Over the years I’ve tried numerous distributions, and there’s been a gradual progression from what were probably the early leaders in the Linux market—RedHat for example—through to the some recent and popular examples, particularly Gentoo and Kubuntu.
The question that has been running through my head recently though is whether this is an issue of favouritism on my part, or whether it is because the distributions I use today really are comparatively better than the distributions I used 4 or 5 years ago.
I was a big Redhat user—I paid for Redhat and support for a number of years, and used it religiously until the Redhat/Fedora split a few years back.
It wasn’t the split that caused me to stop using Redhat per se, I just used it as an opportunity to start looking at other alternatives. I tried a number of solutions, including SuSE, CentOS (which is based on the Redhat base), and many others.
Fedora’s early versions were, I think some will agree, less polished and reliable than either the Redhat distributions they replaced, or the more recent Fedora solutions. I had numerous problems with Fedora Core 1, 2 and early revisions of 3. That said, I hear bad things about Fedora, particularly in terms of support packages and tools, from some of my associates.
I ultimately settled on Gentoo as my primary solution. My basis for that decision was the source based distribution nature of Gentoo. As someone who uses many different platforms and environments and wants to get the best performance out of each of them, the host-compiled nature of Gentoo provides ideal performance, albeit with a large overhead for the compilation of each package.
Gentoo is great from a server and software development/test environment point of view. I haven’t found it such a good solution for the desktop, not because it doesn’t handle it well, but because if you want to keep your system up to date, completely recompiling KDE, X and QT can take a couple of days.
Back to the original point—my dumping and migration away from Redhat and Fedora was driven by problems. But am I doing them a disservice? Do I now only use Gentoo and Kubuntu because they are the latest ‘fad’ distributions, or because they really are the best for my needs?
I don’t think there is an easy answer to that, not without spending a lot more time than I have now. I’d appreciate others opinions though on whether the popularity of certain distributions is due to them really being the best solution available, or whether we are responding to some net-generated hype.