Re: Searching for the perfect distro

From: Peter Jensen (
Date: 08/14/03

Date: 14 Aug 2003 06:15:33 GMT

?????? ? wrote:

> Hello people, I hope this is the right place for a question like
> this...

This group, and perhaps comp.os.linux.advocacy (though the signal to
noise ratio is *really* bad at times) are acceptable.

> I've used different linux distributions, some early Debian (1.3 and
> 2.0 I think), RedHat, Mandrake, Slackware and Familiar Linux (a distro
> for IPAQs).

So, one can perhaps assume that you know a fair bit about Linux. If you
know the basic things needed to compile a custom kernel, then I have a
suggestion for you: Gentoo!

> I've never been very satisfied with Mandrake and RedHat, I just think
> they are badly engineered in some (many) respects.

I started out with Red Hat and Mandrake, but I soon tired of digging for
RPM's, so I switched.

> I don't have that much experience with Debian, but I don't like that
> most of its "bundled" software is very outdated.

The main drawback of Gentoo would be that sometimes the software is too
new, and hasn't been fully tested for strange incompatibilities. Still,
such issues are rare.

> In the recent 2.5 years I've been very satisfied with Slackware. It
> contains the most important stuff I need, the packages are just like I
> would make them and its very up-to-date. What I miss in Slackware is a
> _real_ package managment system with dependancies etc., so that
> auto-updating is easier.

Gentoo has "portage", which seems to be inspired by Debian's apt system.
A full update can be made with "emerge sync && emerge -u world", though
you should probably "emerge portage" and update the config files before
continuing with "emerge -u world". Beware, though. Gentoo is source
based, so a full update, including KDE, Gnome, X, and Mozilla, might
take a few days ...

> I'm also activelly using familiar Linux. That is a distro made for
> IPAQs, somewhat based on Debian.
> So I am searching now for ?the Perfect Linux distro for me?. It needs
> to have:
> - the same quality of packages like Slackware

I have never used Slackware, so I can't really comment on that.

> - a real package managment system like Debian or Familiar

Portage. Want KDE? Just type "emerge kde" and wait. Simple as that.

> - a contemporary init system (not sysvinit, nor BSD). simpleinit is
> cool

Not sure what simpleinit is, but Gentoo uses a different init system
than Red Hat and (I think) Debian. Everything is essentially in
runlevel 3, but a system on top of it will handle the different pseudo
runlevels. Service dependency is also taken care of, so that (rather
stupid) system of manually assigning priorities to the rc scripts is no

> - cups, sane, xine, alsa, PAM, LDAP, irda, bluetooth, wifi, the latest
> toolkits etc.. it should include all the little tools you need, so
> that you dont need to hunt them down trough the internet.

I think Gentoo's pretty well covered. "emerge cups", "emerge
sane-frontends", "emerge xsane", and "emerge xine-ui" will take care of
the first three. I'm not sure about the rest. If I use them, I'm not
aware of it.

> - the more integration between KDE, OpenOffice and Mozilla (Firebird,
> Thunderbird) it has - the better.

That would be the one failing point. Gentoo does as little distro
customization as possible, preferring to use the official source

> Ok I'm open for any suggestions. Does your distro fullfill these
> requirments?

To fullfill them all, you would probably have to roll your own distro,
but otherwise, I suggest Gentoo. The trickiest part is the install
process, which can seem quite convoluted to the inexperienced. However,
if you're not afraid of a single kernel compile (or two, if something
fails) and can follow the detailed instructions on,
then you should give it a try. Just not on any hardware slower than 500
MHz, or it might take a while longer than you wanted ...

Good luck in finding the perfect distro!

He laughs at every joke three times... once when it's told, once when
it's explained, and once when he understands it.