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I'm a Linux newbie, but I'm moderately knowledgeable about computers in general. Anyway, I want to install Linux on a Dell Inspiron 8000, with 700mhz P-3M, 512mb RAM, and 20gb HDD.
I've done my homework, but I still can't decide between two distros: SuSE or Mandrake. Mandrake seems more "open" then SuSE; this is in reference to how easy it is to get a new ISO. SuSE seems to require remote FTP. Ultimately it doen't matter, I guess, because I want to support whichever distro I choose. I'm looking at SuSE Linux 8.2 Professional and Mandrake Linux 9.1 Powerpack Edition; SuSE, at $79.95 is cheaper - Mandrake is $145. Though, Mandrake's option gives you the the full CD set of the next two versions. SuSE's YAST sounds real appealing, and I really want something like Windows Update for Linux. Mandrake's seems more powerful, and I hear SuSE puts some things in non-Linux-default location.
I understand that Linux can do everything Windows can, except for limited gaming. The only games I'm interested in are: Half-Life and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. On that regard, I noticed SuSE has its own WineX binary. Would Mandrake+generic WineX binary be worse then SuSE+Suse WineX? Last note, I know I can upgrade the video card on my laptop (just check the Dell forums) so how will hardware support be for something like the ATI Radeon Mobile 9000, as in Linux drivers for it? Advice is appreciated, and I'm sorry about the long post.
Distribution: Lots of distros in the past, now Linux Mint
There's no good answer to this, for the same reason there is more than one car company. It's all personal taste. Your best option, would be to download a couple different distros, try each one out, and find your favorite on your own. IF you don't have a broadband connection, perhaps you can bribe a friend of yours to help you out. The other option is to find a small computer store near you that would be willing to burn a couple disks for a fair price.
The reason I suggest this, instead of buying a distro from the beginning, is because of several factors. One, no matter the distro you start with, you're going to wonder if others aren't better. At retail prices, trying out even a few adds up quick. Second, once you find one you like, the other disks are likely to take a backseat. I'd rather have a $2 coaster than a set of $80 ones. Third, it's a little easier to not get frustrated if you don't spend anything on Linux, meaning that you're more likely to give it a fair shot instead of spending your money, then getting mad and vowing never to waste your money on it again.
That said, when you do find one you like, I definitely recommend that you support it. If it's a commercial version, buy the boxed set. If it's a volunteer distro, donate a fair amount to the group. Either way, not only will you gain the benefits (if any) of supporting that distro, but you'll be helping to keep it going, thereby helping yourself in the long run.
Even if you get the full versions, I'd probably avoid anything over the $80 mark. The $150 distros are mostly for corporate use, and the beginning user is unlikely to find anything worthwhile included for the extra cost. It looks like mandrake is pressing their subscription, but you can find a similar product for $79 that doesn't include the updates.
One thing that's probably worth taking into consideration: Mandrake's new version (9.1), has the ability to resize ntfs partitions. This is a pretty new feature for linux distros, and can save you headaches if your hard drive is already windows ntfs partitioned.
Once you have your disk partitioned, (and the mandrake ISO does it too), other distros will install fine.
Simply put, don't expect to be gaming much on linux. I have kept winxp around for only that reason. I tried previously to get WineX to work, but doing that ment installing new GlibC libraries... needless to say i had to reinstall after that little escapade. That was a few months ago, and i haven't tried since. I just reboot to game and reboot again to code. Point is, while you may eventually get some games to work, it's going to require quite a bit of effort on your side.
As far as which distro? I use mandrake myself and like it very much.... but I'm basically just going to echo waht figgy said there. It's very much personal preference. Deffinitely try a few and see how you like it/get used to it before making a $80 commitment. Oh, and the NTFS partitioning is very helpful when duelbooting with XP (although it didn't seem to work right until after repeated defrags... and even then)
The version of mandrake that you are on about, isn't the cheapest one.
Admittedly, I had previously installed both 8.2 and 9.0 (plus SuSE 8), but it doesn't take much effort to install mandrake. I bought the dvd version with no support or manuals direct from them, it came to £36 (about 50$ US including postage).
SuSE is also reputed to be an excellent distro (I didn't like it though) with an easy installation etc.
One reason for trying a "boxed set" from mandrake would be stuff like not having to mess around with some of the 3rd party stuff that you might need i.e. stuff like the nvidia drivers or maybe the alcatel speedtouch mgmt.o file (just examples). They come ready compiled in boxed versions.
I have to say, that when I was comparing mandrake and SuSE, I found considerably more mandrake info (the SuSE stuff was probably also there, but I found the mandrake stuff quicker).
The choice is yours (to be said in a "game show" voice )
I love SuSE. I have messed around on Linux for a few years now. I tried Mandrake out, and I really liked it too. I have had problems w/ Red Hat, so I would definitely not head that route. I really think SuSE is great for new users, it auto-detected ALL my hardware perfectly, and the automatic online update is great. One area its lacking in that I have heard Mandrake has is a good auto-configuration for connecting to a Windows/SMB network. I have had problems w/ sound in Mandrake before though... either should work for a new user though.
Download and give Knoppix a look.
It will give you an idea of what Linux is. If you have a good connection it would be well worth your time.
Either Mandrake or Suse can be excellent distributions. Depending on your personal tastes and your PC hardware, one may prove to be better than the other.
You cite prices on the more complete versions of either distribution. If you want to make your Linux experiment more economical there would really be nothing wrong with purchasing the cheaper versions of both, and installing both. It would demonistrate to you how the same OS could be different Either offers much more software than when you just install the Windows OS. Then at the next version upgrade or later, pick up the fuller version of the one you prefer. Most if not all of any additional software you could want would be available as a download.
The package versions do offer printed documentation and slightly better default software choices, IMO. For instance, I was always impressed that my boxed Linux set default install included Adobe Acrobat Reader. The first time I tried a downloaded version, this was the first thing I missed. Well, it is simple to download it, but...
I'll take the suggestion of trying Knoppix for a few days just to get myself used to it. Afterwards, I think I'll try Mandrake and SuSE, in that order. Currently, my laptop uses the 20gb hard drive as one NTFS partition, so Mandrake re-partitioning makes things more convenient. Then I'll make my choice. However, I intend on "going all the way" and I know very well that those aren't the cheapest. I guess as a newbie I'm too enthusiastic about Linux, but I want to give it a good, thorough try.
I realize Linux is weak for gaming, and I still have one question: how is the Transgaming stuff that I keep hearing about? Their web site seems to say that it'll meet my current needs, as I have no intention to play Unreal 2003 or upcoming Doom III; it is a laptop, after all. Thanks for the suggestions; you guys are the only ones so far to offer long explanations, and I appreciate that.
P.S. My enthusiasm is fed by all these articles saying to give open source a shot. Also, I've been a Netscape user since v1.0, but at 6.3 Netscape just wasn't good enough and IE took my desktop mantel. I recently tried Netscape's forerunner, Mozilla, and I'm totally blown away. I was blown way enough that I replaced all my PCs and my family's PCs with Mozilla, so far so good. Though, I don't think I'll replace my family's PCs with Linux.
I've started out with Mandrake 8.1 because it came on a magazine CD and therefore chose to purchase 9.1 a couple of weeks ago (the download version on CDs). Now as I am a complete newbie I found that there are no books on Mandrake and heaps of such for Suse and RedHat. Now I've taken two books for older versions of Suse with me from the library, and they are still close enough to what Mandrake offers.
One inconsistency mentioned in the books is that Suse appears (appeared? - they are talking older versions after all...) to put mount points into root rather than /mnt, but that's about it. Of course the install process is much different, but Mandrake comes with an easy graphical installation, as does Suse (I guess).
So it really is a matter of taste - BTW I don't know about the custom where you are, but here in Germany you can't easily get a book on Linux which doesn't have a Linux distro on CD inside. So your local library might already have what you need.
I should say that when I first tried linux, I tried mozilla and just couldn't get on with it. I never did like netscape.
But, a couple of years ago, I read an article in the guardian about alternatives to microsoft. They suggested opera as an alternative to IE. So I downloaded it, and haven't looked back. It seems to be more configurable than mozilla and as for the appearance, well you just follow the route via the bookmarks to opera software's "my opera" for some stunning looking skins. And now that they seem to have the development between linux and windows the same in the version 7 It means that I can get it looking and working identically, so there's no confusion or quirks when swaping between OS's.
I have SuSE 8.2 and my mount points are not off the root. Rather, windows partitions are off /windows and removable media drives (floppy, dvd, cd-rw, zip) are off /media.
I haven't experienced any problems due to this. And even if I were to find one, I could just make a symbolic link from say /mnt/cdrom and point it to /media/cdrecorder.
(ln -s /mnt/cdrom /media/cdrecorder)
I agree with every one, I would say if you choose to go with mandrake, you can download the 3 CDs ISO images then join mandrake club to support the company/distro. This way you get access to the mandrake club URPMI site.