Choosing Linux distribution

You're reading Mikko Saari's blog Life and opinions. This entry was written 10/14/2003, at 11:44.

If you want read more of my entries in the same topic, this entry belongs to the category of Geek stuff.

Previous entry: Birthday
Next entry: Lottery fraud

I'm probably installing Linux on my old computer at some point. I'm now pondering about selecting the distribution to use. Red Hat or Debian or something completely different? Opinions are welcome, as are pointers to interesting and useful articles about the issue.

Red Hat feels like a safer selection, with more support and easier use. In the other hand, Debian has some attracting points (mostly philosophical) too.

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Debian indeed has very attracting philosophical points. However to me they weren't attracting enough for me to make it through the initial setup (not just the install - that went almost fine, but my system was nowhere near ready after that). I'll probably try it again after a few years and hopefully more linux experience.

I currently have Mandrake (9.0) installed ( on my computer, and it seems to be quite good. At least the setup was really great, and I hear it's even betteri in the current version (9.1). The configuration tools also seem to be quite nice. I've only heard good comments about Mandrake.

However I have to say that I'm not curretly using my linux, because setting up the system (again not talking about the install) is still way too complex. For someone who likes to learn to use the system by actually _using_ the system, linux (installed and configured manually) (still) doesn't seem to be a good option. At least in my case I can't really use the system before I've learned to configure it. Then again, my requirements for being able to "use the system" might be a bit higher that average.

And also my computer is too slow for KDE (or Gnome), and I don't know how to use any other window manager, so that's quite a problem. Also I know of no good graphical file manager for linux.

Anyway, I wish you luck. Hopefully linux works out better for you than it has for me.

Posted by: Ilari Kajaste at October 15, 2003 2:49 PM

Well, the XFce claims to be a light window manager (you can try it at the CS department Linux class) and it at least seems to be fairly nice and easy to use. It also had Konqueror, which as far as I know is a competent file manager. So maybe you could try that?

How slow your computer is? I'm just curious if my 433 MHz Celeron will stand a chance...

It will, anyway, be a hobby project and a learning experience, not a usable computer, so I'm not afraid of little fiddling with the system.

Posted by: Mikko at October 15, 2003 2:58 PM

XFce does seem competent and really promising. I have indeed been using it in the CS department linux class, and I do like using it... but the problem with linux is that I don't know how to configure it - and installing a new window manager manually is indeed configuring. However I will probably try it at some point when I have time.

My computer is currently 333 MHz AMD (but I have also run it at 375), and from KDE's speed on my system I would estimate there to be some problems with 433 MHz, but probably still much better overall performance.

About file managers: In my experience, Konqueror feels much like bloatware - heavy, slow and screen-estate consuming.

I'd really like a file manager that is as fast and small as KDE's "quick browser" (or whatever it is called) - a small panel application to browse directories & files to run a program. XFce's small and light file manager is a bit better, but it also lacks much usability. Window 98's "my computer" file manager (with all useless options turned off) is what I'm looking for (hopefully with all of it's usability problems fixed also :). Though I don't much expect to find such a file manager for linux - it seems that people who would have the ability to write it simply prefer to use command-line (for some strange reasons), or write something that appeals to the standard user (Konqueror), not a power-user such as myself.

Posted by: Ilari at October 16, 2003 1:39 AM

Debian's a lot of work, so unless you're a major Linux hacker already (you prob wouldn't be asking if you were) you probably want to stick with Red Hat.

I'm kinda disappointed all around with the windows-ification of linux myself. I think Gnome over windows-ed itself, for instance and lost some good features (I want my edge-flipping back!), and the emacs that comes by default with Linux is the newer, graphical one. Ick.

Posted by: Stephen M at October 16, 2003 5:54 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?