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Bry 02-19-2005 03:43 PM

Need advice on linux and distros
Hi, im quite an advanced windows user (currently studying for mcsa) but would like to get into linux and see what its like and starting learning it (albeit slowly)

Im currently running windows xp on a fairly standard system.

I would like to install a version of linux and dual boot between them. Ive got a 10gb empty partion set away for linux (i take it this will be enough?) i take it this is easy to do?

Id like a fairly newbieish distro and after looking around i think suse or mandrake would prob be best 9id like to stear away from redhat)

Firstly there seems to be multiple flavours of suse available ( i need a free one), i take it id want 9.2?
Is suse better than mandrake or vice versa for someone very new.
id be using linux mainly for chatting via messenger programs like msn messenger (i know theres linux comaptable programs), irc, viewing websites, downloading files and watching movies. and poking around linux learning at the same time.

I've tried booting froma knoppix cd and it looks good, i think knoppix uses kde and it seemed to be a great desktop environment. Do mandrake/suse come with kde? if not is it easy to install and run?

Is there anything i need to be particulary careful of?

Many Thanks, im sure these questions ahve prob been aasked before but i dont think i was searching for the right terms and apologises if this is a very common set of questitons.

TigerOC 02-19-2005 03:51 PM

Both are fairly easy to install but in my opinion you won't learn a lot from using them as they configure most of what you want automagically. i.e. you won't really get your hands dirty. Debian (Knoppix is based on Debian) or Slackware would be better choices if you are technically inclined and want to really learn Linux

zwyrx 02-19-2005 05:40 PM

Yeah, I really don't understand why they always recomend Mandrake/Suse for beginners. With them it's like with windows, disasters start to happen if you do something unexpected.

If you start with Slack/Debian crap starts at the beginning so you learn (have to learn) faster. In the end users of all mentioned distros need to have about the same level of understaning of Linux for basic/intermediate use of the OS, but Slack and Debian prepare you earlier for answers to potential disasters. (No wonder the most recent Debian is called Sarge ;-) )

PS I know that I oversimplified the explanation, but, at least, this is what I learned from my own expirience (not really abundant) with those linux distros.

johntramp 02-19-2005 05:56 PM

trial and error, find what is best for yourself.

__J 02-19-2005 06:19 PM

One thing i'd like to throw in is if you go with a rpm based distro ( Mandrake, Suse, Fedora Core, etc...) during the install make sure you install everything development related you can. with 10 gig, these files won't hurt you too much on space and it will save you alot of headaches later.

jmpmjmpm 02-19-2005 08:02 PM

Try mandrake 10.1, I am also a newbie and like you an advanced windows user. I must say I disagree with Tiger OC I would not go with a harder "get your hands dirty" distro for starting out like slack or gentoo. You need a hassle free install and welcome to your linux world and Mandrake does this brilliantly. I have tried SuSE and found it to be nowhere near as good as mandrake for ease of use initially. The last thing you want is to spend days rebooting back into windows to consult the web while you try to get your modem working. Don't try to run before you can walk, there is plenty of room in mandrake for you to get your "hands dirty" when you have the basics of linux mastered which is a steep learning curve in itself. Linux is not windows in any way almost everything is different especially at the shell. I would strongly recommend Mandrake to start out. Have a look at and the reviews if you need more info.

thorn168 02-19-2005 09:48 PM

I would suggest Conectiva 10 or Simply Memphis.

Conectiva is better then Mandrake because the install is quick and easy and the package manager (Synaptic) is better then RPM. Conectiva also handles the intial hard disk setup better then Mandrake. (I prefer grub2 over lilo)

Conectiva is a Brazillian commercial distro but you can get it from from this website. Most of the technical docs are in Portuguese but you can get them translated on-line.

Conectiva also comes with Webmin, which is a GUI systems Admin app for Linux. (Webmin should be included for most other distributions as well, so look for it.) I personally prefer webmin over using the command line if the OS is installed and "stabile". I would only use the command line if the system get FUBARed for some reason.

I also recommend Simply Memphis since it is a debian based distro if you what to "get your hand dirty" with Linux.

Are you interested in linux as a desktop OS or as a Server or both?


JSpired 02-19-2005 09:56 PM

Do some reading at DistroWatch to become familiar with the differences between distros. I would not recommend Slack. Though I love it, it's hard to learn and yes, you do learn from the get-go, but it also tends to discourage those new to Linux. Both Suse and Mandrake fit the bill as you mentioned. Try one and if you don't care for it, go for the other. In addition, Mepis and Ubuntu are easy to set up and use. Everyone has a perfect distro--the one that works best for them.

Oakstaff 02-20-2005 12:59 AM

I agree with most of the above, if you want something that feels like windows, then go for the mandrake/suse/FC/RH. However if you want to feel what linux is and accually learn it, go with Slack, or Deb or something that you at least get to use the command line. the others IMO are good distro's for the people who love windows but want something different, for ppl who are more advanced and like to understand things better, i say go for slack or deb.

Bry 02-20-2005 04:59 PM

Hi guys thanks for the replies.
I think i will go with suse 9.2. Im intending to learn linux very slowly like over 6-12 months so id really liek to start in the shallow end and gradually make my way up.

Is there any potential pitfalls with installing suse with a xp install? I got a 10gb partition free which i think should be enough.

dotancohen 02-20-2005 05:12 PM

I recently installed SUSE on a 8 gig partion on an XP SP2 box, no problems on install. When I screwed it up (my own fault), I discovered that the disk (only one!) is install only, no repair. So I don't recommend it for getting your hands dirty, as there is no repair or rescue. And even when it was working, Yast is a pain in the yass... it's pretty, but no so good.

I usuallly use my Fedora core3 box. Why don't you want to go with red hat? I have had great experiences with 7.x in the past and now with Fedora my girlfriend has no problem making the switch from windows. I have apt installed with the synaptic gui and couldn't be happier. On thing to note with FC3: no mp3 support out of the box. But with apt there is no problem installing it.

No matter with what you go, remember that GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND! You will need this (even if you don't use fedora):

Good luck!

frostillicus 02-20-2005 06:45 PM

c'mon, join the party, don't let them scare you away from slackware! ;-) seriously though, what makes a difference is your attitude toward the command line, if you're an old-school windows user comfortable with dos commands and the like then slack will seem like an old friend.

the other consideration is whether you plan on using linux as a workstation or a desktop, and I don't mean 'install type'. Out of the box Red Hat 9 is great as a workstation but stinks as a desktop. You can do all sorts of office work on it, docs, spreadsheets, etc., but good luck playing an mp3! in this sense slackware, with an mp3 player (xmms), a video player (xine) and a crappy, buggy office suite (kword, abiword, etc.) is a better desktop fit than Red Hat, which, by default, has great office applications (Open Office, among others), but no mp3 or video player.

after cutting your linux teeth on suse don't be afraid to give slack a whirl. as has been stated by people far smarter than me,

Use Red Hat, learn Red Hat. Use Suse, learn Suse. Use Slackware, learn Linux.

nymusicman 02-22-2005 01:40 AM

For my first Linux distro I went with Mandrake 10.0. And I have to say that aside from it being a little slow I had no real problems with it. It's starts you off with a really simple Desktop mode but then as you get more advanced you find you also have a lot of options to play with the command line. For my first linux distro I think it was the most versatile. It handled office suites as well as mp3 and video just fine. It did however (and I know some people in this forum are against this) preconfigure all my drivers. So when it comes to that I'm still not experienced. Hence I'm going to be trying out Debian to see if I like that any better but this is only after about 6 months of seriously playing with linux and learning really how it operates. Considering that is really is completely different than windows Mandrake would be my suggestion.

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