Sunday, November 11, 2012

GNU/Linux Desktop Election 2012

On November 7th, 2012 the Desktop SIG of the Boston Linux & Unix User Group (BLU) held a debate and election on the best GNU/Linux distribution for desktop users.  This is a summary of that meeting.

I'm going to divide the meeting summary into a few different posts, with this post serving as a master post.  That way, this post won't get too long and I can provide as much information as possible from the meeting.

Even if you missed our lively meeting, these notes should ensure you don't miss out on the great information shared.  However, I can't stuff everything into meeting notes.  To experience the community and personal interaction we're fostering among users of free software, please come to our next meeting.

Hey, what is a GNU/Linux "distribution?"
Why Trisquel is the best GNU/Linux Distribution
Why Mint is the best GNU/Linux Distribution
Why Ubuntu is the best GNU/Linux Distribution

We didn't have a full presentation on Arch Linux, but Ista Zahn made a strong pitch from the audience.  Ista commented on Arch's flexibility, rolling release schedule (which helps the distro to stay bleeding edge), and strong documentation in the form of the Arch Wiki.

So who won the election?

It's sounds cliché, but there were only winners.  Each distribution has something to offer for different types of users with different needs.  Free software celebrates diversity and respects users abilities to make their own choices, in part by giving them choices to select from.

I encourage you to read the articles, think about which distribution matches your needs and philosophy the most, and give it a try.  There's no better way to pick an operating system for the long haul, then to pick one for a short trial run.  All of these options can be downloaded for free, so why not?

If you have a different opinion than those shared here or would simply like to share your experience, I encourage you to leave a comment below, contact me directly, or come to our next GNU/Linux user's meeting.

Other Meeting Notes

In addition to our distribution debate/election, we had the pleasure of an update from Michael Mauger on legal/patent issues related to software.

Michael provided us with an excellent overview of how company's like Microsoft have tried to restrict user freedom.  Microsoft successfully defeated an attempt by Massachusetts to adopt the Open Document Format.  As a result, the state is stuck using Microsoft file formats, which lack open documentation, risk obsolescence, and make forced upgrades (paying Microsoft again) more likely.

Using money and clout, Micosoft has pursued similar freedom crushing moves in Europe.

To stay on top of important legal issues surrounding software, Michael recommended the Groklaw website.

Thank You to Our Scribe

Thanks Celso for taking notes during our meeting!  Your notes helped me put together these posts.

Next Meeting

For details on our next meeting, check our Meetup page.

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