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Old 06-29-2004, 12:22 AM   #1
scott_R
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Location: Brighton, Michigan, USA
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Best distro for Linux hostiles


Okay, I've managed to get the most twisted of my friends turned on to Linux. Now, by association, I've got someone who's interested in Linux, but hates it. It represents everything that goes against his grain. Linux is open, which to him means he won't be able to BS anyone about his abilities. Still, despite his percieved skill with MS, he sees the walls closing in on them.

My gut instinct is to let him float, but unfortunately, I'd hate to see his wife and kid suffer because he's braindead. That said, he's convinced Linux is garbage because he tried to install it, and it didn't work. One look at the disks he used (publishers version of RH 8, which wasn't that friendly even so) showed that the disk was trashed. It had more sparkles than most fourth of july celebrations.

That said, he's still interested. My gut feeling is to toss him a mandrake set, because that's the most windows-like/blatently simple install I know of. My question is, does anyone have a better idea? I have till next weekend to decide, as it stands now.

For the record, I'd love to hook him up with gentoo, slack, or debian. That said, unless it "impresses" him with an easy install, he's going to pass on it. I'm looking for something that installs nearly effortlessly, offers all the GUI good stuff, and can be downloaded for free to start. (He sees windows as "free", because work pays for his software/hardware, like many people.)

All that said, he's not an idiot. Once he uses Linux, he'll be hooked. It's just a matter of showing him that Linux has something beyond "geek" usability. FUD is gospel to this guy, for some unknown reason. He's a huge Mozilla fan though, which is what's pushed him towards a Linux "test". By the way, it's a slower machine, an intel 350, just so you know. (Part of my problem is SuSE/MDK's terrible GUI helpers, which take forever to run on a slow system.) His entire attitude is based on the idea that "free" means junkware, spyware, or worse. He could care less about the kernel, and other discrete items, he's looking at Linux as more of a stopgap towards the dificiencies in Windows. He's used Smoothwall Linux for the last six months, but sees it as repreaentative of Linux as a whole, not a purposely stripped down Linux distribution.

I don't know that this is really worth posting, because it might amount to nothing, but I also know that I'm nowhere near as smart as our combined experiences. So, basically, I'm looking for a "free" MDK10 without the goofy mistakes (like asking for the 4th disk in the 3 disk set). That said, all he knows about Linux is that Redhat and Lindows are the only "real" distros. So you know the work I've got cut out for me.

In other words...HELP, PLEASE!!!
 
Old 06-29-2004, 12:28 AM   #2
scott_R
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Um, mods, sorry, but I meant to post this in the Linux General section (or better), but I was looking at newbie questions in another tab, and accidently ended up posting here. Please move it to the proper place if you notice it. Thanks.
 
Old 06-29-2004, 02:48 AM   #3
XavierP
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This'll be more suited to Linux-Distributions. Personally, I'd give him Mandy - in my experience, it's quicker than Fedora, the install is like the Windows install (but better ) and the menu bar is very very well set out. Once you've set up his Urpmi Sources and demonstrated, he'll be more convinced.

The conversation would go:
"So, in Windows, when you want a cd ripping program, what do you do?"
"Well, go to download.com, Tucows, look around for an hour..."
"Oh" (Scott_R types in urpmi grip) "Oh look, I've just installed one"
"Wow"
"Well I'll leave you to it, then shall I?"
"Uh, yeah"
"By the way, www.linuxquestions.org will be of great help, just tell em Scott sent you"

Or something. I would definitely suggest Mandy 10 - let him enjoy that and then start mentioning that if he wants a challenge, Slack, Debian, etc etc will provide it.

Good luck
 
Old 06-29-2004, 04:07 AM   #4
amosf
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Mandrake.
 
Old 06-29-2004, 05:55 AM   #5
ferrix
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How about Mepis? Simple, solid, Debian based... only 1 CD (well, two CDs, but the second is optional). If you stick to Mandrake, at least be sure to give him the official edition, not the initial, community one. Finding himself unable to even boot from the first CD in the set would not make the best introduction to linux
 
Old 06-29-2004, 06:14 AM   #6
dukeinlondon
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Mandrake or Knoppix if that's just for a demo.
 
Old 06-29-2004, 09:47 AM   #7
David the H.
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Hi. I'm a noobie too and this is my first post to these forums. I'm going to have a lot of questions to ask over the next couple of months, but this thread is what prompted me to actually sign on. I'd like to pass on a few things I've learned to the guy Scott_R is talking about.

First of all, from the description, he doesn't seem like the kind of person who will ever really appreciate linux or open source. I've met this kind before, and they tend to buy into the mainstream thinking without question. Anything on the margins of society is suspect and it usually takes a real act of god to get them to see otherwise. Still, he has shown enough of an open mind to give Linux a try, so I guess it's worth a shot. At least he's started to see the problems that Microsoft's monopoly status is causing.

The first thing you really need to try to get across to him is the nature of software, specifically the idea that if it's free it's crap. Now this may be generally true of most things, but the truth is, software is a different beast altogether. Basically, in software, the cost has nearly no relationship with quality at all. I've seen free software that's incredibly good and commercial software that's utter garbage, and vice versa. He needs to understand that unlike material goods, where the quality of the finished product is related to the quality of the raw materials and manufacturing processes involved, software quality really only has one factor at work, the ability of the programmer(s) writing it. Whether they are getting paid for it or not is immaterial, a good programmer will create good programs, and a poor programmer will create poor ones. It's better to compare software to novel writing instead. You may pay top dollar for a book from a well-known writer at a bookstore, only to find that it stinks on ice, or you may download a story free online from an unknown author and find that it's the greatest story you've ever read. Price is immaterial to the quality of the written word, and coding is really just an extension of that; it's just words that tell the computer what to do.

Now, as for Linux itself, you need to be up front with him. Unlike Windows, it's: one) still an evolving product, two) comes from a more technical background than Windows, and three) has a different philosophy behind it. You need to stress upon him that it IS going to be more difficult to use than Windows, because it wasn't designed from the beginning for ease of use. It was designed by technical people for technical purposes and has only just recently started really being suitable for the desktop. It still has a way to go before it becomes truly friendly to the average person. Even then, it's basic philosophy is to have less window dressing (no pun intended) and show more of it's inner workings to the user than Windows.

Make sure he really understands that even though he may find a distribution that's easy to install, that there's a tremendously steep learning curve involved, especially for ex-Windows users, who have to "unlearn" some of the things they know how to do. They have to realize that there are other ways to do things, not necessarily better or worse, but different; sometimes very different. He should keep an open mind and not hastily condemn Linux just because he can't do everything right out of the box, as it were. Stress upon him how important the shell/command line is to Linux (and how it's similar to and different from dos), the permissions system, how the graphics layer runs separately from the kernel, and how almost everything uses config files. Warn him of other little idiosyncracies Linux has, like the behavior of the clipboard, single-click to run things, and how you have to mount drives before you can use them. In short, warn him ahead of time about everything you can think of that might frustrate him. If he can't accept these basic differences and appreciate the initial effort it requires to learn, then he really should just give up now. But if he sticks with it, he may discover a whole new way of computing and become more flexible for it.

In short, it's all going to depend on what his attitude is going in. He's either willing to learn and not get frustrated by the learning curve, or he's going to just learn to hate Linux and go running back to Windows.

As for recommended distributions, I started out playing with Mandrake 9 myself, and truthfully it is very easy to install and the configuration tools are pretty easy to use also. For basic functions like email and web surfing, it's just fine. But I quickly got sick of the RPM dependency hell and the difficulties I had getting some of the special requirements I had to work (Japanese support, for one), and decided to wipe it out and try something different. I'm using Debian now, and while it's much more difficult to use, I'm finding it much more flexible when really getting into the guts of it.

For this guy though, such geeky distros will have to wait. I see he already has an image of Red Hat as the standard Linux distro, so I'd work with his impressions and get him started on Fedora. He's doubtlessly more likely to take the name brand he knows seriously than a distribution he has probably never heard of. I'm sure you'll need every advantage in perception you can get with him to keep him from giving up the first time he runs into problems. Knoppix or a similar live CD distro might be another good option. He might just relax more if he knows he can play around with it on CD and not have to dive deep into a full installation right away. You know him though, so it's up to you as to which approach he'll be more likely to agree with.

Well, this is getting too long, so I'll wrap it up. Good luck getting this guy to give Linux a fair try. If you succeed you'll have a success story to really be proud of. But if he doesn't take to it, don't blame yourself. Some things just aren't meant to be.
 
Old 06-29-2004, 10:02 AM   #8
IsaacKuo
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For goodness sake do NOT give him Mandrake! Go with Mepis, or maybe Knoppix, like ferrix said.

1. It is only one CD. Really, this is a big deal. Just LOOKING at a zillion CDs is intimidating, and implies an annoying long install process with lots of CD swapping.

2. They just plain work, with great automatic hardware detection. The LiveCD aspect is great because he can just give it a whirl without mentally commiting himself to sitting down for an install.

3. It's Debian! Apt-get/dpkg goodness!
 
Old 06-30-2004, 12:22 PM   #9
whishkah
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Okay, I have tried many Linux distros. It isn't just a matter the easiest. It all depends on how you look at things that depends on weather or not it is easy. I used to think slackware would be to hard for me, now that I am used to linux it was no problem. -Yet, if you want to know why I completely dropped winblow$ for linux it is from Knoppix and Mandrake. -You could even tease his arrogance and give him a copy of gentoo and watch him squirm.

Anyway, I think a live CD would be best so he could see linux and then try to install it if he wants. You might look into: Knoppix, Mandrake Move, XoL, Jollix, Morphix, PLD Live, NavynOS, Slax etc...

All of those Live CDs cover different sections of the linux world, from gaming to servers to desktop.

Good luck
 
Old 06-30-2004, 08:30 PM   #10
ferrix
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I enjoyed your post, David the H... you clearly Get It!
 
Old 06-30-2004, 08:57 PM   #11
ehawk
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mepis

live CD (won't complain about hosing things)
nice autodetection
lots of applications
easiest HD install I've seen
apt-get (actually, get him to use kpackage)
 
Old 06-30-2004, 09:34 PM   #12
darthtux
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I would give him a couple of live-cd's. Knoppix and Mepis to let him play with.

For a hard drive install there are things to consider and which you may want to explain to him. Mandrake may be easier to install but will he get continued satisfaction from it? Installation is the beginning. Then you have the rest of the time working with it. Maybe explain that fact to him and suggest Debian or Gentoo. After you get them installed they are heavenly compared to some of the quickie installation distro's. Their software installation and configuration can't be beat.

You said he has a 350. No problem there. I have run KDE 3.2, GNOME 2.4, etc. on a 400 with no performance problems whatsoever. What matters is the RAM. 194MB works great for me. Any less and their may be problems.
 
Old 06-30-2004, 09:35 PM   #13
amosf
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Yep, sure, but some of us don't care if he hoses his win install
 
Old 07-01-2004, 03:56 AM   #14
neranjana
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The easiest I've found so far is Mandrake. A lot of CDs but you don't need to know much about Linux. I've found KDE to be more user freindly than GNOME.
 
Old 07-01-2004, 06:12 AM   #15
whishkah
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Yeah but that is the bad thing about mandrake. I used to use mandrake, and then I got problems that config wizards couldn't help. I needed to learn. That's why I switched to slackware 10. It was easy to install and configure. The only hard part is remembering the video card chipset and video card ram you got. Slackware was great, it is simple to get a working linux box, but you also have the ability to expand with it...
 
  


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