What's your favorite distro, and why?

Michael Torrie torriem at gmail.com
Tue Dec 3 09:47:35 MST 2013

On 12/03/2013 12:13 AM, Dan Egli wrote:
> So, I'll go ahead and start this one off. My personal favorite distribution
> has to be Gentoo. Yes, it's complicated. But I like that. I also like the
> fact that it's not a binary distribution, so someone else's ideas on how a
> package should be built are not necessarily the same ones I'll use.
> Let me give an example on that one. Years ago, when I first started fooling
> with courier-imap and the Maildir format (vs. UW's Mbox format) I tried to
> install the courier-imap package on my Fedora Core 2 system (yes, FC2, it
> was that long ago). The rpm failed to install because I didn't have all the
> dependencies. What was missing? Ohhh, just the database libraries for
> nearly every SQL based open source database available at the time! I
> already had MySQL installed, so that was fine. But then it insisted I
> install (among other things) mSQL, Pgsql, OpenLDAP, and (I think) sqlite. I
> was floored. Why on earth would you compile the package to have so many DB
> libraries required? I finally bit the bullet and installed them, but that
> always seemed a waste of disk space and resources, considering I'd never
> use any of those systems.

I used Maildir-formatted e-mail back with a Fedora Core 1 box.  I never
had the dependency problems you state.  Also I don't believe couier-imap
ever was a Fedora standard package, so you can't blame Fedora for your
dependency issues.  I probably was using an early version Dovecot, or
maybe I just built courier myself.

That said, none of the dependencies you mention are really a problem,
nor really a waste.  Despite your implication you're not really
installing all those database systems.  Rather you're just installing
very small shared libraries for potentially accessing those database
systems (IE the API is the only thing installed).  And the cost of
breaking all these small library dependencies out into separate packages
is just too high.  You don't want to have to have a full and complete
but different version of courier-imap for each permutation of software
combination!  I know that goes against your gentoo sensibilities! :)

Also, you can build your own software on Fedora, or any other binary
distribution.  I build wine from source regularly just to see how it's
coming along.  I build that from git source using the standard
configure, make, make install method.  Other things I make packages for
(rpm and deb).  It's not hard to modify and build packages that fit
cleanly into the packaging system.  When I was a sysadmin we had a rule
that we could only use packages on servers.  No compiling from tarball
was allowed, except if it was wrapped in a package.  And custom packages
had to have source RPMs saved and documented so we could maintain them.
 Basically tarballs == non-maintainable.  Especially on 20 or 30
servers.  Wherever possible we stuck to stock distro packages, or a very
few trusted repositories.

So I guess what you are doing with Linux dictates in part what distros
you'll be using.  For a server farm, any non-binary distro is going to
be pretty unworkable in my opinion.  For your own desktop or laptop,
should be fine.  Stick with what works I say.

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