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Evolution of Operating system III Print E-mail

PHASE-3

COMPARISON OF LINUX DISTRIBUTIONS


1. Any current Linux distribution most likely contains the software needed to do your job, including kernel and drivers, libraries, utilities and applications programs. Most people favor the first distribution they successfully installed, or, if they had problems with the first, they favor the next distribution they install which addresses the problems of the first.


2. Here are a few distributions that might help the users in deciding the kind of distribution a user desires.

Slackware

3. It is easy to install and understand. It is well designed to install from floppy disk, and packages were in floppy-sized chunks. There are, however, costs associated with this simplicity. Software is saved in compressed tar files. There is no information within the distribution that shows how files interrelate, no dependencies and no good path for upgrades. Not a problem if you just want to try something, but for a multi-computer shop with long-term plans, this initial simplicity can have unforeseen costs in the long run.

Red Hat


4. It had some GUI-based configuration tools and showed a lot of promise. Over the years, Red Hat has continued to evolve and is easy to install and configure. Red Hat introduced the RPM packaging system that offers dependencies to help ensure loaded applications work with each other and updating is easy. RPMs also offer pre- and post-install and remove scripts which appear to be underutilized. The install sequence is streamlined to make it easy to do a standard install. Red Hat has evolved into the most ``retailed'' distribution. First it was in books by O'Reilly, then MacMillan and now IDG Books Worldwide. It also appears to have a large retail shrink-wrap distribution in the U.S.

Debian

5. Debian is one of the oldest distributions, but because development is strictly by a team of volunteers, it has tended to evolve more slowly. Since development is performed by a geographically diverse group, the ability to manage and integrate upgrades is of primary importance. To that end, you can always upgrade a system by pointing it at an FTP site and instructing it to get the latest versions of all the packages currently installed.

6. Debian deviates from the common RPM packaging format (although

it can install RPMs) by using its own .deb format. The .deb format is the most versatile and includes dependency checking as well as pre- and post-install and remove scripts. The most difficult thing about Debian is the initial installation. Or, put another way, fear of deselect, the installer program. The design of deselect is old, and while it made sense when there were only 50-100 packages in a Linux install, it is out of control now that there are around 1000.

S.U.S.E

7. S.U.S.E. is a German distribution with an installation ``look and feel'' similar to Caldera. It also uses the RPM package format and offers a save/restore configuration option during installation. Two things make S.U.S.E. stand out from the others. First, XFree86 support tends to be better than other distributions because S.U.S.E. works closely with the XFree86 team. Second, there are more applications and utility programs in this distribution. YAST, the install/administration tool, can handle .deb and .tgz packages as well as RPMs. Also, upgrades are quite easy and can be performed by putting in a new CD or pointing YAST at the files and telling it to perform the upgrade.

Choice

8. (a) If you like to roll your own--that is, you expect to compile and install everything yourself--Slackware is probably for you.

    (b) If you want to ``go with the crowd'' today, install Red Hat.

    (c) If you want ``everything'', install S.U.S.E.

    (d) If the politics of free software is important to you and/or you want to get involved in development of a distribution, pick Debian.

9. Since it has been decided to customize a linux distribution to suit the needs, hence i chose Slackware as the base distribution.

Slackware as a base Distribution

10. The first Slackware release, 1.00, was released on 16 July 1993 by Patrick Volkerding, founder and lead developer. It was based on the SLS Linux distribution and supplied as 3" floppy disk images that were available by anonymous FTP. Slackware is the oldest maintained distribution to date, celebrating its 12th anniversary in 2005. In the early releases of Slackware, the distribution had three user accounts, "satan", "gonzo" and "snake". These were provided as examples, but were removed from later releases as they were a potential security risk. In 1999, Slackware's release numbers saw a large increment from 4 to 7. This was explained by Patrick Volkerding as a marketing effort to show the Slackware was as up-to-date as other Linux distributions, many of which had release numbers of 6 at the time. In 2004, Patrick Volkerding became seriously ill and the future development of Slackware became uncertain. He has since recovered and the development of Slackware has continued. Throughout Slackware's history, there have been distributions and LiveCDs based upon Slackware. Some popular distributions derived from Slackware include SUSE, College Linux and SLAX.


11. Slackware takes a different approach than other popular distributions such as Red Hat, Debian, Gentoo, SUSE and Mandriva in that it tries to be a Unix-like Distribution. It has a policy of incorporating only stable releases of applications and has a distinctive absence of distribution-specific configuration tools found in other distributions of Linux. Partisans have been known to say, "When you know Slackware, you know Linux... when you know Red Hat, all you know is Red Hat."


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