(GNU) Linux distros: What’s the best?

Sneaking around some news-related websites I found an interesting link, it is: “The Readers’ Choice Awards“, an initiative from LinuxJournal to find out what are the best open source / free software projects for their readers.
Anyone can vote, and as part of the questions, one I found pretty interesting was: “What’s your primary Linux distribution of choice?“.

Every time I talk with my neighborhood’s friends, this is one of the usual questions always come up… always! And the curious thing is that every one has the perfect answer: Debian! Ubuntu! Mandriva! whatever! Do you know how many Linux distros are available around the Internet? Too many!!! (You can check a huge list at DistroWatch).

I must be honest with you; I have no favorite Linux Distro. Maybe I am a bit weird, but I love to test distros… so I haven’t just one installation at a time, but several!
Thanks to virtualization (VirtualBox in my case) and a lot of hard disk space in my box, I use to have seven Linux systems installed on my computer, but don’t get me wrong, I don’t run them all at the same time. Normally I boot two or three distros just for testing new packages as kernel updates or new versions of KDE or Gnome, and of course, new versions of the most popular Linux distros, every time there’s a release. I was born to be a tester, I guess😛

Ok, let’s get back to the question that inspires me to write this post: “What is the best Linux distro?”. As I already explained before, I can’t answer the question (because I love them all), even more, that question brings more questions to my head: Who can answer that question? Some veteran Linux expert? Linus Torvalds? the market?

It’s hard to know it. After all, what are the points we must consider to define something is “the best”? Let me give you an example: How do you define what’s the best car for you? What are the parameters you should care about? design, speed, comfort, fuel consumption, traction, price, you name it. Additionally, you should care about two external variables: who will be the driver? and what are the tasks you expect to make with that car? take the kids to school or run the Formula One?
The first sentence coming to my mind when I think about this example is: “it depends”. My grandmother loves a very classic Cadillac, but I love Monster trucks… so, who’s right? Is the word “best” a very relative concept? Well, facts tell me, it looks like.

Ok, now let’s get back to the Linux distros issue. Currently there are many articles around Internet ensuring “Ubuntu is the best linux distro“, It makes me happy because I like Ubuntu, but I have to say that I am not pretty sure about how fair is this affirmation.

Don’t get me wrong, Ubuntu is a very well supported distro and it has a friendly interface which makes it a very good option for desktop end-users. But, Does it make Ubuntu the best Linux distro for every one? Mandriva and Fedora are very friendly too, they could give a good fight in the desktop market. So, Who should be the winner? the project with the bigger funds? What about the community behind? Debian has a pretty huge army of developers and fans; even more, Ubuntu is based on Debian, so it has a chance to be one of the best distros too.

Now, let’s add another variable to the equation: Server or Desktop? is the same environment? Of course, not. As you already know, Suse and Redhat are distros very popular around the enterprise market (servers). Is Ubuntu server enough mature to fight against them? I don’t know.
Now the question has been splitted in two: What’s the best Desktop Linux? What’s the best Server Linux?

As far as I try to find an answer, I get more and more confused. The question is complex, no doubt about it.
Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora, Debian, Slackware, OpenSuse, Gentoo… too many flavors, as in ice cream kiosk, with a clear difference: in ice cream kiosks there is no a flavor winner, the real winners are the kids, I guess. By the way, ¿Is there a “best” ice cream?
What if in the Linux world we don’t need a winner? What if the real power of Free Software is diversity and everyone makes his own choice and enjoy it? What if the real winners in the Linux battlefield are the users? Maybe “best” is a dangerous word, at least, in this context, maybe the word we must empower is “diversity”😛

For now, while the best Linux distro is discovered by the experts and my friends keep discussing about it, I will keep playing with the seven Linux flavors I have installed in my box!🙂

Comments are pretty welcome. Gaming time (OpenArena session) ! see you later🙂

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2 Responses to “(GNU) Linux distros: What’s the best?”

  1. linuxcanuck Says:

    The best distro is the one that best meets your needs and, since everyone’s needs are different , there can be no best distro. There are many great distros, many not so great distros and a lot in between.

    To claim that you use the best distro is meaningless. If wasn’t the best in your eyes, then why would you bother to use it?

    BTW, I use Ubuntu, the most popular distro. That does not make it the best. I like to think that I got there before it became popular and it has since grown more to my liking. I won’t dump it just because it is popular. I use it because of the great community!

    However, because I use Ubuntu, it does not mean that other distros are any less worthy. I like the fact that we have choice and hope to see as many projects as possible prevail.

  2. Boycott Novell » Links 08/02/2009: Linux Aficionado in Government, New Distributions Says:

    […] (GNU) Linux distros: What’s the best? As far as I try to find an answer, I get more and more confused. The question is complex, no doubt about it. Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora, Debian, Slackware, OpenSuse, Gentoo… too many flavors, as in ice cream kiosk, with a clear difference: in ice cream kiosks there is no a flavor winner, the real winners are the kids, I guess. By the way, ¿Is there a “best” ice cream? […]

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