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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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Hi!! I am a relative newcomer to the world of Linux, and more importantly, I am a convert from the windows world. I have three computers at home, my main desktop, my kids' desktop and my work supplied laptop.
Until recently, all three were XP machines, but through general instability ( go figure ), something bad happened to my main desktop and I was no longer able to boot into windows. I tried all my usual tricks and nothing worked, so I was left with the prospect of a full re-format, when I decided to go the Linux route.
I have narrowed it down to using either Slackware or Debian, so my question is in two parts ... first of all, should I use Slackware or Debian, secondly, if Debian, should I use Ubuntu, or straight up Debian?
I'm very comfortable with administering Windows, but pretty new to Linux and I'm very anxious to learn how to keep my system running and everyone happy with it!
Any insights, or any experiences would be appreciated.
Well Slackware is a very hands on Distro, you need to configure everything manually. I would not recommend it for a new Linux user. Might be a good move for you after you become familiar with Linux.
Debian or Ubuntu. I'm a BIG Debian fan. I absolutely love it, Debian provides rather sane default configurations for most programs you install. the package managment sytem uysed to add and remove software just plain works. again Debian does not have a lot of fancy user interfaces when you want to change configurations and you are back to editing files. Debian comes in several 'flavors' Stable, Testing, Unstable. Stable is rock solid but the software tends to get out of date.. Testing will be the next version of stable, the packages are newer, and it is pretty stable. Unstable is life on the edge, the newest versions of hte available software, things change rapidly and break occasionally.. Unstable is probably NOT where you want ot be as a new user. either Stable or Testing. would be abetter choice. If you decide to go with Debian use the netinstall iso or the Testing Beta netinstall.iso to do your install.
Ubuntu is based on Debian but uses newer versions of most software. the updates are managed by the Ubuntu team so the software they rovide is similar to what you might find in Debian Unstable, but a much smaller selection. Ubuntu makes a lot of choices for you as to what programs they think you should use. This is really a pretty good place for a new Linux user to Start with a Debian based distribution. Later on you could switch to Pure Debian if you want access to the Entire repository of Debian software packages.
So basically I would rank your choices, based on your Linux knowledge, like this.
Nothing says you can't install more than one on your system.. if you want you could install Ubuntu, Debian Testing, and Slackware all on the same machine and see which you like the most. Hands on experience will help you decide which you are most comfortabnle with.
Slackware has a live CD called Slax, Ubuntu has a Live CD available, Debian doesen't have alive CD of it's own (but there are about a Dozen live CD's based on Debian such as Knoppix, etc.. ) Live CD's can give you a feel for a distro as well, see what it looks like, what tools and programs are available, before you install the Distro.
Here is a nice Screenshot walkthrough of the Debian Installer., if you go the Debian route make sure you SELECT Desktop-environment during the install.. this is probably the number one FAQ about the debian installer.. "I just installed Debian and it doesn't have a GUI like all the other version of Linux, what gives ? " ERm, you forgot to select it during install.. it was highlighted by default but NOT selected.. Easily fixed, but still the number one question
InExtremis: As a beginner, do you want to use linux or to learn linux? In the beginning, those two goals arenít usually compatible.
For someone just starting out, you tend to get really frustrated with the non-beginner distros like Debian and Slackware. Lots of work with little benefit in the beginning.
With beginner distros like Ubuntu and OpenSuse, you can install and immediately get to web surf and stuff like that without a lot of hassle, but you tend to avoid learning the linux basics in those environments.
So, do you want to learn linux or to use linux?
If you havenít already guessed, itís really a rhetorical question to point out the different paths that you can take when moving to linux. Do both!
Wow ... thanks for the amazing insight!! I appreciate your comments, and I think I will do exactly what is prescribed here, I will start with Ubuntu and likely move to another more hands-on distro as my confidence and experience grows.
As for what I will be using Linux for ... I intend to fully replace my old windows desktop with Linux, and eventually replace my children's computer with a flavour of Linux as well. My work laptop has to stay Windows, so, I will have to live with 2 out of 3 optimized systems.
I should also mention Kubuntu. I don't think anyone mentioned it, its essentially KDE flavoured Ubuntu, so if you've been looking @ screen shots of Ubuntu, look @ kubuntu, might like the KDE gui more, I personally do like KDE.
Distribution: Ubuntu, Debian, Various using VMWare
2nd For Kubuntu.
I think you may find the KDE interface more familiar than Gnome.
All of the *ubuntu distros seem to have an excellent selection of packages, after enabling the universe and multiverse repositories, I have 18000 packages to choose from, which is about the same as Debian.
The install for Ubuntu / Kubuntu is easier than Debian.
The software that comes with the current version of Ubuntu / Kubuntu is newer than Debian Stable, and I don't know if I would recommend Deb Testing for a Newbie.
I actually did install Kubuntu last night after all, and I have to admit that the interface is slicker than GNOME.
I've got some free space on my drives now and I think I'm going to try installing some other distros as well, to play around with them.
I think I have a Vector, which I will try and I've heard good things about OpenSUSE as well.