Friday, February 8, 2013

a matter of opinion

In his review over at Linuxed, Arindam Sen heaps loads of praise on PCLinuxOS ("PCLinuxOS KDE 2013.02 Review: The best KDE distro in the Linux world!"). Can't fault him for his opinion, and I certainly had mostly positive experiences running PCLOS, although I haven't tried the latest release and don't have the distro installed at this time.

I took a look at his chart towards the end of the page of that review, where he ranks various KDE distros or spins. Sadly, Mepis wasn't included, or even Debian with KDE installed. Perhaps he'll take a look at those when Debian Wheezy goes to Stable and the next Mepis is released.

I have to take Sen's rankings with a grain of salt. Things that are important to him might not be so important to the next user; for example, one criterion for his rankings is "Touchpad/WiFi Detection," and I don't use WiFi or the touchpad here. Other categories include "Installation time," "Installation Complexity," and "Aesthetics," none of which would necessarily be a factor here in ranking one distro over another. He includes an "Applications" category, but I'm not sure if that means "default applications" or "available applications" (whether in default repositories or not). That can be kind of a gray area. No categories for things that might be more important to me, like documentation, longevity, and the strength of the development "team" (I'm not so fond of one-man distros lately, for example, although I think they're a very important part of the Linux world). I suppose that "stability" would fall under his "Performance" category, but sometimes "stability" is hard to nail down, and a lot depends on which apps a person tends to use. Hardware is certainly a factor, too.

A distro's forums and community can also matter a lot, depending on the user. For example, opinions vary regarding PCLOS's forums, which I don't really care for, and the Mepis community and forums, which are among my favorites in all of Linux. Loving a particular distros' forums and community can create a strong attachment between the user and the distro. A good, helpful, friendly community is often (but, not always) just as important as good documentation.

It should be interesting to see how Sen's rankings change with the availability of KDE 4.10, which was released this week. It could be some time before most of the distros he mentions include KDE 4.10, although I expect to see it rolling into Sabayon pretty soon.

I'll pass on naming a "favorite" KDE distro. Of the ones I'm currently using here, openSUSE 12.2 and Sabayon 10 are both excellent, but for different reasons. I no longer have Mepis installed here, but even with the frustrating lack of communication from its sole developer and an outdated version of KDE (from the Debian Stable repos), it remains one of the best and most stable KDE distros out there -- and also very useful here, still, for live sessions. As for Fedora's KDE spin, I'd be quite hesitant to call it one of the best, mainly because of the short release and support cycles and because frequent kernel upgrades don't make for an especially stable distro. Still, the Fedora 17 KDE spin is quite pleasant to use here, and I'm sure that I'll go with KDE again for the F19 release.

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