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Ok, I figured I'd put this out and get the opinions before I decide what to do. Here's the scoop...
I installed Mandrake 9.2 (which I quite like) on a dev box just to set up a local webserver so I don't have to upload files to my host for testing. After some playing around I made some discoveries.
1) I could not install PEAR for PHP becuase PHP was not compiled with XML support.
2) Having trouble re-installing PHP with XML support because some manner of PERL function missing from Apache. (at work right now and don't remember)
So, I'm trying to decide where to go. First option would be to recompile and install Apache, PHP, and PEAR myself to make sure the various requirements are there. Second would be to go with a different distribution that might be better suited (ie.. these items install and play nice with each other from the start).
Can anyone offer advice? If I'm going to rebuild the services, do I need to manually remove previous instances first, or just make and install them from a cd or download?
If a different distribution would be better suited for this (also wanting to learn Linux along the way, but need the web dev environment up quick for upcoming project), which ones would be easy to get this up and running?