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Old 09-23-2010, 10:46 AM   #1
PhilDHD
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Registered: Sep 2010
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Want to learn linux - binary or source?


Hello

I am preparing to attempt my first steps into the linux world and would appreciate advice on where to start. I build websites using Drupal and hope, in the first place, to configure a LAMP webserver for my home network. But mostly I want to learn Linux.

I am attracted to Debian because I understand it:
  1. promotes the open source ethos (whereas some other distros are somewhat proprietory)
  2. has good community support
  3. is good for learning Linux
To start with, is my understanding correct with these points?


Most of all I am confused between the binary and source versions.

I understand that source needs compiling and can be targeted to my hardware. However, as I will be tinkering at home I am not sure quite how important this is for me at this stage. I also understand that source can be very difficult for a newbie. I understand that binary is precompiled, comes in packages and is easier for a newbie.

What I have yet to grasp is how restricted with learning (scripting and development) I will be with a binary install. Is it the case that scripting is the same on both source and binary? Also, is it the case that I could proceed with a binary install and still grab the source for particular components and tinker+compile these on top of my binary install? This would seem to give me the ease of starting with binary packages but retain the possibility of learning deeper as I go along.

Am I thinking along the right lines or miles away? Any advice/links greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Phil
 
Old 09-23-2010, 11:13 AM   #2
ordinary
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Registered: Apr 2007
Location: the Rocket City
Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS; in days past Fedora, Solaris, SunOS, 4.2BSD, 4.3BSD, SVR4, AIX, HP-UX
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Hey, Phil. Debian will be fine for your stated needs. In similar circumstances, I use CentOS, but it offers no advantage over Debian that I know of. It is just what I chose. Second, the source code is interesting, but entirely unnecessary to do what you say you want. My recommendation is install a recent Debian (or CentOS or other), configure it like you want, and have a ball. The day may come that you need source code for the kernel or drivers or compilers or X or something, but you probably don't now. Also, the fact that you installed a binary distribution does not preclude you from seeing the source if you wish.

The very best advice is dive right on in, the water's fine. Be assured that you will get plenty of support here.

Mostly, have fun. Oh, yeah, and enjoy the productivity.

<edit> Here's another thought. Someone is sure to tell you that you need to tailor the kernel to get the last fragment of performance out of your hardware, and there may be some truth to that. But, mostly extracting that last bit of performance is a hobby unto itself. For me, there is a rapidly diminishing return. I want my machinery to run reliably at a small cost in time and money. So I occasionally rescue a hand-me-down Wintel box, slap some Linux distribution on it, and call it done.

Last edited by ordinary; 09-23-2010 at 11:20 AM.
 
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:23 AM   #3
jdkaye
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Registered: Dec 2008
Location: Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK
Distribution: Debian Testing Amd64
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I agree entirely with Phil. Debian would be an excellent choice. You can compile away to your heart's content if that's what you want to do. Linux is all about freedom and freedom means choice in this case. You wanna compile? Compile. You don't? Don't.
ciao,
jdk
 
Old 09-23-2010, 11:30 AM   #4
PhilDHD
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Registered: Sep 2010
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OK - I am going to proceed with Debian netinst later tonight (after midnight when my isp stops measuring my bandwidth usage). Thanks very much for the help.

Phil
 
Old 09-23-2010, 11:32 AM   #5
jdkaye
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilDHD View Post
OK - I am going to proceed with Debian netinst later tonight (after midnight when my isp stops measuring my bandwidth usage). Thanks very much for the help.

Phil
Just a quick point: given what you want to do, I would try either Squeeze (testing) or Sid (unstable). I would avoid using Lenny (stable).
Have fun.
jdk
 
Old 09-23-2010, 11:42 AM   #6
PhilDHD
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Registered: Sep 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdkaye View Post
Just a quick point: given what you want to do, I would try either Squeeze (testing) or Sid (unstable). I would avoid using Lenny (stable).
Have fun.
jdk
Hello jdk

Actually, before your post, I was planning on Lenny. Could you explain why you recommend Squeeze or Sid - I can see I don't need production stability but am curious what I might benefit from with the newer versions.

Phil
 
Old 09-24-2010, 12:46 AM   #7
jdkaye
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Registered: Dec 2008
Location: Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK
Distribution: Debian Testing Amd64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilDHD View Post
Hello jdk

Actually, before your post, I was planning on Lenny. Could you explain why you recommend Squeeze or Sid - I can see I don't need production stability but am curious what I might benefit from with the newer versions.

Phil
Lenny is really for servers with 100's of clients that depend on it for their very existence. It is VERY stable. If you don't fit that description then a reasonable compromise is "testing" which is not at all scary its name notwithstanding. I've used testing for years without any serious problems and with Debian you can make the occasional foray into unstable via alt-pinning which is something I also do. My reason for suggesting testing or unstable is that very soon you may get frustrated by Lenny's conservativism and want something a bit more up to date.

I hope I've explained this clearly.
ciao,
jdk
 
  


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