Monday, December 20, 2010

Linux != Linux

For those who are not C-savvy: != is the ≠ of (C-like) programming.

Well, clearly Linux == Linux (== is the = of (C-like) programming), but what I meant is that there are lots of different distributions (just look at this fine graph I found on the Wiki-page :3).

Or.. are they really that different?

Just a few moments ago I was researching in quite a bunch of distros; among others there were Arch Linux, Debian (Squeeze), Fedora, openSUSE, Slackware and Ubuntu (which I am using right now). Those are quite popular ones and that usually means it's proven itself and is well maintained.

What defines most of how an OS feels like is the way to configure stuff and the looks. The looks are quite uniform; GNOME is probably the most popular desktop environment, KDE being very wide-spread as well (and just as known).
Xfce for those who like a more minimalistic, but still feature-rich desktop and LXDE as a - as it seems not (yet?) - quite as popular environment and promising an even more efficient desktop than Xfce. It also seems to be more modular to me, due to an obvious component-based design.

It gets even more minimalistic with pure window managers, such as Openbox, Fluxbox, IceWM, ... and even more with tiling window managers.
I'm not sure how many people use compositing window managers, afaik those usually run as a back-end to some desktop environment (again, GNOME, KDE, ..).
I don't really know what's popular in those categories.
I prefer Openbox due to its (quite) minimalistic nature and compliance to the ICCCM and EWMH standards.

Furthermore I choose LXDE, because it offers all I need and still looks sleek. I find minimalistic GUIs to be appealing, it's not just because I want it memory-saving or something; though that is still a welcome effect.

Well, I didn't actually want to get so deep into explaining stuff, but now that it's already there...
Alright, so what's left is the configuration-part. Most (popular) Distros configure themselves upon installing and if you want to tweak something, there are mostly GUI tools.
I've come to like the terminal emulator to do stuff, because I don't have to search for programs in the menu (though stuff is usually easy to find, within a few keystrokes I can also do it in the terminal) and I don't have to wait for the window to pop up, find the button and so on.

This is really no major thing and if I hadn't a terminal I would have no problems doing it with the GUIs; I'm not an elitist here, I just got used to it.

I think most of the configuring part in Linux has roughly the same syntax. Some programs like to use XML though, which to edit in nano is not as convenient as using a simple GUI text editor.

As I've listed Arch Linux up there, it is said that in Arch you don't get as much GUI sugar. This is one of the reasons I was quite interested in it.

So, well, if configuration and the looks are almost the same in most of the popular Distributions, then what to decide on?
At first I just thought about staying with Ubuntu, but I did indeed find another aspect. And this I will discus in my soon to follow blogpost, as that one is getting large enough...


chaotika said...


I use kubuntu (ubuntu with kde) now. In the recent kubuntu kde 4.4 is well intergrated. If i disable the desktop efects it runs even on my slow laptop without problems.

I switched from gnome since there are significant changes outstanding. Gnome want's to switch to Gnome Shell and Ubuntu switches to Unity. I prefer a progressive Window Environment. I think KDE is the most inovative Window Environment out there at the moment.

KDE 4 was a bit unstable in the past but now it is mature.

I suggest you to test it. It is very nice.

z33ky said...

I will take a look at it before erasing my current Ubuntu :)