Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Questions about the project and the distribution - obviously no support questions here please
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catweazel
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by catweazel » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:57 am

mrjimphelps wrote:There's a very easy way that you can compare the distros:
* Install VMWare Workstation Player.
The problem with that is you don't get to see if the distro runs ok on your kit. All you get to verify is that it runs in a VM.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by BG405 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:31 am

catweazel wrote:you don't get to see if the distro runs ok on your kit
True but it's OK for seeing what a distro looks like & getting to know how it works, which I suspect is what VB etc. are mainly used for. You can always use a USB stick when you find a distro you want to try out more thoroughly. :)
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by Jim Hauser » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:10 am

BG405 wrote:
catweazel wrote:you don't get to see if the distro runs ok on your kit
True but it's OK for seeing what a distro looks like & getting to know how it works, which I suspect is what VB etc. are mainly used for. You can always use a USB stick when you find a distro you want to try out more thoroughly. :)
I prefer testing out a "new" distro or release bare metal. Most virtual machines are running on a "simulated" system and can not reflect the true experience of your actual hardware.

For me, VMs are useful for taking a generic look at the release and it's operations or running a release in a separate instance such as Windows.

As far as I am concerned, the only true test is on the actual hardware. True, running it off of a USB comes close and is fine if the final destination is a USB but it does not test the operation from a hard drive.

I may be wrong but if so I have been wrong for 4 years without major problems...

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

Post by Petermint » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:42 am

it does not test the operation from a hard drive
I find the problems are the Wifi chips and similar chips. USB add-on drives can be a problem. Linux RAID a problem. Built in SATA never a problem.

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

Post by Pjotr » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:56 pm

Jim Hauser wrote:For me, VMs are useful for taking a generic look at the release and it's operations or running a release in a separate instance such as Windows.

As far as I am concerned, the only true test is on the actual hardware. True, running it off of a USB comes close and is fine if the final destination is a USB but it does not test the operation from a hard drive.
Same here. :)
Only way to test the drivers....
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by wutsinterweb » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:58 pm

Yes, of course, but still:

For someone new to GNU/Linux, Desktop Environments, and finding out what they like, running VMs to "see" what things are like, and then running "live" and THEN installing and trying is a quick way. Most of you here have experience and knowledge and familiarity, a total noobie needs to start somewhere and a full install of every great distro out there will take up so much time it will prove to be an unsatisfactory experience.

Plus learning how to set up several VMs will give one vital experience that can help them.
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

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

Post by wutsinterweb » Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:04 pm

And the thing is, you guys pretty much know the different DEs and install manager systems. A Noobie might not even know how a start menu works in a given DE. Seeing how they look and feel is a good start to selecting. Sure, you want to know if the drivers will work, but first things first, learning how to drive is often better for many then learning how to rebuild an engine first. What if a noobie spends a couple hours downloading, formatting/burning, and then installing and finds out they hate the look, will they even want to go any further after that? Maybe I'm just methodical.
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

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

Post by Jim Hauser » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:10 pm

wutsinterweb wrote:And the thing is, you guys pretty much know the different DEs and install manager systems. A Noobie might not even know how a start menu works in a given DE. Seeing how they look and feel is a good start to selecting. Sure, you want to know if the drivers will work, but first things first, learning how to drive is often better for many then learning how to rebuild an engine first. What if a noobie spends a couple hours downloading, formatting/burning, and then installing and finds out they hate the look, will they even want to go any further after that? Maybe I'm just methodical.
Methodical works for me!

Just a quick tip: If you have Virtual Box (and possibly other virtual machines) you can skip the burning part and install directly into VB from an ISO on your drive. Then if you do not like the looks or something else just delete that particular VM and the ISO.

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

Post by BG405 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:50 pm

In my case, issues with drivers & hardware can be dealt with when it comes to installing on "bare metal".

My main use for VB is having a look at how various distros look and operate & also having easy access to different flavours of Mint in order to be able to help out on here. I don't have a lot of free hard drive space and don't have suitable "spare" machines to experiment with full installs on, so virtual machines are the answer. The machine I'm typing this on, for example, was last rebooted just over 110 days ago & the netbook a few weeks ago. Can't practically interrupt workflow to boot into other OSs on those machines.

The "experimental" Acer ES1 only has a 32GB eMMC so not enough space for multi-boot and gets used for more thorough testing of a "primary candidate" distro such as LM18.2 KDE (in the next few days, when I get round to it, LM18.3 KDE Beta). This will likely also see a full install of Neon in due course as I'll by then have another machine to play with. Neon probably being the eventual choice on the Acer ES1 as it is (and can be kept) leaner than Kubuntu + Neon repos etc..
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by curtvaughan » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:56 pm

Mint remains my desktop favorite. Since retiring a decade ago I've been running my various laptops - including my 11 year old MacBook Pro - exclusively on Linux distros: Mint of various DEs, LMDE2, Peppermint, Debian, Devuan, Refracta, Mageia, Manjaro, Antergos, Ubuntu, and Suse come to mind. Mint has by far the most helpful forum, which is a major up vote in its favor. I like experimenting with the Arch based distros and prefer Manjaro in that tree. It, too, has a nice forum, though not as friendly toward new users as Mint. Most of the Manjaro dev's are helpful and accessible when intelligently addressed. I never liked Ubuntu's Unity platform, and though they are moving away from it, they are now experiencing some serious stability issues with some BIOS corruption. I don't use Arch directly, but can nearly always find definitive tech advice on the Arch Wiki. Mint, though, is my hands up favorite - especially with the latest 18.3 release. Timeshift being included is quite cool!
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by Artim » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:04 pm

Here is a pretty good description of why there are so many Linux distributions. Differences are much more than just the graphical user interfaces and package management. "Which is best" is only a question of which is best for you. And knowing what's best for you depends on your own needs, goals, likes and dislikes, etc. Trial and error, I think, is the only way you really find out.

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

Post by lmuserx4849 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:00 am

jameskga wrote:... 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.
I am not a fan of linux desktop reviews either. They are imho fluff, not all, but a lot and do a disservice to a Linux Distribution's uniqueness.

You need to look under the hood a little :-)

The distributions are different on a software, packaging, security, application, customization, update, philosophical, leadership and community level.

All distro's are going to have the kernel, gnu utilities, display manager, window manager, desktop(s), and a different array of default applications. Those pieces have to be brought together to work. Each distro is configured, some more, some less, and differently, and for different purposes. Checkout Linux From Scratch Project and Beyond Linux From Scratch to see all the components that have to be brought together, compiled and patched. Each distro may have their own unique software. Take a gander at LM github .

Color schemes and fonts are mostly the desktop part of the distribution and linux is so much more. Desktops are generally going to function the same on any distribution. Appearance may be different and configuration could differ (i.e., turn a feature on/off by default).

The Linux environment is changing, so it may not be what it once was... good, bad, ymmv.

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

Post by Pjotr » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:09 am

All that distro hopping.... Been there, done that, ad nauseam. Or if you prefer German instead of Latin: zum Kotzen. :lol:

In the end, what's really important are stability, reliability, lots of goodies in the repo's, long term support, user-friendliness and adequate responsiveness to security issues. Mint has all that. Yay. :mrgreen:
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by BG405 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:55 pm

Pjotr wrote:In the end, what's really important are stability, reliability, lots of goodies in the repo's, long term support, user-friendliness and adequate responsiveness to security issues. Mint has all that. Yay. :mrgreen:
Agreed! Now, THAT is a big difference compared to some distros. It's also (IMO) trivially easy to set up and use, especially compared to Arch Linux etc.. Even Puppy needs a bit of knowledge to install on hard-disk as it involves a bit of messing with the pupsave configuration to get it to work properly.

Mint has the best collection of programs for most of my needs and likely everyone else who uses it, compared to some of the alternatives. Easy to install the ones which aren't included by default. Still, those programs you really need can (usually) be installed in the distro of your choice.
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Re: Are Linux distributions really so different from one another?

Post by mrjimphelps » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:26 pm

I have two computers -- one is really lame (2 GB of RAM, originally came with Vista), and the other has 4 GB of RAM and is about 1.5 years old.

The only distro of Linux which runs decently on my old computer is Linux Lite 32-bit. I have run the following on that computer, all 32-bit: Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Puppy, Mint xfce, and Lite. Mint xfce ran pretty well, but not quite well enough for daily use. But I could use this computer for daily use with Linux Lite 32-bit. Another thing: it seems everything except Lite crashed regularly on the old computer -- Puppy was the worst. But so far, no crashes with Lite, and I've been running it continually for over a week.

On my 4 GB computer, I run Mint 64-bit xfce. It runs very well. And Mint is supported by a whole community of developers. The main concern I have about Lite is that it appears to be supported by one guy. I'm probably wrong about that, but that's my impression. Therefore, I'll stick with Mint on my main computer, running Lite only on a really old, slow computer.

As far as running Linux Live (whatever distro) from a flash drive, it seems to me that that is a great way to run Linux. After all, a flash drive is a type of SSD, so it is likely faster than a mechanical hard drive. And it is extremely convenient to have each distro on its own flash drive, swapping and booting as desired. And backups should be really simple - just make a copy of the flash drive.

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

Post by Petermint » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:44 pm

@mrjimphelps, Pixel might work well on your old machine. https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pixel-pc-mac/
With more detail about the hardware, we could make a better recommendation. Probably should be a separate post about the hardware. Include the results of:

Code: Select all

inxi -Fxz

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

Post by mrjimphelps » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:55 pm

Pixel definitely looks like something that will revive an old PC. The article you linked to said it runs on an IBM Thinkpad X40 with at least 512 MB of RAM. When I read that, I thought, Why did I have to throw away all of those old PCs I have acquired over the years?

Yep, Pixel is definitely a candidate for Live Linux on a flash drive. Can't wait to try it out.

I'll post my hardware specs probably this evening.

Thanks for the info.

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

Post by Petermint » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:02 pm

The ARM version runs on a 1 GHz single core 256 MB Raspberry Pi.

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

Post by mrjimphelps » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:24 pm

Here are my hardware specs:

$ inxi -Fxz
System: Host: Jim-LinuxLite Kernel: 4.4.0-112-generic i686 (32 bit gcc: 5.4.0)
Desktop: Xfce 4.12.3 (Gtk 2.24.28) Distro: Ubuntu 16.04 xenial
Machine: System: Gateway product: W5243 v: 400
Mobo: ELITE model: MCP61SM-GM v: 1.0
Bios: Phoenix v: 6.00 PG date: 11/15/2007
CPU: Single core AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (-UP-) cache: 512 KB
flags: (lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 svm) bmips: 3616 speed/max: 1800/2400 MHz
Graphics: Card: NVIDIA C61 [GeForce 6100 nForce 405] bus-ID: 00:0d.0
Display Server: X.Org 1.18.4 drivers: nouveau (unloaded: fbdev,vesa)
Resolution: 1280x1024@60.02hz
GLX Renderer: NV4C
GLX Version: 2.1 Mesa 17.2.4 Direct Rendering: Yes
Audio: Card NVIDIA MCP61 High Definition Audio
driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:05.0
Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v: k4.4.0-112-generic
Network: Card: Realtek RTL-8100/8101L/8139 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter
driver: 8139too v: 0.9.28 port: cc00 bus-ID: 01:08.0
IF: enp1s8 state: unknown speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full
mac: <filter>
Drives: HDD Total Size: 250.1GB (3.3% used)
ID-1: /dev/sda model: ST3250310AS size: 250.1GB
Partition: ID-1: / size: 228G used: 6.0G (3%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda1
ID-2: swap-1 size: 2.01GB used: 0.15GB (7%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda5
RAID: No RAID devices: /proc/mdstat, md_mod kernel module present
Sensors: System Temperatures: cpu: 62.0C mobo: N/A
Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A
Info: Processes: 161 Uptime: 5 days Memory: 1149.4/1884.8MB
Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 5.4.0
Client: Shell (bash 4.3.481) inxi: 2.2.35

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

Post by Harfud » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:10 pm

I guess it depends what you're looking for in a distro.

I run five PCs at home and for most of them I want easiest use, I don't mind a bit more involvement on my main laptop but even there I'm not looking for too much work.

I've tried a number of distros and continue to try new ones now and then, but I always quickly float back to Mint for the easy life of it.

Four PCs here run Mint, my main laptop runs LMDE2, that suits me fine but I can see how those looking for more hands on involvement might find that not enough.

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