Any list of best or worst will have its opponents and proponents and I foresee that this list of worst Linux distributions will be no different. There were, at last count, almost 300 Linux distributions and they all can't be great. But, this list of Linux distributions are, in my opinion, the worst of the lot. Beginning with the least offensive at number 10 to the least desirable at number 1, this list is a compilation of my opinions and experiences with various distributions over the past 15 years but only current distributions are included.
10. Security-enabled Distributions - If you want to get hacked and owned, just label your next distribution with the word 'Security' somewhere in its name or description and wait about 5 hours. Some offenders in this category are Astaro, NetSecL and Engarde Secure Linux. The biggest problem with these kinds of distributions is that they aren't updated regularly enough to provide the security that they tout.
9. Super-specialized Distributions - A couple of years ago I saw a Linux distribution called something like 8086 Linux. OK, I admit that it's cute but is it practical? Keep those kinds of distros in academia where practicality isn't important. The throwaways in this category include GeeXBoX, LinuxConsole and Zenwalk.
8. Minimal Desktop - How many of these do we need? Seriously, if you want a minimal desktop, install busybox, xfce or lxde and use it. We don't need 50 distros named 'minimal.' Ones to avoid are CrunchBang, INX and LormaLinux.
7. Foreign Language Distros - Most major distros ask during installation which language you want to use so why do we need these? I mean, do we really need an Eskimo Linux? One exception here--I think Red Hat should have kept Redneck as one of their installation language choices--it was the second language after English that they had for Red Hat. There are too many transgressors in this category to list here.
6. Create Your Own Distribution Distributions - Maybe it's just me but I've never successfully created my own distribution with any of these. Either the instructions are too vague or I just don't have the time to waste trying to troubleshoot every dependency under the sun. Big time wasters include LinuxFromScratch, Slax and Cross Linux From Scratch.
5. Unfinished Symphony Distros - These are distributions that either never get finished or somehow stall due to lack of interest but still remain as examples of Linux greatness. The descriptions are awesome but failed due to poor execution. Fine examples are aLinux, BBLCD and NetMAX.
4. Embedded Distributions - OK, not ALL embedded distros suck but, in general, why should I care about these? Aren't they for embedded system builders and such? If a device comes with an embedded version of Linux, great but I'm not tearing open a $400 gadget to try an hack Linux onto it. That's for geeks without families to support. I, for one, don't live in my parent's basement nor do I have that kind of disposable income. No specific examples here--just the category as a whole.
3. Mobile Distributions - Related to, but not the same as, embedded distributions are the Mobile distributions. Again, if it comes with a Linux distribution, cool, I'm happy. If not, who cares? This is one big reason projects like OpenMoko, Moblin and Hackable:1 just don't hold my already too-short attention.
2. Useless Appliances - Look at VMware's Virtual Appliance Marketplace and you'll see a gaggle of virtual appliances in 20 or so different categories. Some are really good but most are worthless and a waste of bandwidth and boot time. I don't have any specific to mention but there are a lot of them, believe me. If you want to use a virtual appliance, decide what you need and, if you can't build it yourself, then go download some from the marketplace to test. One of the big problems with these things is that many are created using non-free software so while the download is 'free' the appliance or some of its components are not. Proceed with caution.
1. Microsoft Killers - It seems that this category is the most popular with bloggers, techies, CXOs and even yours truly. I think I've officially given up on a Linux-based Microsoft killer at least for the Desktop operating system. Love it or hate it, Windows is on the desktop to stay--at least in the foreseeable future. While there are some inspirational and ambitious projects out there, somehow they all fall short of the Windows operating system...even a crap pile like Vista--although Vista almost did the job for Linux all by itself.
I'm not speaking for myself here but for the millions of other business and personal users who use Windows. I personally prefer Linux but no matter how cool the likes of Google's Chrome OS, Presto and Ubuntu are, they will never be Microsoft killers.
There you have them--my list of 2009's worst Linux distributions.
Write back and let me know which distributions you think are the worst.