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I like a lot of Linux distros but too often more for their ideas then execution; there are three however that have always stood out for me in terms of form that follows function, design goals and ideas that are fairly matched with results oriented execution: Debian, Slackware, and Gentoo.
But my favorite has to go to a distro scarcely mentioned on OSNews no less in this thread and that's SUSE Studio. Not to be confused with OpenSUSE or SUSE Linux Enterprise, SUSE Studio is it's own animal that's difficult to categorize and builds on both.
SUSE Studio offers the initial impression of being intended for embedded platforms and appliances, but the features, speed, and granularity of the Web based target designer offers an impressive tool for building very clean custom Linux distros quickly for any role or application with impressive results. Edited 2012-10-27 08:14 UTC