My Top 4 Distro Recommendations

Disclaimer!

I am recommending and focusing on these particular operating systems, but I am open to exploring others. Also, if you think a distro that is missing from this list is the best, keep using it!

Scope and Focus for RetroEdge

I have a certain vision for the topics that RetroEdge.Tech will cover and how I will approach them. This includes the operating systems that I will be focusing on and recommending. This is what I’ve decided for now, but as I explore and work on these, the focus may change.

Listing out the distros that I’ll be focusing will help me develop more in-depth resources and guides for doing things on those distros.

I do like the idea of a more classic init system, so something other than systemd. Though, I am certainly not an expert on the systemd debate, I like and will be pursuing the more “retro” approach of alternatives to systemd (like runit).

That said, one of my distro recommendations is using systemd. And it’s the first one on the list, so let’s get started!

1. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is the distro that I recommend to people new to Linux. It’s a great place to start, as the things people expect to work, just do. I plan to do a lot of videos and guides with Linux Mint as the reference distro.

Since the release of Linux Mint Debian Edition 5, I do prefer LMDE over the Ubuntu based Linux Mint. I am still using the Ubuntu base on a lot of my systems and won’t immediately switch them to LMDE.

The Cinnamon desktop environment was created by Linux Mint and it is my favorite desktop envirnment. If you are looking for a comfortable entry into Linux, Cinnamon is just the right blend of simplicity and built in features.

Linux Mint is a good choice if you prefer or need something based on Ubuntu or Debian and don’t mind using systemd.

2. Devuan Linux

Each distro choice on this list gets further from the Linux norms until the last one, which isn’t Linux.

Devuan is Debian, but moves away from the Linux norms by not using systemd as its defining feature. I will be using runit as the init system on Devuan, as it is the init system on my next distro of choice.

The reason I chose to use Devuan is for server software. There’s a lot of server software that just works great on Debian or distros based on it. Devuan is a minimal Debian based system that is further minimal by not using systemd. I think Devuan makes a great server, as there are nearly countless guides on how to set server software up on Devian that are applicable to Devuan.

This website is hosting on a Devuan server.

Later on, I do plan on exploring Devuan as a desktop operating system, too.

3. Void Linux

Void further moves away from the Linux familiarity in that it developed its own package manager, XBPS, the X Binary Package System. My previous two choices, Linux Mint and Devuan, use apt, the Advanced Package Tool, for package management. Void breaks from this and didn’t just choose something already available, they wrote their own in C. It is fast and works well. I have used some of the more advanced package management features for selecting a particular version of a software package and holding it so that later upgrades don’t upgrade any newer versions of that package. It worked well and was well documented and not difficult to understand.

Void also takes a lot of inspiration from the BSD world, especially netBSD. But Void is much more current with the software in its repositories and is rolling release like Arch (instead of stable long term support releases like Debian or Ubuntu). That said, Void seems very stable and I enjoy using it.

4. NetBSD

So this is the furthest from the Linux norms, because it isn’t Linux. NetBSD is part of the family of operating systems decended from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) of Unix. NetBSD is portable and can run on many types of hardware. This may be interesting as a challenge to run it on particular retro machines.

Of the three main options for BSD (FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD), it was NetBSD that seemed to have the most “retro” feel. I also like that they have incorporated the Lua programming language into how the kernel is managed. I don’t know much about that yet, but I’m interested.

Summary

There’s more to the RetroEdge.Tech scope than these four operating systems, as I plan to do a lot with the Lua programming language and how to use it to configure programs.

Listing out these four (or five if you count Linux Mint and LMDE as separate) distros limits the scope of my focus, providing direction. It also has a progression, with Linux Mint being likely the most highly recommended distro for beginners and progressing to NetBSD, which isn’t even Linux and not seen as beginner friendly.

I’m happy with these choices, but there will always be opportunity to try others. By listing these and committing to focus on them, I’m not blown all over the place by the tech news. I have a base to work from.