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I am a total noob to Linux. I want to learn and play with it but there is so many different front ends I guess you would call them. What is the best one to get? I see Redhat, Lindows, SUSE, etc... Or should I use the core Linux and compile it off the web? Then there is the personal, pro, business, or web versions. I don't plan to run a web site off my computer or run a ftp server but I'd like to share files with my local network and surf the web with it. I don't want to get a few weeks into this and find out I should of gone a different way.
Here is my opinion as far as ease-of-use and install for the different Distros I've had experience with (greatest - least ease):
3. Red Hat
it would behoove you to have the install CDs either by purchasing the distro or DLing and burning the ISOs (except SuSE... they only allow FTP install for DLing) for whichever distro you decide on. It makes the install go faster.
The different front ends, as you call them, are called Distributions. They all use the same linux kernel (the 'core' of the OS) but choose to package different applications with them. Generally for a home user the Personal version is fine. DIfferent distributions cater towards different audiences: Mandrake is aimed at the beginner and features graphical tools to help set up your system and hardware, whereas Slackware is, I suppose, more geared at those with a little experience (or those who like to be thrown in at the deepend) and leaves you to configure everything yourself using text files (most linux apps are configured by text files, Mandrake and others just provide tools to make editting them easier). Distros like RedHat (Fedora) and SuSE are generally somewhere in between - lots of control but lots of user friendliness.
Personally I started with Red Hat about 4 years ago but moved to Slackware once I had a little experience and wanted more control over exactly what was on my system. A lot of people on these boards have good things to say about Mandrake.
Most distros have a version you can download for free if you have a broadband connection (or lots of patience!) why not give them a go? In addition Mandrake has something called MandrakeMove which runs entirely off a CD so you can see how compatible your hardware is before you install onto your hard disk.
Thank Komakino. Your post explaining the difference is helping. I would like to hear more like it. I would like to have more control but am scared of a text base control. In the past I found it was too easy to mistype a command or have a line deleted that you needed later on.
Welcome to LQ.
I was in your situation a few months ago. I would suggest Mandrake.
The Mandrake installation process is simple, you don't need to know anything about linux to be succesful with it ( I'm living proof).
And yes , I've used Mandrake for 4 months now and I love it, definitely good for newbies like you and me.
Just an extension of my 2 cents.He he. When I started writing my post there was only one reply. I got interrupted and posted it about 35 minutes later and theres lost of other replies, but I hope my post helps you choose.
I guess I love Mandrake coz the first time I installed it, my hardware worked flawlessly, it impressed me (that's why I suggest you try it). I didn't have any problems.
Mandrake was the reason I decided to use Linux.
Mandrake 9.1 was the first one I tried, I didn't ind any bugs.
Mandrake 10 community still has a few bugs to iron out, but many people have had no problems.
Originally posted by Paul W Anderson Thank Komakino. Your post explaining the difference is helping. I would like to hear more like it. I would like to have more control but am scared of a text base control. In the past I found it was too easy to mistype a command or have a line deleted that you needed later on.
I should also say that even distros that include graphical tools ALSO include the text files. The GUI tools just edit the file for you, so once you got confident (and if you needed to) you could edit the files manually anyway.
From what I've heard I would try the MandrakeMove bootable distro for a little while - no disruption to your hard disk if it turns out to be not for you but a chance to see what hardware is supported. Plus in this thread a few people already have recommended Mandrake so it looks like it could be your thing.