Top 5 most interesting Linux distributions of 2022

I guess this will be the most cliche text on this blog yet, but here we go.

This year I’ve been distro hopping a few times, exploring few different Linux distributions. So, that’s not really a true ‘best distros’ list, but list of quite interesting ones with a summary what’s special about them.

5. Devuan

So, Devuan GNU + Linux (yes, that’s the full name), is a Debian fork. It was created when Debian adopted systemd, and Devuan kept to sysvinit, also adding alternative init system options later, like runit, openrc or dinit. It has all the perks of Debian, minus systemd. It has stable, testing and unstable branches, ships with Xfce by default. I was using the Ceres / unstable branch and had no issues whatsoever. It is last on the list, because there’s nothing particularly interesting about it. It’s just boringly solid and good.

4. Ubuntu Rolling

Yup, there’s a flavour of Ubuntu on the list. I used Rolling Rhino Remix, which was just renamed to Rhino Linux. It is basically devel branch of Ubuntu with some changes / additional tools, that you might find quite nice to have, but in the end - installing from a daily build and tracking ‘devel’ codename might be just enough. The tools provided offer easy installation of various desktops and window managers (either Ubuntu flavoured or vanilla), and easy updates. Funny enough, I found this flavour of Ubuntu being the most stable I ever had. It might be because I ripped off the snapd from it (which is offered in the tools provided). In general, interesting idea.

3. NitruxOS

I have, or had, an affinity for AppImages. Nitrux uses them as primary package format, is purely 64-bit system, uses openrc as init system, has custom set of apps based on Maui Framework maintained by Nitrux, and uses KDE-based desktop that is really beautiful. It’s Debian based, pulls KDE from KDE Neon (Ubuntu based) and offers drivers for Nvidia cards from Ubuntu ppa. I had some criticisms for Nitrux, like AppImages no matter how nice they are, not being a good primary software source: mainly because iffy updates cycle, many quite ancient apps, and relying solely on third party not very updated software source. That point still stands. Other was usage of pkcon which is an awful to use package manager, and basically being Franken-Debian by design - even you’re not suppossed to really mess with the base system, and it’s kind of taken care of now, because it became immutable - which is only natural way of progression with what they are doing. Flatpak is now also supported out of the box, which is a really good choice. So, point for Nitrux. Another thing I had a criticism for is that they could base on Devuan openrc, so that they would at least have all the openrc services already in the repo ready to go. Although, this also doesn’t stand anymore, since the system is immutable. So, they ship what they ship. And that really is fine. Even though I had some hurdles with Nitrux, and it is a little scary to talk smack about it, seeing how vocal its founder is about it (just kidding a little), it definately is a most interesting distro on this list, and it’s design was an inspiration for me building my Devuan installation, which basically was a simplified Nitrux clone, incorporating many choices they made. And I carried it to other distros later. Whether it be keeping to a clean 64-bit, the looks when in KDE and so on. It also is becoming more and more interesting with every release. I will surely revisit it on my channel soon.

2. EndeavourOS

The best way to install Arch. Full stop. I mean, unless KDE is your thing, then maybe XeroLinux is what you want, or XeroG if you’re into GNOME. Other than that, EndeavourOS gives you bare minimum to have a comfortable, ready to use Arch desktop. Looking pretty too. At least in the Xfce or i3 versions, as I haven’t looked at all of them. Arcolinux might present you with more full offering here, but I found it a little overwhelming with all the stuff you can put into it during setup. Endeavour on the other hand gives you functional system, that you can build upon the Arch-way… without tedious installation process, and being met with ugly defaults. Clean, simple, powerful.

1. Slackware Linux

What can I say. I just have a soft spot for Slackware and the way you do stuff here. It’s very traditional, and very Unix-like system. It’s the oldest still active Linux distribution. It’s dead simple in design, so easy to understand and work on, but also it doesn’t do much for you. Arch Linux is a walk in the park to setup. In Slackware many things you get for granted, you have to set up by yourself. As soon as you get hold of it, you realize though how powerful it is. Slackware-current branch is pretty much on par with Arch when it comes to software being cutting edge, and even on stable branch you get many latest and greatest programs from SlackBuilds, which is kind of Slackware’s AUR. That is totally a distro for advanced users, but it’s also tinkerer’s heaven. Arch gives you LEGO bricks to build your system, Slackware comes pre-assembled, but you can do whatever you want from that point, including switching its init system, and you 3D print your own bricks. That’s pretty weird analogy, but if Linux by default gives you freedom, Slackware gives you even more. It’s very simple, but also not easy. My absolutely favourite distro.

So, that’s that. Have in mind that none of these are beginner friendly, more intermediate user level (Devuan, Rolling Rhino, Nitrux, Endeavour) or advanced (Slackware). Yes, I just said that Arch is an intermediate user level distro.

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And late happy New Year!