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Old 08-27-2003, 11:06 PM   #1
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Distribution: Debian, openSUSE
Posts: 400

Rep: Reputation: 30
Question linux distros.... help out a newb :)

hi all, you've probably seen my posts all over the place, about 2 a day with problems.... anyways, I'm not giving up on linux, not by any means, I just seem to be having too many problems with slackware, perhaps the learning curve is too steep, but I like to think not

anyways, I don't want to use mandrake or redhat, I'm eager to learn the power of the commandline, what's the story on gentoo ? also, I'm interested in hearing ppl's opinions on Suse also. I'm not abandoning slackware, that's for sure, the things that I've done right have been very rewarding, but I've got plenty of HD space and plenty of room for partitions and distros. I don't want to go overboard, but I'm really looking for a distro that will actually let me learn about linux without getting into the windows graphical click and sit back mentality without making me spend 7 hours a day trying to get certain things to work because I only have a vague idea of what I really need to do.... I really like the reiserfs filesystem, and I love the eyecandy of KDE, even though I still use the "konsole" (console) for most things, since I figure if I can't work the console I can't work linux

also, on a different note: is it just me, or about 95% of the HOWTOs out of date? so far I haven't found much use for any of them, when using the newer kernels I've found much much easier ways of doing things. i.e.: the nvidia-opengl howto requires that you install mesa 3.4.....the DVD howto has way too many steps, when all I really had to do was enable UDF fs in the kernel config and lo and behold, I can access DVDs.... and so on and so forth. (i'm not bashing the howto keeper-uppers, lord knows they have way more knowledge of the innards of linux than I do, it just seems like the HOWTOs are making newbies like me take tons of unnecessary steps and fouling things up a little along the way )

last but not least, could someone explain, or point me to an explanation of the directory structure? why multiple lib folders, modules folders, repeating dir names with different contents, stuff seeming to be installed all over the place, etc? I'm just trying to find some order here for my own sanity maybe I'm too used to windows, but the program files folder was nice, and the windows folder was cool too, at least then you could keep most of your program, config, and exec files straight, even if it did welcome tons of unused dlls, remnants, and all the other problems we know those structures have; it does seem much simpler than linux however.... (bad terminology i know)

sorry for the long post, its lots of reading I know, but hey, who better to explain myself than myself ?
Old 08-27-2003, 11:38 PM   #2
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Denver, CO
Distribution: CentOS, Debian
Posts: 825

Rep: Reputation: 33
well, i went the other way. i started with mandrake and switched to slackware. it can be tough sometimes, getting everything to work and run smoothly, but in the end it's just so damn rewarding! if you do want to try out other distros though (which is an excellent idea no matter where you are on the learning curve, i think) there are quite a few live CD's available. with a quick search in i got hits on gentoo, knoppix, slackware live, and several others.

you might also check out for more info

good luck!
Old 08-27-2003, 11:40 PM   #3
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Canada
Distribution: RH, Fedora, Debian
Posts: 128

Rep: Reputation: 15
Well I can't answer all of your questions since I'm rather new to Linux myself, but I'll take a stab at the reference regarding which distro is better.

Simply put there's no true/good/ready answer. Should you ask 5 people you may get 5 different opinions. It really depends on your desire and/or ability to learn Linux and the medium you want to learn it. There are a number of very popular flavors out there (Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, among others) that make installation and ease of functionality the core of their distribution - yet give you the opportunity to work in a Linux environment at your pace (sometimes that's precipitated by a need to "fix" a problem).

Personally I've used OS's like OS/2 and have dabbed in UNIX before. But due to work environment I was immersed in the Windows environment for a period long enough to forget much of what I learned before (which wasn't all that much in the first place). So I downloaded a few "Live Evaluation" packages for testing and to get a feel for a distro before actually committing to it.

SuSE was my third tryout and I liked it from the start. The distro you "adopt" is the one that suits you - not the other way around. If you feel comfortable with it then get it and make the best of it.

Here's a good link explaining the different distros - very informative:

and here's a good description of directories:

Hope this helps!


Last edited by LooseCanon; 08-27-2003 at 11:45 PM.
Old 08-27-2003, 11:41 PM   #4
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Denver, CO
Distribution: CentOS, Debian
Posts: 825

Rep: Reputation: 33
also, for a pretty good guide for linux, i would get a copy of Paul Sheer's Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition or the equivalent. (i haven't gotten to the section on general directory structure yet, but the parts i have read have been quite helpful )

it's also available online here
but it really is best to have something in print.
Old 08-27-2003, 11:51 PM   #5
Senior Member
Registered: May 2003
Location: Malaysia
Distribution: Slackware, LFS, CentOS
Posts: 1,307

Rep: Reputation: 47
If you really want to learn (non-GUI stuff), and Slack is already over your head, you won't get far with anything else. People will recommend Gentoo, Debian and LFS, but believe me you definitely will have similar (if not exactly the same) problems on these distros as well because they follow the FHS recommendations very closely... just like Slackware (suprise!).

I believe the FHS link I give will also clarify on your comments regarding apps and libraries "all over the place" as you put it.

Now on to the HOWTOs... my question would be which HOWTO are you referring to? And did you compare the version referred in that HOWTO to the version that you're using? Well, even if what you mentioned is true, then what's stopping you from making your own HOWTO and publishing it? It does seem easier to complain than actually doing something about it, now does it?

I'm not bashing you personally, because I can see that you have initiative, and for that I salute you... I'm merely trying to show you a glimpse of the big picture and why the Linux/open source community is at its current level. And to tell you the truth, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the HOWTO issues, which is why I prefer these fine forum instead of any obsolete HOWTO.

Good luck on your future endeavours.
Old 08-28-2003, 12:05 AM   #6
Senior Member
Registered: Dec 2001
Location: 35.7480 N, 95.3690 W
Distribution: Debian, Gentoo, Red Hat, Solaris
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If you want to learn the comman-line you can do that in any distro. You don't have to boot to a GUI, you can use a terminal window in a GUI or you can do a ctrl+alt+F? where ? is a number from 2 - 6 to get to a comman-line console and use ctrl+alt+F7 to get back to the GUI.

If you don't want Red Hat. The I would suggest Slackware or Debian. You can get a Slackware CD where you can just boot to it and try it out. All of it runs in RAM.

The reason there are libraries and other folders repeated in the directory structure is that some come with certain apps and put them in /lib. Especially the ones that are essential to the functioning of Linux. The others are put in /usr/lib. These are user added programs or those not essential to the system. A little more info can be found in the Linux System Administrator's Guide
Old 08-28-2003, 12:28 AM   #7
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Distribution: Debian, openSUSE
Posts: 400

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30

actually you've all been a bit of a help, and given me an idea or two... I think I'll try out JAMD, Gentoo, and Yopper (they have a good advertising pitch) and go from there

I realize that I don't need the console to use command line, in fact I don't immediatly boot into X anyways, and I'm pretty adept at pico and the basic core files I've had to edit (due entirely to this forum btw) to get my system to the level where I want it. I'm not dissatisfied entirely with slackware, I just think that I'd like to try something else to get a taste of what is out there before I really commit, or spend too much time with 20 partitions and 19 distros

and a note and thanks to Azmeen also, my website is, or, since sometimes the *.tk is slow or not working. Azmeen, you've given me an idea, since I see a lot of newbs here and around the web with many of the same problems as me, I think in the coming weeks I'll revamp the blog site to a mini howto site to accomodate beginners like myself who are having basic problems overcoming the early challenges of linux. now I'm not going to brag anything up yet, since I used dreamweaver and my limited knowledge of perl to create the site as it is now, but hopefully I'll at least have something useful to build on and contribute back to the veterans that have helped me by taking a little load off and helping out others like myself.

expect to hear from me in a short while, of which the length I cannot determine, as an issue would not be an issue if you already knew the solution

translation: i'll get back once i try out a few distros and start work on the website


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