A distro I am currently playing with right now, Arch is focused on simplicity and elegance. A great Beginners Wiki
Article guides you through the process of setting up your first Arch
Linux system. There is a lot of manual editing in nano and other
command line tools, but it is not very difficult and it is all
explained in great detail and a very beginner-friendly manner. Arch’s pacman
package manger system turned out to be a very lightweight and quality
tool for managing the software installed on your system. If you cannot
find something, just check the community repository.
The resulting system is always pretty stable and fast. Plus, as it is a
rolling-release distro, pacman takes care of your packages so you’re
never behind on the newest in FOSS. Two thumbs up!
While I am not very familiar with the original Slackware (I have used many derivatives, like SLAX and Vector Linux), Slackware also concentrates on a type of KISS principle,
in part at the cost of user-friendliness. Many people run Slackware on
servers, some even on laptops. What they like is the stability and the
experience gained from using such a system. As for package management -
Slackware’s can do the basic tasks, like remove, install and upgrade,
however it cannot track dependencies, so it is up to you to solve them
or you can use one of the many automatic dependency-resolving tools
such as slapt-get.
“In this context, “simple” refers to the viewpoint of system
design, rather than ease of use. Most software in Slackware uses the
configuration mechanisms supplied by the software’s original authors;
there are few distribution-specific mechanisms.”
By the way, I would like to hear a Gentoo user in the comments
explain some more about what the benefits of Gentoo Linux are. Most of
the newer Linux users connect Gentoo with compiling apps locally. I
personally like to use other distros, because I mostly just use
binaries (Gentoo has some binaries too) for some programs and in other
cases compile my apps when I really want to, which I am already able to
do in any other distro. So, why would you choose Gentoo? Well, first if
you would like to learn how compiling works, Gentoo is an excellent
choice. You will be able to get a distro specifically tailored for your
system (brings in a slight increase in overall speed). The package
management system is called Portage with the emerge tool (I think it is written in python), based on Ports in the BSDs (what is different is that Portage contains ebuilds).
Compiling everything enables you to have softer dependencies, more
bleeding-edge packages and you can install the system in three
different “Stages”, depending on how much of the system you wish to
compile yourself (only Stage 3 installs are officially supported!).
- Stage1: System must be bootstrapped and the base system must be compiled.
- Stage2: System has already been bootstrapped, but the base system must be compiled.
- Stage3: System has already been bootstrapped and the base system already compiled.
Well, I hope this short article made you at least a bit curious
about how it is to use these distros. Why not give them a try? At least
visit their homepages and take a look at some more information. Is
there anything you’d want to add? I’d love to read some comments from
users and people new to Linux!