Discussion on: Is Ubuntu Or Fedora A Better Distro For Programmers?

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Sean O'Donnell

This is rather subjective. Pardon my tl;dr response here...

In terms of personal use...

...pretty much whatever distro you feel makes you more productive, requires the least hassle to install/configure/maintain, or whatever you want to learn and get familiar with.

I'm not bias to any specific distro for personal use. I started-off using Slackware in the late 90's, eventually moving towards Debian and RedHat-based distros with shiny package managers. This was a huge time saver!

Back in the late 90's/early 2000's, Slackware taught me the hard-way, having to hunt-down specific glibc dependencies and pretty much compile/re-compile almost everything from source, but it was a great learning experience when I had the time and less responsibilities.

The one stubborn thing that I do subject myself to on my own personal linux desktop, is using WindowMaker. I've been using this for years, and have customized a set of menus/themes/settings that help make me more productive than using something bloaty like Gnome, XFCE or some of the other more common desktop environments.

That's just me being stubborn, perhaps, but that's what I feel most comfortable using.

In terms of on the job...

I've worked at various companies that had all sorts of various policies on what we can use vs. what we should use, vs. what we MUST use.

Companies that mandate a specific distro, are usually of the rationale that you should develop in the environment that closest (if not directly) resembles that of production, which is honestly not a bad idea under some circumstances, despite being forced to use a distro that you would otherwise avoid for desktop/development usage.

These days, that's a bit archaic, though, especially with everything going to green/blue deployment and containers on VMs in the cloud.

Companies that DO NOT mandate any specific distro for development, are usually more appealing to the common developer, as we don't like being chained to our desks, much less being subjected to some authoritarian marginally-dictated mindset that hinders our freedom/abilities to explore, create and produce efficient code that we can enjoy developing and maintaining.

The problem that I have with Fedora, is the release cycle. It's a continuously-evolving development distro and a rapid-release cycle, so what may work today in this cycle's release, may not work the same 6mo from now in the following release cycle. Fedora 15 was a great example of that, when everything went from sysv to systemd. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but in terms of upgrading, did create some headaches.

At least with Ubuntu, the LTS releases are generally stable and painless to migrate to the following LTS. Not always, but more often than Fedora, imo.