so to speak) - which is an interesting constrast to the fact that you prefer the extreme (assinine?) configurability of KDE over the elegant simplicity of Gnome. Go Figure.

Oh well.

Typo in the article
by Hornsby on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:57 UTC should say

wheres the hardware analysis?
by someone on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:01 UTC

This guy didn't mention anything about hardware support and getting it to work on their os easily. How good is this in his linux distros? I'd bet it would be horrible. Or did he/she suddenly decided to throw away the hardware support and just depend on the software?

RE: wheres the hardware analysis?
by Eugenia on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:02 UTC

Maybe his hardware was compatible, how do you know?

Re: Chris
by Roberto J Dohnert on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:06 UTC

Show me a site or article where Adobe regrets posting errant information, the only thing they probably regret is that they got thousands of e-mails from Mac users claiming that Adobe is: Stupid, Dont know anything, etc. This was a good article, its a shame tho because of " marketing reasons " the author did not include SuSE, IMHO SuSE is undoubtedly the leader in user friendly linux, I have tried them all, Xandros, Lindows, Lycoris. All of them mind you have their little quirks and annoyances but for me SuSE only has one. SuSE is definately more polished and I think overall it probably would have served the authors purpose than any of the others out there. Pay the $79.00 it is well worth the cost And it is cheaper than most professional versions of Linux out there today.

There is no perfect Linux system
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:08 UTC

There is no perfect Linux system. What's perfect for the desktop can be a nightmare for servers. What's perfect for servers can be a blocker for the desktop. What's good for both can be bad for embedded devices, what's perfect for embedded devices may make no sense for the desktop, etc. etc.

Example: high-throughput (for servers) vs low-latency (for desktops). A high-throughput Linux kernel makes the GUI less responsive. A low-latency kernel makes the GUI more responsive, but if you run a benchmark tool you'll see that the system can process less data than a system running on a high-throughput kernel.

Too many things are mutually exclusive. Again: there is no perfect Linux system.

I'm sorry but WHAT
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:15 UTC

All of his agruments about the Disadvantages where all incorrect. Let's start in order.

Point #1 - Being slow.
True, a dual CPU machine would help immensely with this (XP is SMP-capable!), but we're looking specifically at the operating side here. Multiple CPU's will also help to speed up my Linux box when and if they're added (although Linux would of course require that I build an SMP-capable kernel).

Isn't this actually an agrument FOR Window's XP not AGAINST it!

Point #2 - 3rd party apps
Windows has came a long ways as far as what it allows the user to do, but to still get the most from a Windows system, you have to typically use a 3rd party program. This often requires additional $$, and it often adds another application to those already running in the system tray. This in turn results in more CPU cycles and memory going towards a feature which I for one feel should be included with the OS itself. Virtual Desktops under Windows is an excellent example of this, in that if you want Virtual Desktops, similar to Linux and BeOS, you must run a 3rd party application to provide this functionality.

AHH NO - Microsoft provides virtual desktop capability and it works GREAT, goto the link below to download it:

Anyone who even wants to claim they know anything about windows knows about all the Power Toys Microsoft provides!

Point #3 - Annoying Event Sounds
I do a fair amount of music composition and recording on my PC, and as such, I strongly feel that a PC should be seen and not heard. I don't need my PC going "beep" in the middle of a recording session just to let me know that an update's available (or for any other reason for that matter!). So I typically turn all the system sounds off on my PC and save that scheme as my default.

Do I really need to say more than just TURN THEM OFF if you don't like them!

Point #4 - Security
It's Windows... It's full of holes, and more are discovered every day. Enough said

And everyday they fix them. I can't count how many times I have read weekly post about how new security holes have been found in OpenSSH, Apache or other Open Source software. Microsoft is the largest software company in the world - of course everyone is going to look for a way to break their software ... it just so happens that people haven't people that same effort into breaking linux

Point #5
Can't optimize core system: By this I'm referring to the fact that Windows is a closed-source system. The users don't have the access necessary to do such things as optimize the kernel for a particular platform. This isn't a major problem, but when you consider all of the legacy applications that Windows supports, you naturally have to wonder how fast and responsive it could be if it was optimized and targeted at modern PC's. Rather than have a kernel that runs on everything, it would be nice to strip out the things that don't apply to my setup and optimize it for the hardware I do have. On the other hand, this is one of Linux's strong points

Your joking RIGHT! How many other OS's out there backword compatibility of up to 8 YEARS (windows 95). Major Linux vendors break compatibility every 4-6 MONTHS. Come on, get real.


I'm sorry, but after the first page of his article - I had to stop reading. Now I'm not some Microsoft zealot but you must give credit where credit is do!

I'm sorrry ... I couldn't resist reading the rest of the article
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:29 UTC

He says that with windows you can't customize it enough so he doesn't like it. And what he love about Linux is that you can customize everything to make it work exactly as you want. So you start to believe he would want a source based distro so that he can optimize it for his system. Which is a fair agrument in a sense because he wants to compile explicitly for his hardware to get every last bit out.

BUT then he goes to say:
The biggest problems the source-based distributions face, in addition to the time associated with compiling everything, and the need to manually configure your system, is the fact that you're more or less reliant on its creators in order to keep the list of available software up-to-date.

WHAT DOES THIS GUY WANT THEN. A distro that just happens to be completely compiled explicity for HIS and only HIS system without him having to do ANYTHING. He says he loves how you can configure linux to the extreme but hate to configure it.

This guy DOESN'T KNOW WHAT HE WANTS from an OS. He just wants the OS to do anything and everything in the world but if you asked him what the anything and everything in the world was he could tell you. Or, he answer would probably be - "I want it to run fast, on all hardware and to do everything I could every want". Which is the most vague answer in the world!

...which is arguably more alive and more functional on several levels than some solutions he did consider (BeOS).

by Bery on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:32 UTC

linux sucks

use windows xp

yadda yadda

re: Anonymous
by guy on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:32 UTC

great points!!!

A benefit not a curse
by ~CdBee~ on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:32 UTC

THANK YOU Anonymous!!!

I'm so glad not to be the onoy person who thinks it shouldnt be necessary to optimise the code for the platform and who belives an app shouldnt need to be recompiled with every subsequent development of the kernel..

One of the biggest bad things in Linux is that you can't reliably build an app to run on any distribution.

BeOS is alive and well through YellowTAB's Zeta product that comes out soon. Get your facts right.
In fact, BeOS is **FAR** easier to install (and cheaper) than eCS 1.1, which I tried to install a few days ago with some unfortunate results.

ECs 1.1
by ~CdBee~ on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:34 UTC

Review please? ( when it's installed properly :-p )

RE: ECs 1.1
by Eugenia on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:37 UTC

When and if it will get installed properly (I am still waiting for a newer ISO build that fixes bugs in the PCMCIA code, while eCS 1.0 was working fine on that machine before), yes, it is on our plans to write a review.

Speed: Redhat x Slackware
by paul on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:39 UTC

The author seems to be very pleased with the speed of Slackware-based distributions. I remember when I used slackware a while ago and it seemed a little faster to me too (compared to Redhat and the others). Is there a special reason for this? Maybe less bloat installed? With all the effort spent by Redhat on kernel development, I would expect it to be the fastest distribution around...

Re: Anonymous
by Testing on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:45 UTC

I don´t know how to put this in euphemic terms.

Sorry, pal, but most of what the guy wrote was misunderstood by you.

The author says XP should be fast without SMP and you say this is an argument pro XP!

He says XP is load with legacy problems and you say it´s good for this reason.

Of course, you´re not obliged to agree with him, but you´re acting as if you didn´t understand the ideas.

Excuse me for being blunt, but do try to read more... you´ll may get HUGE improvements on your skills. Heck, I´m not even a native English speaker!

Again, pardon me, my intention is not to be offensive at all.

RE: Backward compatability
by Omer Hickman on Tue 8th Apr 2003 17:58 UTC

Oddly I have not had the problems that some people report with backward compatibility. I have RH6.x RPMs of Xanim and RealPlayer for 7.x on my updated RedHat 8 system and things seem to work just fine.

Doesn't the .so library system allow any number of major versions of any library to coexist and be available to the programs that use the specific version? The kernel is also very consistent within each major version. I know someone who regularly swaps kernels from 2.0 to 2.5 and everything in between without effecting userland software.

Is it the package managers (RPM, APT) that insist on creating these compatibility issues? I have at times had to go around a stink raised by RPM when installing an older package.

by Ř on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:00 UTC

I don't know what to say except was that a review or a short story about someones dip into some flavours of GNU/Linux? Too many of the reviews I've been reading recently have been too shallow and not going far enough into the testing to give me any usable information.

Anonymous (IP: 129.62.16...) Security
by NZheretic on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:02 UTC

Anon said: " I can't count how many times I have read weekly post about how new security holes have been found in OpenSSH, Apache or other Open Source software."

Quality and security are measures which only mean something when compared relatively to another.

There is no absolutely secure, therefore you must expect, that once a vulnerability is made known to the vendor, the vendor should do their utmost to close the Window of Exposure ( ) as soon as possible.

For example, with the lastest SAMBA vulnerability, once notified, the SAMBA developer owned up to the mistake and the SAMBA project released a patch within 48 hours.Redhat has already backported the patch into their distributions RPMs.

Meanwhile there are currently 14 KNOWN unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Internet Explorer ( )
Some DANGEROUSLY EXPLOITABLE have not been fixed in over a year ( ).

Other inherent vulnerabilities, such as the Shatter attack ( ), Microsoft has known about since 1994!
Even if the API/call flaw is inherently unfixable, that is plenty of time for Microsoft to implement a safer methord/systemcall/API, adapt it's own applications to use the safer methord and depreciate the unsafe API.

It also appears that Microsoft 's own implementation of SMB is vulnerable and Microsoft has known about it for over eight years ( ), but Microsoft either choose not to, or cannot fix the problem themselves.

Microsoft is clearly not closing the vulnerabilities they are aware that exist in their products and services.
Even after Bill Gate's Email, Microsoft by choice, remains neither secure or trustworthy.

Microsoft's attitude towards the security of it's products, service and customers is abysmal.

From Jason Coombs' A response to Bruce Schneier on MS patch management and Sapphire ( )
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) and Microsoft's version of
HFNetChk both failed to detect the presence of the well-known vulnerability
in SQL Server exploited by Sapphire, which is one of the reasons so many
admins (both inside and outside MS) had failed to install the necessary
hotfix. MBSA and HFNetChk are Microsoft's official patch status verification
tools meant to be used by all owners of Windows server boxes
In addition to designing MBSA to avoid scanning for SQL Server
vulnerabilities, failing to update mssecure.xml reliably and in a timely
manner, deprecating HFNetChk by pushing the MBSA GUI as its preferred
replacement, and hiding the details of the technical limitations and
internal security assumptions made by design in Microsoft's security
analysis tools, Microsoft pushes Windows Update ( as a
safe and reliable way to keep Windows boxes up-to-date. Unfortunately,
Windows Update isn't designed to supply or verify the presence of SQL Server
hotfixes, either.

None of Microsoft's own hotfix/patch status scanning tools designed to prove
"baseline security" were able to help administrators avoid Sapphire. This
entire scenario, this comedy of errors, illustrates the security risk
created by any organization that pushes security around from department to
department, passing the buck and hoping that somebody else will know how to
deal with the problem. The result is a system so flawed that it borders on
the absurd.

Because of this continued inherent attatude to security, Microsoft's products and services should be considered UNSECURE by default.

by insignia! on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:08 UTC

Eugenia - "For the most part, Xandros, Lycoris and Lindows have a common goal (the desktop), so their offerings are similar and they were represented in this article by Ark Linux"

Oh, so Xandros, which has been repeatedly reviewed to be one of the best linux distros for desktop plus hardware/software ease-of-use (Debian base), is represented by a piece of ALPHA code?

RE: Really?
by Eugenia on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:14 UTC

It is represented in the IDEAS and its GOALS, not in the code. Stop being deffensive please.

By Eugenia (IP:
by all your linux on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:17 UTC

eugenia: the reviewer did not even install gentoo linux, and i don't think gentoo can be considered a representative of debian, yes they both have a package mangement system which takes care of dependencies, but gentoo takes days to install and get right, debian takes a few hours, and apt-get does not need a whole lot of changing around to install new programs like gentoo's USE variables, which is a blessing and a headache at the same time.

also the reviewer made a big mistake with YOPER, which is based on LFS !!! not slackware.

XP Virtual Desktops
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:18 UTC

The article mentions the lack of virtual desktops in XP.....

XP Powertoys.

Virtual Desktop Manager

Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy.

XP Virtual Desktops
by all your linux on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:21 UTC

too bad this isn't available for windows 2000.

personally, i prefer vern,

this is a very powerful multiple desktop program, and you can control as many desktops as you want. it even has a autohide feature. and supports keyboard shortcuts to move between desktops.

Linux has become a pervasive operating system for developing and deploying enterprise applications. But there are many different Linux distributions, available through many different vendors, and so a key milestone for Linux is binary compatibility for its application stack. That is, ensuring that compliant applications will run on conforming distros -- without recompiling.

The LSB was chartered to help insure just that, and Red Hat 8.0 and UnitedLinux 1.0 are now both examples of conformant distributions.

See the Linux Standard Base website for more details.

Because of the free licensing of the libraries used in GNOME and KDE etc, it is easy to static link or bundle a copy of those and other dependent libraries with binaries.

It will be possible to build entire LSB portable subsystem using The LSB Sample Implementation ( ) on any Modern Linux Distribution.

by Cheapskate on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:31 UTC

computers suck (ALL OSs) go back to using pencil & paper...

Re: I'm Sorry but WHAT
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:33 UTC

From the anonymous post: "Point #3 - Annoying Event Sounds. . .Do I really need to say more than just TURN THEM OFF if you don't like them!"

From the original article: "So I typically turn all the system sounds off on my PC and save that scheme as my default [emphasis added]. . . .So you can imagine how upset I get when I boot up Windows and hear Windows default opening sounds play. This is my cue that something has changed within Windows, and that Windows in its infinite wisdom has reconfigured itself again without asking me."

Since it was a lengthy article, I guess you missed this part.

Read the EULA ( End User License Agreement ) that comes with Microsoft's software and XPs Virtual Desktop. Those licenses are quite a limiting factor incomparison to the flexablity of X11-client-server model using open source ( and even some proprietary linux based software ) licensed applications.

I can view and run my X11/GNOME/KDE applications on any remote PC, X-terminal, Notepad, PDA that has either an X11-server or VNC client and a network or wireless connection. Because of the licensing, I can do so without fear that the BSA will knock down my companies door and demand lots of money. I can host client applications on many remote application servers, to boost security, performance or ease of maintance, without having to renegotiate or buy more per-server, per-user, per-client licenses.

In the future enterprise, such flexability is key.

Article follow-up
by AHicks on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:54 UTC

Allow me to quickly cover a few points that have been made:

Yes, I didn't review a true debian distribution. Regardng the apt-get points however, you can install such a system (apt-get, that is) on a number of Linux distributions, including Redhat, and I must admit that it does make maintaining a Linux installation much easier. Why Redhat and others don't include it in addition to their RPM setups is beyond me.

Regarding the missing distributions, Xandros and Lindows both cost $$ to play with, and thus they fall into my “Suse category” in that they don’t provide a free, downloadable version to try. Additionally, I didn’t care about these as neither provides a KDE 3.1 WM, which is what the article states I was looking for.

Hardware analysis was more or less ignored as all distributions treated my hardware equally (with the exception of the X issues that were noted). None of them saw my scanner (a Visioneer) , and none setup my 7 button mouse out of the box (They all see it as a 3 button wheel mouse). Other than these two issues, one of which is easy to fix (The mouse!), I didn’t feel that hardware was an issue worthy of making the article any longer than it already was.

As for the Anonymous’s Windows comments… In brief, the virtual desktop addon you’re referring to is an add-on! If you’d have read the article, my point regarding Virtual desktops is that they should be built into the system. Your solution is just another item that should be there when I purchase my copy of Windows as far as I’m concerned.

Similarly, as for the sounds my point was that I do turn them off, but Windows “resets” them on occasion, turning back on the defaults (I honestly don’t care if you read the article, but at least read what I’m saying before taking a sentence or two out of context. Sheesh…). 8)=

I haven’t had a chance to use eComStation yet, but I continue to hear of problems with it, so I’m not in any hurry to try it out either. Eugenia’s install problems seem to back that fact.

As for Yoper being Slack based… It really is. Kinda…

Check out some sources on the web: They did resort to a LFS mentality, but they also based much of their distribution on Slackware (hence why some packages such as Dropline Gnome initially supported Yoper, but have since stopped due to Yopers diversion from the Slack mentality/file arrangements). My opinion’s largely based off both postings on the Yoper site (the original one that was deleted a couple of times), as well as discussions with other Slackware users. If it’s currently incorrect, it just goes to show how much they really have diverged with the final release, which I admittedly haven’t used. As of RC4 however, this was still more or less true, and was a noteworthy point I feel.

By the way, if you like Gnome and are using a Slack-based distro, you should check out the aforementioned">Dropline . It's very nice, and is a better release than Redhats version IMHO! 8)=

- Tony

Great article, until...
by dwilson on Tue 8th Apr 2003 18:56 UTC

This article was great for the most part. Anthony Hicks seems to be a good writer, and (amazingly) I spotted no grammatical or spelling errors in the parts I read!!!

His comments were accurate concerning Windows, Linux, and OSX. I enjoyed it a lot and I think he and I would agree on most everything if we were discussing these issues in person.

Then, for some reason at the end he decided to go through reviewing linux distros. This was an awful idea. As Darius pointed out, it is incomplete. Also he "reviews" distros he hasn't tried, such as Gentoo, and as opposed to writing a real Sorceror review he simply mentions that he used it at one time and that he thinks the terminology they use is dumb (it is).

My reccomendation to anyone who hasn't read this yet, read up until the Redhat chapter, then stop.

by Bayerwerke on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:14 UTC

It's a frequent claim that "XP is stable".

In my experience XP is less stable that W2K and about on par with NT 4 (yes, even when using XP drivers only on "Designed for XP" hardware) when fresh out of the box and Service Pack'd. W2K is easier to install or change hardware than either NT or XP, by easier I mean likely to suceed without a lot of screwing around.

From my experience, W2K was the pinnacle achievement of the Windows program running on top the David Cutler hacked OS/2 derived code that Microsoft ever sold. Performance-wise XP introduces some severe deficiencies when compared to W2K (even after stripping out all the XP fluff).

Similarly Windows 98SE was the pinnacle of Windows with DOS underpinnings, being a slight improvement over Windows 95 OSR 2.1.

Since W2K and 98SE Microsoft's emphasis has been on drawing more attention to Windows itself as opposed to actually improving it. Simplification of the user interface has made it much harder to configure it.

This has opened the door for truly innovative Operating Systems to make a play for the desktop. I have close personal experience with an OS X eMac that handily outperforms an OEM XP box that has nearly twice the clock speed. Albeit that little raster shift defect took two warranty repairs to correct.

I use and install Windows (all flavors including 95 and later) on a daily and weekly basis and use QNX (6.1) every day. I have installed and use well over thirty different Linux and *BSD distros since OpenLinux 1.2/RH 5.0 (and prefer SuSE 7.3 so far) as well as LinuxPPC (2K), UnixWare (7), NeXTStep (3.1), BeOS (4, 5), Solaris X86 (2.5, 7, 8) as a desktop and/or server and use OpenServer (8), Netware (4, 5) and Linux (RH 7.2) daily as a Server and Windows (NT, 2K) daily as a "Server".

My experience with desktops goes back to daily use of CP/M Z-80 and Apple DOS around 1981 then on to DOS (2 - 5) and Desqview, then DOS 6/Windows 3.11 and then Solaris 2.5 X86, Windows 95, MacOS 8, etc..

Windows doesn't come close to any Server when used as a "Server" but that's getting off-topic.

When using an Operating Enviroment (as opposed to an Operating System thereby including Windows) I want to be able to tell it what to do, not the other way around. Using Windows, this is inherently more difficult with less predictable results.

The DOS based Windows allow for a virtual "smack on the side of the head" to force it into submission, but NT type Windows do not recover as well from brute force. While initially a little stronger, they collapse rather quickly into a steaming pile of P00 when such tactics are employed.

*nix, especially Linux, gives the experienced user the ability to intervene when more knowledgable than the machine itself and has stability to go along with the package. I don't have to guess what answer to the trick question some wizard is asking me to get the desired results. If I know what I want, I get it. Linux hardware support is BETTER than XP and has enough applications (many free) to do most or all of what most need or want to do with a computer.

The author complains about having to compile stuff, this is an option with Linux to gain performance, it's not an option with Windows. You can't optimize Windows for your hardware, you have to use a precompiled system that may be supporting a lot of hardware that does not exist on your system.

While BeOS is wonderful, the shortage of apps (although less so than QNX) is certainly a hinderence in being able to achieve the daily burden of menial tasks. I wish it's IP had been transfered to a more benevolent entity.

As was mentioned, two of the more prominent challengers in the desktop Linux arena were omitted from the review (Xandros and Lycoris). Perhaps even Lindows should be considered as well, despite their questionable ethics.

eCommstation/Warp 4.51 are lacking only one or two things, Crossover Office/Wine and/or X. Or, if project ODIN were to somehow surge ahead in development, it could be a major contender.

With any computer, making sure the hardware and software are well matched is a crucial plan if ease of installation and a stable system is desired (although finding this combination with XP seems to be less elusive than NeXTStep but certainly close to OS/2).

Re: Ecomstation
by RJDohnert on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:18 UTC

Ecomstation seems a little expensive for my blood, but I always had a soft spot in my heart for OS/2 so I may break down and get it.

Re: XP
by RJDohnert on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:22 UTC

I find XP to be remarkably stable, I cannot wait for Windows Server 2003 to be released. I have heard from several testers that server 2003 is da bomb.

Sample not representative due to poor Categorization
by pnghd on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:27 UTC

Eugenia wrote:

"For the most part, Xandros, Lycoris and Lindows have a common goal (the desktop), so their offerings are similar and they were represented in this article by Ark Linux. Slackware and Debian are the geek/ dev person's Linux, and were represented by the similar Gentoo (even if they are not source-based exactly).
Overall, I believe that the article had at least one representative of each "Linux category"."

Not a chance.
They were all rpm or source based distros.
Packaging (software installation) is a major beef among
many users. There are 13 Distros that use Debian Based
system, including Xandros, Lindows,Libranet,Debian itself, and an entire region of Spain.
Now perhaps one could argue that mandrake has urpmi
available but I saw no mention of it explicity in the
So to not have one Debian Based Distro in the review
is a major ommission and sorry, but not just representative of Linux.

Good article....except...
by teknishn on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:31 UTC

Overall I thought this was a pretty good article. I really think his whole section on Gentoo was terribly incomplete. It almost seemed as if he didnt bother to create a whole system. How can anyone write anything about Gentoo without mentioning Portage. Portage alone sets Gentoo far ahead of all other distros in my opinion. Once the system is built it just ownz. 24hrs is a small amount of time to invest in the big picture of things. When youre done you have a highly optimized system with ULTRA easy install, uninstall, and upgrade capabilities for everything......and the added bonus of never having to worry about rpms or :-)

re: XP
by CPUGuy on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:39 UTC


The fact that you say that Linux has better hardware support just shows your bias and the fact that no one should even bother reading your comment.

windows customization
by Sagres on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:39 UTC

I would like to point out to the people that were complaining about this that if you want a more customizable system you can always install another shell other than explorer.
Take a look at (shell homes section) and you can see that are almost as many different win32 shells as there are window managers for linux :-P. Litestep, object desktop, aston and geoshell are probably the ones to watch out for, 3dtop (a 3d opengl shell) also looks interesting.

re: Cheapskate
by Doug Ly on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:48 UTC

Now that was funny!

But seriously, of the Linux distros I like Mandrake for no other reason than it found all of my hardware (ATi All in Wonder Card, Epson Stylus C42 printer, dLink net card, Kyro Video Card, Firewire Card, SCSI card and Soundblaster Card) and even configured them correctly without me having to do anything. Redhat could not even figure out the video card without me having to manually configure it.

Too me this one step alone in the setup is worth my loyalty.

re: not as many apps for Linux
by pnghd on Tue 8th Apr 2003 19:57 UTC

They are coming,slow but steady.

Big proprietary software companies porting their wares to
the Linux plaftform. Who'ld have figured?

Re: Samba security fix
by Anonymous on Tue 8th Apr 2003 20:13 UTC

For example, with the lastest SAMBA vulnerability, once notified, the SAMBA developer owned up to the mistake and the SAMBA project released a patch within 48 hours.Redhat has already backported the patch into their distributions RPMs.

Really? Did you just pull that number out of your ass? The patch was written within an hour of it being written, and then released four days later.

Plug for Gentoo
by Rayiner Hashem on Tue 8th Apr 2003 20:16 UTC

is the fact that you're more or less reliant on its creators in order to keep the list of available software up-to-date.
With Gentoo, this really isn't necessary. Gentoo uses build scripts to download and configure software. The build scripts are very well documented, very short (usually less than 50 lines, most of it boilerplate), and very adaptable. As a result, it's quite easy to write your own scripts when a new version of a package comes out. I don't know bash scripting (what these scripts are written in) and I've still been able to adapt some for new programs. Since it's so easy, the Gentoo forums are full of user made ebuilds for all sorts of software, even for CVS versions. The result is that, although it has a much smaller userbase, Gentoo's software repository is very large and very up to date.

Too lazy for gentoo
by someguy on Tue 8th Apr 2003 20:27 UTC

If the guy was leery of spending 24 hours just to get the system up, gentoo also has precompiled binaries. I think that the fact that he didn't even realize this and give it a try shows that he didn't put any really serious effort into finding out about Gentoo.

re: CPUGuy
by dwilson on Tue 8th Apr 2003 20:28 UTC

The fact that you say that Linux has better hardware support just shows your bias and the fact that no one should even bother reading your comment

No, he's right. Pound for pound, linux has support for more hardware than Windows XP. Windows XP probably has more support for new hardware specifically, but if you want to do a piece by piece count, there is no doubt in my mind that linux would win.

That is easy enough to see simply by looking at the number of platforms linux runs on.

Microsoft security
by Rayiner Hashem on Tue 8th Apr 2003 20:54 UTC

I find it funny how people are willing to defend Microsoft on security. Microsoft has come out and stated that it's products weren't designed for security. This was less than a year ago. A tenent of computer science is that a system must be designed for security from the very beginning, or it doesn't work. To believe that Microsoft has turned around a 37 million line (which doesn't include non-Windows MS products like SQL Server) is just silly. Microsoft announced some security initiatives last year. If it can stop the feature kick* and concentrate on security and stability, in a few years you might be able to trust them on security issues. Until then, it's just pointy-haired marketing-speak (like the word "initiative").

*> I honestly thought MS had changed when Win2K came out. Win2K was a remarkable advance in stability and performance. Then XP came out and they backslid again. It's okay on the desktop, but WinXP isn't really suitable for a high-load mission critical server. Now, talks of shoving SQL Server (WinFS) and the .NET CLI into the kernel leave me with little faith that MS will ever resolve it's security/stability issues.

by Kirk on Tue 8th Apr 2003 20:58 UTC

you forgot the best of all... Debian.

to you who says microsoft stuff is insecure
by guy on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:11 UTC

how many viruses and worms have actually penetrated your windows? Personally, I've had 0, and I've been on every version of windows since 3.1. I got a simple free virus scanner, it detected one virus from my roommates computer. How important is security to you? Its only important if you have important stuff to HIDE or if you run it in a high risk place like a web server. You guys really shouldn't be talking about security unless you're doing risky stuff, like going on IRC to get your pirated MS software.

XP Virtual Desktops
by Mike Hearn on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:22 UTC

Please. I used them for about 5 minutes before uninstalling them - the PowerToys virtual desktops are awful, little more than an automatic minimize/maximize utility. Compared to any X implementation it felt clunky and unnatural.

Anyway, rant over - I thought this article was fair, nice to see somebody acknowledge the importance of Wine ;) [i hack on it]

There's more to Windows than the desktop
by Aesiamun on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:25 UTC

Just because you've been smart and lucky, not getting any viruses and worms, doesn't mean MS is secure.

The recent slowdown of the internet has proven that Microsoft's most recent full releases of software are NOT secure. The Slapper worm as well as the recent RPC insecurities prove that they aren't secure.

Yes I agree that it's important to note that there have been fixes available, but apparently they aren't trusted by many many IT managers and home users. The SQL server fix was basically backported by later MS updates, why is this? I install a MS sanctioned fix to a critical server and then apply updates later, only to find the vulnerability in SQL back, this is rediculous.

Until MS can produce easily applied updates that don't reintroduce prior security holes, I will deem them too insecure for the server room and leave them behind a firewall for necessary workstations only.

Not Slapper...
by Aesiamun on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:36 UTC

Sorry, it wasn't slapper, it was called Slammer.

My apologies.

by blah on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:43 UTC

played out, lets think of something new to write about.

Re: To the author and Rayiner Hashem
by Darius on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:48 UTC

To the author:
However much of this customization is handled only by 3rd party apps. Windows has came a long ways as far as what it allows the user to do, but to still get the most from a Windows system, you have to typically use a 3rd party program.

Well, since Linux pundets like to claim that Linux is just the kernel when you mention any time when your desktop enviroment has crashed, isn't it then technically true that everything in Linux is a 3rd party program? ;)

This often requires additional $$, and it often adds another application to those already running in the system tray.

This in turn results in more CPU cycles and memory going towards a feature which I for one feel should be included with the OS itself

I'd like to know which built-in feature (such as virtual desktops) in Linux does not use CPU cycles and memory?

Can't optimize core system: By this I'm referring to the fact that Windows is a closed-source system. The users don't have the access necessary to do such things as optimize the kernel for a particular platform.

Why is it that when people who are used to Windows try looking for 'setup.exe' in Linux to double click on to install something, they are chastized for not 'thinking differently' and are told that you don't do things in Linux like you do in Windows. However, when using Windows, what do Linux users do? They bitch and moan that they can't compile/optimize the kernel. HELLO??? Haven't you learned anything yet? There are PLENTY of ways to optimized Windows - it's just not done the same way as in Linux. Yes, I know Linux has capabilities that Windows doesn't - this, however is not one of them

PS - What is the name of your 7-button mouse? I'd like to check one out ;)

Rayiner Hashem
I find it funny how people are willing to defend Microsoft on security.

I don't defend them and say that it is as secure as Linux is, but I think the problem is blown way out of proportion by some people and made to seem worse than it actually is.
Most of the holes that are found are variants of other holes, most of which have been patched for months. Just because some people refuse to take pro-active measures and continue to double click on any kind of attachment that comes down the pipe, well ... that's basically the same thing as leaving your BMW unlocked with the windows down in a bad part of town, and then complaining that your car got stolen.

Talking about Linux... didn't even know Debian...
by HippYBouH on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:54 UTC

No Debian ??? lol
the review >> to the trash...

Great Job!
by Michael Katsevman on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:56 UTC

You've done a great job with this review! The only draw back is the mysterious absence of Debian/GNU Linux. Otherwise, this was a great read.

Good job, power to you!

by andy on Tue 8th Apr 2003 21:56 UTC

How can anyone take a reviewer seriously that doesn't even test the products in the comparison? His remarks about doodling with OS X make me believe he hasn't sat behind an OS X for more than a few hours, ever. Get real, this review is a waste of time...back your "review" up with some real data of your own instead of culling a bunch of misconceptions from the web and typing them up as being original and informative.

Nicely written rebuttle, however I must please beg everybody to STOP with the car comparisons! As shown with the recent statement by Gates (I think) about the car industry and development, cars are NOT computers. Car security cannot be compared to operating security. A computer is infinitely more complex than a car in its mode of entry and uses. A car does one thing with no 3rd-party developers: it drives. A computer can be used to do many many things, must be fairly open as a platform (yes, even MS Windows) so that they can be available to 3rd-party developers, and is ever changing. A car is a car is a car. It can't blow up while you're driving it, but that's about it. The developers don't have to worry about being backwards compatible, or anything other than driving down the highway. Please stop it with the analogies.Oh, and it's easy to lock your car, it's not exactly easy and very well-advertised that you have to use Windows Update (wow, I really wish they would pop up windows making people do it, and power users couldn't complain because they're the ones who want computers to be secure). Even an idiot knows enough to lock their car.

Re: Stephen Smith
by Darius on Tue 8th Apr 2003 22:20 UTC

Ok, maybe the car is a bad analogy, but ...

Oh, and it's easy to lock your car, it's not exactly easy and very well-advertised that you have to use Windows Update

I don't know about this. Though I have never seen anyone get hacked, I have seen some people get viruses - and most don't install anti-virus software until after the fact, even though they knew better.

Even so, that's not the point. The point is that when an anti-MS zealot tells someone new to computers that 'Windows is prone to viruses and full of seuciryt holes', I doubt very much that they'd add in 'However, if you use Windows Update regularly and install anti-virus software, you will probably deminish your chance of getting hacked or getting a virus by at least 90%.' That is what I mean about people mis-representing the security issue. A little proactivity goes a long way.

by Udo on Tue 8th Apr 2003 22:38 UTC

Just look at

and install it with minimal downloading ( no need to get all those ISOs ) FOR FREE !!

Cheers Udo

by aa on Tue 8th Apr 2003 22:44 UTC


by Scott on Tue 8th Apr 2003 23:07 UTC

I use Win 2K, have supported Win NT 4 and Win 95 desktops and have a Mac OS X box at home with marginally better performance on it than I get with my Win 2K box. Surprising since the X box is 5 years old G3 400 MHZ (upgraded slightly) and the PC is a P3 733. The PC actually has more RAM and I give it some credit because my network at work is probably creating some additional load that I wouldn't have at home.

My actual point is that the test of Mac OS X didn't really happen, though I appreciate the writer acknowledging this point, I'm not sure most people read thoroughly enough to notice every detail, some skip to the pluses/minuses and move on with life.

OS X is still maturing, I like it quite a bit and think it could have a chance at a larger market in 1-2 years when the economy and hardware issues are resolved and in the past.

Linux desktop? Not without a registry!
by idealist on Tue 8th Apr 2003 23:18 UTC

well, i think a desktop linux distro shouldn't just have a nice desktop, it has to be "nice", from the ground up.
there needs to be a system (command line based, with 3rd party gui tools) for installing EVERYTHING. by this, i mean kernel modules (binary), and rpms(dpkg isn't as good as rpm(apt isn't a package, it a package manager).
so i can download an rpm called logitech_latest_drivers.rpm, and after i install it, it will let me use any of logitechs lates mice on my system.

as for the file system, the current hierarchy is a MESS! there shouldn't be /opt, /usr, /dev, /root, /var, /etc, etc etc...there should be /hardware (which has /dev in there), /users(which has /home), and /system, which holds all other dir's, like /etc and /usr. (/usr /usr/local should be abolished anyway!)

Linux distributions need to have a standardised registry system, for reasons of consistency. I should open mozilla for the first time, and it should ask me if i want it to be the default browser. if i say yes, it should set a value/key saying so, and all other apps should look at this key if they need to open a browser the moment, some apps look for known browsers in $PATH. but an app should not have to know about a particular browser, it should read an arbitary list of browsers (that have appended their details to the registry) from /system/preferences/applications/browsers.xml and offer them as a choice to the user.
this should be the same situation for all kinds of apps! dvd players, email clients etc....for example, everyone want mozilla to be able to use Evolution as it's mail client - for this to happen, the mozilla developers HAVE to implement the backend code and the gui for opening the email client. if there was a registry, it would just have to read /system/preferences/applications/email.xml and launch the default mail client. no default? ok open moz mail. when THAT opens, ask me if moz mail should be the default. i say "yes", email.xml is adapted and mozilla and any other app which needs to access email from now on opens mozilla mail to send a message. easy. nice. integrated feeling.

i use linux everyday (redhat 8), and don't have windows on ANY of my systems, but man...sometimes i think it just sucks! we NEED to have a registry....whether this is like windows reg, or gconf, or is xml files accesed with libxml, I DONT CARE, but we need one NOW! submission anyone?

Mac OS X Mouse
by Squidgee on Tue 8th Apr 2003 23:25 UTC

You can plug an effin 18 button mouse in if you want one! Kenisngten has one near that that is Mac only...

When will people see you can PLUG IN ANY MOUSE, not just the cruddy one button one? Jeebus.

Minor Point
by Owen Anderson on Tue 8th Apr 2003 23:36 UTC

I don't really understand why people are so worried about Apple's future. Let me review their CPU options again:

1) Stick with Motorola - No compatibility issues here.

2) Move to IBM PowerPC - No compatibility issues here because it's still a PowerPC chip Program built for older PowerPCs would still run on it, albeit unable to make full use of the new chip's 64-bit features.

3) Move to x86 or derivative (Opteron) - Only limited compatibility issues here. GUI applications on Mac OS X are, in fact, directories in which are contained separate files for code and resources. It is already possible for a single "bundle" to contain both Classic Mac and Mac OS X code. It would be fairly simple to extend this mechanism to support having an x86/Opteron version of the code as well. Thus to an end user the transition would be completely transparent. Double-clickable applications would work on either platform seamlessly.

by earl on Wed 9th Apr 2003 00:02 UTC

mandrake 9.1 is better than rehat 9 as far ease of installation and finding and configuring everything and winxp is great just for all the damn gamez, appz and other warez out there for I the only one that thinks macromedia tools are the shit?

Placing my bets on Zeta and OpenBeOS
by Piers on Wed 9th Apr 2003 00:13 UTC

Interesting read and for the most part, at least with the proprietry OS's, true but:

I would not count the descendents of BeOS out of the OS race. Sure, it has been a while since anything has come along since BeOS 5.03 but with the turmultous time that has been had with Be Inc, Palm, and everyone else effected what would you expect.

As an OS it has user functions that I really miss and will appreciate when Zeta is released. I also believe that interest from Steinberg and some other Audio app vendors will be re kindled with Yellow Tab and Open BeOS. At the moment I am stuck with XP but I know that I will not have to deal with this nightmare for too long.

BTW, before the Win XP defenders come rushing in to flame me for my comments I ask you this, have you tried to setup XP and Win2K for professional audio work? If you can honestly say yes to that question then you have the right to comment but if you haven't (and I mean 24/96 recording with multi channel audio capability and running multiple VST instruments) then save your breath.

I run Cubase SX on a SMP system with a Hoontech DSP24 C-Port sound hardware and it took quite a long time to get it running ok. Even then I still get crashes that are just not kosha. Most are to do with the sound driver in some form or other but this should not be happening and it is not just my sound hardware as notice boards will attest, many users with similar sound hardware get the same problems. Have a look at and read some of the forums to get an idea. One of many forum sites for audio where users are having fun and bleeding to get functionability out of their hardware.

RE: Linux Desktop - No way...
by Aesiamun on Wed 9th Apr 2003 00:21 UTC

So you want to destroy 30 years of proven and workable Filesystem Hierarchy and bring in something that is completely new? /hardware wouldn't make sense because I know my /dev/null is NOT hardware as well as various tty' would make less sense then /dev which is short for DEVICES.

What about already written UNIX software that uses the standard /etc directory for things like configuration files?

This also breaks compatibility for other software that is written with POSIX in mind. There are much better ways of making Linux easier to use, changing the filesystem willy nilly is not it.

I'd support a registry style of system only if it can be changed without the UI...and built for that in mind. I would not support anything that would be built with GUI in mind and then some half assed command line implementation. Build for the command line, then build the GUI around it, or none at all. Too many system admins rely on shell scripts for administration to just remove it. And where linux will shine is the business desktop, where machines are mantained by sys admins, not users.

I would rather see linux falter on the user desktop and stay with the ease of administration than see it shine and have it like Windows, all gui, no real administrative gains.

I am not one to go clicking around, I like to get my work done quickly, editing text files is far more efficient than clicking through screens or menus, especially for administration of large numbers of systems with tiny differences in each workstation...

I would support a darwin/next/os x style of configuration system though, it's easily administered from the command line.

hardware support on linux
by hmmm on Wed 9th Apr 2003 00:58 UTC

let's see I'm using firewire harddrives, CDRW drives, and usb mice/keyboards and cameras just fine on redhat and slackware systems. All autodetected with no driver installation required.

The driver problem on linux on happens when you buy bad hardware, like winmodems, without ever thinking you might need to use it on an open OS, like Linux. Remember, with linux the source code is available, so any company that wants to keep their drivers closed will not be able to work with our OS.

Re: Idealist and Stephan
by Rayiner Hashem on Wed 9th Apr 2003 01:01 UTC

@Stephan: That actually wasn't a car analogy in the traditional sense. He merely mentioned that if you dont' take care to protect your expensive object, it can easily be stolen. It just happened that the expensive object was a car.
@Idealist: The current directory hierarchy is the way it is for very specific reasons. It makes a great deal of sense, if you get out of your "the desktop is everything" mindset. Just remember that UNIX was designed for a networked, corporate environment, not a home-user's desktop. Everybody keeps suggesting these simplistic Windows/MacOS style directory structures, without realizing that they absolutely don't work for complex networked environments (think: corporate desktop) where access to resources must be transparent and security is paramount. I have yet to see an alternative suggestion that maintains the same level of flexibility or does anything more than change some funny-sounding directory names.

- /etc could very well be named /config. It stores configuration information.
- /boot is for the kernel and boot configuration. This directory is supposed to not even be accessible except during kernel update, because the kernel is such a critical component.
- /bin and /lib are for binaries that need to be present before network filesystems are mounted.
- /sbin is for absolutely critical system utilities that must be seperated and protected from the more often updated utilities in /bin and /lib. It's also for programs that only the system administrator needs.
- /usr/bin and /usr/lib are for the bulk of apps. There needs to be a seperate directory for this, because in a great number of environments, /usr exists on a central network directory. There is really no point duplicating the same applications on every workstation in some sort of /programs directory.
- /dev is just your /hardware with a different name.
- /tmp is for temporary files. Often, temporary files are put on a seperate fast drive to optimize efficiency.
- /var is for logs and other information. Having this be a seperate directory is very important, because some applications throw a large amount of data into /var, and it might need to be on a seperate/fast drive to isolate this data from other files.
- As for the /usr/local, it's hardly useless. What if a user compiles an app and wants to run it? Are you going to give that user write access to a shared /usr directory?
- /usr/share is for non-program shared files like documentation and pictures.
- /home is for user's home directories. Even MS has this, and it doesn't have a stupid long name like "Documents and Settings."
- /opt sucks. I agree. It's there to support self-contained applications that use directory hierarchies from external OSs. These are usually ports to UNIX. Taking a look at my /opt directory (in Gentoo), of the 8 entries in /opt, 6 are ports.

You make a few decent points. Configuration needs to be cleaned up. I really don't like the idea of putting all user-specific configuration into dot-directories in the user's home. A central XML (binary would be worse than the current mechanism) configuration mechanism would be nice. /etc needs more subdirectories. The /usr directory has some cruft in it. /usr/X11R6 should be distributed into /usr/lib and /usr/bin. /usr/man should be in /usr/share/doc. GCC needs to be less psychotic about where it puts it's headers (in /usr/lib!). There is a lot of weirdness in several places, but the core layout is fundementally sound.

Of course, this whole aruement about directory layout is largely pointless. In UNIX, directory layout doesn't really matter to the end-user, just the system admin. People stay in their home directory, and don't wander elsewhere. This makes sense on the network, and makes even more sense for the home user. The only issue is that on most desktops, users are also administrators. This just means that the basic configuration tools should abstract the filesystem as well, not that the filesystem itself should be changed.

re: windows update security
by hmmm on Wed 9th Apr 2003 01:04 UTC

If anyone wants to keep their systems secure they just won't be running windows. They won't use it for email, they won't use it for web browsing or downloading viruses. Use Linux and all your virus problems go away.


One of my linux boxes was rooted a few years ago. I caught the intrusion less than a day after it happened and immediately isolated the box. Since then I have not put another poorly configured Linux box on the internet, and everything runs NATed behind a firewall. I have not gotten a single windows virus (except windows itself) or ever been hacked since. That's security and I doubt you can get that with M$ products. But don't let me stop you from trying. ;)

by Tamakizu on Wed 9th Apr 2003 01:50 UTC

"Allow me to quickly cover a few points that have been made:

Yes, I didn't review a true debian distribution. Regardng the apt-get points however, you can install such a system (apt-get, that is) on a number of Linux distributions, including Redhat, and I must admit that it does make maintaining a Linux installation much easier. Why Redhat and others don't include it in addition to their RPM setups is beyond me"

i totally agree with this as someone who has used almost every linux in the top 20 or so at one time or another this would be cool.

one last thing is i would urge the author to try gentoo some time i'm not one of the gentoo junkies out there but i have been using it for a couple of months and i love it "emerge" rules and is by far the best package managment IMHO anyway it would be certainly worth a try when your after a new project.

Re: hmmm
by Darius on Wed 9th Apr 2003 02:09 UTC

Use Linux and all your virus problems go away.

What virus problems? You mean the ones I don't have? It's really funny how these zealots make up some imaginable problem you're having (for example, constant blue screens, even though I've been running without a hitch since upgrading to Win2k back in 2001), and then suggest that you switch to Linux to get rid of some issue that doesn't even exist. So to all of you pundets out there, don't try to tell me how insecure or unstable my box is - I'm really not impressed.

One of my linux boxes was rooted a few years ago. I caught the intrusion less than a day after it happened and immediately isolated the box. Since then I have not put another poorly configured Linux box on the internet, and everything runs NATed behind a firewall.

If you have to NAT a Linux box and put it behind a firewall to keep from being hacked, what kind of security is that? Sure, it may be a little more secure than Windows, but the NATting and firewalling goes a long way for any OS.

That's security and I doubt you can get that with M$ products. But don't let me stop you from trying. ;)

Well, so far, it looks like you have been 'rooted' once, so the score right now (assuming the one with the lowest points wins) is You: 1 Me: 0 ;)

thumbs down...
by D3M0N on Wed 9th Apr 2003 02:21 UTC

i didn't find this article very good. it was probably because it was mainly all release canidates or betas that were being compared. i think that was a "dumb" mistake. also some info i found either wrong or misleading, not much information, but their was some...
i realize a review is a someones experience with a particular product, and therefore i won't comment on his experiences. although i definently would have included more distros, or bigger ones. SuSE, Xandros, Lindows, Slackware, Debian etc....just my 2 cents

Edited by Elaine Benes?
by agoraphobic traveller on Wed 9th Apr 2003 02:50 UTC

am I the only reader of this article who noticed the extensive use of exclamation points throughout? It! reminded me! of! an episode! of Seinfeld!

Re: Edited by Elaine Benes?
by D3M0N on Wed 9th Apr 2003 02:56 UTC

lol, ur right. :-)

Overall good article, probably the fairest in this genre I've read so far. Only too bad you didn't take the time to try out Gentoo, because judging from most of your comments it's exactly what you're looking for.

I know the installation process looks intimidating. I remember contemplating on installing it several times, only to refrain from it because judging from the installation documents it seemed too hard and tedious a job. But the documentation is very well written and you do seem to have your share of experience, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. So ...

Go rent a couple of videos, print out the necesary documentation and download the image. Do the basic setup, start the bootstrap script and go watch a film. Same goes for system and xfree; you're system should be able to set this much up in 4 to 5 hours (depending on how fast you can configure a kernel). Run the KDE installation during the night, take your girlfriend (or your dog if you're too geeky for a girlfriend) somewhere the next day and you'll be set when you get back! If you need to install other stuff, run it in the background and give it a higher nice-value; you're system will be more than usable. And the good stuff:

- no more dependency problems, really!
- as fast and bleeding edge as it gets
- all the software you'll ever need in a single, constantly updated repository
- very, very tweakable

Also, try out our new thermal undies; they're very comfy ;)

So he didn't actually try Gentoo...
by LB on Wed 9th Apr 2003 04:40 UTC

He included Gentoo in his synopsis but it seems he bombed out of the installation. Don't get me wrong, Gentoo is not easy to install, but if you know computers pretty well are reasonably familiar with how software functions, installation is pretty straight forward. Gentoo's package management system is awesome and makes every Gentoo user fall in love with the distro upon their first emerge. Gentoo is rocket fast...faster than Slack based distro's IMO (nothing against Slack btw, slack is great too). And new packages are available for Gentoo faster than any other distro, bar none. Gentoo also has one of the widest, if not the widest, offering of packages.

I'm not saying this should have changed his conclusion, but if you didn't install and use Gentoo...then don't comment on it and look like a dick... just say you decided to not bother with the long install and leave it at that.

A. Hicks is a hick.
by jeffery on Wed 9th Apr 2003 05:07 UTC

How could you review Yoper, Ark, and Vector and leave out Lycoris? All three Distro's are inferior to Lycoris in most every way, especially solidity, support, ease of use and ease of installation. No excuse. Stop reviewing junk and start reviewing polished Distro's. Lycoris, Lindows, Libranet, Connectiva, and the final release of Mandrake 9.1.

re: Darius
by dwilson on Wed 9th Apr 2003 05:16 UTC

Well, so far, it looks like you have been 'rooted' once, so the score right now (assuming the one with the lowest points wins) is You: 1 Me: 0 ;)

Well, since with Windows all process run with system permission then an argument could be made that you were rooted the first time you opened IE ;) .

by Rayiner Hashem on Wed 9th Apr 2003 06:10 UTC

I'm really getting tired of the "I've run Win2K and my computer hasn't been <bad_stuff>'ed yet so Win2K is <good_thing>." Your personal experience doesn't mean a whole lot. You have to look at studies and attitudes among people using these machines in the field to get a good idea of where things actually stand.

Honestly, a desktop isn't a heavy load. Done right (ie. don't install any non-Microsoft software), even Win95 made a decently stable desktop OS. But a heavily loaded network server? That's a different story entirely. The fact that UNIX machines can handle heavly loads and keep running for months at a time is why UNIX is so respected for it's stability.

why wasn't slackware included in the test?
by shenlong on Wed 9th Apr 2003 07:56 UTC

i was just wondering why you didn't include Slackware 9.0 in your test systems, considering that the distro you picked (Vector) is Slackware-based.

Can't believe ...
by Anonymous on Wed 9th Apr 2003 08:01 UTC

No one's picked up on how Yoper advertises here and what response they will have on reading the scathing review of Yoper's service.
Are they going to stop advertising?

Missing Debian...
by Espen on Wed 9th Apr 2003 09:22 UTC

I am missing Debian in this list. It's by my opinion the best and most stable Linux system out there. apt-get rewlez!

Just another person backing up Gentoo...
by Dran on Wed 9th Apr 2003 11:58 UTC

Believe me, I have tried several distobutions as well, and I found that Gentoo was the last on my ever-continuing list. Last, but not and nowhere near least.

My first distro was SuSE then I tried RedHat, Mandrake, then Libranet, Debian. All of them seemed like they were missing something. After using apt, I could never go back to the RPM world, even though apt-rpm was avalible. Perhaps it was because of the outdated RPMs. Well, when it came to installing the NVidia drivers for Libranet/Debian, I would have to patch my kernel. Yay...

With Gentoo, it was as easy as:

emerge nvidia-kernel; emerge nvidia-glx;

I came back a while later, and automagically I had nvidia dirvers! Whee! Now, just about everything is as easy is that. No more hunting down RPMs only to find that I was missing 14, 17, 20 packages. Apt was nice, and is nice, but it wasn't enough for me. It was what addicted me to automagic. :-)

Now, now, not to mock you or anything, but had you tried the Gentoo installation and read the METICULIOUSLY explicit (although at some points annoying) installation guide, maybe you would've realized that it's not as hard as you think. Plus, you end up knowing exactly where everything is. Although the time required is somewhat of a drawback, everything is compiled with your specific system in mind. Many things run faster, as you stated, when compiled. If patience is applied while using Gentoo, you will certainly be rewarded.

Also, the installation is meant to be read FIRST, not while. Often, notes, directions, and important information is included after.

In my opinion, Gentoo is worth it.

That page
by Andrew on Wed 9th Apr 2003 13:12 UTC

I don't recall Adobe apologising for the PC Preferred page - although it has since been removed...

However the site that actually made the comparisions ( posted another article suggesting that After Effects wasn't optimised for a dual OS X Mac ( Surely this is basic computer common sense anyway - the speed of a program isn't necessarily a reflection of hardware performance.

Also, does MacOS X not allow you to browser folders as BeOS does with a right mouse button click? You could do this in OS 9.


You critics are way too harsh...
by Insodus on Wed 9th Apr 2003 16:51 UTC

I can't help but notice the overwhelming amount of people bashing this article. I would have to say this is one of the most comprehensive and accurate reviews of OSes I have seen in a very long time. I say A+ to you mate.
I do agree every article, including this one, could always include more info. In this case I might add a little more emphasis on multimedia apps; it seems Anthony doesn't watch many movies, as I think most of us do. However, I stand firm saying this article was very well done.

Directory structure and packages.
by Daan on Wed 9th Apr 2003 16:55 UTC

In a comment above someone told he found /opt quite useless. It indeed is, at the moment. But in my opinion it would be a good idea to use it more.
Use /bin and /lib just as usual, use /usr/lib for standard libraries like libpng, libxml and such, place X11 in /usr/bin and /usr/lib.
Then, put all extra applications like KDE, Gnome, Lyx/Tex, Mozilla, OpenOffice, Apache and such in their own /opt directory, maybe with, for example, /opt/app/lib for application-specific libraries.
In a network it then is no problem to share /opt in addition to /usr, making all applications available to the whole network.
And with this, all applications are in a logical place, can be installed by just copying them to /opt, without needing to worry about dependencies, which is great for "the desktop", and you do not lose the power of the old system. For compiling programs yourself /usr/local still exists.

Automatic Downloading
by bonch on Wed 9th Apr 2003 19:00 UTC

The article complains about automatic downloading interrupting his recording session and how Windows decides things for him, and yet he has Automatic Downloading turned on in the first place? That's telling Windows to decide things for you.

Very good and thorough review!
by Nilesh on Wed 9th Apr 2003 22:41 UTC

The review is very comprehensive done and presented with balance. For a newbie wanting to transition to Linux, the advice contained in the summaries alone was worth the time spent on reading the article.
Thank you for an excellent service to people like me.

Strange compilation
by southpaw on Thu 10th Apr 2003 14:13 UTC

The author claims he is looking for a "perfect" OS, for his desktop, then let's stick to OSes that promote themselves as such.
1) BeOS - find, 2) MacOS_X sure, but in the linux world it should be :
3) Xandros, Lycoris, Lindows, and a few others - and pretty much in that order.
4) Suse do make a nice desktop offering of late, but Xandros still nudges it out for overall polish and simplification of the GUI. Also remember Xandros is "only" a 1.0 ... imagine what 1.1 or 1.2 will be !!
- For the reader who claims that Windows security holes are found and plugged everyday ... obviously has not lived the stresses of the major virus outbreaks and web-app vulnerabilities, that once aired on TV/Radio make all NT/Windows sys-admin shudder, fall to their knees and scream - please Lord, not my site, spare me, pleeeaaase !
(remember SQL Server circa January 2003, 20,000 servers affected worldwide ...)

There is no perfect desktop/server OS - just what is more tolerable to you. In my case I will live with a more limited array of support hdw, I can't stand : viruses, crashes & waste of time - that I have lived at home on M$.



by Richard Steiner on Thu 10th Apr 2003 17:27 UTC

> BeOS is alive and well through YellowTAB's Zeta product that comes out soon.

And it runs ... what?

I used all of the non-beta versions of BeOS released by the folks at Be, Inc., and it's a wonderful base, but if there isn't any software, the OS isn't useful.

Alt - better than Vector
by phote on Thu 10th Apr 2003 18:27 UTC

I agree with most of Hicks' comments about the merits Vector. I have recently jumped the Redhat ship because of the increasing congestion of the demo update servers (and exorbitant prices of a subscription). The first alternative linux solution that I found was Vector 3.2. I was so impressed that I ordered a CD to support the cause.

I have become increasingly annoyed, however, by the challenges involved in adding new software to the system. Vector has no dependency checking and no convenient, automated way of installing packages (wget and the package tool were the best I could come up with). My taste was further soured by the fact that I have not received my CD over a month after ordering it.

My new favorite distro wasn't reviewed in this article. It's Alt Linux Junior. Alt blows vector out of the water with regards to security out of the box, hardware recognition, ease of installation, ease of use, and package management. The more you use it, the more surprised you are that you weren't using Alt earlier. Check out this review at: and check out the distro at: . Additionally, the download and updates for Alt Junior are completely free.

Bravo VectorLinux !!
by Bruno on Thu 10th Apr 2003 19:01 UTC

Using VectorLinux for the last 2 month, I'm glad to see such a positive review.

You're absolutely right it's fast, it's stable, it's brilliant !

Well done Robert S.Lange and the VectorLinux crew ! You did make the perfect Linux distro !


XP Virtual Desktops
by Former MS evangelist on Thu 10th Apr 2003 19:19 UTC

Although the powertoys give the illusion of multiple desktop ala *nix, MS office apps falter my losing the menu bars consistently.

Nvidia has desktop management software that does the job better.

Great but Could be Better
by zdude255 on Thu 10th Apr 2003 22:13 UTC

At the start the article mentions various periprials, but it talks about none of them.

I agree that the MS Virtual Desktops is not great. With it I can have up to 4, right now I can have up to 32. I could probably modify it myself to allow 1000s.

I am probably biased for Mandrake, but I think the reviewer missed a few key things.

The Mandrake Control Center is a good tool to configure, but the review failed to touch on it. I'm not saying that its some revolutionary being, but is definitely worth touching on.

The integrated menu is pretty good, a problem with RedHat is that only GNOME apps show on menu in gnome and only KDE apps in KDE.

The process bloat can be fixed, in 9.1 at the end of the install there is a menu to disable/enable services.

I believe that Debian, Slackware and some other distros should have been evaluated, though other users have already said this.

One thing that constantly annoys me is the bias for KDE. I have nothing against KDE, though I myself use Gnome. My friend uses WindowMaker. Some of the distros don't include Gnome or WindowMaker, for me or my friend this would be a hassle. Just because it works for some doesn't mean it works for all.

The abnormal installation is more of an annoyance too.

And for fun you didn't deduct from Windows, Mac OS X, or BeOS for the abnormal KDE installation. ;) (Its actually possible on win (Cygwin) and MacOSX (BSD Layer) not sure about BeOS, but someone could port the source)

Re:XP Virtual Desktops
by sasquatch666 on Fri 11th Apr 2003 01:44 UTC

'Please. I used them for about 5 minutes before uninstalling them - the PowerToys virtual desktops are awful, little more than an automatic minimize/maximize utility. Compared to any X implementation it felt clunky and unnatural'
While I have never used the WinXP virtual desktops,thw X vitual desktop system feels equally as Klunky and unnatural,after using the BeOS implementation with it's multiple color depth,and resolution feature!
Linux (and Windoze even)still has a long way to go and I wish they would hurry up before my BeOS compatable hardware wears out!

Re:Placing my bets on Zeta and OpenBeOS
by sasquatch666 on Fri 11th Apr 2003 02:29 UTC

I wholeheartedly agree with you on this ,I worked with my one friend trying to get the Cubase system running properly on his WInXP box,(1.5gig CPU and 256 megs RAM)a machine that would have literaly smoked under BeOS and experienced the same problems with multiple VST instruments and plug -ins. I found myself saying 'Damn I can run 5 or 6 of the simultaneously in BeOS,(400 Celeron CPU,396 megs RAM)what gives?'His soulution was duying another box to throw EVEN MORE hardware at the problem and finally he has it doing what he wants with something like a 2.2 gig CPU and over a gig of RAM,this is just plain ridiculous IMO,and I also hope Yellowtab and OBOS can rekindle intrest by the pro audio market to develop their goods for the best OS I have ever used to work with sound (BeOS)Even without Professional grade tools I get some fairly professional results with the freeware and shareware BeOS audio apps,along with the bundled soundrecorder and 3D mix,using some creative ping ponging between apps and analog outboard audio hardware( I'm old enough to remember doing this type of stuff with tape so it's no big deal,after all Sgt.Pepper was made on a 4 track and the most Jimi Hendrix EVER had to work with was a 16 track and most of his stuff was recorded on 4 and 8 track decks!)The sheer speed of BeOS and the very smooth,fluid way it handles sound processing,makes this whole prcess go rather qiuckly once a person gets used to working around the lack of an all-in one multitrack application.qicker in fact (to me at least than waiting on Windows to do it's slow thing!

by sasquatch666 on Fri 11th Apr 2003 02:52 UTC

> BeOS is alive and well through YellowTAB's Zeta product that comes out soon.

And it runs ... what?
I get really tired of hearing this there are tons of very useful apps for BeOS for most kinds of work.true it lacks in some areas,but i use it on a daily basis and it gets most of my computing tasks done, I can do audio work,video work,have a very nice home office suite,surf the net chat and do email,some lightweight graphics work,and play lots of simple games,(native, linux ports,and emulated)actually the user experience for BeOS is fairly equal to Linux in the software dept. as far as I can see,with Linux maybe ahead in the business apps field and BeOS ahead in the multimedia field( granted Linux has Gimp but what other decent graphics editor do they have?BeOS has 4 Artpaint,Easel,Becasso and Refraction,not to mention Gobe productive which has some nice graphics tools as well)

Why Not Just Use Slackware???
by Brian on Fri 11th Apr 2003 10:34 UTC

I started out with Peanut Linux & then Vector Linux which are both in actuality stripped down, custom configured versions of Slackware.

Eventually I decided to switch to Slackware because you get the entire distro.

Like the author said if you want to run GNOME on Vector you need to download the packages from Slackware.

What with *BSD systems?
by Robert on Sat 12th Apr 2003 15:30 UTC

I think if we are talking about free operating systems, we must say about OpenBSD NetBSD and FreeBSD too. And not only about Linux.
You've also forgotten to say about QNX and others realtime operating systems.
I also think that we can't compare different platforms such as x86 , PPC etc. It's something like comparing tank "Abrams" with F16 fighter!

Nice Article
by Rhavin Dragonsbane on Mon 14th Apr 2003 03:47 UTC

You did a good job of evaluating the different Linux systems for your needs. I have read some of your critics and some of them obviously lack reading comprehension (or didn't read the whole article) and others seem to miss the point of the article. It was to show YOUR experience in using those systems. You did that well.

P.S. I too drool over Mac features, but won't buy one because I can't afford a Mac system that runs as fast as my PC. ;)

ur rite!!
by jees on Wed 16th Apr 2003 22:07 UTC

love linux and face the facts that linux will conquer the world in near future.....

Various thoughts..
by Good Grief on Wed 16th Apr 2003 23:59 UTC

1) From the article:

Ark also lost points for their add-on CD that allows you to install a lot of popular software that isn't included with the base distribution itself (such niceties as a media player and so on). Rather than use a package manager, or an apt-get method of installing these packages, as you would with most other Linux distributions, you have to pick what software you want to install from a menu on the aforementioned add-on CD. It works. That's about all I can say about it though. Anyone who's ever installed software on a Linux system before will probably hate blindly installing stuff as Ark Linux does. Perhaps newbies and the desktop crowd that Ark's aiming at want such simplicity, but to me it was actually a step or two beyond the handholding that Microsoft is so infamous for. If Ark really wants to make Linux this simple for the end user, they should at least offer an option for the more experienced Linux users that doesn't dumb it down so much.

This has to be one of the WEIRDEST "criticisms" I've ever heard about anything. So, anything up to and including "as easy as Windows" is alright, but anything actually -easier- is unacceptable? Is it not possible to ./configure --option-1337=yes;make;make install on Ark Linux?

This really surprised me, because the rest of the article was pretty decent. It was ALSO a surprise given that the author seemed to want something that would adhere to standards (viz RedHat comments). Well, it doesn't get much more standard than an app install that -only- uses default settings!

2) From the article:

And although Gentoo is by far the most popular source based system, it's also fairly intimidating in that I have to do virtually everything manually.

With a Stage 3 install, you'd just have to compile the kernel, and go.

3) From "guy":

how many viruses and worms have actually penetrated your windows? Personally, I've had 0, and I've been on every version of windows since 3.1. I got a simple free virus scanner, it detected one virus from my roommates computer. How important is security to you? Its only important if you have important stuff to HIDE or if you run it in a high risk place like a web server. You guys really shouldn't be talking about security unless you're doing risky stuff, like going on IRC to get your pirated MS software.

Yeah, security is only important if you do RISKY things, like... the web:

...or use e-mail:


Overall, a quite decent review =) Gauging from the versions reviewed, and the commentary (I know stable came out but I just reviewed RC4 etc etc), it looks like this review was composed over a span of weeks, perhaps months. Not only is this much more realistic, but it gives the reviewer more time to experience each distro. Nothing is perfect, of course, but I thought this was a worthwhile read. Good article! =)

The Perfect MS Operating System
by jeffery on Thu 17th Apr 2003 04:25 UTC

How about an article about the perfect MS operating system. You won't have many OS'S to choose from, and very little options to choose from. What you will have is licence agreements running out of your rear, and threats of enforcement, if you even think about installing it on more than one machine. Even if the computer you originally installed it on is being used as a boat anchor by the local fisherman's club.

The June 2002 FLOSS survey of developers showed 48% pick Debian as their favorite distro, 14% Red Hat, 9.7% Mandrake, 9.2% SuSE, 4.9% FreeBSD. erh, where are the sections on Debian & SuSE?

"The Quest for the Perfect FREE Linux System..." is more like it. Mac OS X is awesome, but it costs more than the professional version of SuSE! Your reasons are weak. You did not even TRY to download SuSE.

Yoper? Ark Linux? They don't deserve to be even MENTIONED. A new distro that's not even in beta doesn't belong here. The best 1 CD distro is KNOPPIX.

You rank on SuSE for not giving away a dozen different free betas like Mandrake--they're busy doing work, like polishing the most sophisticated installer there is, making the most comprehensive hardware compatibilty, the best printed manuals, etc. And SuSE IS available free download, contrary to your bogus assertions. You just can't get a few of the proprietary goodies, JUST LIKE MANDRAKE! Furthermore, you can download the free SuSE Live Eval CD, and not only have a complete OS (that can run off the CD/DVD-rom drive just like KNOPPIX), you can use it to to do an FTP install, getting the latest of everything.

I'll quote a Slashdot post:
"by Daemonik (171801) on 2003-03-14 9:19 (#5512585) (
What are you smoking? Other than YaST and perhaps a few other proprietary apps SuSE is as free as any other commercial Linux. The sources are available for download at the same time the rest of the distro is put out on their FTP servers, if that's not fast enough for you they're also included on the DVD/CD sets that SuSE sells. Recompile and distribute to your hearts content."

This is the worst article comparing "the best" distributions I have ever seen; at least Mac OS X was included. Now I have to run so I can vomit.
"Quest for Perfection and 0.00013 nanojoules of effort."