Don Marti

Sun 17 Apr 2005 08:33:52 PM PDT

How to pick a distribution, for hobbyists

(updated 8 Apr 2005: cited source)

  1. Get one or two quarters' worth of archives for the mailing list on which you plan to ask for help. Import them all into your mail program.

  2. Go through and delete all posts that are not helpful.

  3. Sort by author. Make a list of the most helpful posters.

  4. Go back through the archives with your list of helpful people and figure out what they run.

  5. Run that.

On an ongoing basis, just pay attention to the list and see what distribution attracts the good answers. I switched from Red Hat to Debian in 1999 when I saw more helpful Debian answers on the local mailing lists. Now Ubuntu is racking up some points.

Posting to the list and asking "what distribution should I run?" is not the way to get an answer. You don't want the distribution that somebody can persuade you to run -- you want the distribution that people are capable of helping you with, and willing to.

This system is based on some advice from Jesus: Matthew 7:15-20.