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Old 10-17-2003, 05:50 PM   #1
corbintechboy
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looking for stability


Hello

I have tried slackware....crashed twice...mandrake....crashed alot. I want to get all the way away from windows but everything I try leads me right back to windows. I want a stable os...One that when I turn my computer on I know its gonna work and problems are gonna be very rare. I am willing to try anything,gentoo.bsd,etc..I have an older computer a 450mhz,128ram.I just want some opinions on what they think is the best.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Btw-not that windows is at all stable it is just predictable!
 
Old 10-17-2003, 06:30 PM   #2
clacour
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Almost all the major distributions (I can attest to Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, Gentoo, and Libranet from personal experience) are normally quite stable. The vast majority of people have similar experiences.

The thing to do if it's NOT stable is to try and figure out why. I can think of three basic reasons why a modern Linux system might not be stable:
  • Bad hardware
  • Weird hardware
  • Something the user does

1) Linux pushes the hardware harder than Windows does, sometimes. There are lots of stories where somebody had mysterious problems with Linux, and replacing a suspect piece of hardware fixed it.

2) If you're using cutting-edge or very unusual hardware, this can bite you. For new hardware, there hasn't been enough time to work out all the bugs, for outre hardware, there aren't enough people writing/testing the code, so it's still buggy. The ideal hardware for a Linux box is a year to a year and a half older than the distro you're trying to run on it.

3) I used to have lots of problems with stability myself. I kept wondering where this fabled stability that Linux was supposed to have had wandered off to.

What fixed it was when I switch to running most things as me, "clacour", instead of as root. I made the switch originally for security, but about a week after I did it, I noticed the machine wasn't locking up on me anymore.

I still have stability issues at times, but that's because I'm prone to do things like tweak the kernel, play games with fileysystem parameters or (my latest) try to shrink an LVM partition, which as best I can tell, isn't supposed to be possible. You do that kind of stuff, you have to expect things to break once in a while.

My point with all this is that there is massive evidence that the code is pretty solid. I don't deny at all that you're having problems, and I'm not accusing you of anything, but there is a very real possibility that something you're doing is causing or contributing to the problem. (Or in the case of hardware problems, something you have is the problem.)

I have two suggestions:

First, get a copy of Knoppix, and try it out on your system and several friend's systems. Knoppix is a run-everything-off-CD system, so it's safe to run it on ANY machine. Reboot the machine afterwards and everything's just like it always was.

Try to find something that causes problems on your machine. If it works fine on several other people's, I'd suspect hardware.

If the same action causes problems everywhere, you've either found a bug, or you're doing something that you need to know to avoid. (Actually, since software should handle the case that someone other than the developer who wrote it is using it, I'd call that a bug too, but developers are human. They can't think of everything .

Second suggestion, either on a system you can live without, or on a dual-boot system, set up a standard version of one the major versions (for this, I think I'd say Red Hat, Mandrake or Suse, pretty much in that order of preference. (Mandrake and Red Hat are running neck and neck for first place on my list. Suse is quite a bit further back. This doesn't have anything to do with how good they are as how widespread they are and how good the support structure is.)

Then start playing with it (adding as little software beyond the initial install as possible) and see if it breaks. If/when it does, post the problem (here or wherever) and mention that you've had a lot of stability problems.

The one thing I have really come to love about Unix (and Linux is a sufficiently close cousin to count) is that, when you dig down deep enough, it always makes sense. Every problem I ever ran into finally had a "Aha! Of course it blew up/turned off/turned over/bit me/whatever!"

Unfortunately, Linux is still at the stage of "You can have cheap, good and easy. Pick any two of the three."

Actually, that adds a third option I hadn't thought of. You could buy a box from one of the companies that specifically sells Linux systems. They tend to be pricy, but you can be certain the hardware is compatible.

I've tried to get the following point across already, but I'm concerned it may not have been clear enough: I am NOT saying "It's your fault". You may, indeed, be doing something contributing to the problem, but it is almost certainly out of ignorance, rather than stupidity or foolishness. Stupidity is a life sentence, without parole. Foolishness is curable, but most people aren't willing to put up with the pain necessary to do it.

Ignorance, though, is easily cured, and you're in the right place for it. You'll just have to work with us for a while to get there.

Good luck,

Charles Lacour
 
Old 10-17-2003, 06:55 PM   #3
trickykid
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"You should learn how to operate the train before driving it.... "

Hmmm.. really don't have much else to say really. Are you sure it was Linux crashing or something else that is conflicting, hardware, particular software, etc?

You know, your KDE session can crash, that would be KDE's fault.. cause whenever my desktop has crashed, I just restart it instead of the whole machine..

Hmmmm.. just a thought really.. !!

PS. Also, all Linux distro's are the same when you strip them down. So one isn't more stable than the other, its how you administer it, what you install, what you use and how you go about computing with it.
 
Old 10-17-2003, 07:17 PM   #4
corbintechboy
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Hello, and thanks for the replies.

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I am learning linux so yes I might of fed into the problem. The things that seem to happen is just files becoming corrupt for to my eye no reason,can run top and system load is pretty high,dhcp problems (do I need it? If not how do I get Internet without it?) I have no problems with kde because I no longer use it,I use gnome. I am just lost,in windows I am smart,in linux totally stupid. What about gentoo? I read that it is compiled for the system it is running on would this help?


Thanks in advance.
 
Old 10-17-2003, 07:41 PM   #5
win32sux
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you should probably check your hardware... or perhaps your bios setup...

blaming some distro and looking for a different os without troubleshooting your current situation might not be the smartest thing to do...

i've been using linux for about 3 or 4 years... servers... workstations... routers... you name it...

i've had the linux kernel crash only 2 times on me in these 3 or 4 years...

one of those crashes was probably my fault...

stability? reliability? my (as well as many other linux user's) servers have no problem running for MONTHS without even rebooting...

this is the place to be if you want help getting your linux box set-up right, but that mentality you have of blaming linux for your own human nature won't get you very far...

millions of people run linux smoothly every day around the world, at home, at work, on mission critical servers, in hollywood studios, in spaceships, in satellites, in governments, non-profit organizations, schools, police departments, terrorist organizations, anti-terrorist organizations, hospitals, blood banks, even microsoft uses linux... MILLIONS of people doing MILLIONS of different things with linux... SMOOTHLY... but because YOUR box crashes, then slackware isn't stable?

if you ask me this sounds quite ridiculous...

anyways, this isn't a flame, so here a contribution:

as trickykid says, all distros are essentially the same...

it's like ketchup... you can put it in a glass bottle or a plastic bottle or in a squirt bottle... each bottle of ketchup will have it's own features and advantages over the other bottle... BUT THEY ALL CONTAIN THE SAME KETCHUP.

this isn't the solution to your problem (your problem is probably either hardware failure/setup/compatibility or the HUMAN FACTOR), but for stability-obsessed folks i always recommend debian linux... the woody version... 3.0... it's considered by many the most stable bottle of ketchup out there... of course this has negative implications as well... for example, because of the fact that the debian community is so focused on stability and security for it's stable release, it usually won't get any of the "cool" and "pretty" and "new" stuff like you would see on a red hat or a mandrake... in other words, excellent for server, but perhaps not what you want on your workstation... it's a matter of taste, really...

of course you could always go for debian sarge (testing) and get some of the "new" stuff but sacrificing the security you get in woody (stable)...

http://www.debian.org

i wouldn't recommend that a linux newbie like yourself start with gentoo linux or freebsd unix... i really believe that when you find out what's wrong with your system, your best choice will be mandrake linux. once you've used it for a few months and are more "comfortable", then you could "move up" to another distro...

the quotes in "move up" are there because of the ketchup analogy...

there's really no such thing as "moving up" - you just "move around"...
 
Old 10-17-2003, 07:44 PM   #6
ed_thix
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well most distro are indeed quite stable .... its up to u to tweak it to make it more stable ..... stable at your own flavour
 
Old 10-17-2003, 08:16 PM   #7
corbintechboy
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"this is the place to be if you want help getting your linux box set-up right, but that mentality you have of blaming linux for your own human nature won't get you very far..."

Did I say man mandrake sucks and so does slackware someone help? no


"millions of people run linux smoothly every day around the world, at home, at work, on mission critical servers, in hollywood studios, in spaceships, in satellites, in governments, non-profit organizations, schools, police departments, terrorist organizations, anti-terrorist organizations, hospitals, blood banks, even microsoft uses linux... MILLIONS of people doing MILLIONS of different things with linux... SMOOTHLY... but because YOUR box crashes, then slackware isn't stable?"

Again I said nothing bad about slackware.

All I did was ask for some advice! Was I being a newbe supposed to know they are all the same. Lets look back at the post where I clearly said this could of been a problem I caused and hey I am new so I can live with that. I in no way would come to a linux site to post such things. If I did not like linux I would of never gave it a try, I just wanted to know what the problem was and fix it. I like slack and mandrake just the same I will work on it and get them to work because I don't like windows and I like to tinker.

Thanks for the reply
 
Old 10-17-2003, 08:43 PM   #8
yapp
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I',m not sure it has been noted here... but you should try to run a memory test.

Windows tries to use the least memory possible, but Linux uses all your memory (the free area as disk cache). Any memory problems you won't have with Windows, would occur in Linux anyway
 
Old 10-18-2003, 12:11 AM   #9
clacour
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Try not to let the -- hmmm, let's say -- less-than-polite types get you down.

Unfortunately, putting people who don't know as much as they do about a given subject is probably the geek's worst fault as a species.

Anyway, onto your issues. I'm not going to try and give you all the possible answers I can think of on all three or four issues you mentioned. You'll get brain freeze and I'll get a lot of pain (recent case of carpal tunnel, damnit!).

Very briefly, DHCP broadcasts a request for an IP address. If there is a DHCP server on the same network to hear it, the DHCP server gives the client (your machine) an IP address.

Your ISP is the one to tell you whether you need DHCP.

If you're using dial-up, I'll almost guarantee you DON'T need it. Dialup is normally PPP. (Don't worry about what thatt is unless you do have dialup and it's not working.)

If you have cable/DSL, you probably use either DHCP or PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet). To Linux, your cable/dsl modem is invisible. It sees its own Ethernet card, and the router of your ISP, and the modem in between is pretty much invisible to it. The good news about that is that you don't need to worry about what brand you have, or anything.

Again, your ISP should tell you whether to use DHCP or PPPoE. (Hope and pray for DHCP. It's MUCH easier to set up (almost nothing but start it up), and 10-15% faster than PPPoE over the same hardware connection.

If you've just started the system and you're not running much of anything but top (and maybe Gnome), you should NOT be seeing much activity. (Less than 2% on any modern system, and probably less than 5% even on an old one.) If you're seeing more than that, which processes are showing up as hogs?

Files becoming corrupt IS a bad sign. What files, specifically, have become corrupt, and how do you know? (I.e., did you look at them with an editor, programs blow up, what?)

In regards to your question about gentoo, I would say emphatically not, not yet. Yes, the programs are compiled for your specific hardware... IF you configure it right. Even then, we're talking about a difference in speed, not whether it works or not. Gentoo does not magically figure out things like what hardware your system has, and build a system that's just right for what YOU have. It gives YOU the ability to say what you have, and build accordingly. If you get it wrong, it will build it wrong.

Here's my list of major distributions, in increasing order of difficulty (in other words, the one on top is easiest for a beginner, the one on the bottom needs to most expertise.)

Mandrake
Red Hat
Suse
Libranet
Slackware
Gentoo
Debian

Libranet is Debian, but the vanilla Debian install is notoriously difficult to get right, and the Debian folks have got a worse-than-average case of "Ewww, a newbie?!? Why would we want to talk to YOU!?" (Caveat: I haven't messed with Debian (the straight version) in a couple of years. They may have improved either or both of those characteristics.) Libranet takes most of the pain out of it, and once you DO have Debian up, it's solid, has a TON of packages, and it is easy to add new ones and/or upgrade old ones. Even then, I don't recommend it as your first experience with Linux. The doc is only so-so, and as I mentioned, the community takes the attitude that if you're too stupid to figure it out for yourself, you're not good enough to associate with them. (In case it's not obvious, no, I don't like them, and I AM good enough to figure it out for myself. Ok, off the soapbox.)

I don't have anything against Slackware (it was the first distro I ever tried, back about 1996), and I had no trouble getting it going. It doesn't hold your hand as much as Mandrake and Red Hat do, which can be a problem if you have dependency issues. Basically, Slackware assumes you know more than either Mandrake or Red Hat does. If you had no problems at all during the install (understood everything that was going on, had no problems finding the packages you wanted, etc.) when you installed Slackware, and you like it, stick with it. If you DID have problems, give serious thought to a recent version of Mandrake or Red Hat. (Mandrake has the better reputation for being easy for newbies, Red Hat has a much larger user base, so there's more people out there to ask questions of. On the official sites, I'd say Mandrake has the better support forums.)

Last thing: If you're going to ask for help on a problem you need to be as specific as possible. "My system is unstable" is pretty near useless -- it could mean almost anything, let alone the number of possible causes. "I have files being corrupted" is much better, but it needs to be more specific still: "I have file /etc/fstab being corrupted" ideally along with something like "whenever I run Netscape". (The particular combo is nearly impossible, by the way. I was just making up an example.)

Hope this helps,

Charles Lacour
 
Old 10-18-2003, 12:36 AM   #10
win32sux
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it wasn't my intention to be rude or offensive (although i realize now that my post was quite both)...

i am very sorry anti_microsoft...

=(
 
Old 10-18-2003, 12:55 AM   #11
win32sux
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Quote:
Originally posted by clacour
Debian folks have got a worse-than-average case of "Ewww, a newbie?!? Why would we want to talk to YOU!?"
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=stereotype
 
Old 10-18-2003, 01:06 AM   #12
corbintechboy
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Hello and thanks for the replies.

I just went and installed mandrake. The thing that bothers me about this is everyone wants a newbie to start out with something easy then go from there when you learn. The problem is that with a distro like mandrake is that it holds your hand so much that when it comes to trying like slack a person will have no idea how to even mount a cdrom or how to even chmod to listen to one. I like mandrake as well as I liked the config possibilities of slackware but the problem did remain I did not know what I was doing. I will stick with mandrake for awhile just to use linux but when I am really ready to learn I will pop my slackware cd back in the computer and get down to bussiness. Some of the problems I have had before is stuff would just stop working, like simple things I guess like mozilla might not let me type a address for a web page, logout in gnome would not work or would take forever to come up (like all night), or I would go into links and could see nothing because it would type a bunch of dhcp stuff on the screen. I like linux, I am almost thirty years old and know windows inside out and starting from scratch is just hard. I do realize that some of my problems I have had before might of come from leaving the computer on 24/7, I am not gonna do that anymore. As far as looking at files to see if they were corrupt with a text editor, it would look like Japanese to me.lol. I think when I can run mandrake on my machine for 6 months no problem then I will be ready to move onto slackware or something. Thanks again for the replies.


win32sux-Hey it's ok, I seen where you might of thought I was bashing linux or mandrake or slack, but it's cool. I was not trying to be cocky in my post either, I just wanted you to know I would not bash linux.
 
Old 10-18-2003, 01:07 AM   #13
bruce1271
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I just encountered a similar problem on my box. I am running new hardware xp2000, 1 Gig of ram, etc etc. I ended u having a bad memory module. There is a binary on the net called memtest. You add it to your list of boot options and boot into it. It thoroughly checks your ram. Any errors and you need to replace your ram.
here is the link for the memtest:
www.memtest86.com

good luck
 
  


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