Flavor is Best?
someone with enough guts to share their personal view straight up and answer
the age-old question, which one do I get? Originally published
on Reallylinux.com under our Humor
Mixed with Reality section.
By Mark Rais, author of Linux
for the Rest of Us
Well known to me when I started writing
this piece were some of the many passionate Linux users who love their
different flavors. To these passionate people I tip my hat with great
respect, since it is without question those who love Linux so much are
also the ones who have brought it so far.
Yet, the age old question so, which Linux flavor should I get?
keeps popping up and as far as I know, other than basic reviews of new
shrink-wrapped versions, few have stood up and given a straight answer.
People who finally accept the reality that Linux is better, and are ready
to use it, hound me almost weekly. They stop by the message boards
or my office and ask, So which one do I get? As if to say, now
that I have finally come around to agree with you about Linuxs greatness
I need to get a simple answer.
I respect their desire and want to help them badly. Its obviously
something in need of a concrete answer. Our message boards have more
hits on the ONE single forum which Linux flavor to get? than ALL of the
rest of the hits to the boards combined!
So the big people here at reallylinux.com
grabbed me one evening, as I was finishing up and trying to wash my hands,
and pushed me against the stall door with a word of advice I have heeded.
We want you to be the scape goat and write an article on which Linux flavor
to get, and have it ready for publishing ASAP or this bathroom becomes
your office! [okay, this part is humor, see Im
Now, Im very open to good advice and since these fellows were both
bigger than me and control the root passwords to all of the office servers,
I decided to placate their wishes. It was either that or I live the
rest of my Linux career out in the third stall of the restroom.
I began my write up by recalling the sagas of Linux I had personally
lived over the past seven years.
My initial intro to Linux began with Slackware, for which to this date
I still have nostalgic love. This was a beauty of simplicity and
straightforwardness. However, if I were to recommend it to someone
who is afraid even of the words format your Linux partition theyd ignore
my advice or call me late one night yelling about how I screwed their system
with bad advice!
What then should I recommend to the infinitely increasing masses of
people who dont have time to figure out how to partition their disk for
Linux and yet want to gain the tremendous benefits of Linux any Linux
flavor I might add! What should I say to the masses of people who
dont like to tinker with their OS, but are technically adept?
I think through the experiences Ive had with SUSE Linux or other flavors
based on the significant work of Debian Linux such as Ubuntu or Xandros. Perhaps
one of these would be the best choice? Mandriva is another I've used
with success that comes to mind. Each of these flavors comes with
all the goodies you need right there at your fingertips, and among others
the latest Xandros includes Crossover Office to allow using MS-Office from
Linux! In most of the easy to the desktop flavors you get a whole
slew of excellent software installed including my personal favorite OpenOffice
from SUN, based on their incredibly useful and MS-Office compatible StarOffice.
All of these are solid flavors, but theres the unresolved dilemma.
How can I address the unresolved dilemma? I realize that inevitably
if I recommend a flavor that is simple, trimmed down for the new user,
they will soon be calling me with all sorts of annoying questions like:
now how do I setup a firewall, proxy, web server, etc. Inevitably,
and this is the dilemma, I end up spending even more time helping them
install new modules, recompiling the kernel to include some core functionality
they now want as a post-novice user, or helping them upgrade apps on a
This doesnt always happen. Some of the folks Ive helped move
to Linux LOVE and never change their initial easy to install flavor and
thats fine. But what about those who dont? What about those
who inevitably want to do more than they would have on their Windows machine?
That's really the power of Linux, to give us far more than just a simple
OS and GUIs to do work in.
Shaking my fist at the next message in my email box, I cry out, not
again, not another user who wants to know which Linux flavor to get!
Then it becomes obvious. Now this may not appear at all the case
from your vantage point, and I respect that since I dont expect the world
to agree with me. Remember, I was writing this article to keep from
making the restroom my office! So Ive got no qualms whatsoever if
you dont like my conclusion, but its what it is, my own experience.
It becomes clear what I should email back to yet another user who wants
to get going with Linux and cant stand hearing all of the thousands of
options, but instead simply wants ONE STRAIGHTUP ANSWER!
Go to this website and you can buy a pre-burned and tested Fedora set of CDs.
I recommend Fedora for those wanting to also learn Server aspects, and Ubuntu for those just in need of a desktop, but not because I'm some drugged up lover of
RedHat or received one iota of payment from Ubuntu. Instead I can recommend
these two flavors because inevitably, as someone who's tried a lot of flavors, I know
that if I simply take the route of recommending to newbies
that they go get flavor x, y, or z that I KNOW makes things super simple
to install and use, they will be back salivating for more
power, more functionality, more features or complaining that they don't get enough simplicity. This way, those who want more technical learning get it, while those who never wanted to know start using a great desktop version.
Fedora is not a panacea for those wanting to learn Linux and use it daily, and I'm not suggesting it will be. However,
it includes in one honed package EVERY THING I EVER NEEDED including the
Lets look at just a few of Fedora's offerings:
Fedora Linux has been tuned for performance so that IF my ambitions run
high and I want to serve 30 users off my machine sitting under the desk
I can -- and have (actually running a server with more than 50). It also gives me the flexibility both at install
and after to control and manipulate just about every nuance, even to the
point of getting rid of their home designed interface, if thats where
I want to go with my changes.
Graphical interfaces including all key versions: GNOME, KDE, XFce, X!
Server daemons and apps to run a tuned Apache web server, SAMBA, NFS file
serving, and MySQL among many others
Fedora does the job for beginners needing a simple install and rudimentary
applications in an easy to use environment with plenty of preinstalled server capabilities. Ubuntu offers newbies the
many essential applications they need already preinstalled.
Ubuntu offers users a versatile, stable, and significantly easy interface especially if they just want to switch from Windows and get started using applications.
Overall it is fast, flexible, and feature rich
for all users.
Would I push Fedora and Ubuntu down the throat of someone who's already up and
running on another flavor, NO WAY!
However, if you're someone who's just looking for one flavor
you can get started with easy enough and then grow into, both of these flavors offer their own unique benefits. Certainly, there are other flavors available that do
well, but Fedora and Ubuntu help me personally to answer the age old question: "So,
which Linux flavor should I get." Get the one that meets your needs: more technical but easy to install, or more desktop centric and simple to switch to.
EDITORS NOTE: We vehemently believe
that choosing to switch to ANY LINUX FLAVOR is a winning move. Reallylinux.com
editors view the decision to choose a flavor as a personal choice and recommend
that you always refer to more than one source to make informed decisions.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.
Red Hat and Fedora are trademarks of Red Hat Inc. All other trademarks
and registered trademarks belong to their respective companies. Opinions
noted on this site are not to be deemed factual. For factual information
refer to more than one source and decide for yourself.