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Although I've been using Linux for a while now, I still consider myself a total newbie.
I'm currently running a dual-boot desktop with Win2k and RedHat 9. It's time to upgrade.
I was decided on Scientific Linux until I read some posts here that mentioned that there are distros out there that can see Windows partitions... that would be nice.
So I figured I'd ask the experts for advice on which distro they would install if they were me.
I'm a casual Linux user - I know what a kernel is, I've configured ndiswrapper and know basic and even semi-not-basic commands. But, I still feel a twinge of panic every time I need to do anything as root, knowing that I could be a keystroke away from irretrievably effing everything up. (But at least I know that.) Basically, I can do whatever I need on Linux until something breaks. Then I'm usually at a loss until several LQ forum searches.
I'm in science academia, and my department is switching to Scientific Linux. Hence a switch to SL will mean I can ask my department admins if I run into problems at home. Also, we don't know if any other distros (except perhaps Fedora) can run the programs we use, and we know that some (SuSE) don't do well with them.
I still cling to Windows for the usual reasons (Powerpoint, Dreamweaver, iTunes, and heck, I've never even been able to get my HP printer to talk nice with RH9). So I'd like to not have to keep switching back and forth every time I think, "oh, sh*t, that file is on my Windows partition."
This is the distro I use and recommend, Why because it works right out of the box. No need to configure Everything, everything just works. It also comes as a 1 CD install that is a live CD that you can install later if you wish.
Thanks -- I'll definitely look into Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS (etc.).
I really appreciate you taking the time to reply, especially given that (I read the sticky post after posting this and) it seems this should have been in a different section etc. I did read some other posts like this, but there's nothing like getting advice for your specific situation.
Since you've been using Red Hat, Fedora will probably be fairly familiar to you (fedora is now the free version, while Red Hat is the name of the enterprise version). Scientific Linux is also based off the Enterprise version of Red Hat, so tech people would probably be reasonable comfortable with Fedora if you decide to go that way. Other people have already started saying most of the main points about distro selection. If you want to see how it will turn out just take a look at any "which distro" thread that has been posted already.
I'll add a couple things that are specific that haven't been said yet though. All linux distros can at least read windows partitions. If windows 2000 was still using fat filesystem then there is also no problem writing. If it uses NTFS you'll want a seperate partition to keep shared data on. You might have more luck getting the printer to work in a newer version of linux since there's been a lot of development since Red Hat 9. For your programs that are make you cling to windows:
powerpoint > openoffice impress
dreamweaver > don't remember anything closely corresponding, but there's probably something out there that can do web editing
itunes > lots of music players, personally I like amarok