Which Debian flavoured distro?

Hi community, first time poster here.
I’d like to use the RockPI S as an internet radio with Spotify Connect and a few ALSA plugins.
I’d favour an image with a small ram footprint, fast boot times, minimal idle activity and up to date packages.
Which distro would you recommend among the Debian-based ones?
Skimming the forum I’ve read high opinions about armbian, and not-so-great about DietPi.
I know Ubuntu has an edge on baseline Debian with more recent software, which could help untangling dependencies.

I’d like to hear your experience without starting a distro-war.

Thanks in advance,

I am only an average user (not into building kernels and stuff). I do have two RockPiS - one with Ubuntu and the other DietPi running. After seing your message, I logged into both the boards and updated them and here are the details if that’s of any use. Just passing it along.

# uname -a
Linux rockpis-pihole 4.4.143-67-rockchip-g01bbbc5d1312 #1 SMP PREEMPT Mon Jan 24 14:31:14 UTC 2022 aarch64 aarch64 aarch64 GNU/Linux

# more /etc/*release
VERSION=“20.04.5 LTS (Focal Fossa)”
PRETTY_NAME=“Ubuntu 20.04.5 LTS”

On DietPI, I see the following:

# uname -a
Linux wg-vpn-server 5.15.89-rockchip64 #22.11.4 SMP PREEMPT Mon Jan 23 22:01:54 UTC 2023 aarch64 GNU/Linux

# more /etc/*release
PRETTY_NAME=“Debian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye)”
NAME=“Debian GNU/Linux”
VERSION=“11 (bullseye)”

I ran into issues with docker/portainer on DietPI. I then followed this thread ( https://dietpi.com/forum/t/portainer-fails-to-launch-install-or-re-install-solved/15862) and that solved the problem. (Installing and then disabling apparmor)

My personal to-go choice for any arm board is armbian (I buy a board only when I see it on armbian website). But I like DietPi too. Both do a lot of heavy lifting for average users to make their life easy. Just my personal opinion based on my usage :slight_smile:

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Re-branding someone elses work, what Dietpi (and many Linux distros) is all about, is not heavy lifting. It is completly automatised / no hard work realted. Adding “support” for new board = running a ready made script that installs dietpi branded scripts over established and reviewed ones. All important things (heavy lifting) - kernel / boot loader - is 100% other peoples heavy liftting. Just my personal opinion after looking beyond marketing.

You don’t have much choices. Almost always goes: vendor / Armbian -> other distros, rarely other ways. The more hardware is exotic, less options you have, more you have to DIY. Armbian gives you tools, brings support closer …

Armbian usually provides stock too but focus is on mainline based kernels. But in modern kernel certain functions are not developed (heavy & expensive work never done by dietpi) yet. https://docs.armbian.com/User-Guide_FAQ/#why-does-hardware-feature-xy-work-in-old-kernel-but-not-in-more-recent-one
… if you need features that are not there, you need to stick to vendor kernel images. Which have other problems and limitations.

Armbian can also be assembled for your use case - with Debian or Ubuntu userland. Both are identical in term of hardware interface. Which is the key.


I just discovered from https://www.armbian.com/rockpi-s/ that Armbian comes in different flavours: Bullseye (Debian based) and Jammy (Ubuntu based).
I’ll pick Jammy and steer away of DietPI (the 5 secs commit time makes no sense to me).

Thanks @student and @igorp for your help.

Just passing along my 2 year old article that I posted on Linkedin (for beginners like myself) - incase you plan on venturing into building your own images and looking for tools - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/embedded-brain-dump-ananda-kammampati