The Distro Hoppers Guide To The Galaxy

Well once again I find myself on distro hopper status, after jumping back and fourth between OpenSuse 11.0, 11.1, Ubuntu Hardy and Jaunty and a few others once again I find myself uncertain of what distro is for me at this time.
Right now i find myself back on hardy once more, after having some troubles getting it up to speed Hardy still wins out overall for my system at this current stage.
But still I feel I have not found the right distro for me, how does one deal with a period of uncertainty in the linux world?
For most they return to windows, but for me I say to heck with that as despite my issues right now I am happier with linux then with windows.
For a hopper its just a matter of trying something out and seeing if it works.
But I am thinking of creating a guide for other distro hoppers because of my experience, I think my expertise in the major linux distros can benefit others.
Do you guys think this is a good idea?
Creating a basic linux guidebook for distro hoppers?
I have not seen it done yet as there are many distros to cover but I think that even a baseline guide that can cover all the majors (Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Mandriva, Debian, Fedora) and take a neutral approach to things.

I reckon a lot of distro hoppers stop at one of the puzzle distro’s Arch, gentoo, slackware think debian true etc… As they then get the system they want.

If people are hopping due to hardware it tends to never stop they continue hopping as one version works better than another ad infinitum. They need to work out why one distro does it better than another then apply the fixes(Linux is linux regardless of distro you can install .deb on a rpm based vs versa and tgz goes on all). Now this may make the choice for some people as some distros are better designed or easier than others for the task at hand.

There can and never will be a complete guide what you require from a distro is not what I require from a distro end off.

I’ve always thought that the effort spent distro hopping could be more usefully redirected to getting the distro of your choice working the way you want. It’s Linux, it’s FLOSS, there is a lot of help available, and most problems can be fixed.

Heavens, imagine telling a pointy-haired boss: Sorry, boss, I couldn’t get RHEL/SLES/Debian/whatever working for the web app you want. I think we have to switch distros.

Boss: #%*&@#?!

Ok, a desktop is not a server but still… problems can be fixed.

The problem with this is that, IMHO, there’s as much variation within distributions as between them.

Going from Gnome vs KDE3 vs KDE4.1 vs KDE4.3 on opensuse is darn near as big a change as going from opensuse to mandriva or ubuntu.

Well stated. Thats also always been my view.

That depends on how long it takes to get it working.

… or from another perspective, … how long it takes to hop (download, burn, install, configure) , surf for answer on a different distro forum , … can’t find the answer … post a question on same distro forum … wait for an answer … ask again, … weed out the bad answers … try … fail … ask again … and then hop again , … and again … and how many distro’s to try ?? … :slight_smile: Nahh … I’ll stick with one. And the longer I stick, the easier and faster it is to configure.

But TaraIkeda, re: your question about creating a distrohopper’s guide, … if you enjoy that sort of writing, then do it. Go for it !! One can learn a lot by such activities, and have fun at the same time.

But then problem solving techniques carry across distros. On the other hand if you hop, hoping it will work by chance, one’s skills don’t improve.

You seem to be narrowing the argument to suit your argument, i.e. “if you hop, hoping it will work by chance”. You have made the assumption that the hop is a leap of faith, the hopper wastes a lot of time repeating the same problem solving. What problem solving? It doesn’t take long to check out another distro these days of broadband, reliable burners and media, disk capacity, memory sticks, network installs and live-cd’s. It doesn’t take long to check the h/w support out, given that’s pretty fundamental. If it doesn’t work, don’t use it. Stick with the one you have, until you find one that just works for you. Then make more of a commitment. That’s life shop around before settling down. :wink:

There is an argument that says if you hop from the safety of openSUSE or Ubuntu say, to one of the more challenging distros (FeatherMonkey referred to puzzle distros) you could learn more in a few weeks (or fail) than you will in a few months/year of the two fore-mentioned distros.

@oldcpu you have merged with openSUSE :slight_smile: Nothing wrong with that.

Sure, I did put an “if” in front of the clause. If it takes no time to set up a new distro, then by all means hop away. However this is not my experience and that of many people. Sometimes it will just work swimmingly well. But sometimes you will hit some install issue and it will take longer then you hope. Even with openSUSE. Just look at the number of posts under Install/Boot. And running under a VM doesn’t expose problems with real hardware.

Also sometimes one of your conditions doesn’t apply. People have already made some commitment to the existing distro, have populated /home, have got used to that particular version of KDE, have got used to certain tools, and then they have to switch and relearn some of that on hopping. If one has nothing to lose before hopping, sure, go ahead.

When/if the day comes when Linux of any flavour will just work, then that would be just great.

Ok, but you didn’t say what makes it the winner for you. What makes it the winner?

But still I feel I have not found the right distro for me, how does one deal with a period of uncertainty in the linux world?
Same as you do for any other world. Take some time to write down your requirements. The things you really need, not things you think you might need. Also include stuff like documentation, wiki, forum, release schedule, timely security updates, access to project people, etc., anything that’s really important to you. Avoid soft or broad subjects such as community, and technical support, but pick out the specifics.

You can even score the distros against each requirement - how well do they meet it. Choose the highest score or the one that ticks all the boxes. If they dead heat, you have to think about qualities like trust, ability to survive, and the like.

But I am thinking of creating a guide for other distro hoppers because of my experience, I think my expertise in the major linux distros can benefit others.
Do you guys think this is a good idea?

Not sure it is, because you haven’t manged to come to a decision about the right distro for you, so how to advise others?

I’m not sure what you are aiming to do? Is it a “Which” guide to distros, or is it a “How to compare and select” i.e. a guide on techniques? :slight_smile:

Ok, maybe I didn’t read you quite right, and yes, people will hop for different reasons. Since you go on to talk about commitments made to existing distro, I broadly agree that the switch is difficult, and more like moving house. Roots (no pun intended) have been put down, so you only move for a big issue. I multiboot with a couple of other distros in the same way others need to dual boot with Windows, and I use a shared data partition. That makes it relatively easy to try out distros (with good reputations), over a longish period. It also provides some hot backup if suse gets broken.

That’s not really hopping. To me, hopping is more like a migrant worker or bedouin moving from place to place. Use a distro for a few months or longer, and move on to the next. I don’t abandon my main distro (not yet…). The others are on my box because they met/meet shortfalls in openSUSE support. I occasionally search their forums, only if I really need to, and never post. I could get rid of one of them, but will always keep one lighter “competitor” onboard to meet the shortfall, because of the way openSUSE has managed and delivered, post 10.3. Anyway, some people use different distros for different machines.

Given the quality of the top dozen or so distros, the hoppers are spoilt for choice. That’s why people like the OP find it difficult to decide. Each one has its special selling point. Once you decide to go on the “look & see trip”, if a distro won’t install cleanly, maybe a second try, but if it fails then ditch it and try another. It’s easy as long as data migration isn’t involved.

I don’t think we are disagreeing, it’s just that hopping could be read as ranging anywhere from window shopping to moving /home.

There are various strategies and hopping is just one tool. I was all ready to upgrade to Jaunty on this notebook I use at work, then I read about the Intel driver problems. So I decided to stay put on Intrepid until Karmic works it out. I’m sure that some of the blogs on how to substitute a different version of X and/or drivers would have also worked.

Althought it’s despicable marketing, I can see the assertion that M$ makes that the OS is tied to the hardware does hold for some users. The OEM has made the OS work on the hardware combo and as long as you stay within that envelope, the worst you have to do is an OEM restore. But of course that’s not good enough for the likes of us. Not to mention all the other downsides of M$ software.

Very true, but we have moved somewhat away from the original point of trialling distros in search for the best fit.

… But of course that’s not good enough for the likes of us. Not to mention all the other downsides of M$ software.

Not to mention the $ cost. :slight_smile: I would like to run just one main distro, and its a waste of “real estate” plus the maintenance overhead to have another distro onboard just for one app, albeit one I want. Although as I said, the quality of, and ease of installing a lighter weight distro these days makes it less of a problem. If I could get down to one favourite distro, I think I would sample others from time to time on a temporary basis, to avoid the “get what you’re given” trap.

As far as the DE is concerned, presentation aside, one KDE is similar to another, same for Gnome. For me it then boils down to hardware detection and support, and the tools (Yast is a big plus), never understood the passion for separate tools scattered around the place. Stability is important, with the opportunity to try newer stuff (and reject it). This distro provides a lot of that, not everything, but shortfalls in some key areas.

Some of the older stuff like the wiki is not fit for purpose now (IMO), but contains some excellent documents. Newer facilities are outstanding, such as: openfate for submitting requirements, the opening up of development through the milestones, and of course the OBS for packaging - open to the wider linux community. I hope all that is included in ones distro evaluations :slight_smile:

> how does one deal with a period of uncertainty in the linux world?

“How to install and boot 145 operating systems in a PC”
http://www.justlinux.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=147959


brassy

I occasionally use on my “play” system new to me distros, just to see what other folks are doing with FOSS, but I keep coming back to SUSE.

i’ve been with suse since v8.0 and i never thought i’d be interested in ‘distro hopping’ until i installed openSUSE 11.1 with KDE 4+.

what a mess this thing is. >:(

dolphin, menus, quanta+ and on and on.

this is a rant, i know it’s a rant. it’s meant to be a rant. :wink:

I can understand your rant concerning early KDE 4, so as 11.1 had some other pretty good stuff e.g. improved package management, you installed KDE 3.5.10, right?? :slight_smile:

‘I can understand your rant concerning early KDE 4, so as 11.1 had some other pretty good stuff e.g. improved package management, you installed KDE 3.5.10, right??’

if i had, i wouldn’t be ranting :wink:

Hi

All distros are equal, but some are more equal and all have at least 42 bugs. I’m really used to solve a few problems during the basic install (try to set up SuSE-11.1 on an ASUS Eee-Box B202, and you know what I mean).

But what’s more important is the lengthy process of configuring all the apps I need (FW, LAMP, mail, bind, maillists, spamfilters …) and there it’s good to feel at home and be familiar with the way a particular distro works. I would never try to save a few hours during step one to find myself at the beginning of the learning curve afterwards with an unknown distro.

I strongly support ken_yap: If it’s broken then fix it.