Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

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jameskga
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Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby jameskga » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:09 pm

I have taken a strong interest in Mint over the past year, so I have taken to watching Joe Collins and Chris Were on youtube, both of whom are well versed in Linux and seem to like talking about Mint. And I watch others, too. But there's something that bothers me about these youtubers who compare and contrast linux distros each week: They only talk about the themes and the variants on which programs come preinstalled on which particular distribution, and they all kinda say the same things over and over as they walk you through the interface, which is usually just a theme changer or maybe they take you on a tour of the preinstalled applications. I think appearances and preinstalled programs are trivial differences that do little to improve the function of any one distribution over the other, and at a certain point I'm starting to wonder why are so many people concentrating on these little details like color schemes and font sizes? Applications are not hard to install, so beyond the shapes and colors of UI elements, what else really is there? Is this what happens when there are too many forks or if efforts are too thinly decentralized? Or am I maybe just watching too much youtube about the same subject...

I will say, though, that Linux Mint jumps out ahead of other distributions with its Software Center and Update Manager. That is good stuff.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby MintBean » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:44 pm

They share a lot, but yes they are pretty different in the details... and the devil is in the details as they say. For me, Cinnamon is the preferred desktop and whilst I could run it on top of Ubuntu, Arch and probably others, I like the 'fit and finish' on Mint. It offers the best integration with Cinnamon out of the box, they consistently improve with each release unlike some distros and I find the choices they make sane and logical. I've done a fair amount of distro hopping myself but I always end up back with Mint because it 'feels right.'

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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby Flemur » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:51 pm

jameskga wrote:I will say, though, that Linux Mint jumps out ahead of other distributions with its Software Center and Update Manager. That is good stuff.

I've tried a few distros and basically agree with what you wrote, esp that the main difference is the package manager(s), and that (debian?)/ubuntu/mint's is the best. Also the Mint installs take less fiddling to get it set up like a usable computer.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby majpooper » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:44 am

Well I guess the kernels are pretty much the same and the shell.
But I would suggest trying different distros out - I started out on SuSe for a very brief time then Ubuntu and settled in on Mint. I played with others just to see what they were like. I found different distros differ to varying degrees at the user level especially with the different DEs.

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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby Hoser Rob » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:25 pm

I find the package management is the biggest difference in day to day use too.

There are differences in intent and degree of difficulty as welll. Mint and Ubuntu are the easiest, in fact I'd recommend nothing but either of the 2 for newbies. Debian and Arch, for example, are NOT suited to newbies. And then there's Gentoo, which has to be completely compiled and built from source. And that includes all updates too.

Someone said to me once that Ubuntu is llike buiying IKEA furniture. You have to assemble it yourself. Gentoo is like buying a woodlot and a sawmill and then making your furniture from that.

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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby wutsinterweb » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:23 pm

I think another big difference is in the communities. If you move to a RH distro, you won't get the type of noobie support the mint people here offer unless you BUY Red Hat's support license from what I gather, IOW, both CentOS and Fedora.

OTOH, some Distros are strong for LTS reasons, others for cutting edge, others for size of the community that chips in...

And then, some distros are use specific, if you go to distrowatch and do a methodological search you will see that, for instance, multimedia production users have 4 distros that are made for them. There are science distros.

Then of course is the fact that different distros support different DEs out of the box. SuSE for instance, gives you and option at install time, so does CentOS, but others are single DE or have spins for the different ones.

It's a difference in the expreience.

The Kernel, I have no idea, my thought is that the kernel remains close from distro to distro, maybe driver support differences and loader and such? That's another difference, how they load.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby Petermint » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:39 pm

Some other distros have better disk config if you have anything other than one disk. There was one distro had mods for better audio before those mods moved into Debian. After that, you move away from the desktop/workstation into distros aimed at replacing routers and similar devices.

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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby ArtGirl » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:59 pm

I think LM supports a variety of hardware far better eg after first testing LM and loving it's simplicity and ease of use (minimal terminal for a beginner), how nice it looks, and discovering my Ugee 2150 was seen and pen pressure sensitivity perfect, I then found that no other distro has pen pressure sensitivity anyway.

I think it's also distintinctive that LM isn't a rolling distro, is on top of security updates, but takes it's time before doing other things ... more stable.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby all41 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:41 am

Look beyond the eye candy--there is your answer
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby jameskga » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:22 am

That's a cool observation, ArtGirl. Thanks for sharing. Also strong answer, WutsInterweb. Lots of nice responses in this thread
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby ArtGirl » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:37 am

jameskga wrote:That's a cool observation, ArtGirl. Thanks for sharing. Also strong answer, WutsInterweb. Lots of nice responses in this thread


No problem. :)
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby wutsinterweb » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:18 pm

I'm not yet educated on the boot stuff, the loader and other files, but there seems to be some contention about some of it/them and which distros use what.

Also, different distros are based in different parts of the world, isn't Clem, for instance, in the European Union? That shouldn't matter so much, but it IS a distinction. And furthermore, some distros are run by businesses that are commercial in nature whereas others are groups that aren't necessarily commercial. Minor distinctions, but we're talking differences, so there's some differences.

And, as has been mentioned, roll yer own or ready made.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby sphyrth » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:35 pm

It might that Youtubers like Joe and Chris are subconsciously doing some sort of Marketing Strategy with the UI.

I do have to admit that Mint's User Interface heavily affected my User Experience. I favor learning Mint from the Outside-In. That and with all other distros. The side-effect is that can't appreciate the power of Arch and Debian (Even LMDE).

My guess is that you're "techie" enough that you got past this sort of stuff.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby Petermint » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:04 am

Raspbian was started specifically for education projects on the ARM based Raspberry Pi computer. There are so many variations on the ARM processors that almost every ARM based device needs a specific distribution.

The Raspbian example shows some other influences. The Raspbian developers chose LXDE for it's light weight at a time when LXDE was a good choice. Now they have to stick with LXDE for backward compatibility even though their new models have more power and could run something more developed. The new Raspberry Pi processor is 64 bit but they only have one team and they stick with 32 bit for backward compatibility.

There are many distributions with historical reasons for their development. There used to be a Linux distribution with the target of fitting on one floppy disk. There are probably distributions for the Intel 8008 or 4004 or 0000. :D

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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby BG405 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:31 am

Petermint wrote:There used to be a Linux distribution with the target of fitting on one floppy disk.

I've been looking for that! ... & something which will run on an old Amstrad PC1640 with 1MB & an 8088 processor! :mrgreen:
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby Petermint » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:57 pm

http://www.linuxlinks.com/Distributions/Floppy/
Not so important now that everyone carries their copy of gparted on a 256 GB USB 3 stick.

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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby jameskga » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:57 pm

Atomic Linux looks awesome!
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby BG405 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:19 pm

Thanks for the link, looks interesting. But
Petermint wrote:Not so important now that everyone carries their copy of gparted on a 256 GB USB 3 stick.
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: Seriously? :roll: I can see the advantage though .. if you can afford them .. being able to clone a partition without having to carry a separate device. My biggest USB flash is 16GB BTW; have a 32GB SD and a few smaller ones for my camera.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby catweazel » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:34 am

MintBean wrote:They share a lot, but yes they are pretty different in the details... '

They're also fairly different in what they share. I ran up PClinuxOS yesterday and it was an utterly woeful implementation of KDE.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Postby mrjimphelps » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:53 am

There's a very easy way that you can compare the distros:
* Install VMWare Workstation Player.
* Install whatever distro you want in a VM guest session. Install 50 different distros in 50 guest sessions if you like.
* Start running the distros you have installed.

With VMWare it is particularly easy to set up a guest session if you have the ISO on your hard drive -- when setting up the session, you just tell VMWare where the ISO is located. It took me less than 10 effortless minutes to install the Windows 8.1 ISO in a guest session. So download all of the ISOs you want, and then set each of them up as a separate guest session.


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