Best (and worst)( distros for software development

Tim Chase blinux.list at
Mon Aug 6 00:31:40 UTC 2012

As Jason mentions, there are personal decisions about stability vs.
update frequency.  I'd give a spectrum from

Debian Stable (rather conservative; what I happen to run)

Debian Testing, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, most other distros (a good
balance of stability & package freshness)

Debian Sid (pretty bleeding edge)

Gentoo (bleeding edge)

As far as distro choices, all should be pretty reasonable as long as
they have access to a full-fledged repository.  I might shy away
from the micro distributions like Puppy or DSL where it might be
harder to obtain development libraries, compilers, etc.  If you plan
to multi-boot, I'd at least do one of each of the major flavors:  an
apt-based (Fedora, Mint, Ubuntu, etc), an RPM based (Fedora, CentOS,
Red Hat), and possibly a Slackware-based or source-based.

That said, you don't mention what sort of language you plan to use
for development.  I don't know much about other languages, as I tend
to do most of my work in Python, but you can use "virtualenv" and
"pip" to create virtual Python environments where you can control
the exact versions of all the components on a per-directory basis so
you can even have multiple versions on your system at the same time.
 I've done some work in C and C++ as well, and having a variety of
compilers can help.

So other than the mini distributions, they should all mostly be
about the same for most development purposes.


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