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Distro feature comparison

4 replies [Last post]
michuk's picture
Joined: 2006-08-20

Another module which needs polishinig on PolishLinux is the Compare distros section. You can select two different Linux or BSD flavors and compare them in terms of general target, installation, package management, performance, security/stability, localization and support for certain technologies (e.g. the popular DSL modems).

The amount of data that we need to constantly update is tremendous and as you can see, not all distros have an up-to-date description (like SUSE) and some are not even included, yet (like MEPIS, KateOS, PC-BSD and such).

So, making it short, we strongly need your help in updating the tables. It would be optimal to have one person responsible for updating one specific distro or BSD flavor (a person who uses the system on a daily basic, preferably).

I also would like to ask you guys (and girls of course, if there are any) about things you believe should be changed in the comparison section (new features? remove ones that ar enot needed? totally rearrange the table? and so on...)

So, encouraged by your great feedback concerning the First steps in GNU/Linux section, I hope you can give us some good advices here as well, and perhaps even join us in delivering the best Linux/BSD features comparison table on the planet Smiling

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
One of the recently popular

One of the recently popular and unique distros isn't in the list of distros compared; Arch GNU/Linux

general features

Arch GNU/Linux is an independent lightweight i686-optimised community distribution for intermediate and advanced GNU/Linux users who aren't "afraid" of the command line. It offers great flexibility and control over what software you want to have on your system and how you want it configured. Like slackware it follows the "keep it simple" philosophy and is very fast to boot and run.

supported architectures: i686

Minimal hardware requirements: I would guess it's similar to slackware. Since Arch can be as lightweight or as bloated as you wish the hardware requirements really depend on you. That said it can definitely run on very low end systems, at least in text mode or only basic X.

Installer - overall: Installer is very similar to Slackware, but requires even more experience and know how. Partitioning has to be done previous to launching an installer, using cfdisk, and upon installing packages configuration files are offered for manual editing, although default settings are already present and will work in alot of cases.

Package selection: It's been awhile since I've actually installed Arch (I've been running and upgrading from the net for months now), but I believe it does offer an option of selecting which packages to install. There are two CD's to choose from though, a base one offers only the bare bones needed to boot and install more via Arch's package manager while the full CD includes a whole desktop system.

Predefined package groups: As far as I know Arch doesn't use predefined package groups at this point, but that is yet to be verified.

Expert mode install: Only expert mode available. Smiling

Graphical installer: Only text-mode dialog boxes, ncurses based. So, no.

Graphical system management: By default there are no graphical configuration programs for Arch. You can optionally choose from one of the available community developed front ends to the Arch's package manager, but those aren't included in any of the default installs. So no.

Console-based system management: No, except vi, emacs, nano etc.. installing is done by using pacman package manager on the console and configuration is done by editing files directly.

Package number: There is overall a growing number of Arch packages, probably in line with what is available for Slackware. However, there is *alot* more of PKGBUILD's available in a so called "AUR" repository, files similar to gentoo ebuilds used by the Arch Build System for compiling packages from source. An easy to use command line tool is available for fetching and executing compilation of those, called aurbuild.

Package management, dependency resolving: Yes, pacman (Arch package manager) handles dependancies pretty well. Even if you install from source dependancies are being resolved within PKGBUILD's (much like in gentoo ebuilds).

Graphical package management tool: There are optional graphical front ends to pacman, but they have to be installed first (not included). A good example is gtk-pacman.

System boot-up speed: It is definitely one of the fastest booting distributions around, and optimization is easy for experienced users as well.

System responsiveness: I would rate it good. I'm not sure about the amount of optimizations they add to it though.

Popularity: It's currently 22nd on Distrowatch, but its popularity seems to be rising, especially among Slackware and gentoo users. It is quite established among experienced users.

Security focus: It probably lacks behind likes of Slackware and Debian in this respect, but there is an effort in the right direction in form of the Arch Linux Security Team (ALST). Arch is a "bleeding edge" distro more than anything else and security should be on the average GNU/Linux level. Since it lays alot of flexibility towards the user, a big part of security is really up to the user/administrator.

Stability and maturity: It is a "bleeding edge" distro so some things could break here and there. It again depends on your choices. It is overall a fairly young distribution founded in 2002.

International installer: English only.

Default system localization: English, but a different localization can be set up.

Manual system localization: It needs to be done manually.

Support for restricted formats: By default I think support for nonfree formats isn't included, but I'm not sure. However, all of it is available from repos so it really comes down to your choice.

Sagem DSL modem: No idea. Probably same as slackware.

Alcatel DSL modem: Same as above..


So there's the basic info. Others feel free to verify it or add what is missing and then michuk can take it and include it in the comparison. I think Arch deserves to be in it because it is one of the unique base distros which employs alot of the good things available in Slackware and Gentoo, all in one distro. Intermediate users looking for a challenge may find it worth of a try.

michuk's picture
Joined: 2006-08-20
libervisco wrote:

One of the recently popular and unique distros isn't in the list of distros compared; Arch GNU/Linux

Thanks a lot for this data. We'll copy&paste them to the database. If any of you want to correct those or provide some feedback on other distros, feel free to do so. Also, if you want, I can give direct access to the Wordpress CMS so that I don't need to copy&paste :PP

a thing's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
Fedora needs work

First of all, this shouldn't include information about what a distro was in the past. Fedora is stable now. The other stuff's for the history section on Wikipedia.

Also see

You might want to mention CentOS.

michuk's picture
Joined: 2006-08-20
Arch description updated
libervisco wrote:

One of the recently popular and unique distros isn't in the list of distros compared; Arch GNU/Linux

I updated the data in DB, you can take a look at e.g. at Arch vs Gentoo comparison.

Still some columns are missing so if anyone of you use Arch on a daily basis, please give some feedback.

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