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Old 01-24-2008, 07:30 PM   #1
indigo196
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Honest Distro Advice Wanted


My intention is to give up gaming and leave Windows after I finish a larger programming project I am currently working on.

I have toyed with Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Gentoo and Fedora.

I like the simple Gnome interface (though there are parts of KDE that are great).

I want to learn to program in Python and potentially C/C++.

I also want to learn about Linux and what makes a system tick (current Windows SYS Admin so I enjoy that stuff).

Is there a distro that is better for that list than others?

Thanks,
 
Old 01-24-2008, 07:54 PM   #2
pixellany
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You can learn on any distro......If you like to keep things simple and stay totally in control, then consider things like Arch, Slackware, Zenwalk, and maybe even Gentoo. I particularly like Arch, but I am not yet proficient enough to make it my everyday system. I also find Zenwalk very attractive. It is based on Slackware, but it has a package manager that keeps track of dependencies. (The Slackware philosophy of forcing the user to do dependencies by hand seem a bit draconian to me.)
 
Old 01-24-2008, 09:20 PM   #3
gankoji
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To make the point before anyone else flames you for it, there is an entire section of LQ dedicated to distribution disputes/topics. That said, I use Slackware everyday and wouldn't use anything else. While I have to agree with pixellany in that Slack's package managing is a bit archaic, it is very good if you want to be thorough with your rig. Just the struggle of getting your rig running properly in Slackware will be an invaluable experience. If that's the kind of experience and learning you're looking for, then Slack is for you.

There's tons of info out there on doing different things in Slack, so if you decide to go with it, keep in mind that someone else has probably already had your problem (when you start running into them :-P), and has probably posted on the internet how they fixed it. Banging your head against a wall is therapeutic, but not healthy.

Happy Hunting :-)
 
Old 01-24-2008, 10:03 PM   #4
onebuck
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Hi,
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany View Post
You can learn on any distro......If you like to keep things simple and stay totally in control, then consider things like Arch, Slackware, Zenwalk, and maybe even Gentoo. I particularly like Arch, but I am not yet proficient enough to make it my everyday system. I also find Zenwalk very attractive. It is based on Slackware, but it has a package manager that keeps track of dependencies. (The Slackware philosophy of forcing the user to do dependencies by hand seem a bit draconian to me.)
I'm not going to get into a war with you on your statement;

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany View Post
(The Slackware philosophy of forcing the user to do dependencies by hand seem a bit draconian to me.)
That is not the Slackware philosophy! Maybe your interpretation but not a correct one. Slackware has several good package managers available to the user. Maybe not the pretty GUI that you might need but they are great and provide the necessary function. src2pkg-1.8 is a new aid that gnashley has written that is great. You could look at the 'Package Management:' section of 'Slackware-Links' .

Indeed Slackware will help you too learn the system that you use it with. If you don't then that's your fault. If you don't like to read 'man' pages or research a problem then you probably won't like Slackware. If it's the Desktop environment then kde is available along with other environments or managers. If you want Gnome then the Dropline package is available. Of course you could always compile your own.

These links and others are available from 'Slackware-Links' .

Last edited by onebuck; 01-27-2008 at 08:24 AM. Reason: grammar
 
Old 01-24-2008, 10:05 PM   #5
rickh
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Only Debian will truly fulfill your needs.
 
Old 01-24-2008, 10:18 PM   #6
jay73
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Quote:
I also want to learn about Linux and what makes a system tick
If you have the time, Linux from Scratch (LFS).

Last edited by jay73; 01-24-2008 at 10:20 PM.
 
Old 01-25-2008, 03:53 AM   #7
brianL
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As pixellany said, you can learn using any distro. It's just that some distros cater for people who just want to use their computers, and aren't bothered about what makes them tick.
 
Old 01-25-2008, 06:41 AM   #8
indigo196
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OK... alot of Slackware, which I have not tried, suggestions... so one question for the Slacks people... is it considered an up-to-date distro (aka Ubuntu) or a little bit older distro (Debian) or something completely different?
 
Old 01-25-2008, 06:54 AM   #9
Uncle_Theodore
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Slackware is up-to-date. If you want bleeding-edge, you can run Slackware-current. The only thing other people forgot to mention is that Slack doesn't use GNOME by default, although you can install it quite easily from dropline-gnome.
 
Old 01-25-2008, 07:59 AM   #10
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck View Post
I'm not going to get into a war with you on your statement;
That's good to hear---I'm not into war......

Here is a quote from Wikipedia which was the basis for my statement about package management:
Quote:
Slackware's package management system can install, upgrade, and remove packages from local sources, but makes no attempt to track or manage dependencies, relying on the user to ensure that the system has all the supporting system libraries and programs required by the new package. If any of these are missing, there may be no indication until one attempts to use the newly installed software.
I don't question that there are package managers that go past this. ( I have been doodling with Zenwalk which has Netpkg---not bad, even if its user interface is a bit quirky.)
 
Old 01-25-2008, 08:02 AM   #11
indigo196
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle_Theodore View Post
Slackware is up-to-date. If you want bleeding-edge, you can run Slackware-current. The only thing other people forgot to mention is that Slack doesn't use GNOME by default, although you can install it quite easily from dropline-gnome.
Thanks for the information. I will likely download slack and see if I can get it up and running. The reason I asked about current is that my desktop machine is a recent (last spring) purchase. I am using the Intel 965 MB and the e6600 processor... so having a more recent Kernel will likely be important.

NOTE: Just noticed that Slack doesn't have a 64bit variant... and I would really prefer to be running 64bit at this time.

Last edited by indigo196; 01-25-2008 at 08:33 AM.
 
Old 01-25-2008, 08:19 AM   #12
kazuya1977
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(1) Linux Mint {newbie-friendly and based on Ubuntu} - comes with all multimedia components and flash enabled. Very nice and easy to use.

(2) Archlinux (not much handholding) - a little bit tricky to install without a guide, but once done once, becomes the fastest install with the least amount of bloat compared to many other OSes. I use the 64bit version and the i686 version. This OS makes my machine run way faster than any other OS I have ever tried. This includes Sabayon which is based on gentoo, Debian, mepis, dsl, vectorlinux/zenwalk.
It gets you to understand linux filesystems and configurations ver well. Other advantage is it lets you know what you are installing. There is no graphical package manager like synaptic, but there is a CLI package manager. This handles all dependency tracking and once installed, you never have to reinstall again to get newer versions. You just: pacman -Syu

(3) Vector linux / Zenwalk - slackware based, but with a graphical package manager and extremely easy to use, and learn at your own pace. very minimalistic and fast. - no 64bit versions yet.

Per your subject of gaming. This is going to be overcomed very soon. Gameguard is the biggest thing limiting most popular games from running in linux. Ever heard of WINE / Cedega / Crossover office Codeweaver.

The last one makes installing window apps or games a breeze. I am assisting to test and get games working. I also write to the game makers or producers like acclaim to support WINE. What games have you tried to play that do not play on linux by the way. Sorry to hijack your thread?

-Another solution is to dual-boot windows and linux flavor. I do that on a few of my PCs and laptops, but mainly use the Linux side. Much faster and efficient.

Last edited by kazuya1977; 01-25-2008 at 08:21 AM.
 
Old 01-25-2008, 08:42 AM   #13
arubin
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Quote:
NOTE: Just noticed that Slack doesn't have a 64bit variant... and I would really prefer to be running 64bit at this time.
It doesn't realy matter that much performance wise. And if you want to get under the bonnet and learn a bit more about linux 64-bit might an additional complication that just makes things a bit more difficult at first.

I am sure a great many slackers are happily running it on 64bit capable systems. It might not be 64bit but it does have multi-processor enabled kernels. Having said that there is an unoffical 64 bit version of slackware, Slamd64
 
Old 01-25-2008, 08:49 AM   #14
Uncle_Theodore
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There's Slamd64 and BlueWhite distros that are, in essence, 64-bit Slackware.
 
Old 01-25-2008, 09:48 AM   #15
johnsfine
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I'm also a Linux newbie: used Knoppix liveDVD on several computers and learned a little, installed Debian on an old computer and learned a little more. Still haven't gotten very far.

Last night I found out the Mepis distribution exists (never heard of it before). Today I downloaded the .iso file for AMD64 and read the user guide:
http://www.mepis.org/files/MEPIS%20User%20Guide.pdf

Wow!
This is the first time I've ever seen Linux explained in a way an ordinary Windows user could understand. Most of the things I struggled to figure out with Knoppix and Debian are explained there in a way that would have saved all that effort. Most of those things actually operate the same in Knoppix, Debian, and Mepis (including things that operate very differently in distributions not based on Debian) and are just documented better in Mepis. But it looks like a few things also operate in Mepis in a way that makes more sense to a (recovering) Windows user than the way they operate in Debian.

I tried all the desktops available on the Knoppix liveDVD (a big selection). As a newbie, I might be missing something (capabilities of other desktops that I failed to see). But as far as I could tell, none other than KDE have enough power to be effective for someone used to doing almost everything from the desktop. Experienced Linux users may be more effective doing those things in a text based shell window, so they need less power in the desktop itself. But even in Windows I depend more on the desktop and customized right click menus, etc. and less on command prompt than typical power users.

I have been told Ubuntu is a good distribution for users switching from Windows. I read what I could find about it. I might even try it (liveCD for either Ubuntu or Mephis makes it easy to try a distribution without installing it). But so far I saw no newbie friendly documentation. I would guess it would be at least as much of a struggle for a newbie as Knoppix or plain Debian.

Edit: After writing the above I tested Mepis-CD_7.0-rel_64
Things basically went as expected, so I still think it is a great distribution for a Windows user considering switching.
I tested it on Intel and AMD computers that don't have 64-bit addressing and it did the right thing (displayed a clear message and refused to start Linux).
I tested it on an Athlon 64 X2 and it basically worked. There were a few glitches that I really don't think are specific to Mepis.
1) The memtest choice from Grub doesn't work. I've seen mention of that problem for other 64-bit liveCD distributions. If you want memtest, I guess you need a second CD.
2) While X is starting it tells you to press CTRL ALT F1 to see the boot up messages. I was curious so I did. That led to it writing to display memory in both text and graphics modes at the same time. It switched back to graphics a moment later, so CTRL ALT F1 would only have let you read anything at that time on a much slower computer than mine. Worse, it left blinking artifacts across the top of the display. That may all be imperfections in whatever display driver it used for the ATI Radeon 1250. The artifacts showed through any windows opened there. All was fixed by pressing CTRL ALT F1 again afterwards. That let me read the boot messages and CTRL ALT F7 to switch back fixed all the artifacts. Maybe that message that led me wrong meant do it later when nothing is happening rather than do it now.
3) One time I booted up, I tried right clicking too early when KDE wasn't quite up yet. That caused a crash dialog, after which KDE continued coming up, and basically worked, but a few elements of it never came up. I've seen slightly less severe instances of the same thing in liveDVD Knoppix and in hard-disk installed Debian. I think KDE should be more robust about dealing with mouse clicks while it is starting. But it isn't to hard to learn to not do that.

Last edited by johnsfine; 01-25-2008 at 02:06 PM.
 
  


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