This is not a complete list of linux distros news , just several distros that I’m watching.
As you know , Ubuntu’s second LTS ( long time support) – Lucid Lynx 10.04 is in the wild from some time . I’m a KDE fan , so for last 2 years I used mostly the Kubuntu spin , which some times seemed more stable even than the official Gnome version . The problem with Ubuntu , I think since Jaunty 9.04 , is that Canonical instead of consolidate the desktop version ( make it work as much of possible out-of-box ) , they try to enter mainstream and enterprise with some services , like Ubuntu One . I don’t say it’s a bad idea , but my feeling is that since Jaunty there were regressions in some areas , of which users complained . Not big regressions , but annoying . For example , in 8.10 the 3G modem was working perfectly for me . Since Jaunty problems started . Another “always problem” was with the proprietary drivers . Luckly for Ubuntu , Ati and Nvidia always provided at least a beta driver in the last moment before the launch . Of course , some of these problems were created by upstream ( changes in X server seems never ending ).
Unfortunatly for Kubuntu , Canonical invest only one core developer , the rest are from community . This is good , because this distro has the liberty to listen a bit more of what people wants . The problem is , this is not enough . Gnome shit is not stripped enough from Kubuntu , it always get the feeling that more development should be invested in Kubuntu to make it more stable, faster . One on another , I say Kubuntu is a pretty good KDE distro . One nice thing is that beta repos for new KDE versions are available pretty quick for Kubuntu and they are pretty stable – I never could have patience until a new KDE version was put in official repo so I always used beta repos . But as I said , canonical shits from official version are felt in Kubuntu , which often is translated in less speed .
3 weeks ago I used for a week Fedora . Didn’t tried Red Hat’s community distro from some time , even I worked on CentOS servers . As usually I used the KDE spin-off . Like Kubuntu , it comes with almost a non-customized KDE interface . Last Fedora – version 13 “Goddard” seems a pretty solid distro. Fedora has a more professional feeling than Ubuntu . Performances seems pretty good , no big problems , except one . Proprietary drivers 🙂 At the moment it was launch , the ATI proprietary driver was not yet working on Fedora .
The big problem with proprietary drivers comes on laptops . For example , I used the new experimental mesa driver , which looks pretty good in performance , BUT power management is not yet ready . Not having the power management translates in less battery . For example , using the open source or mesa driver on my Elitebook ( has ATI graphics ) , the battery lasts about 2 hours . With the driver for ATI I get 3 hours . It’s a pretty much diference , not to mention that the laptop is more quiet , because the fan don’t run all the time .
Back to Fedora . One particular thing I didn’t liked was the SELinux . Fedora comes with a nice policy manager , but it can be annoying for a home user . Of course , it can disable . One goodies on Fedora are several system-config-* GUI utilities . Made in the gnome style ( simple without options for expert changes ) they are a nice addition that newbies might like it . Another good thing was that Fedora is the only one ( I think …) where I found Eclipse to be on Galileo ( 3.5 ) . Personally , I wouldn’t recomend Fedora to a newbie . It was and still is a distro for power users . It can work in a enterprise env. , the influence from RedHat is felt , even it’s community based.
OpenSuse . If you want a KDE distro , this is the one . These guys work pretty much to make a polished distro . They have a custom KDE interface which is very , very nice 😀 . Didn’t tried OpenSuse for some time . Long ago , it was slower than Ubuntu or Fedora , mostly because of Yast , their utility – a blessing and a curse in the same time . But things evolved ENORMOUS . OpenSuse is a damn fast KDE distro , I was surprised . It beats by far Kubuntu ( or at least that was my feeling ). The current stable 11.2 uses KDE 4.3 , a bit outdated , but you can upgrade to 4.4 . I had some issue with 3G modem ( not sure if it was because of the 4.4 version ) . 11.3 will be released soon , I’ll definetly install it – I hope ATI and nvidia drivers will be ready by then . Opensuse promotes a lot the new mesa drivers , but as I said before , it can match yet the proprietary . YAST control center is one of the strength of openSuse , yet the yast package manager I found it powerfull, but not very friendly – it looks at first view very criptical .
Mint is a Ubuntu fork . It’s basicly a modified version by the community . In other words , most of canonical shit is taken out , but keeping the official repos . Except this stripping and modification to some packages , the Mint team also developed some nice tools like the Software Manager or the mintUpdate . The latest version ,9 – Isadora , is , of course , forked from Lucid 10.04 . I think it’s the first Gnome desktop I still used it after 3 days :)) . It comes with a custom theme ( a NORMAL layout , 1 panel as bottom taskbar) and runs FAST – I like it . Almost zero problems , everything worked ok . This is how Ubuntu should be . I would recomend this for newbies more than Ubuntu . Even if it’s on Gnome , I can take it … well , until KDE version is released ( unlike others , Mint team don’t use fixed dates for releases – when it’s ready , they throw it in the wild ) . The software manager is very nice , except the apps from official repos, it also have some external . For eg. , you can install skype from here . Of course , if you want more refined managing , there’s always Synaptic . One nice thing is that , for example , it comes with Pidgin and not Emphaty ( or whatever is called ). Personally I don’t understand why Canonical tries to promote Emphaty , when there’s already a gtk IM client , which even KDE users ( yeah, Kopete is a down , at least from my point ) use it .
So, in the end , things to watch :
- OpenSUSE 11.3 ( aroung 15 July )
- Mint KDE version and even XFCE one
- Fedora 13 , but watch out if you need proprietary drivers
- if you have a netbook and want to experiment , try MeeGo , it’s the next OS for Nokia phones and not only