The words "bleeding edge" indicate a significant risk. However, a system that is constantly being improved and updated has its advantages. For example, you can see speed and safety gains. If you like something like this (and you're willing to take a risk), here are five of the latest Linux distributions for you to try.
The choice might come as a surprise considering that Debian is the opposite of Linux. And for a good reason. Debian Stable, the standard version of Debian, provides users with proven software with relatively few bugs. While this means you'll generally have a nice experience, your software is not up to date.
To test and refine all of this code, Debian uses two more branches of software with different levels of stability. The first is called testing. The packages it contains will be frozen on a schedule and will become the next stable version of Debian. The next one is called Sid or Unstable. Sid is a rolling release version of Debian that continuously receives the latest software.
Sid keeps Debian up to date without sacrificing much of what makes Debian great.
Despite its name, Debian Sid is still pretty reliable. The main difference is that much of its stability comes from upstream instead. For example, instead of fixing Debian bugs for the version of Firefox in Sid, the community is relying on Mozilla to implement these improvements. Compare this to testing or stable, where the Debian team has further refined the packages.
The installation of Sid requires a little know-how in the area of package managers. Debian doesn't actually provide an actual installation image for this. Instead, you'll need to update your currently running system, ideally from Debian Testing, to make the process smoother. That way, you have fewer things to update than upgrading Debian Stable.
If you enjoy the Debian experience but want your entire system to be up to date, Sid is your best bet.
If you like the flexibility and ease of use of openSUSE but want to take advantage of newer software, Tumbleweed may be for you. Tumbleweed is one of the easiest rolling edge rolling release distributions to get up and running.
There are two versions of openSUSE: Leap and Tumbleweed. Leap is the stable version that shares a base with SUSE Linux Enterprise. Software in Leap "leaps" forward about once a year. In contrast, Tumbleweed releases new software updates all the time.
Unlike Debian Sid, openSUSE positions Tumbleweed as an alternative way to enjoy openSUSE rather than as an unstable experience for the adventurous user. There is a proper install image that will allow you to install this cutting edge desktop directly, as easily as a distribution like Ubuntu and Fedora.
openSUSE has some special features that set it apart from other options. The distribution uses YaST, a one-size-fits-all tool for system administration and configuration. In addition, openSUSE doesn't shy away from including a range of preinstalled software.
openSUSE is known for its excellent support for the Plasma desktop. KDE fans should be aware of this. Tumbleweed can be an alternative to KDE Neon, whose software is even more current.
openSUSE and Fedora have some important things in common. They are backed by competing business-minded companies, SUSE and Red Hat. They are also the two largest distributions that use the RPM package format. Hence, it is appropriate that both of them have an ultra-modern version of their operating systems.
For Fedora, this innovative version is called Rawhide. In Rawhide, you can test new software to fix bugs and get the latest code early. Packages are constantly being updated, and new versions of programs are introduced very quickly.
This does not mean that Rawhide is unusable. One of Fedora's practices is to provide stable versions of software (since they don't release programs that are still in beta). This means that all code comes from upstream developers intended for everyday use.
Much like openSUSE and the KDE Plasma desktop, Fedora is known for its top-notch GNOME implementation. If you're a fan of GNOME, Rawhide is a way to see the latest changes in GNOME.
Photo credit: Ben Stedman and Alex Legler / Gentoo
Gentoo is a rolling release distribution in which you compile software specifically for your machine. Installing Gentoo is not for the newbies or the faint of heart.
By default, it's actually pretty stable. Gentoo focuses more on flexibility than on being ahead. This is because you are compiling programs right on your computer instead of downloading a precompiled binary file like you would with most other distributions. Gentoo has a stable (arch) and unstable (~ arch) release system, with the latter option disabled by default.
Gentoo is not for people who are not familiar with Linux. Gentoo requires a lot of manual work as it even compiles app updates.
This model certainly has advantages. By compiling most of your software, Gentoo allows you to shrink your system further than other operating systems. For example, you can remove programs that have unwanted features. This can also lead to potential speed gains. You will also get a thorough understanding of how Linux works, which could appeal to programmers.
It's also easy for Gentoo to combine stable and unstable packages. This means that you can choose which parts of your system you want to be up to date. Compare this to Fedora or Debian, where mixing unstable and stable versions of programs is not recommended.
If you want to take some time to learn and compile your software, Gentoo might be for you. Alternatively, you can try something that makes Gentoo easier to install, such as: B. Sabayon.
5. Arch Linux (and derivatives)
Much like Gentoo, Arch Linux is known for being a little tricky to install. The Arch disc image is just a terminal with a few tools to get you started. On the positive side, like openSUSE Tumbleweed, it is up to date by default. Arch strives to keep programs as modern as possible without breaking things.
Arch's philosophy of putting the user in charge of managing system administration means that users have to do slightly more with their operating system than any other alternative. In Debian, for example, program services are started automatically. In Arch you have to activate them manually.
There are two streams of package versions: stable and testing. You can assume that the stable programs are about as up-to-date as all of the other options above. For those who are even more adventurous, the test repositories are waiting.
Arch Linux also contains what is known as the Arch User Repository, a huge collection of programs that simplify the installation of software that is not available through official Arch channels. There are many packets living there on the verge of bleeding.
If you want to enjoy manual control of your own system as well as take advantage of new software, Arch is a viable option. If you want to install Arch easily, you can always opt for Arch-based operating systems like Manjaro.
Make sure you take a backup
There are always risks associated with using an operating system that are constantly changing due to their design. Hence, it is important to take some precautionary measures. You need to have a plan when something goes wrong.
An easy place to start is to back up your hard drive regularly just in case.
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About the author
(324 articles published)
Bertel is a digital minimalist who writes from a laptop with physical privacy switches and an operating system recommended by the Free Software Foundation. He values ethics over functions and helps others take control of their digital lives.
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