Given its UNIX ancestry (the de facto standard for mainframes, back in the days when I first learned programming), using Linux as the OS for an experimental MMO is something of a no-brainer. That being said, there are so many distros out now that trying to figure which to try is pretty daunting.

Therefore, I turn to more experienced voices for their perspectives.

Some of the criteria includes:

  1. Efficient utilization of multi-core CPUs (it's for an MMO server, after all)
  2. Light-weight with minimal overhead (initial development is on an older system)
  3. Stable enough to run indefinitely (I suspect some distros leak as bad as Windows)
  4. Can use a simple Window Manager instead of a full Desktop Environment (preferably one which gets along well with Code::Blocks)
  5. Gigabit+ networking support is key; some USB/video for basic use; everything else is negligible
  6. Good community support (I know I'm diving into a rough ocean - I'd feel better knowing there's a life preserver nearby)

I've sort of narrowed things down to Debian, CentOS (RHEL-based), Gentoo, and Slackware. Of course, each of these (excepting CentOS) have numerous derivatives, which means I haven't really narrowed things down much at all. DSL has obvious appeal, but I haven't found much in the way of a community or third-party documentation.

Any advice and/or recommendations in this endeavor would be greatly appreciated.


It seems that the question I should have asked was "Which KERNEL should I look for in a distro?"

I don't have much experience with Linux (primarily using Ubuntu via DE), so I'm concerned that trying to remove extraneous features may compromise its integrity. Adding features still entails risks, but less than removing them.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ramesh, strugee, Braiam, jasonwryan, slm Jun 26 '14 at 18:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Unfortunately, this is an opinion question and not really a good fit for this site. – depquid Jun 26 '14 at 18:07
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    1, 2, 5 depends on what kernel would you use. 3 is subjective, not even google servers can run indefinitely 4. you can do it with any distro 6. .... – Braiam Jun 26 '14 at 18:11
  • @depquid: I was hesitant to ask for that very reason, but several in the gaming communities I frequent argued that the specifics of how I intend to use it made it an appropriate question to ask on StackExchange. – Twyla Jun 26 '14 at 18:12
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    The problem is that you haven't asked a specfic question that can be given a fact-based answer. If the question is, "can Debian, CentOS (RHEL-based), Gentoo, and Slackware be used for what I want to do?", the answer is, "yes". – depquid Jun 26 '14 at 18:15
  • For 3, design for failure. You should regularly cut off power to your server and it should DTRT. For the rest ... our MMO server runs on Debian simply because that's similar to Ubuntu which is what most of our devs use. If you can afford it, avoid virtual machines because it's impossible to get good networking speeds. – o11c Nov 14 '14 at 4:02

Actually, many of your points depend on the kernel capabilities, and are therefore independent from the distribution in most cases. Even if some distributions maintain their own kernels, they still rely on source updates, especially for security-related and standard-related issues.

  • Efficient utilization of multi-core CPUs : this is related to process management and scheduling, which is one of the kernel's most important tasks.

  • Light-weight with minimal overhead : well, "lightweight" is a difficult one. To me, Debian is heavy, but Arch is lightweight. Yet, for some others, Debian is light, and Ubuntu is heavy. This is mostly about finding a distribution which has everything you need, providing a minimal amount of unnecessary features.

  • Stable enough to run indefinitely (I suspect some distros leak as bad as Windows) : ouch. You hurt me. Stability depends on process scheduling, memory management, time control... all tasks handled by the kernel. The faster it handles all of that, the less likely to crash the machine is. The rest is all about the sysadmin.

  • Good community support : well... find something famous and well-known. You'll be sure of your choice then.

About your others points : you're looking for a distribution which does not naturally come with a graphical environment (that would be Ubuntu for instance). All the distributions you talked about fit this profile. Plus : Code::Blocks relies on wxWidgets, a library specifically designed for cross-platform applications. You're not even restricted to GTK or Qt support!

Since your needs are mainly kernel-related, here's your most important question : which distribution am I most at ease with ? As I always say : the more you satisfy the sysadmin, the more important the uptime.

About your edit : I wouldn't change my answer even if you asked which kernel. The original kernel itself is brilliant at what you need it to handle. If you take away all super heavy distributions, provided along with huge graphical environments, then I could almost say : "they all fit".

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