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Old 07-24-2014, 08:26 PM   #1
Enright44
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Best distribution for a programmer to learn on


Hi,
I have been researching the web for days but there are just to many variables. I was hoping someone here could help.

I am a software programmer (all Microsoft based 10+ years) that is moving into the bioinformatics scene and accordingly need to learn Linux, Grails etc.
Q1: What is the best distribution to load on to a 4 - 5 year old laptop and more importantly to learn on. (I am most interested in Apache management/web hosting, networking, security, command line etc. -I have used the cygwin bash shell on windows a fair bit.
Q2: Is there a way to establish if a laptop will work alongside linux? I guess the question here is are there any specific hardware items that are hard/not possible to configure?

I am looking at a Dell Latitude D820
 
Old 07-24-2014, 09:47 PM   #2
jailbait
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Linux can be configured in a huge variety of ways. For a person first installing Linux the amount of possible configurations is often overwhelming. So most people start by installing a distribution which has a default configuration as close to possible to what the person wants to do. That way the amount of configuration needed in the initial setup is minimized. As you learn Linux you can begin to customize your distribution to your more advanced needs.

I would suggest that you install Fedora as your first Linux system. The Fedora installer offers to install groups of software packages based on what your intended usage is. You should select the optional software development package group. It has been a long time since I used Fedora but I think that the Fedora installer has server and/or web hosting package groups. If not install the package groups that you do need which are available in the initial install. Once you have mastered that software then you can go on and custom install the rest of what you need.

When you get to custom installing you should switch to Debian. Debian has by far the largest selection of software packages of any Linux distribution. But beyond the basic installation configuration Debian does not spoon feed you. You have to ask for what you want. However Debian is far easier to customize than Fedora providing you know what you want to install.

-------------------------
Steve Stites

p.s. The hardware support is the same in all Linux distributions. Only if you are using really a really old, small machine do you need to find a distribution specifically tailored to run a minimal system. If you are doing serious software development work you couldn't use an old small machine anyway.

Last edited by jailbait; 07-24-2014 at 09:51 PM.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 07-24-2014, 10:46 PM   #3
Enright44
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Thanks that sounds like what I want. Just interested about these live CD's, can they be installed to hard disk as well?
 
Old 07-24-2014, 11:11 PM   #4
mirage1993
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I think CentOS is useful for your purpose .CentOS is a distribution which is compile from redhat .I use it learn programming .If your computer don't have good performance ,you can uninstall the desktop and only use the console.
If you want to learn linux further on. I believe the LFS is needed.
 
Old 07-25-2014, 03:18 AM   #5
onebuck
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Member Response

Hi,

Welcome to LQ!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enright44 View Post
Hi,
I have been researching the web for days but there are just to many variables. I was hoping someone here could help.

I am a software programmer (all Microsoft based 10+ years) that is moving into the bioinformatics scene and accordingly need to learn Linux, Grails etc.
Q1: What is the best distribution to load on to a 4 - 5 year old laptop and more importantly to learn on. (I am most interested in Apache management/web hosting, networking, security, command line etc. -I have used the cygwin bash shell on windows a fair bit.
Q2: Is there a way to establish if a laptop will work alongside linux? I guess the question here is are there any specific hardware items that are hard/not possible to configure?

I am looking at a Dell Latitude D820
I suggest that you do try a LiveCD/USB to test drive. From Get Your ISO, LiveCD & Pocket OS;
Quote:
LiveCD:
The LiveCD List <- Very Good List
LiveCD Wiki <- 'Good detailed explanation plus resource'
Live USB:
Live USB_Wiki <- 'A live USB is a USB flash drive or a USB external hard disk drive containing a full operating system which can be booted. Live USBs are closely related to live CDs, but typically have the ability to save settings and permanently install software packages back onto the USB device.' + 'system administration, data recovery method' + includes distribution table reference
A good light weight;
Quote:
From http://www.linux.com/news/software/a...or-x86-and-arm

Porteus was originally named Slax Remix. Porteus is a combination of "portability" and "Proteus", the god of the sea who could change his form. This is a reference to Porteus' flexibility; it weighs in at less than 300MB, and is optimized to run from a USB stick, CD, Compact Flash, or hard disk. It's a great way to get a prefab version of Slackware all ready to go to work.
You can get the real Slackware.
Hope this helps.
Have fun & enjoy!
 
Old 07-25-2014, 06:17 AM   #6
chrism01
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To check HW compatibility, try https://www.linuxquestions.org/hcl/ and or post the specs.

You sound like you want a server distros, so (as above) try Centos; a free version of RHEL.

Incidentally, Perl has a lot of BIO related modules eg http://search.cpan.org/search?query=bio&mode=all

You'll find these useful
http://rute.2038bug.com/index.html.gz
www.linuxtopia.org
 
Old 07-25-2014, 10:32 AM   #7
DavidMcCann
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You shouldn't have any hardware incompatibility problems. I've just searched for your video card and found a post where some-one asked if it was OK with Linux and got the reply "I'm using one."

I see it came with 1GB RAM. If you haven't upgraded, it would be best to avoid the Unity, Gnome, and KDE desktops to get the best performance.

Any Linux, even the smallest, will have the software you need. I suggest you consider Antix MX edition. This is based on Debian Stable (currently the most popular distro for web-servers) and comes with the Xfce desktop: very traditional. It will install in next to no time and let you get straight to work.
http://www.linuxquestions.org/review...page/15/sort/7
 
Old 07-25-2014, 11:56 AM   #8
sgosnell
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Programming is programming. The distro, and indeed the OS, is really immaterial. Programming in C is the same for Windows, Linux, or anything else. You may use different libraries, but otherwise the syntax is the same. You can use any distro at all, and it won't be any different in any of them. The differences are in the desktop environment and package management, not in the actual operating system, since they all use the Linux kernel. The differences between distros, and desktop environments, are superficial. And you can get any desktop environment with almost any distro. Gnome, Xfce, etc are available everywhere. For an older machine like you have, something like Xfce or LXDE would probably be a much better choice, since they require fewer resources.
 
Old 07-25-2014, 01:48 PM   #9
rtmistler
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I would install a full desktop distribution, leaning towards one which is debian based, a favorite is MINT Debian, but I wouldn't shy away from Ubuntu.

My thinking has always been that while you can program with merely a command prompt, a'la the situation where someone may recommend you install a distribution which doesn't have the full desktop and all; the problem there is that you end up having one point of access and only that, unless you have additional computers. Whereas with a desktop available, you can open multiple command prompts, open an editor, have a browswer open, therefore search for solutions or edit files and use one of those command prompts for the make or compile commands.

It also depends what you're doing. Sounds like you'd be creating user apps to run under the Linux environment, therefore it also sounds like most of your stuff would be developed and tested on the same computer. Therefore I would stick with a full desktop distribution.
 
Old 07-25-2014, 02:05 PM   #10
jaws
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SliTaz installs to less than 100MB HDD space and runs completely within 256MB RAM, text mode uses less than 50MB RAM. The current stable ISO is only 35MB with an average boot in under 10 seconds.

For your needs, it comes with the Geany IDE, the lighttpd web server and database engine with SQLite. The ready to use web/FTP server is powered by Busybox with CGI support. And somehow they managed to pack Mozilla Firefox in there.

There are readily available VMs for versions 1-3. Although version 4 is the latest stable release.
 
Old 07-25-2014, 03:36 PM   #11
jefro
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I might suggest a commercial type of distro. While I'll agree that most can have common programming tools either by default or added, you'd have to consider a path. That path of learning in a commercial or hobby would mean you'd need some of the most well supported distros. So, OpenSuse, (even Suse), Centos/Scientific, or possibly even choices like Ubuntu, Gentoo, Debian and even consider the BSD's.

The 4-5 year old laptop will have a few common issues. Maybe lack of ram and you may have to work on video a bit and almost a cinch to work on network issue. Broadcom comes to mind.
 
Old 07-25-2014, 03:53 PM   #12
Germany_chris
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I have the next generation of the D810 and I ran centos 6.5 for about a week and it ran quite well everything worked OOTB.
 
Old 07-25-2014, 06:04 PM   #13
TobiSGD
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Do a little bit of research: Which distribution is used on your future workplace, which distributions are often used in the whole field.
When it comes to scientific purposes I would bet that most CentOS and Scientific Linux are used, but that is of course just a guess.

When you found out which distribution is used by other people in that field try that distribution, it is likely that the distribution is used by them for a reason.
 
Old 07-26-2014, 10:02 PM   #14
Enright44
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Thanks for all your help, it was useful. Just to let you know, I bought the following:

Dell Lattitude D830 (for $180AU)
Installed ubuntu
Runnig the live disk DNALinux (when that config is needed) for the moment

Only problem was installing (building, inserting, blacklisting....) the wireless driver (as I have no wired connection) manually, which as you can imagine is hell for a linux beginner. Anyway all sorted, let the fun begin.
 
Old 07-27-2014, 07:01 AM   #15
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enright44 View Post
Only problem was installing (building, inserting, blacklisting....) the wireless driver (as I have no wired connection) manually, which as you can imagine is hell for a linux beginner. Anyway all sorted, let the fun begin.
Which is actually quite surprising. The D830 features Intel wireless technology, so it should work out of the box. But anyways, nice that you got it to work.
 
  


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