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Which flavor of Linux should I load?

Old 02-19-04, 12:58 PM
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Which flavor of Linux should I load?

I finally got off my duff and ordered a new windows machine. So the kids can now stop complaining about the old one crashing and being too slow. I would like to convert the old one to Linux so at least it will be of some use.

I am so confused about the different flavors and basis' of Linux. I've nver used Linux before but I've been a Unix programmer for 20 years (ATT System V, Solaris, BSD). Which flavor would be best suited to my experience? Which do most of you use (that do use Linux) and why?

Thanks.
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Old 02-19-04, 05:06 PM
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Suse and Mandrake are good for beginners, although since you have all of the experience with unix you might interested in some of the other distros such as Debian, etc.

See this thread:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthr...hreadid=325556

Last edited by Alvis; 02-19-04 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 02-19-04, 05:45 PM
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Thanks Alvis. I hit upon that thread before I started this one but ended up more confused about which might be best in my situation. I noticed that you seem to have tried a few of the more popular ones. Maybe I'll just get my feet wet with Mandrake as you suggest. Unix programming is one thing. Installing, configuring and kernel tuning is whole nother art form.
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Old 02-19-04, 07:11 PM
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download knoppix. it's basically debian linux that boots from a CD. it has about the best hardware detection i've seen, and you can play with it without danger of messing up your system. if you decide to install it, within minutes you can have a debian system up and running. (i had tried about 5 times to get debian on my laptop, and repeatedly failed... knoppix worked like a charm).

distros i've tried:

debian: a pain to install (without knoppix), but FANTASTIC package management. once installed, you will essentially never need to reinstall because you can keep it up to date very easily. this is one of the most widely used distros so you can almost always find answers to questions using google.

mandrake: good system utilities, good for a starter distro (it was my first and i still use it on my server), but occasionally frustrating glitches pop up. good community support, very user friendly.

suse: similar to mandrake, good system integration. i could never get it to install on my laptop and find everything, but it was very pretty (what i saw of it)

mepis: similar to knoppix
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Old 02-19-04, 07:13 PM
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also, how "old" is this old system? if it's fairly old (pII or older?), you will probably want to switch to a light window manager such as IceWM. the standard window managers with all the bells and whistles will probably run very slowly on such a system.
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Old 02-19-04, 07:19 PM
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you could always get the x86 version of Solaris, since you already know it
http://wwws.sun.com/software/solaris...ies/index.html
http://wwws.sun.com/software/solaris/binaries/get.html

Last edited by mikehunt; 02-19-04 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 02-19-04, 07:36 PM
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Originally posted by Eeyore
also, how "old" is this old system? if it's fairly old (pII or older?), you will probably want to switch to a light window manager such as IceWM. the standard window managers with all the bells and whistles will probably run very slowly on such a system.
It's a no name brand p3 400MHz with 128MB memory.

I suppose I burn an image of knoppix fairly easily? Is it that hard to install debian over it?

edit: Thanks for the run down.

Last edited by garolo; 02-19-04 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 02-19-04, 07:39 PM
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Originally posted by mikehunt
you could always get the x86 version of Solaris, since you already know it
http://wwws.sun.com/software/solaris...ies/index.html
http://wwws.sun.com/software/solaris/binaries/get.html
I was toying with the idea of freeBSD but I thought Linux would look better on the resume.
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Old 02-19-04, 08:13 PM
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Was thinking about giving Slackware a shot.
http://www.slackware.com/getslack/
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Old 02-19-04, 09:06 PM
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I just setup mandrake to run on a dual p3 testing/intranet server. I've used red hat a few times before, but mandrake just clicks better with me. I'm using the 10.0 cooker version, so I could get the better SMP support in the 2.6 kernel.

dave
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Old 02-19-04, 09:45 PM
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Originally posted by garolo
It's a no name brand p3 400MHz with 128MB memory.

I suppose I burn an image of knoppix fairly easily? Is it that hard to install debian over it?

edit: Thanks for the run down.
no need to install debian over knoppix. the FAQ http://download.linuxtag.org/knoppix/KNOPPIX-FAQ-EN.txt explains how to install the from the bootable CD to your harddrive. knoppix is debian, so you will then have debian installed and ready for apt-get update goodness. a google search should bring up even better directions for the install procedure.
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Old 02-20-04, 12:30 AM
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Any opinions on Gentoo?
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Old 02-20-04, 08:13 AM
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Originally posted by sh4ft
no need to install debian over knoppix. the FAQ http://download.linuxtag.org/knoppix/KNOPPIX-FAQ-EN.txt explains how to install the from the bootable CD to your harddrive. knoppix is debian, so you will then have debian installed and ready for apt-get update goodness. a google search should bring up even better directions for the install procedure.
Excellent. Thanks. Unfortunately when I last searched for linux install instructions at google I got a lot of hits from message board threads which were not very helpful. slashdot was of no help with my decision making either. There is just way too much information on this internet thing.
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Old 02-20-04, 03:43 PM
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knoppix2debian is the page that I used. the only slight difference i found was that knoppix didn't include synaptic, so i had to do an "apt-get install synaptic"

my only gripe about knoppix's current installer is that it doesn't put /home on a separate partition, but that is fairly easy to fix after the fact. when you're first starting out you can plan on reinstalling several times, and if you can keep your /home partition, that makes it a bit easier.
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Old 02-20-04, 08:46 PM
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Originally posted by Beaver
Any opinions on Gentoo?
One of the more secure distros "out of the box", but not as user-friendly (although it isn't bad at all) and probably not quite as desktop-friendly by default as something like Mandrake or Fedora.

I use Gentoo for a server (replacing FreeBSD), but am running Fedora for my primary Linux desktop.
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Old 02-20-04, 08:52 PM
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Actually, if you are pondering what distro to go with, here is a good place to start reading:

http://forums.linux.com/comments.pl?...181&mode=child
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Old 02-20-04, 09:06 PM
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Originally posted by Ranger
Was thinking about giving Slackware a shot.
http://www.slackware.com/getslack/
...you do realize that Slackware has some connection to the Cult of the Sub-Genius, right?

- David Stein
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Old 02-20-04, 09:19 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
...you do realize that Slackware has some connection to the Cult of the Sub-Genius, right?

- David Stein


Well, I had to take another look at it, yeah, it appears so. I still have heard good things about slackware - it being less bloated and having a smaller file size etc.
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Old 02-20-04, 10:30 PM
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Originally posted by Ranger
Well, I had to take another look at it, yeah, it appears so. I still have heard good things about slackware - it being less bloated and having a smaller file size etc.
That may be true.

But if you want to run an OS with a shady link to some creepy cult... why not just buy a Powerbook?

- David Stein
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Old 02-20-04, 10:51 PM
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I'll just say this; If you have a difficult technical Linux question you need answered, find someone who knows Slackware really well.

Ironically, one of the easiest distros to use, CollegeLinux, is based on Slackware.
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Old 02-20-04, 11:23 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
That may be true.

But if you want to run an OS with a shady link to some creepy cult... why not just buy a Powerbook?

- David Stein
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Old 02-21-04, 07:03 AM
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Originally posted by JustinS
Actually, if you are pondering what distro to go with, here is a good place to start reading:

http://forums.linux.com/comments.pl?...181&mode=child
Excellent thread, Justin. Thanks.
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Old 02-21-04, 05:41 PM
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OK. So I'm writing this from a PII 400 using linux from a boot CD of Knoppix 3.3

My wife's jaw dropped at the increased speed, lack of display and mouse problems and silence from the disk drive (it used to churn like crazy with Win98).

What's the consensus on firewalls? I am using ZoneAlarm under Windows. Is one really needed using Linux? If so what's your preferred software?

Thanks again to everyone for the insight and advise.
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Old 02-21-04, 07:48 PM
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Originally posted by garolo
What's the consensus on firewalls? I am using ZoneAlarm under Windows. Is one really needed using Linux? If so what's your preferred software?
Linux has a firewall integrated with the kernel. It's called "iptables."

For a user who has no experience with real firewalls, it can be a slightly tricky learning curve to manipulate it directly. However, there a GUI front-ends to iptables such as Shorewall and gSheild. Red Hat also has a GUI built in called "Lokkit."
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Old 02-21-04, 08:20 PM
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Originally posted by JustinS
Linux has a firewall integrated with the kernel. It's called "iptables."

For a user who has no experience with real firewalls, it can be a slightly tricky learning curve to manipulate it directly. However, there a GUI front-ends to iptables such as Shorewall and gSheild. Red Hat also has a GUI built in called "Lokkit."
Poking around, I found iptables. Thanks again. My router takes care of most of my firewall concerns but I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy when it comes to access control. So I feel more comfortable having a software firewall too.

BTW, my daughter's face was like when she saw the games.
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