I keep jumping around OS's I was using windows various versions then I get bored and jumped on the the Ubuntu the had problems with have 4gb or more ram playing nice with my ATI drivers so I left Ubuntu and went to Opensuse was with Opensuse for quite a while but I wanted to play Drakensang so I started to use windows and slowly windows came back as my FUll time OS now I ant to go back to Linux but I havn't made up my Mind which distro to try this time so I decided to make a post here to see what most people are using
I suppose most people are using Ubuntu and openSUSE due to their "user friendliness". Me, I use Gentoo I've had enough with distros that make you keep old software for half a year or more at which point they provide major updates.
So I wanted a "rolling release" distro that is versionless. The most popular choices were Archlinux and Gentoo. I've tried them both and liked Gentoo better. Now I get software updates when they're ready, not when Ubuntu/openSUSE/Fedora/Debian/whatever decide it's time for a new distro release. This was one of the things I missed in Linux when compared to Windows; software updates when the software in question actually comes out. On Gentoo (and I suppose there are some more but less popular rolling distros), there's a new Firefox, you get it very soon and without breaking your system (see "Debian Sid" or "openSUSE Head/Factory").
I'm happy and I never looked back since.
There's a dozen other things I could write here about things in Gentoo (and Arch) I simply love. Live ebuilds for installing from SVN/Git/etc using the package manager (with full dependency tracking and un-installation), USE flags, large package collection (rivals even Debian), dead-easy way to integrate custom patches (Cairo with ClearType for example) into the package manager... And I'm finding even new stuff today
Before actually considering trying Gentoo, you should be aware of one point: Gentoo is source based. That means, when you install the system, the package manager will compile all software (everything, including glibc) from source code (using the compiler and linker flags of your choice; I used "-O2 -pipe -march=native" as CFLAGS and CXXFLAGS, and "-Wl,-O1,--hash-style=gnu,--sort-common,--as-needed" as LDFLAGS). Read the documentation for more info This is a bit analogous to an RPM-based distro that would only use src.rpm packages, or Debian-based one using only deb-src packages. So an installation of Gentoo takes time.
If you are not willing to run a source-based distro, there is Archlinux that is both source-based as well as binary-based.
In any event, reading about Gentoo and browsing a bit around in its documentation is recommended before attempting it.
You will occasionally find references to "versions" of Gentoo like "2007.1" or "2008.0". As mentioned before, Gentoo is actually versionless. Those "year.release" versions are the versions of the install media (live CDs), not Gentoo itself. The most current installation media is 2008.0. For 64-bit, it's this live CD ISO image:
I'd recommend OpenSuse. I've been using Linux for about 10 years, and I've reached the point where I just want things to *work* and not have to worry about fixing broken bits myself.
On that note, I'd have to recommend against K/Ubuntu. They're very friendly distros, but they have a very annoying habit of occasionally breaking something big and making a mess of things. Additionally, their KDE4 implementation seems to be crap, for whatever reason.
I actually don't use a distribution, it's called a "meta-distribution" (*wiseasses*)
I'm using Gentoo for several reasons. Gentoo can be seen as a comfortable version of LFS (Linux from scratch) for lazy people.
Gentoo allows me to absolutely individualize a lot of things without having to do alle the work neccessary when building LFS. You can have it fancy shiny with flashing lights or spartanic, simple and not being a resource hog. It's also quite fast and furthermore it supports a broad variety of architectures. I guess it probrbly competes in that point with NetBSD. At home I yet(!) only use various x86 and amd64 but it would allow me also to use it on ppc, sparc, arm and many others. Okay, not all with full package tree but of course it won't make sense to run openoffice or similar on embedded-style chips.
Another important poit for me was the learning. The curve is steep and I still have to read a lot of things and research stuff. But I'm in science anyway and I WANT to understand Linux, at least to a certain degree.
Yes and no.
If you are willing and able to put a lot of effort in it, read manpages, books, forums and if you want to learn, understand and of course want all the individualism then Gentoo or LFS are right for you.
If you just want to work and have all the issues to a distributot, well, then you're probably better off with a precompiled one like the many Debian derivates, RH derivates, Mandriva or SuSE or whatever you like.
By doing gentoo I realized what a horrible lot of work distributors have to do. All the patching, localization (still a horror for me on the console and xorg-server 1.5.x, KDE on older xorg works out of the box), messing around in config files (*1), and just glueing all the libs and progs together ... it's like building a house. Either you take the bricks and put concrete between them, build in metal to stabilize and so on, or you just buy a finished ready-to-move-in apartement. LFS people even have to forge their bricks out of raw stone, Gentoo people can skip at least that one.
But if your Gentoo distribution is set up once then you just have to do the updates and as long as they are minor it's easy and always up to date. Note: Gentoo has no versions. There is no such Gentoo 9.04 or whatever, every daily portage snapshot is kind of a new version. So it's constantly in a flow.
You also can install Gentoo on any computer with a network connection. You don't actually need the Gentoo install media, though it provides you with everything neccessary. What you need is net access, fdisk style prog and some mkfs that is able to create any Linux suitable FS and a kernel that can access your mass storage (only a problem with really recent storage controller chips).
+ individuality at max
+ speed possible
+ always up to date (if package maintainers don't sleep and forget to update tree...)
+ lots of learning and understanding
+ no versions (I see that as a pro, there is no problems with having e.g. LTS or not)
+ can be installed from any OS that has a network connection
+ available for many many HW platforms
+ prolly things I forgot
- you better have a flatrate and also a fast net connection
- a quick CPU is helpful for compiling (e.g. AMD 4850e is already very fine, a VIA C3-2 well... it's still bearable but takes very noticeably longer, slower than older Duron/Celeron class you better cross compile large packages)
- lots of work, at least at the beginning
- you can't just put in CD, install in about 15 minutes, reboot and start to work
- prolly things I forgot
(*1) well, okay, probably most users on any distribution have seen at least their xorg.conf and messed around with it. I think it sucks but the new hal driven stuff stinks, too.
Mostly using XP right now because my monitor and xorg do not play nice together (this seems to be due to a combination of stupid EDID data and naive heuristics+bugs in xorg, the latter of which seem to be fixed upstream but not in distros). I was a Gentoo user but got sick of various issues with it; the big ones were lack of USE flag dependencies and some boneheaded policies (e.g. games group policy vs. nethack/slashem), but more generally the whole project seems to be collapsing under its own weight. I moved to Debian unstable (largely to avoid running a distro with a "standard" fully-populated desktop, since I prefer Fluxbox), but I still don't use it that often. I might install Fedora 11 beta tonight to see what goodies they've brought back from the future.
Well I use openSUSE. Why? Because of the great package selection, the build service, yast making system admin easy as hell without dropping to cli, it tends to have a more polished look and has good documentation, not to mention it is also one of the distro's that most commercial apps test against to maintain compatibility. Now with zypper it also has great package management with speed rivialing (maybe even a bit faster) apt. Gentoo is fine if you have a lot of time on your hands to tweak and config away but in a production enviroment that minimal speed gain you get by using gentoo is offset by the time you spend pissing around tweaking.