what kind of linux/unix do you use

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what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:10 am

i want to get into the world of linux but there are so many variation i am unsure what to choose

what kind of linux do you use or recommend trying?

also what kind would be best for an older machine with about 1gb of ram and 3400 amd64 cpu and for a machine with 64mb of ram with amd 500mhz?

thanks
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:23 am

I want to get into this too; I downloaded the latest 64bit versions of Ubuntu and Fedora, and tried installing Ubuntu, and failed. Ubuntu decided to install it's bootloader on my 'first' drive, which has my Windows 7 install on it, which had the only effect of me having to wipe and reinstall Windows 7, do to a GRUB error, and the drive I installed it on showed no operating system.

For this reason I'm a little perturbed with Linux right now, but I've used it in the past; the difficulty arises from trying to install it on a system that already has two other operating systems on separate drives, with four drives total.

Beyond that frustration, I'd like to try my hand at using Linux for daily recreational computing, such as browsing, instant messaging, watching TV shows, and listening to music. I'd also like to explore OpenOffice and it's compatibility and applicability toward working with Access databases, as I'm starting an Access based database management course tomorrow!
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:17 am

I have used Ubuntu and Mint, and loved them both.

Airmantharp: Try Wubi. It installs within one of the other OSes, and uses the native bootloader instead of grub. That's what I'm using right now.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:34 am

Ubuntu or Fedora are probably the best distros to cut your teeth on (personally I use Ubuntu).

The easiest way to get started with ubuntu is the "try without changing your computer" option on the install CD. This lets you play around without the risk of damaging anything (so long as you don't touch your hard drives!!!), if this doesn't work on your hardware then think twice before going any further!

The next step is either a virtual machine or wubi.

Wubi installs ubuntu "inside" windows... you get a listing in programs and features, it uses the windows boot loader so there's less chance of mucking things up there and all the linux files are stored on your windows filing system so you don't have to partition the drive... this is a bit slower than a normal installation!

Airmantharp wrote:I want to get into this too; I downloaded the latest 64bit versions of Ubuntu and Fedora, and tried installing Ubuntu, and failed. Ubuntu decided to install it's bootloader on my 'first' drive, which has my Windows 7 install on it, which had the only effect of me having to wipe and reinstall Windows 7, do to a GRUB error, and the drive I installed it on showed no operating system.

For this reason I'm a little perturbed with Linux right now, but I've used it in the past; the difficulty arises from trying to install it on a system that already has two other operating systems on separate drives, with four drives total.


Yep, the bootloader always has to go on the drive your system boots from... couldn't work any other way I'm afraid! Normally having windows on a machine isn't anything to worry about, grub detects the other OSs and adds entries for them automatically. However what with W7 not being released yet there may be some kind of incompatibility, I haven't tried it myself yet... this is the price you pay for life on the bleeding edge!

brain frog wrote:also what kind would be best for an older machine with about 1gb of ram and 3400 amd64 cpu and for a machine with 64mb of ram with amd 500mhz?


For the amd64 I'd go with 32bit ubuntu 9.04 (64bit gains you nothing but headaches trying to install java, though 64bit flash is now available)

For the older machine... well it would be OK as a server... but you really need a bit more RAM. For desktops you need 256->384 MB for server 64MB is the minimum. NB the ubuntu server version doesn't come with a desktop installed, everything is done from the command line. There are distros intended for old hardware like this but I've never used any.

Quick note on hardware... most hardware gets installed automatically without any problems. Most problems seem to come from things like:
Graphics cards (that aren't intel/ati/nvidia)
wireless network cards (though this has improved a lot recently)
scanners
cheap home printers (though most laser printers are supported without you having to do a thing!)
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:47 am

thanks for the replys

in the past i have attempted some kinds but been put off but lack of compatibility and problematic install process

i still need to find out how to dual boot it with xp

i have begun loading mint and will download Ubuntu and Fedora once its done

during a computer class i bought a few cheap hard drives from other students to help with with getting the hang of some aspects of what i was learning and to do things like this so i dont need to worry about loosing whats currently on my system
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:02 am

Dual boot with XP should just work... I've never seen it fail. You just need to install XP first then install ubuntu. Or you can use the Wubi option which doesn't use GRUB.

The safest way to muck around with *nix without 2 PCs is a virtual machine. Though you could also get some drive cages and simply remove your windows drive from the machine when you want to play with linux.

EDIT:
BTW Mint is basically just Ubuntu with a few additional bugfixes and artwork changes... Personally I'd stick with plain Ubuntu to get started as there's more support available.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:17 am

i am amazed i havent already asked this but what are the differences between Ubuntu and Fedora?
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:20 am

Ubuntu is a good distro.

Ubuntu is a terrible way to "cut your teeth" on Linux. There isn't much of a learning curve to it, and most of the stuff it does happens behind the scenes. Not much unlike another popular OS.

To really "cut your teeth" on Linux, you need to experience the command line, figure out which applications actually do what, and how things work the way they do.

And, Grub doesn't actually detect other OSes on the system and add entries automatically. There is another application that does that. It's probably only included on the Ubuntu install disc. (Much like the autodetection of LiveCDs only run on a LiveCD and not on an installed system.)
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:51 am

I should clarify how I'm setting up hard drives. I have two old Seagates that I'm using for secondary OS's, such as Linux and Windows 7, a 1TB WD Green that is used solely for storage, and a 1TB Black that has my Vista 64 install on one partition and a second parition for storage. One of the two Seagates already has a working RTM Windows 7 install that I would like to keep; I am currently migrating to it, and will probably acquire a license for it and migrate it to the Black when I'm ready, as my primary operating system.

Now, the installed order of the drives does not match how I use them, I use the BIOS boot priority to put my Black first, even though the two seagates are listed before it during discovery. The Black has a MS Bootloader on it for the Vista install it contains, and the Windows 7 install which is on the first Seagate, the first drive listed. The bootloader was unintentional, as I forgot to disable all drives except for the Seagate that I was installing Windows 7 on, so it decided on it's own and without warning to install a bootloader on my Vista drive (thanks, really). Supposing I can boot from the Windows 7 drive directly, I've meant to test this but haven't, I may disable the bootloader; but given that I'll have no need for the Vista install if the Windows 7 install keeps working as well as it does, I may just re-arrange the boot priority and go straight to 7.

My issue is getting Linux to work with this setup, basically, without touching anything else. It can have it's own hard drive, and that's where I want it's bootloader if it needs one; I just don't want it messing with the other drives at all. My Gigabyte board has the 'Press F12' option to select which source to boot from, and to get to Linux, or to Vista if I change the priority, I simply load up this menu and select the drive that it is installed on. This is how I'd like to continue to work, as it allows me the option of completely nuking or removing one operating system's drive without having any effect on the others.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:54 am

titan wrote:Ubuntu is a good distro.

Ubuntu is a terrible way to "cut your teeth" on Linux. There isn't much of a learning curve to it, and most of the stuff it does happens behind the scenes. Not much unlike another popular OS.

To really "cut your teeth" on Linux, you need to experience the command line, figure out which applications actually do what, and how things work the way they do.

Well I think it depends what the person is trying to achieve... I mean you could start off with something like Gentoo (this is what I did) but it's very scary for a windows user. Not a problem if you want to get into the nuts and bolts of how the OS works but not very good for an average user. All distros tend to hide quite a bit whether that's behind a fancy GUI or a text based system like apt-get or emerge. It is possible to be a linux user without touching the command line.
Airmantharp wrote:browsing, instant messaging, watching TV shows, and listening to music. I'd also like to explore OpenOffice

These are all things that don't requite the use of the command line.

titan wrote:And, Grub doesn't actually detect other OSes on the system and add entries automatically. There is another application that does that. It's probably only included on the Ubuntu install disc. (Much like the autodetection of LiveCDs only run on a LiveCD and not on an installed system.)

fair cop gov, I should have said "gets detected during the grub installation" :oops: Looks like os-prober does the actual detection.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:59 am

Airmantharp wrote:My issue is getting Linux to work with this setup, basically, without touching anything else. It can have it's own hard drive, and that's where I want it's bootloader if it needs one; I just don't want it messing with the other drives at all. My Gigabyte board has the 'Press F12' option to select which source to boot from, and to get to Linux, or to Vista if I change the priority, I simply load up this menu and select the drive that it is installed on. This is how I'd like to continue to work, as it allows me the option of completely nuking or removing one operating system's drive without having any effect on the others.


Just install it with wubi or in a virtual machine and forget about the boot loader. I seem to remember that there are some advanced options at the end of the ubuntu install process that allow you to choose where the bootloader ends up but why bother when there are easier ways of achieving your goal?

EDIT: I think the only way you can keep them completely separate with no risk of accidentally damaging one OS while messing with another is to remove the other OSs' drives from the system, preferably make the drive mutually exclusive. Any other method carries a risk that you'll forget to change something and accidentally damage the other installations.
Last edited by cheesyking on Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:04 am

brain frog wrote:i am amazed i havent already asked this but what are the differences between Ubuntu and Fedora?


Ubuntu is marketed by and for the most part developed by Canonical. It's goal is to be user-friendly, so many things are hidden under the hood, there's a huge support community, and it's primarily geared to be a desktop OS.

Fedora is developed primarily by Red Hat, and while it too is free, Red Hat is best known for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which isn't. It's an extremely advanced server operating system for giant corporations' needs. Therefore, many of the things in Fedora come from things in RHEL or CentOS (which is similar but free). Fedora is less "user-friendly" or easy to switch to, but it also forces you to learn more about Linux to use it.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:33 am

grantmeaname wrote:
brain frog wrote:i am amazed i havent already asked this but what are the differences between Ubuntu and Fedora?


Ubuntu is marketed by and for the most part developed by Canonical. It's goal is to be user-friendly, so many things are hidden under the hood, there's a huge support community, and it's primarily geared to be a desktop OS.

Fedora is developed primarily by Red Hat, and while it too is free, Red Hat is best known for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which isn't. It's an extremely advanced server operating system for giant corporations' needs. Therefore, many of the things in Fedora come from things in RHEL or CentOS (which is similar but free). Fedora is less "user-friendly" or easy to switch to, but it also forces you to learn more about Linux to use it.


I'd say the biggest single difference are their respective package management systems... .rpm Vs .deb

I'm not really the right person to talk about the historical difference between these systems but since they now both have nice GUI front ends for the end user that work in very similar ways there isn't much to choose between them any more.

Package management is something most windows users haven't encountered before... instead of installing a bit of software by clicking on "setup.exe" that came on a CD or web download you use a tool built into the OS to download and install your software for you. Want to install Thunderbird? just open the "Add/Remove" app in the Applications menu or "Synaptic" in the System menu, search for what you want and click apply, download and installation are automatic (though complex bits of software often need configuring before they can be used)

The fun starts when a bit of software or a specific version of the software you want isn't available through this system :wink:

On the plus side this system also handles your software updates... a bit like microsoft update except it handles all the software on your system not just one or two bits. So you don't have 10 different update programs running each time you log into your desktop telling you to update acrobat/flash/java/ etc.

Under the hood it's doing an awful lot more than just downloading and installing but that's a more advanced topic
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:33 am

cheesyking wrote:Just install it with wubi or in a virtual machine and forget about the boot loader. I seem to remember that there are some advanced options at the end of the ubuntu install process that allow you to choose where the bootloader ends up but why bother when there are easier ways of achieving your goal?

EDIT: I think the only way you can keep them completely separate with no risk of accidentally damaging one OS while messing with another is to remove the other OSs' drives from the system, preferably make the drive mutually exclusive. Any other method carries a risk that you'll forget to change something and accidentally damage the other installations.


You are correct; my avoidance of this solution has to do with where my computer is placed, and the completely out of order arrangement of the SATA ports on the board. It would be a headache to isolate the drive physically, and a headache to put everything back in the right order, but it would also be the best thing to do. To keep from doing this, I've simply been disabling the other drives ports in the BIOS. This doesn't keep them from being seen, but it does tend to isolate the one enabled drive and has worked with Windows 7 several times before. If I'm unable to be certain as to where the bootloader is going, as I was certain at the time that it was going to the drive that Ubuntu was being installed on when I dug through the settings, then I'll have to dig that heavy case out again! Also, based on your comments above, I think if I have to install one OS it will be Fedora, as I'm trying to start a communications career.

Thank you for the info cheesyking!
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:45 am

brain frog wrote:i want to get into the world of linux but there are so many variation i am unsure what to choose

what kind of linux do you use or recommend trying?

I recommend Ubuntu for Linux newbies. It is generally the most foolproof of the major distros, and things usually "just work" out of the box. They also track new features of the Linux kernel and desktop reasonably well, without being too bleeding-edge (most of the time).

If you're more adventurous (and willing to spend more up-front effort to climb the learning curve), Fedora is also a reasonable choice. Fedora tends to be the most "bleeding edge" of the major distros -- new features appear in Fedora pretty early, but the new features can be somewhat half-baked. Fedora is essentially a perpetual beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and it shows. (Fedora is supposedly the distro that Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux kernel, runs on his own desktop.)

If you'd like to go "bare metal" and jump straight into the deep end, there's Debian. The Debian folks are much more conservative than most of the other distros regarding what they include in the official "stable" release, so they tend to lag quite a bit feature-wise, but also tend to have the fewest bugs. It is probably the least newbie-friendly of the major distros; expect to be using the command line a lot from the get-go.

Ubuntu is what I use currently. (I used Fedora until about a year ago.)

also what kind would be best for an older machine with about 1gb of ram and 3400 amd64 cpu and for a machine with 64mb of ram with amd 500mhz?

The Athlon64 system should be able to handle pretty much any current distro with ease. The 500 MHz 64 MB system is another story; you're not going to get a normal desktop distro to run decently on that. Your best bet for the 64 MB machine is probably Damn Small Linux.

Airmantharp wrote:I want to get into this too; I downloaded the latest 64bit versions of Ubuntu and Fedora, and tried installing Ubuntu, and failed. Ubuntu decided to install it's bootloader on my 'first' drive, which has my Windows 7 install on it, which had the only effect of me having to wipe and reinstall Windows 7, do to a GRUB error, and the drive I installed it on showed no operating system.

For this reason I'm a little perturbed with Linux right now, but I've used it in the past; the difficulty arises from trying to install it on a system that already has two other operating systems on separate drives, with four drives total.

Sorry to hear that. I've dual-booted a few Windows/Linux systems, and while I agree that the partitioning part of the Ubuntu installer is rather non-intuitive, I've never had it destroy the Windows install. The worst I've had happen when I screwed up the partitioning was a hosed Linux install (with the Windows system remaining fully functional).

Beyond that frustration, I'd like to try my hand at using Linux for daily recreational computing, such as browsing, instant messaging, watching TV shows, and listening to music. I'd also like to explore OpenOffice and it's compatibility and applicability toward working with Access databases, as I'm starting an Access based database management course tomorrow!


I can speak from my own experience in many of the above areas:

- Firefox gives essentially the same user experience in Linux as it does in Windows. If you visit sites which use IE-specific features, you may have issues (just as you would using Firefox on Windows).

- I don't IM, so I can't comment much there. AFAIK all of the major IM protocols are well-supported.

- Hulu works fine under Linux. I couldn't get the streaming video on Fox's site to work (but didn't try very hard, since the show I was trying to watch was available on Hulu as well).

- The music player situation is somewhat frustrating right now. The default player in most distros is pretty bare-bones; and the one which was the best (Amarok) recently got a complete rewrite, and they took out important features (like graphic EQ). At this point my recommendation is to install the old (1.x) version of Amarok, which can be somewhat challenging if your distro officially supports only the 2.x version.

- OpenOffice is a reasonable (and capable) Word/Excel/Powerpoint replacement. I use it exclusively at home, and for most of my word processing / spreadsheet stuff at work too. I'd rate compatibility with MS Office file formats as... oh, probably around 7 or 8 on a 10 point scale. I don't think it supports Access databases directly, but it does speak ODBC so you should be able to set up an ODBC data source to get at your Access tables from OpenOffice. (If you're serious about databases on Linux you should be using MySQL or PostgreSQL though...)

titan wrote:Ubuntu is a good distro.

Ubuntu is a terrible way to "cut your teeth" on Linux. There isn't much of a learning curve to it, and most of the stuff it does happens behind the scenes. Not much unlike another popular OS.

To really "cut your teeth" on Linux, you need to experience the command line, figure out which applications actually do what, and how things work the way they do.

It really depends on the individual. Do they want to be eased into Linux, or do they want a "dive into the deep end, sink or swim" approach? Ubuntu is basically still Debian under the hood. You can always dig deeper and drop down to command line if you want/need to, and at that level things will work more or less identically to how they would on a stock Debian system.

And unlike that "other popular OS", you can get down into the guts as far as you want to, without reverse-engineering things or signing an NDA! :wink:
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:19 pm

axeman wrote:- DVD playback - ignoring the legal questions, there isn't anything that works as well as commonly available (even bundled) DVD playback software for Windows. The best you can hope for is for it to work well for basic playback, and forget about getting DVD menus to work well

I thought Totem with the xine backend (mostly) fixes this now? (Haven't tried it myself lately, as I don't watch DVDs much...)
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:13 pm

axeman wrote:Does anyone else even MAKE graphics cards anymore ? ;)


I know what you mean, but only today I was looking at a cheapo laptop with sis graphics :roll:

As far as DVD playback goes, Cyberlink do a player that's 100% legal... but they only sell it to OEMs
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:37 pm

I usually just install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package, which (last I knew) includes DeCSS code to enable reading DVDs.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:44 pm

Rather than install a Linux/UNIX distro directly on your main system in a dedicated partition and dual boot, I second cheesyking's recommendation to go with either Wubi or virtualization as a more painless method to install and experiment.

I have not had a chance to try Ubuntu Wubi, but I have had a pretty good experience with using VirtualBox to run Debian, Ubuntu, and openSUSE images on my Windows Vista system:

http://www.virtualbox.org/

Installing VirtualBox on a Windows system is very easy, and installing Linux guest OS images within VirtualBox is also straight forward. The only challenges I've had have been getting the Linux guest OS addons installed (this is software you install within the virtual images to get better driver and UI support) - different distros are easier to work with than others. Also, I've had issues customizing the display resolution for virtual images even after installing the guest OS addons. Overall, though, Virtual Box has allowed me to try numerous Linux distros without messing with my main system, dual booting, etc. I've done that stuff in the past, and I really prefer not to fool around with it since VirtualBox is such a convenient option. Also, VirtualBox has good support for OpenSolaris, which is shaping up to be a great UNIX distro. And, VirtualBox is totally free!
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:13 pm

Downloading and installing Virtualbox right now. Thanks for the heads up jabro!
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:09 pm

I currently use Gentoo on both my workstation and notebook and Debian on my server.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:49 pm

I only really use linux in cl.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:49 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Downloading and installing Virtualbox right now. Thanks for the heads up jabro!

Just be aware that you may get some stuttering in multimedia (audio especially) if running virtualized...
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:55 pm

This post made with Firefox 3.5 running on Kubuntu 9.04

I have been running the "desktop friendly flavor of the month" for at least 10 years now.

first Redhat, then Mandrake and now Kubuntu with a few others mixed in there (Fedora, Corel, etc.).3

jabro wrote:Rather than install a Linux/UNIX distro directly on your main system in a dedicated partition and dual boot, I second cheesyking's recommendation to go with either Wubi or virtualization as a more painless method to install and experiment.

You could also run a "live CD". Running the OS off the CD drive without affecting whatever you have on your hard drive.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:15 pm

PRIME1 wrote:You could also run a "live CD". Running the OS off the CD drive without affecting whatever you have on your hard drive.

I've generally found live CDs to be rather frustrating if used as anything other than a glorified rescue disk. It's not that they don't work, it's just that they're too damn slow. Waiting for the CD to spin up every time something needs to be loaded from disk makes for a very stop-and-go computing experience.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:20 am

just brew it! wrote:
PRIME1 wrote:You could also run a "live CD". Running the OS off the CD drive without affecting whatever you have on your hard drive.

I've generally found live CDs to be rather frustrating if used as anything other than a glorified rescue disk. It's not that they don't work, it's just that they're too damn slow. Waiting for the CD to spin up every time something needs to be loaded from disk makes for a very stop-and-go computing experience.


I'll agree with that. It's slow, annoying, and usually takes up the only cd drive on the computer. It's better to install it on a high end USB stick or on an external hard drive.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:14 pm

Fedora could be a bad choice. New versions come out every six months, and support stops after the "n+2" version comes out. If you don't mind the upgrade/reinstall every six months or year, and the open source absolutism, as well as the bleeding edge issues, Fedora is a good choice. I use it on my own laptop at home - an IBM R50e which has Intel hardware for the NIC, wireless and video which means I don't have the problem of third party drivers that sort of work or don't work at all yet. I don't mind tinkering to get Flash, the requisite codecs, etc to make it really usable.

If it were something that had to work reliably, I'd look for a distro I didn't have to fiddle with as often. Either CentOS or openSUSE would probably be my first choices, because they are what I know. Ubuntu is easy to learn, but it hides some of the UNIX/Linux complexity as well.

If you're talking work, then I use Solaris, AIX, HP/UX, Compaq TRU64, Red Hat and SCO.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:29 pm

MarkD wrote:Fedora could be a bad choice. New versions come out every six months, and support stops after the "n+2" version comes out. If you don't mind the upgrade/reinstall every six months or year, and the open source absolutism, as well as the bleeding edge issues, Fedora is a good choice. I use it on my own laptop at home - an IBM R50e which has Intel hardware for the NIC, wireless and video which means I don't have the problem of third party drivers that sort of work or don't work at all yet. I don't mind tinkering to get Flash, the requisite codecs, etc to make it really usable.

If it were something that had to work reliably, I'd look for a distro I didn't have to fiddle with as often. Either CentOS or openSUSE would probably be my first choices, because they are what I know. Ubuntu is easy to learn, but it hides some of the UNIX/Linux complexity as well.

I really don't get the people who complain about Ubuntu "hiding" the complexity. I suppose it depends on whether your primary goal is to get real work done, or to dive deep and really learn the innards of the OS just for the sake of doing so. I prefer to apply my systems to solving real problems, and dive deep as needed. While Ubuntu does hide some of the complexity up front, it does not prevent you from digging into the details when you need to. This seems to be a very good balance to me.

If it is long-term support and stability you care about, IMO the Ubuntu LTS release is a reasonable choice -- it is supported for 3 years (5 for the server flavor). I'm still using the 8.04 LTS release at work, as it is very stable and does what I need; I run the "bleeding edge" 9.04 at home.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:24 pm

I use OpenSolaris and Mac OS X for myself, and OpenSolaris, Ubuntu Server, or FreeBSD for clients of mine that actually use *nix servers. As to which you should try, it's hard to say. If you're just looking to gain familiarity with a *nix environment, any Linux distribution would suffice to provide you with an environment to help you get familiarized with the principles. I think the same could be said for FreeBSD or OpenSolaris - both have reasonably good hardware support. FreeBSD has the superior package selection, if that worries you; OpenSolaris has a decent GNOME installation right out of the box, and a decent selection of GNOME software you can add from the repositories.

If you're just looking to have fun, I would recommend you try a few different OSes over time to figure out what fits your preferences. Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSuSE are all good choices to experiment with, and a FreeBSD setup will teach you quite a bit about FreeBSD in particular and BSD 4.4 in general. If you're going with Linux, I think it would be pretty difficult to find a distribution that is just absolutely horrible (though undoubtedly you'll find stuff that you don't like).

If you're looking to actually pick up work as a sys admin, it gets a bit tougher. Any Linux, *BSD, or OpenSolaris install will help you understand the underlying principles of using a UNIX system, but there aren't really any viable readily-available OSes that would teach you the ins and outs of HP-UX or AIX, for example. OpenSolaris *will* be helpful if you're looking at doing Solaris administration - they're fairly similar but not identical. If that's your goal, you should probably look at picking up a used workstation or server on eBay, and use the commercial UNIX of your choice. For Linux admin, I see a decent number of companies that use Ubuntu, and quite a few that use Red Hat Enterprise or SuSE Enterprise. This is in the United States, btw. Other countries may vary widely.

Once you get some *nix experience under your belt, though, you'll find making the jump from one version of UNIX or Linux to another was much simpler than going from say Windows to Linux.
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Re: what kind of linux/unix do you use

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:04 pm

Been using SuSE since 6.3 or 7.0, can't remember. and just recently put openSuSE 11.1 on a new server at work. Everything is exactly where its been since I started using SuSE.
When I tried Debian Woody a few years back, I couldn't believe how different it was. I assumed that the layout of the filesystem, Sys-V startup, etc would be identical for any "Linux". I was wrong!!

Also using a kernel 2.4 based embedded system for our arm9 platform. I think its called buildroot, but I'm not sure. It's probably not strictly a distro at all.

and lastly, I still have a Firewall running Smoothwall 2.0 on a P2-200 with a few MBs of RAM (maybe 16) and a few hundred MBs of HD. (for the un-initiated, this is the typical mating call boast of a red-bellied southern Linux Nerd)
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