Just wanted to put in my vote for Debian. I have run Slackware, Red Hat
(commercial), Caldera (commercial), and Debian. It will take something
significant to make me change now. It has already been pointed out that
Debian has a very good reputation for being stable and secure.
Most people don't realize that Debian has the largest official package
repository of any of the dists. The potato (unstable) version of Debian
has approx. 3,300 official packages. I don't remember how many slink
(stable) has. The packages are all available on official mirrors that
make for very easy system wide updates with a single command "apt-get".
It's not uncommon to hear remarks about how Debian is better for
"experienced" users, but I think it is an excellent beginners' dist. I
helped my brother-in-law install Debian, and he's having a great time
learning on it --- never touched unix before in his life.
Help is very easy to come by. Brian talked about getting help in Red Hat
at the last meeting. All the same facilities exist in the Debian docs
and package manager. In addition, the debian-user mail list is one of
the highest quality help forums ever formed among human-kind -- after
this one of course :) . The #debian channel is generally very good, too.
There are two bots -- dpkg and apt -- that can field various questions
about packages very similar to what Brian was showing with the web site
he suggested (can't remember the URL).
<wade> !find db2html
<Flugh> its really weird . running the script manually shows no errors. but it hangs when grepping a config file (can't remember which)
* journey sighs
<journey> apt: no, e-cvs is <REPLY>debs for E cvs snapshots can be found at http://www.debian.org/~ljlane/downloads/enlightenment-cvs (or for /etc/apt/sources.list, 'deb http://www.debian.org/~ljlane/downloads enlightenment-cvs/')
<apt> okay, journey.
<Flugh> so i rigged it :-)
<dpkg> wade: behold, db2html is in these 2 packages: misc/debbugs (/usr/lib/debbugs/db2html) and text/cygnus-stylesheets (/usr/bin/db2html)
* dpkg ponders: So many bytes, so few cps.
This is a great example because I just wanted to show how dpkg, a bot, answers a query about which .deb
package has the db2html prog in it, but between the query and response I accidentally captured
journey while he was teaching the other bot, apt, about e-cvs. Now anyone who wants to know
about e-cvs can ask apt about it.
If you want to use either KDE or Gnome, they are available .KDE isn't on the main mirror, but
I'm sure apt will tell you where it is :) . Also, I've heard Neil and others saying
that Gnome is always dumping core -- I don't know what is causing that, but I've never
seen it on Debian. Of course, being a Gnome user, I think it's fantastic.
I realize that you said it isn't so important to you to have a true blue GNU system. I think
it is an advantage, still, to have a dist that is so entrenched in the open source mentality.
In practical terms, it means thorough, constant testing, strict peer review, decisions made
by project participants whose concern is more about quality and their reputations, than
about commerce. This is why Debian 2.0 was an excellent dist , but everyone knows Red Hat users are
bound to be happier if they pass on Red Hat 5.0 or 6.0 and wait for the fixes (a viable alternative
I'll stop my rambling now... hope I added useful information to your collection.