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Old 03-11-2006, 01:46 PM   #1
doowttam
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Question Lost in the mix of distros


I read an article on digg.com a few days ago about one of the biggest problems with Linux being that there are so many distros it can be intimidating. Well, I've been trying to learn to use unix in my spare time for a couple of years now and I haven't gotten very far. If I pick a distro like Suse that is aimed at people who just want something that works, I don't learn anything. But if I pick a distro like debian that doesn't even give me the option of installing KDE or Gnome when I install it, I feel like I've been dropped into the deep end.

So, I'm finally asking the question that I know you've heard from a million newbies before: Which distro?

I really need something for a newbie that would allow me to learn basic (and someday advanced) unix concepts. But, I'd also like to replace windows with it, so I also need to be able to get it going without too much trouble because I am a college student who needs a working computer.

Thanks for your time.
 
Old 03-11-2006, 01:55 PM   #2
acid_kewpie
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go with whatever you like the look of. just because something is easy to use doesn't mean is has to stay that easy. just stop using the shiny control centres and suse can be just as "hard" as any other distro...
 
Old 03-11-2006, 02:10 PM   #3
reddazz
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I think you should just try a few and then pick one you like and stick with it. The basics are the same whether you run Linux, BSD and other Unix like operating systems. I know some people say you don't learn anything if you use distros like Suse, Redhat/Fedora etc, but personally I think its a lot of rubbish because there are more similarities than differences in most Linux distros. Some people like to feel important because they are using some obscure distro so thats why they say you don't learn anything if you use user friendly distros. I believe how much you learn depends on yourself and not the distro that you are using.
 
Old 03-11-2006, 02:47 PM   #4
truthfatal
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I'd suggest starting with the one that has the coolest sounding name (while agreeing with the above posts).
 
Old 03-11-2006, 04:16 PM   #5
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doowttam
I read an article on digg.com a few days ago about one of the biggest problems with Linux being that there are so many distros it can be intimidating.
If you are shopping for a car, are you intimidated by the number of options?
I don't know what "digg" is, but statements like this are often the result of someone looking for negatives.

In Linux, there are not that many fundamentally different distros--eg there is the Debian family, with a bunch of variants.

Pick any mainstream free distro at random and dive in. You have notthing to lose, and you can ultimately install several on one machine. (When you're ready, we can point you to the guy who installed over a 100 OSes--Linux, BSD, Windows, etc..... )

I like Ubuntu--you might not....
 
Old 03-11-2006, 04:40 PM   #6
doowttam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany
If you are shopping for a car, are you intimidated by the number of options?
I don't know what "digg" is, but statements like this are often the result of someone looking for negatives.
Digg.com is a technology news website, kind of like slashdot, except that there is a system in place in which the users are the editors. And I think that the article was just trying to find reasons why people tend to be intimidated by linux.

In response to everyone else: Thanks for the advice, I think I'm going to install FC4 or Ubuntu and just stick with it.
 
Old 03-11-2006, 05:24 PM   #7
Sunny Rabbiera
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Actually in my mind a good distro to go to is Mepis Linux, as it runs off a live CD so you can familiarise yourself with linux without installing it, Knoppix is a good starting point too.
Both Knoppix and Mepis can be concidered "starter" distros in my mind, I think distro's like Suse, Redhat Ubuntu and Mandriva stink.
I tried all of them and so far Mepis is my only success.
Mepis has a lot of media support right off the bat, so there is no worrying about converting packages or installing lots of software via the command line.
Now i am not saying that Suse, Redhat, Mandriva Ubuntu and the others dont work, I am just saying that i dont think they are good for beginners.
I would really like you to use a live CD distro first before installing anything and ruining your system, after all you dont know how linux is going to work for you.
In my standpoint I dont want anybody to just switch to linux and hope for the best, i want them to feel comfortable with it before devoting thier drive to a linux system.
I know that this is a very conservative approach but it helps transition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by truthfatal
I'd suggest starting with the one that has the coolest sounding name (while agreeing with the above posts).
Do me a favor, dont give any more advice.
that is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard when concerning Linux.
 
Old 03-11-2006, 09:11 PM   #8
J.W.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny Rabbiera
Do me a favor, dont give any more advice.
that is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard when concerning Linux.
You missed the joke - check out truthfatal's distro of choice. For the record, I'd recommend it as well.

Anyway, no doubt that the sheer number of distros can make things confusing, but the advice I always offer in response to the "which distro?" question is to recommend trying several distros, then deciding for yourself which one best fits your needs and preferences. Both LQ ISO and distrowatch are excellent distro download sites, and in no particular order, I'd suggest trying Debian, Fedora Core, Ubuntu, SuSE, and of course Slackware. Most likely, one of them will seem to fit, and you can always switch to another if you want to. Good luck with it and have fun

Last edited by J.W.; 03-11-2006 at 09:13 PM.
 
Old 03-12-2006, 07:58 AM   #9
oskar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny Rabbiera
Do me a favor, dont give any more advice.
that is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard when concerning Linux.
I don't think it's that bad. It's just suggesting you use something you feel comfortable with.
I chose suse because I like cameleons, seriously...
You just have to find some way to narrow down the choice. I also tried other distros, and I didn't like them any more or less.
 
Old 03-12-2006, 09:31 AM   #10
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny Rabbiera
Do me a favor, dont give any more advice.
that is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard when concerning Linux.
Actually, not bad advice---very much equivalent to my suggestion to just pick something and dive in.

And he wasn't giving YOU the advice...

So there.....
 
Old 03-12-2006, 12:33 PM   #11
craigevil
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Linux=Freedom + Choice

If you really want to learn Linux, here's a little advice:
1. Start off with a LIVECD like Knoppix or PCLinuxOS to get a feel for things.
2. When you are ready install a reasonably newbie friendly distro.
Mepis, PCLinuxOS, Mandriva, SUSE and Xandros are good choices. Linux is all about choice.
3. Set up a dual/triple-boot. That way you can boot into Windows when you want and use Linux when you want.
4. Forget everything you ever thought you knew about Windows.
5. Start with a clean slate and an open mind.
6. Accept the fact that the CLI is far more flexible and powerful than a GUI. Learn how to use it. LinuxCommand.org: Learn the Linux command line. Write shell scripts.
7. Read the man pages for the various programs.
8. Read ALL of the documentation available for the distro you choose.
9. Accept the fact that it takes time to learn a new system.
10. When trying to address a problem or figure something out:
a) Search the LQ.org forums
b) Google:Linux
c) Read How to ask smart questions before posting in a forum.
d) Read Getting Linux Help HOWTO
11. Stick with a single distro for a while until you've actually learned how to use it.
12. Do not get discouraged if things don't always work. If something isn't working correctly learn WHY it isn't.
13. Always remember Linux doesn't assume you're stupid, unlike windows.
14. Read RUTE
15. When your ready to get your hands a little more dirty take a look at Slackware, Gentoo, Debian or LFS.

Linux is all about choice and freedom. Pick a distro or two that work for you. Personally I started by downloading tons of LiveCDs (over 50). Then like a crazy person I jumped into the deep end by installing Debian/Kanotix. There was a big learning curve and it took me about 4 months to finally get my head wrapped around things. Now I triple boot with WinXP/Debian Sid/PCLinuxOS. 90% of my time is spent in PCLOS simply because it works. XP I boot in about once a week to print school work for my kids. And Debian I usually only play around with about a day a week just to get updates.

All of the available distros really boil down to three types:
rpm based
Debian based
source based

Pick the one that does what you need it to do. The more distros the more choices you have.
 
Old 03-12-2006, 12:59 PM   #12
2damncommon
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I would suggest trying a Linux from Scratch build as a good way to learn some about what makes a distribution and learning to use *nix tools.
 
Old 03-12-2006, 01:06 PM   #13
BinJajer
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That was one of the worst answers you could give him. LFS? He needs a working computer right away! Ok, to learn, work and have some fun? You need a distro that really works? You need a distro that has some hardcore community? Try slackware. It's great. Alternatively, try debian or ubuntu dapper (XGL rules!!).

BTW, your multiboot is not that big compared to my the one I had in my biggest time of Linux fascination. Over 20 OS'es on 3 hdds. Three grubs.

EDIT:About the three distro types: what about tgz?

Last edited by BinJajer; 03-12-2006 at 01:09 PM.
 
Old 03-12-2006, 01:47 PM   #14
Jedi_Jay87
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Do me a favor, dont give any more advice.
that is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard when concerning Linux.


I consider that great advice, its basically what i did. I had heard of a bunch of different kinds and i have friends that used a few different ones when i started everybody told me to use the one they were using and i ended up using slackware cause i thought it was the coolest of the group.
 
Old 03-12-2006, 03:05 PM   #15
BinJajer
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Worst piece of advice? Ah, no matter. We both use Slack, so no anti-proper ( ) advocacy is considered taken.
 
  


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