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I have had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I should join the linux movement for some time. My trouble is (probably the same as everyone else) I have to be realistic about the time I can devote to learning a new Os but would like to have a decent grasp of linux by the summer.
I know absolutely nothing about linux, have a spare machine (albeit 333mhz, 394mbRam) will eventually move all of my web application projects to LAMP but
apart from Php & Mysql, I am a GUI user. So:
where do I start ?
which distribution should I choose ??? and why ???
I've heard linux is a pain to install but is solid when it's going, I need this to be true !
Any help, suggestions or comments would be appreciated.
A glossary of terms might be a good starting point.
it's not that much of a pain to install! it's only painful if u want to dual boot linux & win on the same machine 'cos that just means u have to partition ur hdd w/out destroying ur existing win partition. apps like partition magic etc. do a good job. and if i'm not mistaken, Mandrake Linux's partition tool is also non destructive. as for what's best to go for is a matter of opinion. Mandrake & Redhat(among others) are supposed to be easiest to install. or u could try jump into the deep end try something like slackware(i can't mention any others, 'cos the only other distro i've used is gentoo, an' that's NOT for beginners.) and if u get stuck ask questions, google and ask more questions! it's the only way to learn.
in the end it doesn't really which distro u choose, they all look the same...untill of course u do what linux was designed for...customising!
there are quite a few reasons why I want to develop within a LAMP environment, I don't suppose any of them would be new to seasoned linux users. Your reply interested me though, In what way would you say that my requirements are especially suited to linux ? If I understood you correctly.
thankfully I have a spare machine to explore the environment that I want to build. The notion of a customised Os is very appealing especially as some of the popular webApp development tools are now available on linux platform. I've been exploring the slackware site as ror suggested have asked them where I can buy the cd's in the uk as I do not use a cd/w.
welcome to Linux and LQ. you already found a great resource - there are (literally) millions of posts here to search through, and plenty of help, just ask and be specific on steps taken and errors received.
as for distro - if you're willing to put in the work, you can try slackware as suggested above, but be prepared for a bit of confusion/reading. mandrake, fedora, and mepis have extremely easy-to-use install apps. you might have to pare it down a bit to make it tolerable on your older machine - but everything is customizable. take a look at www.distrowatch.com for more.
also run some searches on documentation/tutorials here and www.google.com/linux - there are tons of them. a good place to start is www.tldp.org and the documentation at the mandrake/redhat sites is very well done - for ex:
u from uk too eh? i got mine from the Sept 2004 LinuxFormat coverdisk. I'm pretty sure they sell back issues otherwise this months mag comes with Mandrake 10.1 another mag to look out for is Linux User&Developer, i wouldn't normally buy the latter unless it had a distro i was interested in(only 'cos it's alot for formal and businessy). so there u go, full OS w/ tons of software for 6 or 7 quid....not bad!
It really isn't that bad, learing Linux. So long as you aren't afraid of it, it will welcome you. Just make sure to "learn by doing", rather than waiting for someone to hold your hand. So what if you hose your installation?, you're learning.
i don't think talking about /, /home & /usr etc. is very newb friendly...especially for someone that hasn't even attempted an install yet.
mutley - for now all u should worry about are three partitions. 1st for windows, 2nd for linux root(/ - equivelant of C:\) and 3rd for linux swap space(they reckon double the size of your RAM, but if ur stuck for hdd space a 100mb will do.)
i wasn't talking about partitioning the hdd, i don't doubt that he/she can partition a hdd, being a php programmer 'n all. just that for someone that's never even seen the directory structure of a linux system, talking about creating partitions for /this and /that isn't going to make much sense and might even make it sound like too much work to try and learn... that's all.
or, they'll read the suggestions and look up the bits they don't know and so begin to understand, and/or they can actually follow instructions without feeling they need to understand every detail to carry them out.
on one hand what your talking about is a mystery to me and makes me wonder if now is a good time, it's looking like I can't just install the Os and play with it as and when. On the other, I have never managed to grasp any concept of any language without throwing myself fully in to it (being out of school for 19 years now).
Is it necessary for me to partition as I have a dedicated machine ? would be useful anyway to run apache on and have a dedicated app/testing server. Guess I won't be able to backup to the second machine anymore, can i still share internet access between the two within the linux installation via pc cards as I do now through xp pro ?
linux machine ----------------- xp machine --------------------- modem
if you change distribution, you can keep your /home partition, so all your use settings/configs/etc are kept, also /usr is useful since lots of extra programs get stored there, which is nice to change over between distributions.
Also, apart from /usr and /home, the rest of your system shouldn't change size much after the initial install, so you can keep that small and tidy.