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My Five Favorite Not-Usual Linux Distros
Red Hat, Arch Linux
December 17, 2010
Yes, "my bestest distros!" is a overworked topic, but it's fun and Ubuntu is not on this list. So perhaps this will introduce you to something new and interesting.
Red HatI like Red Hat both as a company and as a Linux distribution. They're a real Free/open source company, not a fake one trying to cash in because "open source" is cool, or wrapping a smidgen of FOSS code 'round with proprietary guff. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is rock-solid, with options for virtualization and a good middleware stack. Red Hat downplays it, but they also have a desktop Linux designed for the enterprise. The Linux desktop has always been a natural for the enterprise because of its built-in central management features, customizability, and stability.
Red Hat charges a stiff price for support, but unlike a proprietary software vendor you have options. For example you can pay the RH price tag for important servers, and deploy one of its no-cost clones (CentOS, ClearOS, Scientific Linux, etc.) on other machines. These are also great for learning and testing RHEL before taking the money-spending plunge.
Red Hat has long been an important Linux supporter, funding kernel development and many other projects.
Arch LinuxArch is my new favorite no-frills Linux. Arch is well-maintained, and the one big feature that sets it apart from all other Linuxes is the Arch Linux Wiki. This is the best-documented Linux distro of all. Rather than wasting energy continually re-inventing poorly-designed GUI interfaces in place of good howtos, Arch relies on sensible design and good documentation. It is sleek, clean, and efficient, and thanks to good design and documentation it is easy to learn. It fits any role well-- desktop, server, router, and I like it as an audio production platform. It makes the most out of modest hardware, and supports a full range of audio applications.