November 13th, 2007, 14:23
I find that need to spend time developing in a Linux environment. I have been focusing on FreeBSD and OpenBSD for the last decade and completely ignoring Linux, so I have lots to learn and almost nothing to unlearn. :)

So, a question to you who use both environments: what Linux distro, or Linux "methodology", would you recommend as being most familiar to an old BSD hack?

Eg: I like manpages and I hate hate hate "info". [Everytime I get into info by accident I have to kill -9 it from another terminal as I can never figure out how to exit it. Maybe it's just that I hate emacs? :-] So I'd want a Linux way-of-life that encourages manpages over info.

Note that I don't require and I'll not even run a desktop under this. I'm just going to be ssh'ing in to vi and compile stuff.

I'm playing with Debian Etch (4.0r1) in a VMware machine right now and so far I haven't become angry -- that's a good sign. I even managed to compile a new kernel to install the VMware Tools stuff into last evening. The Debian package management seems somewhat similar to "ports", and even offers several different competing CLI tools for doing anything, just like ports! :)

By the way: VMware Fusion 1.1 on the Mac rawks!! I'm going to be using this a lot.

November 14th, 2007, 17:06
I don't find as much need for linux these days but when I do use it, I tend to use Arch Linux ( It's fast, clean and uses BSD-style init scripts. It also has a pretty good package manager called pacman ( that's similar in many ways to Debian's apt/pkg tools. It was originally inspired by Crux Linux which also has some BSD influences. It's a moving target so that could be a downside when comparing against a Debian release depending on your needs. It's not bleeding edge but it stays up to date pretty well.

Arch comparing themselves to other distros and Free/Open/Net:
Arch Compared To Other Distros (

Debian isn't a terrible option either for what it sounds like you are doing. Use whatever you need to get the job done. :wink:

November 14th, 2007, 21:07
Debian would be my top choice for a server environment, but I've actually taken to Ubuntu on a development station. The reason being that I don't need to prove to myself that I can setup a X-based workstation, and not spend an entire day doing so. Just about the exact same as Debian, but with a large package base.

If you don't need X, stick with Debian for sure. Any RPM based distro WILL piss you off. Gentoo is another, but mainly because they deal with a ports tree. Other than that, it's a living hell unless your time is worthless, which I know yours is not.

November 15th, 2007, 22:20
Hey, thanks for the tips Strog and Kernel_Killer! That comparison page in the Arch site is one of the best of that sort I've seen--concise, to the point, and fairly objective.

Based on that chart I actually tried out a quick install of Gentoo because it promised to be source based with a FreeBSD-like ports. Holy crap that's a bizarre install! KK, you are right, that one is for laying down and avoiding. I was really intrigued by the ultra fancy X11-based graphic progress meter followed by being dumped into a root shell with no chance of even a simple step-by-step wizard. And some people complain that FreeBSD's installer is primitive.

Anyway I'll play with Arch to see how that looks, and I'll give Ubuntu a spin 'cause it's supported out of the box by stuff like VMware these days and it's clearly a Debian spin-off.

Thanks again guys!