POLL: Linux preferences from FreeBSD users

Martin McCormick martin at dc.cis.okstate.edu
Thu Jul 2 02:16:01 UTC 2009

Daniel Underwood writes:
> QUESTION: Of the various modern Linux distributions, which do you
> prefer? and why?

	I like Debian and ubuntu which is a Debian distribution
but that is not to say that other distributions are poorly done.
Part of my preference is nothing more than that is what I
started out with for a Linux distribution back around 2001 so I
am accustomed to it.

	I like the Debian installation CD because as a computer
user who is blind, I use a serial installation console and both
the Debian5 CD and ubuntu Server can be easily started in serial

	I also do not like any distribution that uses a
GUI-based installation method unless there is a text-based
method which is still available and easy to start.

	Debian was also one of the first few distributions to be
more conservative about security settings. I work for a
university and let's say that it is a good place to find out how
weak one's settings are. Anybody who finds a hole will not
necessarily tell you, but you will unfortunately find out in due
time when the complaints start rolling in from all over the

	All the major distributions now are much better about
security so this is not as much of a factor as it used to be. As
with many things, your mileage will be determined by what you
need to do and how well your particular flavor of Linux does it.

	All Linux versions use the same kernel but some may
modify portions of it for special purposes.

	The distribution known as grml, for instance, has a set
of modules in the kernel to support software speech synthesis. I
would love to put it on a certain laptop I have but the laptop
has other ideas. grml is a flavor of Debian and, on my laptop,
the live CD is dead. Ubuntu's live CD also does software speech
synthesis for blind computer users, along with an Orca desktop,
but it also needs a pretty hefty system just to boot the live
CD. That laptop of mine is a 1-GHZ processor and 256 megs of RAM
and it still isn't enough. That live CD is also a dead one on
that computer. One thing, though, the ubuntu live CD can seem to
find the sound card as I hear the bongo drums in the ubuntu
bootup, but then the drums fall silent and the screen goes
psychedelic as RAM is exhausted and the system looses sanity.
That particular psychedelic trip can only be ended by a forced

	The only distribution that does work there is something
called "Oralux" whose development stopped around 4 years ago. It
has software synthesis and it does talk all right, but the sound
card can not record sound and it really is too old to be safe or
very useful any more.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK 
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Telecommunications Services Group

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