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
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...)
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!