failing like never before


Picking a Linux Distro

I don't consider myself to be a linux expert, but I've using various linux distros for a couple years now and I can find my way around the command line fairly well.

I started off my foray into linux with Mandriva, which gave me some amazing horrid problems. I couldn't get the drivers for my ATI Radeon X800 XL to work so I never got to see a GUI. So I wiped Mandriva off my hard drive and installed Fedora Core 5, which worked beautifully. FC5 quickly became my default operating system and since then, I rarely boot into Windows XP. During my time with FC5, I also experimented with XFCE and KDE. XFCE gave me a noticeable boost in performance over GNOME and KDE, however I continued to run GNOME as my default manager because I was so used to it.

From FC5, I upgraded to FC6 and then started experimenting with Damn Small Linux. Mind you, I never ran DSL as my primary OS, it was always just something for me to play with whenever I wanted to run linux on another person's computer.

I had heard alot of hype about Ubuntu so I decided to try it out. I installed Ubuntu Feisty Fawn on an extra partition and found it to be very user friendly and easy to use. A couple months after I installed Feisty, I heard about a distro called Mint. Mint is essentially Ubuntu with all the proprietary codecs and licensed materials added in (alot of distros choose not to include these because of legal issues. Nonetheless, its quite easy to add support for these things in Ubuntu). Deciding that it could be worth a shot, I wiped Ubuntu off and installed Mint. Really, there wasn't much reason for me to install Mint, but I think it would be a very nice distro for the linux newbie. After all, the first thing I did after installing FC5, was to install all the media codecs (mp3, avi, wma, etc.) and other stuff like Flash.

I attempted to install Xubuntu Feisty Fawn on my dad's old 400mhz AMD Duron a few months back, but found that it ran far too slowly. Instead I installed Damn Small Linux-Not, which is essentially a beefed up version of DSL. DSL-Not runs fine on the old Duron, but I'm thinking about trying out Puppy instead.

I reccently upgraded to the KDE version Fedora 7. In version 7, it became simply Fedora, and not Fedora Core. The KDE version of Fedora 7 is very pretty and nicely configured. However, it runs quite slow. I've also had a few weird experiences where performance of the operating system drops in the crapper and opening another tab in firefox ends up taking 5-10 seconds. Granted this may be because I'm running KDE which, because of the way it was written, will naturally run slower then GNOME.

Speed has reccently become a bit of an issue for me. One of the reasons that I first switched to Linux was because I wanted better performance because I was tired of the bloatwareness of Windows. But Ubuntu and Fedora are quickly becoming bloatware and I'm pretty sure that modern linux distros are going to exceed my computer's capabilities very soon (I have a 3ghz Pentium 4 with 1 gig of ram, and an Intel 925 motherboard). Thus, I'm thinking of shifting to a lighter weight distro.

Generally speaking, what I want, is a distro that runs XFCE by default, is reliable, has good hardware support, and isn't too difficult to get around with.

I've taken a look at DreamLinux, which has a really pretty Mac OSX-like interface and runs on XFCE. However, it too looks to be heading down the path of bloatware. Also, I've heard some issues about its stability.

OpenSuse and PCLinuxOS looked pretty interesting, but they aren't as slim as I would like.

Finally, after reading through pages of reviews lists of distros, I've settled on Zenwalk. I like Zenwalk because it defaults to XFCE, has all the media codecs already installed, includes neccessary programs but doesn't include multiple programs that all do the same thing, has a decent package system, and best of all, its very slim with an ISO image of around 420mbs.

So I'm downloading Zenwalk 4.6 now and will hopefully be posting a review of it very soon.