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Old 02-26-2009, 06:58 PM   #1
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Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint
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Learning distro?

1. What makes a distro a "learning distro" or not?

2. Would Sabayon be considered a suitable distro for learning *nix?

I have been running Debian for over a year on one box and Ubuntu for a couple of months on another, but although I have learned much, I still feel like a hopeless novice.

I have heard that Gentoo is a difficult distro, but one that is helpful for learning due to different package management and such. However, I am not sure if that extends to Gentoo-based Sabayon. I want to setup a laptop as dual boot with Vista & then use it to build more knowledge of GNU/Linux and programming.
Old 02-26-2009, 07:19 PM   #2
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If you want to learn Unix then Linux is a poor choice. You would be better off using one of the BSDs or Solaris. They are genuine Unix. You won't find Windows-like gui admin tools; you configure Unixes by editing text files. Trying to find out which text files need to be edited to create a specific function can be frustrating. Most Linux distributions are much friendlier than genuine Unixes.

Gentoo is cool and is very high quality. I stopped using it because its configuration is very different from the other Linux distributions. The Gentoo web site has some of the best Linux documentation on the Internet.

Asking which Linux distro is good for learning is like asking which Windows is good for learning. It doesn't really make much sense.

I've been using Linux for 14 years and sometimes I feel like a noob. There's always something new to learn.
Old 02-27-2009, 07:08 PM   #3
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Asking which Linux distro is good for learning is like asking which Windows is good for learning. It doesn't really make much sense.
Wow! That stings a bit, but I sincerely appreciate your candor. Actually it helps me feel better about choosing Sabayon. I was concerned that maybe it would automatically setup too many things, but I will just concentrate on the new parts to learn, like emerge and Portage instead of apt-get and dpkg.
Old 02-27-2009, 09:42 PM   #4
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When I saw this question, my first reaction was "all of them" or "whatever you are using right now." The reason is that at the core they are all pretty much alike since they are based on the Linux kernel. Changing between functionally similar but operationally different applications such as apt-get, Portage, pacman, YaST, yum, etc. may prove informative and even entertaining, but it is not really learning Linux, it is learning variations in Linux applications. At any rate, wanting to learn is the key, and I wish you the best of luck with that.
Old 03-01-2009, 06:31 AM   #5
Registered: Feb 2009
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I think a good learning distro should be working from a liveCD.
So it doesn't change your system while learning.
It shouldn't be too spezial like GoboLinux or in some way even Puppy (which is perfect but for keeping it small had some changes)
I think Sabayon is excellent but too big.
I was said ubuntu is very good but it is said to be a bit different in commandline things.
I heard best things from Mandriva and I like openmamba. (both use proprietary software and work very fine)

Last edited by computerophil; 03-01-2009 at 10:26 AM.
Old 03-01-2009, 09:13 AM   #6
Registered: Oct 2002
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LFS and Gentoo (doing stage 1 installs, if you still can -- I don't know, it's been a few years since I was a regular Gentoo user) will teach you tons about how Linux (and yes, a bit about how Unix in general) works. I had been using Linux/BSD for a few years but I don't think I ever learned as much as I did from Gentoo stage 1 installs...building my own grub.conf, building my own kernels, building lots of my own config files like /etc/fstab and learning about the CFlags in /etc/make.conf. But if your goal is to learn about Unix (as somewhat narrowly differentiated from Linux), I'd get OpenSolaris or something and play around with that.

I'd also look to setting up your own web server, your own DNS servers, your own DHCP servers, your own mail server, etc. and using them, even if on your local network only.

As to learning about programming, that can be done on any Linux/Unix.
Old 03-02-2009, 09:42 AM   #7
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Helpful feedback all the way around. I love the web/mail server suggestion and plan to pursue that in short order. I also plan to explore Gentoo or OpenSolaris or both on one of my older desktops.

For my laptop, I decided this was not the best choice of machine for experimentation, because my wife uses it heavily and would not be happy about it being out of service at times. So I burned nine different live CD's and went with Linux Mint, because it recognized my graphics card and wireless setup better than others.


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