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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
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Ubuntu desktop and server are basically the same with different settings. Once you setup it like you want, the difference will be negligible. As for minimum requirement, Debian usually require less, but if we are talking about modern hardware, it probably does not mater as much as it did a decade ago. If you want to use it as a router, better removing Networkmanager and configuring the interfaces by hand. I currently use one of my debian box as one and it work very well. I suggest this tutorial http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=716192 . DNSMASQ is awesome. For torrent, I recommand transmission daemon or anything with a good web gui and samba for sharing the resulting file with Windows (or other Linux boxes).
If you put the box in front of the internet, not behind a router or hardware firewall, remember to turn off password login for SSH and require authorized connections keys. If you don't, your password better be strong.
In terms of distros, there a whole lot to choose from. Most of what sets the distros apart from each other are 2 things.
1) Packaging System -- Systems used for installation of precompiled software
Most Debian based systems use Apt-Get to download packages from repositories.
Examples of Debian based systems include Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, and many others
2) Window Management System -- Your Desktop Environment (KDE, Gnome, Xfce, etc)
Personally I prefer something lightweight, so I usally opt for something like Xubuntu (Ubuntu with Xfce) or Mint 13 (MATE).
So really, I should not use this as a router until I fully understand how to use it. Unless of course I buy a firewall or router to stick in front of it. Which would really defeat the purpose. Thanks for the input. I might check out mint. I really do want something ultra-light weight and add only what I need.
What kind of CPU/RAM/GPU requirements might I need to decode 2 full 1080P movies and stream them simultaneously?
I am guessing they recommend 32 BIT because some people dont know what kind of computer they have so to ensure that it will work in their system they suggest 32bit.
But if your system is 64 BIT and you know for sure then go with the 64. It will be best for you!
Unless your computer has more than 4GB memory, I reccomend starting out with 32 bit Linux for someone new. 64 bit linux is good, but sometimes you'll run into trouble when dealing with applications made for 32bit, where you will need the 32-bit libraries to satisfy dependencies.
Normal pkg mgr will handle that for you eg I run 64 bit Centos, but not ALL pkgs are avail as 64 bit, so it automatically installs and runs 32 bit for those...
In other words, (if using the pkg mgr) then the default on a 64 bit system is to offer 64 bit pkgs if avail, otherwise it will offer 32 bit.
I had issues with Gens:386 on a 64 bit copy of Mint. I tried installing it from the built in gui software manager, but it was unable to install the 32 bit dependencies required to make the program work.
I've heard there are other problems that have similar issues, but I'm not sure how widespread the issue is.
Surprisingly it ended up being fixed after upgrading to Linux 3.5.5. The program actually installed successfully, though i had to manually install a 32bit version of a library to make it run.