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Old 02-24-2012, 12:12 PM   #1
nu2lin
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Recommended distribution for new user


Hi, I'm still new to Linux, but I have installed a few distros in the past. I am here to ask for recommendations including links to good tutorials or explanations about distros.

My problem is all of the little differences between distros. Sometimes hardware configuration that works on one distro is completely different on a different distro, so there is too much to learn at once. Other times it's the same thing with basic customizations.

Let me give you an example. Ubuntu 11.10 is straightforward and the easiest to install OS I have ever used but the console mode is not the resolution I would want. Whereas when Parted Magic boots (I use it to partition), it has a high resolution configuration in text mode. If you are new to configuring, it can be really difficult to find simple explanations on how to properly change these simple settings.

Then the next step. Ubuntu 11.10 is too simple. Everything just works and boot errors are hidden from the user. It has tons of modules and etc. to make sure most hardware configurations work. That's not alot of control if you want to work toward being a power user.

With what I have said so far, there has to be someone that understands what I mean. Since alot of Linux users are self taught, I wanted to know from your experiences, what the best overall distro you could recommend for configuration. Something neutral that allows the configuration procedures to easily carry over to most other linux distributions. I want to make sure it's a system where I don't have to uninstall half of the operating system (ridiculous) just to say I can install what I want. I would like to start with just a command prompt and install everything from there.

If you have a workstation setup that is really minimal or lean. Please tell a little about your experiences and how you got to that distro. If possible, some hints about scripts or customization options for installations also would help.
 
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:18 PM   #2
snowpine
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You've pretty much nailed The Arch Way: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/The_Arch_Way

If Arch sounds fun to you, your next step should be to read the Beginner's Guide: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners%27_Guide

Slackware also meets many of your criteria, with the possible exception that first-time users are advised to do a full install (for very legitimate reasons) instead of the type of minimal install you seem eager to try.
 
Old 02-24-2012, 12:29 PM   #3
nu2lin
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Yes

I think so far by looking at Arch, I don't think there is a better recommendation.

but... what do you think of Gentoo?
 
Old 02-24-2012, 12:32 PM   #4
snowpine
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I've never used Gentoo. My understanding is that Arch provides pre-compiled binaries, whereas Gentoo requires you to compile everything. That is the word on the street anyway; I'm sure there are some Gentoo users on the forums who can give you better intel.
 
Old 02-24-2012, 12:34 PM   #5
snowpine
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Also keep in mind you can do a Minimal Install of Ubuntu, too, if you like (it is not a feature unique to Arch).

http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/minimal
 
Old 02-24-2012, 12:48 PM   #6
TroN-0074
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I hear Gentoo is for people who cant live without compailing. I think nu2lin needs SlackWare.
 
Old 02-24-2012, 01:04 PM   #7
SilentSam
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Arch has quite a few little quirks, and while it's extremely configurable, you'll be learning a lot of 'Arch Only' practices as opposed to Linux practices. The main configration file, rc.conf, is ingenious in its method of implementation, but you'll learn precious little about configuring and controlling modules on other distributions.

That being said, I've learnt an incredible amount about Linux in general from using Fedora, Debian, and Arch. The Buntu's changed quite a bit of the lower level stuff I found.

I hear that Slackware is the best Linux teacher around, but haven't used it so I can't comment.
 
Old 02-24-2012, 01:15 PM   #8
ukiuki
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If you want custom build then go with Debian, it is possible to install just the very basic system and from there you can pick what ever you want installed. the package manage Aptitude will take care of the dependencies for you. Debian goes very well on old hardware because of this possibility to install step by step. Plus it is one of the elder distributions it is stable and relatively friendly for the new user. Ubuntu is based on Debian and you can do pretty much the same if you know what you are doing, it is possible to do a minimal install and build from there with little bit differences.
Remember to keep in mind that Linux is not Windows.
Here you can see one old computer running Debian with custom install.

Regards
 
Old 02-24-2012, 09:38 PM   #9
polpak
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Being NON-Technical happily recommended openSUSE, same reason do suggest openSUSE 11.4 at moment; Changes made between 11.4 and 12.1 caused some concern - not unusual with larger changes, expect all resolved and happy soon with 12.1.


p.
 
Old 02-24-2012, 10:24 PM   #10
art3m
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I tried lots of different linux distros I'm not elite linux user but I'm not completely new I used for about 2 years and I tried it all. From all my experience I just can't stop using Fedora. I just love the setup and it's so user friendly and simple. Ubuntu would be my worse choice I just can't get used to the GUI on ubuntu, fedora give it a shot you'll love it, well I hope you will, I do. Fedora all the way!

Good luck!


~ art3m
 
Old 02-24-2012, 10:43 PM   #11
liberalchrist
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Gentoo takes a lot of patience and in my experience broke a little too often. It may be better now, but it really is for people who have plenty of time. Their documentation is really good, though. A logical path through the linux world might be a Debian or RedHat based distro to start (apt vs rpm), then Slackware, then Gentoo, then Linux from Scratch. After you do all that, you will probably settle on Slackware like so many others. If you want some real control and you want to learn all about linux, Slackware is probably your next step.

Do understand, though, that Slackware is probably the simplest of the distributions once you know it, but it is not simple like Ubuntu. You have to learn a lot at the beginning.
 
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:06 PM   #12
noviante
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I'm a relative newbie myself, having started with Linux just under a year ago. Let me start by saying that I'm running three boxes on Linux: two are i386 machines dating from ca. 2005 with, at most, 1 GB RAM and two 200 GB hard drives each; the third is a significantly newer laptop.

I'm runing Debian on all three, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. So far, it's proven easy to install, easy to run, and easy to handle overall. I've had a reasonably easy time at changing configurations -- by which I mean, though it may take a while to learn the syntax of a given config file, the setting can be changed -- and although from a compatibility standpoint it wasn't a fast process to get some of my hardware working, with a little research it was possible. I find Debian to be friendly for most of the run from newbie to power user; there's a lot that just works, but just as much (if not more) that can be customised and used for learning material.

I tried OpenSUSE to start, which was too intense for my cpu, and had problems like you described (and, in my opinion, it's too much like Windows) with Ubuntu, so overall, my vote will go to Debian. Although I've had no experience with it, it's worth mentioning that Linux from Scratch might be worth your while to investigate too.
 
Old 02-26-2012, 02:13 AM   #13
cascade9
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Ubuntu 11.10 too easy?

Try debian. You might find it too easy as well, though you wont have the 'boot errors are hidden from the user' problem (unless you want it). Thats caused by 'plymouth', a bootsplash program BTW, and while you can change it so that is displays the normal text booting, you cannot remove it with ubuntu. 'Mountall' is a dependancy...

http://packages.ubuntu.com/oneiric/plymouth

Debian is nice. You dont have to do as much as setting up you do with slackware, or arch. I've never felt the need for the longer and more complicated setup of slackware or arch. Lots of people love it.

I really wouldnt bother with gentoo. IMO the minor improvements in performance isnt worth the extra time needed, mostly for compiling. Like arch and slackware some people love it, but far less feel the need for gentoo compared to arch or slackware.

BTW, I'm always suprised at number of gentoo (and LFS) suggestions I see. Not that many people suggest the other source based distros, like Sorcerer or Lunar Linux.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
I've never used Gentoo. My understanding is that Arch provides pre-compiled binaries, whereas Gentoo requires you to compile everything. That is the word on the street anyway; I'm sure there are some Gentoo users on the forums who can give you better intel.
There are some pre-compiled binaries for gentoo, but lots of things you do have to compile. BTW, I'm not a gentoo user.
 
Old 02-26-2012, 02:29 AM   #14
corbintechboy
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I used Arch for a long time. I just recently left and would not recommend it to anyone.

I think if you want to learn and join a group of people that are willing to help that Slackware or Debian is the way to go. I am now using Chakra which is based on Arch and runs very well and takes the KISS philosophy of Arch, but also has a nice community (at least so it seems).

Being human with Arch will only get you attacked. Here is the reason I decided to leave. Community is a place I want to go to if ever there is a problem and I don't really think I was treated fairly. So I decided to explore greener pastures. YMMV

Last edited by corbintechboy; 02-26-2012 at 02:32 AM.
 
Old 02-26-2012, 03:52 AM   #15
liberalchrist
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For Corbintechboy, It sounds like Arch hasn't changed too much. Keeping things simple is a good approach to almost any aspect of life. The problem at Arch is that the bleeding edge is never simple. There are a lot of things that are good about Arch, but they suffer from the same problem as Gentoo, stuff breaks too often. This is not a problem for developers and tinkerers, but for people who want too use their computer every day for the tasks for which they were designed, this gets to be a drag.

If you are willing to do the work, you can learn just as much from a stable distribution like Debian or Slackware as you can from Gentoo or Arch. I don't regret spending time in all those places, but I learned to love real simplicity.
 
  


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