Stable or modern Linux distributions: which one to choose?

Linux distributions have several ways of communicating software to their users. But which one to choose: stability or the latest software?

One of the main choices that many Linux users face when choosing a Linux distribution is its stability, that is, how often the program changes.

Some distributions prefer stable and proven software, while others include newer software that may not be reliable, also known as “bleeding-edge”, a play on “evolving” words.

So which one to choose? This is what we will see.
Stable: the best solution for most people

If you are completely new to Linux, you will probably choose a more stable distribution such as Ubuntu, Debian, or openSUSE. The software of these systems does not change much.

Most of the time this means that you will have to use older versions of the software, but there is little benefit to using the latest versions. Distributions usually provide new software to fix bugs or security issues. This last point is very important when it comes to Internet oriented programs such as browsers. Therefore, you should update your Linux packages regularly.

Stable distributions are good options for running servers, for all of these reasons.
Bleeding-Edge: perfect for advanced users and developers

If you have more experience with Linux, you can try a distro with newer versions of software, like Arch, Gentoo, Debian Unstable, or Fedora. These distributions attract advanced Linux users because the latest software offers new features.

Bleeding distributions are also popular with developers because they have newer versions of languages, libraries, and drivers. The downside is that these distributions can be more prone to failure because the software is less tested than a stable distribution.
Tradeoff: run a state-of-the-art distribution in a virtual machine

You don’t always have to choose between one or the other. You can run a high-end distribution on a fixed host machine using virtualization software such as VirtualBox.

So you can have the best of both worlds: a stable system for everyday work, be it Linux, macOS, or Windows, and an experimental virtual machine for development or DIY.
Linux gives you a choice when it comes to new software

Linux gives you many options as to the type of software you can install on your system. If you change your distribution, you might be wondering if you can keep your data. The answer is yes. ”You can keep your important data when you want to install another Linux distribution to try something new.

About Jon Moses

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