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Old 07-31-2005, 08:36 AM   #1
rmorgan1016
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Registered: Jul 2005
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Distribution: SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1
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Recommended Linux Distribution


Hi All,

I'm looking for recommendations from the seemingly vast Linux community as to which Linux distribution, if any, is right for me. I have installed Ubuntu 5.04, but don't think it's really what I want or need.

If what I want doesn't exist, please don't be shy about telling me so. I'm very new at this Linux stuff.

I'll list what I care about and don't care about, but from a high level what I want to do is implement a web server on a computer that lives on my home network. The computer is currently running Windows XP and the previously-mentioned Ubuntu distro in a dual-boot configuration. My home network is behind a Linksys WRT54G wireless router, which connects to my cable modem.

The computer is a Pentium III-based PC with:
- 256 MB RAM
- 80 GB HD (of which 20 GB is already partitioned for Linux)
- WinXP Home SP2 on the "main" partition
- Linksys smp54g 802.11 wireless card
- no hard-wired networked connection

The server I want to build is *only* for testing web sites I develop using MS FrontPage 2003.

As (if) you read through this, you're going to think to yourself "This guy doesn't want to learn anything about Linux", and that's largely, but not entirely, true. What I want to do is get this web server running and then start tinkering with it, and with Linux, as my time and interest permit.

What I really want, but don't think exists or ever will exist, is some Linux deal that lives within Windows but is somehow segregated from the Windows o/s and looks like a different, Linux-based computer, and as such doesn't require dual-booting. If anybody out there is looking for a weekend project, there ya go....

With that said, here are my considerations. It may be easier to first say what I don't care about, or don't care very much about, and that is lots of productivity or general-purpose software like OpenOffice, Games, etc. I don't plan to use this as my daily desktop, and if I ever decide I want to use Linux as my main computing environment I expect to start over. It's OK if it has that stuff, but not at the price of any of the things I really care about.

OK, now to what the distro must have:

1. It must be very easy to set up my wireless networking card. Running an ethernet cable to this box would be a very large PITA and if I had to do that I'd likely just abandon the project. In the best case the distro will find and configure my card automatically; in the worst case I will issue some commands to have it pull and install the drivers from the Windows partition (which I have been unable to do with Ubuntu, and fully recognize is due much more to my ignorance of Linux than with Ubuntu).

I know or can find my ssid, dns addresses, etc., or anything from my router, so it doesn't have be THAT idiot-proof.

Very strictly speaking, this is the only must, must have. If there was a distro that would find and configure my card automatically I could live with just about anything else.

2. It must be free.

3. Once installed, I must be able to install the software necessary for a web server, and unless I get pointed in a different direction I will use XAMPP for Linux.

4. It must have a package manager (that may not be the right term) that allows me to find and install software updates without having to figure out file dependencies and do my own compiles and such.

5. It must include the software to allow me select the o/s during boot, and I would like to be able to configure (read: change) the the default o/s back and forth.

6. It must be written in English.

7. It must have at least average support in forums such as this. I'll have some questions no matter what and need a place to turn.

Other things:

1. I don't care about fancy desktops with multiple themes. Some type of GUI is necessary, as I don't care to do all the work using the CLI,but minimal is probably best. GUIs just eat resources.

2. I don't care about games. At all.

3. I care about "stability" in a general sense, but this isn't a production server. I mention this because if there is a brand-new, whiz-bang distro out there that purports to do all this but is very buggy I probably would never get it going.

4. I would very much like to control the desktop remotely from my laptop, which also lives on my home network. My laptop is your basic WinXP Home Toshiba Satellite.

So, there you have it. Thanks in advance to those of you who have read this far, and even if you can't think of a distro that does all this I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on where I'm asking for things that just don't exist.

Randy
 
Old 07-31-2005, 10:11 AM   #2
dhlawrence
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Registered: May 2005
Location: salem county , New Jersey
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My recommendation

MEPIS 3.3
 
Old 07-31-2005, 10:56 AM   #3
rmorgan1016
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Registered: Jul 2005
Location: Texas
Distribution: SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1
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Thanks very much. Is SimplyMEPIS 3.3 the same thing, or the free or lite version?
 
Old 07-31-2005, 11:05 AM   #4
69_rs_ss
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I'm not trying to discourage you but if you want a developmental web server and you don't want to learn linux, why not use IIS since XP is on the box already?

That said, you might want to look into Virtual PC or VMWare which will allow you to install an OS inside another OS. Also, what wireless card do you have? If it uses the broadcom chipset then it will not have an native linux drivers and you will need something such as the ndiswrapper in order to get it working which can be a pain to get set up.
 
Old 07-31-2005, 11:06 AM   #5
69_rs_ss
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Quote:
Originally posted by rmorgan1016
Thanks very much. Is SimplyMEPIS 3.3 the same thing, or the free or lite version?
It is the same thing.
 
Old 07-31-2005, 01:35 PM   #6
rmorgan1016
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Registered: Jul 2005
Location: Texas
Distribution: SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1
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Some success, but perhaps a problem....

I downloaded SimplyMEMIS 3.3.1 and burned it to a CD. My computer booted to the CD, and it found and configured my wireless card! Unbelievable. I was able to go the web with no trouble. I see that there's an update (3.3.1-1) so I'm going to burn that and try again.

Then, though, while in MEPIS running from the CD I clicked on 'Install Me', and a box came up asking for a password because oscenter must run as root. I didn't need a password when I installed the soon-to-be-overwritten ubuntu distro, so I'm wondering what I don't know about MEPIS yet? How does one get a password? Do I have to pay?

As to your earlier question about why I'm messing with this, it is an excellent one. There are a few contributing factors, which, when taken together, have led me down this path.

WinXP Home, which is what I have, does not come with IIS, so I can't set up a Windows-based server unless I upgrade to XP Pro, which costs up to $200. Since I've already bought the XP Home upgrade for this computer that just makes me a little angry. If it was free to get a Windows-based server up and going I'd probably just go that route, but it's not.

The site I currently run is hosted on a Windows platform, which my host recommended because I use MS FrontPage as my editor/developer. As it turns out, I could have and maybe should have gone with a Linux server, because my host severely limits their PHP support on Windows hosting plans. Other things seem more robust under Linux, and I want to explore that because a) ASP is a pain, and b) there are tons and tons of php/perl/cgi scripts that one can get and modify for free, which is not the case with ASP.

It's not really that I don't want to learn Linux. It's more that I want to get my development server up and running before I get into Linux, which clearly takes some time to master.

So, with all that said, I'm absolutely thrilled that MEPIS found my wireless card (which is made by Linksys and does, indeed, have a Broadcom chipset), but need to get around this password problem.

Thanks,
Randy
 
Old 07-31-2005, 02:39 PM   #7
rmorgan1016
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Registered: Jul 2005
Location: Texas
Distribution: SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1
Posts: 17

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OK, I figured out the password. Installing to HD now...
 
Old 07-31-2005, 09:49 PM   #8
rmorgan1016
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Success!

I have mepis 3.3.1 on my hard drive, and it still sees my wireless card and can connect to the internet, so life is good. I even got it to find my home network and used VNC to control it remotely, although it crashed after about five minutes.

So, I have lots more work to do, but probably should post inside the mepis forum. Thanks for the advice on the distro...it was a big help.

Randy
 
Old 07-31-2005, 11:26 PM   #9
69_rs_ss
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I'm actually very surprised about the wireless card. Can you post what card it is?

Mepis is a good choice, I tested it out and liked it. If you need any help, don't hesitate to post on these forums. There are many knowledgable and helpful people here.
 
Old 07-31-2005, 11:41 PM   #10
rmorgan1016
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Location: Texas
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It's a Linksys wmp54g card, probably 18 months old, and it has a Broadcom chipset, which from I had previously read would be a problem. Is there a way from within Mepis to query the card to get more information about it? I can dig it out of the box if necessary, but would rather do it the easy way.

I had been playing with ndiswrapper when I had ubuntu installed, but never could get it to work properly. I would say that maybe there was some information left over from that distro that Mepis found, but unless the installation program was lying to me it basically erased and re-formatted my Linux partition before installing. I was as surprised as anybody when it came up without a hitch.

Yes, so far these forums have been very helpful...I hope I don't wear out my welcome.
 
Old 08-01-2005, 03:42 PM   #11
dguitar
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Registered: Jun 2005
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Why not just install apache on ur windows machine?
 
Old 08-02-2005, 03:28 AM   #12
ferrix
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Distribution: Ultima, Blag, KateOS, PCLinuxOS, Frugalware
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Quote:
Originally posted by dguitar
Why not just install apache on ur windows machine?
My thought exactly! Do you know that Apache has a Windows version? Not to discourage you from using Linux, but it does seem like an easier way of accomplishing your goal... then you can come back and play with Mepis anyway
 
Old 08-02-2005, 06:02 AM   #13
rmorgan1016
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Registered: Jul 2005
Location: Texas
Distribution: SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1
Posts: 17

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Microsoft does not support FrontPage Server Extensions for Apache under Windows, and I use that to publish the web sites I work on. They do support FPSE for Apache under Unix, though. Plus, it's interesting to try something new. I didn't get much of a chance to work on it yesterday, though...hopefully today.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 08:24 AM   #14
theYinYeti
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Registered: Jul 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by rmorgan1016 Microsoft does not support FrontPage Server Extensions for Apache under Windows... They do support FPSE for Apache under Unix, though.
LOL
 
  


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