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Thread: Thinking about trying Linux... Which flavor?

  1. #1
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Thinking about trying Linux... Which flavor?

    We've got a new desktop and laptop arriving sometime mid-January (courtesy of my wife's phD program), so we're thinking now might be the time to experiment with a non-Windows OS.

    Anybody here use Linux? What's the best flavor to try for a newbie? I've heard good things about Red Hat, Mandrake, Xandros, etc... Is Knoppix any good?

    I realise there's probably not a lot of Linux users here, but any advice would be appreciated.
    "Youre known for having a liking for men who look like women."
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Mr Mxyzptlk's Avatar
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    I've got Knoppix 2.0 bootable from CD. It's lots of fun... and Gatesless.
    Sreesanth said, "Next ball he was beaten and I said, 'is this the King Charles Lara? Who is this impostor, moving around nervously? I should have kept my mouth shut for the next ball - mind you, it was a length ball - Lara just pulled it over the church beyond the boundary! He is a true legend."


  3. #3
    First Class Debutant nookie_lk's Avatar
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    I use fedora 2... very easy to use and install....... if ur ok with XP fedora 2 is the one
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  4. #4
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Yep, I've just downloaded the Knoppix CD (3.7) - I'm gonna have a play with it tonight. I don't know that you can customize much (or at all) though, 'cause it runs completely from the CD.

    I know of Fedora, I think it's Red Hat's open source alternative, right? One of the things that surprises me about some of these brands of Linux is how big the packages are - I think Fedora's about four CD's or so. I guess that includes many apps though.

    Ubuntu's supposedly one that's supposed to have a small install...

    Do you guys use these OS's exclusively, or are you running multi-boot systems?


  5. #5
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Personally I'm dual-booting with WinXP/SUSE Linux 9.0 and am very happy with it. The only reason is basically for my iPod (Linux iPod software sucks right now; not even alpha quality) and for International Cricket Captain 2002. Can't quite get that working under WINE.

    I've been using Linux versions of varying distros for quite some time now and the very best would be (for mine) Slackware. It's minimal, has everything I need and runs like lightning. HOWEVER, it does depend on your needs and how much time you're prepared to invest in getting the distro up and running as well as continual configuration.

    For example, FC3 is one 'easy-to-use' alternative but I've never been a fan of Red Hat's file hacks that string the OS together to make it work. Mandrake is in a similar boat. Plus some of the apps are a little bleeding-edge for me so there are stability issues. Debian has every piece of software you could ever want but it's of the old school so there's some manual editing of text files needed (no problem if you're used to it, of course). Slackware is similar but it doesn't have a package-management system of the ilk of Debian's Apt or Gentoo's Portage.

    So yeah, it depends. I use SUSE because it's easy, has a ton of software but without the weird file hacks by Red Hat. Plus, YaST2 is the best all-in-one configuration system I've ever used. You pay for SUSE, though. Ubuntu is a good'un being based on Gnome and Gentoo is great if you can stand the pain of compiling all software from source-code.

    Tell us more about what you want it for (multimedia, internet, games, etc.) and we'll be able to give more info about which distros are specifically geared for what you want.
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    I have got an old version of Linux, so I am going to update it soon.
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  7. #7
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat
    Tell us more about what you want it for (multimedia, internet, games, etc.) and we'll be able to give more info about which distros are specifically geared for what you want.
    Thanks for the info! I guess what I'm essentially looking for is an OS I can do just about everything on EXCEPT gaming (the windows compatibility progs seem erratic, and it generally sounds too confining in terms of waiting for games to be "available" to play). So I intend to keep a bare-bones XP Pro partition for gaming only. Linux will be used for the net, multimedia (in terms of music, avis, blah blah blah), office apps, etc.

    I've tried a few distros over the last few days - I've used an older machine to test, and I plan to install on some new machines coming, so some of the problems I've encountered (hopefully) won't continue to be problems. For instance, getting an old ESS Audiodrive soundcard to work in Linux seems a near impossibility. IMO, this is extremely poor, as many "desktop" users interested in Linux (particularly in charity orgs, and those for whom XP is a resource hog) are very likely to have older hardware, such as ISA cards. I've also had issues with network/internet connections too, and again, IMO, if a distro is in any way being marketed as for the home user (and I realise that there are those that aren't), this kinda stuff should work pretty much out of the box. I have no opposition to editing text/conf files to my heart's content in order to tweak an OS, but I shouldn't have to do that on the first day just to get basic things to work (and then have it not work, anyway).

    So far I've tried Xandros (very user-friendly, but kinda slow), Ubuntu (nice and fast - but network connectivity issues), Mandrake (see Ubuntu, but not as quick), and I've tried Knoppix. So far, none of these have detected my soundcard, and despite many hours in support forums (with about twenty things to try), I still don't have sound on any of these OS's (Knoppix was quite net-friendly though).

    And some of the support nazis on forums.... Urrrggh. I'm no technophobe, and it burns me to be treated like an idiot when I'm in my first few days of trying out a completely foreign operating system. I try to read as much as I can in preparation, but there's nothing that substitutes for learning hands-on. You've gotta start somewhere.

    Anyhow, I'm about to have a quick look at Mepis (currently downloading it), and Fedora 3. What do you mean by "file hacks that string the OS together"?

    So far in terms of desktops, I have a preference for KDE over Gnome, but it's early days yet...

    Oh - here's another thing - I can't quite get a handle whether swap partitions are actually "proper" partitions (in the fdisk sense) or virtual, as /root/, /home/ and so forth seem to be... Should I have a seperate logical partition for this purpose (I do this for Windows)? And if so, how large should it be?

    Thanks for the help, mate.

  8. #8
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    I've tried a few distros over the last few days - I've used an older machine to test, and I plan to install on some new machines coming, so some of the problems I've encountered (hopefully) won't continue to be problems. For instance, getting an old ESS Audiodrive soundcard to work in Linux seems a near impossibility. IMO, this is extremely poor, as many "desktop" users interested in Linux (particularly in charity orgs, and those for whom XP is a resource hog) are very likely to have older hardware, such as ISA cards.
    That one would depend on which version of which distro you used only because most of the newer versions of Linux have taken up the 2.6.x kernel series and compiled into it is support for the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) which has issues with older non-PCI sound cards. Unfortunately the options available to you aren't appealing;

    1) Get a PCI soundcard
    2) Use a distro which is based on the 2.4.x series and don't load ALSA as a module. Problems; you might have to use an older version which isn't up-to-date with bug/buffer overflow fixes in the software. Not advisable unless you know exactly which fixes are needed and you don't mind installing a crapload of software.
    3) Recompile the kernel of the 2.6.x version of Linux you have WITHOUT ALSA and use the older OSS sound achitecture instead. Or just don't use ALSA at all I guess..........

    To help you out more on this one, I'll need to know exactly which versions of which distros you've used and kernel versions, etc. Just to save me looking them up.

    As for the rest, I've also had network isses with Ubuntu. It's still getting the bugs out there being a pretty new OS. It's good for what it is but it needs plenty of work. And I never touched Mandrake or any of the other ones of similar ilk after trying them once. That was enough for me. Too many disparate tools in places you can't find them which don't bloody work anyway.

    And some of the support nazis on forums.... Urrrggh. I'm no technophobe, and it burns me to be treated like an idiot when I'm in my first few days of trying out a completely foreign operating system. I try to read as much as I can in preparation, but there's nothing that substitutes for learning hands-on. You've gotta start somewhere.
    You've hit upon the biggest opposition to widespread Linux adoption in my opinion. Believe it or not, if you give FreeBSD a go, it's WORSE. I never thoght it could be but geez, try asking a 'stupid' question at FreeBSD.org sometime.............

    Anyhow, I'm about to have a quick look at Mepis (currently downloading it), and Fedora 3. What do you mean by "file hacks that string the OS together"?
    Just weird additions to config files which complicate the ways things work and attempt to string together the GUI tools that different people have written. And Red Hat do weird additions to the kernel too, further slowing things down. If you want me to give an example, I can. Just running out of time at the minute.

    Oh - here's another thing - I can't quite get a handle whether swap partitions are actually "proper" partitions (in the fdisk sense) or virtual, as /root/, /home/ and so forth seem to be... Should I have a seperate logical partition for this purpose (I do this for Windows)? And if so, how large should it be?
    Swap partitions are 'real' separate partitions. You don't see it in the user-friendly distros but Linux 'activates' the swap partition at boot time. Why they're separate? I'll get back to you.



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