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I develop HPC (high performance computing) applications (C, C++ and Fortran). To do realistic benchmarks I need total control of what is going on in the system: disk access, network packets, memory allocation, swap usage, core affinity, etc.
I don't need eye candy stuff using CPU time, nor taksbar applets allocating memory, or daemons polling devices or files.
I know what I'm doing and what I'm installing, I don't want sudo or automatic package dependencies. To avoid problems I require vanilla versions of all libraries, many times I will need to compile them by myself, or install several versions at the same time for compatibility.
Also I need a solid and confortable working environment.
In short, I want a distro that doesn't try to think for me.
Slackware is the one.