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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
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I think Debian is the way to go. At the time of installation you can start with a minimal setup and then add things until you have exactly what you want. Debian's hardware support is about as good as it gets.
You have giben a good starting point.
My only fear is h/w compatibility and driver availability, but as per your post, if Debian is the best in this aspect then I am at ease.
Which is the least resource-hungry, KDE / GNome or any other GUI environment.
Also, I will need to develop some simple desktop applications like form-fillers etc.
So I need to ensure ample developer community availability and API etc etc availability.
What do you and other members suggest ?
Now the next imp question: to make graphical apps for this platform, which is the best software (best replacement to create VB6 type application).
Most of the applications we have are various kinds of Form-Fillers & Auto Navigators (The applications will launch an instance of Browser, Open a URL, click link, fill up text boxes, click on radio buttons etc etc).
PS: This might seem for spammy activity, but its a legitimate very work!
You can use google just as well as I can. Try showing a little initiative. I googled linux visual basic and found this http://gambas.sourceforge.net/en/main.html
But only you really know what you want so wouldn't it be easier if you don't like Gambas to do a bit of googling yourself?