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tux-junkie 01-01-2005 07:53 PM

Having Trouble Picking the Right Distro
Well, I'm having a little trouble picking a distro for my web server. I've tried Debian, Slackware, Fedora, and FreeBSD. I fell in love with Debian, but Woody doesn't support my video chipset, and I had some trouble using Sarge for a server -- some things broke.

Fedora seems way too bloated and unstable to me, and I couldn't get FreeBSD to work with my video chipset either. So, I'm a little discouraged. I suppose I could use Sarge again if I had to, but I thought this would be a good time to try out some alternatives. Can anyone shout some suggestions?

__J 01-01-2005 07:56 PM

Did you get your video to work with any of them? They all pretty much support the same thing.
Xorg/Xfree86 comes with drivers and there are binary drivers for nvidia and ati.

what is the video chipset?

tux-junkie 01-01-2005 08:13 PM

I got the video to work fine with Sarge, Slackware, and Fedora. It's an Intel chipset -- I'm not sure of the exact make. It's a couple years old, I think.

__J 01-01-2005 08:24 PM

Check and see if there is an Xorg update for woody. Most of the basic video drivers come from X and if one distro supports you video then they all should (not necessarily the case w/ freeBSD but it should too).

tux-junkie 01-01-2005 08:35 PM

Bah, I'm sorry... what's an Xorg update, and where can I find it? Thanks again for the help.

__J 01-01-2005 08:44 PM

Its the X graphical server. What did you not like about the distro's that you were able to get video working on like Slackware? Also take a look at Mandrake its pretty easy to install and not a bad distro IMO. Theres gentoo also but that is a from source distro.

tux-junkie 01-01-2005 08:54 PM

Well, I guess Debian seduced me with apt, and its ease-of-use. If there was an Xorg update for Woody, could I apt-get it?

__J 01-01-2005 09:09 PM

Should be able to check the debian site and see if it is listed.
Or (as root) run:

lspci -v | more

and search for your graphics chipset in the output.
from there you can do a google and see exactly which driver you need.

bigjohn 01-01-2005 09:22 PM


Originally posted by __J
Theres gentoo also but that is a from source distro.
So what's wrong with gentoo being source based?

Yes it can be a bit of a twat to install, but I managed it, and I only really had had experience of using mandrake - which IMO is a "doddle" especially if you put your hand in your pocket and get a "paid for" version (I always used the powerpacks - not the + version though that's what they call the "pro" version now).

Gentoo's portage is probably as good, if not better than apt (yes I have briefly tried debian), there's only one downside, and that's because it compiles for your system specifically, it can take a bloody long time to compile anything big.

The basic way round that is to do a "stage 3 + GRP" install for your chipset i.e. I got the pentium 4 discs, and had things up and running in an hour and a half. The GRP bit (gentoo reference platform) is pre-compiled packages, so there's no initial delay in getting the system up and running (but they're frowned upon by the purists who always seem to do the stage 1.......... and that can take bloody days and days).

As far as I can tell, unless you want to use specific mirror locations, you just tell it

emerge whatever
and portage starts trying the various mirrors until it finds one that has the package you want. yes it does do the dependency checks etc etc as well.

Like debian, it has stable and unstable package tree's, you can use whichever you like, but unlike debian the stable package tree is one hell of a lot more up to date e.g. Yesterday, my system emerged the latest kde (version 3.3.2), which took a good few hours to compile but most other distros havent got that far yet, I'd be that if you got the latest stable kde from debian it'd probably be a 2.x version i.e. bloody ancient! That's the downside of debian.

Erm it's my understanding that if bloody_maiden really wants debian, then how about installing Ubuntu - that's debian based, then just change the apt-sources list to debian repositories (sid and sarge anyway - woody's way, way to ancient) and your off!

I've read about a good number of people who have done that or done the same thing with knoppix i.e. installed it to hard drive and then changed the apt-sources list to debian sources. Then as long as the sources are sarge or sid, you've got yourself a pretty up to date system, debian based. The latest is only an "apt-get dist upgrade" away!

Besides, knoppix hardware detection has got to be about one of the best out there!


good luck and happy new year



tux-junkie 01-01-2005 09:34 PM

Thanks guys, I really appreciate the help. I tried installing Gentoo about 3 or 4 months ago, and never could get X to start (same machine) -- maybe I'll give it another go.

As for Ubuntu, I never would have thought of that. Thanks!

sls 01-01-2005 10:40 PM


If you still want to use woody you could add sarge to your apt-sources list and install the updated xfree86 package.

You will need to set a cache limit


apt::Cache-Limit "8388608";


You can then add a preferences file /etc/apt/preferences this keeps your apt-get upgrades to woody

Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian,a=testing
Pin-Priority: 600

Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian,a=stable
Pin-Priority: 650

Then use the following to install from sarge

apt-get -t testing install xserver-xfree86


__J 01-01-2005 11:22 PM


So what's wrong with gentoo being source based?
I didn't say anything was *wrong* with it, just making sure it was known since the question is about other distro's in general. I've used gentoo a few times and it's not a bad distro at all. I just don't personally agree with some of the methods used by gentoo.

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