What "version" of Linux to use?
MatthewHSE
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Joined: 20 Jul 2004
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Location: Central Illinois, typically glued to a computer screen
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Now that I'm going to be getting a new computer soon, I may have the opportunity to use my old computer as a "test machine" for a Linux installation. So, I'd like to begin researching where to start.

First of all, which Linux/Unix distribution should I choose? I want a free one, can't afford to buy it. Ease of use is also important to me in these beginning stages of getting into Linux.

Once I've decided on a distribution, how do I install and use it? I've never used anything but Windows, so a basic overview would be appreciated.
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jeffd
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Joined: 04 Oct 2003
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First of all, which Linux/Unix distribution should I choose? I want a free one, can't afford to buy it. Ease of use is also important to me in these beginning stages of getting into Linux.


Hi MathewHSE, I've been looking into that question too, and have finally settled on using debian.org. I downloaded the knoppix linux on a cd which is built from the debian distribution and really like it.

I've tested redhat 7 and 8, also mandrake 8, and don't really like either. The real problem comes from the idiotically conceived rpm package updating system, which doesn't really work at all as far as I can tell. Suse uses this system too, but I think it also uses apt-get as an option, which is what debian uses.

the main problem with debian is that it's very conservatively assembled, they go for stability over cutting edge, but that has its upside, it means you can do something like apt-get install kde 3.2 and it will actually work.

Debian testing, which is the version you want, it comes in 3 flavors, stable, for real working servers, unstable, and testing. Unstable is for developers and alpha/beta testers, testing is for more standard users who don't need the rock solid stability stable offers.

You might also think of doing a dual boot on your new box, that could be a really cool package, though you'd want to do some research to make sure debian supports gibabyte SATA, which not all distros do.

SUSE apparently has released their 9.1 version for free now, they make you pay for their new releases, but once it gets old enough, you can grab it for free.

From everything I've read, I'd go with either Debian or Suse, but because I've had too many problems with software updates etc, the apt-get utility is absolutely critical, must have, not an option. There is supposed to be a redhat rpm of apt-get, but mixing those two package management systems is not a good idea.

Gentoo, which is tempting, is too cutting edge, and liable to failure when doing emerge type updates from what I've read, doesn't sound fun.

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how do I install and use it? I've never used anything but Windows, so a basic overview would be appreciated.


LOL, usually easier to install than Windows, to tell the truth, graphical installer, piece of cake. Then you usually have to go in and do some configuration stuff to get things like sound cards/ off brand networking cards etc working, that just takes some googling, there's a huge amount of stuff online about linux setup, I've never not been able to find the solution after just a few searches.

I'd make the new box, installing w2k on the SATA harddrive, then download the knoppix cd, burn the iso, boot into knoppix, see if you can read the SATA harddrive [it would be an icon on your desktop, like /dev/hd0a or whatever, if you can view the contents of that, debian probably has good native support for SATA.

Oh, make sure you select the linux kernel 2.6 option on installation, that has much superior Windows NTFS file system support, along with a bunch of other stuff that is really good for a desktop os, makes a big differnce, some of the differences are posted in the 2.6 kernel thread
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Forget Debian and Gentoo - try Yoper, it's very fast.
techAdmin
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Debian and Gentoo are really great packages if you want to spend all your time learning the ins and outs of how your OS works. Not all of us want to do that however, I was tempted by those too, Gentoo especially for its speed.

Happily, Yoper Linux came along to save the day.

It runs the 2.6 kernel, and KDE 3.3 desktop by default, still problems with Gnome so wait a bit for that if you are Gnome fan. The code shares many of the optimization and prelinking features that make gentoo so fast, but unlike gentoo, you don't have to bond with your computer for 2-3 days to install the os, if there are no major problems you will have your yoper up and running in about 1/2 an hour or so.

Yoper also offers the option to run the Reiser4 file system if you are feeling adventuresome, I'm trying it on one machine, so far so good.

I'm running two installations currently, both on conservative corporate type pcs, Intel all in one motherboards etc.

Warning, make sure you aren't using an ATI Radeon video card or you will probably run into problems.

Yoper is fast, doesn't feel cludgy like SUSE 9.1 or Fedora, doesn't force you to learn xserver configuration just to get a working desktop like Debian did, at least the sarge testing version I did completely failed to install the desktop environment, I got a crude KDE working, but just barely, that installation is going to never never land as soon as I get around to wiping it off the disk.
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