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Ok, after my company decided to give away some old boxes, I've decided to build a Linux box to set up Apache/PHP/MySQL and all that good stuff to have a dev web server to work with (I'm tired of uploading test pages to my host), plus a good chance to learn Linux.
After some initial searching, I found several sites, articles, blogs, and the like recomending Mandrake as a great distro for Windows users making the switch. so off I go merily downloading 9.2. Sadly, there are two hashes repeatedly failing the CRC check in bittorrent (4 meg out of 2gig worth), so I started a fresh direct download from FTP before coming in to work.
Then comes the fun part. I discover this site and start poking around, only to see a rather high number of posts griping about 9.2 and problems during installs, crashes, hangs, disappearing menus, and other picture postcards. Which leads me to question the Mandrake decision.
So, after this none-too-short diatribe I ask... Is Mandrake 9.2 a good distro choice for a complete newbie install of Linux? If not, what would some other good suggestions be?
I don't really know since I haven't ever used Mandrake 9.2, but I feel that if you're intending to set up a server you should focus on getting the server stuff going, and not having a pretty graphical user interface. In general, I think servers should not have a graphical interface installed at all since it adds possible vulnerabilities and a whole lot of overhead, making the performance decrease.
That was me on my soapbox, so I'll try to add some useful information too:
I haven't used recent versions of Mandrake, but as far as newbie-friendliness goes I believe both SuSE and RedHat are equal. The problem with SuSE is that you can only do an FTP install of the full version unless you decide to cough up the money for the CD's (it ain't cheap). I think RedHat might be a good choice. It includes a lot of programs, the setup can be done in graphical mode, and it's widely used and supported. The RedHat knowledge in communities like these (and when you Google around for info) is vast, and that helps a lot when you're starting out.
Good luck, and don't hesitate coming back and post more questions.
Yeah, and one more thing: The reason you see so many questions about Mandrake 9.2 is possibly because it's so popular. More users equals more questions. And those who are satisfied and get it to run well out of the box (so to speak) aren't likely to post many questions, now are they? The same applies for Windows - if you go to a Windows forum you'll find lots of people having problems with it. That's what these forums are about - ask questions, and help out in return if you can.
I have done a clean install of Mandrake 9.2 on my laptop and a desktop with no problems. I am a relative "newbie" to Linux and have been learning a whole lot since running it regular for the last 3-4 months.
There will be issues to arise for anybody trying Linux for the first time, but you have one heck of a support team within the community here.
I would recommend Mandrake 9.2 to anybody who asked about it, so I will, on that note, recommend it to you. If you decide to install Mandrake, be sure to go to the eratta pages on Mandrake's site
I am new to Linux, only been using it for a little over a week. I DL'd the three Mandrake 9.2 CD's and did a fresh install on a partitioned drive with windozeXP. The install went flawless, I was up on the graphical desktop within 20 mins. I could not have been happier about that process. I have an nforce mobo, so there were a few snags getting Mandrake to realize I had an ethernet card, but eventually ironed it out. A few other snages not even worth remembering also... so I would say this is a good start for a n00b to linux. Now I have a dual boot system, and the only reason i go into windoze is to play a few games.
Actually alot depends on the hardware. If your system has supported hardware then Mandrake will be easy. If your hardware is not supported then trouble shooting it can be difficult in Mandrake.
The other thing is your goal in going to linux. I like to tinker with my software and learn about it at the same time. For me, I have learned more using Slackware than any other distro. I started with Mandrake which gave me an exposure to linux and the different components but I really could not troubleshoot the installation or do more than use my mouse to install new software. I setup my own Xwindows, had to edit my XFree86config file to get my scroll mouse to work, used adduser to setup my users etc. I learned how to install software from source and how to compile a custom kernel (you would be amazed how much stuff in the the kernel that you are not using)
Additionally, Mandrake default install tries to cover both the server and desktop applications which tends to install alot of stuff you do not need for a server (bloat) If you want a server without Xwindows you might be better off playing with either Slackware or FreeBSD(actually not linux but is supposed to be great for servers). These distros use command line installers that are not as pretty but they install a good stable core to build from. These Distros are also good to learn linux/unix administration. Mandrake does everything for you but if you want to learn how harden a system for security issues, setup a local email server, apache, etc you will know what is going on inside your system if you set it up yourself.
Guidelines are available at the FreeBSD website or with the online Slackware Book.
FreeBSD has better (IMHO) documentation at their Website. Slackware documentation is scattered all over the Web.
Basically your mileage will vary...ie: You might very likely have NO problems whatsoever, or run into a bunch of annoying ones.
My advice is go for it, have patience, EXPECT problems and see them as a way to learn linux...then if everything goes smooth, be pleasantly surprised.
For what its worth, I'm on my 3rd day of Mandrake 9.2, a fresh install (I had 9.1 previously) and I haven't had a single problem that was posted here and elsewhere, the install went soooo smooth I couldn't believe and the OS works like a dream. I'm not moving on to tweaking it to make it just right for me (which is the fun part for me)...you know, recompiling the kernel, customizing my scripts, tweaking hdparm (if needed, I haven't checked yet)..that sort of thing.
I've already recommended mandrake a lot since 9.1 and I've been pretty much spreading the word about 9.2, so far another friend has done the install and his experience is the same as mine basically.
Shepper pointed out a few items I left out of the equation, namely goals and hardware.
As for goals, the last time I touched any flavor of Unix was about 10 or 12 years ago so I remember pretty much zero. That said, I'm looking for a good distro to ease back out of the Microshaft world. Something that sets up pretty easily, but still lets you learn the core stuff (like recompiling the kernel and all that jazz). I'm wanting to set up Apache/PHP/MySQL just so I don't have to upload test scripts to my web host every time, but the server would be dev only and never really used for production (other than playing with a personal site).
Harware wise, the boxes we're giving away at work are Dell Optiplex GX110s. Basically PIII 500, 128 meg, integrated NIC (3C905B), Video(ATI Rage Pro), and Audio (Crystal WDM chipset). I'll probably grab a 128 meg stick to pop in tonight, but was planning on leaving the rest as-is, as this is strictly an educational box.
i'm a linux newbie (been using mandrake 9.2 for about 2 weeks now) and have had no major problems in my switch over from win2000pro (i've got no plans on going back either!!!). i don't know squat about servers but have had no probs with the install, setting up hardware (my modem is the only thing mandrake didn't detect correctly), or with updating drivers. i did have the disappearing menu trick played on me but that was easy enough to correct with the help fo LQ. i imagine that any new linux user will have a couple of head scratching moments regardless of the distro......but for me switching to mandrake has been relatively easy and fun!
The ATI Rage Pro is a challenge to setup with DRI 3D graphics in slackware (only an issue if you want to play games). LG cdroms are OK in slackware but CD-RW's need scsi emulation which is easiest to set up during install (Mandrake will do automatically)
The nic is well supported. Also in mandrake the install (at least for 9.1 when I tried it) was very slow if you have a USB device (my scanner) plugged in during install.
The other thing is that I would recommend is going with at least 256mB of RAM. I read that you minimize
ram <-swapping-> hard drive if you have over 200mB ram. Your system will run faster and be more efficient plus sdram memory is relatively cheap.