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Distro Roundup

I ran a distro review about 6 months ago, and I figure that now is as good a time as any to do a new review.

Some distros have done major upgrades, other only version upgrades, I'm going to just hit the high points with this roundup.

Red Hat 6.9

I was going to write off RH for this roundup since they were only on 6.2 (a stable version of 6.1) but then I got the 6.9 beta. 7.0 should be on the streets by the time you read this, and it will basically be the stable version of 6.9 beta. 6.9 is stable. I have it running on my main workstation and my laptop, both with zero problems. I was a Mandrake fan for some time, but with this one RH takes back the lead. Latest versions of everything (some libs are more current than those avail on rpmfind) and the 2.2.16 kernel. The installer is the same, though they threw a GUI on LILO (who knows why). I was really impressed with 3.05 of RPM, it is faster than 3.04 and complains less. I painlessly upgraded to kernel 2.4.20 and use it on the laptop as the default. You could get your RH 6.2 to essentially be 6.9 by installing several hundred new packages, but it's MUCH easier to do it this way. It even has a more current build of Gnome than helixcode.

Mandrake 7.1

Not much change since 7.1 except the installer is a bit more stable. Still a great distro, but I had problems upgrading packages (that may have been and rpm problem rather than a Mandrake problem, but I got my hands on RH 6.9 and decided to play with that instead). I will certainly be keeping my eye on them for their next release, as I suspect it will give RH a run for their money.

SuSe 6.4

7.0 just came out, so I may need to update this to reflect the changes in YAST etc. Overall I thought SuSe had the second best installer (Mandrake being the best) and was very user friendly. I can see why they are called the Red Hat of Europe. TONS of software comes with SuSe, though some features (such as updater) are not as intuitive as other distros. I plan on reviving one of my older pentium boxes as a SuSe box since I think it's a quite solid distro, but doesn't suit my needs quite as well as RH or Mandrake.

Corel 1.2

I saw Corel referred to as the "Windows of Linux" the other day, due to security problems. I tend to agree that Corel is not the distro for the serious user, but if you are new to Linux it is definitely your best bet for ease of use. 1.2 updates many packages and is more stable but other than that hasn't really changed much.

Slackware 7.0

Ah, Slackware. Can't beat Slack for powerhouse dev station or server. Unless you prefer Debian. 7.0 still uses the same installer and is very openly a "geek" distro. I use it for serious coding and MP3 server (RH is for graphics and general productivity)

Debian 2.2

Debian is suddenly on par with all the other distros (running 2.2.16)! My only complaint about Debian is that things are avail as rpm often long before they are avail as deb. I'm really impressed with it, and I will be putting onto my Slackware box (dual boot, natch). Installer is the same, packages are updated, nice solid distro for the hardcore.

Caldera 2.4

Caldera is a good distro, easy to install, has all the right packages to be THE business desktop, but somehow still manages to just miss. I can't put my finger on it, but it just doesn't grab me. Of course, it wouldn't be a bad idea to give it a shot, because it may be a perfect fit for someone else, just not me.

I also tried Stormix and Turbo Linux, neither of which cooperated at all in the installation. I finally got both to work (after trying three seperate machines) and was very disappointed in the results of all that hard work. Not that either was wildly different from RH/Mandrake/Slackware/SuSe, just that for all the extra work that went into it, I would expect something astounding. Much easier to give them a miss and go for one of the others.
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