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Old 02-17-2011, 11:45 AM   #16
snowpine
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CrunchBang is my distro of choice (in fact I am a moderator at CrunchBang Forums) and the only reason I didn't mention it in my original suggestion is that it has a much smaller userbase than the top 10 distros, therefore it is not as well documented as Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, etc. If you decide to try it, drop by the forums and say Hi.

ps When you're trying new distros, make sure they are actively supported... DSL for example is a very dead project.
 
Old 02-17-2011, 03:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
...is a very dead project.

like it
 
Old 02-22-2011, 01:25 PM   #18
Diogones
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Well, after much ado, effort, and trial and error, I can finally report back with my newb Linux opinions on the distros that I tried, and give everyone the update as to which distros remain part of my final choice. Before I begin, let me explain the methodology I used to test each distro. I didn't want to waste multiple CD-Rs burning every single distro on my list, and I didn't have any CD-RWs. So, I would download the live ISO (if possible) and use one of many USB installers to set up the distro onto my USB flash drive. This was a problem for several reasons: my BIOS was old and didn't support USB booting, so I had to use PLoP bootloader; sometimes a USB installer (such as Unetbootin) wouldn't work with the distro, and I'd have to get another USB installer (such as Universal); my flash drive was only 2GB, so some of the larger or more full-featured distros were out of the question; and it meant I had to reboot every time I wanted to try a distro. I had considered using virtualization, but after I attempted to virtualize Xubuntu with Linux Live USB Installer and was met with a perpetually loading screen and nothing else, I found that my computer didn't have ample power to support this approach.

Once I went through all or most of the live versions of the distros, I eliminated the Linux versions that didn't appeal to me based on my criteria, (which I've posted earlier in this thread) and chose to install the finalists onto my hard drive in separate partitions, so I could get a more accurate reading on their speed, responsiveness and other features. Using Easeus Partition Master, I broke up my hard drive (a measly 36 GB) into several smaller partitions approximately 3GB each, leaving my NTFS Windows format intact until I was ready to swap out completely to Linux. I also installed one 1GB partition for the swap file, which I think every Linux installation can utilize, so I won't need a swap partition for each one. Once I finally choose my permanent distro, I can reformat my drive and install the Linux distro for good. My experiences and views on each of the distros I tested are as follows:

While I did see potential with Crunchbang, I am just don't have the time to learn a completely new UI, and it is going to be tricky enough as it is with a more familiar GUI. So Crunchbang was out.

Salix gave me no end of grief, and I can't say I have an opinion on it yet, because I couldn't even try it! The live version (I tried both the LXDE and the Xfce versions) would boot to the desktop, but I couldn't interact with it, because it froze my keyboard and mouse! I even tried it with a different keyboard and mouse, and no luck. The full install Salix ISO wouldn't work with my flash drive, and I believe it was intended for CD, and I wasn't willing to consume a disc just to try a distro. I tried registering and posting in the Salix forums, so that I could get some advice or workaround to this seemingly unsolvable problem. But after I registered, Salix sent me an email, not to provide a click-through link that would confirm my registration, but instead a message informing me that an administrator would have to consider my registration and authorize it in due course. That was on Thursday. It is now Monday afternoon, and I have not received any email. This restricted forum approach surprises me, for though I understand the need for moderators to limit the number of trolls and spammers on their forums, I was always under the impression that the Linux community was generous, helpful, and always easy to contact. Not so in this case. After searching the 'net for any solutions to the frozen keyboard and mouse problem, and finding none, Salix was out.

Vector was much more agreeable, and while the live version was certainly acceptable, it was not convenient. This was due to Vector's complete inability to correctly detect and adjust my display settings to fit the desktop. Even after I restarted the live session and selected my screen resolution from the setup list, Vector couldn't get it right. As a result, the desktop icons, along with the toolbar menu, were completely cut off, and I had to play with the monitor configuration file for several minutes before I was able to get the display I wanted. Despite this annoyance, Vector appeared clean and responsive, and I decided to keep it around for my partition tests.

PCBSD was similar to Salix in that the ship was sunk before it ever left the harbor. PCBSD doesn't offer a live version, but the option is available from the boot menu if the downloadable file is installed to USB. Since it only offers the USB installs as an .img file, I had to use Win32 Installer - which can read .img files - to apply BSD to my flash drive. Once I reached the menu, I selected the live session option but surprise! it didn't work. I received a series of obscure command line boot commands, none of which I understood, and I was asked to reboot. Not ready to give up, I decided to forgo the live test and simply install PCBSD onto a partition. Unfortunately, the installer would not let me commence, quoting a minimum 10000MB (10GB) requirement for installation. Combine that with a whopping 1GB RAM recommendation, and I knew PCBSD was most likely going to be too heavy for my system. BSD was out.

Arch was excluded early on, because the distro didn't offer a live usb bootable version, and the steps to create one inside Windows via larch, the arch program, were much too advanced for a Linux newb like myself, and once I discovered that Arch demanded Linux competence, especially with the command line and editing config files, I backed away. Arch was out.

PCLinuxOS, along with Peppermint, were arguably the strongest contenders, due to their friendly, clean, and well-developed desktops, their flawless live sessions and mercifully pain-free installers, and their fast and reliable response times. I haven't had a problem with either yet during my entire experience testing and trying them, so for that reason alone, they deserve my praise.

I like the idea of a complete, working, and bootable USB OS, as I could imagine where that would come in handy in terms of portability and speed. Puppy satisfies that computing niche perfectly. While other OSes offer similar USB functionality in the form of Persistence, none of them are as small as Puppy. However, I have a dilemma with the dog: I can't decide if I want to move past the live phase and install it on a partition. I could just leave it on my flash drive, but then I wouldn't have that flash drive available for anything else, and a USB port would be permanently occupied. It is possible to install it to hard disk, but not without a considerable series of steps involving more Linux expertise than I possess right now. Still, the distro is enduring, and I may end up biting the bullet and going through with the install, if only to improve my Linux experience and to test Puppy's performance from a hard drive instead of USB.

Lubuntu and Xubuntu were both likable for the same reasons that PCLOS and Peppermint were: they worked and they were easy to use. I ultimately decided to edge out Lubuntu, based on the information that it is not directly supported by the Ubuntu project, and my personal taste in desktop appearance. The way I see it, there are pros and cons to using a derivative of Ubuntu such as Xubuntu. Among the benefits: a much larger user base, resulting in a more mainstream experience. The support community is well established, providing a reliable source for troubleshooting help. The huge availability of Ubuntu/Debain based apps and programs - whether from repositories or the Internet - is also appealing in that I wouldn't have to worry about the compatibility issues that might arise from using a more obscure distro. I would also rest easy with the knowledge that my distro would continue to receive long term support and updates, so there would be no worry about a dead project. However, one conceivable drawback would be that despite its more lightweight approach to desktop computing, Xubuntu might still be too heavy for my older system. Ultimately, I may not be happy with the layout or Ubuntu approach, so I would have to install the distro and test it further to get a better idea of its strengths and weaknesses. Xubuntu is going to the finals, no question.

All in all, it has been mostly enjoyable trying out all these different distros. You never know what to expect, and there will always be surprises. I find Linux to be familiar enough to learn, yet different and new enough to be exciting and thrilling. Learning a new OS is never easy, and while it is possible that I expected too much from Linux, I have to say that I am impressed with its features and programs, many of which can stand toe to toe with their commercial counterparts. I still can't wrap my brain around the whole GPL free concept, but I could definitely get used to this!

In closing, I do have one issue that I hope someone here may be able to help me with. I installed PCLinuxOS on a partition, followed by Peppermint. However, I think that Peppermint uses a different boot loader than PCLOS, because when I rebooted, I was only given the Peppermint boot loader options, without the ability to boot from USB or to PCLOS. There was an option to boot to my Windows partition, so thankfully I didn't get stuck with just Peppermint. But after I deleted Peppermint, an awful event happened. I rebooted, and I was given a Linux error message: I couldn't boot! Since I had my Windows install disc, I was able to use it to repair the Windows partition and restore the MBR record. I believe the MBR, or Master Boot Record, had been overwritten by Peppermint, preventing me from booting into PCLOS. Is there a way to get these two distros to play nicely with each other on my hard drive, or is there bound to be conflict between these distros which is simply irresolvable? Any advice would be appreciated!

Last edited by Diogones; 02-22-2011 at 01:34 PM.
 
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Old 02-22-2011, 01:37 PM   #19
snowpine
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Thanks for the great effort comparing these distros! You clearly put a lot of time into your experiments, and this information should be useful for other users with the same constraints.

Regarding your issue with the GRUB bootloader detecting other distros, theoretically GRUB should detect all other distros (including Windows) and automagically create a complete menu of boot options. In practice, however, this doesn't always happen. In this case, you can typically run the command "update-grub" as root (or "sudo update-grub" depending on the distro) to scan the drive for other OS's and update the boot menu accordingly. I have not personally used Peppermint before, however, so I can't guarantee this will work.
 
Old 02-22-2011, 05:02 PM   #20
darkduck
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Great post, Diogones!
More than welcome to get you as author on my blog.

Some of my comments. I don't know which version of GRUB Peppermint uses, maybe GRUB1. But maybe you can install them in different order: Win, Peppermint, PCLOS. PCLOS should definitely have GRUB2 -> should be able to find Peppermint.
As another option, try to boot from PCLOS USB and restore GRUB from there.

Puppy does not require "full install", moreover it is not recommended by developer. You should go via frugal install route. It is described on Puppy official site. In this case, you need to tweak GRUB2 files (/etc/grub.d/*) to include Puppy into the list of bootable OSes. This is all doable - I had similar configuration until recently changed Puppy to Squeezed Debbie (I'm in it right now).
 
Old 02-23-2011, 06:58 AM   #21
gapan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
Salix gave me no end of grief, and I can't say I have an opinion on it yet, because I couldn't even try it! The live version (I tried both the LXDE and the Xfce versions) would boot to the desktop, but I couldn't interact with it, because it froze my keyboard and mouse!
That's because you used unetbootin. Try searching the wiki next time: http://www.salixos.org/wiki/index.ph...n_a_USB_key.3F

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
The full install Salix ISO wouldn't work with my flash drive, and I believe it was intended for CD, and I wasn't willing to consume a disc just to try a distro.
A search through the wiki would have revealed this too: http://www.salixos.org/wiki/index.ph...m_an_USB_stick

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
I tried registering and posting in the Salix forums, so that I could get some advice or workaround to this seemingly unsolvable problem. But after I registered, Salix sent me an email, not to provide a click-through link that would confirm my registration, but instead a message informing me that an administrator would have to consider my registration and authorize it in due course. That was on Thursday. It is now Monday afternoon, and I have not received any email.
The only restriction there is, is that a newly registered user is not allowed to include URLs in his posts. You probably misinterpreted that. Registration is definitely activated by the user, not any forum administrator.
 
Old 02-25-2011, 03:22 PM   #22
Diogones
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Thank you snowpine and darkduck for your advice on the grub issue; and I finally got the multiple OS boot situation worked out. I just had to change the order I installed each distro. I will also follow your suggestion darkduck, and leave Puppy installed on the USB, rather than a full install.

While I am sure there is a great deal of documentation on each distro, gapan, I simply didn't have the time to read everything. Thank you for posting those links, although I noticed a contradiction in the wiki links you provided. The first wiki article clearly explains that Unetbootin will not work. However, the second wiki link: "Install from a USB stick" begins with the step "Create your USB stick with Unetbootin." So I cannot use Unetbootin to install the live version of Salix to USB, but I can install it from a USB stick, according to these two wikis. I'm confused by this; does this mean that, while I can't launch a live session from my USB using Unetbootin, if I boot a live session from a disc, I can then install the distro using the Salix files on the USB drive? If so, this would mean that Unetbootin works at least partially with Salix - you can't directly boot with it, but you can install with it once you have booted via disc. Very interesting.

Additionally (and this is something I failed to mention in my earlier post on Salix) Unetbootin was actually the closest I got to actually using Salix. When I tried Linux USB Installer, Win32 Installer (which reads .img files by default but can be used to select .isos when necessary), and Universal USB Installer, I encountered a boot error message when I attempted to load Salix from the USB device. With Unetbootin, Salix fully loaded, but my I/O - keyboard and mouse - remained unresponsive. Given the widespread use, enormous popularity, convenience, and large compatibility base, I would think that the Salix developers would want to release a version of the distro that is compatible with Unetbootin. To date, it is the only distro that I've tried (although I haven't used many) that hasn't worked with Unetbootin. Would you know of a USB installer that I missed, or didn't configure correctly, that would work with Salix, gapan?

You are absolutely right about the Salix forum gapan, and that was my mistake. I confused Salix with another, different distro website I was trying to register to. Thank you for correcting me.

Last edited by Diogones; 02-25-2011 at 03:53 PM.
 
Old 02-26-2011, 02:34 AM   #23
gapan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
While I am sure there is a great deal of documentation on each distro, gapan, I simply didn't have the time to read everything. Thank you for posting those links, although I noticed a contradiction in the wiki links you provided. The first wiki article clearly explains that Unetbootin will not work. However, the second wiki link: "Install from a USB stick" begins with the step "Create your USB stick with Unetbootin." So I cannot use Unetbootin to install the live version of Salix to USB, but I can install it from a USB stick, according to these two wikis. I'm confused by this; does this mean that, while I can't launch a live session from my USB using Unetbootin, if I boot a live session from a disc, I can then install the distro using the Salix files on the USB drive? If so, this would mean that Unetbootin works at least partially with Salix - you can't directly boot with it, but you can install with it once you have booted via disc. Very interesting.
If you read a bit more carefully, you'll notice that the first wiki page refers to installing the live edition to a USB stick and that's the one you can't use unetbootin with. The second wiki page refers to using a USB stick instead of a CD for installing the standard edition, not the live one, and you can use unetbooting with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
Additionally (and this is something I failed to mention in my earlier post on Salix) Unetbootin was actually the closest I got to actually using Salix. When I tried Linux USB Installer, Win32 Installer (which reads .img files by default but can be used to select .isos when necessary), and Universal USB Installer, I encountered a boot error message when I attempted to load Salix from the USB device. With Unetbootin, Salix fully loaded, but my I/O - keyboard and mouse - remained unresponsive.
Again, that's because you used unetbooting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
Given the widespread use, enormous popularity, convenience, and large compatibility base, I would think that the Salix developers would want to release a version of the distro that is compatible with Unetbootin. To date, it is the only distro that I've tried (although I haven't used many) that hasn't worked with Unetbootin.
Maybe the unetbootin developers should start supporting grub2. That's what Salix Live uses and it gives a great level of flexibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
Would you know of a USB installer that I missed, or didn't configure correctly, that would work with Salix, gapan?
The wiki explains using the live edition with a USB stick very clearly I think.
 
Old 02-26-2011, 02:46 AM   #24
EDDY1
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Quote:
Originally posted by snowpine
CrunchBang is my distro of choice (in fact I am a moderator at CrunchBang Forums) and the only reason I didn't mention it in my original suggestion is that it has a much smaller userbase than the top 10 distros, therefore it is not as well documented as Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, etc. If you decide to try it, drop by the forums and say Hi.
THere was a Debian installation tutorial that was really good for newbies at that site. The party that made it was criticized for giving too much information, I myself really liked it. I can't remember the persons name but I do have it bookmark in my dell optiplex that I haven't fired up in a long time.

Last edited by EDDY1; 02-26-2011 at 02:49 AM.
 
Old 02-26-2011, 04:42 PM   #25
Diogones
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Quote:
If you read a bit more carefully, you'll notice that the first wiki page refers to installing the live edition to a USB stick and that's the one you can't use unetbootin with.
I did read very carefully the first wiki page, and that is exactly what I addressed in my reply to you. I simply explained my experiences with unetbootin, despite the fact it didn't work

Quote:
The second wiki page refers to using a USB stick instead of a CD for installing the standard edition, not the live one, and you can use unetbooting with that.
Ah, I see now. Thank you for the clarification. That is interesting that unetbootin supports the install version, not the live edition.

Quote:
Again, that's because you used unetbooting.
I also used several other USB booters, and unetbootin gave me the CLOSEST one to an actual live session. Which I find interesting, as it isn't any more compatible than the other booters. This was just something I noted.

Quote:
Maybe the unetbootin developers should start supporting grub2. That's what Salix Live uses and it gives a great level of flexibility.
Why does the live version use grub2 while the standard version doesn't? Just the way the coding works?

Quote:
The wiki explains using the live edition with a USB stick very clearly I think.
So after the ISO files are extracted, execute the install-on-USB command. So apparently no USB installers work, including the ones I tried. Thank you for clarifying that, gapan. This whole Salix experience sure has been a learning experience for me, and it has especially reminded me that, before trying any version of any distro, it is always wise to fully review any and all documentation about it. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention, gapan. Now I can try the live version for sure, and get a more complete idea of what kind of distro it is!
 
Old 02-27-2011, 05:15 AM   #26
gapan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
Why does the live version use grub2 while the standard version doesn't? Just the way the coding works?
There are many features that we wanted to have in the live version as soon as the cd booted, like the ability to choose locale and keyboard layout and have the entire system, even the boot loader, localized, or enable/disable persistency before the system started etc. These can only work with grub2.

The standard installation CD is not meant to be localized and it serves no other purpose than just installing salix the fastest way possible, so isolinux is enough for it, and unetbootin supports isolinux.
 
Old 02-28-2011, 09:18 AM   #27
Diogones
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Great news, gapan! I followed your advice and am now booting live Salix! I have to say, the grub2 features are very nice to have, since I have persistency set up before I even launched the OS. It is a shame that Unetbootin doesn't support grub2, but who knows, maybe it will eventually. If not, there may be other boot loaders that do.

Thank you for that explanation concerning the difference between the live and install version. It certainly explains a lot!
 
Old 03-13-2011, 01:00 PM   #28
brmccarty
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You already have great advise. I will add that Puppy is great to try out Linux. I started with Puppy 4.2.1 and it will fit on a cd with room to spare. I've also used Slax and now have Slackware 13.1 installed on this laptop. Your system should run any distro with no problem as long as all your hardware is supported. I am running Linux on a PIII 450 with 288mg RAM 40gig hard drive. I like Slackware, but it has a learning curve and very little hand holding. The people on the site helped me a great deal with getting started with Linux.
 
  


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