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Exploring the lesser-known FOSS distros

Date/Time Permalink: 05/18/06 04:51:29 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Distro Watch did a column recently in which they turned their famous popularity-ranking chart upside-down to take a look at the "least-popular" distros. This is an area which has interested me for years, and it was gratifying to see that I'd even downloaded and tried some of them. I took the opportunity to earmark some of them for later investigation.

Quite a few are simply at the bottom because they target a specific language or nationality. If you're not of that particular nationality, you just won't get much out of it (a language lesson?) so that distro's popularity is pretty much up to that nation or speakers of that language. Others are put together for a specific niche or interest.

But the lesser distros do reward some exploring with the occasional intriguing prospect. Amongst those I find commentable:

IDMS: The bio reads: "IDMS Linux is NOT a home user distribution. It is intended solely as the base for our high end server software. No GUIs, No X, No fancy stuff. Just pure Linux!" - a statement like that is catnip for someone like me! I'll check it out. How refreshing to see a distro which isn't the three-millionth one aimed at the lowest common denominator.

Jollix: I've heard of this one. It's based on Gentoo (!) and is targeted at multimedia users and gamers (!!). With credentials like that, wonder why it's not more well known?

Julex: Check out their logo! What's up with that? Anyway, it's a light-weight version of Knoppix, of which we already have plenty.

Defender: This should be a hit with the professional crowd. It says here on the label that it can help you recover from security incidents on either a Linux or Windows system. With the right advertizing, you could make a fortune selling that! I'll check it out...

Impi: A version of Ubuntu for government users? Are their needs *that* special?

SLYNUX: Everytime I stumble on this one, I think the name doesn't go with it. I think "SLYNUX" and think "cracking and penetration-testing tools! A 'sly' distro filled with dirty tricks for security wonks!" No, it's another "aimed at the newbie" Ubuntu-wannabe. May I suggest "SIMPLUX"?

Hikarunix: I've tried this one! Not only that, I have reviewed it, and love it! It's still one of my favorite live CDs. And *that* is because this distro revolves entirely around the Oriental board game Go. I like Go, so I like this distro. If you don't like Go, you're better off trying almost anything else. If you do like Go and you haven't got this distro, you're missing out big time.

Voltalinux: Mix Slackware and BSD together. Shake well. Sounds tasty! Bonus points for the horned penguin logo.

OliveBSD: Aw, c'mon! Back when I was screaming at everybody for a live BSD CD to try it out, how come nobody pointed me at this one? I ended up with FreeSBIE! Look for Olive's review in this space shortly.

Linux Live Gaming Project: I tried this one, but it left me kind of underwhealmed. Of course, this seems due to the fact that the sole maintainer seems too busy to bump it up another version number, and is posting desperate SOS messages to the effect of needing someone to host it. In any case, I had more fun with Wolvix Gaming Edition. "E" for Effort, LLGP!

Honorable mention: grml: which is evidentally so unpopular it didn't even make this list, or else it garnered a few too many clicks to qualify due to it's rapid release cycle. I am a rabid, foaming fanatic zealot fan of this distro, so I *know* it's gotta be unpopular. That's why I jump at the excuse to mention it. grml...grml...grml...

UPDATE NOTE: Readers may notice a bit of comment below about a certain CD, whose comment has since been stricken from the post. It wasn't anything too derogatory, just something mumbled in passing...however, because we're talking about distros that are virtually unknown, even an irrelevant remark can get you a high hit-ranking on the search engines for that CD. In light of my ill-considered remark, it's been taken down. It was only one sentence; you'll never miss it. Further repairs are underway.

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