The Slacker’s Fav Linux List

Here’s what I like. They’re all good. However, like anyone, I have my personal favorites. Here goes…

My Top Five GNU/Linux Operating Systems and Why

  1. Slackware Linux – To me, Slackware just fits. Folks have heard me say for years now that Slackware is the only Linux operating system that comes pre-packaged with ATTITUDE. It’s a biker’s Linux. It’s not all-inclusive. It’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s not even user friendly, at times. When you kick that baby over, though, it RUNS… and it runs hard and long. Slackware is the oldest surviving still maintained Linux. Its age grants it bragging rights. It is a survivor.
  2. Debian – Debian is old; not as old as Slack, but close. It’s also “old school”, kinda’ like me. It’s there when you need it. It’s nothing fancy, really. It’s the Sears Craftsman of Linux operating systems; dependable, steady, and ROCK-FRIGGIN’ SOLID. I use Debian on my desktop machine as a secondary operating system. It’s fully operable and synch’d with my Slackware primary OS. No better fall back can be had.
  3. Arch Linux – While I’m not nearly as experienced with Arch as I am with Slack and Deb, I still have had some experience with it. I’m MOST impressed with Arch’s Support Community. I capitalize those words because in Arch’s case, they deserve to be capitalized. Most GNU/Linux operating systems out there have extensive and informative support apparati; Arch’s is superior. Their wiki is the best I’ve ever run across.
  4. Zenwalk – Zen’s parent is Slackware. Because of this, Zen has all the stability and reliability of its parent with a more mellow attitude. It’s a bit lighter than Slackware; as if Slack were anywhere near being called “bloated”. I ran Zen many times on my systems. I don’t currently have it installed because Zen doesn’t yet have an x86_64 architecture. I’m patiently waiting, though.
  5. CentOS – I installed Cent because I had already run Fedora Core and was looking to get as close to RedHat as possible without having to spend money to do so. CentOS is the answer. It’s as close as you’ll get to RedHat without the monetary outlay. It’s sharp, clean, stable, and very usable as a primary operating system. For you RPM fans, this might be a good choice.

Those are my five most loved GNU/Linux operating systems. However, I really love them all (with a couple exceptions that we won’t go into here); and with that in mind, here’s an honorable mention list (in no particular order):

  • Ubuntu – Why? Because this is the one that got it all started for me. I had an old stack of Mandrake floppies that someone had given me years ago, but I had never installed them on anything. Ubuntu was the first Linux I ever installed. It took away my Linux virginity and stole me from MS Windows all in one shot.
  • Ark Linux – Ark is a main line (not a branch) Linux operating system. It’s been around for quite some time. While development is sometimes a bit slow in coming, Ark is still alive and well, as I was recently updated by one of their beta-testers, the Borg_Queen. Ark is a good, solid Linux.
  • Vector – An impressive Slack baby. Stable and very usable. Needs an x86_64 version, though
  • OpenSuSE – Always impressive.
  • Fedora Core – Great community. Strong and secure operating system.
  • Foresight – Another one with a great support community.
  • Mepis – A great Debian offspring.
  • Mint – The Rock & Roll loaded Linux, based on Ubuntu.
  • Mandriva – A solid and well supported Linux.
  • Aptosid – A bleeding edge Linux based on Debian’s “Sid” branch; still very stable and usable. Great support community.
  • PCLinuxOS – A friendly and very usable Linux.

My Favorite Pocket Linux

  • SLAX – the Slackware-based pocket rocket. Load this baby from a thumb drive and run in pure RAM mode… the FASTEST operating system you’ve ever seen. Handy for fixing your friends’ toasted MS Windows systems, too.

My Favorite Desktop Environment/Windows Manager

  • Xfce – the little mouse that roared. I run Gnome here and KDE there, but Xfce is my absolute favorite of them all. It’sΒ not near as polished (read as bloated) as KDE nor as user-friendly as Gnome, but it works. And for me, it works well. I love that little mouse.

Next week, 10 things I love about MS Windows. HA! Just kidding. Had you going there for a bit, though.



Image credits: Xfce logo Β© Olivier Fourdan

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  • Justen Robertson  On December 2, 2010 at 19:01

    I’m not a big fan of centOS personally. I have encountered it many times in my professional life and it tends to cause me more trouble than it saves me with the whole “no updates” principle. CentOS 5.5 is still running PHP 5.1 ffs. I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get a package that is less than 3 years old. Stability is lovely and all, but cent takes it past the point of being ridiculous.

    Anyway rant off. I run debian and its derivatives for the most part, but I absolutely love Arch’s community and if I can’t find an answer I need from the debian & ubuntu forums arch is the next step. Honorable mention for me is Gentoo, for being absolutely hardcore and at the same time rock solid and relatively easy to use (within its realm).

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On December 2, 2010 at 20:03

      Hi Justen!

      Great comments! I appreciate you coming here to read and post.

      And you are absolutely correct about Arch’s support community. Many times I have found solutions to issues in my Slackware or other installations using information found on Arch’s wiki. πŸ™‚



  • Tomas Forsman  On December 3, 2010 at 00:58

    Nice to see Foresight Linux in the list.
    maybe should add:
    Using conary as package manager, that makes Foresight unique from other Linux OS today πŸ™‚

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On December 3, 2010 at 11:27

      Well, mostly unique. Don’t forget the parent branch (rPath) still uses Conary. πŸ™‚

      When I finally get a minute to install Foresight again on one of my experimental partitions, Tomas, I’ll write a review of my experiences with it here. It’s been a while since I’ve run Foresight. I liked it quite a lot the first time around, though. I imagine there have been some great improvements since then.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. πŸ™‚

      P.S. I’m d-loading the x86_64 Foresight w/ Xfce right now, actually.

  • Netherlands Email List Database  On December 3, 2010 at 02:38

    I love Arch’s community .

  • ichase  On December 3, 2010 at 07:23

    Great Post Eric, Always helpful to read what the pro’s think because experienced users such as yourself, have a lot of good insight and always give great “Food for Thought” when someone unexperienced such as myself is looking for the next distro to possibly install.

    My first distro was Mandriva 2010.0 KDE I was blown away at how much faster it was to boot, the look and feel instantly made me say. “MS Win….What? What’s that?”

    Since my most recent install of Mint 10 Julia (Gnome) on an older Dell laptop (which started off well, did not END well) I am currently looking for an older laptop to re-install it on. I am also excited about the prospect of loading multiple distros on an external HD. πŸ™‚

    Thanks again Eric for the great post!!!

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On December 3, 2010 at 11:22

      Hi ichase! Good to see you here.

      Me pro? HA! Not by a long shot. I’ve just been at it a bit longer than some; not as long as others, though.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  • Funny  On December 3, 2010 at 10:37

    So, you’re making a post at
    And you #1 distro does not even package gnome desktop…

    Perhaps you should post at ? πŸ™‚

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On December 3, 2010 at 11:19

      You’re a funny dude. Oh wait, you really are a Funny_Dude! πŸ˜‰

      Is there an Heh!

      Thanks for reading and posting, Dude! πŸ™‚

  • Maryalice Cespedes  On December 6, 2010 at 13:35

    Awsome article and right to the point. I don’t know if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you people have any ideea where to hire some professional writers? Thank you πŸ™‚

  • Pokemon  On December 15, 2010 at 23:18

    Best wishes to you for developing yourself and publishing more articles. Regards Pokemon Online Game Pokedex PokemonCraft Admin.

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On December 16, 2010 at 09:50

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I normally would SPAM a comment such as yours, but in this case, I allowed it because I think you have a nice website. Regards! πŸ™‚

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