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Distributions comparison

l.u. 18/01/2003

Note: this page is becoming obsolete. A lot of things changed in the last years in the linux world. Red hat and Suse are no longer recognized distributions (they moved their business on consulting and ad-hoc solutions), and newer came into the field. I will probably provide a more fresh comparison in the near future.

This page is dedicated to a short comparison between the linux distribution available. Of course I'm actually unable to review all distributions, so this will cover only the most widely used and known firms.

How we proceed

Often people ask me "which distribution should I choose?". Well, obviously there's not the "best" distribution. As usual, your choiche should be based on what you require to it.
There is a problem: linux could be used for many different uses. For any of these there is some distribution that behaves better than others. For you this means that you need to care a lot of factors. For me this (much worse :P) means that I should spend a lot of time.

So, what will we consider? There's a list of factors I believe most relevant. This is what I believe important. If you feel there miss something, mail me.

The big table

nNameverPatentUp-to-dateness sw amountreliabilitydocsmaintainment supporteaseportsprice
1 Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 :D :) :D :D :/ :DD :D :| 10 free
2 Mandrake Linux 8.2 :D :D :) :| :)* :D :) :D 3 :D
3 RedHat Linux 7.2 :| :D :) :/ :D* :( :| :D 2 :|
4 Slackware Linux 8.0 :D :/ :D :DD :/ :( :| :( 3 :)
5 Suse Linux 8.0 :( sorry I tried only 7.0, if you like to submit mail me 3

I hope I'll have time to grow this table. It's very limited right now, so please be patient. (Actually, maybe no new lines will ever appear).

Some consideration

It is obvious that there's nothing objectively in these notes besides my devotion :).
These votes come from a end-user viewpoint. For an administrator/society that do not care how they spend, the table above will be completely different.
If you like to pay, RedHat for example will be always ready to do obey your wishes ;). Speaking clear, RedHat's commercial services are quite expensive but really powerful (RedHat network is fine), often the best solution in cases, as said, of society that would put on the net their servers. Suse as well, but I think it's not so intrusive (my own impression).
Once upon a time I was using to use slackware. Now I can no longer tolerate its oldness, even if it's one of the best choices if you (expert sys admin) like to pick up a server.
Mandrake otherway is the worse choice for this job in the list, but I love its ease. It's so easy that I load it onto my mommy's pc. Some months ago she knew nothing about computer, and now (thanks to Mankdrake) she is able to dial up the net, browse, manage her mails, write documents and print them. Try with your! ;)
I'm too lazy to check the list to give "the Winner", and I don't care this. Today I'm conviced Debian keeps the best distribution a >= medium-expert could adopt, while Mandrake is the best if you're new to linux and want to try it. If you'll like it (I'm sure you will) consider to do a little donation to Mandrake Linux or to buy the PowerPack (it's cheap!): they do not sail good waters.
You can contact me by mail.