View Full Version : Technical Distros?

March 12th, 2008, 05:39 AM
I have been thinking of trying my hand at a more technical distro, like Arch, Slackware, or Gentoo in summer.

I am relatively new to Linux, but I am not new to computers or doing difficult and involved projects. I would like to learn about the inner workings of Linux and it has been mentioned that putting together a customized type of Linux like one of those I mentioned would be a great way to learn, as well as provide me with a more solid, trimmer, and faster Linux experience.

The only real concern I have with taking on a more technical distro is the community support. I am fiddling with Linux for the first time, and you know how some of my fellow geeks can be, out and out elitist. I love Ubuntu's forum, and I am sure to have a great deal more questions to ask that are not covered in the man. Ease of help would be my top priority to be honest.

So my question is this... what distros should I look into for my summer project? I have seen a good bit about Arch from the forums, and I did look over their online documentation and wiki. Definitely looks fun to try out, but I will have questions!

March 12th, 2008, 05:43 AM
Well when you use those types of distros they assume you have some expertise already.

But if you do ask questions they always like if you research the issue first in the documentation before asking. They usually don't have a lot of patience for people asking questions that are already covered.

March 12th, 2008, 07:52 AM
Arch should definitely be up there. Gentoo is of course very technical, but also affords you alot of control- Gentoo is a must for many...

Personally, since you want to get a little more technical, and are familiar with Ubuntu, I might suggest jumping over to Debian Lenny with a mix of Sid. You will still have apt to fall back on, but with Sid, you will have breakage. This will force you to learn a few things on the way... To give it a push in the technical direction, you might wanna go with a minimal CLI install (just the kernel) and use apt to build your DE/Wm. You can do this to an extent with Ubuntu as well. Like Gentoo and Arch, Debian is rolling release, mostly. Debian Sid is currently unstable, Lenny is stable, and I think.. Sarge?.. is oldstable. Once Debians release cycle comes around to release, Lenny and Sid will freeze for a bit until Lenny becomes oldstable and Sid becomes stable, etc. If im not exact on this guys, please correct me...

Arch is mostly the setup.. after that, its nice and easy, yet powerful and requiring a hand touch in many places. You will learn alot.

Gentoo is.. well cmon.. awesome. It does break if you dont know it, and it can be time consuming, but its unrivaled in tweak-ability.

Slackware is always a great option too..

Good luck!

March 12th, 2008, 08:26 AM
If your in the mood for an awesome project and have lots of time on your hands then you should check out Linux From Scratch! Just google it.

It will guide you from kernel to running system.

I personally think Arch is awesome. But I have issues with my laptop hardware and Arch.
Good Luck with your choice.

March 12th, 2008, 09:00 AM
Here's another vote for linux from scratch (http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/).

I went through this after I no longer felt like a linux noob, and got a much better grasp at what was going on with the entire system.

I ran my own custom linux for a long time, until my lack of installing a package manager finally reared it's head and bit me.

March 12th, 2008, 03:05 PM
Linux from scratch is one that I had vaguely heard about, I will have to look into that one as well.

Noted: Always research the hell out of issues before bugging people about it. I think I can handle that.

Arch and Gentoo, between those two it *sounds* like Arch might be more of what I was looking for, complex and a high learning curve, but stable and powerful once it is set up. Gentoo, for all that it has a high learning curve and would teach me a lot, would drive me batty if it continuously tends to have glitches.

A Debian from scratch may be a good canidate as well, since it has a CLI install option as well.

So far, for the spare external harddrive I'll be getting this summer, it looks like LFS, Arch, Deb CLI, and Slack are the main ones that I would want to consider as far as help avaliable and stable after the installation process?

Maybe I'll get really bored and try them all out, to test out different GUI's. One big logical partition...


March 12th, 2008, 03:16 PM
The harder or technical distros don't teach enough, LFS might be better, I say that because right after installing Red Hat which did not work properly, I installed slackware and it was a piece of cake to get it work and well I never had any problems. I only had to remove it when I had to give it to someone who needed windows.
And so Slackware was my first distro.

March 12th, 2008, 03:25 PM
I'm starting to use LFS, which in fact, is NOT a distro, but more of a extremely well-done HOWTO make a linux distro from scratch.

If you want to know the inner workings of linux, i'll go with LFS.

March 12th, 2008, 03:47 PM
Maybe I'll get really bored and try them all out, to test out different GUI's.

You can try out all the GUIs and desktop environments you want without trying an entirely new distro.

March 12th, 2008, 04:01 PM
somehow i think that before marching onto LFS (which you should do sometime later), you must try out arch and gentoo.
its always smooth to climb the ladder step by step :) offcourse LFS might be good enough to start with but ........ just my two cents.

March 13th, 2008, 03:17 PM
You can try out all the GUIs and desktop environments you want without trying an entirely new distro.

Ya.. I have tried out a couple of others like Enlightenment and KDE on the Ubuntu I already have set up. The trouble I found was all of the settings seemed to get jumbled together, especially the menu. It made for a lot of 'duplicate' entries. Drove me up a wall and down another. (Read that as: Neurotic about menu configs. It's one of the first things I do to customize preset systems.)

I have a couple of pretty good books on Linux, like O'Reilly Linux in a Nutshell 4th ed, and Linux for Dummies. I was amused by the second, though I started using it just as much as the first. It has a pretty good layout, even for the more technical aspects. They have helped out a good deal, and it's why I would like to dive deeper into the rabbit hole.

(Hmm though would be a great distro name RabbitHole Linux. It could use names in the order they appeared in "Through the Looking Glass" as release names, i.e. Alice as the first one, White Rabbit as the second and so on. It would be amusing to have Enlightenment as the gui, too...)

I will definitely look into LFS and see if it looks like a good fit for my next project.

Leo S.