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Old 10-31-2009, 02:37 AM   #1
Root Bomb
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Distro Differences

Hey, I wanted to know what are the basic differences of all distros. What I am trying to ask/say is hard to explain but Ill give it a shot, maybe someone here will understand. In an earlier post I stated I would use slackware as my first linux distro. I said I chose that distro because it's not a easy one for a beginner to learn but I like to go from crawling straight to running. I want to install a basic linux. What I mean by this is Just the OS with no GUI and no programs. I never liked GUIs, even in windows I would do 90% on the command prompt with explorer.exe off. Can I do this with LInux? If i install ubuntu or slackware without the GUI will they be exactly the same? Can you be root on all distros? Are all distros secure the same?

Also I hear that slackware it's just a little more difficult to install programs but this doesn't bother me. I want to learn the original true Linux way.

Well hopefully you guys understand what I am trying to say, if this was a total disaster please let me know. thanks.
Old 10-31-2009, 02:42 AM   #2
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A Google search will answer the first part of the question nicely. As for the rest- sure, you can install w/out a gui. I don't know enough about Ubuntu to say, but it's certainly not a problem with Slackware.
Old 10-31-2009, 02:42 AM   #3
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Well Picking a Distro kind of depends what you are doing. Some may be better for you and others not. But in the end they are all basically the same.

For example
Centos/RHET are great for servers and are ease to manage with yum (Yellowdog Updater Modified)
Ubuntu can be a great desktop but also will work as a server as well

They all basically are the same but some software for example like cpanel should use CentOS/RHET but still capable of other Distros but may require modifications.

Some distros are more stable than others. Stable running OS are like CentOS, RHET, Debian, but some OSes are for power users like Slackware.

All Linux versions can be ran more efficent with Command line then the GUI but you have to learn it. Another Example you don't run a webserver with a GUI. You do it all by command line. How ever you do need to run a gui for graphical applications like open office etc.

Slackware when you install be default you will start with the command line. Even if you install KDE or any other Desktop. It starts in init 3. But once you log in and you need the gui you simply run "startx" without quotes to get the GUI. Press and hold all togeather <ctl>+<alt>+<backspace> to stop x server and go back to command line.

But again they are all capable of doing the same thing.

Last edited by jmc1987; 10-31-2009 at 02:47 AM.
Old 10-31-2009, 05:35 AM   #4
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For installing without a GUI, best bets, aside from Slackware, are probably Linux from Scratch, Arch, or Gentoo. Of the three, Arch is probably the easiest.

The majority of other distros are gradually Windows-fying, (I know there's no such word, but there should be. Mac-ifying is probably more euphonous) It becomes very difficult with many of them to install things without the GUI, as they'll have a bunch of programs tied to X that shouldn't be, such as network and sound. Worse still, they'll tie it to a specific desktop, such as Gnome, so that if you change the desktop from the default, sound and networking will stop working.

So, Slack is an excellent choice. As has been said, you can, in theory at least, do it with all distributions, but it will often become difficult, when cups or samba, for example, start saying they need program A, which needs B, which needs something in X.

As for Ubuntu, they do have an alternative cd, which will give you a non-gui installation and setup. (So will its predecessor, Debian.)
Old 10-31-2009, 06:05 AM   #5
David the H.
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There can be variations in directory structures, administrative tools, and other differences between distributions. There are two different init systems used and different runlevels defined, for example, with some distros using the SysV type and others the BSD variant. And of course there are the different packaging systems used for managing software.

On the other hand, most of the major distributions more-or-less conform to the Linux Standard Base, so most differences are minimal in actual effect. Mostly it's a case of remembering a few different commands and directory locations, or having to modify a script or two. Other than that, it's mostly just a case of familiarizing yourself with the shell, which in almost all cases will be bash.

I'd say the only way to really learn what differences there are is to familiarize yourself with a variety of distributions.


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