Thursday, July 24, 2014

Finding the right *nix distro for home and work

    My main motive for this post is to think through my decision out loud on the internet (not sure why), and to hopefully get some feedback from G+ and Reddit. That being said, I am trying to pick Linux distros for home and work. I manage two Linux machines at Geekabytes LLC that we use for data transfers, running testdisk, etc. These computers need to be stable, but I like having access to newer packages. I also don't want to spend time installing updates manually, for example, updating from Ubuntu 13.10 to 14.04. So far I have just been running Ubuntu on everything because I am most familiar with it. I would like to try BSD, which is still an option at work, but is not workable at home because I need a machine that can run Android Studio natively. I am currently considering Ubuntu Gnome, Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Arch, Manjaro, PC BSD, and Free BSD. I also just want to see what's out there in other distros right now.

    A large requirement for both environments is a rolling release, especially for work. Installing each Ubuntu update is getting tiresome to me. Fedora is only an option because of the Fedora update tool, and it also seems like packages are generally more up to date than Ubuntu. I also need to try Fedora on a family members computer because he needs a specific rpm package, so I might get all of my experience with Fedora from that. This, combined with the fact that I may need to administrate some machines running Red Hat Enterprise or CentOS in my career, make Fedora an option so I can get accustom to using it. I also plan on using Gnome shell primarily, though I want to dive into KDE and XFCE at some point.

    OpenSUSE is another option for a more easily updatable distro without going to something as involved as Arch. It seems like OpenSUSE tumbleweed provides what I want in terms of updates. I've just played around a little with a live USB, but I already love the package management system. An easy path to Gnome shell and what seems like an easier path to proprietary drivers than in Fedora are what draws me to OpenSUSE. I don't come across many rpms that I want to install though, and I get most of what I get with SUSE with Ubuntu Gnome (switching away from Unity is what started this whole endeavor). I do want a rolling release, but I like going through a fresh install every now and then, so that might be the best option of the first three unless I want experience with Fedora.

    Then we get to the Arch based distros. Obviously there's Arch, which I want to install at some point anyway, just to get a better understanding about the inner workings of a Linux machine. I do have extra hard drives and free time before school starts again, so I might just play my curiosity out on a drive that doesn't house my main installs. I would feel more comfortable running something like Majaro at work too, where I am the defacto Linux guru. At least Manjaro offers some protection from the absolute bleeding edge of software updates, while maintaining compatibility with the Arch User Repository. For lean work computers, a rolling release also means less time spent managing the system and more time getting things done. We have time during the summer to set all of this up, but we won't have time for much upkeep during the school year. However, we do have technicians willing to learn, and Arch may be a great learning experience for all of us.