Monday, October 08, 2007
Linux is a Linux like a car is a car
You heard me say it before, a Linux is a Linux is a Linux, which is true if you blur the details. People being humans, always want to know what is the best Linux, the most popular Linux. These are impossible questions to answer, because it depends on what you are looking for. The reason there are so many Linux choices is because folks have put together different versions to meet so many different desires. Language sets, tool sets and application sets, all in various combos. It is all very much like buying a car. Some folks want small, efficient or sporty and some want a fully loaded SUV or crossover. Some will kill for a Lexus or a Hummer, a status thing, and some refuse to buy American. But in the final end, a car is still a car. Now you have to give it to Linux folks who have tried to formulate a Linux distro to meet specific needs/desires. This means that you, if you find a distro that meets your criteria, don't have to make a generic Linux match your particular needs. Its been done already. That is an ideal situation. I worked at a private school for a short spell. I had to configure a couple of MS Windows XP laptops for Korean students. It was not so easy to figure out how to do it. In Linux there's a Korean language distribution already figured out. I haven't tried it so I don't how that would work. But it is out there. Like with any car, the one everybody wants is the one where the advertising puts you in the driver's seat. You can see yourself, looking good behind the wheel. Some Linuxes enjoy the popular press spotlight and get a lot of attention. These are what most people see first. Name recognition is a big thing among us human beings. Red Hat, Linspire, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora and Suse all come to mind. There are more that are in the forefront. Being a long time Linux user, of course I have my favorites and my observations about the popular choices. First these so called popular Distributions are formulated to meet the needs of a large and diverse user group. They try to include something for everyone. Which is why some Linuxes are so large. It is getting so you must have the kind of internet connection you use to download movies just to download a distribution. A DVD's worth of stuff you might never use, but you have it all. If you only have a fast DSL like me, 1 hour for 700MB, it could take all day to download 1 DVD or several CD's of stuff. I really like the repository system of some distros. That way I don't have to have CD's laying around not being used and not being updated. I can download updated software as I need it. I am not naming names, but when you go to download your copy of Linux, you will find some popular distros not so convenient. Better to order the CD's or DVD's online. The latest trend by far is the liveCD/DVD. To be able to have a complete Linux on 1 CD is of great value. It also means it is very accessible to a great number of people. In my years of Linux use I have found that I do not use regularly all the software put in most distributions. This means I could use a smaller distro with no side effects. The smaller distros are not so popular, they don't include everything, less choice, less, less, less. Is it easier to get rid of what you don't need or want or is it easier to add what you want? You have to ask this question. I really like the smallish distros because they provide for my everyday computer needs and the ability to add the stuff I want. I have on my computer Kubuntu Linux which is good for me and I choose it because I liked the philosophy behind it as well as its look and feel and software selection. But I tried Puppy Linux which showed me that all that I wanted and used in Linux could be put onto a jump drive. Hummm..........SUV or sports car? But actually I settled for something a little larger that a sports car. Wolvix which is adequate for my needs, yet can grow, be tweaked and made personal. Yeah, it's not popular, up front, flashy, or edgy, but it does not miss when it comes to stability, longevity or support. Wolvix can have the wizbang that attracts a lot of Linux users today, but it is nice and comforting to know my system can operate without it. I am not struggling anymore with MS envy. Linux has caught up and passed MS a long time ago in my book. So now to add to my sayings, a Linux is a Linux is a Linux, smallish is better I think.