What makes one linux distro better than others?

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On various linux forums people say they prefer slackware or arch linux, or ubuntu or one of its forks. Yet all of these have similar desktops and can be configured to be identical, and they all feature the same standard utilities. So why would one prefer one distro over another?
1) The repositories. Some distros may have an older version of a program in the repository instead of the newest. Some distros may not have a certain program in the repositories at all, although this is rare and doesn't affect important programs.

2) Desktop environment and tools. Some distros have a custom desktop environment/window manager (Unity in Ubuntu, Cinnamon in Mint) or have custom utilities (openSUSE for instance has a useful Control Panel thing).

That said, your post touches an important issue: Linux fragmentation. I believe that it would be much better if we'd only have one major distribution instead of the 150 or so small useless general purpose distros we have nowadays. Of course there are specialty distros, such as PartedMagic or BackTrack which are very useful, but I'm not talking about those.
Distros differ on their policy about including non-open packages. You can usually still get the app from third-party sources. There is no right or wrong there, just shades of grey.

Microsoft and Apple have their "one major" products. They have development teams, who dictate what there is and is not. Each GNU/Linux distro maintainer is a similar development team, but the users have right and chance to disagree without quitting the use of GNU/Linux.


I don't prefer a distro. I use the distro, that I have learned to use. Something else could be better, but I have to weight the cost of migration against the potential benefits. Lame, as that is the usual excuse for not shifting from Windows to GNU/Linux.
@keskiverto, nothing wrong with sticking to the familiar distro. When I need to install something quick and dirty, I reach for Slackware, which I used for over 15 years, and know every configuration quirk. And the reason I went with Slackware back then was that it could be installed from floppies...
windows XP version 3 ftw
closed account (o1vk4iN6)
In case of some other distros they compile programs from source with custom compilation flags set to take advantage of whatever hardware you have. I believe Gentoo uses this type of distribution, idk about any others. Obviously though they are behind in versions, though can still use the most recent sources they are considered unstable. If you have one unstable program that requires another unstable library and that same library is used by other stable programs it can really become a mess.
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As far as single user, general purpose go, it doesn't really matter. Where Linux really shines and differences actually matter is in the enterprise world.
It's down to your own preferences really. There's no specific guidelines to follow when determining which is 'best'.
xerzi wrote:
If you have one unstable program that requires another unstable library and that same library is used by other stable programs it can really become a mess.

Debian has the same problems. I'm not sure who'd be satisfied with GCC 4.4 nowadays.
closed account (1yR4jE8b)
Debian 7 uses GCC 4.7.
I'm not sure who'd be satisfied with GCC 4.4 nowadays.

RHEL 6 is not the only one still at 4.4? (It does have on-the-side GCC 4.7.2 "devtoolset" package though.)
It all depends on your personal preference or application.

If you are new to Linux, Ubuntu is usually recommended.

If you have a very specific need, Gentoo might be appropriate. Gentoo allows a lot of customization, so you are not getting anything you might not want or need. I used to work for a company that was in the telephony industry (VoIP), and they were very anal about streamlining everything. They did not want any overhead or any cycles going to waste. I suppose they were right, after all, it doesn't take much for a user to notice a lag in their telephone conversation when speaking to somebody. They used Gentoo. But heed the infamous warning about Gentoo: the installation process is only four steps, but step one is about five pages long (if printed).

I think the same could apply to robotics. If your application is very specific, you only want exactly what you need and nothing else. You want robotic control to be as close to real-time as possible. Again, Gentoo might be the right distro for this application.
you know what, ubuntu drives me crazy, so i want to install network miner or flash or wireshark, I have to apt get things like wine tricks and do all sorts of completley new abstract things, im not just jumping through new hoops im jumping through entirley new concepts and the walkthroughs are all for people who are experts allready, otherwise they wouldnt be running ubuntu, so NOTHING makes sense to me, i suspect that linux doesnt work and everyone is pretending it does
Yes, devon. Linux is a lie, along with the cake. Linus is actually SpoonLicker who is actually the owner of these forums who made all these accounts to make you love linux.

When the truth is Linux is trying to overcome microsoft and use the money to build an energy turrets to take over the world.
@Fredbill30
You have seriously got to get off your spoonlicker kick. That joke remark will mark you as a MS fan boy if you aren't careful.

@OP
The distros are more determined by your preferences. I use Crunchbang (#!) Linux myself and like it over the other distros. While others may like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, etc.
BHXSpecter wrote:
While others may like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, etc.

Mandriva Linux is dead. Which is a shame, because it had some of the smoothest fonts I've seen in a Linux distro, out of the box.

Then again, Mandriva's not really dead. I'm sure there must be some Mandriva-clone out there.
Ok. Sorry BHX.

I'm no MS fanboy, I just don't like the mac and never got around to installing linux on one of my spare machines.
@op, its subjective, I think XP is the best, despite it being too stupid to change default network gateway

xp is annoying too,
like theres absolutley no way to set your hardware to use promiscuous mode with windows xp, but then linus is fine, its just that with xp i know its not possible but with linux i have to be some kind of genius to make it work

not that installing mono to use things like networkminer are possible for non computer science PHD experts.

seriously, linux is never going to replace anything if its not going to be user friendly.

I guess linux is a million times better than windows...if you know how to use it, which i don't.
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What's Linux XP?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_XP

Discontinued, apparently.
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LB your a clever man, could you whip me up an os that doesn't give me any jip when it comes to networking?
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