The Beginner's Guide to Linux, Part 1: Finding the Right Distribution

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linux_dork

I've used, over the years, about a zillion different distro's, trying to land on the right one.  I have fond memories of SuSE on my aging P200 in high school.  I was so excited to see SuSE at Best Buy, that I snagged up the 6-CD pack!

I also used to be a Red Hat, and then Fedora fan.

Now, though, I'm Ubuntu all the way.  Not only because it's stable, safe, and as easy to use for my girlfriend (novice) as it is for me... but you simply can't discount everything that Mark Shuttleworth and Ubuntu have done to promote Linux.

 

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thefuzz4

I only drop into Windows to play a few games that I couldn't get to run in wine.  The games that do run in wine though seem to run better here than in Windows.  Just updated to the beta of Jaunty last night and it's a huge improvement.  Your best bet is to just take the plunge and do it.  One of the guys I work with did it and said hey you know what I can shut this off and know that it'll come back up with no problems.  No Kubuntu was shut down improperly and would like to enter safe mode. 

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majorsuave

A bit more than a year ago, I had a PC set up for the kids and I put Mandriva on it, I loved it. This was then, maybe things have changed but I will again give Mandriva the go signal the next time I Install linux.

I liked it a lot because all packages (at least those I installed) were localised with other Distros, some packages are only available in english - not that it is a problem to me, but for educational purposes, it's fun to be able to choose.

I remember installing Mandrake (which merged with Conectiva to form Mandriva) in the age of the PII and it was already a neat distro. 

I'm thinking about getting a PS3 (if they ever make that 100$ price cut) to install Linux, a 300$ PC that has a BD drive seems like a good deal, well, would seem like it if the price dropped some more ;) Anyone knows a distro that works good with a PS3 and allows to easily use it as a media center and recognizes the DualShock gamepads ?

And of course I'd buy LBP, it looks  terrific, maybe GT5 would reel me in too....

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Cityscape

Ubuntu has a PS3 variant I believe. Check it out.

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computerm746

If you're looking for a distro for PS3 Yellow dog linux is one of them and I believe it works with the dualshock controllers as well. Yellow Dog linux was first displayed at one of the tech confrence and was the first linux based Operating System designed for the PS3. Go to http://us.fixstars.com/products/ydl/ for more infomation about Yellowdog linux, but in theory you can install other linux based operating systems, but the problem is that it won't take the full advantage of the cellular processor as Yellow Dog Linux does.

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GreenTurtle

I have the latest drivers for my ATI 4870's with crossfire enabled on Ubuntu Hardy (8.04) and everything runs great and stable. Only one problem though....can only control one fan. Waiting for my water blocks and that problem is solved. LOL!!!!

 I have to say though, since AMD took over ATI their Linux support has improved. ATI Catalyst for Linux still has half of the options the Windows version does but that will improve I'm sure. May already have with Ibex (8.10) I don't know.

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anonuser

If it truly is a beginner's guide, you *might* want to start with explaining what a distro/distribution is with relation to the Linux kernel....

Just a thought. ;-)

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computerm746

A distro is nothing more but diffrent flavors of Linux based Operating Systems like for an example OpenSuse and Red Hat are two different flavors of operating systems, but they all run the linux Kernal which bring me to answer what is a Kernel? The Linux Kernel is the core of the OS (Operating System) all it does is process and manges different services such as memory, hardware, and other requests. The Relationship between the two is that they may be different flavors, but they most of them are running the same kernel and plus the more efficient the kernal is the better or faster the operting system can become because as more upgrades come with the kernel the more possbilties for OS ideals and services.

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vnz

Great Job Will

 

There are lots of 'beginners guides' out there that delve into distro's and installation nuances of each and after checking out several of them I can attest to the fact that one many times finds himself going in circles, bouncing from one beginners forum post to another and at the end of the day gets confused, angry and ready to give up on Linux.

 What I was looking for is EXACTLY what you are providing with your Beginner USER series.  It was perfect.  Not difficult to understand or too techie but with real usable information. 

 I look forward to the rest of the series and hope that you will not stop there.  I feel that what you are providing is greatly needed (at least in my case) and hope that you can carry even further with it.

 GREAT JOB and keep up the good work.

 vnz

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wl59

I wanted to do something revolutionary w.r.t. the easyness for beginners and the desktop abibility of Linux when I started to make install DVDs for my SYS distro, and everybody who it used agree that it's most easy possible -- the installation occurs automatically and normally one have nothing to read or to answer. The distro installs easy and quickly, is easy to administrate, but is not a poor-man distro like Slax or Ubuntu coming with almost 'nothing' but has plenty programs for all tasks, the best ones on the desktop. Also, a good maintaining and package politics. And - in opposition to these tecnic jornalists which write about Linux but use Windows, SYS is used on my own server, and by plenty friends and neighbours, thus, any problems I know and correct quickly.

A better description is here: http://www.linuxquestions.org/reviews/showproduct.php?product=834

Linux SYS -- automatic installation -- 18 GB programs compacted on a 4.4 GB install DVD -- mirror ftp://ftp5.gwdg.de/pub/linux/install/sys

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drk1438

This is all very well if you have an Intel-architecture machine, but NO version of Linux works properly on a PowerPC, and I doubt that there are any other platforms on which it works! I have tried around six distributions, and can't get any of them to function properly!

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Cityscape

Try Debian, they have a nice, well supported PowerPC version.

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HeartBurnKid

I hear it's quite nice.

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Cityscape

Ubuntu has not had a PowerPC version since early 2007.

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cj100570

Apparently you gave up too quickly because Debian continues to support PPC. I've used it extensively and I haven't had any issues. I also run 32 & 64bit on both Intel & AMD processors with no issues. Linux works on everything! I've included a link to the download page for the PPC Debian 5 build in case you want to give it a try;

 

http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/5.0.0/powerpc/iso-dvd/

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Keith E. Whisman

I don't think you can buy a PPC based home computer anymore. But there are mandriva and fedora core distros designed for PPC, Spark and all other brand of processor hocus pocus. I think PPC chips are being used for the XBOX 360 and some workstations and servere I think.

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majorsuave

Yes, Some Servers sold by Sony, the Sony PlayStation, the Xbox 360 and !!! the Nintendo Wii all use PPC derived chips. And, of course, some large IBM mainframes.

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periodhyphenund...

Linux wouldn't stand a chance if Microsoft gets out of the Spyware Business!

Microsoft could make Billions of Dollers on the most successful version of it's operating system ever created but they are required by the Govt. to keep it's NSA approved Total Spyware versions of its O.S. in circulation and nothing more!  EVER!!!!

1. Do you think a READ ONLY version of Microsoft XP would be popular?
2. Would you like to have an XP version that could be installed to a Thumbdrive or DVD that would boot ALL of your computers without spying on you or requiring you to activate through Microsoft Spy Servers?
3. Would you like a copy of XP that would NEVER connect to the Internet on its own and would never allow any programs on your computer to connect on their own?
4. Would you Pay as Much for a Copy of XP that doesn't Spy on you as you already paid for a copy that does?
5. Would you like to have a Copy of Microsoft XP that could never possibly reduce it's functionallity, expire, or prevent you from using YOUR Computer the way YOU Want to?
6. Would you even pay EXTRA $$$ for a Secure O.S. from Microsoft?

Well Microsoft, What are you waiting for?
An engraved invitation?

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EV42TMAN

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Besides the large case of paranoia running around (please
note items all but 3, number 3 just doesn’t make logical sense) I will say
using both linux and every Microsoft product since 3.1 that they do have their
own purposes. With that being said this is the up to the date sats of computer
OSes in the world.

Mac: 6%

Linux: ~2%

Other: ~0.5%

Microsoft: 91.5%

So logically if I was a pissed of programmer or a college
student who’s bored and decided to make a spy ware program which target am I going
to choose. Now I realize not everyone sees things from my prospective either.
My 9-5 job is a computer tech (no it’s not geek squad I’d kill myself before I’d
work for them) and I fix computers everyday. Plus I build and configure
desktops, laptops, servers, and clusters. So when it comes down to what are you
going to use your computer for? Most of the time it means windows because it’s
supported everywhere, you can easily walk into any store in America and buy software, and if
you break it then you can easily find some where to fix it. Now if you’re a network
admin or higher and need a super secure never fail server to hold company tax
info or employee confidential information then hire some one who knows Linux or
UNIX and that’s the way to go. Linux does have many pros in the argument like
it works on everything. If you have an older computer your can slap in a new
hard drive, install linux and move all your music and video files to it and now
you have a safe media server for the cost of a hard drive. Linux will run on
anything as long as you know what you’re doing. I’ve seen it on computers,
laptops, server, clusters, ipods, original Xboxes, PS2, PS3, and PSP. It is
incredibly flexible but, it requires you to do things differently. Don’t get me
wrong xp, vista(anyone who argues this or discredits it better have more then “well
my friend got and he doesn’t like it), and the soon to be windows 7 are all
good products it just all comes down to what you want to do. And if your advocating that linux is thebest OS ever please bring up more then Spyware and connecting to microsoft to activate and get updates.

 

Honestly this is my main set up at home

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz

4GB OCZ sli edition memory
Duel SATA DVD Burners

160GB Seagate SATA HD

160GB Western Digital SATA HD

120GB Seagate IDE HD

4 500GB Western Digital HDs (raid 5)

NVIDIA 7900 GS OC

I run Vista Ultimate x64 with no problems, I use the FREE
AVG anti virus and I have VMware installed. Currently I have a VM for server 2003,
windows 7, and Linux mint that I use on a daily basis. The best part is that I go
on facebook and myspace, check email, play games, and look at porn like a
normal person. And I have no issues what so ever.

 

I apologize for the length of this comment. It bugs me when
people turn rumors and paranoia into Microsoft is the new big brother. This article
was on which version of linux is right for you and has nothing to do with Microsoft
and spy ware but, bring up linux and bring up the debates in happens every time.

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Hg Dragon

I've had nothing but bad experisnces with CentOS. A vendor for one of my sister companies uses it for their Point of Sales system and it is nothing but headache after headache. This distro is one of the ones that carries the full weight of the phrase "RPM Hell." You have to get a package to get another package so you can install the one you originally wanted, and it's package manager doesn't always fetch all of those others. It took me a full two days to get the touch-screen mostly working. 

 I think I'll stick to something slightly easier to manage like Ubuntu. When I've had to install something that had other dependencies, at least it was "smart" enough to grab all of them at the same time. While the other Linux users I know like to call it "Linux for Windows users," or "Linux with training wheels," I just shrug and keep on going. Like the article says, it's what works for me.

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schotty

I use CentOS quite frequently on both servers and workstations, rarely on home machines.  I have yet to run into an issue of the kind you refer to.

 

If you require assistance, please feel free to email me at andrew@schotty.com.  I would be more than happy to grant a hand in this.

 

As for RPM hell, you are probably not using the repositories and yum/up2date at all.  That is expected.  Utilize the package manager for proper results or you will run into more than just rpm hell.  One great place to start is rpmfusion's repos which hold most of the packages that fedora has, just built for CentOS/RHEL.

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Keith E. Whisman

Tell them to screw off, Ubuntu is the most advanced Linux Distro available. It has all the latest technology. Life is much easier and that is why I love it. Would you call someone a noob because they use WinXP or Vista? Of course you wouldn't. Just because an OS is easy to use doesn't mean your pussy for using it. I think it's a sign of intelligence.

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MAXPCreader07

Show some love for CrunchBang. All the goodness of Ubuntu wrapped in the very fast Openbox window manager.

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roninnder

Did that help anyone find a Distro?  If this is part 1 of 4, and I am relying on this guide, I am not 25% of the way there.  What was all that stuff about server distros?  If you're running a server and you need this guide, you're doing it wrong.

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nerdman978

gotta represent.

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pcfxer

No PC-BSD? Arguably one of the easiest of the bunch to use, easier than Windows ;).

 www.pcbsd.org

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Vadi

Psh. All that matter is how quickly can you get the cube showing :)

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AntiHero

Exactly, make linux more appealing to others, and stay one step ahead of your friends, you'll look awesome! I know how to work ubuntu to play games, which surprises many since they are all insistent that games and linux have nothing o do with eachother...look at the filenames in counter strike when you download them, 90% of them have at least one .bz2 or .tar

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mlee19

I think the single most frustraiting thing for those that are new to linux that bombs the experiance is trying to install third party drivers. To name a few, creative xfi, ati, and nvidia.

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Hg Dragon

There is an app that makes installing the nVidia/ATi drivers easy called Envy. It will handle the unpacking/recompiling operations for you. The only thing is that it doesn't necessarily have the latest and greatest drivers as the author works on it in his spare time. You would still have to get those manually. I think the latest nVidia driver it has available is 170-something (can't remember and my linux box is at home...). In Ibex, it loses the fancy GUI installer, though the text one has all of the same options.

 http://albertomilone.com/nvidia_scripts1.html

 

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Keith E. Whisman

Well in Ubuntu you will be asked if you want to install the 3rd party drivers notably the Nvidia or ATi drivers. Then after that you can turn on the 3D effects and they are alot better than Vista and WIN7.

As for the Xfi drivers those are easy to install but you will need to understand a few linux commands because it requires that you download the Creative Xfi drivers from the Creative website and do this with Firefox because Firefox will unpack the Tz file for you and save it to your Home directory.

If anyone needs full and concise instructions on how to install the Xfi Linux driver tell me and I'll post the instructions so it's easy. 

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mlee19

Plz do! thx!!

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Devo85x

If you have a newer card, you will sometimes have to manually install GPU drivers, for example, when I first got my GTX 260, Ubuntu would not recognize it (I was using 8.04, after 8.10 they started supporting it), if I wanted to install drivers, I had to download from Nvidias website, start text mode (alt+f2 if I remember correctly), stop gnome (sudo /bin/init.d/gdm stop) then install build-essentials (sudo apt-get install build-essentials), then install alien so i could easilly install an updated version of Nvidia-Xconfig (sudo apt-get install alien), then install the newest version of Xconfig from my desktop (required it to be in text mode), THEN I could FINALLY install the GPU drivers from my desktop... and the really sad thing is now that I have 2 GTX 260s, Ubuntu likes to corrupt some system files after I activate Nvidia drivers!  I love linux and have set it up for friends, but its just to much of a pain on some newer systems

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tkphill

This is the problem with linux in general I would never recommend Linux to anyone other than for basic computing. cmon 4 package installations just to get 1 driver working. windows download driver and double click to install. also I'm from the old dos days I did not switch to windows until win98 and the terminal just doesnt make sence to me I cant figure out how to get around. If I installed this junk on anyones computer I would be getting calls constantly to come over and fix.

 

Sorry Guys linux still fails

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Vadi

I'm sorry, but I'll have to disagree.

When I install Ubuntu, it pops up a notification asking "Want to install the better drivers?". I click "OK", and it finds, downloads, and installs them for me.

Windows - if they don't work out of the box, it's off to the intrawebs to find the right driver, download it manually, then next▸next▸next▸next.

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evride

No it is definitely seeing that your game(s) won't work with Wine.

 

I have to say that I like Ubuntu cause it's easy to install and easy to configure (at least for me). Got mine looking BA. Two things I don't like about Ubuntu is the default color scheme and that apt-get doesn't have super up to date packages. For instance, the wine version was 1.0.1 when there current not so stable version is 1.1.15. Maybe the package manager should give you an option to install the very latest bleeding edge version of the software instead of you having to go get it yourself.

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Keith E. Whisman

Ubuntu is the Linux for everyone and because of that they only offer Stable versions unless you want to run a Beta version of Ubuntu. 

I went through the available games in the package manager and found a cool multiplayer fps where everyone is a Martian. It's an Online FPS game in Linux. it's freaking awesome. I had alot of fun playine with it. Give it a try. You don't have to make any special settings changes to get it to work. Just start it up and browse for a server. Cool. 

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Devo85x

What game is it? I used to play Alien Arena, Nexuiz, and Warsow when I was using Ubuntu, but yeah I used to run Betas of Ubuntu and cant wait for the 9.04 beta so I can see if it will work with my 2 GTX 260s (ubuntu likes to corrupt when I activate drivers right now)

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Keith E. Whisman

Yeah I'm happy Ubuntu 8.10 installs the latest drivers for my GTX280 video card. The thing is that you don't want to install the video cards until you update the OS. Download all the updates just like in Windows and then follow Ubuntu's Nvidia driver scheme which is the best since it's built in. Linux has really come a long way since I first started playing with Suse 4.x. Linux still has a way to go but it's looking better and it's going to get better and even easier quickly as more and more netbooks get sold with it preinstalled. 

The thing is that companies are relying on Linux for their netbooks and Linux is starting to increase in demand. These companies that use Linux for their products are starting to invest money and manpower resources into the Linux development. This also means an increased demand for working and reliable drivers such as printer drivers that are largely non exsistant.

Going to boot into Ubuntu right now to write that how-to for the Xfi driver. 

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evride

try downloading the latest linux drivers off the nvidia website. I don't think the default drivers are up to date.

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