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Voice of the Masses: What made you choose your current distro?

We all have our favourite distro(s), so here’s an opportunity to tell the world about your pick of the bunch. What made you choose it? Did you come across it by accident, or was it recommended to you? Have you been running it since your first forays into the world of Linux, or is it a more recent discovery? And do you plan to stick with it for a while?

Let us know your thoughts below, and we’ll read out the best comments in our upcoming penguin-themed audio extravaganza, aka the Linux Voice podcast.

90 thoughts on “Voice of the Masses: What made you choose your current distro?

  1. Currently I use Netrunner OS. As with any other distro I’ve used, my decision was based on it having a decent implementation of KDE, and its particular set of bugs not being show-stoppers for me.


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      1. Yeah, they’re one of the distros being sponsored by Blue Systems, who have some involvement with KDE. It is a very nice desktop.


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  2. Glenn Holmer

    Slackware 1995, SUSE 1998, Ubuntu since 2008. Ubuntu provides the best balance between ease of use and functionality. I’ll stick with it as long as I can use my beloved KDE instead of the abomination that is Unity.


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  3. Andrew Clunn

    There are four criteria I use when selecting a distro:

    1) Active development and support. I’m not going to install an abandoned OS to use for security and compatibility reasons.

    2) Package management. .pac, .deb, or .rpm This will impact the software I can install, and how I’ll go about it. I favor .deb or .rpm because I’ve dealt with them before and have more comfort in using them.

    3) Default desktop environment. I favor lightweight, minimal customization desktops. I did use Razor-qt, but have recently come to enjoy Pantheon. I don’t want to spend hours going through obscure menus or to have to install numerous third party extensions to get a sensible desktop. Just give me something that has internally consistent use logic out of the box.

    4) Developing something original. I don’t care if it’s a single application, but the group / company / organization that makes the distro needs to be writing something unique, and in effect contributing open source code. Otherwise their distro is just a repackaging of other people’s work. I won’t bother to support, back, or even use a distro where no original coding was involved.

    My current distro of choice is Elementary OS by the way.


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  4. CrunchBang @ work – because the hardware its running on has a “Designed for Windows XP” sticker on the front and is pretty lowly. I chose it because of the hardware and stuck with it because its very good!

    Linux Mint @ home – because all the laptop function buttons and WiFi work out of the box and I have yet to find anything it cant do.


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  5. I use Crunchbang. I’d heard about it before, but decided to actually check it out when someone on the Linux Lifestyle podcast mentioned that the #! forum was promoting the LV crowdfunding campaign. Turned out it had everything I wanted – synaptic, deb packages next to no cruft whatsover, and a big enough community to help me out where I went wrong. It took me a while to get used to Openbox, but now I barely use the menu at all. I’m Alt+f3ing all over the place.


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  6. I’ve used Manjaro for the last year or so. Runs like a dream on old hardware with none of the stress of installing Arch. Nicely preconfigured Openbox desktop, fast boot times, does everything I need quickly. Tried tons of distros first but Manjaro just works how I want it to.

    Shame about the themes in the latest images though, they look like they were designed by teenagers who have just seen the Matrix.


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  7. citizenoftheorionarm

    Ubuntu. Why? It’s the only distro I could find that has drivers for my wireless card in its repositories. I am a lazy bastard, yes. But to be fair to me, I’ve been an Ubuntu user since Dapper Drake just because it was a nice gentle way to get into Debian.


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  8. My favorit distron is elementary OS. Because it is lightweight, beautiful and very very fast.
    But my current distro is Ubuntu, because, it is the only one i know of, that lets you overdrive your laptop speakers, so i can watch films with loud enough sound.


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  9. I was on the path to choose Debian, but my Dad handed me a Slackware disk and said it was not bad and Patrick Volkerding was a capable, decent sort of a chap. My Dad’s rather prone to understatement. I’ve been happily slacking ever since.


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  10. Linux Mint cinnamon for me. It simply offers the best features and performance I can find, not to mention their focus on easy of use. Hell, clem and the team even implemented some of my ideas into it directly, so it has my vote.


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  11. Kubuntu. Ubuntu has a great repository and is reliable but I prefer the KDE desktop and Kontact in particular.


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  12. Brian Hunter

    I use Manjaro currently. It was recommended to me by Linux Voice’s very own Liam Dawe on the irc channel. I was using Ubuntu 12.04 for its support of Valve’s Steam gaming client, and I asked the irc channel for advice on good distro’s that work well for gaming. Liam mentioned that Manjaro comes with Steam pre-installed, so I gave it a try and I loved it.

    I had used Arch years before, so I had to dust off my pacman skills (the package manager, my pacman gaming skills are as sharp as my Super Mario Kart skills!), but Manjaro ticked two boxes for me – great Steam and Graphics card support for gaming, and it’s a rolling release, which I much prefer to the upgrade path.

    I liked Manjaro so much that I even put it on my laptop. I’ve been using it a few months now, and I have no plans to change it any time soon.


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  13. In 2008, I started using Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, because I liked the name of it, and thought about freeing my photos out of iPhoto hostage.

    A year later I switched to Linux Mint 8 Helena, because I found the mintMenu better than the Ubuntu menu system. Also, I liked checking MD5 sums from the menu, and reading humorous quotes in the terminal.

    Since then I stick to Linux Mint. I like the way Clement Lefevre makes decisions. Importantly, I think that Nemo and Caja are better file managers than Nautilus, since Canonical did cut away some really useful features with Ubuntu Natty Narwhal (11.04).


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  14. I chose Ubuntu because it was easy to use, I could use all of my hardware and especially because as a Linux newbie, I could find solutions to my problems easily (google search and Ubuntu forums).


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  15. Andrew Bowden

    Ubuntu amazed me when I first installed it. Things were simple, and stuff just worked. And if they didn’t, they were in the next release. I could just do a dist-upgrade every now and upgrade to the latest goodness. Indeed apt has become a massive selling point for me full stop. And then there was the fact that the community is massive. Need help? The answer is probably there for Ubuntu.

    I didn’t like Unity and began to tire of Gnome 3 so when I last came to change my distro, Mint was the obvious step forward. All that apt goodness, and the Ubuntu connection to boot. I still think it’s a shame to have left Ubuntu, but I have the next best thing.


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    1. This is pretty much my experience too. I ditched Windows for Ubuntu 10.04 and I’ve stayed faithful-ish, running Ubuntu 12.04 albeit with Gnome 3 as the front end.
      But there are several enduring bugs which don’t appear in Mint and I’m looking forward to hopping over to a new Minty-fresh distro shortly. But I have a quandary… Now that Canonical has dropped Ubuntu1, and integration with Nautilus will no longer a feature, what will be the key differences between Mint 17 and Mint LMDE?


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  16. Mint. I’ve been using Mint since version 5. All of my laptops from old to new run it without hitch. Mate and Cinnamon are nice desktops. Thanks to Clem and the crew.


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  17. I started off with Ubuntu 9.10 and worked my way from there up until Unity arrived, well, that was it for me I ditched Ubuntu. After that I decided to test all the well known flavours in VMs e.g. Fedora, Suse, Mageia, Kubuntu and the list goes on. I found a lot of the distros felt bloated and performed poorly. I finally settled with crunchbang and trisquel as they seem to use less memory.


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  18. I chose my current (Mint) because it was on a disk in a magazine, written by some pretty cool guys (I’m referring to Linux Format 154 if you did’t catch my drift)


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  19. Shall I start at the beginning, it won’t take long :)

    First off I chose Caldera OpenLinux 1.1, the reason being that I’d been following a distribution form Lasermoon called Linux-FT and they were working towards POSIX compliance and the technology was incorporated into Caldera. It was also helped by spotting a boxed copy on the shelves of PC World just when I finally had some spare hardware to install onto.

    Next was Red Hat 6, largely because a friend had a spare boxed copy and I thought I’d have a play. That didn’t last that long because it was both in the era of RPM dependency hell and the move from RPM 3 to RPM 4 which caused no end of hassle.

    Debian 2.0 was next and breath of fresh air with the repositories managing all the dependencies, and I may well still be there but for one installation I had on hardware I didn’t choose; it had nVidia chipsets everywhere from the NIC to the HD controller, graphics to i/o and Debian was proving too much hassle to install so I tried Ubuntu 6.06 LTS on there and everything went smoothly.

    I’ve gradually drifted everything across to Ubuntu, mainly because of wanting to work on a standard base, but also an occasional need to use newer packages than were available in Debian; having everything in the main distro instead of using backports is tidier.

    Initially I grumbled about Unity, but apart from not having a menu (which is very handy for finding that application you can’t remember the name of, or seeing what you have installed) I tend to quite like it; all I need to do is start a terminal most of the time! I use Xubuntu on my netbook because I need something light weight and Xubuntu 12.04 is an LTS release (Lubuntu 12.04 isn’t).

    I won’t list all the ones I’ve tried over the years, but does anyone remember Storm Linux? It attempted a bit of voice synthesis over the internal PC speaker on boot back in 2000(ish)!


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  20. Linux Mint Xfce edition. It combines my favorite distro, Linux Mint, itself an even more user friendly version of Ubuntu, and Xfce, my favorite desktop enviroment. It’s like a match made in heaven.
    Before using Linux Mint I’ve used Xubunu, and before that Debian with Xfce.
    In short, I’ll use anything that has Xfce and is easy to use out of the box.


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  21. Yorkshire Tyke

    I started out with Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” after a Microsoft Windows-XP update stopped my dial-up Internet connection from working. However the switch to the Unity desktop made me switch to other Distros. My current desktops are running Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon as I think Cinnamon is not getting in the way I use my computers. But I am trying Ubuntu 14.04 and Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 on my Netbooks, as I like the idea of having a LTS system and I’d like to see if they have improved enough to be installed on my desktops. The bottom line being that the OS should work with my computer hardware and the desktop interface should assist me in using my favourite apps and not hinder the way I work.


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  22. I’ve been using Arch for 5 years now. It appealed to me for the following reasons (among others):

    * Rolling release: No more apt-get dist-upgrade regularly breaking things!
    * Up-to-date packages: No need to enable a PPA to get up-to-date versions of software that revs quickly.
    * The Arch User Repository (AUR): If a piece of software you’d like to use is not packaged officially, it’s usually in the AUR and able to be easily built and installed.
    * If a service is running, it’s because you installed the software and started the service/set it to run at boot time.


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  23. Arch Linux. I started to use it because when I started to use it it has one of the best kde repositories, and the migration from gentoo was very straight forward.
    Nowadays I use MATE or XFCE, but I’m stick to arch.


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  24. Kevin O'Brien

    I use Kubuntu, and have for a number of years now. I prefer KDE to other desktops, I prefer Debian packaging to RPMs, and what distro better combines those two? IT is a polished and very usable distro that lets me sit down and do my work without a lot of fiddling around.


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  25. On my laptop Opensue 13.1, why because I don’t like unity and it does what I want!.

    Desktop has gone from ubuntu to lubuntu, only reason I’ve stopped at dropping to lubuntu is for steam and I’m too lazy to get it to work with another distro.


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  26. From 2000 to 2003 I was distro-hopper when a friend recommended Slackware (who was and still uses Debian in his household and at his work). Since then I’ve been a happy Slackware user. I like to tinker with things in general and while other distros have nice GUI tools to make things work, with Slackware most things just need to be dealt with by reading through some documentation (maybe a man page, an online search, or posting to the LQ forums, etc.) I won’t claim Slackware is suitable for all but I’ve found over the past decade+ that it’s my distro of choice.
    (Crunchbang would be my second, but it’s a distant second.)


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  27. Nebucatnetzer

    I’m currently an Arch Linux user.
    Because of the following reasons:

    -I hate bloat with passion. My system my programmes.

    -I’m an early adapter means two things, for one I like to buy new stuff means I need support for new devices.
    For example I never really got MTP successfully running on Debian Stable/Testing.
    Secondly I like to have up to date software on my machines without having to fear that I break tons of things or pulling in a complete Gnome environment by accident.

    -Speed, Arch Linux is with my setup just shockingly fast. Windows 8 wakes from standby in the time Arch boots.


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  28. i started with redhat 5.2but never used it as primary os. when i finally went to linux i went with ubuntu. when unity came along i moved to xubuntu. but when i got latest system with win 8 on it it took so long to install linux beside it that when i finally wiped the system and used it 100% linux i went with ubuntu with unity. it felt so much less bad than metro in win8. some sort of stockholm syndrome i’m guessing. :-)


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  29. I’m using Mint with Cinnamon. Why? Because it’s what works better in my laptop and for myself at the moment.
    A couple of years back I bought a new Laptop which, I guess, was around the time that Ubuntu was changing to unity also. Ubuntu had problems dealing with some hardware on my new laptop, which strangely Mint didn’t, and I had problems dealing with Unity and the removal of several fixtures I was used to. Mint was the choice to go.


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  30. Archlinux for me because it’s so darned minimal it ain’t even there, plus the fact it gives me the chance to hang with the big boy’s & feel elitist which in turn enables me to look down on other less fortunate users (ubuntu). The arch way is my bible, the wiki is the book of revelations, the forums could be decribed as exodus. The beginners guide is the book of genesis.
    Amen
    FOSS4LIFE


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  31. roman the ant

    When Unity arrived in Ubuntu 10.10 I switched instantly to Fedora cause I didn’t like the fact that there was NO CHOICE and one had to use Unity instead of Gnome (when Unity was introduced it was not possible to change the UI to Gnome shell). And I did never like the design of KDE neither. What is more I’m one of the few guys who really like the concept behind Gnome Shell :)


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  32. Ubuntu/Lubuntu because:
    - deb packages, I started with Debian and I like deb too much to move to other package managers
    - Started using Ubuntu because it was a Debian derivative with better out of the box hardware support, and stayed with it.
    - I always install it (Ubuntu or Lubuntu depending on the hardware) on family’s and friend’s computers so it’s good to use the same distro for when they ask questions.
    - I actually like Unity (but I usually don’t admit that ;) )


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  33. someone jelly

    Back in the day I started with Redhat… but since coming back to Linux about 5 years ago I’ve been with Ubuntu. A colleague suggested I try it because it worked “out of the box”, which is not something I had experienced when dabbling with early Linux distros. An easy install and easy to use, plus a large community of support has kept me with Ubuntu, even through the Unity drama, which I’ve struggled to relate to. I recently installed Mint under VirtualBox and can see why there is so much love for it. I could easily go down that path…. but for now I’ll stick with Ubuntu. I recently upgraded my 5 machines to 14.04 and they’re all running solidly. I’m no longer a Linux apologist; these days I tend towards Linux evangelism!


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  34. theothermatt

    I began with (a very brown) Ubuntu 9.10 and Gnome 2 as a Vista refugee (my laptop was blue screening so often at the time I believed it might well be broken, but no, it was just Vista). Switched to Kubuntu and then Mint when Ubuntu started becoming suspiciously purple, eventually joining the Debian hoard after Wheezy froze, where I’ve been happy ever since.


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  35. omniferious implimenter

    pclinuxos, stable, rolling release, good version of kde. hardware detection better than many of the big boys.brilliant forums


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  36. I’ve always been a distro-hopper and my hops have been mostly axccident-induced. Most recently I broke my Debian/XFCE install, decided to give OpenSUSE/KDE a chance, then it broke after an update and I went to Ubuntu 14.04, got really bored really quickly and now I’m on Antergos and for the first time ever running an Arch-based distro (I did follow LV tutorial on installing Arch and I *think* I installed it but I’ll never know for sure as the bootloader didn’t reckognise it and I lost patience). So far I’m liking this experience, although I have a feeling that I’m not in Kansas anymore…


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  37. Debian installing via netinst CD
    - no unnecessary/excessive programs installed for you

    Sensible default setting
    - programs looks/works as upstream designed it to be, no extra layer added

    Superior infrastucture
    - mirror available worldwide ensures that you have the fastest mirror wherever you are
    - easy dependency resolution using aptitude/apt
    - tons of programs available in default (read as trusted) repository
    - all desktop/environment available in its default repo , e.g. KDE (actually usable in Debian), fluxbox,fvwm, etc.

    Security
    - security patches available as priority

    Choice for new/experience user
    - stable / testing / unstable , your choice

    For the rest of the world
    - needed only ONE external repo (www.deb-multimedia.org) and almost 99.99% of the programs the most user ever need will be available


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  38. Debian, Debian, Debian. That is, I use Debian sid on my desktop, Debian jessie on my laptop (a Gluglug!), and Debian wheezy on my VPS.

    One big reason is that I can keep my configurations consistent between computers easily, and I only really have to be familiar with one distro for all of my needs—it just runs so well for every purpose (including on my now thankfully deceased PowerPC iBook G3).

    Another reason is how open the development of the project really is and how great the community is. I love that I can build Debian packages using their own build system with remarkable ease. It feels like the whole point of free software is fulfilled in that step, the reproducibility of the binary distribution from source.

    And that really is the crux of it; Debian’s free software, and with only the cleanly separated main repository enabled, I’m cruising in a silicon space cruiser of freedom. Go Linux Voice!


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  39. Viking Penguin

    I use Linux Mint 16 “Petra” Cinnamon because everybody gave it so nice reviews. It is a great distro, but somehow i miss my old Xubuntu.


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  40. I ran SuSE 6, 7, and 8. I skipped 9 because 8 was working really well for me. I finally set about upgrading to openSUSE 10.

    My Zip drive wouldn’t work, I was using it to back up my various documents. This was when udev was new, the work around was to write a rule to create all possible hdx4s. I thought this was really dumb because its the sort of thing udev was supposed to avoid.

    YAST updates broke and led to several reinstalls with YAST updates breaking repeatedly, the YAST user managment broke as well as I remember. I ultimately reinstalled SUSE 8.whatever.

    After that adventure I was pondering a different KDE distro. I had some kind of Kubuntu from the CD/DVDs that came with the “other magazine”, I installed it and never looked back.


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  41. David goadby

    It’s been SUSE since 6.4 (floppies!). I use Linux for both work and pleasure. SUSE is a safe pair of hands, the releases are never too dramatically different and YAST saves me learning to edit lots of config files (mostly). I use KDE so can’t vouch for the other desktops. Now I virtualise a lot I tend to run little SUSE “appliances” as well. That said, I run Debian under ARM and I like Mint. In fact I always try new versions just in case I missed a gem! So far it’s always back to SUSE.


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    1. Yea, SuSE Studio is great. I’d like to build my own using kiwi, but Studio is way too convenient


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  42. Pat Your Dog

    Started with Kubuntu 8.04 on desktop, wrestled with that for a couple years until giving up (had some real nightmares, mostly bad luck I think) and last year installed Mint and am very happy. Had run Lubuntu on my netbook but changed to LXLE to see if it would cure frequent hang on shutdown. It didn’t, but I like it better so stayed.


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  43. I use Arch Linux because I used Debian and I used Debian because I used Slackware and I used Slackware because I used Gentoo and I don’t remember why I used Gentoo…


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  44. Burgess Meredith

    I hop like mad, but I’ll always have a Mint Cinnamon installation. It is the easiest to use, and hands down the most stable and reliable operating system I’ve ever used. That includes Linux, Windows, and Mac. The only breakage I’ve had has been my own damn fault.
    But, KDE is my favorite environment. I just don’t care for Mint’s KDE edition. For the last year I’ve been dual booting with Sabayon KDE on my desktop. I wanted something other than a Debian or Ubuntu base so I could learn some new things, but I also wanted to stay within my limited abilities. Sabayon does a nice KDE. Gentoo with handholding.


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  45. My first attempt with Linux was Mandrake back in 1998 or so. I used Redhat for a while after that. I finally settled on Ubuntu because they made it clear they were trying very hard to be an easy desktop/laptop solution. I still use it at home. The servers where I work are all CentOS, which I like but don’t have strong feelings about. My workstation is Crunchbang because the hardware is old, and I think I’m paraphrasing one of the LV guys when I call it “Linux for people with shit to do.”

    Also, I had an interesting distro experience after my apartment burned down. I was in grad school at the time and managed to finish my thesis on a bootable pen drive running DamnSmall Linux. I just stuck it in any public terminal I could find on campus. It even worked on the card catalog machines in the library, which were buried in the stacks and almost never in use. Thanks to DSL I have a spare History degree I’m not using if anyone needs one.


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    1. I’m currently running Ubuntu 12.04 on my desktop. I meant to install 13.10, but I accidentally dd’d the wrong ISO image to the USB stick (grr tab completion), and didn’t realise until I noticed that it was an old version of LibreOffice. By that time, it was all set up. I keep meaning to update it to 14.04, but never seem to get around to it.

      I use Ubuntu because I’m one of those strange people that like Unity. I don’t quite know why, but it just seems to fit in with my way of using a computer.

      On my laptop, I’m running Lubuntu 14.04. It’s a celeron, so needs something quite lightweight, and I’ve always liked the theming of LXDE in Lubuntu. It’s actually the first time I’ve used Lubuntu seriously, and it’s only been for a few weeks, but so far it’s working well. (previously I was running gnome3 classic on top of kubuntu (don’t ask)).

      On my personal VPS I run Centos. Partly because it’s a solid distro, and partly because I want to stay familiar with non-Debian Linuxes.

      On my Pi I run Raspbian because I’ve never had a good reason not to, on my phone I run Android 4.4, and on my tablet I run Cyanogenmod partly because I like the freedom and partly because I like being different (read: awkward).

      Blimey, I run six different Linuxes. I never realised it was so many.


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    2. Mike Saunders

      I guess they can in the podcast itself! I might not be able to take part in this one, so here we go:

      I’ve gone through pretty much everything over the years. Started with Red Hat 5.1 in 1998, spent a few years with SuSE, then on to Mandriva, and a while with Slackware (love the purity). Today I’m largely a Debian kinda person: Xubuntu on my main desktop, Debian in various VMs for testing stuff, and Raspbian on my Pi.

      Xubuntu is my “home” distro for a few reasons: I love Xfce (all the features I need without trying to redefine paradigms), I love Debian, and it gives me a fairly up-to-date Debian installation with little post-install configuration needed. As much as I enjoy poking around inside Linux internals, for my day-to-day Linux desktop I want something that just works.


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  46. Jonathan Whitaker

    Ubuntu 14.04. Apt/Ubuntu Software Center, support from everything, and believe it or not I love Unity :)


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  47. Rob Adornato

    Debian 6. If it’s good enough for the International Space Station, it’s good enough for me. Also, it will have security support for another 2 years, according to recent mailing lists.


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    1. Rob Adornato

      Started with Ubuntu in 2007 and within 6 months was running Slackware. Had to step away from linux for a year, but now I use it as a Blender and Python workstation.


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  48. Started with Slackware 3.1 in 1996. Remember downloading what seemed like a hundred 1.44MB images using a 28.8kbps modem. Stayed with that until 2000 when I bought a box set of Suse 7 (from the Linux Emporium – online). Moved to Ubuntu in 2004 (Warty). Loved Ubuntu until I found Arch 2 years ago. I LOVE arch. The rolling release model is the primary reason I switched. Was fed up of Ubuntu upgrades going south more times than not. Love the AUR. Love pacman. I have learned more about linux in the last two years, than in the 16 years before that. To me, arch just makes sense. I use the MATE desktop.


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  49. Sultan of Swing

    Started with Mandriva, as it was recommended as being “close to Windows”, and have favoured the KDE desktop for some time. Although I have had several forays with Gnome2, especially with Ubuntu, which impressed as it “just worked”, but I always returned to KDE as I could tweak to my taste. I subsequently chose Kubuntu for a few years, before migrating to Mint KDE, but as it doesn’t do automatic upgrades of versions, I returned to Kubuntu. A few years ago, I discovered Ubuntu Studio, as it was awesome for video production, especially with a low-latency kernel. I had this installed on a separate partition, but this got annoying when I wanted to just check my emails etc, plus I found XFCE limited, so my current deployment is Ubuntu Studio with a KDE or Razor QT desktop. My laptop runs Lubuntu, and my netbook runs ElementaryOS, but this will switch to Lubuntu when I get a mo.


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  50. Pete Michaels

    I started with Ubuntu Jaunty and have surfed most of the distros since that time. I usually keep one partition of Ubuntu Gnome or Mint Cinnamon as a backup, but my main distro is an Arch Gnome install that I’ve had going for years now. I keep thinking, “It’s bleeding edge, it’s not for work, it’ll break.” But it doesn’t. The ArchWiki is amazing, and everything, is well explained. Even the conversion to systemd was painless. All you had to do was paste a few commands in the terminal and you’re good to go. Of course now I’m running manjaro openbox on another partition and loving it. It’s hard to beat. You get all the benefits of Arch, including the AUR, and the ease of installation, media codecs, desktops, and tweaks. I’m even considering Manjaro as the distro of choice for introducing linux to XP refugees instead of Mint. Most people consider rolling releases for power users, but I think the release upgrade model is fairly confusing to explain to newbies.


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  51. Desktop: How long have you got? 1994: SLS, because that’s almost all there was. 1996: Red Hat, because RPM was a lot better than Slackware or SLS. 2003/4: Debian, because Red Hat stopped RHL and Fedora Core is a euphemism for “I like frequent upgrades”, and apt plus the Debian repositories is amazing. 2008: Ubuntu, because it was Debian with a more recent kernel and made my wifi work. 2012: Linux Mint Debian Edition, because Unity.

    I’m not entirely happy with Mint, since they keep breaking backwards compatibility, and timely security updates seem not to be a priority for them. I’ll probably shift back to vanilla Debian or Ubuntu once I find a usable MATE repository for one or other. Pointers gratefully accepted.

    Server: Debian stable, Ubuntu LTS, or Red Hat/CentOS (in roughly that order), because stability. I’m a professional sysadmin/network engineer, and I don’t have the time to deal with compiling stuff and fiddling around when I’m deploying a new VM.

    Router: VyOS, because it works like Cisco & Juniper with all the freedom that is Debian. It has an elegant and highly automatable configuration system. You guys should do a feature on it. Hit me up on IRC if you want some pointers.


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    1. P.S. What’s with all the love for rolling, source-based distros like Arch? I’ve only ever touched two Arch boxes, and both of them had a 100% broken package manager. I’ll try to be nice here: turning every desktop user/sysadmin into a build engineer seems a little, well…, suboptimal.


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      1. Pete Michaels

        The pacman package manager was “100% broken” doesn’t even make sense. It’s like saying apt-get was “totally broken.” Using arch turns you “into a build engineer,” again, doesn’t make any sense to me as I’m just a user, not anywhere with skills like a system admin. Manjaro, Bridge Linux and ArchBang are fully functioning desktops at install. I did find the fact that you “touched two Arch boxes” a highly informative point with respect to your opinion.


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        1. When I say 100% broken, I mean that it had gotten into a state where I couldn’t install new packages, or remove old ones, or apply updates. I read as much as I could of the pacman man page in the time I had, but couldn’t get it out of that state. I freely admit my ignorance of Arch. I would never have even encountered it if it hadn’t been for that client who asked me to change something on their old systems that ran it. (They were in the process of migrating to Ubuntu LTS on their servers.) Both Arch systems on that network exhibited very similar symptoms. If it works for you, great. I don’t plan to touch it again.


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          1. Pete Michaels

            It’s good of you to admit you didn’t give Arch a fair shot. Any distro family (deb, rpm, slackware) you encounter under those conditions could have all sorts of problems from client mismanagement. Before you swear it off completely you might entertain seriously the enthusiasm of the Arch users in the forums, especially if you’re thinking of running Debian testing or sid. I, personally, have sworn off Debian based distros. The only one I use is a usb install of Knoppix with permanence, and that is because I don’t need to update it. I always find with Debian (whether Crunchbang, Antix, Mepis, Debian proper, etc.) that I eventually end up with unresolveable dependency conflicts. I can’t get a newer app out of backports, and when I try to get if from testing or sid, I can’t without uninstalling gcc! I’ve tried all the pinning techniques, and it just never works out without a headache. So I just go for the ease of Ubuntu derivatives and …. Arch.


  52. Like meny I started to use Ubuntu back in 2006/7 mainly recycling old hardware so I was using the Xubuntu spin. When I started to install as my main PC I first used Ubuntu but got tired of all the tweeking I needed to get everything working. I then found Mint and was blown away that it all worked from first install. All the codecs I needed were there no having to go hunting around and install them. So Mints been my distro of choice for the last 3-4 years and despite being a distro hopper on my test machines my main box runs Mint.


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  53. Dan-Simon Myrland

    Slackware, difficult to say why.. Maybe I’m just a weird retro guy :) But more seriously I like the simplicity, it really emphasizes automating your workflow with custom scripts and learning how the basic component of the system fit together. I also found that it has a surprisingly broad and usable base install, certainly the most comprehensive OS after installation that I have come across. Now comparing Slackware to other Linux distros is a bit like comparing an uncut diamond to ruby’s and gems. They are all precious and beautiful (some like Slack you need to work with a bit before it shines). However the true value is more evident if you compare the distro to proprietary solutions. The usability of a default Slackware installation can compete with the likes of MS Windows Pro + MS Server + MS Office + Visual Studios + Photo Shop +++. The difference though is that Slackware is free of charge, comes with source code and has a helpful community, whereas the later costs tens of thousands of dollars, is heavily restricted in it’s terms of use, and has a very user hostile community. We Linux users are so blessed in comparison that we often forget just how good our chosen distro really is..


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  54. I started with Mint 8 from a CD and liked the menus with icons, went to Ubuntu when Mint LMDE wouldn’t install and now run Manjaro, both XFCE and Openbox versions. It’s fast, easy to install and use, configurable and always up-to-date.


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  55. Wayne Jamieson

    I started with Xandros back in ’04(?). This was a really good intro to the world of Linux – easy to install, simple to use, reliable and pretty quick. After this, I distro hopped though various iterations of Ubuntu, Suse, Elive, Puppy and some others before I settled on my current distro – Pclinuxos.

    PClinuxOS is perfect for me. Is it bleeding edge? No, but that’s not what I want. I want something easy to install and use, extremely reliable and gives me the configuration options I want – PCLinuxOS achieves this release after release. A criminally underrated distro that is perfect for those who want a distro that Just Works.


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    1. I started with Mint 6 and PCLinuxOS-2007. I’m still using PCLOS today. Great distro, and I love that it’s a rolling release.

      I’ve distro-hopped with: Ubuntu (and all of its various desktop varieties), Mint, Debian, OpenSuse, Fedora, Lite, Bridge, Manjaro, Bohdi, Puppy, Elementary, Zorin, SliTaz, Snow, Mageia, Mandriva, Mepis, Anti-X, Vector, Point, Minino, and on and on and on.

      I’m mostly use the LXDE desktop. When Ubuntu first introduced Unity, I absolutely hated it. I took another look at Unity in Ubuntu 14.04, and it has greatly improved. Even though I mainly run PCLinux OS-LXDE, I actually installed Ubuntu 14.04 on one of my laptops and I must admit, I really like it…I never thought I’d ever say that, but I do like it!


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  56. Slackware. I had been a distro-hopper since 2001/2002 and then hopped into Slackware and have never been able to hop back out again, in fact I think I’m stuck fast!

    I’m not sure why this is, but think that it has something to do with the general feel of the thing. Instead of flashy killer features you get a structurally minimalist distro which encourages you to live closer to Linux itself (i.e. the kernel and command line / shell etc.) rather than the vendor’s idea of what a good operating system should look like. Given that I have always wanted to learn more about Linux then this is a cracking system to learn on as there are no cop-out features to tempt you away from your chosen learning curve, but is still quite easy to use – honest guv!


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    1. … I’ve just thought of another reason! Pat Volkerding. This guy’s a rare commodity indeed; a brilliant software engineer who also happens to be quite personable and modest. I’ve even witnessed him (occasionally) lurking around the forums jumping in to offer assistance when needed. You don’t get that on a proprietary level!


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  57. First got started with GNU/Linux back in 2008 with debian etch. Stayed with debian and dist-upgraded to lenny. With a bit more experience I was happy to run debian sid, until late 2010 where I was convinced to switch to a rolling release distro, as essentially that’s what I wanted. The distro I chose was Arch Linux, mostly due to the amazing package manager and its AUR. Also love the KISS policy of Arch and the fact that it is so well documented a la their wiki. Have been an Arch user since, and learned so much as a result of being an Arch user. I can’t really see myself switching to another distro at present as everything just works.


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  58. Charlie Ullman

    I want it to look nice out of the box. I can’t be bothered tweaking it. I’m personally used to apt-get, so I prefer a Debian-based dist, so of those, I just pick the one I think looks nicest. Currently I think Linux Mint looks the best, and I’ve been using it for three years or so, and I’m pretty happy with it.


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  59. i’m currently running archlinux before i had fedora 20 but got fed up with the slow official gnome shell update 3.10 – 3.12 so i upgdraded to arch using evo-lution os to do the hard part and with a minimal install so i could taylor the shell to only what i wanted and i have its great the pacman and the aur are awesome dont thnk ill change back


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  60. Timothy E. Harris

    My first useful Linux install was Mandrake 7, but I kept having to go outside their repos to get my stuff working and by Mandrake 10 I’d gotten tired of rpm dependency hell and tried out MEPIS 3.4 I’ve been using MEPIS ever since. A well configured KDE on a debian stable base and quite a large selection of backported newer packages in the Community Repositories that alleviates the main disadvantage of being on debian stable’s 2yr old repos.
    I’ve also got MX-14 (a new collaboration between the MEPIS & Antix communities using XFCE) on one of my older computers. Works well OOTB with very low resource use.


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  61. Crunchbang ~ I love the stability of Debian and Crunchbang makes an excellent base to build off of. Super lightweight (138mb RAM at boot up)


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  62. Crunchbang. Started with Ubuntu in 2007, tried Mint, liked Fedora, but switched to #! and it stuck. It’s stable, lightweight, fast and pretty out of the box. Forums are great too.


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  63. Various flavours of Ubuntu both at home and on my work Laptop but I have just discovered Solydx which I now run on the work laptop. It worked straight out of the box and continues to work perfectly.


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  64. I have been doing some hopin over the years.
    Started out in the late 90′s with Mandrake, that me and a friend of mine tried out for fun.
    Used it for a couple of days then got back to Windows for a few years.
    In 2007 i took up interest in Linux again and dowloaded Ubuntu 7.04 and used Ubuntu up 10.04, then Unity came in 10.10 and i never liked it. Did some hoping again and settled down with Crunchbang in 2012.
    Still uses it on my main laptop and my desktop.


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  65. I’ve used several distributions of Linux over the years at home. I started with Slackware (back when the binaries were in a.out format) moved to Red Hat years before it turned into Fedora. I ran several versions of Red Hat up to version 8 I guess it was. I switched to Open SuSE after Red Hat almost exclusively. Depending on what’s going on I’ve had machines running Slackware, Mint and Ubuntu as secondary units. I did have one machine running Linux From Scratch and loved it. It was probably the most responsive Linux I used. At work I’ve come in contact with different distributions too. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SuSE Enterprise Linux, Mandrake, Debian and Ubuntu.

    Pesonally, I’ve had good luck with Open SuSE over the years. I’ve also had really good luck with Slackware on some machines when others just didn’t work on them. My Linux From Scratch system was really responsive and taught me alot about Linux. I really should build another machine. I knew some Gentoo fans, but I haven’t tried it myself. Perhaps it is time.

    At work I don’t have any influence over what I work on so I just go with the flow more or less.


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  66. Yea, I remember Storm. I never got around to trying it. Caldera… I remember Caldera and the nightmare that ensued. Oh how about Corel Linux.


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  67. Debian 7 on servers, because it works, it’s easy, security updates are prioritized. Arch on my desktop, because it works on my Cubox-i4Pro 2″ cube, KDE is easy, kernel is current. (oops, I’m writing this on OSX on a macbook. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that.)


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  68. Crunchbang on my laptop and netbook because its lightweight, lets me control everything, is based on Debian so I can use apt-get and because I travel with them it lets you set up a completely encrypted filesystem during install except for a small /boot partition. I also have a Semplice partition with Steam installed on the laptop.

    I have LinuxMint on my desktop because sometimes I want stuff to just be set up an dwork.

    This is after an arc of distributions from Slackware in the 90s when you had to boot off two floppies, to Redhat then Fedora Core up through Fedora Core 4 (somewhere in there I tried OpenSuse) then Ubuntu jumping ship to Mint just before Unity came out. I also had Fedora on the netbook for a while because it has the awful Intel GMA500 graphics hardware and needed a bleeding edge kernel for graphics driver support.


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  69. On my desktop (try to keep it stable) I’ve been using Ubunutu since 08.04 as a Uni lecturer said it was a good start. Kept with Gnome when the Unity experiment started though.

    On my laptop (which I reinstall regularly), I have tried:
    Ubuntu with Gnome, but it was too heavy
    Crunchbang, but it couldn’t run my Wifi drivers
    Mint (both Mate and Cinnamon), but wasn’t very impressed
    Currently running (and am very impressed by) Xubuntu (but I don’t like the default apps and switch them all – go figure).

    That said Xubuntu 14.04 is being unstable now so I might try Elementary OS given some of the above comments.


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  70. Slackware. Tried the rest, stuck with the best. Also fond of Gentoo, Arch, and LinuxBBQ (Debian sid, with minimal WMs).


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  71. Andy Mitchell

    I have been using Linux for just over a year. My machine is a Fujitsu Seimens AMILO notebook 64bit. I cut my teeth on LMDE Cinnamon 32bit. I used this for about 3 months. I liked it but the Cinnamon desktop is a little heavy. Remaining with Debian, I leapt to the minimalist beauty of Crunchbang 11 Waldorf 32bit. This a wonderfully distribution. Strangely enough, I think that Crunchbang is the ideal distro to learn on. Okay, you need to be a little adventurous but the learning curve is really fun, thanks to their awesome forums. I will run Crunchbang again when I have another machine. I’m currently using Peppermint OS Four 32bit. I will be upgrading to Peppermint OS Five 64bit when it is released. The reason I’ve be running 32bit versions is because I didn’t realize the “lm” flag on the CPUs meant they are 64bit – Doh!

    Peppermint OS gives me the perfect balance between Cloud and Desktop environments. Their “Ice” app uses Chromium to easily convert any URL into an SSB, (Site Specific Browser). It then allocates it to where you want it in the menu system. In layman’s terms they are apps. Very similar to a Chromebook. I can also run it as fully fledged Linux desktop computer. Honestly, that is awesome. I love their take on LXDE. They use Xfwm4 as the window manager instead of OpenBox. – very slick indeed. Being based on a stripped down version Lubuntu makes it blisteringly quick and very accessible for all users; irrespective of their computer skills. The Peppermint User Forums are really well supported and wonderfully “small disto friendly”. Peppermint pushes all of the right buttons for me.


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