Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Quest for the perfect Distro

I am now in a quest for the perfect distro for my machine to replace MS Windows. I'm sick and tired of virus, trojans, worms, spywares, etc. And I've tried a lot of distros but up until now, only Vector Linux 4.3 satisfied my needs. Let me give you an idea of what distros I'ved tried:

1. Damn Small Linux 1.4

Pretty great and very good but lacks the binaries that I need. I will be using it to host my own website and it's already installed and running on my 133Mhz PC with 16MB of RAM without any problems. I just need some more time learning Damn Small and soon, I will present you with my own site.

I'm just happy that this version of Damn Small has an updated version of Synaptic as compared to other versions, I could download and install all the softwares I need without giving me any headaches, no need to worry about dependencies unlike RPM-based distro.

Why won't I use it as a replacement for Windows? I don't have time to search and download all the files and binaries that I need. What I wanted is a distro that once installed would be able to do everything with less configuration. And the only thing that I need to do after installation is try to learn the default bundled/installed applications.

2. Puppy Linux 1.0.3

This is a pretty great OS that rans in RAM, meaning after booting it up, you'll be able to remove the CD from the tray and use it to burn or play CD's. Plus the bundled apps are pretty good. Barry even included good office applications and a graphical drive mounter. You don't have to open a terminal window and type "mount /dev/hda3 /mnt/windows".

I did have problems with Puppy before. 1.0.2 won't allow me to mount ntfs drives while 1.0.3 won't allow me to use my usb keyboard. A simple modprobe fixed this but I'm not fully satisfied with this particular distro. But please take note that I do support this distro and once it has reached v1.1 or v1.2, I'll be trying it again and see what Barry has to offer.

As of this writing, Barry has released version 1.0.4. Try downloading it, you won't regret it. Besides, it's a great distro for first timers with Linux. In fact, I learned a lot concerning commands and applications with this particular distro.

3. Vector Linux 5.0 SOHO

Can't install it on my machine using the default kernel. It just hangs whenever I hit enter at the boot prompt. I'ved used other kernels but it just hangs.

4. Vector Linux 4.3

What can I say but a good distro. Uses 2.6.7 kernel and once installed, everything just works without any configuration. Never did it give me any headaches, I was hoping 5.0 SOHO would do the same for me, but I was disappointed with it. My only gripe... the binaries ain't that good and even if you're using the Pkgtool, it's not updated. It even downloaded and installed Firebird 0.8 on my machine. Hehe! I never thought it will give me this problem. Well all I have to do is go to the developers website, download and install all the packages that I need. But that's a lot of trouble for me. But I'm still using this distro to do most of my stuff. I already downloaded the newest version of Mozilla Suite, Firefox, Thunderbird and Open and never did it give me any problems. If you want to be a System Administrator for Linux, this distro or Slackware is the way to go.

5. Ubuntu Linux 5.04

The Live-CD is really great but once I installed it on my machine, i started acting up. My regular,generic PS/2 mouse just won't work. I've tried everything I know. Search forums everywhere but still no luck. Well, I did recompile the kernel and that did it. But after giving me grief for 2 weeks, I figured I've had enough and reformatted the partition Ubuntu is on. It is pretty disappointing especially since it's motto is "It just works!"

But in fairness to Ubuntu, it is pretty good. It's interface is clean and most administrative tasks are graphical. It even has it's own Add-Remove Programs equivalent. If you want to explore Linux and wanted a full distro with everything you need, this is the way to go. It is a complete replacement to Windows XP. I just hope that you never have problems with the mouse like I did.

6. Fedora Core 3

After downloading for more than a month, I found out that it's way too slow on my machine. Has alot of daemons running in the background that's eating up a lot of resources on my machine. I have 384MB of RAM and it eats up around 290MB. I did manage to lower it down to 180MB but my machine is still too slow.

Packages are really good. But you need to have all 4 CD's for a complete installation. 2 CD's for a basic install. But still too sluggish on my machine.

Fedora Core 4 has attracted me greatly. They told me that it's fast and optimized even for my aging Pentium 3. I borrowed the 2 CD's from a friend and it is indeed faster than FC3. So now I'm in the process of downloading FC4. I'm done with the first 2 CD's, 2 more CD's to go.

I just hope that this distro lives up to my expectations. Once installed, I may not be uninstalling it or replacing it with a different distro. And once fully satisfied, I may even delete my Windows partition. I also hope it contains all the docs that I need, especially since they included everything in it. All the packages you might need to setup either a Corporate Server or your very own Media Center PC.

7. Gentoo Linux 2005.1

I just downloaded this distro. Installation took me 12 hours only to find out that my eth0 doesn't work. I must've done something wrong and I might have to reinstall it again. Also the packages that I got was for x86 not Pentium 3, which you could only download via bittorrent - which I find slow- don't ask me why.

I now have Gentoo installed. Takes me about 12 seconds to boot but I can't startx, well I can but it's not KDE or Gnome showing up. Just your basic x windows without any window manager. I'm sure I did emerge --usepkg kde and emerge --usepkg gnome, but I still can't startx.

Solution.... reinstall Gentoo from scratch and download the package CD for my processor. I don't have enough time for this, maybe next time.

8. Slackware Linux

Well I haven't tried it yet, but if I'm not satisfied with Fedora Core 4, I'm gonna download and install this distro. They told me that if you have problems with a linux box, call a slackware person and he'll most likely fix it for you.

9. CentOS 4 or Scientific Linux

If I'm planning on running my own business, this is what I'll use. Very stable and very dependable. Never tried it yet but I'm sure I'll be using either one.


  • If I'm a businessman and doesn't have time to learn Linux, I'll use Ubuntu.

  • If I'm a software developer who wanted to really learn the ins and outs of Linux, I'll use Gentoo

  • If I'm a a sytem administrator of a very big corporation managing clusters of Linux box, I'll install Slackware Linux or Vector Linux

  • If I'm putting up my own business, I'll use Scientific Linux or CentOS

  • If I need a rescue disc, I'll use Damn Small Linux

  • If I'm gonna recommend a distro, I'll recommend Puppy Linux once it reaches 1.2 or 1.3

  • If I just want to play around with Linux and learn as much as I could, I'll use Fedora Core 4

But I'm just a regular guy still learning and exploring Linux. And my quest to find a perfect Windows XP replacement has led me to Fedora Core 4 at the moment. Maybe in the future, I'll be looking for other distro, but right now, my heart is set out for FC4. Once I'm done with it, I'll be downloading and installing Slackware.