I am now a 3 year Linux enthusiast... and I must say that I have become completely Linux devoted and am spreading the good news around here in Croatia (which is btw approx. 99,5% M$ controled). I have already made some 5-10 converts... most of them to mint
My experience with the various distros is quite limited though... first of all, I tried Fedora... only to move to Ubuntu breezy some weeks later. From there on I stayed with Ubuntu till I first heard of Mint... I've been around since Bianca. Recently I had some extra time and will to test out some of the other most popular distros, I found some good and some not so good differences, and here is my completely subjective review from a standpoint of an IT amateur:
Kubuntu Hardy KDE 4 beta:
Installed okay, than started crashing constantly. Not ready yet and not worth the time except maybe to try out as liveCD to check out KDE4 eyecandy. Oh yeah... btw, after a several year dilemma, I have decided that I will stick with KDE for better or worse, since it's just so much prettier than gnome Mandriva spring 2008.1:
I was actually quite impressed with Mandriva... this was my first take with it and I really like it... I'm placing it as my personal second best distro at the time (second to mint of course
). What I liked most about it is that even as liveCD it first asked me a couple of questions about my configuration INLUDING wether I want no3d, metisse or compiz fusion... and compiz fusion worked out of the box perfectly. In fact, I'm not sure but I really believe I'm getting a smoother animation here than with mint... like it's a few FPS faster... Onward.... I also got quite a few error messages while playing with the liveCD... I couldn't open the package manager nor the configuration tool..... errors kept poping up. After HDD install the errors went away, but during the first boot I had that message "detecting partitions" or something like that hanging on my screen for good 20 minutes. Also, after the install there is a lengthy survey to take which is like 5 pages long... and for some reason whenever I would click next, the next page would load in a different language... THAT'S JUST ONE CRAZY BUG... I went through english, french, italian, greek and something I think was russian in cirilic... (tried pressing back a few times...). Another problem I have with Mandriva is that for some reasons the liveCD version does not have all the countries in the list during configuration... there is no Croatia or Bosnia... even saw some forum posts about India not being there and so on... supposedly the DVD version is okay.... another strange quirk...
Playing around with it more I figured out that I really don't like the rpmdrake thing that Mandriva uses as a package manager so I tried installing apt and synaptic to see if it would work.. it didn't even install, some errors popped up during the install process and I decided to say goodbye to Mandriva right than and there.Conclusion:
Even with all the quirks I really liked Mandriva... the absolute high points here, which I would strongly suggest we incorporate in future mint editions are VERY VERY nice boot-up graphics with the option to press ESC and get the verbose info in an "overlay" over the graphics... I think this was pretty much handled as best as it can be.... and should be adopted. Seconly, I really liked the simple option to select desktop effects during the first boot... the other configuration question I didn't really like since the default options are just fine for me and I get them with no questions asked in the mint install process..openSUSE 10.3:
What impressed me most about openSUSE is that even at the boot loading part it recognised my monitors native resolution (1680x1050) so I had a nice hi-quality graphics all the way from the start. All in all the graphics are what impressed me most about openSUSE! I hope that mint can follow here...
Later on, I grew annoyed with it quite soon... I guess I'm too much used to mint so even the little things annoyed me too much - i.e. I spent 10 minutes to get my second NIC to work properly... for some reason even though I set it all correctly, it wouldn't work till I finally rebooted the system. The menu is nice, but I find it to be a tad too complicated in comparison to the simple tasty menu that gives you a nice overview of everything that's there... That package manager was also slower than the one I'm used to in mint...Conclusion:
All in all... GREAT graphics... especially those at boot-up, but I'm still sticking with mint. Also, I've noticed that the GTK apps in the KDE release of both openSUSE and Mandriva seem a lot more in tune with the main KDE theme than in the mint releases... I'm not sure why is that, but in my Daryna KDE CE install, Firefox looks horrible in comparison to running it from Mandriva... the scroller bars show some kind of artifacts and glitches and the fonts seem to be a lot more pixelated... like they are not antialiased or something... also the regular gnome icons that are loaded in gtk progs look horrible.simplyMEPIS:
I only tried the liveCD... didn't really impress me at all... Seemed okay and error free, but nothing spectacular IMHO... I didn't like the 80% wide panel in KDE... seemed pointless and was the first thing I changed...PCLinuxOS 2007
Once again... seemed like a perfectly nice OS.... although once again I didn't find anyhting overly spectacular about it... the liveCD worked like a charm. Noticed that they installed synaptic to be used in a KDE enviroment... didn't really figure out why... I like adept better. All in all, seemed nice and stable, not at all too different from mint.Fedora 8
I downloaded it, but quickly found out that it's not a liveCD... which annoyed me and I decided against even installing it... it's another RPM based distro, and the experience I had with openSUSE and Mandriva and their package managers as well as what at least appeared to me a lot smaller repos than mint/ubuntu made me decide to stick with debian based...
All in all, I would once again like to stress out that I am no IT professional and that even my knowledge and experience with linux is quite limited, but I wanted to share my experiences with you and even hear some comments and your experiences with various distros. One big distro I didn't include yet is the regular Debian install.. that's because it's been downloading for quite some time now.. being 3 dvd long... but I've just recently burnt the last DVD and plan to give it a test run soon...
From my experience here, what I would really like to see in future mint releases:
- boot loading options and style like in mandriva/suse
- option to select desktop effects and have the 3d drivers automatically installed at first boot like in mandriva
- better GTK integration in the mint KDE release
these are all mostly esthetic improvements, but I think they would go a long way in improving mint as a professional distribution and would greatly complement it.... as for the software setup, I believe that mint is deffinitelly on the right track, since I find it to be superior to all the other distros...
There... that's all I wanted to share with you... all these distros are excellent with quite small differences in their flavours... all of them blow windows out of the sky anytime
P,S, the machine I've run all the distros on is:
AMD Athlon64 3800+ /w 1G RAM
nVidia 7800 GT
Windows is extremely fast after a fresh install. If you want to make it stay that way: - don't use it.