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Why Top Linux Distros Are For Different Users

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the for-the-nubs dept.

Linux 496

Lucas123 writes "Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu Linux desktops may look alike, but they've got some important distinctions, like the fact that Fedora and Ubuntu use GNOME 2.28 (the latest version) for their default desktop, while openSUSE uses KDE 4.3.1. And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password. As of this version, however, local users will need to enter the root password before they can install software (as they do on almost all other Linux distributions).'"

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What a load of crap (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459586)

And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password.

So according to this "logic", Microsoft assumes that its users are wiser than the general run of users too? Nice way to spin Fedora finally addressing this security issue, dude.

Re:What a load of crap (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459750)

Linux From Scratch and Gentoo users > Ubuntu and Fedora users. When something breaks on your Linux system and you don't know how to fix it, guess which one you'd rather hear from? A LFS user, or someone who uses Ubuntu because he's scared of the command line? Yeah, that's what I thought. Pwnd.

Re:What a load of crap (5, Insightful)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459860)

Considering the LFS user is most likely to have an attitude like yours, I'd prefer not to hear a single condescending word from him.

Re:What a load of crap (2, Funny)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459878)

Especially since their expertise is most likely just being able to copy and paste commands from the LFS manual.

Re:What a load of crap (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460068)

Os gusta mi polla? [imageshack.us]

Re:What a load of crap (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459952)

Considering the LFS user is most likely to have an attitude like yours, I'd prefer not to hear a single condescending word from him.

That's right. No user should ever be more skilled than any other users, and all distributions should cater to the newbie crowd. When all computing grinds to a halt because no one knows how to fix or maintain them anymore, at least you'll have the comfort of knowing that no advanced users are going to make a tongue-in-cheek post on Slashdot that stimulates your inferiority complex. Then and only then will everything be alright because everything revolves around you and what you think is appropriate, you arbiter of correctness you!

Re:What a load of crap (4, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460070)

No user should ever be more skilled than any other users, and all distributions should cater to the newbie crowd.

Except the GP made no such point at all. He was saying he didn't want to have some condescending ass try to come and fix his system.

When all computing grinds to a halt because no one knows how to fix or maintain them anymore, at least you'll have the comfort of knowing that no advanced users are going to make a tongue-in-cheek post on Slashdot that stimulates your inferiority complex.

There are plenty of people who have skills that people could go to to fix their computers that don't act like condescending and pompous assholes like you and the rest of the "1337 h4x0r" LSF crowd.

Re:What a load of crap (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460294)

Except the GP made no such point at all. He was saying he didn't want to have some condescending ass try to come and fix his system.

Except he made that point in response to what was obviously a tongue-in-cheek joke and not an expression of true condescension. That means he failed to appreciate humor, and that's all it means. It's a bad time to make a statement about the horrors of arrogant thought, at least if he wanted to be taken seriously. Instead, he looks like a whino who gets his panties in a wad over a joke that wasn't even all that risque.

Now if you want to make a big deal out of the horrors of condescending people, the first step is to find a genuine example. Fail to do that, and don't be surprised if no one takes you seriously. And I am the original AC who posted the original joke about LFS and Gentoo users. Are you now going to tell me that you know what I meant by my post better than I do? Good luck with that. It was a joke, and that's all it ever was, and the fact that you guys get so deadly serious about it only causes me more amusement.

There are plenty of people who have skills that people could go to to fix their computers that don't act like condescending and pompous assholes like you and the rest of the "1337 h4x0r" LSF crowd.

A joke that offends your tender delicate sensibilities doesn't make it appropriate for you to call anyone a pompous asshole. I tell you what's pompous, that's when you wanna enforce your sense of humor on everyone else and make personal judgments about who they are as human beings when they don't subscribe to what you think is funny. I bet the irony of calling anyone else condescending while doing this is lost upon you.

Now, some people are more skilled than you. Some of them might even make jokes about Linux distributions. Oh noes! Now get the fuck over it already. Seriously. You remind me of that saying, where a guy says to his wife late at night "no honey, I can't come to bed yet, because someone on the Internet is WRONG!"

Re:What a load of crap (0, Flamebait)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460350)

Go back to wanking over your LSF system thinking your 1337 because you copy and pasted a bunch of commands from the manual. Sooo hardcore.

Re:What a load of crap (0)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459970)

Agreed. He tried to sell Fedora (and GNOME?) as being good for power users who aren't afraid of the command line.

I used Fedora for a couple months between Gentoo and Arch. In Gentoo and Arch I have the terminal open all the time, and feel in control of my packages. With Fedora/GNOME there were things I "couldn't" configure with the command line because the tools were only meant to be used with a GUI; and there were often out of date packages that I couldn't upgrade.

Power users that want the cutting edge are better off with something that lets them do what they want to do and install what they want to install without getting in the way of terminal users, like LFS, Gentoo, or Arch.

They also want the window manager/desktop of their choice, not the cookie cutter Gnome + Compvis / KDE 4.3 choices that Ubuntu/Fedora/openSuse etc. give you.

Re:What a load of crap (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460066)

Which is why I have AfterStep on my Fedora setup.

Re:What a load of crap (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460100)

and feel in control of my package

You should always feel in control of your package. ;-)

Re:What a load of crap (2, Interesting)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460176)

It's not like mainstream distros put you in handcuffs. There are plenty of us who customise our chosen distro quite extensively (for example, I've used Redhat/Fedora ever since I switched from Slackware ages ago, and I use WindowMaker instead of GNOME, disable SELinux, reclaim /media for storing my media files, tweak the categories of things the package manager will install from an rpm, replace a subset of the software with things I compile myself, etc). I have multiple terminals open all the time too, and as I said above, I *have* the WM of my choice - I have as much control over my system as you do yours and can change my defaults.

Not everyone really wants to be on the cutting edge, and I like being at least a bit closer to Fedora/CentOS because i use them a lot at work (Debian and CentOS/RHEL are among the best Linuces for servers, while Gentoo is completely inappropriate (although this almost never comes up because Gentoo fans are also completely inappropriate as sysadmins)).

Re:What a load of crap (3, Insightful)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460360)

I'd mention that MySpace uses a distributed file system running on Gentoo; but I think that might just prove your point.

Re:What a load of crap (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460542)

Not everyone really wants to be on the cutting edge, and I like being at least a bit closer to Fedora/CentOS because i use them a lot at work (Debian and CentOS/RHEL are among the best Linuces for servers, while Gentoo is completely inappropriate (although this almost never comes up because Gentoo fans are also completely inappropriate as sysadmins)).

Many Gentoo users only use Gentoo for their personal computers. Those same users would recommend distributions like Debian to anyone who approached them and said "hey, I'm new to this Linux thing and I want to run a server, what would you suggest?" Gentoo is for users who a) know their way around Linux and b) love to tinker. It doesn't pretend to be for anyone else. I use Gentoo and very much enjoy it, but I would not recommend it to someone who's new to Linux and switching away from Windows. It's about what you like and believe to be appropriate for the job. It's not a religious cause.

Actually one of the reasons I got into Gentoo in the first place is that I wanted to know more about how a distribution is put together. As a learning tool its manual installation is one of the best. As a "I just want it to work, ASAP" tool it's one of the worst. Again it doesn't pretend to be otherwise. If Gentoo claimed to be the be-all and end-all, the Ultimate Linux Distribution, superior in every way to all others, then maybe I'd understand why it's so trendy to slam Gentoo whenever it comes up in a discussion. Or if I frequently visited the Gentoo Forums and saw the users talking about how lame binary distributions are, maybe then I'd understand it too, but they don't do this.

Since that isn't the case, this looks to me like another religious issue. Like when you have one sect of Christianity going to war against another sect of Christianity because they disagree on whether to drink wine or grape juice for Communion. Naturally the grape-juice drinkers think they have irreconcilable differences with the wine-drinkers and vice-versa. Each side thinks the other is composed of total idiots and assholes. Neither appreciates that what they're arguing over is a trivial matter of taste. Don't like a distro? Good, use something else. That should be the end of it, but it isn't, because it's not good enough that you use what you like, the other guy must also use what you like, right?

Re:What a load of crap (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459756)

Except you need admin access to install software in Program Files in Windows or to modify something like system32. It's just that not a lot of people properly use a less priviledged account in Windows like they should (even though there has been support for this since Win2k).

Re:What a load of crap (2, Informative)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460052)

It's not just users. Applications still aren't being written to work properly with non-administrator accounts. I just installed SimplyAccounting 2010 on Windows XP and started getting weird errors poking around in it using a Limited Account, but switching to an Administrator account, no more errors.

Re:What a load of crap (4, Informative)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460288)

It's not just users. Applications still aren't being written to work properly with non-administrator accounts. I just installed SimplyAccounting 2010 on Windows XP and started getting weird errors poking around in it using a Limited Account, but switching to an Administrator account, no more errors.

I agree, the problem with Windows is not so much the OS itself but poorly written applications.

One of the largest examples is World of Warcraft. After five years, it still insists on storing all of its data in its program directory. I actually had to install it outside of Program Files to get it to work on Vista, even with UAC turned off and logged in as Administrator (the account, not an account in that group).

I think more software developers need to look at Firefox, a good example. Data, including plugins, are kept in the user's home. Different users can have different plugins and data, and everything just works even on a properly-secured system.

Blizzard can even download the source code to figure out basic stuff like "where to put files" because after all these years of writing Windows games, they still lack that basic knowledge.

Re:What a load of crap (1)

Zarel (900479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459826)

It doesn't even make sense. Changing your app install behavior to work the same way as other distros is assuming your users are wiser than average?

And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password. As of this version, however, local users will need to enter the root password before they can install software (as they do on almost all other Linux distributions).'"

(Emphasis mine.)

Re:What a load of crap (1)

hierofalcon (1233282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460076)

There was a brief (read days) interval very recently when the Fedora development group was thinking about allowing installation of packages without root access. They decided against it. On F11, which I am running now, an attempt to install a package from the repository responds with "You need to be root to perform this command." To my recollection, it has always been thus.

Re:What a load of crap (1)

devjoe (88696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460206)

There was a brief (read days) interval very recently when the Fedora development group was thinking about allowing installation of packages without root access. They decided against it. On F11, which I am running now, an attempt to install a package from the repository responds with "You need to be root to perform this command." To my recollection, it has always been thus.

It went a bit further than just thinking about it. Less than a month ago it was reported here on Slashdot that Fedora 12 allowed local users to install software without root privileges. [slashdot.org] The uproar this caused led to a very quick update to revert back to the usual policy. The article for today's story is rather confused about this, though, unless you consider earlier patchlevels of the current release to be "earlier versions." As far as I know, the change never affected Fedora 11.

Re:What a load of crap (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460258)

What I find funny is that I've been using Debian-based distros for many years, and I basically never enter the "root password" to install software or perform other maintenance tasks... I enter my own user password. Not that there's much difference between "access to the root password" and "being allowed to run anything in the sudoers file". Installing software is still a privileged operation.

I take it they must mean without entering any password at all, as in unprivileged?

Seems kinda dumb.

Re:What a load of crap (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460322)

And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password.

So according to this "logic", Microsoft assumes that its users are wiser than the general run of users too? Nice way to spin Fedora finally addressing this security issue, dude.

In a manner of speaking, yes. If they assumed that 50% of their users are below average, and that a significant enough percentage of them will click anything you stick in front of them, then they probably would have designed windows to be much more secure. Sure, they would have solved the problem in some cutesy way, like changing the "administrator" to "grown up", and popping up error messages saying things like "You need a grown up to install this application", but they would have fixed it.

Microsoft's downfall, if you can call it that, is the perception that end-users are godlike in their ability to perform regular maintenance and avoid stupid flash ads.

Re:What a load of crap (2, Interesting)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460460)

So according to this "logic", Microsoft assumes that its users are wiser than the general run of users too?

While I don't know whether Microsoft actually designed their operating systems with that rationale in mind, C is a clear case of it: most bugs in C programs come from the language being designed expecting people to really know what they're doing. and therefore allowing all sorts of strange stuff.

Re:What a load of crap (3, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460462)

Installing pre-approved software without root access would be a great step forward both for usability and security. Imagine if we can get to the point where a normal user can use a laptop computer for a year without running with sufficient privileges to install untrusted software.

Sure, there are challenges, first and foremost how to revoke approval of a particular package. That doesn't mean we have to stick with the old trusted root paradigm forever. For the vast majority of Linux laptops/desktops, the user IS the administrator, and we can't expect to educate all computer users to be competent Unix administrators.

Wiser? WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459652)

How is allowing root privileges to random users an indication of wisdom in random users?

Re:Wiser? WTF (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459832)

How is allowing root privileges to random users an indication of wisdom in random users?

It's not.
It's an indication that you believe your users are wiser than the average users, or at least that you expect them to become so.

Re:Wiser? WTF (3, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459940)

It's an indication that you believe your users are wiser than the average users, or at least that you expect them to become so.

And THAT is an indication that the Fedora developers are NOT particularly wise.

Re:Wiser? WTF (3, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460522)

Actually the Fedora assumption was the exact opposite: That we can't expect to pop up a dialog asking the user for the root password to approve the installation of software, and have the user make the right decision every time. It is better to make a list of safe software which can't compromise an installation, and allow the user to install that without prompts.

This is not without problems, but once it is done right, the system will be less dependent on users making the right choices.

Re:Wiser? WTF (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460574)

Simply put: you can't be certain that they sysadmin is the only person using the box.

Even with a "simple Windows desktop" install you can't assume that sort of thing. After 20+
years, the use patterns of mundane desktop users have caught up to a server OS like Unix. One
would think that this would not be the time that Fedora would decide to backslide and start
revisting old Microsoft mistakes that even they seem to be trying to get away from.

The old Unix security design principles still hold. If anything they are MORE true than when
Unix was first created.

Fedora (1, Insightful)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459678)

I use Fedora because you always get the latest stuff. I've never had a major problem -- used all 12 releases.

Re:Fedora (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459798)

I use whatever works on my machine. Fedora is usually good enough, though I have swapped to Ubuntu at times.

The way that I use my computer makes it so that the OS rarely matters anyway. I jsut use Linux because it doesn't annoy me, and Fedora works, so here I stay. There's no real reason past that.

Re:Fedora (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460022)

That's the one thing users should realize about Fedora. You always get the latest stuff, whether you want it or not. If your usage is more slanted towards having the same setup for years at a time, it's a distro that requires some maintenance. If you can handle a more rapid pace of change, however, security updates and new features are forthcoming.

Re:Fedora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460262)

I'm not disagreeing with fedora is the easiest way to stay current and i didn't run into any problems because of it either, however with other distros you can add on the latest software from OBS/PPAs and keep a stable base while running more current software on top of it (or visa versa if you prefer to keep track of underlying software).

For me Fedora was nice but i couldn't be arsed to fight with selinux anymore, yum was slow and installing closed software was too difficult (it wasn't that hard, but when opensuse/debian/ubuntu offer zypper/apt based installation and fedora doesn't core because their distro is aimed at "advanced users", I wonder if there is less elitism in debian [drum-corps.net] ?)

Re:Fedora (1)

neophytepwner (992971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460548)

Does anyone knowledgeable about Linux distros know which one provides the best video driver support (for mobile platforms)? I use Ubuntu and have had many issues with trying to run anything in 3D or Flash plugins.

Duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459712)

Duh?

It doesn't matter at all (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459714)

Does the distro work with your printer without any complicated installation procedures?
Does the distro work with your audio hardware without any complicated installation procedures?
Does the distro switch between all the resolutions supported by your video hardware?
Does the distro have a reasonably good package installation mechanism?
Does the distro support your applications without special package installation requirements?

If the answer is affirmative to all of the above, then you've got yourself a winner. It's very cool how Ubuntu has essentially forced every other distro to get up to speed on these seemingly basic features. Otherwise, the distros are just flavored differently. It's all the same under the hood.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (4, Insightful)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459844)

And these are the reasons Windows still has marketshare. The last 2 are not covered by Windows but because its already got the marketshare then the apps are easy to find. Not trying to troll but that is why it does "just work", even with bugs and holes aplenty.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460028)

And these are the reasons Windows still has marketshare.

The only reason is because it comes pre-installed when you buy the machine, and most people don't give a shit about the OS. Try looking at what OS is used in most consumer electronic devices, from phones to HDTVs. Clue: it ain't windows.

As for devices working with windows out of the box, that's a myth. You have to hope you have a driver disk around for what you have in your machines, and have network access to hunt them down online.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460452)

I have to agree with the last statement.
I worked at a big box store and know how much work goes into a computer to make it 'ready'.

I also know that the overwhelming majority of users can not do simple tasks like install an AV program (and pay us 50-100$ to do it).
A lot of geeks think the world has their computer knowledge. Ask anyone who works in tech support in a large company... there are stories galore.

I tech support for family and none of my relatives knew how to install and uninstall programs or do any of the basic maintenance.
They dont know any more now that I installed Mandriva-KDE4.3 for them but my support time has been cut by 90% now.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (5, Insightful)

RanCossack (1138431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460154)

And these are the reasons Windows still has marketshare. The last 2 are not covered by Windows but because its already got the marketshare then the apps are easy to find. Not trying to troll but that is why it does "just work", even with bugs and holes aplenty.

I don't want to troll, either, but this really isn't the case; I tried to reinstall Windows on one of my machines for dual-boot (fresh setup on a new drive) using a generic, non-customized XP disk, and it is amazing how much work it was -- hunting drivers down, having to download extra drivers to a USB key so I could get online, and so on.

You could say Microsoft does a lot of work with its partners to ship customized Windows distros, but out of the box, Windows is pretty bad; we all just either don't have to deal with it or take it for granted.

(Or don't deal with it at all.)

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460306)

Mod parent up!

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460488)

Vista and 7 probably have some additional hardware support in the box...

Re:It doesn't matter at all (2, Insightful)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460508)

Windows 7 is a little better, and this is coming from a Linux user. So they are trying.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460292)

The last 2 are not covered by Windows but because its already got the marketshare then the apps are easy to find. Not trying to troll but that is why it does "just work", even with bugs and holes aplenty.

That's not my experience. I just spent hours reinstalling my laptop, and very little "just worked". And screen resolution, wireless networks and audio settings in particular remain a game of chance: sometimes they work, sometimes they fail mysteriously, both because of bad drivers and because of pathetically bad user interfaces.

On drivers, screen, audio, and hardware, Windows is at best equal to Ubuntu. On installation, maintenance, and user interface it is already clearly worse. The only reason Windows still is going strong is inertia and installed base. If Windows were a new product, people would just laugh at it.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460482)

And these are the reasons Windows still has marketshare.

Nah. Main reason is most of the driver and install issues are figured out by the vendors at the factory. Once it comes out of the box the users are willing to take lots of punishment when it comes to Windows. Things dont work. Crapware installed by vendor keeps nagging them to upgrade and get the "new and exciting features". Security holes. Forced to buy anti virus products. Vendor lock. Upgrade treadmill....

Through it all the people suffer stoically. But when you suggest switching to Linux they balk. The first thing that does not work, they bitch to high heaven and run back to their captors. One would think the typical PC user is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

There are many reasons why Windows has its market share. "It just works" is not one of them.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459866)

You forgot "Does the distro work with your network card?" This should be the top focus of any distribution. I have an old wireless cheap PnP card that isn't supported by default in most distros.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459900)

Does the distro work with your printer without any complicated installation procedures?
Does the distro work with your audio hardware without any complicated installation procedures?
Does the distro switch between all the resolutions supported by your video hardware?
Does the distro have a reasonably good package installation mechanism?
Does the distro support your applications without special package installation requirements?

Don't have/need a printer
Don't need audio
Only need 1 decent resolution
A Live CD!
The applications I need are -practically- built into the distro

Hooray for using Linux Distros as Servers, Routers, and other @ home network enhancements!

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459938)

It's very cool how Ubuntu has essentially forced every other distro to get up to speed on these seemingly basic features.

I would just point out that everything in your list was available before Ubuntu in distributions such as Mandrake. I'm not going to say you're wrong, though, since Ubuntu did bring something important to the table which apparently did provide a boost: a rich guy who wanted to spend a lot of it.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460050)

My experience with Mandrake, pre-Ubuntu is that it was buggy as hell. For whatever reason, I would say that Ubuntu has raided the bar for Linux distros.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460240)

>>I would say that Ubuntu has raided the bar for Linux distros.

but they never should have switched the 's' and 'd' keys...

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460332)

My experience with Mandrake, pre-Ubuntu is that it was buggy as hell. For whatever reason, I would say that Ubuntu has raided the bar for Linux distros.

Maybe. I have no experience with Mandrake or "Mandriva" for that matter; I have only heard several times that Mandrake excelled at the types of things the OP listed. However, I do personally know of at least one pre-Ubuntu distro with all the "necessities" listed: YDL. Though Ubuntu is not my every-day distro, I have nothing at all against it; as distros go it is definitely a good choice for all kinds of users (not just "n00bs" as is often assumed). A lot of people I know think of Ubuntu as Linux itself, but again, that's a testament of the Canonical marketing power and hype than any actual raising of any bar. We had many choices of quality distros before Ubuntu, just as we do today, and the biggest thing lacking back in the day was marketing. Certainly I mean no disrespect by pointing out that marketing was Ubuntu's biggest contribution.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459942)

I would add to that list:

Does the distro work with your wireless card without any complicated installation procedures.

At least that was a pain for me (as I am an uber n006). After a lot of googleing the solution was relatively pain free in ubuntu. I agree with your points though, the best distribution is the one that works for you and Ubuntu seems to do a pretty good job all around (for a general user). I've been meaning to try out Lubuntu and just haven't gotten around to it. Anyone have positive experience with it on an older, low-mem system?

Stop the hype BS. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460090)

It's very cool how Ubuntu has essentially forced every other distro to get up to speed on these seemingly basic features.

Please stop saying inane things.

Nothing ubuntu has done the past 3 years is any better than lets say mandriva has done.

i tried Kubuntu 7.04 to install on friends computers and found taht PCLinuxOS which was #1 then was a much better 'just works out of box' experience.

Im typing this from Kubnutu9.10 and its no different than any other KDE distro. Actually, THAT is the thing my non Linuxy friends always say... its the same thing.
Your choice of distro for a first timer is a quesstion of taste when it comes to the big distros. The REAL decision is the desktop.
Since everyone comes over has used Windows, it makes sense to use a DE that is familiar to them.

But having used every Buntu since v7, I think your statement is nothing more than fanboi driven hype.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460092)

Funny how all that always worked for me in Red Hat Linux (I started on RH6.1), years before Ubuntu (ok, I didn't have the last 2).

What nonsense! (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460204)

Huh?

All of the things you are talking about are "solved problems" in just about every modern Linux distribution.

Your rant sounds like it was written circa 2002.

Perhaps you are talking about Fedora? Fedora is the "home distribution" for many of the projects that you mention.

Maybe you forget that Ubuntu cribbed almost all of that stuff from RedHat/Fedora?

Video resolution? Huh? Really who runs their monitor at less than the max? I'm running at 1920x1200 and there is NO reason to use anything else.

"without special package installation requirements" What does this mean? Does that mean that the distribution is bloated out with extra stuff that only a few users need? Why is this an advantage?

"It's all the same under the hood" - that is just not correct. There are some pretty MAJOR differences between the distributions regarding kernel versions, supported kernel features, versions of libraries, etc. These can be real show-stoppers when it comes time to install third-party applications.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460374)

Is this one of these "choose two" things?

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460384)

It's very cool how Ubuntu has essentially forced every other distro to get up to speed on these seemingly basic features.

The "works out of the box" mindset has been around for a while in many distros before Ubuntu. What Ubuntu has done, is gotten itself packaged with netbooks, thus gaining sufficient market share to convince hardware makers to support Linux more rigorously. Furthermore, Ubuntu sacrifices out-of-the-box usability for open-source idealism (not that I have any complaint with that) so people should take that into consideration; although non-free software is easily installable from repositories.

The one thing that Ubuntu really contributed, is a huge collection of simple how-to guides for relatively complex tasks in the Linux environment. An Arch forum topic usually goes: "Help!," "Ok, did you RTFM?," "Yes," "Ok, did you download the API documentation and try to write a kernel module?," "A what?," "Go install Ubuntu." On the other hand, Ubuntu help topics will explain how to find the GUI settings menu if need be. I don't think one approach is better than the other, but I do think there is a need for distros that have communities who are willing to do some hand-holding.

Ubuntu sucks for development (2, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460394)

Their support of development tools stinks compared to fedora and on Ubuntu (9.10), the Qt environment has compatibility issues with the Ubuntu "supported" packages. I had issues getting headers files and assorted build environments to work.

I went back to fedora because it was easier and much quicker than fixing Ubuntu's mistakes.

Re:It doesn't matter at all (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460440)

Does the distro work with your printer without any complicated installation procedures?
Does the distro work with your audio hardware without any complicated installation procedures?
Does the distro switch between all the resolutions supported by your video hardware?
Does the distro have a reasonably good package installation mechanism?
Does the distro support your applications without special package installation requirements?

It's questions like this that scare Joe Sixpack away from Linux. If all the major distributions were sold at BestBuy and Joe Sixpack walked in and wanted to buy Linux, he'd have no idea which one to get. KDE vs GNOME? If he wants to buy a Logitech Keyboard and mouse, I doubt he'll see SuSE/Ubuntu/Fedora on the back of the box for the Logitech Compact Keyboard Pro [logitech.com] , which btw is a pretty generic $29 USB keyboard. It might work, but atleast Joe Sixpack that it'll work with winXP/Vista/7 because it'll say it on the box.

It's a shame that while all the different distros are good for Linux as a whole, the fact that there are so many distros makes it tough for the avg user to get into it. I consider myself pretty linux savy and the above list of questions makes me start to get nervous. Linux and hardware, it should just work.

openSuse (5, Insightful)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459742)

Nice to see good results for openSuse. The reviewer didn't fall for the immature "Novell is evil!" absurdity.

Re:openSuse (4, Informative)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460036)

Although, it would be worthwhile to point out that openSuSE doesn't favor KDE over Gnome. It has fully integrated the SuSE environment into both. As I understand it, the decision to set the default selection to KDE is quite arbitrary at this point.

I'll add that it's a fantastic distro for reasonably modern computers. Yast is a great tool, but the whole thing is a bit too heavyweight for netbooks or old PCs.

why? (0, Flamebait)

garynuman (1666499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459768)

you must be new here, people on a site with a heavy slant slant towards open source issues' are pretty well aware of the very basics of the top three linux distros

Root password statement is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459770)

That quip about not needing the root password is misleading; with the release of F12 they *tried* to allow this to happen (local logged in user w/o root password installs) and the community handed them a new ***hole for it.

https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2009-November/msg00926.html
https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=534047
https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-announce-list/2009-November/msg00012.html
https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2009-November/msg01445.html

I can't think of one actual Fedora user in the real world who ever wanted a local user to be able to install packages without asking for a root password.

Re:Root password statement is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460190)

I can't think of one actual Fedora user in the real world who ever wanted a local user to be able to install packages without asking for a root password.

Quite a few people who have actually thought about it consider that the right (or at least better) direction. The response from Fedora community was so strong because they weren't informed -- it's hard to tell what it would have been otherwise.

Installing signed packages from a vendor repository is not particularly insecure, yet it happens relatively often... The root password dialog should raise all kinds of alarms for people and currently it doesn't because it comes up for everything.

Security models for a typical home notebook vs server vs corporate laptop are different, I can see this being a useful feature in several situations.

Of course (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459788)

If Linux Distro's were targetted for the same users, there wouldn't be anything to distinguish them amongst each other, ultimately defeating the point of having a seperate distro.

I should write an article about "Why People like different foods" and see if it makes the front page Foodnetwork.com

In all seriousness though, its a decent breakdown of the Distro's, but I've always kind of been on the impression that anyone who has seriously considered using Linux already knows what distro they expect to be using.

Re:Of course (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460082)

I've always kind of been on the impression that anyone who has seriously considered using Linux already knows what distro they expect to be using.

I disagree with this. There are real philosophical differences between distros that are not immediately apparent and that can make a huge difference down the line depending on which one you choose. The average user doesn't really consider the OS at all. The average new Linux user is usually taking a leap just to consider any alternative to Windows or Apple. You could say that a new Linux user is probably installing a distro that has been recommended by a friend, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is going to be the best choice for them.

Re:Of course (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460172)

The only problem with that is that I've never encountered someone jumping to Linux without having prior usage of it.

I know only 1 other Linux user in my group of socialites, and we both used it for the first time in post secondary. After learning the ins and outs of it, we were able to branch out and look at other distros to see what works best for us.

Thats just my personal experience though, and its an incredibly small sample group, so I'm not saying thats what happens all the time, its just what I've come to believe.

I haven't, nor have I seen anyone, recommend a Linux distro to a non Linux user, generally because of that leap.

Re:Of course (1)

blakedev (1397081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460524)

I envy you. I've had to do installs for people who literally told me, "I don't know what Linux is I just know that I want it." and thought that "going into the code" meant editing a configuration file in their home directory. I'll let you assume what distro I installed for them.

Two things are important in the end (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459790)

Package management and an active online support/BBS/community. With those things you can do whatever you want with a little patience and research.

Different users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459806)

Of course different distros are aimed at/preferred by different kinds of users. If every user wanted the same thing, there would only be one distro.

Uhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30459838)

This.... This is news?

might hop distro again (1)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459896)

I've jumped from Archlinux (love it, but in the end... it's too much manual work) to Ubuntu 9.10 recently. I was thinking of jumping to Fedora 12 since it's close to RHEL (which we use at work) in some aspects, but OpenSUSE looks really nice, I hear it's the best KDE distribution at the moment. Problem is my NVIDIA card - no matter what tweaks you use, performance is subpar in KDE compared to an integrated Intel card in all aspects (except gaming).

Open source drivers aren't an option since you can simply not play games with them. So I guess I'm stuck with Ubuntu for now. My next laptop will most likely have ATI or Intel in it, unless NVIDIA releases a magic KDE driver of some sort.

Re:might hop distro again (2, Funny)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460276)

I've jumped from Archlinux (love it, but in the end... it's too much manual work) to Ubuntu 9.10 recently.

Funny, I stopped using Ubuntu on my notebook over a year ago and installed Arch Linux on it for the same reason :D

Who cares.... (3, Insightful)

salva84 (1701828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459912)

Who cares? I've been using Linux around 10 years ago, I'm a computer engineer, and after all, I beeing using Ubuntu until today. I've tried a lot of distros, but I've never found a better distro for me, despite I'm a programmer too.

Re:Who cares.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460130)

Wait, you're trying to impress us by being an engineer and a programmer? Most of us are, and have been a lot longer than you.

Re:Who cares.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460480)

That's nothing. I'm a computer engineer architect programmer.

Re:Who cares.... (5, Informative)

greenguy (162630) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460134)

I have to agree. I get annoyed when I hear people describe Ubuntu as distro that's appropriate for Linux newbies. It's not that that's untrue, it's that it sells Ubuntu short. It makes it sound like it's dumbed down somehow, and that after using it for a while, you'd want want to move on to something more advanced. That's simply not the case. All the advanced features are there, waiting for you, as soon as you're interested in them.

Need root to install software? (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459944)

Why can't you just install to /usr/$username/bin? They disallow that these days?

Re:Need root to install software? (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460056)

Why can't you just install to /usr/$username/bin? They disallow that these days?

Maybe you mean /home/$USER/bin ... At least I've personally never used any *nix system where installing to user-specific directories in /usr was common; installing to your home directory is, however, very common in every UNIX flavor I've come across.

Re:Need root to install software? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460318)

/usr is not world-writable on any distro I've used.

Re:Need root to install software? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460328)

I've got to say, this is a huge feature that most package managers are missing. If I can download an archive, unpack it, and run it from ~, I should be able to install a package under ~ as well.

Meh (1)

rapu (1656863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459960)

I think that by far the most substantial difference between Ubuntu and the other distros is the semi-automatic installation of proprietary multimedia libs and hardware drivers. I used to run Fedora from FC2 to FC6 as well as Suse 9.x, and had to deal with ATI's installer and custom repos a lot. These are the primary reasons why I use Ubuntu nowadays, as all other differences these popular distros seem quite trivial. It doesn't seem very important which DE each distro ships with, as you can always install whichever you like afterwards. Same thing with default apps like IM clients, though it may take a bit of reconfiguring to integrate them with others apps. Basically, the review just seemed to compare the distros out-of-the-box, without assuming they'll ever be configured, which is kind of boring, and perhaps only of interest to inexperienced users. Speaking of which, how were they able to "manage each of them from other PCs with the OpenSSH remote control program"? I thought Ubuntu has never included sshd by default.

Re:Meh (1)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460138)

semi-automatic installation of proprietary multimedia libs and hardware drivers

While these are not included in the Fedora package repositories there is the rpmfusion repository which is easy to setup. And once the rpmfusion repositories are setup I can tell you from experience that totem will automatically search the repository for the necessary packages to play any media file you open, you will be asked to enter the root password to install the packages, and once installed totem will start to play the media.

Re:Meh (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460164)

Speaking of which, how were they able to "manage each of them from other PCs with the OpenSSH remote control program"? I thought Ubuntu has never included sshd by default.

I assume they configured it rather than just trying to manage it out-of-the-box.

no root password? (3, Informative)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30459962)

in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password

huh?

I've used every version of Fedora linux and before that I've used Red Hat Linux from version 4.2 until Fedora Core 1. I don't recall ever having the ability to install software without providing the root password. In fact, when this type of insecure feature was implemented in Fedora 12 it caused a huge uproar and the insecure feature was removed in an update.

Re:no root password? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460196)

I was thinking the same thing. That "feature" never existed. In fact, people griped about it pretty much from day one.

Senior Citizen Linux (4, Insightful)

NukeDoggie (943265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460030)

Someone should make a version of Ubuntu or openSuse or Fedora or whatever that is designed for Seniors. Large Fonts, easy to use, very little duplication of apps, no problems... I bet it would spread far and wide. We have the kids checking it out, time to take the seniors... Also, why does all the netbook distros never fit the dialogs on the screen? 800x480 is not much to work with granted...

Re:Senior Citizen Linux (1)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460156)

I am not a senior, but I would like this too. Sometimes it feels like there's too many choices of applications - granted, each distribution comes with its own default programs for (almost) everything (IM, browser etc), but it takes time to try out all the different apps, just to discover that the feature you liked in app x doesn't exist in app y, or it's too slow, or too ugly (the most common one).

Almost sounds like a netbook distro (very simple menu interface, just the most common apps easily accessible, yet still full blown Linux underneath) would suit me... Moblin perhaps?

Re:Senior Citizen Linux (1)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460504)

You could try puppy [puppylinux.org] linux.

Re:Senior Citizen Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460336)

Done! [fraser.name]

root password?? (2, Interesting)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460074)

As of this version, however, local users will need to enter the root password before they can install software (as they do on almost all other Linux distributions).'"

You don't need to enter the root password on Ubuntu or Debian; you enter your own password. And that works if you have administrator privileges, which is a choice while setting up accounts.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460084)

There are a lot of kinds of gay out there, and it is downright homophobic to assume it's all of the flamboyant Richard Simmons variety.

Look alike??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460140)

He lost me at the first sentence when he said they look alike on the surface. Since when did KDE look like Gnome?

Tried Ubuntu, switched back to Fedora (3, Interesting)

Stone316 (629009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460224)

I installed Ubuntu 8 on my kids computer and they loved it... I played about with it as well and liked it enough that once it came time to rebuild my linux box I decided to install 9.04... I have to say, i'm not impressed with 9.0.4... I have had issues with using the software manager to install new applications.. I miss the popular column and thought that was great. Switching to a static IP address wasn't straight forward... It seems that if you are the type of user that will just download it, install defaults and use it, then its fine. But as soon as you want to make changes, it started to get painful.

So for now i'm switching back to Fedora.. Something i'm familiar with and just seems to work.

What has happened to Slashdot? (0, Redundant)

bibekpaudel (1113383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460264)

C'mon how is this some "stuffs for nerds, news that matter?" I think next post on ./ will read, "Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu Linux desktops may look alike, but they've got some important distinctions, like the fact that Fedora is a Redhat derivative and Ubuntu is a Debian derivative, while openSUSE is a Suse derivative from Novell. Not only that, Fedora and Ubuntu use GNOME, which is a desktop environment. Opensuse uses KDE, which is yet another Desktop environment, short for K Desktop Environment. On the other hand, though Debian also uses GNOME, the version it ships is rather older than that in Ubuntu or Fedora. The designers of Debian have assumed that its users are less caring of latest softwares, and might even be older than general run of users."

Good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460300)

great points

Slackware (5, Insightful)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460348)

If you can't do it with Slackware, it doesn't need doing.

:-)

...laura

Re:Slackware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30460532)

God, I wish I had mod points.

Why? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30460456)

Who actually cares? I would have thought that it was obvious and didn't need stating!
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