The latest Linux & Open Source Genius Guide, a ‘bookazine’ from Imagine Publishing comprised of reprints from Linux User & Developer Magazine, is out now and includes my regular look at the top ten Linux distributions.
An annual feature in the magazine, Top Ten Distros is a look at the movers and shakers in the Linux world. Biased towards desktop Linux distributions, the feature requires me to make a shortlist of popular distributions – based on download figures, page traffic rankings, comments to the magazine and other metrics – and then download and test each one.
The write-up of each distro, while around half the size of a normal review, takes some time to complete: it includes facts about each distribution, comments from its developers and/or users, and snippets regarding the distribution’s history.
It’s the screenshots that take the time, however. Rather than using stock images provided by the distribution team, as some magazines might, I install each distribution into a virtual machine and set up the desktop according to a pre-set layout: the menu open on the Internet category, a video playing from Archive.org in the default player, and a calculator app open in the bottom-right.
Yes, it’s fiddly – but it provides an at-a-glance comparison between distributions that the use of stock screenshots simply can’t match.