siduction 21.1.1siduction is a Debian-based distribution first released in 2011. What makes it unique is that it is one of the few Debian-based distros based off the Unstable branch (commonly known as Debian Sid, hence the name siduction). Although Debian is well known to be a very stable distro, some people look for more recent and up to date software that a rolling release distro would provide. Some common rolling release distros that are more well known are the Tumbleweed branch of openSUSE, Arch Linux, and Gentoo, and the never ending list of distros based off these. The reason siduction is such a powerful distro is that it is maintained by its community, therefore it is curated slightly more than Debian Sid. In my use case, Debian stable provides xorg-server version 1.20.4 but I require at least version 1.20.6 to properly use the NVIDIA card in my laptop with the new(ish) prime render offloading. xorg-server currently is at version 1.20.11 at the time of writing this, and siduction provides the most current version.
The siduction live USB boots to the desktop environment you chose on the download page - KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, LXDE, LXQt, Xfce, Xorg, and a no X version are available. For this review I used the KDE Plasma desktop environment because it is a very popular choice. I was actually quite disappointed there is no GNOME desktop version available for installation from siduction, although you could choose the Xorg version and install GNOME manually - but this would be not very beginner friendly. GNOME is easily one of the most popular desktop environments, far more popular than LXDE, Cinnamon, and LXQt, however I understand that these desktop environments have their own use cases such as low RAM usage, Qt environment, or GTK in the case of Xfce. I'm still shocked there is no GNOME version available from the downloads page.
siduction uses the Calamares installer framework and this provides a very easy, very understandable installation. I had no issues with the installation. All of my hardware worked out of the box, with the usual exception of NVIDIA - which worked easily after installation of the NVIDIA drivers.
The KDE version of siduction ships with the Discover software center. This application does a good job of installing and updating any software needed by the user. All versions of siduction ship with the Synaptic package manager, a now visually dated but very powerful package management tool. Because siduction is Debian-based, all of these package managers are really just front-end GUIs for the famous APT package manager. I had no issues with the package manager on the command line or the Discover software center, with the small exception that the user is not automatically in the sudoers file. Initially I bypassed this by switching to the root user when installing software, but eventually I just gave my user sudo rights. This was not an issue, however a beginner may have trouble on the command line if he or she is unfamiliar with changing user groups or adding a user to the sudoers file to gain administrator access. But a couple of Internet searches will square a user away with this relatively simple task.
siduction is a great idea, and I love that it is a rolling release. It is only one of three distros on DistroWatch that report being based on Debian Unstable (Nitrux and Clonezilla being the other two). [Editor's note: There are other distributions listed on DistroWatch which are based on (or forked from) Debian's Unstable branch, though they are often distributions with their own repositories and infrastructure. Ubuntu and its derivatives being a prime example.] I did have some issues with the distro and it would be biased if I did not bring them up.
The touchpad of my laptop froze very often. I primarily use a mouse next to my laptop but when I was traveling I used the touchpad for a few days. It froze about every few minutes and for approximately 30 seconds the touchpad was unusable.
I had a major issue with a game I enjoy playing through Steam. I have never had any issues playing this game on any other distro, but on siduction it would freeze. I tried my absolute best to solve this issue. I thought the issue was related to SDDM (the display manager), but the issue persisted when I purged SDDM and tried LightDM instead. The game would completely freeze leaving only the mouse usable. It is not a recent game and usually has no problem running on ultra settings on my laptop. I brought the issue up in the siduction community but they did not know how to solve the issue, even though I can replicate the bug.
The preinstalled software is overwhelming (bloat). Those applications not provided by KDE's standard suite of applications include: Converseen, Flameshot, GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), ImageMagick, Inkscape, mpv Media Player, Midnight Commander, SMPlayer, SM Tube, Termit, Vokoscreen-ng, Xgnokii, and Xsane. I've never seen many of these before and I'm not sure why they are installed. Why siduction chooses to include these in their standard install is beyond me. There are two preinstalled KDE-provided music players (Elisa and Juk). There are at least five preinstalled video players, two torrent clients, and multiple terminal emulators.
The theming is atrocious. I like the siduction logo - the nine dots in a sideways square formation - but the theming of the distro is awful, most specifically the GRUB screen, the SDDM login screen, and the background. I realize this is superficial, but I hated the default theming.
The KDE Wallet is irritating. Every time I login I need to give KDE the password to the wallet in order to access the Internet. Every time I open Chromium I need to provide the wallet password. I hate the KDE Wallet and I don't understand it. I realize I could disable it but this came with the distro, so I'm expressing my dissatisfaction with it.
siduction 21.1.1 -- The KDE Wallet prompt (full image size: 1.9MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
When I restart the computer, all the programs I had running immediately start on KDE Plasma. I don't know if this is related to KDE or to siduction but I dislike this very much. Sometimes I'll shut down with the Konsole, Firefox, VLC, LibreOffice, Steam, etc open. I don't expect to have to shut down a bunch of windows when I restart a computer or when I power it on for the first time in hours or days.
Compared to other rolling releases
For the purposes of this review, I will compare siduction to Arch Linux, the rolling release distro with which I have the most experience and the one that is most popular at this time. As I have discussed, siduction is Debian-based. To me, this means it is essentially Debian with a few extra repositories added to APT, the package manager. siduction is up-to-date. siduction has tons of software in its repositories, thanks to being Debian-based. But in my opinion it falls short to Arch because I never had the issues listed above on an Arch install and, quite a big point, Arch has the Arch User Repository (AUR), which has nearly endless amounts of applications. If Debian has a ton of applications, probably the most of any distro in its standard repository, when you add the AUR to Arch you get many applications that are not available in the Debian repositories or from any additional repositories you could add. In my opinion, people who package software and create software do so for Arch Linux, Ubuntu, and Fedora. Even though Ubuntu is based on Debian, Debian Stable and the standard out-of-the-box Debian is honestly too difficult for regular people to use on a daily basis, especially when you consider the need for additional drivers in the install process. Thus, Arch has an edge on siduction, but only a little.
The installer for siduction far exceeds the Arch installer, even now with the install script standard on the Arch ISO. As of writing this, the kernel versions are essentially identical. I'm not sure of the changes that the siduction team makes to their kernel but I doubt it is far off of the standard kernel or the kernels provided by Debian.
siduction is a great choice if you need a Debian based build with the newest software. I used siduction for almost a month installed on my laptop. Everything worked out of the box, and most of that was thanks to the siduction team and the KDE Plasma desktop environment. It was easy to install and it has an active community on the forums who are willing to help if they can. In my opinion, siduction needs to drastically improve its theme, polish the edges in regards to touchpad support, and remove a bunch of preinstalled bloat. All of the other issues I had with it were due to it being based on Debian.
siduction running KDE Plasma as the desktop environment used a surprising 988MB of RAM at startup.