Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (1355 mails)

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[opensuse] Philosophical question?
On 06/14/2018 11:24 AM, Per Jessen wrote:
Darryl Gregorash wrote:

On 2018-06-14 08:07 AM, jdd@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
Le 14/06/2018 à 15:29, Stevens a écrit :

I mean, what is its main claim to fame?

for me it's the config tools (YaST, but others also) being available
in any variations, that is bare bone server, desktop...

and of course the fact that it's easy to install, easy to manage...

use SuSE since 6.x (20 years?) and tested most other main ones

jdd


I hate to sound "me too", but these are also the reasons why I have
stayed with SuSE over the years. I went looking for a Linux distro
almost the same day IBM announced it was discontinuing OS/2 (around
2001/2002, iirc, but maybe earlier), which I had been running since
version 2.0.
After a quick comparison of features, I rather quickly settled on SuSE
6.3, and I have been running SuSELinux/openSUSE ever since.

I took a little longer to give up on OS/2, 2004/2005, otherwise very
much the same story. I also complete agree with what jdd wrote, as
well as what Mikhail wrote about KDE.

claim to fame? dunno, for me SuSE Linux was my first Linux distro. I
never had much reason to look elsewhere.



To add to the historical chain, it was the implosion of Madrake that pushed
me (and a fair number of others to SuSE) Mandrake had just chosen to add a
corporate owner and things went downhill rapidly. It was unable to make the
jump from pure linux distro to a corporate model with commercial viability and
it died (only to re-emerge for a period of time a Mandriva (nick named
mandribble) and then again faded into obscurity.

That brought me here with the release of 7.0 (Air), installed from a nice
boxed set. Yast, at the time, provided a very good and very simple install. I
still have one old box in the bone-pile that will boot 9.0pro and the oldest
spinning disk reachable on the network still has:

$ cat /mnt/pv/etc/SuSE-release
SUSE LINUX 10.0 (i586) OSS
VERSION = 10.0

running on the default at the time:

/dev/sda2 on /mnt/pv type reiserfs (rw,relatime)

Had it not been for the deal with the devil in 2008 and the debacle of
making the new "Released" KDE 4.0.4a default on 11.0 released that year, I
doubt I would have run another distro.

Since that time I have tried about every distro out there. I currently have
servers running Archlinux, desktops of Debian, Ubuntu and openSuSE. And what
has been the lesson from working with the different distros?

Answer: Linux is Linux is Linux...

It's all the same under the hood. (even VMWare is just Linux underneath)

So what makes a distro? Well, if you break it down, it is the:

1) package manager, how do I install, remove, manage packages,
2) availability and selection of packages to install,
3) package concurrency with upstream (or backported patches),
4) installer and configuration tool (if any, none are required),
5) the upgrade path between releases (or a rolling release), and
5) the community.

So is one package manager really superior than another. Should that dictate
your choice? (answer: No) Whether it is RPM, dpkg, apt or pacman or the
various derivatives, they are work well. Just more syntax and different
commands to make friends with.

So is there any distro that really has a greater selection of packages that
would push you in that distro's direction over another (answer: No). All major
distros do very good jobs in provide reasonable commonality in what is
available.

So is there a difference in package concurrency with upstream that may drive
your choice? (answer: Yes) This does matter. This is where you talk about the
"bleeding-edge" and whether the distro stays current with the upstream kernel
and package versions. This matters to those that buy the "bleeding-edge"
hardware the day it comes out and want their distro to be able to handle all
the latest and greatest right off the bat. Is this a big issue? It depends on
your needs. I've never needed the kernel released today to support the
hardware I just bought -- but some people do. It's also impacts the build
tools that are available if you are building software that needs features in
the latest compiler versions or libraries. Big issue? -- depends on your needs.

So is there a difference in installers? (answer: Yes). It all depends on how
dirty you want to get your hands while working on your car. You don't need an
installer at all, all you need is a way to boot the kernel and provide a
minimal shell to allow your to format and partition your disks and then a
place to load packages from. If you can set your local and timezone, partition
your disks, create the filesystems, bring up your network, and load packages
using a package manager -- then you don't really need an installer or
configuration tool -- but they do make things nice to get started. If you
don't want to get your hands dirty -- you don't want Arch, it ditched its
installer 4 or 5 years ago and now only provides a way to boot the kernel and
a pacstrap script to chroot into your newly created and formatted partitions
to invoke installing the remaining packages you want. It works surprisingly
well, but there are no training-wheels on that bike. The remaining distros all
have fairly similar installers (though whether you choose patterns or groups,
etc. differs)

So is there a difference between the upgrade paths offered by the distros?
(answer: Yes). This boils down to "How painful is it to keep my system running
-- long term?" There is nothing worse than a forced upgrade as a distro
reaches end of life and a new security issue emerges. Until you have tried the
different approaches the distros have to this problem, it is hard to compare.
A good rolling release makes this a seamless process, but for production
boxes, you can get caught with individual package updates requiring user
intervention. (some very non-trivial intervention, e.g. apache 2.2 -> 2.4, php
5.6 -> 7, etc..) So the benefit of a release sticking with a version over its
lifetime does provide consistency in this regard, but that just means you face
all changes at once -- which may be easier to plan for -- based on your use.

So is there a difference in communities? (answer: Yes) You can create the
greatest distro on earth, but if your community responds to new users with "If
you don't already know, then go **** yourself", the distro is likely to go the
way of the Dodo. The community should also encompass what, and how good, the
reference documentation is for the distro, and how well and how current it is
maintained.

With all of these factor, all distros fall somewhere on a sliding-scale
between good and bad.

So why openSuSE? Well, it does a pretty damn good job with all 6, now offers
both released versions and a rolling release (tumbleweed), and it has always
excelled with providing an exceptional community (this list) for both new and
experienced users, the recent squabbles notwithstanding.

So rather than ask what should I use, in the days of 50M - 100M internet,
you should just go try each one. There is a quick reference or wiki for every
package manager that gives more than enough detail to get you going. Then you
can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses between the distros and choose the
one that fits you the best. You may be surprised, any of them "can" meet your
needs -- Linux is Linux is Linux..., but which one is the best, or favorite,
for you, is not a whole lot different than which are the best or favorite pair
of shoes for you? (and you can't know until you walk a mile in each and compare)

--
David C. Rankin, J.D.,P.E.

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