Testing distributions

My home/office setup

Lately I’ve been testing a few distributions. A few comments.

Redhat (or CentOS) make it real easy to re-compile their sources, so you can basically create your own Enterprise distribution with your own company’s branding very easily.

Redhat Nahant EL4 “nahant” type distributions must have quite a high percentage of the server market. I see it time and time again. I find it quite an “average” platform, though I also find it difficult to argue why Debian is all that much better. One policy that interests me is that EL4 updates out the box. Is it a good thing for a box to update itself? I guess so, though with Debian that’s not as usual I find.

I hate how all the distributions I’ve tried use screensavers that hog resources. Whatever happened to the screen just blanking ffs? Making the screen actually power down gets bonus points. Extra bonus points: do not power down while I am watching a movie.

Xandros is quite an interesting distribution. Debian based. It has this LDAP centric xDMS (desktop management system) for aiding deployment. It also had crossover linux (for photoshop and M$ office) by default, also video works out the box and CD burning. I has quite a bit of spit and polish. It’s a pity they don’t seem to work as closely with Debian as Ubuntu seem to.

I’ve got my sister using Ubuntu dapper and she is bitching that she can’t play multimedia files. I found this awful post on the ubuntu forums where it suggests installed j2re. FS, no. I’ve managed to download the win32 codecs and get that going for her over ssh, but I’ve no idea how get mp3 playback working still on her (sic) “desktop”. My sister is also struggling with copy and paste in Gnome (compared to win32). I feel her pain in ion3 and Firefox’s textarea.

Ubuntu’s launchpad is painful. I remember some dude raved about it on -devel. WTF. I won’t rant about that. In Ubuntu I am still trying to understand the way the disb is formed and a release is made. The scripts are quite odd. Seed and Germinate ? I am getting confused with preseed.
I also don’t like the MoinMoin Wiki (same tech behind Debian’s Wiki ). Compared to MediaWiki, information doesn’t look as nice, editing isn’t as easy and the searching sucks.

Someone has got to write some nice Web interface to these Ubuntu patches. They’re a nightmare for my brain to parse.

When I was installing and re-installing different distributions, it would have been nice if the /home directory was left alone. I managed to save it once with the debian-installer, but the other installers were into blanking the drive. I also played about with LVM in the debian installer and somehow caused a strange error. I’m not confident about using LVM.

I would like to test disbs without burning ISOs and nuking the HD. I remember QEMU being really slow and VMWARE being non-free and only working properly on Windows. I don’t think you can boot an ISO with Xen. Any tips people?

Update: See comments. Or VM Player with Ubuntu samples are OK for testing.

Update: Argh, I’ve got issues with vmplayer…

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