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I've been an Ubuntu user for quite a few years now. However, with the recent release of Gnome 3, and with Ubuntu not going to include it by default, instead including its own customizations (such as unity) -- I'm akin for something vanilla (I see this unity similar to HTC's "Sense" that they put on their Android phones, which I can't stand).

So I'm looking for a distro to switch to. It should:

  • be as up to date as possible
  • be stable (I have to give credit to Ubuntu for just working in most situations), so no Archlinux :) -- I have tried it and, while nice, it seems to always crash like hell right when I need it most
  • ship packages as unmodified as possible.
  • have good support (large user base)

I'm currently looking at Fedora, it seems to satisfy all my needs: up to date (the next release will include Gnome 3), stable, pretty vanilla as far as I can tell, good support (widely used).

Any other suggestions?

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that's odd, arch doesn't crash for me hardly ever. –  xenoterracide Apr 10 '11 at 11:22
    
@xenoterracide how long have you been using it? It took me probably a couple of months to get it to completely crash (something related to Xorg/ATI drivers/Gnome) and make me want to go back to Ubuntu. It was not unrepairable (I would have had to downgrade some packages), but I felt I wanted something more stable. –  Felix Apr 10 '11 at 15:33
    
Is there a reason you do not want to use one of the other desktop environments that come with Ubuntu, like KDE or Xcfe4? Myself I dislike Gnome and KDE and have been using Xcfe4 for many years. –  Arcege Apr 11 '11 at 0:52
    
define "as up to date as possible". :-) –  Faheem Mitha Apr 11 '11 at 8:11
    
over a year now. I had far more problems with ubuntu, which is what came on this computer. Though I did have that weird broken perl problem... –  xenoterracide Apr 12 '11 at 0:08
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you can stand a rolling release, use Debian Testing:

  • It provides a nice balance between up-to-dateness and stability. That's because packages typically live for 10 days in Unstable before automatically propagating to Testing, and it does so only when there's no 'release-critical' bug files against it in the meanwhile.
  • It's from the same family as Ubuntu, so you should feel at home (no need to adjust to another package manager).
  • It's common Debian practice to be in constant touch with their upstreams, so each patch you find is because it's pending upstream inclusion, or it needs to be kept separate (i.e. Debian specific), and I expect these to minimal (at least as compared to Ubuntu).
  • Oh, and Debian community is huge. Not like Ubuntu of course, but maybe comparable to Fedora.
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AFAIK, this is the only option outside of arch that could meet the criterion. –  xenoterracide Apr 10 '11 at 11:22
    
There's also OpenSUSE, or is the stability not to too satisfactory, or do they do heavy customization (I remember the gnome-main-menu bar fiasco, but I wonder if there are more examples)? I know that their developers embrace GNOME 3 (if the fact that they are the first to provide a live disc is any indicator). Oh, they have at least –  Tshepang Apr 10 '11 at 11:25
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@tshepang I've used opensuse... it's not rolling... and given an 8 month release schedule, not as up to date as possible. I don't think it meets the ops criteria. Also opensuse is heavy on its own modifications. with kde it constantly backports parts of the next release... it had kde4 parts before kde4 was 4.0 –  xenoterracide Apr 10 '11 at 12:40
    
@Tshepang is Debian testing more stable than Archlinux? That testing part sounds worrying. But thanks for the answer, I did not know Debian testing was rolling release. I will try it. –  Felix Apr 10 '11 at 14:42
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@Felix: Many people claim that even Debian Unstable is more stable than, for example, Ubuntu 'stable' releases. I've never heard of a comparison with Arch, but I would bet more on Debian to be more stable (remember the 10 day wait thing). –  Tshepang Apr 10 '11 at 15:12
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