Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 07:07 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y To paraphrase one of the best "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episodes, "Best of Both Worlds", both Arch Linux and Slackware represent the best of all the OS worlds: the power of traditional Unix, the elegance of BSD and the ease of mind of Mac OS X. This is an article outlining the differences between --what I believe-- are the two best Linux distros around today. Mind you though, "best" doesn't always mean "easy".
Order by: Score:
v Linux is still not ready for the desktop.
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 07:16 UTC
Slackware has a package manager ?
by Flori on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 07:54 UTC

Well, I higly doubt that Slackaware + swaret are better than Arch +pacman.

I think that Eugenia hasn't tried to do a complete upgrade from slack 9.1 to slackware current and see how its system will work later.


Arch' fault is that are still a young distro trying to establish their phiolosophy, mainly to their community which provides new ideas for arch every day.

Slackware doesn't do that as it has a "dictator" that provides what is to be done with Slackware. I wonder what slackware becomes if Pat wants to quit.


Just my experience.

Cute!
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 07:56 UTC

I still won't use any distro that doesn't have a native, powerful and complete package manager with a large repository of packages. No, swaret and pacman don't cut it either. Portage and Apt are still the best package managers on Linux, period.

RE: Slackware has a package manager ?
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 07:58 UTC

> I think that Eugenia hasn't tried to do a complete upgrade from slack 9.1 to slackware current and see how its system will work later.

You are very wrong. I use -Current, that's my default. Slackware works EXTREMELY well in its -Current.

Great article
by Morgan on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:13 UTC

Thanks for bringing Arch to my attention! I've been using Slackware as my main OS since 9.0, and I've been wondering if there was anything comparable to it.

One thing you touched on that has always bothered me about Slackware:

Arch also turns off my machine automatically too, while with Slackware I have to manually turn off the power button. Little things like that make a difference.

I get around this, depending on which computer I'm using, by either installing the bareacpi.i kernel or turning on APM support in rc.modules. I agree though; it would be nice to have ACPI/APM support "out of the box".

I have a spare hard drive laying around that I use to try out new stuff; right now it has the latest each of Ubuntu and BeOS Developer Edition. I think I'll take Arch for a spin on it. Who knows, it may even depose Slack as king of my computer!

Arch is almost perfect
by mitya on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:15 UTC

I haven't really tried Slack, but I won't replace my Arch with anything. The ability to make an ftp installation in order to have an updated system right from the start is awesome, though not unique to Arch. Easy package management and package creation, i686 optimization(how many people today use older than Pentium Pro computer?), better than decent documentation, community support on the forums. Like Slack, Arch is lead by one man, but he is not the only one to make the decision and this is a big difference. Like many people say, Arch is as a good as Gentoo and without the need to go through the compilation process for every installed package.
What Arch lacks for now is a little more stability in the official package repositories and a centralized community repo. The latter, according to latest Arch newsletter is already in progress.
Thank you, Judd and company!

v who wrote this, a 4 year young child?
by anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:21 UTC
old machine
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:25 UTC

i use a machine with amd k6-2 processor

A better /opt
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:27 UTC

The author should look into GoboLinux [http://www.gobolinux.org/] They have rethought the Linux filesystem and made package management a breeze. The distro can be thought of a system wide stow.

@eugenia
by mrroman on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:28 UTC

i don't think so. i've tried it year ago and slack didn't even get up. as for arch, i think it's superior. may be you have to write in some files, but it has:

a) dependencies using package system. i remember, i wanted install one package from linuxpackages.net. i couldn't find libiconv, because someone compiled this package on slack with dropline-gnome.

b) the best, the easist service managment of all distros i installed, and i installed many.

c) it boots faster then slack, so i'm surprised that you talk that you would install slack on k6 300. arch would be faster on that machine.

chechinstall is good, but it isn't much harder to write package creating script for arch.

i think, if arch was for i386, it would be more popular.

Too many distros ...
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:32 UTC

... could the lack of packagers be the fact that there are too many distros. My reasoning is that sooner or later the Developer pool will thin out and the more distros you have the lest likely you will be able to find people willing to maintain the same one program but on yet another Distro ...

I am beginning to see this as a bit of a problem

compiling
by Evert on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 08:54 UTC

I love the no-patching and default-location policy of slack. That's why it is easy to install programs from source on slack. But when I have some tima available I will try Arch, just for the fun of it.

RE:compiling
by Manu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:04 UTC

I agree.
Compiling from source has never failed to work for me in
slackware as all the packages are in the deafult location.
Also it's a distro you can customise heavily (not to the level of gentoo ofcourse) but way easier than redhat/mandrake.

Mandrake breaks for me everytime i try to do something manually.

RE: A better /opt
by Andrea on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:21 UTC

Many thanks, didn't know about that project.

re: compiling
by Dewd on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:29 UTC

From my part, I like compiling on Debian or Debian based distros. Ubuntu allows me to compile my apps just fine. Most of the time things go into /usr/local anyway. Maybe using the --prefix config could help a bit too. But with Debian we have the choice of compiling only what we want. That's great. :-)

Arch Linux
by Mike on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:36 UTC

I have been running Arch since February. The system with ABS and Pacman is VERY nice, but the packages are not always that great. Especially KDE, Xorg and glibc are packages that frequently cause pain. Even though they say they have a separate testing repository, Current/Extra IS testing. Of course, if I see pacman -Syu offers new packages I by experience know will have to be re-packaged two or three times before works, I rather skip the update and check forums untill things look calm.
A lot of Arch's package problems probably come from a rather small userbase: Too few people to actually USE the "testing" repository.
Small and more obscure things are often overlooked. E.g. KDE-Bluetooth is not to be found, and the encryption-support in KMail is simpy not there (Something about a package being compiled without support for gpgagent).
But then again, the system itself is great. If I want to rebuild kmail, I can just modify a text file and run makepkg.

Re:Too many distros
by Ben on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:37 UTC

More developers doesn't necessarily mean a better' distro. Look at Debian: thousands of package maintainers, and they still struggled to get an update to their *stable* distro out, let alone release Sarge. While Slackware with a team of three full time people keeps making stable, up to date releases.

There is a limit to how many people can work on a project before the weight of communications problems, internal politics and arguments cripples it.

Personally, I found Arch too buggy and Slackware too small for my uses, but I can see that they are both worthwhile projects.

slack vs arch
by manuel on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:37 UTC

I have used both, Arch and Slack, and I have to say, that Arch has dissappointed me often. I very much liked the System concept, the system wide configuration with rc.conf and stuff; this was pretty neat, but for the half a year (or year) I used Arch, every 4 weeks I had broken packages on my system. Sometimes it took the developers some time to repair the broken stuff and I sat there without a working kde. I know that stuff like that can happened, but if you need a working system right now, this can really piss you off.

As Slackware 10 came out, I switched, and never ever looked back. Slack has sane defaults, fairly good hardware detection, a good package selection in its repository and via linuxpackages/swaret/checkinstall upgrading or installing new software is a breeze.

It just works. I never used any distribution I could say that it and really meant it. I need a distribution which delivers current packages, is stable (no unstable patches in slackware!), updated often and doesn't break down while using it - a reliable workhorse and something to play with when I am bored. With slack, I can have both.

RE: slack vs arch
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:40 UTC

Very honestly said Manuel, thank you for your input. These are some nice points where Arch guys can build upon your critique and implement stricter policies on their project.

Slack is best
by Cypress on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:44 UTC

Slackware just rocks my world... loving it. Fast, stable, does everything i want the way i want it.

long-winded rants
by newbert on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:49 UTC

I think that Eugenia hasn't tried to do a complete upgrade from slack 9.1 to slackware current and see how its system will work later.

this is true if dependencies support is disabled. i tried to go from 9.1 to current (right before 10.0 was released) and it was a disaster. tons of missing libs. i recently enabled dependencies support, but i have not tried such a drastic upgrade again. new users of swaret beware.

i use swaret a lot, because one box is Zipslack based, and i didn't have 10.0 CD handy. the main problem is the dependencies support is damned slow and that irritates me. i use ldd `which /usr/bin/whatever` and often semi-manually pull the packages in quick succession.

i used Arch heavily in mid 2003 and i found it was a darn good distro. however, it is minimalist in some ways and can be hard to configure (like Slack). adding hotplug package makes USB configuring a tad easier.

Thanks for bringing Arch to my attention! I've been using Slackware as my main OS since 9.0, and I've been wondering if there was anything comparable to it.

people looking to get their hands a bit dirty might like Debian, Slack, or Arch. for a real minimalist distro, maybe LFS or Crux (Arch is crux-based IIRC). for an old machine maybe Deli or older Vector version. i don't know the source-based well enough to comment, although I liked Lunar, and disliked Sourcemage and Sorcerer.

c) it boots faster then slack, so i'm surprised that you talk that you would install slack on k6 300. arch would be faster on that machine.

i found that some packages e.g. Mozilla took a while to load, but the general feel of Arch was that it was fast. the boot is probably faster due to less services and daemons in the default install. i went through slack and disabled a bunch of stuff in inetd.conf, disabled 5 gettys, and for security i added "-nolisten tcp" to X server. i can do a UDP and TCP port scan on my workstation and there's nothing visible (although syslogd, klogd, and gpm and non-network junk is running). it would be neat to strip a distro down to barebones (much like Crux), use i686 optimized packages, and see how quick it feels.

... could the lack of packagers be the fact that there are too many distros.

i think variety is good, although there is a bewildering array of distros for newbies to choose from. i think natural selection will thin the herd, and some new ones e.g. Ubuntu will gradually show up.

RE: @eugenia
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 09:54 UTC

> i'm surprised that you talk that you would install slack on k6 300.

That's because you don't know what you are talking about. The K6 is an i586 CPU, and so Arch doesn't work on it at all.

>i tried to go from 9.1 to current (right before 10.0 was
>released) and it was a disaster. tons of missing libs.

That's why I said that with swaret should be much better.

About this review...
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:15 UTC

Yet another senseless plug for Slackware. Slackware represesnts everything that scares new users from Linux. Text-based installer, hard to configure hardware, etc.

If Eugenia was truly interested in expanding the reach of Linux, she would recommend Mandrake 10.1 or Suse 9.2. Both distributions are way ahead in terms of easy of use and features.

For instance, Suse offers SCMP for managing configuration profiles that allow you to move from one location to another and when you activate the new profile, your ip, dns settings, printer etc, change to the correct ones for your location. There is nothing like this for Slackware.

Let's talk servers. Have you looked at Mandrake's awesome disdrake and how easy it makes to use and set up LVM for sensible allocation of storage resources? How about wizdrake which makes configuring a server a three minute affair?

Deep down, I cannot help but have profound distrust of anyone who would push Slackware or Arch Linux on the general population. It just isn't a nice thing to do.

Having said all of the above, if you have nothing better to do, do not understand the innards of Linux and want to get to know them better, Slackware is a good learning platform.

Arch ?
by Steven Van Impe on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:16 UTC

I think you people need to start thinking like a user, instead of a computer geek. I've used Arch for over a year now as my main system, because it's small and provides a fast and easy way to install/upgrade packages (something I missed in Slackware). But right now I think but one thing: "why oh why do I have to wait one more week for Fedora Core 3 ...".

The more you use Arch intensively, the more you realize that it is loaded with bugs you can't find anywhere else, and go unfixed for a really long time. For example: this morning I spent 68 minutes of continuous rebooting (while rebooting takes less than a minute) just so my keyboard would work in X (this problem has been reported in bugzilla before and didn't happen but once in a while, until a week ago).

Also, Arch developers stick to DevFS device names and install Gnome in /opt, both of these choices have causes lots of bugs for me (and still do).

So although I liked Arch at first, I have completely given it up and wait impatiently for a system that will just work (yes I tried Ubuntu and like it, but I really needs more work).

k6
by newbert on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:21 UTC

That's because you don't know what you are talking about. The K6 is an i586 CPU, and so Arch doesn't work on it at all.

according to the Crux linux FAQ: k6, k6-2, and k6-3 are i586. Arch (at v 0.4) had some i586 isos floating about. but i don't see any recent i586 ISOs on the Arch mirror. so it's possible (although unlikely) that someone has used Arch with i586 packages.

RE: About this review...
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:24 UTC

I suggest you be careful how you reply. You are very unfair in your reply, and I don't take this.
This article is not a plug for Slackware, if you actually READ the damn article you will see that it ties with Arch.
The reason why I write about Arch or Slackware, is because I LIKE THEM better than mdk/suse/rh/fedora/debian. They are NOT the easiest to get by (again, if you read the article you would have read about the "week of pain" that users would go through if they install any of the two), but AFTER that week of pain, these distros DELIVER better than the well known distros who have patched everything to hell creating NEW bugs and slowness.

So, if you don't agree, that's fine. But don't reply in such a manner without understand first what I am writing exactly, because I really don't like it.

RE: k6
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:26 UTC

Don't be silly please. I would never install an unsupported non-maintained version of Linux to my brother's K6. It will have to be supported and up to date. And given that my choices are either Slack or Arch, in this case it has to be Slack.

init 1
by {s con/con on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:30 UTC

For example: this morning I spent 68 minutes of continuous rebooting (while rebooting takes less than a minute) just so my keyboard would work in X (this problem has been reported in bugzilla before and didn't happen but once in a while, until a week ago).

could you have just changed init levels? or used a kernel loader / boot manager instead of cold / warm reboots? just curious.

Swaret vs. Slackpkg
by Matti on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:32 UTC

I don't understand. Why I hear all the time that Swaret would come with Slackware (in Extras)? In Slackware 10.0 and Current, the package management software is Slackpkg (this is only thing, I'm able find from Extras), which as far as I know, is completely different software. Am I missing something, or is the Swaret actually just renamed Slackpkg?

On completely off-topic note, Slackpkg is quite decent tool for package management.

Clarifying...
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:34 UTC

Eugenia,

I read the article and did notice that you mention the need for hand-configuration. But it isn't just hand-configuration, it is the comparable unavailibity of packages, the throgoughness of the testing that security updates for Mandrake and Suse receive and the breadth of the respective online communities make these much more desirable distributions.

Reasonable people can disagree, so don't take my comments personally. They are not what I think of you, but what I think of the impact that the article you wrote may have on new Linux users.

In summary, I just profoundly and wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that Mandrake or Suse ship with broken packages. In my experience of using both professionally day in and day out, what you report does not square. Have there ever been bugs? Sure, that's why you test before deployment and if you are a home user, that's why you read reviews.

Eugenia, with great power comes great responsibility. This site is read by many people now and you owe it to yourself and to your audience to be as objective as possible. And when your readers take you to task, it is a compliment and shows that they take you seriously enough to bother offering a rebuttal. ;)

RE: Swaret vs. Slackpkg
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:35 UTC

swaret was part of /extra indeed, but recently, I think Pat removed it because he believes that some package installation bugs could occured because of it. Personally, I never had a problem with swaret.

re:Swaret vs. Slackpkg
by jophn deo on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:38 UTC

Swaret isn't a native slackware package.You have to download it from www.swaret.org or its mirrors.It works roughly like apt-get on debian from a repository, you can with swaret check gpg signatures.

RE: Clarifying... By Eu (IP: Clarifying...
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:41 UTC

>Eugenia, with great power comes great responsibility.

What this supposed to mean? That OSes like Arch, Crux, Slack or even OS/2 or BeOS should not get articles on OSNews just because Windows or OSX or BSD are better overall???

NO!

ALL should have their time and their analysis. I have written many articles about mdk, fedora or suse. It's time for others too. So, don't expect me to only stick with the big players, but instead I will try out and suggest (or not suggest) others too.

BTW, I don't believe that mdk does "big testing" for security patches, no more than slackware anyway. And the fact that slackware is so much faster AND stabler than mdk or suse, FOR ME, outweigh the fact that mdk/suse/rh have the capital to do extra development and create GUIs for everything.

So, don't you ever say again that I am not objective just because you believe that people should only be served and try the big players. That's not objectivity. You simply disagree. That doesn't make YOU objective or subjective neither me. It just makes us people who have DIFFERENT PRIORITIES.

Slackware
by jophn deo on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:43 UTC

I have allso used slackware which isn't harder to install as for example debian which i'm running currently.When Slackware 10 was released i was pretty much exited about it.Which didn't last very long because Slackware 10 didn't support the 2 Hitachi SATA's i had recently bought, so game over.

Re: Claryfing...
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:48 UTC

Eu,

I don't get your logic. Are you insinuating all new users must use Mandrake or SUSE because you like them? Do you realize that Mandrake and SUSE may be too bloated for casual users who need a streamlined distribution with only the software they need and nothing more?

I don't get why you are offended by Eugenia promoting Linux distributions she likes, based on her experience. In my experience, both Mandrake and SUSE suck. That's right, and they do majorly, especially given their lackluster support for GNOME. Peoples' needs differ, thus while you might Mandrake and SUSE perfect, someone like me might find them bloated, inflexible and uncustomizable.

Why shouldn't Eugenia promote distributions she likes?

Slack Update
by Schumaher on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:51 UTC

Hi all Slackers. I would really like to know how can I install Tomboy and all new nice packages there are for Gnome? I mean is it possible to do it with swaret or is there a rule compile by yourself for new stuff? If someone can help I would really appriciate. I mean are there any repositories for slcak or it's just better to use Arch?

Thanks

Re: Claryfing...
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:53 UTC

Exactly. Thank you Mystilleef.
Eu must learn to respect other people's opinions instead of coming to forums and spew unfair comments and personally offend me, just because he sees the world differently.

Are gui tools easy to use and convenient? YES
Are they the main thing that should judge an OS? NO
Are all people interested in a desktop-oriented distro? NO

These are the questions Eu should have answered to himself before replying here in such a manner. Especially considering that 80% of the OSNews' readership are geek developers who can find their way around.

RE: Slack Update
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 10:57 UTC

There is no *recent* and *full* Mono-related packages for Slackware, so you will need to install all its related packages yourself. That includes the internationalization stuff, Cairo from CVS, Mono, GTK# and their in between libs as seen on mono-project.com. Then, you can install Tomboy. Overall, it's a 1-2 hour hassle I am afraid, but it does build fine.

Arch has Mono and GTK# on its /extra, but these are build with some missing libs, so I would recommend that even on Arch you build them yourself.

Installer:
by CdBee on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:11 UTC

and the ease of mind of Mac OS X.

Sorry. No.
Not until it's as easy to install as OSX can it be claimed to give ease of mind.....

Stability
by Merkinator on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:13 UTC

I was a daily user of Arch for 9 months or so. The package stability problems are very apparent to an intensive user. Some major ones end up being revised 3 or 4 times.

The strategy is to hold off until others stumble over the problems. Not ideal, but it works ;)

Other than than, it is very clean and neat and fills a niche. I got sick of the tweaking required and decided to go for something a little more out-of-the-box like.

BTW, I though Eu's clarification was quite reasonable. The response was .. ahem .. not.

RE: Installer:
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:16 UTC

You only install once CDBee. I have XP installed 3 years ago. Do you think I even remember how it was when I installed it? No. It doesn't matter, because I did it only once, and after that all it mattered was the usability.

Besides, installation is very easy for the kind of people Arch and Slack are targetting. They are not targetting Joe Users, they are targetting experienced unix users. So, for these users who can get by such obstacles, what it matters is the overall quality of the OS, not things you do once...

what?? making packages hard with arch? no way!
by Adam Moore on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:31 UTC

On the other hand, Arch's package management, Pacman, supports dependencies and it's as easy to install new packages as is with Swaret, if not even easier. Pacman works well; however, in my opinion, its main problem has to do with the creation of new packages.

This is the most surprising comment i have ever seen!!

Haven't you heard of ABS (Arch Build System) and also theres 100's of PKGBUILD files available in arch forums for software that isn't in the repository. All you need to do is download this PKGBUILD file and then as fakeroot type : makepkg

thats all and you have arch package thats installable by PACMAN! Look through a PKGBUILD it's very simple to make your own.

I do get it
by Raoul on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:38 UTC

While I look like SuSE (9.1 Professional) a lot, I am aware that are problems with using such a distribution.

For one thing I am starting to seriously think about developing some Gnome application and using an outdated Gnome 2.4 desktop just is not good enough for me. I know you can download a more recent version of Gnome (afaik at least 2.6) but I would rather start with a clean slate and the other option of installing from tarball just is painful.

One thing I find is that you can easily break things especially when you start compiling your own libraries from source and replacing the original (perhaps a dumb thing to do). Maybe the average new user is less concerned about compiling apps/libraries from source but many of them have a need to have the lastest cutting edge software.

These distributions (Arch and slackware) can be very useful for even the layman Linux user because of (in my own words):
PS Eugenia have mentioned all of these points in her article

*more minimal hardware requirements
*Speed & Optimizations (they probably are considerably faster than SuSE or even MDK). I know my SuSE system takes about 2 minutes to get to GDM login on quite a decent system.
*security updates: These distributions are perhaps even better than Redhat/SuSE/MDK at releasing such updates.

You can add many more reasons, but why would I, as Eugenia's article makes it clear what the good points and advantages of using Arch and Slackware are. It is important to remember that people who decides to use Linux can have vastly different needs and in my opinion it is better to give them the information of what is available so they can make up their own minds.

PSS
Any flaws in my logic or factual errors are mine and I own up to them ;)

re: k6
by mrroman on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:42 UTC

sorry, i was mistaken by this 6 ;) .

Arch is great
by chris on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 11:47 UTC

But I'm in trouble over the wireless stuff. Discovering exactly what modules are required for particular hardware remains one of the more challenging aspects of Linux. And I still haven't got the 802.11g card to work, even under Knoppix. Trial and error, emphasis on error.

Why is it that the author asserts the ability to install "new packages daily to toy with" as his criterion for a successful desktop?

Obviously, many Linux users get some kind of kick playing with the machines like that, but why? Phony attitudes about being on th elite cutting edge? What about meaningful criteria? How about actually assessing the effectiveness of the software in these distributions? (I know they're the same, but why should Linux users accept that? Of what value are such reviews if the differences between distributions are so trivial?)

In any case, all open source software can be installed on every Linux distribution, as often as you wish, if you have the wits to install from source.

rpm
by newbert on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:18 UTC

It just makes us people who have DIFFERENT PRIORITIES.

i'd have to agree. OSnews consists of varying people from Windows newbies to expert programmers. you can't please everyone with every article. i personally have read OSnews since 2001 or 2002 and i've used unix shells since 1992. i certainly have different taste in distros from when i started.

for me, SuSE misconfigured X, installed a lot of unused and unneeded software, had RPM hell, and KDE / Gnome were bloated for my older machines. certainly some stuff has changed since I used SuSE, but nevertheless i consider other distros to be more fun and easier to tweak to my needs. certainly as a daily desktop, SuSE Personal or Pro is quite credible, but that's not the point.

everything from Solaris to OpenVMS has its place in the world, and there's no reason to ram RPM based distros down everyone's throats. it would incredibly naive to say that RPM is intrinsically superiour to apt-get and pacman, just as a simple example. i welcome the coverage of widely varying distros.

Arch Quality Assurance
by Shane on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:21 UTC

As many readers here have commented, the main weakness with Arch Linux is the sometimes lack of proper QA for the packages. After having had a relatively trouble-free experience with FreeBSD for one and a half year, I decided to try out Arch about five weeks ago. I nearly gave up on it a couple of times because my system was foobared after a pacman -Syu. It's happened every couple of weeks. New users who aren't aware that current is essentially testing will get disgusted pretty fast. Fix QA, and Arch Linux would be one of the best distros around.

@Mike pn Testing of Arch Packages
by enloop on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:22 UTC

Even if the Arch user base is too small to adequately test new packages, why would someone decide to move packages that lack thorough testing to the mainstream repository? Is someone in charge or not?

It is worth noting that Swaret, Checkinstall, LinuxPackages.net, etc., are independent projects. They are not part of Slackware. Criticizing Slackware because you had problems with one of them is misguided.

While all open source software can be installed on all Linux distributions, the crisis arises when you have to install, update, remove or manage libraries on your system. Some Linux distributions are better than others at doing this, hence a reason for the review.

In addition, many Linux distributions are packaged with needless and redundant software or services. It is not unusual for distros to install as many as 12 editors on your system by default. Or even have 15 deamons running in the background without the users knowledge. Reviews like this serve to remind frustrated users that there exists distributions like arch or slackware when users have maximum control over how their operating environments function.

Finally, different users have desparate needs. Programmers, developers, power users and geeks usually work in environments that aren't mainstream, or designed for your average user. These environments have been tweaked for their productivity and sometimes awkward habbits. Distributions like arch and slackware give these knowledge users enormous control over what should or shouldn't tick. In other words, they are clean, lean and mean distributions for users who know what they are doing, or who seek maximum control.

I believe there are better distributions that slackware or arch for the above mentioned criteria, but that is another story all together. However, users need to know, or be reminded that Linux distributions like arch or slackware, or others in their category exist. It is true that all Linux distributions are essentially the same. In fact, the only thing that differentiates a good distro from a horrible one, in my mind, is the package manager. But other people have their own criteria.

Upgrading Slack
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:37 UTC

I had absolutely no problem upgrading from 9.1 to 10 via swaret. I then updated dropline gnome. Slackware meets my needs and expectations perfectly.

FreeBSD Rules!
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:43 UTC

While I can appreciate slackware, I think FreeBSD is still the top choice for i386 *nix distros. I have tried slack before when I became disenchanted with Redhat. I had friends that swore by Debian, but that didn't impress me either. Slack was a little better, but FreeBSD is a whole new realm. It's package managment is often copied, but is still the best, hands down.

Arch is not great but promising
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:45 UTC

Good article and fun to read. IMO, comparisons are always more interesting than single distro reviews.

Arch is a very promising little distro but it still needs to mature in many respects. (Well, it isn't even version 1.0 yet.) Arch needs to develop a larger user community, more packages and a GUI frontend for the pacman package manager (it's awkward having to search available packages via web browser).

If one considers only the available packages, FreeBSD's ports system beats both Slackware and Arch (or any Linux distro, in fact). The amount of packages in FreeBSD's ports is amazing and they are also kept more up-to-date than in Linux distros. Too bad I don't like compiling from source. So my choice is still Debian Unstable.

But I'm going to check out Arch every time they make a new release. One day Arch may become a better option for desktop use than FreeBSD and Debian Unstable.

What is going here at osnews.com?
by Justin on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 12:52 UTC

It's interesting to see that a site maintainer is getting involved with an arguement on the boards. Not sure if I am worried or amused...

RE: FreeBSD Rules!
by Adi Wibowo on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 13:02 UTC

Slack was a little better, but FreeBSD is a whole new realm. It's package managment is often copied, but is still the best, hands down.

Slackware and FreeBSD although from different OS feels alike concerning stability and configuration. But one thing I consider not to use FreeBSD as my server is lack of native Oracle. I know that we can use linux emulation, but I will never use production server based on emulation system. Eventhough some people claim it to be stable.

And because linux kernel and FreeBSD kernel is a tie in comparison (each has its own strength and weakness), I just have no enough reason to switch to FreeBSD.

Available native applications for any OS is important.

RE: What is going here at osnews.com?
by Sebastian on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 13:41 UTC

It's interesting to see that a site maintainer is getting involved with an arguement on the boards. Not sure if I am worried or amused...

Ah, you must be new here, Sir ;) Welcome to the wonderful world of OSNews...

Responding...
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 13:41 UTC

Eugenia,

Read my comments again.

First, I never said anything that was offensive. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Lest you find that offensive, that is just a colloquial expression in American English. In other words, if you cannot accept criticism, what is the point of these comments?

Second, neither Mandrake nor Suse are specifically desktop oriented distributions. They are what you make them. You install them, you decide.

"Especially considering that 80% of the OSNews' readership are geek developers who can find their way around."

Third, no most OSNews readers are a bunch of pretenders with no real experience.
----
@mystillleaf

Get a clue. Mandrake has always paid equal attention to Gnome and KDE and they provide both. Hell, they are configuration tools use GTK+ as their toolkit.

And as I said to Eugenia, you install Mandrake and you decide what you want to install. You can even install it without the GUI if you want to. This bullshit about Mandrake being bloated has got to stop. Use it and then speak.

Re: testing of arch packages
by Ben on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 13:48 UTC

>Even if the Arch user base is too small to adequately test
>new packages, why would someone decide to move packages that
>lack thorough testing to the mainstream repository?

Who knows? I remember when they released a KDE 3.2.2 update which was very broken (the kde su dialog didn't work, for example) and reading a comment from the maintainer saying he "hadn't bothered to test the packages really as it was only a point upgrade". He'd basically compiled it, packaged it and pushed it to the mirrors.
I mean, that's fair enough - it's only an amateur distro, and the users are still getting fantastic software for the price. But not really comparable to slack (or debian, ubuntu, suse...)

RE: Arch Quality Assurance
by bogomipz on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 13:56 UTC

After having had a relatively trouble-free experience with FreeBSD for one and a half year, I decided to try out Arch about five weeks ago. I nearly gave up on it a couple of times because my system was foobared after a pacman -Syu. It's happened every couple of weeks.

I've used Arch fulltime for at least a year now, and I can't say that I have the same experience with -Syu foobaring my system as you describe.

So I can't help asking myself, "why do some people have so much problems with sysupgrades, even though they probably use less TURs and homebuilt packages than me?"

There are surely more than one reason for this. One that comes to mind is the fact that I use neither Gnome nor KDE, but what I wanted to stress here is that you must make sure you know when pacman has overwritten a config file. When you do a sysupgrade, don't just run pacman -Syu and close your eyes. Pay attention to the output the command gives. I don't know if this might be related to your problems, so don't be offended if you already know how to treat pacman.

The config files that the package maintainer believes to be ok to edit, are flagged for backup on upgrade. Pacman will save these with suffix .pacsave and overwrite the old files. Whenever you get a warning that this has happened, you probably need to take some action. Compare the old and the new file, and make sure the one you put into duty is correct. Also note that if you upgrade the same package twice without copying from or moving the backups, the first .pacsave will be overwritten by the second, meaning that your original configs will be forever lost. Files that are not supposed to be edited, are quietly overwritten. This is very important to know.

Cheers,
-bogomipz

Re: Responding... aka caffeine jitter
by Raoul on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 14:04 UTC

Eu, have you looked in the mirror lately. I bet you look like a crazed bunny with red shot eyes chasing his own tail after too many cafe lattes. You are alluding that Eugenia is plugging Slackware but you never cease to plug MDK or even SuSE to a lesser degree yourself?

We get the picture that you really like MDK more than anything out there. Yes Mandrake can be used as a server and so on and more so on. Please write an article of why Mandrake is superior to anything else in all respects instead of lamenting the fact that you feel Mandrake have been wronged in some way by not including it in the article.

Maybe the "are the two best Linux distros around today" part of the introduction paragraph got you over the edge. Chill out man, if you keep on stressing like that you are going to pop a vein!!

Arch...
by benn on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 14:11 UTC

Arch is an absolutely great system. Package quality has been an issue at times, but not as often for me as others have stated. I don't use KDE or GNOME, though. I've been using Arch for 2 years this December, and couldn't be happier.

@Raoul
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 14:21 UTC

Thank you for your concerns about my health.They are appreciated.

No, it's not about Mandrake or Suse, although they are both excellent distributions. I also like Debian and Red Hat Enterprise a great deal for servers because both have a track record and in the case of Debian, a huge community around it.

Slackware is a one man distribution with no long-term support. How many slackware servers are there on netcraft? How long does Patrick provide security udpates for each release?

Once you answer these questions, you realize that Slackware is not what you want on a server.

And anyone who says that Slackware makes a better desktop than Mandrake, Suse, ArkLinux, PCLinuxOS, Mepis or Ubuntu, is certainly delusional.

So what then is the niche of Slackware, pray tell me?

Slackware served a great purpose back in the day when it was one of the few decent distributions. I remember downloading a bunch of floppies and installing from it.

Today, I'd wager that all it does is feed the egos of technically incompetent teenagers who feel that doing a text-based installation and using tar.gz files confers upon them some degree of elitism. And they can also say, that it is less bloated, whatever the hell that means.

Can they not turn system services on or off as needed? Can they not install stuff they don't need?

I just don't get these kids, that's all.

give me a break
by john on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 14:26 UTC

>Eugenia, with great power comes great responsibility.


we are talking about linux distros here, relax man

RE: Arch is not great but promising
by tgc on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 14:40 UTC

Arch needs to develop a larger user community, more packages and a GUI frontend for the pacman package manager (it's awkward having to search available packages via web browser).

The larger community will come with time, but why should there be a pacman gui? If you want to search for a packages try "pacman -Ss 'name'"

Re: Responding
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 14:54 UTC

It is no news that Mandrake has always focused on KDE as their primary desktop environment. The fact that I need to download not one, not two, but three 700MB CDROMS to install Mandrake is enough to turn me off. Oh, and I have to do that every other month if I want to upgrade my system, not to mention the fact that their incoherent repositories are never up to date. No, hunting all over the internet for GNOME 2.8 RPMs doesn't count.

I don't like RPMs. I can't stand them. My most horrifying experiences on Linux stem from RPMs. Nothing you do or say will ever convince to use an RPM based system. The word dependency hell should be replaced with RPM.

I don't like binary based distros. I think the concept of binary based distros is broken. I don't want debugging symbols in my executable. I don't want to compile my binaries with junk I don't need. I don't want my executables optimized for some generic dated architecture. I like my executables small and stripped.

I'd like to be able to wake up tomorrow and install mono without having to launch my browser and waste hours hunting for packages allover the net. Oh, and I like my packages up to date. I like the idea of a large central repository that is easy to search and that is kept up to date. I like to be able to install different versions of the same library or package without borking my system. I like to be able to update/upgrade my system without quartely 5GB ISOs.

I like to be able to update/upgrade my system via one shell command as opposed to clicking fifty dialog boxes. I like to be able to search for software without launching my browser, or hunting for unreliable third party mirrors.

I hate GUIs. They are annoying, poorly designed, obstrusive and clickastrous. Well, most of them are. Hence, Mandrake's GUI obsession bothers me among several other flaws. Mandrake more often than not will retard my progress rather than accelerate it. Because Mandrake has tweaked their system to generic conveniences rather mine, I hate going through *DO NOT ALTER* configuration files, especially when does files are wrongly configured. I like stock packages, not patched ones.

Did I mention I hate RPMs? I can go on and on. I didn't leave the GUI disaster Windows is to be plagued by another nightmare. You like Mandrake. Great! But don't give me clues as to what or what not to use based on your shallow perceptions about my needs. Get over it, not everyone likes Mandrake!

@ Eu
by Adi Wibowo on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:01 UTC

Today, I'd wager that all it does is feed the egos of technically incompetent teenagers who feel that doing a text-based installation and using tar.gz files confers upon them some degree of elitism. And they can also say, that it is less bloated, whatever the hell that means.

Can they not turn system services on or off as needed? Can they not install stuff they don't need?


Man, at this point you just look like teenager saying something they don't really understand. I am really disapointed.


And anyone who says that Slackware makes a better desktop than Mandrake, Suse, ArkLinux, PCLinuxOS, Mepis or Ubuntu, is certainly delusional.

At first, I try to write several paragraph to show him that slackware indeed can be made as a better desktop for ME. As indeed slack can be made a better desktop for ME than windows, OSX, or others. A good desktop requirements are always different with anybody.
But I realize that will be useless.

Ignore him, guys.

@Mystillleef
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:24 UTC

"It is no news that Mandrake has always focused on KDE as their primary desktop environment. The fact that I need to download not one, not two, but three 700MB CDROMS to install Mandrake is enough to turn me off."

You have to do no such a thing. Two floppies or a 8 MB ISO is all you need for an FTP installation. Obviously, you really don't know what you are talking about with respect to Mandrake. If you addmitted that, and that your opinion is based on nothing but preconception, we'd all be better off.


"Oh, and I have to do that every other month if I want to upgrade my system, not to mention the fact that their incoherent repositories are never up to date. No, hunting all over the internet for GNOME 2.8 RPMs doesn't count. "

No, you set up your repositories and a couple of commands is all you need.

urpmi.update -a

urpmi --auto-select

Of course, if you have to be leaving on the bleeding edge, you will have to set up cooker as a repository, which is similar to Rawhide in Redhat or Unstable in Fedora. Most people want a stable desktop not the latest toy. Six months between releases is more than reasonable for most people, and if this doesn't apply to you, then run cooker.


"I don't like RPMs. I can't stand them. My most horrifying experiences on Linux stem from RPMs. Nothing you do or say will ever convince to use an RPM based system. The word dependency hell should be replaced with RPM."

You obviously don't understand rpms. You need to read about the distinction between a package format and a package management solution such as urpmi, apt-get or yum.

No such dependency hell if you know what you are doing and if you use a package manager and certainly no less than keeping track of dependencies in your head for thousands of packages which is what Slackware forces you to do. Swaret is nice but is not officially supported unlike urpmi on Mandrake or apt-get on Debian

"I don't like binary based distros. I think the concept of binary based distros is broken. I don't want debugging symbols in my executable. I don't want to compile my binaries with junk I don't need. I don't want my executables optimized for some generic dated architecture. I like my executables small and stripped."

Fair enough, run FreeBSD or Gentoo. I disagree with you, by the way. Binary distributions create structured software environments that allow for reasanble testing and reproducibility of errors.

"I'd like to be able to wake up tomorrow and install mono without having to launch my browser and waste hours hunting for packages allover the net. Oh, and I like my packages up to date. I like the idea of a large central repository that is easy to search and that is kept up to date. I like to be able to install different versions of the same library or package without borking my system. I like to be able to update/upgrade my system without quartely 5GB ISOs."

Then, you'll love urpmi and its power.

"I like to be able to update/upgrade my system via one shell command as opposed to clicking fifty dialog boxes. I like to be able to search for software without launching my browser, or hunting for unreliable third party mirrors."

Then you'll love urpmi and its power, which can be scripted away as much as you want. I guess you know that urpmi runs on the command line, but let me mention it just in case.

"I hate GUIs. They are annoying, poorly designed, obstrusive and clickastrous. Well, most of them are. Hence, Mandrake's GUI obsession bothers me among several other flaws. Mandrake more often than not will retard my progress rather than accelerate it."

If you don't want a GUI, don't install it and stop whining. Who's forcing you to install a GUI? Do an advanced installation and you can tweak to your hearts content.

"Because Mandrake has tweaked their system to generic conveniences rather mine, I hate going through *DO NOT ALTER* configuration files, especially when does files are wrongly configured. I like stock packages, not patched ones."

You can change Mandrake configuration files and the GUI tools will respect your changes. It is Suse's Yast that tends to override configuration changes, although it has gotten much better recently.

"Did I mention I hate RPMs? I can go on and on. I didn't leave the GUI disaster Windows is to be plagued by another nightmare. You like Mandrake. Great! But don't give me clues as to what or what not to use based on your shallow perceptions about my needs. Get over it, not everyone likes Mandrake! "

I don't want you to like Mandrake. I want you to stop spewing misinformation about a piece of software that you have not fairly evaluated.

Thanks for taking the time for coming up with some advice instead of taking offense when your distro comes under some criticism, as many people would have done. Unfortunately, the issues I had were not configuration issues, but broken packages. For example, at the time I did my first Arch install, the libcroco in the current repo was broken, and I spent some time trying to figure out why my fresh gnome install was broken. Shortly afterwards a mozilla firefox package was broken. The packages usually get fixed pretty fast, within one or two days. However, it doesn't mean that it's okay to release packages without proper testing.

It was not a very good introduction to Arch, but I vowed to give it a chance and actually use it for some time before making up my mind about it.

RE: package manager
by Gabriel on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:28 UTC

what's that with package managers?

do you install crap on your machines so often?

1. slackware install
2. download apache2 source
3. dowload php4 source
4. compile both, install
5. never touch the system again.

see? no complicated package management.

Once at work i had to install java SDK + tomcat on a red hat machine with apt+rpms... it was hell. (not to mention that distros that use rpm have '/var/www/html' instead of 'htdocs'. go figure)

v response to aliterate trolls
by fanclub on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:29 UTC
netcraft
by fanclub on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:32 UTC

they won't be on Netcraft. linux uptime only goes to 497 (?) days. that's why certain BSD variants are perceived as having higher uptimes, when in reality, they may or may not.

v @fanclub
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:35 UTC
@Eugenia
by Chris on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:43 UTC

Not a terrible article, but I must say I'm biased as Arch is my favorite distro.
Arch isn't a distro for people who don't wanna tinker (it's not exactly grand about well checked packages, or keeping up to date perfectly with security updates, or even about packaging things for you), but it's a great distro to quickly get a lot out of your hardware and very quickly install a full featured and customized OS.
My dev machine for example only uses 550MB of hard disk, and it's running a vnc server running enlightenment with all of my c/c++ tools available (except Anjuta).

KDE makes me fruitier than a nutcake
by fanclub on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:45 UTC

I like to be able to update/upgrade my system via one shell command as opposed to clicking fifty dialog boxes. I like to be able to search for software without launching my browser, or hunting for unreliable third party mirrors.

i have different reasons, but related ones, for rejecting some GUI apps. i find that using Ion3 (or ratpoison or others), that i have much better concentration on the task at hand. the full-screen mode with several rxvt & gnome-terminal can get old, but overall, i'm more effective. as i get more into coding i need "total concentration" yet other apps happily live on other screens and are a keystroke away if needed.

the console, text-mode, and related apps are great because they are light on memory. if you have a gig of RAM on every box, who cares, but i have some older machines. i like to keep a consistent desktop and familiar apps on older and newer machines.

sure, when i get rich and famous, i might install SuSE and KDE again. but for now, stripped-down, bare-essentials postminimalism works well. if you want to understand this mindset in detail, Google "low-resource linux", "the antidesktop", "ion window manager" and "lo fat linux desktop".

heh
by P on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 15:58 UTC

it's funny that people say slackware isn't a distribution for newbies... 1996, slack was my first distro I ever used. In fact, it WAS newbie friendly because everything was seperated into floppy-sized directories that could be easily downloaded over dialup.

And being an intelligent guy (newbies is not equivalent to stupid) I adapted pretty quickly to the slack way of installing and doing things. And I learned how linux really works, instead of depending on distro-specific GUI tools.

In other words, a perfect newbie distribution to introduce myself to the world of Linux!

v illiterate AND aliterate (was: typical Mandy users)
by thomas pynchon on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:04 UTC
@Mystilleef
by enloop on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:07 UTC

To be clear, I'm a long-time Slackware user. I don't make a practice of installing and deinstalling a lot of software, so lack of a dependency resolver doesn't bother me. (Slack, of course, has a package management tools.) When I have used rpm/deb/ebuild based distributions, I've almost always seen the dependency resolver break the machine at some point, OF course, this is not the fault of the resolver. It happens because developers add improper and conflicting dependencies to their packages and because repositories are populated with broken software.

That said, most Linux distributions are so much alike that there is little to compare among them other than installation routines, package/dependency managers and compiler optimizations. These are all peripheral issues compared to things like ease of use, display and multimedia quality, application command structure consistency. These are very difficult issues for Linux distributions to attack because they all package software that someone else wrote and maintains. Even the few distributions with the resources and discipline to even consider making major changes address these issues -- think RedHat and SUSE -- are constrained by the need to remain compatible.

In essence, all that free software used by distributions represents one big legacy software problem slowing the pace of improvement and innovation.

@Eu
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:09 UTC

Cooker is buggy, the official mirrors are shallow and dated last time I checked. There were a lot of missing packages which I use. Great they now have mono, they didn't have it for the longest time. And much of the GNOME packages were just broken. I gave up on Mandrake a long time ago, but calling Mandrake stable is myth. Heck, upgrading glibc alone is enough to break that fragile distro. I hear special members get special access to special mirrors. So perhaps if I became a special member new packages might be unlocked. But I couldn't be bothered with all that. Do they even have GNOME 2.8?

With regards to the GUI issue. I didn't know there was a way to remove all the Mandraky stuff from KDE. My problem with Mandrake is that it comes with too much stuff I don't need. And removing all the stuff I don't need is unreasonable, time consuming and tainted with the possibility of breaking something else. I've tried Mandrake, and I found it wanting. Besides, nothing motivates me to give it a spin again. I still see myself going through the same ordeal I went through the last time.

swaret
by thomas pynchon on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:21 UTC

there seems to some confusion (above) about swaret and slackpkg. swaret is included in extras in 9.1:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/slackware/slackwa...

it's gone in 10.0 (but slackpkg is available now). there was an official statement about the reasoning behind the exclusion of swaret, but i believe politics played a large role in its demise.

@mystillleef
by Eu on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:27 UTC

"Cooker is buggy, the official mirrors are shallow and dated last time I checked."

Cooker is indeed a revolving development tree. That's the whole purpose. As I have said, if six months is too long a release cycle, then fair enough.

In terms of the abundance of packages, main, contrib and plf put together, which you can get to from the easy urpmi package (google for it) are only unrivalled in number of packages by Debian. The difference is that Debian stable is very stable, but very dated, while Mandrake's package from those repositories count in the thousands and work well together.

"There were a lot of missing packages which I use. Great they now have mono, they didn't have it for the longest time. And much of the GNOME packages were just broken. I gave up on Mandrake a long time ago, but calling Mandrake stable is myth."

Well, I have servers running with uptimes of months, only rebooted for kernel updates and they were installed years ago.

"Do they even have GNOME 2.8?"

2.8 was released after they had frozen the release, so it wasn't included in 10.1. Just a minute ago, you said you value stability. Now you want the latest and greatest. It doesn't work that way. If you value stability, you have to give time for a release such as Gnome 2.8 to be tested.

"With regards to the GUI issue. I didn't know there was a way to remove all the Mandraky stuff from KDE. My problem with Mandrake is that it comes with too much stuff I don't need. And removing all the stuff I don't need is unreasonable, time consuming and tainted with the possibility of breaking something else."

There is nothing to remove. You simply do not install what you don't want during the installation? It has always been that way. What's so hard to understand about this? My servers are lean and mean.

"I've tried Mandrake, and I found it wanting. Besides, nothing motivates me to give it a spin again."

Fair enough. I am not asking you to change what you do or how you do it. I was trying to paint a broader picture of what's available in Linux land and in the process explain the choice I make.

Just gimme enough reliablity, please
by Metic on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:28 UTC

I wouldn't seriously use any distro but those established distros that give me enough trustworthiness, reliablity (few bugs), security and documentation, and also lots of stable, well tested packages (= binaries, as I have better things to spent my time with than compiling software).

Therefore, and to me, the best choice has been something Debian-compatible. Besides, there now seems to be a Debian-based distro to suit all tastes (you can even get, e.g. unofficial Athlon XP optimixed Debian binaries somewhere from apt-get.org etc.) The only problem with Debian is that the project has grown maybe a bit too huge, and like we know, it is always slow to turn a big ship.

Arch Linux is my fav hobby distro that shows a lot promise and is nice to tinker with. But I'm afraid that maany developers there want to keep it a small hobby distro only. If so, I will never take it seriously enough.

Slackware is quite reliable and good but personally I just cannot stand the lack of a good and officially supported dependency checking mechanism in package management (I just have better things to spent my time with than hunting for some darn dependencies).

re: EU & Eugenia
by csabimano on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:32 UTC

go eugenia!

@EU
This is a slackware/arch thread, not a mandrake thread. And don't come here harping about mandrake and urpmi, especially criticizing the editor's choice of not turning OSNews into a mandrake ad site.

I used mandrake for a year (9.0/9.1) - and I stayed only that long with it because of the excellent work of Texstar (from pclinuxonline), who provided better/more stable packages for the latest and greatest than official mandrake. Then I get fed up mandrake, especially since texstar started his own project. I was tired of the harrasment for not being a clubmember on mandrakeusers, tired of waiting for new packages from official sources, tired of the bugs, and yeah, the bloat.

Mandrake was a good beginner's distro, but sooner or later, those who are willing to learn more about linux, will switch. Most of them. My road was: RH 7.3 > MDK 9.0 > 9.1 > Debian > FreeBSD. And I won't switch anytime soon again. Show me where eugenia recommended slack for linux noobs in this article! It is not for noobs, it is for those disgruntled rh/suse/mandrake who are looking for something fresh, clean air, better user experience, better desktop (YEAH, you heard it, I like KDE on FreeBSD better than I did KDE on Mandrake), better community, less commercialism, etc. If you are happy with Mandrake, that's fine! But don't come here denouncing other distroes, just because you think it is teh best. It isn't. It is buggy, bloated, and a nightmare to configure/maintain FOR ME!

re: EU & Eugenia
by csabimano on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:33 UTC

go eugenia!

@EU
This is a slackware/arch thread, not a mandrake thread. And don't come here harping about mandrake and urpmi, especially criticizing the editor's choice of not turning OSNews into a mandrake ad site.

I used mandrake for a year (9.0/9.1) - and I stayed only that long with it because of the excellent work of Texstar (from pclinuxonline), who provided better/more stable packages for the latest and greatest than official mandrake. Then I get fed up mandrake, especially since texstar started his own project. I was tired of the harrasment for not being a clubmember on mandrakeusers, tired of waiting for new packages from official sources, tired of the bugs, and yeah, the bloat.

Mandrake was a good beginner's distro, but sooner or later, those who are willing to learn more about linux, will switch. Most of them. My road was: RH 7.3 > MDK 9.0 > 9.1 > Debian > FreeBSD. And I won't switch anytime soon again. Show me where eugenia recommended slack for linux noobs in this article! It is not for noobs, it is for those disgruntled rh/suse/mandrake who are looking for something fresh, clean air, better user experience, better desktop (YEAH, you heard it, I like KDE on FreeBSD better than I did KDE on Mandrake), better community, less commercialism, etc. If you are happy with Mandrake, that's fine! But don't come here denouncing other distroes, just because you think Mandrake is teh best. It isn't. It is buggy, bloated, and a nightmare to configure/maintain FOR ME!

Dependencies and completeness
by Daniel de Kok on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:38 UTC

Slackware is quite reliable and good but personally I just cannot stand the lack of a good and officially supported dependency checking mechanism in package management (I just have better things to spent my time with than hunting for some darn dependencies).

Experiences differ, but in practive I seldom have to solve dependencies with Slackware. The Slackware CD's are quite comprehensive, and many applications compile directly without much trouble. Mono and GNUCash are an exception, they require many dependencies. But as far as Mono concerned, the dependencies compile without any problems. And I prefer Moneydance over GNUCash anyway ;) .

YMMV, but if you use GNU/Linux in a UNIXy way Slackware is really complete. But people use GNU/Linux in different ways, and that's why one distro doesn't fit for all.

@enloop
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:42 UTC

That's the point. Much of the problems people experience with Linux are distro specific. You get a whole hoard of bugs present in Fedora and Mandrake, that are absent in Vector or Slack.

Some distributions make the Linux experience a whole lot better than others. It is important to emphasize these distributions and how they make using linux better than distro X.

You even have distros that expose bugs in software. Gentoo is great with that. Mono for example won't work on Gentoo or LFS because its GC is broken and the upstream developers where using optimizations that breaks Mono on NTPL systems. So you need a patch to use Mono on Gentoo or LFS.

In fact, Gentoo is one of the most hated distros today by developers because it exposes bugs in their software. You hear developers explicitly telling they don't deal with Gentoo bugs.

I don't use slackware anymore, but I don't see why distros like it shouldn't be promoted especially for linux users looking for simplicity and stability. Or even more control.

arch
by Michel Brabants on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 16:45 UTC

Heya,

I cannot comment on slack, but I've been using archlinux for about 2 months or so now as my main distribution.

What is said in the article is true as far as I know. Things in the current repo's can be broken.

I also have had that when I upgraded to a new kernel, I cannot reboot anymore because the package didn't do run "lilo" after install ... however it mentionned that "lilo" should be run in it's text-output.

I like arch however at the moment. It's a simple distro, with wich you can learn more about your linux-system ...


greetz,

Michel

Eease of mind of Mac OS X?
by Mike on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 17:02 UTC

I'm not convinced that Slackware provides the ease of mind of Mac OS X. What exactly do you mean by that? That it's idiot proof and easy to configure and maintain? I don't agree with that at all.

@Eu
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 17:04 UTC

Dude, Mandrake's base system still comes with a lot of cruft I don't need. In fact it's HUGE! And the last time I did a Mandrake Install, I don't remember seeing the option not to install X. Perhaps I glossed over it. And how about all those deamons are they still on by default?

With regards to GNOME 2.8, it was officially stable weeks ago, upstream that is. There's nothing shameful in keeping a distro up to date. In fact, many bugs and security fixes make it into official stable upstream releases. While keeping your system up to date isn't necessary(I haven't updated my sytem in a while) it is really convenient when you need a package and its latest stable version is available in the repository. There is nothing as satisfying as that.

Re: Slackware and Arch Linux
by troy banther on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 18:27 UTC

Slackware v.10 is my preference. Simple, lean, and stable for what I need as either a server or desktop machine.

re: Eu
by Justin on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 18:50 UTC

Whoever you are... you have some big balls... if you have balls. I am glad someone is talking straight here and taking the beating. The Slack elite are everywhere. Editing text files gets boring really fast. Slackware was the same on my athlon 2400 and 1 GB of ram, spead wise, as Fedora or Mandrake. Anyhow... preach on.

@mystilleef:
by AdamW on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 18:51 UTC

For the last damn time, quit bashing Mandrake's GNOME support. It's simply not true and you should be ashamed. Mandrake's GNOME packages are second to none, work perfectly, and fit in perfectly with GNOME's vision of Linux desktop functionality. Mandrake's main GNOME packager, Frederic Crozat, is excellent at his job and makes a lot of effort to contribute back to the wider GNOME community; just for example, go check the changelogs on Ross Burton's little GNOME tools like Sound Juicer and Contact Lookup Applet and see how many times Fred is mentioned. I use GNOME on Mandrake and it's great, now quit it.

@mystilleef:
by AdamW on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 18:59 UTC

"It is no news that Mandrake has always focused on KDE as their primary desktop environment. The fact that I need to download not one, not two, but three 700MB CDROMS to install Mandrake is enough to turn me off."

It may not be "news", but it certainly isn't true. Mandrake's official position, supported by the software in the distro, is that it is desktop agnostic and supports KDE and GNOME equally. Any software Mandrake write has to function equally well in both desktops.

And that "fact" would indeed be depressing, were it true. You can install a working Mandrake system from CD1 alone.

@mystilleef - ooh, more lies!
by AdamW on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:03 UTC

"Oh, and I have to do that every other month if I want to upgrade my system, not to mention the fact that their incoherent repositories are never up to date. No, hunting all over the internet for GNOME 2.8 RPMs doesn't count."

Well, Mandrake has a current unstable branch and makes stable releases every few months. I wonder what distribution that sounds like?! Oh, wait.

I run Cooker, and have done on both of my machines for more than two years. I update daily, automatically, via urpmi --auto-select. My packages are always *extremely* up to date (barring freeze periods for stable releases, and I hope to heck Slack has these too). Saying you need to install from CDs every month to get updated packages is JUST PLAIN WRONG. Don't do it.

"Incoherent repositories never up to date"?

Let me see. You have Cooker, which is very up to date. You have the official releases of the last few versions, which are completely frozen, and their update repositories, which contain...security updates. Then you have the Community repository for the latest version, which is sorta like Debian testing - it gets updated packages, slower than Cooker. How is this 'incoherent'? Seems simple and sensible to me.

Re: arch
by Luke McCarthy on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:06 UTC

I also have had that when I upgraded to a new kernel, I cannot reboot anymore because the package didn't do run "lilo" after install ... however it mentionned that "lilo" should be run in it's text-output.

Eeep... that caught me once too! These days I have switched to GRUB and compile my own kernel (the kernel26 package doesn't work on my laptop), so I don't have that problem.

@mystilleef:
by AdamW on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:06 UTC

Yet more lies.

"Hence, Mandrake's GUI obsession bothers me among several other flaws."

Mandrake doesn't have a GUI obsession. In fact, rather the opposite - virtually every drak* tool has an ncurses front end you can use from the console. Mandrake's package management system has an *extremely* capable CLI-based front end, urpmi.

@mystilleef: ooh! what a surprise! more lies!
by AdamW on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:12 UTC

"Heck, upgrading glibc alone is enough to break that fragile distro. I hear special members get special access to special mirrors. So perhaps if I became a special member new packages might be unlocked. But I couldn't be bothered with all that. Do they even have GNOME 2.8?"

Nope. I've upgraded glibc countless times in the last two years my laptop's been running Cooker, and I don't even have to frikking reboot.

Club members get Club packages, but GPL Club packages are actually available to anyone. Other Club packages are commercial stuff. GNOME 2.8 isn't in MDK yet because Cooker froze for 10.1 before GNOME 2.8 came out. Yes, for STABILITY reasons. Now 10.1 is released, Cooker will be unfrozen shortly and GNOME 2.8 will be introduced.

@mystilleef re Mono
by AdamW on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:15 UTC

oooh, and just one more. Mono was first put into Mandrake on March 18, 2003, at version 0.23. Is that early enough for you?

re: Mike
by csabimano on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:19 UTC

I'm not convinced that Slackware provides the ease of mind of Mac OS X. What exactly do you mean by that? That it's idiot proof and easy to configure and maintain? I don't agree with that at all.

There are different kinds of 'easy of mind.' If arch is anything like FreeBSD, than yeah, it is easy to configure and maintain, and I can say that it is at least more idiot proof than your average linux distro. It is hard to explain if you never used it, but take my example.

I'm not a computer scientist. I only switched to linux because I was very disappointed with win98se, and was afraid of XP. Linux gave me a hard time, the learning curve was steep, but I befriended the CLI enough to have the nerve to install Debian. Deb stayed on my system for two weeks, due to stability problems (lots of broken packages in unstable, and I didn't want an outdated system).

Enter BSD. Or rather, enter FreeBSD and the FreeBSD Handbook. What I did was simple: I read it, followed the instructions, and in few hours I had a working system, with USB mouse working out of the box. Next: kernel compile/configuration. Took me ten minutes, and it was so simple that I couldn't believe my eyes! (double checked myself, thinking I'm editing the wrong file). Next: rc.conf. If arch's configuration is anything like FreeBSD's, kudos to the developers: nothing can be simpler. You install apache, samba, whatever. To enable them, you need <service_name>_enable="YES" in your rc.conf.

On mandrake (and even in Debian) I had a separate config file for my network devices (all at different places, /etc/networks in deb, /etc/sys/network I think in MDK). Is the rc.conf approach easier than having different files, with different syntax? YES. Here is mine for my desktop puter:

defaultrouter="172.17.140.19"
gateway_enable="YES"
hostname="mcsaba.sh.nek.klte.hu"
ifconfig_vr0="inet 172.17.141.160 netmask 255.255.252.0"
linux_enable="YES"
usbd_enable="YES"
clear_tmp_enable="YES"
sendmail_enable="none"
sshd_program=/usr/sbin/sshd
sshd_enable="YES"
lisa_enable="YES"
pureftpd_enable="YES"
ftpshares_enable="YES"
firewall_enable="YES"
firewall_type="/etc/ipfw.rules"
moused_flags="-z 4"
moused_type="auto"
samba_enable="YES"

And that's all of it. One might think that if everything is configured via rc.conf, it must be cluttered. It isn't. How do you load modules at boot time? A logical place: /boot/loader.conf. The syntax is the same. I want the nvidia module loaded at boottime. I put nvidia_load="YES" in my loader.conf.

Maintaining and configuring FreeBSD is really a joy. Don't think of user-friendliness only in GUI terms. There can be a huge difference between the way configuration/maintanance is done in the CLI. If I think of the way FreeBSD CLI (and presumably arch and slack) behaves, than yes, it does have an 'easy of mind' kinda feeling to it. So does the rcNG system (as opposed to sysV init) with it's clever and automatic dependency handling.

One of the problems with mandrake (and redhat) on the CLI is that it is a nightmare! It might be easy to install and configure it with GUI tools, but if you have only CLI experience trying to learn text-only system configuration in those distroes, I'm not surprired that you dislike even the idea of using the command line. Keep in mind: not all command lines are the same, and we can speak of user-friendliness in CLI terms only as well. And if you don't have a GUI only tunnel vision, then mentioning MacOS X in conjuction with arch/slackware is right on target.

v childish!
by anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:22 UTC
Slackware gets my vote
by Anonymous on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:24 UTC

I love Slackware.

It's the only Linux distribution I've found to be 100% reliable and it's by far the fastest I've tried.

Mandrake should take some notes from this under estimated Linux distribution.

Eu & cia...
by Eugenia on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 19:31 UTC

Eu & cia, DROP IT. You are getting off topic, I will mod down all your comments if you continue driving the discussion off topic. First and last warning, this is.

Arch isn't meant for mainstream use
by xerxes2 on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 20:42 UTC

Most Arch users are developers so I don't know why some punks here compare it to mainstream distros.
Use that distro you like best, no big deal.

Slackware the best?
by Crookshanks on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 21:06 UTC

How can the most primitive distro with the least amount of packages and one of the worst package management systems be the best? Distros like Slackware are holding Linux back, keeping it in the realm of the eggheads. Honestly, super geeks, the 90s want their distro back. Patrick is wasting his time. He ought to work on one of the BSD flavors instead...

Re: Slackware the best?
by Juzio1313 on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 21:19 UTC

Ancient Romans used to say:
"De gustibus non est disputandum"
I'm not sure why people today no longer appreciate this great wisdom. Slackware exists because some people like it (and some even call it the best). Get over it.

RE: Slackware the best?
by Morgan on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 21:52 UTC

How can the most primitive distro with the least amount of packages and one of the worst package management systems be the best? Distros like Slackware are holding Linux back, keeping it in the realm of the eggheads. Honestly, super geeks, the 90s want their distro back. Patrick is wasting his time. He ought to work on one of the BSD flavors instead...

FYI, Slackware is far from the most primitive distro. If you are trying to equate the fact that it's the oldest surviving distro with "primitive", then perhaps you should take a look at RedHat or Debian. Both of these have been around for a very long time, and neither has stable packages as up-to-date as Slackware. That's not to say those are primitive distros, either; it's just that you perhaps should do some research before spouting off assumptions.

For a truly primitive distro, try one of the minimalist floppy-based router projects still using kernel 2.2 or even 2.0.

RE: Slackware the best?
by Jesper Juhl on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 21:56 UTC

> How can the most primitive distro with the least amount of
> packages and one of the worst package management systems
> be the best? Distros like Slackware are holding Linux
> back, keeping it in the realm of the eggheads. Honestly,
> super geeks, the 90s want their distro back. Patrick is
> wasting his time. He ought to work on one of the BSD
> flavors instead...

Slackware is in my oppinion the very best Linux distribution out there because of its simplicity, its powerful (yes, I mean that) package management, its rock solid stability, its speed and its ease of administration.

Let me address those points in a little more detail.

Simplicity) The installer is very simple and easy to use, and the fact that it's text based means that it always works on any box. Also, there are no extra layers that try to hide from you how the system works or tools that edit config files behind your back in surprising ways, and everything is in the location you expect it to be.

Package management) The package management tools are all very simple, a script to install a package (installpkg), a tool to remove packages (removepkg), a tool to upgrade a package (upgradepkg) and a few more. The tools all do exactely what you expect them to do and nothing else. The fact that there is no dependency tracking is actually a blessing since it is usually not needed with Slackware and the few times where some package needs some other one, the dependency can usually be resolved by hand in a minute or two (good old ldd is very nice for that). You also don't have any nasty surprises with dependencies being automagically installed to make NewFancyPackage work but then blowing up OlderPackageThatNeededOldVersionOfSomething. You are in control of what goes on with your packages. Slackware packages are also extremely easy to create, and if you need to pull out a single file or two from one, then tar does the job (or you can use explodepkg). In short, package management is simple, solid and does the job well.

Stability) Compared to other distributions I've tried, the software included with slackware has always been rock-solid for me. With other distributions I find that often software has little annoying bugs because core libraries have been patched or the application has been patched or something else has been patched. Slackware ships the software as written by its author and furthermore always build it with conservative optimizations. The result is a rock solid distribution you can depend on. This, to me, is very important.

Speed) Although Slackware is build to run on 486 it still includes what 686 optimizations it can. The result is speed that is comparable in most cases to 100% 686 optimized distributions (and in some cases it even beats even gentoo speedwise, don't ask me why, but it does). And you still retain the abillity to run the latest version of the distribution on older hardware.

Ease of administration) No tools that make changes behind your back or get confused when you edit settings by hand. A simple init system with everything you need in one place (/etc/rc.d/) and in easy to read and modify scripts. No trouble when building software unpatched from source. No need for anything but a remote ssh connection and a text editor to be able to do *any* administration task remotely. Now *that* is ease of administration/use to me.


Please don't put a good distribution down just because you don't know how to take advantage of it or don't have the skill to appreciate the power and control it gives you.
Distributions like RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE etc have their place, but so does Slackware for the experienced power user that wants a powerful, fast, stable and easy to manage distro.

PS. Have you even tried slackware as your main OS for more than a day? Have you ever tried spending a little bit of time to learn how it works?



@mystilleef re Mono
by Simon on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 22:06 UTC

Mono for example won't work on Gentoo or LFS because its GC is broken and the upstream developers where using optimizations that breaks Mono on NTPL systems. So you need a patch to use Mono on Gentoo or LFS.

I'd dispute that - I can't speak for Gentoo, but current Mono releases work just fine on a recent NTPL-based LFS system, no patches required. I've run Blam, Tomboy, Muine and a few others, no problems.

@AdamW
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 22:43 UTC

I'm not bashing Mandrake. If you think I am lying fine. I have used Mandrake, and compared to other distros I've used, its support for GNOME is horrible. I will continue to maintain that stand. I'm not going to install cooker to run official stable packages. It has broken my system in the past. If you have had a great time with it, cool.

I find many of your statements contradictory, you claim you run cooker, your packages are up to date, and you run GNOME. Yet, you conclude that GNOME 2.8 isn't in cooker yet and of course not in the stable mirrors. If you are a GNOME user, your packages aren't up to date if you don't have GNOME 2.8. Go figure. I'm too busy to respond to all of your nitpicks. Needless to say, I'm glad you are having a great time on your up to date GNOME on Mandrake.

@Simon re Mono
by Mystilleef on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 22:49 UTC

http://bugs.ximian.com/show_bug.cgi?id=60576

Quote below:

"As our bug (61602) was marked as a duplicate i'd like to add that this
problem has nothing todo with gentoo.

This probelm occurs on all pure nptl systems (meaning systems with
only nptl enabled libc). I don't know any bigger bin distro wich
shipps only nptl libc (thats the reson why this wasen't tracked
earlier). But sooner or later this will be the case. Today maninly
source distros as gentoo and LFS to have a pure nptl libc.

The threading test fails on my machine at 70-80. I don't think
versions are important because all test failed till now on all nptl
systems i used and succeeded on all linuxthreads or hybrid syste"

Thanks for the comparison
by Steve Husted on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 22:51 UTC

Eugenia,
I am a die-hard Slacker, and proud of it. I have been considering Arch for a long time because some people told me it does some things I wish Slack was doing.

Since I run Slackware primarily as my server, I will stick with your advice.

By the way, I had some problems with swaret and switched to slapt-get, and the developer for that is VERY responsive and VERY quick to personally answer forum posts. From the user's point of view, slapt-get and swaret are almost identical. From the support point of view, I'd have to go with slapt-get.

Anyone tried MiniSlack yet? It's a "one CD" version of Slackware that I haven't personally had time to try/compare, but looks promising as a desktop OS.

http://shweps.free.fr/minislack.html
http://distrowatch.rospot.com/table.php?distribution=minislack

Thanks again, Eugenia.

90's distro
by xmp on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 22:56 UTC

How can the most primitive distro with the least amount of packages and one of the worst package management systems be the best? Distros like Slackware are holding Linux back, keeping it in the realm of the eggheads.

Dude, Slack is more like Debian than some egghead distro. (i admit Debian's apt-get is intrisically better than installpkg/swaret.) but a true minimalist distro is something like LFS, Crux, Core, or Arch. (yes Arch has advanced package manager like Deb.) those 4 distros take one hell of a lot of configuring. when i was a newbie i would have been lost in Crux without the man pages. Slack is WAY easier. most everything is auto-configured by Slack or just requires minor tweaks. perhaps i just don't have enough peripherals to have trouble with it.

Honestly, super geeks, the 90s want their distro back.

now that's a good troll. +5 Funny.

The Best of all Worlds
by Andy on Wed 3rd Nov 2004 23:09 UTC

My view on operating systems is that you should be able to install them easily and then they just work. The reason I don't use Slackware is that, apparently, I can look forward to a week of pain if I do so. I have never heard of Arch.

For me, an OS is a means to an end. I need one to get stuff done. If it crashes a lot and attracts spyware and viruses, then its goodbye Windows, hello Linux. But I don't feel the need to become a computer scientist in order to make the switch.

For surfing, emailing, office-style work and playing with pictures any distro will do as long as you like the way it looks and feels. Beyond that, you need a distro that allows you to do whatever it is you want to do. If that happens to be tweaking operating systems then obviously Gentoo, Slack or this Arch thing are for you. Otherwise, one of the mainstream distributions will suffice, even if it is designed for newbies, very slow and absolutely riddled with bugs. It seems my distribution offers all of this, but it has never let me down, so I am happy.

Someone mentioned Mono. I have tried to install this on a couple of distributions, but got bored reading the lists of missing packages. On Ubuntu it installed easily. But Ubuntu, being Debian based, is very fussy about Java. I know, it can be done, but I prefer just to go back to my mainstream Linux for Dummies. It's easier.

So my quest for the perfect OS for me has lead so far to dual-booting. No doubt syntheses will emerge; TooSlack for the tweakers and Novell Mandora for the rest of us. In the meantime I hope to get things done without too much pain.

@mystilleef:
by AdamW on Thu 4th Nov 2004 00:17 UTC

I don't see how what I say is contradictory. I said I run Cooker and my packages are up to date except during freeze periods for stable releases, of which now is one. As soon as Cooker unfreezes, I'll get GNOME 2.8. In the meantime I'm happy to wait and use the excellent implementation of GNOME 2.6 that is in MDK 10.1 (including most of the 2.8 improvements that people blather on about, such as the gnome-volume-manager automounting stuff), but if I really wanted I could get Goetz Waschk's 2.8 packages (which will probably form the basis for the official packages anyway).

You still haven't explained exactly *what* about MDK's GNOME support is horrible. Please do give some details.

@AdamW
by Mystilleef on Thu 4th Nov 2004 00:49 UTC

If you don't run GNOME 2.8, I'm sorry your packages aren't up to date. As of today, the official latest stable release of GNOME is version 2.8. Anything prior to that is dated.

I don't use MDK today, but you mentioned part of the problem. Mandrake has a horrible habbit of over patching their packages. I have had problems with their gedit, gnome-session, gdm, nautilus crashing randomly and incessantly I think during the 2.4 - 2.6 releases. I also remember bonobo conflict issues and gnome preferences not launching among several others.

I can't remember how I broke Mandrake exactly, but I'm sure it had to do with me installing a package not available in the repository, Mono if my memory serves me right. Either way, it was a horrible experience. You can't seriously tell me that distro stable especially with regards GNOME. Things may have changed now, but my experience has stuck with me.

And you don't expect me to install Mandrake's unstable branch, Cooker, just so I can use GNOME 2.6 when I have been using 2.8 peacefully for weeks now, do you? I just couldn't stand Mandrake specific bugs in GNOME. They irritated me to no extent.

@AdamW
by Mystilleef on Thu 4th Nov 2004 00:54 UTC

Oh, I also clearly remember Totem freezing for no freaking reason on Mandrake. I had to recompile Totem from source with another backend which of course broke other stuff. A bitch to maintain that system is. Maybe I was just an ignorant user. Or may be not, because I don't experience all that anymore.

@mystilleef
by AdamW on Thu 4th Nov 2004 02:16 UTC

Please re-read the statement:

"I said I run Cooker and my packages are up to date except during freeze periods for stable releases, of which now is one."

It does not imply that my packages are currently up to date. In fact, it implies the opposite. It also implies that this is a temporary situation.

"I have had problems with their gedit, gnome-session, gdm, nautilus crashing randomly and incessantly I think during the 2.4 - 2.6 releases."

I...well...didn't. Admittedly I don't use Nautilus much, but I use all the others and I haven't had one of them crash on me since we had GNOME 2.1 in Cooker. Certainly not in any stable release, for the month or so I run each (while Cooker is frozen).

"I can't remember how I broke Mandrake exactly, but I'm sure it had to do with me installing a package not available in the repository, Mono if my memory serves me right."

That's pretty vague, but it's unusual - it's not best practice to install things from source that you can get packaged (as I mentioned, Mono has in fact been in Mandrake since v0.26 in early 2003, so unless you wanted to play with a *very* early version it must have been in Mandrake when you wanted to play with it, you probably just didn't find it), but it shouldn't break anything. I twiddle with stuff quite frequently and it tends to work, or if it breaks, when I do a make uninstall all is well again. Certainly not something as small and peripheral as mono. Pity you don't remember the details, I'd have been interested.

Totem was pretty unstable when an ill-advised attempt was made to use the gstreamer backend, yes. However, IIRC at that point there was a good working version of sinek in the distro, so it wasn't really a great loss. For the last two releases, Totem has used the xine backend, and it works perfectly (including auto-playing DVDs on insert via gnome-volume-manager).

"You can't seriously tell me that distro stable especially with regards GNOME."

As far as I'm concerned, I can. I have an MDK 10.1 box sitting in my front room running GNOME, which I use every day, and it works perfectly. Nautilus (which I use a lot more now it's fast and has the awesome nautilus-cd-burner) is great, Rhythmbox is great, Totem is great, Evolution is great, Firefox...er...well, the Firefox in MDK contrib actually sucks, because it's 1.0RC1, which had *tiny* bugs like tabs not working. Upstream bugs, but still. So I use a nightly build. Score one for the Mandrake sucks brigade, OK. To be fair, though, it's not MDK's default browser, that's Epiphany (in GNOME) and it works great. Evolution is fine, xchat is fine, gaim is fine...the entire system is a paradigm of hunky-doriness. It doesn't crash, it's fast (though I've not used any other OS on the system so I can't compare speeds), it does everything I ask it to.

Of course I don't expect you to install Mandrake - it sounds to me like you, just like me, have a very nicely working system that does what you need. Installing something else would be craziness. No, I just want you to appreciate that a lot of what you think about Mandrake is completely wrong, and a lot of the rest of what you think certainly doesn't match my experience.

Thanks
by cc on Thu 4th Nov 2004 03:18 UTC

Thanks for the comparison, Eugenia. I'm personally trying out both and trying to make a decision between them for a laptop and home server (though DragonflyBSD and FreeBSD also are tempting). Too bad it drew you so much ire from some folks. Ignore the Zoloft-deficient and keep up the good work.

Arch Fans
by Tom Yeo on Thu 4th Nov 2004 03:43 UTC

I used to deploy servers using Slackware and Mandrake. Then I was obsessed about source based distros. My favourite was Lunar. Although I like source-based distro, it's not possible to deploy servers rapidly with it. I wanted a lean, mean binary distro, but easily customised. Then Crux came along, and then Arch. I did try out Vector and Slackware, but I must say I prefer Arch. I use it on my servers, my client servers, my desktop and my centrino notebook. For servers without X, I never face any major bug problems, but I thinks it's a bad decision for pacman to overwrite certain configuration file on upgrades (although pacman do back it up and allow you to protect certain files in it's configuration). If I come across binaries that doesn't fit me, I just use ABS. Like what others saying, do wait a while (a week or two) before upgrading packages that has major changes (it still be more update then most of the distros). Yes, pacman -Syu did break my gnome once (the careless ghex bug), but overall, with highly optimized and updated binaries, and an easy to use build-from-source system, Arch is a winner for me.

Farch Linux
by Mr Goooee on Thu 4th Nov 2004 04:44 UTC

I couldn't resist. I have tried Arch Linux and it is like many others plagued by package management - thats right I mean RPM/DEB etc etc. When will they learn? I have NEVER had a problem with "ports" based management like Gentoo etc. Arch like many others are great until you have to install or update a package then arm up for dependency wars again. No way not ever again.

@AdamW
by Mystilleef on Thu 4th Nov 2004 04:45 UTC

Well that's the point I have been trying to make all day, especially to Eu. He loves Mandrake and SUSE, I don't. I'm not the only one who doesn't. And we all have our reasons for disliking or liking a particular distro. It is however wrong and sometimes annoying to think that because a distro works great for you, it is perfect for everyone else, because it may not be.

While your experiences with Mandrake have been great mine hasn't been. I just didn't like it because it felt bloated, slow and too GUIish. It didn't have the lean and mean feel or responsiveness of Gentoo or Slack. I know this because I have used them all. Based on my experience with it, I am very convinced that the distro is biased towards KDE.

Of course you have every right to disagree with me, but that doesn't change my sentiment towards it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Eugenia promoting Slackware or Arch to users as opposed to Mandrake or SUSE. It is well known that she has used and tested these distros and she has reasons for not selecting them as the best distros on Linux.

Now I don't think they are the best distros on Linux, but I acknowledge that she must have very informed reasons and strong convictions for saying so and she has every right to share her opinion and promote a distro that fits her needs. That's all.

Another Arch User here
by Piers on Thu 4th Nov 2004 05:02 UTC

I had tried Redhat and Debian before Arch and it wasn't until Arch Linux that I pissed Windows off my system. Ok not perfect but on the whole it is a great desktop which has taught me a lot about Linux.

Keep it simple and elegant and you can't go wrong. Pacman is great as is APS.

RE: Eu
by C. Whitman on Thu 4th Nov 2004 05:25 UTC

Slackware is a one man distribution with no long-term support. How many slackware servers are there on netcraft? How long does Patrick provide security udpates for each release?

Once you answer these questions, you realize that Slackware is not what you want on a server.


I doubt you're still checking responses at this point, but I wanted to post this for general information. You can defend Mandrake all you like (I certainly have no ill will toward the distribution, although I don't use it anymore), but you clearly don't know enough about Slackware to criticise it. Security updates are still provided for Slackware 8.1 (as well as 9.0, 9.1, 10.0 and -current of course), which was released in June of 2002 (for comparison Mandrake is apparently still supporting only back to 9.2 which was released in October of 2003). Security updates are one of Slackware's strongest points, so if you want to criticise it, you'd best look elsewhere.

By the way, where does netcraft break down servers by distribution? In the statistics I'm familiar with they just list the OS as "Linux" no matter which distribution it might be.

And anyone who says that Slackware makes a better desktop than Mandrake, Suse, ArkLinux, PCLinuxOS, Mepis or Ubuntu, is certainly delusional.

This is an incredibly presumptuous statement. Slackware makes my favorite desktop of the distributions I have tried so far. It provides exactly what I want it to, no more and no less. I also can compile and install software on it that may not have a package available more reliably than on any other distribution that I've used (this was always a very, very "iffy" proposition on Mandrake when I was using it). This is not to say that Slackware is hands down the best Linux desktop for everyone; no distribution is; but which distribution makes the best desktop is a very subjective question. The distributions you mention probably all have their place.

yawn
by Anonymous on Thu 4th Nov 2004 05:26 UTC

Geez, stop all the comments about Mandrake. MDK isn't mentioned in the article.
If you want to compare slack and MDK, write an article. Then we can argue about Gnome support, bloat, etc.

Personally, I like slack, it does what i want quickly and easily. I could do the same with MDK, but I don't want to.

Dropline Gnome
by Anonymous on Thu 4th Nov 2004 05:28 UTC

The best desktop, IMO.

Arch and Slackware are indeed the best
by J. M. on Thu 4th Nov 2004 08:17 UTC

I agree with the article. Slackware and Arch are my 2 favourite Linux distros, too (I also use and like NetBSD). Slackware is more reliable, Arch sometimes a bit quirky, but its package management makes it a winner for me currently, it's also maybe a bit more simple, although the slimplicity and cleanness is great in both. I think the docs on their website is quite sufficient for the basic things, and there are some nice people on their forums when you need help. I also agree that the big distros have many things which are useless for more experienced users - with Slackware, you don't learn how to use some particular config tools in distro XYZ version 9876, how to deal with their specific ways of doing things, bugs etc. You just use Linux. Which is not too hard, it's actually very straightforward.

Re: Great article by Morgan
by slack boogie on Thu 4th Nov 2004 12:00 UTC

>One thing you touched on that has always bothered me about >Slackware:
>
>Arch also turns off my machine automatically too, while >with Slackware I have to manually turn off the power
>button. Little things like that make a difference.

1. install a/apmd
2. in rc.modules, uncomment /sbin/modprobe apm
3. As root:

# /usr/sbin/apmd

4. Again as root:

# halt

Voila!

As for me, I prefer to push the button ;^)

Try FrugalWare
by Eddie303 on Thu 4th Nov 2004 15:23 UTC

Sorry, I did not read back all comments till now, but if somebody likes Arch's package management, but dislikes that you have nothing automated, then try out Frugalware Linux. No, this is not the place of a "marketing sentence", but Frugalware is a Hungarian linux distribution (of course, it is in english ;) ) which uses Pacman as package manager.

uaaghhhh
by peter on Thu 4th Nov 2004 15:40 UTC

This must have been the most boring discussion ever on OSNEWS.

peter:
by AdamW on Thu 4th Nov 2004 18:15 UTC

hey, I don't remember putting a gun to your head and making you read it...

@Adam
by woodstock on Thu 4th Nov 2004 19:00 UTC

You don't remember? I remember it like it was yesterday...

Yes, I don't like how half of this discussion was about MDK and whatever being shitty. To me, desktop/newbie made distros always seem to be the same. Slow, bloated and very difficult to upgrade to the next best version when it is release.

Arch is great, but still young and has its problems, which distro doesn't?

I for one will continue to use my Slackware/Gentoo combination but I will also continue to watch Arch.

Just a little treat for some: Version 0.7 may not be offically release until kernel 2.6.10 because reiser4 is (possibly) due to be merged into it and Judd (the arch creator) will modify the installer for reiser4 if it is merged as rumoured.

v WORST REVIEW OF OSNEWS
by cartridge on Thu 4th Nov 2004 19:28 UTC
RE: Slackware the best?
by Crookshanks on Thu 4th Nov 2004 23:10 UTC

"PS. Have you even tried slackware as your main OS for more than a day? Have you ever tried spending a little bit of time to learn how it works? "

Oh yes, right after I installed it (not a simple process but another example of being primitive)I considered that. Until I realized how few apps actually come with Slackware out of the box, and so spending a day with it would largely entail going out and gathering packages for it.

Now listen up closely folks, I didn't say Slackware sucks, I said it wasn't the best. I said it was primitive, which it is. Configuring things by hand and writing scripts is primitive. It's 2004, isn't it? At what point in the future will we be allowed to use a GUI to edit settings, etc? Or would you Slackware folks always have us remain old school forever? Managing a server like that is one thing, but on the desktop? Give us a break. Not that I mind that for now, but if I'm going to go that much trouble I'll be using a BSD, not Linux. To me that's Linux's greatest strength is that it's packaged up for the common man. Where would Linux be if it wasn't? Not nearly where it is now. Without distros like Red Hat,MDK, Suse, all the ones you folks claim are bloated, Linux would only be an ubergeek thing. You know that.

Also, people, a wise man (or woman, who knows) is this very forum once said one man's bloat is another man's features. Me, personally, I like the distro to come with as many apps as possible. I can always get rid of what I don't want. But going out and finding the packages is not always fun. Of course, so many of you are so used to your T-2 lines or whatever that you can't conceive that some people have slower connections and don't feel like spending a whole day downloading something like KDE 3.3.



Arch , no thanks
by Anonymous on Fri 5th Nov 2004 02:17 UTC

Ok, maybe Arch is better, but I'll never change my OS. I prefer slack.

package managent: slackware wins????????
by celeron on Fri 5th Nov 2004 03:05 UTC

this was the main motive, because i leave slackware and choose debian and next archlinux.
pacman + makepkg(+abs) is a powerfull team ;)

Slackware, Ease of Use.
by Harper on Fri 5th Nov 2004 19:23 UTC

I will agree with one point made earlier, Slackware is uber-geeky, and difficult to setup and stuff. I wish, they would have some nicer tools and some more apps included with the distro. But I suppose that's how Slac stays the most stable.

.:: my 2 cents ::.