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Old 03-12-2010, 02:31 PM   #1
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Brand New to LInux: Class Project


I'm taking a CompTIA A+ certification class and our first project is to do a clean install of Linux. What might be the best websites to download from? Does it really make a difference if you're using a "free" version? Our text (5 years old) suggests that a Linux installation can be painfully difficult. Any hints/advice would be greatly appreciated. My first installation, before class, will be on my 5 year old HP laptop that has 2 physical hard drives. Nothing important on the Windows XP root drive.


Old 03-12-2010, 02:51 PM   #2
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OK, well firstly you shoudl consider that all Linux distro's are "free". Not true, but might as well be from your perspective. The most popular non-enterprise ones - Ubuntu, Fedora, Mepis etc... are all free to both use and modify. And it's painfully easy. next. next. finish. And 5 years ago it was also very very simple. 15 years ago, now that would have been a challenge, but now it's very trivial. If you want a decision to be made for you, download ubuntu -

Doesn't sound like much of a project though, TBH. It's just as easy as installing windows, but without the 9 reboots. And remember that just because Linux might do things differently to windows, it doesn't mean it's wrong or hard, just different.

Last edited by acid_kewpie; 03-12-2010 at 02:53 PM.
Old 03-12-2010, 03:05 PM   #3
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I would suggest going back to the base distributions--

RH(well centos), debian, or slackware for your first install and use each for a week or so then try the next, they do things well but most distributions are based on them in one form or another (less so on the slackware front) so learning a bit about each and the differences between them will serve you well the rest of your class. It will also serve you well later on if you go for your Linux+

These days linux really is easier than anything prior to windows 7 install, windows 7 is easier, but not by much. The exception being if you have some either extremely new video or sound cards or if you or if you are doing something 'odd'

Last edited by rweaver; 03-12-2010 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 03-12-2010, 03:07 PM   #4
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Definately not hard to install your most common distros of linux. I can remember 10 years ago it was a little challenging, but even then not much. The only real thing you had to be concerned with was making sure Horizontal and Vertical refresh rates were set right, now everything is taken care of for you. like acid said, next, next, next, done. Stick with something like Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, Mepis, or even Debian and you have a nice little gui installer that does all the hard work for you.

I am surprised they are including Linux in A+ now.... I thought that's what Linux+ was for.

Last edited by bret381; 03-12-2010 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 03-12-2010, 03:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by prsnrs View Post
Our text (5 years old) suggests that a Linux installation can be painfully difficult.
Compared to buying a computer with the OS already installed, installing Linux might be rather difficult for someone that is computer illiterate.

Compared to installing Windows, installing Linux hasn't been hard for many years and by five years ago, installing Linux was much easier than installing Windows.

Any hints/advice would be greatly appreciated.
Get a distribution that is liveCD and installer in one CD. Most distributions have such a CD, but not all.

Try using the liveCD first, so you find out in advance if there is any issue with the display or the wireless network connection (if you use wireless network). Other than display or wireless network, there aren't likely to be issues.

If you have a problem with the liveCD, you might avoid it by picking a different distribution. You also could post here at LQ. If you post a good description of the problem, you'll likely get a good answer fast.

I don't mean to give the impression that you should expect a problem, just that it's worth the trouble to boot into the liveCD and find out before you install.

I think Mepis is the most beginner friendly distribution.

To burn the downloaded .iso file to CD or DVD in Windows (whatever Linux distribution you choose), unless you really understand the image (not file) burning option of your existing CD writing software, I think it is better to use ImgBurn instead. It is free and generally better than the typical pre installed or even purchased CD burning tools.
In the ImgBurn menu, "Write image file to disc" is the correct (image) method of writing the CD, while "Write files/folders to disc" is the incorrect (file) method of writing the CD.

Originally Posted by rweaver View Post
I would suggest going back to the base distributions--
I would suggest exactly the opposite. Beginner friendly distributions such as Mepis or Ubuntu are layered on top of Debian in order to have the advantages of Debian but be more friendly to beginners.

Originally Posted by rweaver View Post
RH(well centos), debian, or slackware
RHEL and Centos are designed to install normally as servers, not workstations. If you know Linux well, you can install what you want from almost any distribution. Differences that matter to a beginner won't matter. But for a beginner, deviating from the intent of whoever wrote the installer gets confusing fast. The RHEL/Centos install process would be very confusing for a beginner setting up a workstation.

Also Centos is a super large download. Unless your download speeds are really great, pick something smaller.

The best way to learn Debian is by starting with Mepis.

I think Slackware is a poor choice for a beginner.

use each for a week or so then try the next
If you want a career in IT support for Linux, you better learn Centos and you probably should learn Debian as well.

But if you want to learn to use Linux or program for Linux, pick one distribution. Even to learn for an IT career, unless you're in a real hurry, it is probably easier and better to get into some depth with an easy distribution before trying Centos and Debian.

Most of the differences affect the install and maintenance activities rather than use or programming. Once you've gone to the trouble of setting up one Linux distribution, spend your time learning to use it, not installing another one.

Last edited by johnsfine; 03-12-2010 at 05:56 PM.
Old 03-12-2010, 05:39 PM   #6
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I'm surprised no version has been specified or even suggested.

You should download from the distribution's own website. You can do a normal download or use bittorrent.

Since Novell are involved with CompTIA, you could try openSUSE, since it's closely related to Novell's Enterprise Linux products.

If you want something 'user friendly', Ubuntu could be a good choice, though I've had negative experiences with 9.10.

If on the other hand you want to learn more about Linux, with a distribution more relevant to commercial settings, either Debian or CentOS (which is basically rebranded Red Hat Enterprise Linux) would be good.


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