Rolling vs Stable

dos2unix

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It seems from time to time, people ask "What's the best distro?". And I like the answer usually given here.The best distro is the one that works for you. There are some distro's that don't work on some hardware I've had in the past.

But consider the following. A 3 year old might ride a tricycle. A five year old might ride a bicycle with training wheels. A 10 year old might be doing tricks, flips and jumps on a custom bike. A 16 year old might move up to a 26 inch frame and a 10-speed. An Olympic racer might have a custom carbon-fiber bike that costs over $300,000.

The point here is... sometimes it depends on your maturity. Not how old you are really, but rather, how much experience you have with Linux, operating systems, and computers in general.

For newbies, an easy to install, easy to use distro is often best. Good documentation is always a plus. For guys that have been doing this 10 years or more, they can use whatever distro they like. I think sometimes, those of us who have been doing this a long time, forget what it was like to start from scratch and learn something new from the start. For us "experienced guys", a lot of it has to do with familiarity. What we're used to. What we started out with.

Another thing that often determines what distro people use, is stability vs new features. It used to be that Linux in general was a long ways behind Windows when it came to new hardware, new CPUs, and new chipsets. Not so much anymore. In fact it does happen sometimes that Linux has it before Windows does.

I named this thread "rolling vs stability" and I haven't even gotten to that point yet. But what does that mean. For the most it means "thoroughly tested" vs "not very well tested yet". For example. Red-hat is notorious for testing everything about 2 years before they release it. Their systems are pretty stable, but the downside is... they are a couple of years behind the curve in new features and drivers.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Arch. Generally they are one of the first distro's to come out with the latest kernels and drivers. The term in Linux circles is "bleeding edge". ( A play on leading edge, because sometimes it's painful ).

It seems everyone else is somewhere in the middle, Fedora for example is usually a month or two behind Arch. It's more tested than the current Arch release, but it's still pretty new stuff.

Ubuntu does things a little differently, they have some releases that are considered "long term stable". But other also has other releases that are a little newer, but not considered quite as stable, and do not have support for an extended period of time.

Debian seem to be closer to the back of the pack. Many consider it to be more stable than other distros, but again it's typically a year or two behind the leading edge curve.

I don't know if there's a website that breaks down all the distro's by how far behind the "latest and greatest" stuff everyone is, but it would be interesting to see. It definitely has a lot to do, with which distro's people choose.

=========== Back on the soapbox for a moment ==========
I have to mention Kali here. It's a good distro, I've used it from time to time. I don't currently have a Kali installed anywhere. But back to my example about some kids still riding tricycles, if you don't know what a kernel trace is, what a packet capture is, if you don't have some familiarity with the OSI network stack, .. maybe this isn't the best distro for you to start off with. The screens look cool, and everyone wants to be a "hacker". (You can get just about all the tools that come with Kali in other distros) and I know, you're smarter than all those other guys who came before you... right? Trust me, just about everyone learns the hard way, you'll switch distro's before you get it all figured out.
==================================================

Learning to use Linux is like driving a car. Very few of us "old timers" have the same car we learned to drive on. I've had about 15 vehicles since then. I think very few of us are using the same distro we started out on.
 
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f33dm3bits

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Very nice post!! It's on a regular basis where I see new to Linux users here jumping straight into Kali and then asking basic questions which you would expect the target audience for Kali to already know. My opinion is anyone using Kali should have enough understanding of Linux to figure out the answer to anything they run into themselves by using the knowledge they already have in combination with a search engine and documentation.

I recently switched from Arch to Fedora, I am quite happy so far and Fedora seems to be somewhat rolling release too even though it's officially not.
 
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SlowCoder

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Good post.

I guess that puts me at the 26" 10-speed bike frame. Setting up and managing servers, services and logs is not a big deal, but I don't have use case for most things, so my admin experience level is intermediate at best. Also, while I would say I'm an intermediate-advanced user, I prefer to stick with Mint, often called a beginner distro, for it's ease of setup and management.

You're certainly right about not staying with the distro I started on. Though, I wouldn't say I strayed too far in the 20 years as a Linux user. Started with Redhat, then moved to Fedora through the 2000s, because I was in a business environment. Then moved to Ubuntu around 2009, because I wanted an easy to use interface for my family, and stuck there until moving to Mint about 3 years ago, and most recently LMDE5. I only ever played with other distros as a matter of curiosity.

I'm considering a move from Mint, back to Fedora with the Cinnamon desktop, because I like the idea of newer packages, on a stable, well supported distro, and I'm no longer a fan of Ubuntu/Canonical as a company.

As far as Kali, I think you're pretty much dead on. Pentesting can done from any mainstream distro. And most questions I see from Kali users are elementary Linux or network questions from people who probably aren't ready for the specialized distro.
 

Condobloke

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I prefer to stick with Mint, often called a beginner distro, for it's ease of setup and management.
Ditto for me. not as long as you 'in the saddle', but I see no good reason to change. Maybe one day. Maybe.
I'm no longer a fan of Ubuntu/Canonical as a company.
Ditto again. That is the very reason I installed Linux Mint, and not Ubuntu. Something 'windowish' about their attitudes.

@dos2unix ....Brilliant post. Deserves to be 'stickied'......an absolute must read for those just about to enter the fray, or indeed for those who have already been here a while.

The factors that influenced my choice were stability and support. Hence Linux Mint. I love simple and straightforward.....yet still with sufficient 'balls' and smarts to do absolutely anything.
I used the available support to iron out what were inevitably my mistakes.....faults of the OS to a much lesser extent.

Now I give more advice than I take.....but, I still listen to all offered.

I am at the 9 year mark (approx)

May the stability and comfort factor continue.


What's not to like ?


ps. Kali. I have given it a run on a usb. Mainly to see what all the fuss is about. Good distro. Aimed at a fairly niche area. Definitely not for a beginner. I no longer follow any post put here by 20 year olds concerning Kali.
 

SpongebobFan1994

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My opinion is anyone using Kali should have enough understanding of Linux to figure out the answer to anything they run into themselves by using the knowledge they already have in combination with a search engine and documentation.

Not only that, but if they want to be a legitimate hacker (instead of a script kiddie), they should actually learn basic hacking tutorials, then move onto Kali once they've mastered a number of them
 

SpongebobFan1994

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While I'm a youngin compared to you "old timers", I've been using Linux since those kali user wannabes were in 1st grade. I did try KUbuntu when I first started out, but ended up not liking it for whatever reason (that was so long ago, I don't even remember what it was), and then stayed on Mint for the last 10 years or so. Because my experience level would be considered beginner-intermediate, using Mint for this long has made me somewhat complacent, so it's nice to finally start spreading my wings and checking out other distros. To give my opinion on rolling releases vs stable ones, I'm more comfortable with using stable releases because then I know it will work with very few issues. Unfortunately, since that's not Artix chooses to play, I'll have to look for another distro that's stable and doesn't have the invasiveness of SystemD (I do like standardization in Linux, but I don't like SystemD being described as the Master Control Program from Tron). Since Devuan doesn't have SystemD, and I've had some interest in Debian in the past, I'll look into that and let you guys know what I think of it if I try it out.
 

Tolkem

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I don't know if there's a website that breaks down all the distro's by how far behind the "latest and greatest" stuff everyone is, but it would be interesting to see. It definitely has a lot to do, with which distro's people choose.

While not exactly that, you can take a look here: https://repology.org/projects/ there you can, for example, click on a pkg link and see what distro has the latest version available, or you can search for a specifc pkg. Regarding the "rolling vs stable", I kind of like rolling for some things, i.e. Desktop, but for others I prefer stable, i.e. kernel. Right now I'm using KDE Neon Testing, tho not a fan of Ubuntu, but I like to check and use the latest plasma's improvements and new features. https://pointieststick.com/ Also, Neon isn't that bloated, preloaded with tons of stuff I'll probably never use. I tried and liked Endeavour for a while, but constant kernel updates were a killer for me, I know I can opt for using a LTS version, but I had a bad experience with that back then when used to use Arch, besides, where's the fun in that lol

The best distro is the one that works for you.

Absolutely right.
 

SpongebobFan1994

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Regarding the "rolling vs stable", I kind of like rolling for some things, i.e. Desktop, but for others I prefer stable, i.e. kernel. Right now I'm using KDE Neon Testing, tho not a fan of Ubuntu, but I like to check and use the latest plasma's improvements and new features. https://pointieststick.com/ Also, Neon isn't that bloated, preloaded with tons of stuff I'll probably never use. I tried and liked Endeavour for a while, but constant kernel updates were a killer for me, I know I can opt for using a LTS version, but I had a bad experience with that back then when used to use Arch, besides, where's the fun in that lol

More power to you :)
 

wizardfromoz

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in my opinion,something in beetween works best, going a bit off topic, i have about 5 years linux experiance 4 years of which was just on a raspberry pi, but ive suddenly moved towads more and more complicated distros untill i can find something to settle on. right now my 2 favorites are void and just plain gentoo (when my installation works) so yeah im in a bit of a strange spot in terms of what i actually want out of a linux distro. so thats all i really have to say. but i have tried (or know about ) a ton of distos at this point, kinda for fun mostly so i think im starting to find my balance and hat i want, hope thats not too of topic : )
 

Tolkem

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For newbies, an easy to install, easy to use distro is often best.
I'd like to add, one with good documentation/help available. There are very few ones that have this, one of those is Linux Lite, their help/docs are superb; very well written, with nice, clear instructions supported by pictures to make it even easier for users to follow. https://www.linuxliteos.com/manual/index.html
 
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I'd like to add, one with good documentation/help available. There are very few ones that have this, one of those is Linux Lite, their help/docs are superb; very well written, with nice, clear instructions supported by pictures to make it even easier for users to follow. https://www.linuxliteos.com/manual/index.html
linux lite is amazing
 

SimSon

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Hey,

I'm currently running Fedora 36 on my PC. I really like that Fedora is in both was stable and brings new features. Fedora has a "fix" release cycle that release every 6 month a new Fedora version, the thing that I like of it, is that the Developer didn't stress themselves to release exactly after 6 months also if the version have bugs. They take their time to solve the problems and then release the new version.

I'm a user that didn't wait a specific time for installing a new version, that mean if a new version of a Linux Distro comes out I will also install it (if I use it), as already said I use Fedora and I install Fedora 36 the first hour that it was available. Until now, I haven't any problems with the system, any crashes, errors or lags.

A Fedora Version will be supporter 13 Months, that gives the User the possibility to skip a whole version and 1 month of time to skip to the new Version before the version reach their end of life.

(This is my experience with the Distro.)
 

Tolkem

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Another thing that often determines what distro people use, is stability vs new features.
I know it's pretty obvious, or so it'd seem, but I'd say hardware, too. For example, I recently "rescued" an old PC:
Bash:
System:
  Host: bullseye Kernel: 5.10.0-14-amd64 arch: x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: Xfce
    v: 4.16.0 Distro: Debian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye)
Machine:
  Type: Desktop Mobo: Foxconn model: G31MV/G31MV-K v: FAB 1.0
    serial: <superuser required> BIOS: Phoenix v: 6.00 PG date: 04/15/2008
CPU:
  Info: dual core Intel Pentium Dual E2200 [MCP] speed (MHz): avg: 1513
    min/max: 1200/2200
Graphics:
  Device-1: Intel 82G33/G31 Express Integrated Graphics driver: i915
    v: kernel
  Display: x11 server: X.Org v: 1.20.11 driver: X: loaded: intel
    unloaded: fbdev,modesetting,vesa gpu: i915 resolution: 1280x1024~60Hz
  OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel G33 v: 2.1 Mesa 20.3.5
Network:
  Device-1: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet
    driver: r8169
  Device-2: Realtek RTL8169 PCI Gigabit Ethernet driver: r8169
Drives:
  Local Storage: total: 149.05 GiB used: 20.49 GiB (13.7%)
Info:
  Processes: 176 Uptime: 51m Memory: 3.15 GiB used: 1.68 GiB (53.4%)
  Shell: Bash inxi: 3.3.16
I tried a couple of distros before going with Debian Bullseye. First, since I use KDE Neon Testing in my main machine, I tried that one, but kwin needs OpenGL v2.0, at least, otherwise the experience is quite choppy, and the integrated graphics only do 1.4. I then tried Linux Lite, it worked a bit better, but still not good enough. Fedora 36 with LXQT, not a chance! lol I got some error about not finding OpenGL libraries or something like that. LXLE(18.04, they recently released 20.04), this one was actually good, but some appimages wouldn't run, so no. Debian LXQT seemed promising, but then some things didn't go the way I wanted, so no, tho it did put me in the right direction, so I decided to try Debian from a netinstall and build the thing up from the "ground", and so far, so good. :) It seems the problem/solution is the kernel; other version higher than 5.10 was problematic. So, hardware is a determining factor when deciding whether to use a rolling vs a stable distro; with the former, you'll only see some benefits if on new hardware, with the latter, you might have a better chance on older hardware. I mean, for this machine (I'm writng this from it right now), intel last released the drivers for the integrated graphics in 2009! lol But it's working, if the people who were going to throw it away could just see it now ...
 

DMLinux

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I have been away from Linux for about 8 years. A few weeks ago, one of those frequent irritations that gets installed by Windows Updates made me mad enough to go do some distro hopping. But first, I installed the same distro that I used to run (I will be polite and not shame them by name) to see if it was still the old friend. Kinda-sorta-maybe-but-probably-not. It seems to have taken the fork in the road that caters to older hardware. I have a PC and 2 laptops, one of which is a 2-in-1 "convertible", both laptops having the Core i5-1135G7 Tiger Lake hardware. It has taken over a month to get to the point where my touch pad works correctly and .flac music files are playable. So far, no joy with either printer, one of which is supported by Cups "driverless printing" (the manufacturer provides a driver for the other). Unfortunately, my chosen distro apparently does not support the driverless stuff.

While I was troubleshooting the sound problems, I had 3, sometimes 4 distros on flash drives that I used to help figure things out: Garuda, Mageia, Manjaro, and MXLinux. After reading this thread, I have decided to wipe away what was "old faithful" years ago and move to MXLinux, which uses Debian Stable. MX "Just Works". It has a bit more bling than I need, but I think I can happily bring the bling along for what I think will be a nice, peaceful ride. Since I am maybe at the 6 or 7 years old in @dos2unix's description (training wheels gone but a long way from motocross), I picked MX for the stability versus the rolling release of "old faithful", and seem to be getting an extra scoop of modern hardware support and new features.

Thank you all for the much needed pep-talk!
 
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Brickwizard

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Going back to the title of this thread, "Rolling or Stable",
It's horses for courses, If you're new to Linux or are using it for business where you need stability and minimum problems then Stable distros are the best, If you like to play with your installation a bleeding edge rolling distro may suit you better,
With well over 1000 possible distributions, how can any of us say what is the "best", saying that how many have tried everyone of Distro watch top 100, I don't see my input to the forums as a way of pushing my favourite distributions or even recommending them, But I may suggest them along with others that I may not even have tried, but fit the technical needs of a posters box.
When it comes to the likes of Kali, you all will be well aware of my opinions, and as a personal thought do we need to have a Kali forum, or should we have a new sticky post In big red letters, titled why we do not answer newbie questions on Kali, I look in on the Kali forums from time to time, and at a guess, over a period of a year, I would assess they might answer 1 in 20 or so newbie installation questions, [ Parrot is about 8 out of 10]
so going back to the title, and the question of what is the best distribution, It depends on your Kit, your intended use and if not a newbie your experience. ONLY YOU can find your ideal [best] distribution
 

Tolkem

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Think this is relevant for the discussion: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Mesa-GLSL-Unrolling-Delete
An excerpt:
It's not only the Linux kernel that's been seeing some spring cleaning but Mesa developers have also been quite busy on working to remove some old, poorly maintained code from their open-source 3D driver components.
A rolling distro will likely have those changes applied, so a variety of hardware might be affected. On the other hand, a stable one will most likely not.
 

super_user_do

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In my experience, rolling release distros are not that unstable. I've been using EndeavourOS and Arch for one year now and I've never went through any of the problems that some people claim to be really common while using more Bleeding-Edge distros. They work fine overall. I also have some friends who are like super epic power users who've been using arch for years and as far as I know none of them had a single arch linux installation broken.
 

captain-sensible

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same here @super_user_do i'm on Vanilla Arch - the only program that has given some trouble is scribus .

I solved that problem by going for scribus stable from AUR. I do use timeshift just in case, but no need for it as yet in around a year of usage
 

rado84

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My first "car" was Mint (18.3) and after 4 years with it I switched to Arch. Now I'm so much into Arch that I can't drive anything else.
 
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