Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finding a Linux Distribution

I needed to install Linux on my laptop for work and was looking at various Linux distributions.  We use Ubuntu 10.04 and 11.04 at work and it's a bloated hog.  It has everything you could want but everything feels so slow, and the top screen just makes me depressed.  I figured I could take some time out and look at the various distros that are out there.

Fedora - I had used Fedora at my prior work and while I liked it when I used it, exposure to apt-get goodness cured me of that desire.  It also is a little too bleeding edge for me

Mandriva - We used to use this at my current work, and it was alright.  Consensus among developers led to our switch to Ubuntu, and I was a part of that consensus.  :D  I've always liked Gnome more than KDE, but KDE does have it's niceties.

Ubuntu - This was the tried and true choice.  Basically, I didn't like it, but I disliked everything else more.  But the Unity shell is atrocious and Gnome 3.0 doesn't seem any better.  Less can be more.

Xubuntu - Going into this process this is what I was thinking of using.  I know Xfce is lightweight and it's based off of Ubuntu so I will be largely compatible with work.

Linux Mint - Heard it was getting popular, but didn't know anything about it.  Figured I'd check it out.  (Mainly) based on Ubuntu and is desktop agnostic.  Might be interesting to be able to test drive a large number of different desktops

Bodhi Linux - Found this while looking at distribution lists.  Caught my eye because it had Enlightenment.  That was a blast from the past.  I remember looking at all the cool artwork that was going into Enlightenment when I was in high school ('96-'97 ish).  I could never get it to run very well back then, maybe I could try it out now.

Pinguy Linux - This looks like what Ubuntu should be.  Full featured, pleasant on the eyes, and with intelligent choices made throughout.  Only concern is it doesn't seem to lighten the footprint of Ubuntu any

Crunch Bang Linux -  Based on OpenBox which has a tiny footprint and claiming to provide a good amount of functionality, seems like an interesting distro to try out.

I listed both what distributions I've had experience with and which I was interested in trying.  The bottom line is that I needed to determine which of the Ubuntu derivatives I should try.  I could sit there and fully install and then test all of these choices, but that seems overwhelming and requires much more time than I have (also, I am lazy).  So I figured I'd leverage the hard work of other critics.  In evaluating my choices, I relied on these third party opinions:

Desktop Comparison Guide  (this guide goes over the memory and baseline CPU footprint of each desktop, which is a very cool experiment to see)

 7 Good Ubuntu Derivatives (so this is actually written by Jeff Hoogland, founder of Bodhi, so there might be some bias.  Of course Bodhi is not on the list, but is suggested in the 7th choice)

20 Ubuntu Derivatives You Should Know About (big list, although the top is laden with direct desktop variations of Ubuntu)

Time to make some choices 

So after some thought I have ordered my selection of distros in the following manner:

1. Bodhi
2. Xubuntu
3. Pinguy
4. Linux Mint
5. Crunch Bang

My plan is to get as far as I can with a choice, until I am happy with it, or I am not satisfied and need to start over and try again. 


  1. Do yourself a favor and try openSUSE :)

  2. It is true that I failed to mention openSUSE in my post. I was going over what I had known and really focusing on Ubuntu derivatives in my search. However, you are right in that I should give openSUSE a chance. So if I get some free time this week I'll do that. Cheers!

  3. Other option, is the flexibility, fastness and customizable KISS distro: The great "Arch Linux". The instalation could be a little difficult at the first time, but if you use and know some distros like Mandriva in your work, i think Arch Linux could be a good choice for you. Stable, fast and simple.
    As example, i have a 2004 old dell laptop, with a Pentium M and a Nvidia Ge Force Go 6800.
    My first choice was Archbang (it is like Crunchbang, but not debian based, instead Arch). Then i choose a fresh Arch install with Gnome 3 + Gnome Shell and it run like a charm. Arch Linux is desktop agnostic too.
    I invite you to try either Archbang or Arch Linux, with the desktop of your choice (Gnome, Xfce, Lxde, etc..)

  4. Jolicloud! Fast, friendly, social. Plus, all the netfeeds you`ll ever need.