this is the perfect thread for me because I have returned from a hiatus my self.
After building up my machine (specs in the forum somewhere) I wanted to install SOHO but at the time it was pay for. If you know my nickname
you'll know that I've been using VL for a while and have bought my my fair share of releases. I sorta wanted it here and now given how I now have a 4yr old and a then 2month old which means free time happens randomly. I honestly didn't want to wait. So I decided now (ok back then - this time stuff is hard) would be a good time to try other distros. First up the grand-daddy of them all. Ubuntu 8. something. Drop dead easy install. I could watch my kids and let the distro do all the partitioning and just click next next next. I was really happy until I plugged in my USB stick and it locked up tight. Up to this point I had never seen a "unix/bsd" based system ever completely lock up. but it had and after verifying that it would do the same problem each time I dumped Ubuntu. I then decided to try Kubuntu given that I now Prefer KDE. Below are the results along with a few others.
Kubuntu - Same USB issue as base distro.
KuBuntu64 - did nothing to keep rebooting the system.
PCLinuxOS - After installing a few things here and there problems started to pop up. Also had to manually install Nvidia driver.
OpenSuse64 - wouldn't install.
Fedora 9 - wouldn't install
OpenSuse32Bit - Nice install, nice interface, then USB issue started to occur.
I then landed on Mandriva and thought I had found what I was looking for. No USB issues, more packages then I would ever need,
KDE interface, alot of educational SW, and parental controls so I could easily set up white and black lists for my 4 year old's account.
Then one day my USB stick froze the window. Then it happened again...... and again and again. I realized if I didn't use any size stick higher
then 512 it wouldn't do it. don't ask me why, I just knew that I had a work around and I was willing to put up with that one thing to get everything else.
Then the big update day came and it never worked again. If you head over to their forum you'll see that many people were left with half working, not working machines
because something on their server messed up. I would need to do a fresh install.
Ironically someone from the Ubuntu community sent me a very pleasant email (must have read my blog) alerting me that a new version of Ubuntu was available 8.10 and that may fix my USB stick issue. I installed in, and once again drop dead easy. I even got to install KDE 4.1 which I haven't made up my mind yet on. Then I plugged in a 2gig stick and it locked. From my RSS feed I learned that I could now get the latest SOHO version w/o having to wait for it so I install it.
As you all know VL is fast, stable, no USB hotplugging issues, has a great forum, and is relatively bloat free. (did I miss the option to not install wifi stuff on my desktop??) But, and there is always a but, the variety of packages is still it's Achilles heal. Having played with Mandriva for over a month I can honestly say that I miss being able to get anything that I want at the click of a button. It's not that I can't source install but I just don't have the time. If my son wants, let's say childsplay, which VL has, I want to do a search, find it and install it. I just don't have the time to go out and find the dependencies, make sure all the versions are correct, get by the conflicts to install something like KeePassx which both Ubuntu and Mandriva have with one click. I hope this doesn't sound like whinning because again I've been with VL since 3.2 and have returned and plan to stay. So yes the prodigal son has returned.
Now if the over worked, underpaid, developers are ever board and looking for something to do, KeePassx would be really cool to have. ;-)