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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Jim Hauser
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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..
Dell Inspiron 1525 - LM17.3 CE 64-------------------Acer D255E 2GB - LM17.3 KDE 32
Toshiba NB305 - LM17.3 Xfce 32---------------------K7S5A Athlon 1.2GHz - LM17.3 Xfce 32 & WinXP-Pro
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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.
Dell Inspiron 1525 - LM17.3 CE 64-------------------Acer D255E 2GB - LM17.3 KDE 32
Toshiba NB305 - LM17.3 Xfce 32---------------------K7S5A Athlon 1.2GHz - LM17.3 Xfce 32 & WinXP-Pro
Acer Aspire E11 ES1-111M - LM18.2 KDE 64 ----Dell PII 350 64MB - Puppy 4.3 & Win98-SE

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