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I'm a long-time Apple User since 1992, have always felt at home there, but I've am currently looking to switch to an alternative Operating System.

I've also been working with Unix machines since 2001, so I'm looking in one of the free Unices or a Linux. Since I last looked at the desktop in 2002 much has changed, it seems. So I'm lost once more in the war between desktop environments and software. To be honest: I don't care what it's name is, I want to get my job done. Here's what I set me as requirement for an operating system/software to be considered:

  • Has to be atleast four years old
  • Has to supply security updates for current release for atleast a year
  • Production quality stability for the whole desktop environment (!)
  • No commercial stuff that tends to supply me with privacy invading App Store or Cloud space

So far I'm running a MacBook from 2007, 4 Gig memory, 250 Gig disk and I need:

  • IMAPs for Mail since 1995
  • Webbrowser
  • Shell
  • Keeping current with Updates/Upgrades with no more than 5 Minutes spent in entering commands

A desktop filemanger would be nice, but is a bonus.

What can you suggest as operating system? The one with the longest support cycles and best chance to survive the next 10 years will win a new user, even sending patches when needed!

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Of curiosity, what was it about the announcement of Lion and about the political decisions that you disliked? Any URLs? –  maxelost Feb 28 '11 at 20:38

3 Answers 3

I personally am a big fan of Ubuntu - it's easy to set up, has a nice desktop (Gnome based, but soon to change to their own) and good support.

They do 2 editions of the desktop version - normal, and LTS (Long Term Support) which sounds like what you want.

Of course, this is only possible if your MacBook is an Intel based one. If it's PPC (G4 / G5) then your choices are somewhat more limited.

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I don't like the commercial background of Ubuntu, if this was for official deployment I'd agree with you. I don't need or want UbuntuOne. I don't need Gnome/KDE. I've had good working experiences with CDE on Solaris. It is an Intel MacBook, indeed :) –  leto Feb 28 '11 at 12:36
    
You don't have to have any of those things. You may be better off with the server version which doesn't even install X as default and then install the WM you want manually (apt-get install xfce4 for example) –  Majenko Mar 1 '11 at 16:15

If you're willing to put the time into the initial setup, and know your way around linux, considered gentoo? its a established, rolling distribiution, so effectively, your OS can last as long as (or even longer than) your system. Its also source based - and a full system update is as simple as 'emerge world'

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I have never tried Gentoo, but will certainly check their release cycles and ways to keep stable. I'm kind of shaped from "apt-get dist-upgrade" though. Thanks for your Input :) –  leto Feb 28 '11 at 12:37
    
their release cycle is constant. While i'm an ubuntu user, one of my collaborators on a project has had the same gentoo install for over a decade, across different hardware. –  Journeyman Geek Feb 28 '11 at 12:38
    
Journeyman geek Please tell me some experiences with desktop stability you might have. This sounds awesome, but only when this rolling release stuff doesn't break compatiblity. Read: If I have an outdated window manager, does someone take care I get an upgrade when needed or do I have to go hunting for dependencies myself (like in LFS/Slackware when I last checked 2002)? –  leto Feb 28 '11 at 12:42

Maybe take a look at Debian? It is very stable (sometimes even too stable; they prefer to backport important fixes over upgrading packages inside a release), and each of the recent releases has been supported for about three years (see Wikipedia). Squeeze (6.0) just hit the proverbial shelves, and if they go with a similar release and support schedule it should see support until some time early 2014.

The stability means that you won't be getting the most recent versions of packages through the official repositories, but also that a standard package upgrade is extremely unlikely to break anything. Even when running squeeze as testing for what I think was almost a year, I saw only one major breakage (which was resolved before the release).

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