We're not in Ubuntu Anymore: The Linux Distros You've (Probably) Never Heard About Before

Athlonite

Posts: 269   +96
Mint + Cinnamon if you're tired of making sure you have every little dependency for programs to run then use Flat Packs they contain everything needed for each program
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,741   +5,185
I agree, but there's some caveats here I'd like to throw out, hear me out: Linux and any of the distros are overall very technical if and only if you are only looking at the perspective of a current, inexperienced-to-experienced windows user.

If you're not familiar at all with computers and you don't have to deal with the traps Microsoft laid out to keep users in Windows like monopolizing and taking over the boot process, then someone fully unfamiliar with computers would probably have less and not more issues with something like Ubuntu: Installer if you have a blank ssd or hard drive is fairly fool proof, far shorter than Windows.

After you're in you press a button, type like you want like "Images" or "Internet" or "email" or "files"and it just comes up with the thing you're looking for. It used to be that it would probably fail when running some of your favorite games and Windows apps but nowdays, if you want excel you can just use the browser version (If you need more, you know you need more and you're a Windows user from before) and if you want games you should just click "Lutris" (Which honestly desperately needs a better name, but I digress) search your game, click install and it mostly works.

If you have used Windows before, either as a hobby or for your job and you know your way around enough things, you know enough that you need to un-learn. This is almost everybody: it's you, me, likely anyone reading a tech site like this one knows enough Windows to install and uninstall stuff, kill tasks on the task manager, change important settings, even check and reinstall drivers on device manager, troubleshoot nerworking stuff on those menus still from like the XP era that Windows never updates to switch to manual DNS, static IP, etc.

For those people then absolutely, everything you said is true: Moving to Linux will eat up a lot of your time. But it's not that Linux is inherently complicated: Windows is often far more complicated. We just had like 10 to 20 years of constantly using Windows so you've learned to deal with it by now and if any OS does anything different, it will seem super complicated to you.

It's not, it's just a non-windows way to do things. But that's enough to have this reputation of being an inscrutable nerd OS.

Also last point: the Linux community overall doesn't helps with this "nerd OS" image with their abrasive attitude and outright gate keeping. Worst part of Linux to me it's the user base but hey, to me that's true of any OS.
I've been using openSuSE for many years and I find it excellent. I'm in that knowledgeable user category, and I currently use it for my home network's router, DNS, DHCP server, NTP server, firewall, Samba server, and storage server, however, I do think that from the simplicity of setup, users much less knowledgeable than I would be able to successfully set it up and have it connect to their home router and be up and running with little, if any, difficulty.

Updates/Upgrades are generally super stable from my experience much more so than Windohs 10 updates.

Any bugs that I have reported have generally been fixed without so much as a peep of a complaint from the users in the user forums.

That said, there have been a few high and mighty types in the forums, however, there has always been someone who responds that is more than helpful without being a jerk.

For example, I recently cloned my system drive to a new, larger, SSD. In the cloning process, the drive ID for my swap drive got switched to a new guid. This prevented the system from booting except in recovery mode. I posted about this to the user forums, and while a few people responded that I should have done this and that, one exceptionally knowledgeable user responded with clear and concise instructions on how to edit the boot entries to replace the swap drive's UUID in the boot script with the swap drive UUID on the new drive - and all this without any hint of a condescending attitude.

IMO, the documentation is also first-rate.

Personally, I would recommend openSuSE to anyone - even those just looking for a PC to browse the internet and check e-mail, though as my usage shows, it is a far more capable OS. I'm running it on an AMD Kabini based PC (Athlon 5350 AM1 socket (35W-tdp)) with a true-hardware based raid controller. Also, IIRC, when I went to that platform, I did so just by putting my existing drive into the rig, and, somewhat to my surprise, everything just worked. The switch of hardware platforms never would have worked with Windohs for sure.

EDIT: One thing about openSuSE - it was bought by Novell a few years back and the enterprise version - which can be installed by a home user - is supported by Novell which then gets pushed down to the non-enterprise version. This is not unlike Red Hat and I think this is a major contribution to the stability of openSuSE.

It also uses and supports the RPM packaging system for installing programs and that for the most part, takes care of dependency issues for software packages.
 
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quadibloc

Posts: 324   +211
Why would "too many distros" even be an issue?
To me, there is one obvious reason: there might be some software you want to use that is available for some other distro, but not the one you're using. Except for software specifically made for one or the other distribution, there really are only two places where that's an issue:
Programs made for either KDE or for GNOME.
Programs available for a particular package manager. Here, too, for the main stream of Linux, the number had been two: Debian or Red Hat, so it was apt_get versus rpm.
So if there were 200 distros instead of 100 distros, that wouldn't make things worse.
The issue is nowhere near as bad as different floppy disk formats had been for CP/M.
However, there is also a second reason why "too many distros" is an issue, even if it's a less major one. A step-by-step illustrated guide to "how to use Linux" could actually only be for a particular distro - whereas there is only one Windows, and only one MacOS that is the current one at a given time. Oops, OS X. Or whatever they're calling it now.
 

ma3mool

Staff
Loved this article! Great view of the Linux landscape!

Coming from a Gentoo (seriously, install gentoo!) and Ubuntu Mate user
 
.. Since early 1990's with old computers in remote locations ...I have enjoyed many flavors and distros of Linux. Sometimes with several distros installed for exploration. Thank you all for making this possible.
.. From the command line only OS to fancy dancer desktops it has been fun ...and enlightening.
.. I've never had a new computer nor a sportscar. Before laptops I would load the old desktop into the farm truck and drive it to town, plug it in wherever I was occupied, and download stuff. Currently, my newest is an old ASUS U52F. $60 used, these days, with it's i3 and 4 gigs of memory.
.. Times are changing. Same laptop but with a T-Mobile unlimited ...we can watch movies and download another Linux OS in just a few minutes ...at the same time!
..
My wife, not into computer geeking, runs beautiful and reliable Linux Mint. I ran Mint for a few years, then changed to MX Linux 17, 18, and 19 with Xfce, and now 21 with Xfce and a second install with Fluxbox. The KDE installs with such cute visuals bogged down my old laptop.
..
.. Installing Home on a different partition than Root makes the changes easier.
.. Then I discovered MX Linux 19.3 “patito feo”, AV Linux 2021.05.22. Some of the audio and video tools this one brings I've not seen previously.
.. Similarly, special distros built on standard distros exist for different sciences, mapping, artistry, and so on.
..The above is an example, one of hundreds, from which the User can access programs that are not easily found, much less accessed on the core distro repositories
.. You can buy the finest equipment, hardware ...and install the fanciest fun desktop. Cool cubes, fun visuals. Impressive ya-dee-yahz!. However, that is not the easy way to access some very specialized software and benefit from many years of hard work by dedicated enthusiasts.
..
.. Again, thank you all..:- )
.. It depends on what you want to do.
.. I like 4-wheel drive roads and dependable access. Depending on the snow, we might use a sled this winter to get the groceries home.
.. I like Linux!
 

paul1122

Posts: 187   +180
Linux is great as a media server or server, but you install the desktop and it's fun for about a week, then you realize the work you have to put into making simple things happen like gpu drivers and games. That's where the 'too many versions' guys and 'tell me where the linux hurt you guys' abruptly split.
 

dangh

Posts: 326   +464
Linux is great as a media server or server, but you install the desktop and it's fun for about a week, then you realize the work you have to put into making simple things happen like gpu drivers and games.
hmm, it is actually out of the box. I simply install Steam, Proton, and that's it. But yeah, waiting for new steam os to forget about Proton as well;)
 
After years of Ubuntu, happy user of Manjaro+XFCE+Steam. Proton literally closed a major gap with Windows. Linux rocks, so it is hard by nature ;-)
 
hmm, it is actually out of the box. I simply install Steam, Proton, and that's it. But yeah, waiting for new steam os to forget about Proton as well;)

There always seems to be this circle I find myself in with people who love Linux as their desktop.
They always seem to think Linux works exactly the same on all hardware. (It doesn't)
They seem to think one piece of software solves all their problems. (It doesn't)

Happened with Wine, now it's Proton. I love linux for servers and programming, been using it for 15 years. However, it takes 3 days to setup as a desktop, generally, because you're tweaking things, finding drivers that work with x version of y software. Then, after about a week, you end up installing Windows again. Then they ask "How long ago did you use Linux?" I say "Probably last year as a desktop" and they say "Well, your opinion is uneducated then", then you tell them you went through the whole process, installing, tinkering, setting up and every game didn't work, the FPS was horrid, or some other problem. Then they miraculously disappear, but they make sure to leave a dislike or some stupid comment like "It works for me, therefore you're wrong" and then skip along merrily like they won some contest.
 

Geralt

Posts: 811   +1,227
There always seems to be this circle I find myself in with people who love Linux as their desktop.
They always seem to think Linux works exactly the same on all hardware. (It doesn't)
They seem to think one piece of software solves all their problems. (It doesn't)

Happened with Wine, now it's Proton. I love linux for servers and programming, been using it for 15 years. However, it takes 3 days to setup as a desktop, generally, because you're tweaking things, finding drivers that work with x version of y software. Then, after about a week, you end up installing Windows again. Then they ask "How long ago did you use Linux?" I say "Probably last year as a desktop" and they say "Well, your opinion is uneducated then", then you tell them you went through the whole process, installing, tinkering, setting up and every game didn't work, the FPS was horrid, or some other problem. Then they miraculously disappear, but they make sure to leave a dislike or some stupid comment like "It works for me, therefore you're wrong" and then skip along merrily like they won some contest.
My same experience. Better to stay in Windows.
 

DjoCoeur

Posts: 44   +28
The best thing with Linux is that you get to download all the programs most people need for free, and it's all updated along the the system updates.

With Windows and MacOs, most people download pirated software because it would cost a fortune otherwise, and it's a pain to update separately all the apps and drivers.
 

TechZel

Posts: 14   +17
There always seems to be this circle I find myself in with people who love Linux as their desktop.
They always seem to think Linux works exactly the same on all hardware. (It doesn't)
They seem to think one piece of software solves all their problems. (It doesn't)

Happened with Wine, now it's Proton. I love linux for servers and programming, been using it for 15 years. However, it takes 3 days to setup as a desktop, generally, because you're tweaking things, finding drivers that work with x version of y software. Then, after about a week, you end up installing Windows again. Then they ask "How long ago did you use Linux?" I say "Probably last year as a desktop" and they say "Well, your opinion is uneducated then", then you tell them you went through the whole process, installing, tinkering, setting up and every game didn't work, the FPS was horrid, or some other problem. Then they miraculously disappear, but they make sure to leave a dislike or some stupid comment like "It works for me, therefore you're wrong" and then skip along merrily like they won some contest.

Yep, this is pretty much my experience. I work with RHEL servers daily in my job, I run a couple of Pis at home as well as an Ubuntu web server running in the cloud. I'm not exactly a stranger to Linux. But for desktop I just can't. After a long day I do not want to have to continue to troubleshoot problems just to play a game. I also don't want to deal with the Linux desktop elitists who are perfectly friendly until you have any kind of criticism, and then get defensive and toxic.

If you're lucky your problems will be met with "oh that's an easy fix, you just do this" followed by command line instructions, git repo downloads etc. Not difficult for me, but alien and scary to a casual user. And while the issues individually might not be difficult to fix, it becomes death by a thousand cuts on a personal machine that I just want to work and not think about it. That or I'll run into a huge dealbreaker of an issue, like straight up not being able to get a GUI because the graphics driver was so borked which did happen to me with one distro/DE combo.
 

mrSister

Posts: 44   +46
For general desktop use, all the distros one should consider are, in no specific order, Debian, Ubuntu, Open Suse, Arch, Fedora and CentOS/Rocky/Alma. These are distros backed by big stable dev teams or big companies that won't get discontinued overnight.

Everything else is just redundant and can disappear without any notice.
 

sorten

Posts: 88   +133
I pass for desktop. On my server I use Centos, obviously.
Still using CentOS after the EOL announcement? I recall it was THE secure distro to use if you didn't want to pay for RHEL, but was wondering where companies were planning to go after that change.
 

Ben Myers

Posts: 162   +65
Not mentioning Mint in the article is an insult to a popular distro. Bootable Mint USB sticks accompany me on my travels for all manner of useful tasks.
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 325   +574
Still using CentOS after the EOL announcement? I recall it was THE secure distro to use if you didn't want to pay for RHEL, but was wondering where companies were planning to go after that change.
It's not EOL but it became more of a rolling distro. It still tracks major Red Hat releases but allows more up to date software. Though far less bleeding edge than Fedora.

Rocky Linux is probably the most common free debranded Red Hat now.
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 325   +574
Linux is great as a media server or server, but you install the desktop and it's fun for about a week, then you realize the work you have to put into making simple things happen like gpu drivers and games. That's where the 'too many versions' guys and 'tell me where the linux hurt you guys' abruptly split.
It really gets better all the time.

On Debian based distros you basically just add an external repository once (like, say, graphics-drivers) - or even just have one added automatically when you install certain software, like Chrome or Steam. And from that moment on that software is kept up to date along with everything else.
Other distros provide similar unified methods.

I find that system is much more convenient than the situation on Windows, where applications provide all sorts of update methods of their own.
 

bravesgood

Posts: 24   +33
Linux is great as a media server or server, but you install the desktop and it's fun for about a week, then you realize the work you have to put into making simple things happen like gpu drivers and games. That's where the 'too many versions' guys and 'tell me where the linux hurt you guys' abruptly split.

This has been exactly my experience too. I've tried Linux mint every few years to see if I can get off Windows. Literally a week later I'm reinstalling Windows.. Just can't stand the hours of googling trying to get my sound card to work, or why the laptop trackpad feels so terrible in linux. Definitely makes me appreciate the good things about windows that most people take for granted.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,857   +1,914
Ah yes, simply stating an argument is weak. The weakest of answers.
"Too many different kinds of cars. It's impossible for me to buy one and use it."

Automatic transmission = Windows (mainstream)
Manual transmission = Desktop Linux (niche and on a steady decline)
 
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I agree, but there's some caveats here I'd like to throw out, hear me out: Linux and any of the distros are overall very technical if and only if you are only looking at the perspective of a current, inexperienced-to-experienced windows user.

If you're not familiar at all with computers and you don't have to deal with the traps Microsoft laid out to keep users in Windows like monopolizing and taking over the boot process, then someone fully unfamiliar with computers would probably have less and not more issues with something like Ubuntu: Installer if you have a blank ssd or hard drive is fairly fool proof, far shorter than Windows.

After you're in you press a button, type like you want like "Images" or "Internet" or "email" or "files"and it just comes up with the thing you're looking for. It used to be that it would probably fail when running some of your favorite games and Windows apps but nowdays, if you want excel you can just use the browser version (If you need more, you know you need more and you're a Windows user from before) and if you want games you should just click "Lutris" (Which honestly desperately needs a better name, but I digress) search your game, click install and it mostly works.

If you have used Windows before, either as a hobby or for your job and you know your way around enough things, you know enough that you need to un-learn. This is almost everybody: it's you, me, likely anyone reading a tech site like this one knows enough Windows to install and uninstall stuff, kill tasks on the task manager, change important settings, even check and reinstall drivers on device manager, troubleshoot nerworking stuff on those menus still from like the XP era that Windows never updates to switch to manual DNS, static IP, etc.

For those people then absolutely, everything you said is true: Moving to Linux will eat up a lot of your time. But it's not that Linux is inherently complicated: Windows is often far more complicated. We just had like 10 to 20 years of constantly using Windows so you've learned to deal with it by now and if any OS does anything different, it will seem super complicated to you.

It's not, it's just a non-windows way to do things. But that's enough to have this reputation of being an inscrutable nerd OS.

Also last point: the Linux community overall doesn't helps with this "nerd OS" image with their abrasive attitude and outright gate keeping. Worst part of Linux to me it's the user base but hey, to me that's true of any OS.
I agree, but there's some caveats here I'd like to throw out, hear me out: Linux and any of the distros are overall very technical if and only if you are only looking at the perspective of a current, inexperienced-to-experienced windows user.

If you're not familiar at all with computers and you don't have to deal with the traps Microsoft laid out to keep users in Windows like monopolizing and taking over the boot process, then someone fully unfamiliar with computers would probably have less and not more issues with something like Ubuntu: Installer if you have a blank ssd or hard drive is fairly fool proof, far shorter than Windows.

After you're in you press a button, type like you want like "Images" or "Internet" or "email" or "files"and it just comes up with the thing you're looking for. It used to be that it would probably fail when running some of your favorite games and Windows apps but nowdays, if you want excel you can just use the browser version (If you need more, you know you need more and you're a Windows user from before) and if you want games you should just click "Lutris" (Which honestly desperately needs a better name, but I digress) search your game, click install and it mostly works.

If you have used Windows before, either as a hobby or for your job and you know your way around enough things, you know enough that you need to un-learn. This is almost everybody: it's you, me, likely anyone reading a tech site like this one knows enough Windows to install and uninstall stuff, kill tasks on the task manager, change important settings, even check and reinstall drivers on device manager, troubleshoot nerworking stuff on those menus still from like the XP era that Windows never updates to switch to manual DNS, static IP, etc.

For those people then absolutely, everything you said is true: Moving to Linux will eat up a lot of your time. But it's not that Linux is inherently complicated: Windows is often far more complicated. We just had like 10 to 20 years of constantly using Windows so you've learned to deal with it by now and if any OS does anything different, it will seem super complicated to you.

It's not, it's just a non-windows way to do things. But that's enough to have this reputation of being an inscrutable nerd OS.

Also last point: the Linux community overall doesn't helps with this "nerd OS" image with their abrasive attitude and outright gate keeping. Worst part of Linux to me it's the user base but hey, to me that's true of any OS.
I fully agree. I would like add. I grew up on windows. I started on windows 3.1.The version before 95. I used Dos before that. Windows made everything so much easier then......... That was then. The newer versions came out. My favorite applications stopped working had to get new ones. Then I had to pay. The availability of learning information and applications on windows started becoming scarce. Then came gaming. I loved gaming. Then I realized that I was no longer learning. When I started in DOS, everyday I was learning. Everyday I was excited. Now when I log onto my computer it was just to play a game. It became boring. Don't get me wrong I love games. But, I was not learning. Then a computer school mate of mine introduced me to Linux. Red hat to be exact. Then I found out that there was a whole lot of Linux distributions out there. My desktop modem was not working on Redhat and my laptop sound card was not working on Mandrake. But I used them dual boot with windows for 10 years. Then Windows 7 came out. I was now unable to play half of my games. That pissed me off. Then what is it with all these updates that I have to keep rebooting for. Then I read a review where a gentleman had 2 daughters. He grew up one on Ubuntu and the other on Windows. After 5 years he switched them. Each started complaining after 2 weeks. Then it dawned on me. You must clear your mind and system of all the old ways and start afresh. That I did. I went all out no dual boot. Ubuntu, then Kubuntu, xubuntu, lubuntu, then Debian with KDE. My Country runs on Windows. Yes there is and will be a learning curve which I enjoy. Learning to do stuff. But inefficient....... not at all. When those windows machines crashes and they cannot print, I just plug in my laptop to their printer and voila my work is complete will every one else is scampering to get their systems fixed. And believe me those crashes are numerous. People refuse to learn and want everything done for them. No offense intended. If we are patient and take the time to learn we will reap and enjoy the benefits. I have been using debian now for over 15 years and have not looked back since. Every time I by a windows laptop within 24 hours it is converted to debian. I am now learning programming and other stuff. I have used my knowledge to make my home experience more efficient and pleasant for myself and my family and I share my experience and knowledge with anyone who wants to learn. I have repaired systems for friends who were told that they have to get new computers because the one they had was not compatible or not powerful enough to run the latest windows. When I am finished with them they would be surprised at how their 'dead' system would run. I will stop here. My point is if we are not willing to learn how can we understand and see the benefits that the Linux community speaks about. Some may think Linux is dead or dying. Linux is growing bigger and better everyday. Most of us are using it even now and don't even know it. So learn and become better at what you do. I would like to thank you all for your time and consideration and hard work that all of you in the Linux community do each and every day to make this community the greatest community of all.
 

Geralt

Posts: 811   +1,227
I fully agree. I would like add. I grew up on windows. I started on windows 3.1.The version before 95. I used Dos before that. Windows made everything so much easier then......... That was then. The newer versions came out. My favorite applications stopped working had to get new ones. Then I had to pay. The availability of learning information and applications on windows started becoming scarce. Then came gaming. I loved gaming. Then I realized that I was no longer learning. When I started in DOS, everyday I was learning. Everyday I was excited. Now when I log onto my computer it was just to play a game. It became boring. Don't get me wrong I love games. But, I was not learning. Then a computer school mate of mine introduced me to Linux. Red hat to be exact. Then I found out that there was a whole lot of Linux distributions out there. My desktop modem was not working on Redhat and my laptop sound card was not working on Mandrake. But I used them dual boot with windows for 10 years. Then Windows 7 came out. I was now unable to play half of my games. That pissed me off. Then what is it with all these updates that I have to keep rebooting for. Then I read a review where a gentleman had 2 daughters. He grew up one on Ubuntu and the other on Windows. After 5 years he switched them. Each started complaining after 2 weeks. Then it dawned on me. You must clear your mind and system of all the old ways and start afresh. That I did. I went all out no dual boot. Ubuntu, then Kubuntu, xubuntu, lubuntu, then Debian with KDE. My Country runs on Windows. Yes there is and will be a learning curve which I enjoy. Learning to do stuff. But inefficient....... not at all. When those windows machines crashes and they cannot print, I just plug in my laptop to their printer and voila my work is complete will every one else is scampering to get their systems fixed. And believe me those crashes are numerous. People refuse to learn and want everything done for them. No offense intended. If we are patient and take the time to learn we will reap and enjoy the benefits. I have been using debian now for over 15 years and have not looked back since. Every time I by a windows laptop within 24 hours it is converted to debian. I am now learning programming and other stuff. I have used my knowledge to make my home experience more efficient and pleasant for myself and my family and I share my experience and knowledge with anyone who wants to learn. I have repaired systems for friends who were told that they have to get new computers because the one they had was not compatible or not powerful enough to run the latest windows. When I am finished with them they would be surprised at how their 'dead' system would run. I will stop here. My point is if we are not willing to learn how can we understand and see the benefits that the Linux community speaks about. Some may think Linux is dead or dying. Linux is growing bigger and better everyday. Most of us are using it even now and don't even know it. So learn and become better at what you do. I would like to thank you all for your time and consideration and hard work that all of you in the Linux community do each and every day to make this community the greatest community of all.
In the past someone invented something that is very useful: Paragraphs.
 
Clear Linux is the fastest distro I have tested (on a virtual machine). HOWEVER, it has the worst package management system in Linux world. Packages are in "bundles" which means you have to find which bundle the package you want is in and then install a bunch of stuff you do not want.

Fedora, IMO, has it right with RPM-based DNF. It automatically adds dependencies (with the option to cancel the install). Moreover, Fedora also offers groups that provide related packages which are not necessarily dependencies. The same is true of Centos which I use on a server.