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Old 10-03-2006, 07:08 PM   #1
snakle
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Debian or Slackware for college?


I'm a freshman right now and will be majoring in Computer Science. I messed around with a couple distros of linux a couple years ago but I didn't really get that into it. Anyway right now I'm deciding between Debian or Slackware. I thought about Gentoo but I don't really want to waste my days compiling things.

I basically want to use Linux to learn Linux.
I want to learn the command line.
I want to use it to program for school.
I also may want to try installing a few Linux compatable games such as Americas Army and Quake4.

My concerns for not choosing Debian is that I'm not sure how much apt-get would hurt me. Will it make much of a difference in the long run if I use apt-get instead of trying to resolve the dependencies by myself? Will I learn/can I learn as much in Debian as I can in Slackware?
I don't really know anything too bad against Slackware actually. In Slackware though is it extremely difficult to install games such as Quake4? Will the time it takes just trying to resolve the dependencies make up for the time spent learning/doing something else?

I'm leaning more towards Slackware right now, but not by much. So if anyone has any opinions I'll gladly listen, and I'm sorry for asking the general question of which distro, but after a lot of research I still can't decide.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 07:14 PM   #2
rickh
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Install Debian, and don't use apt. Compile everything from source instead.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 07:57 PM   #3
haertig
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Why no install both in a dual boot configuration?

Personally I use Debian. My next distro will probably be Slackware. Not as a replacement ... as an addition. If you're worried about learning how to handle dependencies on Debian, don't use apt ... as was suggested before. Do something like download the source for MythTV and hack away at it. Compiling and tracing down your own dependencies. You'll get to compile and install MySQL, Apache, and a whole bunch of other stuff along the way. And also editing some source code to fix little bugs that might pop up on your system. No shortage of learning potential there! That's the way I did it, and I'm glad.

If you have a strong Unix background, you might prefer Slackware. It's probably the most Unix-like of the Linux distros. So you'd feel at home. But no distro, no matter how polished and GUI-enhanced, prevents you for working with the command line and learning the nitty-gritty. And there's certainly nothing wrong with learning some Xwindows and GUI desktop stuff either. Debian is sometimes considered "harder" than other distros, though for the life of me I can't figure out why. So maybe a little "Badge of Honor" goes along with using it ("Badge of Snobbery" some night call it). I would judge Slackware even "harder" than Debian. At least for the inexperienced user.

If I had to pick ONE distro for you based on your stated experience and objectives, I think it might be Debian by a nosehair. You can work things at the commandline. But if you really get stuck you might appreciate the helping hand of apt-get or synaptic on occassion. And if you know Debian, you know a lot of other distros based on it (Knoppix, Ubuntu, etc.)

On the other hand, if you do Slackware everyone automatically assumes you're one step higher up the "guru ladder" than other distro users. It's been said (I'm paraphrasing), "If you have a tough Linux problem (in any distro), find a Slackware user to help you out." That is the ultimate badge of honor in my book.

(Of course we all know no distro will make you more of a man than another, but so the story goes...)
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:24 PM   #4
snakle
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What are the benefits to using Debian and then compiling/getting dependencies rather than using slackware? I guess I may just straight up use Debian... but I'm just curious what the benefit of doing that is instead of just using slackware? just the fact that I could use apt-get if i needed?
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:30 PM   #5
rickh
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Quote:
What are the benefits to using Debian and then compiling/getting dependencies rather than using slackware?
It's just a silly question ... You can use whatever distro you want ... however you want. As you phrase the question, it's just flame bait for the Debianites and the Slackies, and they generally don't need much of an excuse.
If you're planning on being a Linux sysadmin, Slackware probably has the slight advantage, if you just need a computer to learn Linux and do homework, Debian is probably slightly better, but Fedora or Suse would also have arguments in their favor.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:33 PM   #6
snakle
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Well my school has Red Hat Enterprise Edition for free, but I've heard that it's not the best when it comes to actually learning how to use Linux. I've pretty much decided on Debian, but am now wondering if I should try the stable, unstable, or testing.

Also I have another question. If I install a program without using apt-get, can I still update it using apt-get or w/e... or would I have to manually update it?

Last edited by snakle; 10-03-2006 at 08:39 PM.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:45 PM   #7
rickh
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Install Testing, and if you build a program manually, you have to update it manually. But if you decide to get the binary instead, just delete your compiled one, and apt-get the new one.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:56 PM   #8
nadroj
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the best advise anyone could give you is to try whatever you want and see if it suits your needs.

having said that: my vote is definetly for slackware.. and your in luck, as you might know, slackware 11 was just released (first in a year).

you could install a tool such as slapt-get to manage your software. i dont think it resolves any dependencies so you would still have to do that yourself. but after you setup your initial install to how you want it, you most likely wont have to un/re/install anything anyways (so long as everythings secure, which it is pretty secure out of the box).

good luck.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:56 PM   #9
rkelsen
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Distro choice is a very personal thing. The only way you'll truly find out which one you want is to try using both.

People can post their opinions here, but you really need to make your own choice.

Personally, it gets no better than Slackware for me. It is pretty easy to make Slackware packages from source code. There are tools provided (like checkinstall, slacktrack, slackpkg, etc) which will even help you to create your own packages from source code. This is extremely handy for someone who would like to compile things themselves.

Also, Slackware's config files are well commented, which makes configuring most things a cakewalk.

People bicker about dependancy resolution all the time, but I can tell you that (as a long time Slacker) I certainly don't miss it. My machine does what I want when I want it to.

But these are just my opinions. Use them both and decide for yourself.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 09:58 PM   #10
haertig
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Go to http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major and read the short blurbs about the major distros. Pick whichever one intrigues you the most. There's no wrong choice. You can learn Linux using any of them.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 10:08 PM   #11
haertig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snakle
What are the benefits to using Debian and then compiling/getting dependencies rather than using slackware?
If you REALLY want practice messing with dependancies, just run Debian SID (unstable) and do a blind apt-get dist-upgrade daily!

Actually, that dist-upgrade is one powerful S.O.B. I dist-upgraded from Sarge to Sid and the only issue I had was needing to recompile the nVidia video drivers. Totally expected given the kernel version jumped during the upgrade. I was all backed up and ready to restore in preparation for trying something really dangerous. But dang ... it worked!
 
  


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