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I'm starting a LINUX class next week. I would like to be able to practice at home on my VirtualBox. Can you recommend what I need to use? I will need to work off ISO debian-508-amd64-DVD-1.iso. I am using a MacBook Pro.
Hmmm, well if your teacher really wants you to use Debian 5, then I guess you have to use it... however you should be aware that Debian 5 reached its "end of life" over a year ago and is now obsolete and completely unsupported! http://news.softpedia.com/news/Debia...2-239006.shtml
Firstly, just because the computers on your course are set up with Debian 5 doesn't mean than you have to use that precise version. You need Debian, so that everything works in the same way and all the files are in the same places, but there's no reason why you shouldn't use Debian 6. Since security updates are no longer being provided for version 5, I'd strongly advise you to do so. And version 7 comes out later this year!
Debian7 is already pretty stable since quite some time and you shouldn't have much trouble with it. It features more recent software versions and once it's marked "stable", it will be just that, i.e., you won't notice anything in everyday-use. Not a thing. If there's no particular reason for using a distribution as old as Debian5, i suggest to go for version 7 ("Wheezy").
Other than the "old version" issue, Debian for itself is a good choice.