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What's the best distribution?

Glenn Burkhardt wrote:
> I found these notes on, who, in the end, rate Mandrake a 
> 9 (10 is highest), RedHat an 8, and SUSE a 7.
> "Mandrake, Red Hat, and SuSE each have complete Control Centers. I personally 
> find that Mandrake does the best job of simplifying and streamlining the way 
> that their tools are used during installation. Mandrake's daily 
> administration tools are organized in categories, (such as networks, 
> printers, etc.). SuSE organizes their tools very well for day-to-day 
> administration, categorizing and organizing each set of features together. 
> SuSE keeps the same organization and displays an almost identical Control 
> Center to configure the system during installation. While this is great for 
> consistency, I believe it puts too much burden on an inexperienced software 
> installer."
> "SuSE also needs work with the overall GNOME setup. SuSE is easy to install, 
> includes a great disk resizing wizard, is easy to set up, has a lot of useful 
> software, and very good documentation. But it's just not as good as the 
> others."

SuSE is indeed not the distribution you want to run if GNOME is your preferred desktop; they tend to lag in adopting new versions, and haven't gotten everything right. On the other hand, if KDE is your favorite, you'll love it; since SuSE is a major supporter of the KDE development team, they're always ready with everything first. The other thing I like about SuSE is that it upgrades cleanly; you can usually just upgrade a working system without having to manually tweak anything.

Red Hat 8.0 is nice if you like the idea of a unified look for KDE and GNOME; their defaults change the default look of both. If you prefer the "native" looks of those environments, on the other hand, you might prefer to look elsewhere. Red Hat does seem to have tested this release well, unlike some past releases. My experience with upgrading Red Hat is less positive; you usually have to put some configuration files back to rights after an upgrade.

Mandrake is also very nice, but my personal experience with it is limited.

The ExtremeTech review downticked SuSE mostly for two reasons: their poor support of GNOME, and their closed testing process. (They don't have open beta versions, nor do they routinely involve the Linux community, other than a selected few, in their testing.) If those things aren't important to you, I'd say that Mandrake and SuSE are about equal, and I'd put Red Hat behind both of them. As always, your mileage may vary.

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