I needed a new distro

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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:01 pm

keltor wrote:Unix experience doesn't count unless you've reinstalled SCO Unix from floppies over a 1200 baud serial connection.

Interesting, you can install an OS over a network you have not installed network drivers for? Magic.

Hell I've installed NT from floppies. I think there were 22, although that was along time ago.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:44 pm

With x86 hardware you generally needed something like "network" drivers, but for a lot of platforms, this was rather simple. It was really easy on sparc and many other platforms because they had a firmware which had builtin firmware network access (though sometimes it had limitations like local subnet only)

Writing a file system from scratch is nice, even with docs.

I learned assembly on a Mac and a C64 - so when I got an intel assembly book for 386, I wrote my own OS - totally unique thing that was actually rather Unix-like (surprise surprise)
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:53 am

keltor wrote:Writing a file system from scratch is nice, even with docs.


I've always been really interested in this. I've done alot of development in my day, but never driver level stuff to include file system. And I'm a fan of file systems (ZFS :wink:), so this would be a really fun adventure- to include just being able to store a simple file with no permissions or features, that would be success in my eyes!


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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sat May 04, 2013 4:10 am

PenGun wrote:
keltor wrote:Unix experience doesn't count unless you've reinstalled SCO Unix from floppies over a 1200 baud serial connection.

Interesting, you can install an OS over a network you have not installed network drivers for? Magic.

Hell I've installed NT from floppies. I think there were 22, although that was along time ago.


A proper NIC can boot you to a CLI with network access.
With remote deployment services you can even set things up so that the network boot goes right into an unattended OS install. Very useful when you have to deploy windows to a couple of thousand PCs in your organization.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 10:01 pm

thegtproject wrote:
keltor wrote:Writing a file system from scratch is nice, even with docs.

I've always been really interested in this. I've done alot of development in my day, but never driver level stuff to include file system. And I'm a fan of file systems (ZFS :wink:), so this would be a really fun adventure- to include just being able to store a simple file with no permissions or features, that would be success in my eyes!

At least a file system performs a very well-defined function. In software development, having a clear idea of what you're trying to do is half the battle!

I think the fact that I've worked at pretty much every level of the software stack -- from embedded devices, assembly language, and device drivers, all the way up to GUIs and database applications -- is both a blessing and a curse. As a software developer, I'm versatile; I'm comfortable with almost anything. But I think some potential employers see my work history and get a "jack of all trades, master of none" vibe.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 12:18 am

It's all I can do to write "hello world" programs, and you guys are talking about writing file systems???

I've used gentoo, debian, fedora (I remeber red hat non enterprise edition linux before fedora) and a few other random distros, though these days I'm using debian more often than not.

It's ironic that linux people (am I a linux person? don't know, I use linux, windows, and other OS's) like both choice and versitility, when with so many choices you are bound to find something you like. And with versatility, you can pick one of the base distros and customize it to your liking, so you don't need so many choices. Ironic...
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 12:43 am

ShadowEyez wrote:It's all I can do to write "hello world" programs, and you guys are talking about writing file systems???

I've used gentoo, debian, fedora (I remeber red hat non enterprise edition linux before fedora) and a few other random distros, though these days I'm using debian more often than not.

It's ironic that linux people (am I a linux person? don't know, I use linux, windows, and other OS's) like both choice and versitility, when with so many choices you are bound to find something you like. And with versatility, you can pick one of the base distros and customize it to your liking, so you don't need so many choices. Ironic...

If you're used Gentoo, and are running Debian with any sort of regularity, then yes: you are a "Linux person"! :lol:

Thing is, unless you're doing the whole "Linux from scratch" thing (which I *haven't* done, in spite of my history of doing a lot of low-level stuff), the base distro is going to lend its own flavor to the whole experience. At one end you've got "rolling release" distros... at the other end, you've got distros with long release cycles like Debian and RHEL. The Debian and RHEL camps also have their own distinct vibes. And then you've got things like Ubuntu's non-LTS releases, which are essentially "take a snapshot of Debian Unstable, slap the Unity desktop on it, and toss it over the fence". Or Fedora, which is essentially "take whatever Redhat's engineers think is cool this month and toss it over the fence".

There are a lot of dimensions to this. Stability. Reliability of the distro's package management system, and quality of the distro's official repositories. Availability of leading (or bleeding) edge features and hardware support. Ease of customization and incorporation of packages not from the distro's official repositories. Availability of automatic security patches. Third-party (commercial) application support. Availability of suitably knowledgeable support staff (if in a commercial environment). Etc...
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 8:22 am

just brew it! wrote:Thing is, unless you're doing the whole "Linux from scratch" thing (which I *haven't* done, in spite of my history of doing a lot of low-level stuff), the base distro is going to lend its own flavor to the whole experience.


I've tried LFS, and it's not worth it. I didn't see any advantage over Gentoo, just tons of disadvantages.

There are probably certain situations where it could be advantageous, but I'm not sure how it's better then Gentoo.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 9:39 am

I loved rolling an LFS install, but it was labor-intensive and almost completely unmaintainable in the middle to long term.

If you want to learn, building an LFS on a spare machine or in a chroot is great.

If you want an install you'll try to keep, Gentoo and Arch are much more "keepable".
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 10:47 am

Fedora, only because I use Red Hat at work so I get to see what's coming. If I were in it for stability, Centos. They give you the stability of Red Hat, while keeping you off the update express that is Fedora, for free. Of course, you still get to deal with the "open" zealotry, but that's not too bad. It's only my preference because that's what I started with.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:49 am

I actually started out on Redhat/Fedora over a decade ago, but never used it seriously as a desktop OS; back then I only used Linux for file/web servers. A few years later when we started doing Linux development at work our Linux guru was a Debian zealot, so all the systems he set up were Debian-based. I basically met him halfway by installing Ubuntu; it has been my primary desktop environment (both at work and home) since the 8.04 LTS release. Home system is running 12.04 LTS now; work system is still on 10.04 LTS but will be upgraded to 12.04 shortly.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 3:32 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:I've tried LFS, and it's not worth it. I didn't see any advantage over Gentoo, just tons of disadvantages.

There are probably certain situations where it could be advantageous, but I'm not sure how it's better then Gentoo.


Well yeah... LFS is a project primarily to aimed towards learning Linux. It'd be kind of silly to try actually using it for something.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 3:58 pm

slowriot wrote:Well yeah... LFS is a project primarily to aimed towards learning Linux. It'd be kind of silly to try actually using it for something.

That depends on your definition of "learning Linux". I skipped the LFS thing because to me "learning Linux" means "figuring out how to do useful things with it and customize it to my needs". You don't need to hand-craft a custom distro entirely from upstream source in order to do that.

If your ultimate goal is to release your own distro, or you're curious about the nitty gritty details of how a Linux system is put together under the hood, then yeah LFS may be useful. Aside from those specific cases, not so much. I've got better things to spend my time on.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 4:08 pm

just brew it! wrote:That depends on your definition of "learning Linux". I skipped the LFS thing because to me "learning Linux" means "figuring out how to do useful things with it and customize it to my needs". You don't need to hand-craft a custom distro entirely from upstream source in order to do that.

If your ultimate goal is to release your own distro, or you're curious about the nitty gritty details of how a Linux system is put together under the hood, then yeah LFS may be useful. Aside from those specific cases, not so much. I've got better things to spend my time on.


My point was that using LFS for doing real work is quite silly. That's not the intention of it. It is a project focused on helping a person learn how to piece together the components of a distro and start developing that deeper nitty gritty knowledge. Whether that is useful to you or not is besides the point.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 4:22 pm

Alternatively, you could always pull out an ancient copy of Debian and learn how we had to do everything the hard way back in the late '90s even with a prepackaged distro. I've gotten Debian 2.2 to work with X in Virtualbox, so it's doable, and if you can find an ISO of Debian 2.1 (my first) I expect it'd work too with effort.

I'm still bemused that Debian 2.1 shipped with a running tamagotchi server in the default install. Security, what's that? :D
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:15 pm

just brew it! wrote:
ShadowEyez wrote:It's all I can do to write "hello world" programs, and you guys are talking about writing file systems???

I've used gentoo, debian, fedora (I remeber red hat non enterprise edition linux before fedora) and a few other random distros, though these days I'm using debian more often than not.

It's ironic that linux people (am I a linux person? don't know, I use linux, windows, and other OS's) like both choice and versitility, when with so many choices you are bound to find something you like. And with versatility, you can pick one of the base distros and customize it to your liking, so you don't need so many choices. Ironic...

If you're used Gentoo, and are running Debian with any sort of regularity, then yes: you are a "Linux person"! :lol:

Thing is, unless you're doing the whole "Linux from scratch" thing (which I *haven't* done, in spite of my history of doing a lot of low-level stuff), the base distro is going to lend its own flavor to the whole experience. At one end you've got "rolling release" distros... at the other end, you've got distros with long release cycles like Debian and RHEL. The Debian and RHEL camps also have their own distinct vibes. And then you've got things like Ubuntu's non-LTS releases, which are essentially "take a snapshot of Debian Unstable, slap the Unity desktop on it, and toss it over the fence". Or Fedora, which is essentially "take whatever Redhat's engineers think is cool this month and toss it over the fence".

There are a lot of dimensions to this. Stability. Reliability of the distro's package management system, and quality of the distro's official repositories. Availability of leading (or bleeding) edge features and hardware support. Ease of customization and incorporation of packages not from the distro's official repositories. Availability of automatic security patches. Third-party (commercial) application support. Availability of suitably knowledgeable support staff (if in a commercial environment). Etc...


I have not rolled LFS, though actually have considered it and looked through parts of the book. It seems like a good idea in theory, but takes a looooooooooong time to set up, and the benefits do not really seem to be there compared to the hassle of setting it up and maintaining it. Does any one have experience running production systems based on LFS?

And yes, there are a lot of facets to consider: stability, package systems, use of free vs. proprietary software/drivers, support, etc... though when I started with linux there were fewer distros and choices, but even now there are a few "base" distros (debian/ubuntu, fedora/redhat, opensuse, slackware) that most of the others are based from.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:56 pm

ShadowEyez wrote:Does any one have experience running production systems based on LFS?

I'm sure there are at least a few people out there who have done it, but IMO it is rather masochistic.

To go with the obligatory (if somewhat strained) car analogy: It's kind of like you convinced Toyota to give you the complete bill of materials and blueprints for a Corolla, and spent the next year chasing down all the parts, and assembling them in your garage. If things go well, at the end of that year you've got a working car and some serious bragging rights. But if all you really wanted was a working car, you should've just gone and bought one off the lot!
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:18 am

The issue I have with LFS for any kind of heavy use environment is it can be hard to change things quickly. If you want to implement some feature to allow you to do something new, you run the risk of breaking something else by accident and spending all of your time fixing the problems you've inadvertently created.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:09 pm

The only LFS-like production system I ever worked with, kept a read-only root partition, with another partition mounted over it as an overlay. That way, they could make changes to the base system and re-apply the changes.

I don't think it worked out well, the company in question went under, but I believe for other reasons.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:51 pm

The number one question for Linux users. Lately, I have been testing various ones, usually Gnome releases and without going into it all I have found that Mint 15 MATE is to my liking. It is highly friendly and plays well with Ubuntu and Debian. It uses the Ubuntu repository, but also loads lots of great Debian things. It is forgiving. I find its ease of use and breadth of accessibily to be a great boon. its version of Wine is so efficient that one can pick and choose almost anything. but there is a catch: Since MInt does not come with xterm (and I don't know why) you will have to laod it yourslef from the Ubunty repository in the terminal. Easys stuuf. Just remember to update it at the end. it is very like the old Ubuntu 12.10 in many ways in that it uses Gnome 3, not an improvement on Gnome 2. If you want things on your desktop all you have to do is find the app. you loaded from the package menu, right click it and pick the one that says "desktop". Instant and no muss or fuss. It does have its quirks as do all Linux distros. One is that it can be a bit slow, but no that slow. I don't know how old you are, but at my advanced age and the times from which I come patience is not only a virtue, but a gift to savor. If you are into idol worship, no less that Richard Stallman likes it. Mint is a child of the Free Software Foundation which stallman created. Mint is very popular in New England because, as Debian is, it comes from here. Both Debian and the FSF are in the Boston area near the Charles River and both ahve roots with MIT' Articificlal Intellience Laboratory. Mint also lets you download a free 50 pg. users' guide which it keeps up to date. If you want a nice KDE I love KUBUNTU. (yes, Mint has a KDE and you might want to try it.) If you dug Win 95 you' be right at home with KUBUNTU. (Soon, Canonical will be using "Mir" for its program, not its unique and quite versatile "Unity".) Pesonally, I don't like Ubuntu 13.04. It is highly restirictive. But 13.10 is somewhat of an improvement. I think they thought better of being so restrictive this time around. Another is Zorin 7. Its fast. Its a quick load and it is a bit smaller. Like a Mazda Miata. Fun. But its programming is, to me, stiff and unforgiving. Its also very buggy. I hear developers love this distro for its willingness to accept modifications. I have another, Arch Linux, on a seperate drive. Arch Linux is not like anything you have ever come across. For the highly adventurous there is an OS that is so new and odd that it will take time to know. Its called "Haiku" and its a live distro. so far, its gotten great reviews, Its not Windows, Mac or Linux. But since it has a GUI it should not be too shocking. You know, many of didn't go to Linux because we got sick of Microsoft, but many did. We got into Linux because it was fresh, revolutionary, small and wiry and 'in your face'. and, of course, its free, but not as in "free beer". (But make mine Steel Reserve 211, the "Jefferson Airplane" of brews.) PS: I still love the i386 architecture. I'm not a gamer. But if I was I would go Ubuntu 64bit. Its the boss and most servers in the world are now Ubuntu. (Lets all go down and point and laugh at Balmer's new Microsoft "Super" server. So last century to me. (Besides, its nice to be able to annoy the school yard bully, isn't it?). Happy screaming streaming.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:00 pm

Seaumas2 wrote:Since MInt does not come with xterm (and I don't know why) you will have to laod it yourslef from the Ubunty repository in the terminal.

People still use classic xterm?

I prefer ROXTerm myself. Look & feel is very similar to gnome-terminal, but it doesn't have the weird compatibility issues with KDE that gnome-terminal seems to have.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:15 pm

rxvt is the one true terminal. Well it's the one I use. ;)

rxvt -ls +sb -bg black -fg orange -geometry 110x54+10+10 -fn -*-courier-medium-r-*-*-20*-*-*-*-*-*-*


Makes a nice terminal.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:26 pm

Heh. Terminal wars to go with the editor wars?

When I decided I didn't like KDE's default terminal, and discovered that gnome-terminal (which I was used to) has issues with the version of KDE shipped with Ubuntu 12.04, I started looking for a replacement. I found the number of choices to be rather overwhelming. I settled on ROXTerm based on the fact that it was the first one I tried from the (long) list of possibilities that didn't suck. :lol:

Guess I'll give rxvt a try.

Edit: Heh, seriously old-school. I think I'll stick with ROXTerm for now. Given that rxvt's main selling point is its small memory footprint I imagine it could be really useful on RAM-constrained platforms like old PCs and devices like the Raspberry Pi though.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:50 pm

It was the one you could rely on to be present in the old Linux distributions I used to use. Some were pretty barren of Xy stuff back in the last century, but it would be there. I learned how to make it black and orange and never looked back. ;)
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 rxvt -T 'MidnightCommander' -ls +sb -bg black -fg yellow -geometry 110x56+10+10  -fn -*-courier-medium-r-*-*-20*-*-*-*-*-*-* -e mc -x -a -C normal=yellow,black:selected=white,red:dhotnormal=yellow,blue:dhotfocus=black,yellow:directory=yellow,blue:executable=white,black:link=yellow,blue


Makes a very nice rxvt session with Midnight Commander in it. My file manager and control center for all media.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:58 pm

PenGun wrote:It was the one you could rely on to be present in the old Linux distributions I used to use. Some were pretty barren of Xy stuff back in the last century, but it would be there.

Kind of like vi (even today) -- you can always count on it being there, even on a bare-bones server install with no desktop environment. I still use vi whenever I need to do quick edits of system config files; old habits die hard.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:14 am

I've been using Terminator lately. I don't use all of it's features, but I kind of like that they're available.

Edit: My mistake, this is the terminator I actually use: http://gnometerminator.blogspot.com/p/introduction.html
Last edited by alloyD on Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:46 am

I use putty a fair bit, consolidates my experience for when I am using windows.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Dec 30, 2013 10:06 am

alloyD wrote:I've been using Terminator lately. I don't use all of it's features, but I kind of like that they're available.

Looks like the one in the official Ubuntu repo is the "other" one (GNOME Terminator). Guess I will need to try them both. :lol:

Glorious wrote:I use putty a fair bit, consolidates my experience for when I am using windows.

I was quite amused to discover a few months ago that there is a version of PuTTY for Linux -- in effect a Windows port of SSH (which has its roots in *NIX) + a basic terminal emulator has gotten back-ported to Linux.

(And yeah, if I had to use SSH sessions from Windows more often I might consider standardizing on PuTTY too...)

Edit: Regarding the "Jessies" version of Terminator... Java dependencies? For a terminal emulator? Seriously? OK, scratch that one off the list. The one in the official repo looks promising though.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:22 pm

just brew it! wrote:Looks like the one in the official Ubuntu repo is the "other" one (GNOME Terminator). Guess I will need to try them both. :lol:

...

Edit: Regarding the "Jessies" version of Terminator... Java dependencies? For a terminal emulator? Seriously? OK, scratch that one off the list. The one in the official repo looks promising though.


Oops! That is what I get for not verifying what I get in Google's search results. What I actually use is GNOME Terminator as found here (although I use it with the "Awesome" WM and not Gnome): https://www.archlinux.org/packages/community/any/terminator/
That being said, I believe the homepage for that project is actually here: http://gnometerminator.blogspot.com/p/introduction.html

I had to double-check when you mentioned the Java dependency since that really didn't sound like something I'd go for.
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Re: I needed a new distro

Postposted on Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:34 pm

The only bit of oddness I've found (so far) with GNOME Terminator is that the window sizing logic is slightly wonky if you don't use the default font. It appears that it is trying to constrain the window height to multiples of the font height, but is basing the calculation off of the wrong font metrics. This results in some extra whitespace (up to one line's worth depending on the font used) at the bottom of the window, wasting a small amount of screen real estate. This may be a funky interaction with KDE; I haven't tried it under its (native) GNOME environment.
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