This is just me and my thoughts about the distros I live with. It’s 3:30 am and I can’t sleep so I’m passing the time.
I got rid of Windows off all my personal computers in 2003, I had been using Linux since the turn of the millenium (certainly before SuSE was OpenSUSE). I remember RPM Hell as a real thing and my anti-RPM bias has never quite gone away. So, most of the time I’ve been a user of Debian based distros, probably Ubuntu for the longest. However, Ubuntu 17.10 trashed the BIOS of my newish i7 Thinkpad and I’ve wandered away from Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distros (again, probably an irrational bias).
I stuck with Debian based distros because, well, it was what I knew and was comfortable with. I will say Debian itself was getting better at the install process, but I was trying different distros when I stumbled over MX Linux - and I REALLY liked it. Partly because it shared a (maybe tenuous) history with my long ago favourite Simply Mepis, maybe not. But it really clicked for me.
When I compared MX-17 with Debian 9 (Jessie?), it was no contest, it was Debian polished and made for everyone to use. MX-19, based on Buster (Debian 10) is still my distro of choice.
While I was happy with MX-17 I decided to have a look at the then Testing branch of Debian (Buster) and liked what I was seeing and kept it about and was pleasantly surprised, despite what people said, that Debian Testing never gave problems, didn’t break and eagerly awaited for it’s release and MX adopting it. I haven’t been disappointed.
Moving on, when Buster became the new stable Debian I decided to monitor the new Debian Testing (Bullseye), I also found SparkyLinux 6 which is based on Bullseye (sort of the MX to to Debian Bullseye). I have to say Debian Bullseye is working very well for me and Sparky 6 is excellent, however it’s NOT really the MX to Bullseye for me.
I would take MX-19 over Debian 10 because of the extra effort and polish and utils that MX adds. Sparky does add a few extras and utils but not as many and not as much polish, it’s much closer to the stock Debian Bullseye, so that I prefer to stick with the Debian original. I’m not saying Sparky 6 is bad, it’s not, it just doesn’t add enough extra, for me personally, to be taking up partitions on my machines. To that end, when I need somewhere to install a new distro to try, it’s the Sparky 6 partitions that go, not the Debian Bullseye ones.
What has been replacing the Sparky 6s? Well, I’m enjoying the Arch based distros, not stock Arch, I can’t be bothered, but ArcoLinux, Manjaro and EndeavourOS have all found their way onto machines. I’m getting to grips with pacman (god awful systax for noobs) and pamac. The AUR and yay still make me a little nervous, and minor… interesting occurrences?.. are more frequent that I would expect from any .deb based distro, but hey, it’s just for fun.
I would not choose to install either Arco or Endeavour in an office setting, and Manjaro only is that office had a decent tech support, I’d personally br happy to use them on my machines if that was all that was available and I’m enjoying playing with all 3.
However, MX-19 is still tops for me. My hardware is NOT bleeding edge, the versions of the software packages available from the repos do what I want and need. If MX disappeared, I would switch to Debian Bullseye, a little newer, but so far, for me on my kit, stable and has what I need to do what I want to do. Your milage may vary.
Yes, I have tried other distros, OpenSuse (Tumbleweed - I still hate YAST), Fedora (29, 30, 31), OpenMandriva, Mageia(?), Bohdi, Peppermint, Mint, LinuxLite, SolydXK, Xubuntu, Devuan, Parrot and ever a couple of BSD. No, none of them stuck, none of them seemed to fit me, none seemed to offer any advantages ove what I know works for me.
I’m not stopping looking at other stuff, but it has some serious competition to beat for me.