What other distros have you played with recently?

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MintBean
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What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintBean » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:49 am

At Lucap's request, I'm spinning this discussion out from another thread.

Myself I've been playing with Antergos which is give-or-take a graphical installer for the Arch rolling release distribution. I'm seeing a lot to like, although I doubt I'll leave Mint behind. It's more something to play with at this stage.

Likes:
-Install Arch without the notorious command line hardship.
-It has a novel feature allowing you to select a bunch of software options prior to installation:
.Desktop (Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, Gnome, XFCE)
.Web browser
.Bluetooth, printer support, firewall, printer support, proprietary gfx drivers
-Once the installer is done, the system is fully up to date out of the box
-You can try the different desktops from the live installer
-Seems a bit snappier than Mint with the Cinnamon desktop. I'm putting this down to the lack of a Ubuntu base.

Dislikes:
-A bit of work to get all the extras installed and configured, but it does allow you to 'have it your way'
-I don't think I would ever trust it for a production machine as much as Mint.

Overall, worth a look if you're an intermediate or better user looking for something to play with.

So what other distros have you been looking at?

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Fred Barclay » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:18 pm

I just spent almost a month with Arch as my main distro, so...
Pros:
- It's fast! Bootup was so much faster than Mint/LMDE, and the system didn't bog down as much either. I don't think this would have been as noticeable with a newer, more powerful computer, but since mine is older I could definitely tell a difference.
- Possibly the greatest Linux wiki in existence, all tailored to the exact distro I'm using (so no "translating" from Arch to Mint needed).
- Latest version of everything. I don't have to add backports to get the latest LibreOffice, for instance.
- KISS philosophy. I didn't have anything on my machine I didn't need.
- Python 3 is the default python!

Neutral:
- I've installed Arch probably a dozen times over the years (mostly for short-lived experiments) and I've taken good notes, so while installation doesn't phase me anymore it is daunting for first-timers. It does at least an hour before I can get a useable desktop. (I could probably write a script to do everything for me and save a lot of time, but I like seeing what's happening.)
- The AUR is awesome, but it also presents a security risk for careless users or a user who's having a bad day and makes a careless mistake. Anyone can upload anything to it, and the process for source code reviews was (in my very humble opinion) needlessly complicated.

Cons:
- Latest version of everything. Particuarly, the kernel update to 4.9 broke my wireless. Luckily there is also a linux-lts kernel that was easy to downgrade to.
- Not as much security vetting as Debian/Ubuntu/Mint. Arch does have security announcements (I don't know if they have a dedicated security team as does Debian), but the updates are the very latest code and an accidental security flaw could slip through more easily than it could for Debian, IMHO. That being said, frequent updates means that code is fixed pretty quickly.
- I never did get my printer to work. :(
- Gnome-keyring also was a little weird but that was probably my fault.


I was going to stay with Arch longer, but I really missed the Debian ecosystem, so I'm now rolling Debian Stable with Xfce.
Arch is definitely a great distro and something I'd be comfortable using as my main OS too.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by austin.texas » Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:54 pm

I installed Ubuntu Mate 16.04.1 a few days ago, to take a look. I didn't spend a lot of time with it, but I discovered something that I really liked. In the log in window, you can chose to start a "Guest Session" - which turns out to be a "kiosk" mode session. I thought that was pretty cool. It could be useful for banking transactions and such - no history.
I don't care for the old style menu - but I know I can upgrade that...
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintBean » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:03 pm

Thanks Fred, that's a very useful overview, especially as that's what I'm playing with at the moment. Found a couple more niggles.

Installing xplayer caused graphical problems on some media websites making them unusable.
VLC didn't work out of the box. It was an easy fix of installing a dependency and a quick search of the forums turned up the answer, but a package not automatically grabbing its dependencies is a bug and whilst I expect Arch to be a bit more hands-on, I'm a little disappointed that something as mainstream as VLC hasn't been fixed in the repos.

What's the big attraction of the Debian ecosystem? Genuine question as my experience with it is no more than an hour playing with MX-16 (which is worth checking out, BTW).

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintBean » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:08 pm

Austin,

I started with Ubuntu a few years back. Just find the desktop too limited, although I'm sure it could be made more usable with extensions.

The guest account sounds good and there's a way to add it in Mint. Not tried it myself, and take heed of the disclaimer.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Fred Barclay » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:32 pm

MintBean wrote:What's the big attraction of the Debian ecosystem? Genuine question as my experience with it is no more than an hour playing with MX-16 (which is worth checking out, BTW).
Well, when I say "Debian ecosystem", I mean Debian & it's derivatives (so Mint, Ubuntu, LMDE...) :)

I just understand the way .deb files work better than Arch's .pkg.tar.gz files. Plus, it seems like every package maintainer and his brother provides .debs, while in Arch if it's not in the repos or in the AUR you're out of luck unless you want to build it yourself. (Even on Debian/Mint, I do end up building packages myself a lot of the time with dpkg-buildpackage)
I also liked dpkg/apt better than pacman.

It's all really a matter of training and habits. If I'd started out with Manjaro instead of Mint I'm sure I'd prefer Arch's way of doing things today. But since Mint was my intro to Linux, I'm more comfortable with Debian or a Debian-based distro.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by samriggs » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:56 pm

While I need Mint and usage of debs for my work station and stability for it, my next favorite for speed and just cause it's fun, is Arch or Antergos for the less headache install, but I still like pure Arch better.
The only reason I don't use it as my main workstation is because of stability for what I need, I cannot afford breakages on updates and don't have that much time to go searching for fixes.
I was worried about krita 3 and the slowness on mint using it but that seems to have been fixed now, I was tempted there for a minute to have the new toy cause the upgrade is too good not to use.
As far as building packages from scratch I got used to doing that when I used arch alot so that was no big deal for me and I rather do that a lot of times then use AUR although AUR is great also.

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by jimallyn » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:43 am

MintBean wrote:What's the big attraction of the Debian ecosystem? Genuine question as my experience with it is no more than an hour playing with MX-16
Debian just does things right. Years ago I bought a copy of "The Rute User's Guide to Linux" (or something like that), and throughout the book the author would say, "Well, Red Hat does it this way, and Gentoo does it that way, but as usual, Debian has come up with the most elegant solution to this problem" and then explain the Debian solution and why it was the best.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Lucap » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:21 am

I'm busy and not had a chance to try Antergos yet but it wouldn't surprise me that it's a lot faster as every distro i've tried with Ubuntu base feels slower than all the others.

( apart from PcLinuxOS running KDE was as slow as a fat man running in Flip Flops ).

I've seen people claim that Ubuntu is sluggish for stability but that makes no sense as all the faster Distros are just as stable.

I don't mind using SystemD and have no interest in the ongoing argument over it but i must admit the Distros that don't run it like Devuan and MX linux seem to boot and run the faster without it. ( apart from PcLinuxOS )

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintBean » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:40 am

Thanks guys for the responses.

@samriggs: What's the advantage of pure Arch over Antergos? My understanding was that I pretty much end up with Arch and a small extra repo after installing it.

@Lucap: I too feel Ubuntu is becoming increasingly sluggish and don't see any good reason why it needed to become so. My gut feeling is that they're so focussed on device convergence that they're either getting sloppy or neglecting other areas. It wouldn't be too bad if it was only the desktop but it seems to be affecting downstream distros.

One more killer feature of Antergos I really enjoyed- I can surf the net in the live system whilst it installs! Not since invade-a-load hit the C64 have my novelty receptors been so stimulated!

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Lemongrass38 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:09 pm

I've tried TAILS not so long ago.

Pros:
- it can be used to use a computer without leaving traces on it.
- it's really privacy-focused
- completely portable

Cons:
- as it's aim is to use a computer without leaving traces, it wasn't very obvious for me how to change the files on the hard drive when I wanted to (I wanted to repair my brother's computer with it, then created a live Mint USB from the live TAILS)
- completely portable: you can't install many things in it, it's capped by the USB's storage size
Fred Barclay wrote:I'm now rolling Debian Stable with Xfce.
I was thinking about trying Debian Xfce as my main distro. Could you give a few experiences or compare this with Mint Xfce in a few words? :) The main aspects of comparison, that I would like to know a bit more about is stability, security and speed. As I heard, Debian gets security updates even faster than Mint.

I thought I should switch to Xfce because when I use my CAD software in my Windows 10 VM (x64), i really need every bit of my computer. I don't really need eye candy, I really would like to use a faster DE.

Right now I have Cinnamon, which is really cool (like 2 sided view and Spotify support for screen lock), but I want my computer as speedy as possible, so my next DE will be probably something even lighter.

TIP for every cross-distro people out there:
I've just found that DuckDuckGo can search the Debian packages directly with the bang !dpkg and Ubuntu packages with !up. And for other distros: you can search among bangs with the bang !bang and search for another distro-specific bang.
If your issue is solved, please be so kind and indicate that by editing the topic title in the first post. :)

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Fred Barclay » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:46 pm

Lemongrass38 wrote: I was thinking about trying Debian Xfce as my main distro. Could you give a few experiences or compare this with Mint Xfce in a few words? :) As I heard, Debian gets security updates even faster than Mint.
Sure, of course. Though I haven't used "normal" Mint since 17.1 (and only that for a few weeks)... I've used LMDE 1 and 2 for most of the past 2 years. :mrgreen:

I think Debian and LMDE get security updates about the same time. I don't know if normal Mint takes any longer???

Installation isn't as simple for Debian as for LMDE/Mint, but it's not very difficult either. I just used the "netinst" iso and installed the basic utils, print server, and Xfce DE when prompted. My wifi card wasn't recognized at first so I had to use a wired connection and then install the firmware-realtek package from the repos -- really not a big deal.

The biggest difference I noticed is an insanely fast boot. LMDE took a minute to boot on my computer, and Debian takes only about 20 seconds.
There's also Firefox-ESR in the Debian repos, while Mint gets the latest Firefox, and Iceweasel instead of Thunderbird. I just added Betsy's repos, apt-pinned so they had low priority, and installed Thunderbird directly from them. If you do this, you will definitely want to apt pin Betsy's repos or you'll get some package conflicts.

There's no Update Manager in Debian like in Mint (though I've forked it for Debian... still alpha quality).

Icons and themes are uglier for default Debian Xfce than for Mint Xfce but it takes 5 minutes or less to change that. :)

You still get lots of goodies for Debian, like Spotify, the Arc Theme (which the Mint-Y theme is based one), Atom, Google Chrome, LibreOffice, and so on.

Stability is awesome! I haven't had a single stability issue yet (except gufw and I have a love-hate relationship... ufw works fine though.) In the past two or so weeks of using Debian, I haven't had a single system freeze.
Then again, LMDE was also super stable (even more than normal Mint, IMHO).

Security is really what you make of it, but Debian is as good as Mint. Maybe even better, since you can't (easily) add PPAs...

Boot speed is faster since there's not as many extra packages to load (unless you manually install 'em), but the whole system seems a bit snappier too and it doesn't bog down as easily. It's more noticeable on this old laptop -- if I had a newer, more powerful machine I'm not sure I would notice the difference.

It's definitely worth a try in my opinion. It's free, after all... :)
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Lemongrass38 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:02 pm

Thanks, Fred. :) Cool comparison.

This endorsed me to try Debian Xfce. Especially because I like to fine-tune my systems to be faster, more secure and automated (I've written a ftp-checker bash script to check my University's ftp folder, do you think it makes a sense to upload it to GitHub? It's so simple, there's surely something similar already there). I'll make a 30...40 GB partition for that and try it. I'm especially interested to see that fast boot. I've tried it in Virtualbox, seems cool so far. A lot of time can be achieved by just adding 40 seconds... :)

But first I need to transfer my Windows 10 VM in 1 GB tarballs to my brother's computer to save it for the possible case of data loss after a thorough use of gparted.

As for manual driver install, I'm fine, that's not a great deal. :)

When I have spent a little time with Debian Xfce, I share my experiences here.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintyO » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:14 pm

I have LMDE2, and 18.1 with Cinnamon and have briefly used Debian (basically slowly added to it to make it more usable for everyday need... then noticed I was making LMDE :lol: ). On my hardware with same drivers and whatnot in all of them, Debian was the lightest and "snappiest", LMDE pretty much the same but noticeably different at the same time if it makes sense, regular Mint is a resource hog in comparison.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintBean » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:31 pm

MintyO wrote:I have LMDE2, and 18.1 with Cinnamon and have briefly used Debian (basically slowly added to it to make it more usable for everyday need... then noticed I was making LMDE :lol: )
Haha! Basically found myself doing likewise and recreating 'Mint' on top of an Arch base then wondering if it was worth the effort when I can just use the original. Still nice to have a prepared escape vector should Ubuntu ever really screw things up (probable).

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Fred Barclay » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:33 pm

Lemongrass38 wrote:I've written a ftp-checker bash script to check my University's ftp folder, do you think it makes a sense to upload it to GitHub? It's so simple, there's surely something similar already there
Why not? The point of open-source (in my opinion) isn't necessarily wondering if someone has done the same thing or done it better (there will always be someone who can do it better than you :)), but to just do the best you can with something and see if it helps someone else.

I for one am interested in seeing this script. I'm not splendid with bash, and reading source code is one of my favourite techniques to learn a new language or pick up on skills.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by JerryF » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:59 pm

To start off, I've been a Windows user since ver. 3.11---long time ago. :shock:

I started with Ubuntu a couple of years back. Didn't like it.
I then tried Mint and loved it.
Others were Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, and recently Linux Lite which is a nice alternative to Linux Mint if you have very old components or limited computer resources.

I'm a Mint guy now!
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by tdockery97 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:16 pm

Recently gave Maui Linux a go to compare with Mint KDE. Maui devs do a pretty nice job. It's a nice and stable. But...so is Mint 18.1 KDE. Really no reason at all to use any other KDE distro than mint since Clem has made sure that we can run the latest plasma version with good stability.
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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by Lucap » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:56 am

JerryF wrote:Others were Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, and recently Linux Lite which is a nice alternative to Linux Mint if you have very old components or limited computer resources.
If Porteus Cinnamon 64 was more newbie friendly then that would be my daily driver as it's only 272MB in size but using Modules is confusing.

If you want to try it.

http://ftp.nluug.nl/os/Linux/distr/port ... 4/current/

Porteus-CINNAMON-v3.2.2-x86_64.iso

when you boot to desktop open console then type su followed by the password toor then use update-firefox to get a browser.

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Re: What other distros have you played with recently?

Post by MintBean » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:08 pm

So my experiment with Antergos is over. I basically managed to get it set up to my liking, but as I will never trust the system as much as I trust Mint I began thinking, 'what's the point of this?' The only advantage I could come up with was access to the extensive Arch User Repository, but as I pretty much have all the software I want I don't see it as a substantial bonus and it's outweighed by the aforementioned concern that an update could cause grief at some stage. Plus there's almost always a PPA or .deb I can get hold of if something isn't in the Mint repos.

Ended up nuking the partition to stop myself wasting any more time with it. It was a fun experiment while it lasted...

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