I’ve spent the last two days googling the different linux distributions (or distros, as the too-cool-for-school developers themselves refer to them. distro. rhymes with disco.) to figure out which of the options offered by my VPS hosting company (slicehost.com) I should go with. I’ve been trolling through linux users forums, hanging out in IRC chat rooms, and just generally starting flamewars everywhere I go.
Hint: want to start a flamewar in a linux chatroom? Just casually pop in and ask people which distro you should use. People will light up the channel with everything from the helpful,
Ubu4lif: There are a lot of beginner tutorials for Ununtu, you might want to start with that
… to the passionate,
DebCoreDev: Ubuntu is destroying linux! 4 out of 5 Ubuntu users are baby rapists! Do you love baby rape? DON'T USE UBUNTU!!1
… to the downright insane,
Blwinkl48: I compiled my own linux distro called ScurvyLinux. ScurvyLinux is the only distro that correctly handles packet addressing with Cyrillic text modifiers. You are completely vulnerable to attack from former Soviet hackers unless you use ScurvyLinux!
On the whole, not particularly helpful. Any conversation about linux distributions starts to very quickly sound like a fundamentalist tent revival. It’s all black-and-white, and any new user is a potential convert. The louder you shout, the more right you must be.
I started out on a simple quest: I need a basic LAMP server, capable of running multiple domain names on a single IP address, with some ftp access. That’s about as vanilla a setup as you can possibly get. Based on this simple setup, I sought some advice from the natives on which linux distro would be the best choice for me. I’ve summed up their advice here in this here handy list:
Pros: Debian places a high value on stability. If Debian tells you a package is going to work on their distro, it’s going to f’ing work. Like a Clydesdale. It has probably the largest user base, which just means that when you have a question, there are 50 arrogant pricks to mock you for being an idiot instead of 6. There are no tutorials for Debian. Debian users are too busy working for a living to write tutorials.
Cons: Debian refuses to support the GVideo Awesomo Force GX45800 Accelerator Card! Don’t they know that all L337 GaMerZ use the GX45800? Debian is so dumb for not supporting that card (repeat 50x, insert favorite obscure piece of hardware). Debian is the linux equivalent of your grandpa, sitting on his porch rocker muttering, “I just don’t think this new-fangled Frequency Modulation radio is going to be around for long. I’ll stick with AM. It’s a stable, mature technology …”
Pros: Oooooooh, pretty! Ubuntu is Debian, with support for the GVideo Awesomo Force GX45800 Accelerator Card, and every other thing people complain about Debian lacking. It also includes support for new utilities and program upgrades sooner than Debian does, but sometimes that means they jack up the implementation. There are roughly 19 billion tutorials for how to do anything you would ever want to do with Ubuntu. Unfortunately, they are all written by a 12 year old who knows even less than you.
Cons: Every other distro talks about Ubuntu in the same condescending tone of voice that the Romans used when talking about those silly Vandals, right before the Vandals sacked and burned Rome to the ground. Admitting that you use Ubunutu is the linux equivalent of putting a spoiler on your Hyundai – the only people who think you’re cool are other people with spoilers on their Hyundais. Also, Debian developers keep bitching about Ubuntu developers … something … taking from the open-source community … never giving back … I dunno, I dozed off after a while.
Pros: Apparently, with Gentoo Linux, you have to build the whole operating system yourself. Yes, this is the big upside that every Gentoo user keeps touting. Oh, hooray, I not only have to build the website myself, now I have to handcode the damn OS too. Hang on, let me get my soldering kit and some steel framing and I’ll wire up my own power supply while I’m at it.
Cons: uhhhhh … you have to build the whole thing yourself?
Pros: CentOS is NOT affiliated with any big name corporation. Not in anyway! Not us! It says so right on our website! If you’d like to try it out for yourself, you can downloaded our totally unaffiliated distribution at ftp://ftp.redhat.com. Not that there’s anything wrong with that …
Cons: Lying bitches. Also, according to one very helpful Gentoo evangelist, people who use CentOS are more likely to have unprotected sex. I am so completely not making this up. There are some batshit crazy ass people out there in linux land.
Pros: see CentOS.
Cons: You remember that asshole who lived down the hall in your dorm, the one with the Che Guevara t-shirt who kept talking about freedom and the rights of the people, except for the right of the people to not have to listen to him playing Bob Marley’s Legends CD all night long? Fedora is kind of like that. It’s all about freedom. Freedom from copyright. Freedom from intellectual property restrictions. It’s all about freedom, until it comes to your own freedom to install whatever the hell you want on your own computer. Then, not so much with the freedom.
It’s an operating system, not a religious movement. I’m not looking to become a convert, I’m not going to give my 10%, sing your songs, fly your banner from my rooftop. I just want to setup my blog.
I was amazed at how hard it was to actually get decent, reliable, non-biased information about the differences between linux distros. Why can’t someone just say, “Debian is designed around this idea, Ubuntu around this idea, Fedora does this really well, but Gentoo is better at this.” After swimming through the muck for a few days, I’m left with this thought:
The Linux community needs fewer fundamentalists. I can’t hear you talk above the noise of your shouting.