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Old 10-10-2007, 06:12 AM   #1
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The more I read, the more questions I come up with..

First. I'd just like to say that LinuxQuestions has to be one of the best forums floating around Al Gore's Intrawebs -- I have spent the last 2 days solid (checks the clock -- working on 3) reading, browsing, and generally flying around in circles from the information, questions, and answers I've found here. Maybe Linux is comparable to The Dead and the "community" that they drew (but hopefully Linux doesn't draw such a crowd of unwashed long-haired, baby-eatin' Communists). I'd just like to applaud everyone (even you long-haired, baby-eatin' Commies) for the help that just seems to get doled out w/o any 3LiT3 'tude. Anywho, I digress..

Like the title says: The more I read, the more questions I have.

My system is a Dell Inspiron 5000e w/ 128k of RAM & 10g of HD space. I basically only use it for surfing, chatting/webcam'ing, pira--err--propaganda films from fabulous Mother Russia, yak porn, and updating my resume when the money gets tight. I have not ruled out possibly a DVD drive, a USB pen/thumupgrading the memory (max is 512), nor the HD, but none is in the budget as of now.

Now that I've gotten the specs out of the way.. this begins my question(s).

It seems each distro has its own little nuances and little packages, but from what I've read (don't hesitate to correct me) is that what I'm most concerned with is the desktop(?) manager: xfce, kde, and gnome (in that order of accending resource usage) and which is best for the hardware I'm preparing to use it w/. Am I correct in this assumption?

I tried installing/using LiveCD of Ubuntu (it didn't like me very much..) and I burned my last CD on DSL -- which loaded just fine and found the hardware (albeit, I only tested the wired network card), but it was a little too advanced and lacking built-in features for my taste this second. I'm not a "n00b" with computers nor w/ the command line -- I grew up on DOS -- but I am looking for something I can just install w/ minor tweaking and then go back and play w/ the other stuff as needed.

Basically I'm looking for the biggest bang for my buck, but not be totally down to the command line. Like I said I'm not a power user, I don't game, nor do I require to know the complete specs of the machine -- its like when I work on my truck: I don't need to know the inside diameter of my cylinder walls to give it a tune-up.

I do use a USB camera, a wireless card while moving about, and a basic PCMCIA wired card while at home -- as of now, they're the only peripherals I'm concerned with working.

I guess my question is: what should I be looking for to obtain what I want? Is trial and error really the best way? The seems more aimed at the more modern technology, so I don't think I can really go that way. openSUSE seems like it needs too many CDs for an install which makes me shiver w/ the thought of bloat, and the rest of the distros look like the major decisions are to be made over the desktop(?) manager..

Any help, links, anything that might answer some of these questions would be greatly appreciated.
Old 10-10-2007, 06:54 AM   #2
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You have hard disk right? Hard disk space is cheap nowadays and you have DSL too.

So why not use DSL to create as many as 10Gb partitions in the hard disk and one 1Gb for swap.

Just install any distro that you think it can be of use to you. Any Linux can boot all of them. You don't have to use just one! Try them all and install in your PC.

You can dive in, head first. That is what I did.
Old 10-10-2007, 07:07 AM   #3
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Actually, he said he's only got 10GB disk (which is tiny by modern stds).
I think you'd be pushed to buy a disk smaller than 100GB off the shelf these days.
With resources like that (I assume OP meant 128 MB of RAM, not 128K lol ) I'd recommend Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux to start with, also as noted, prob avoid KDE/Gnome.
However, I would point out that RAM is dirt cheap these days and adding more of that will give you the best bang-for-buck in terms of performance.
Ps Welcome to LQ
Old 10-10-2007, 07:11 AM   #4
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Read Saikee's links and you'll see he holds the world record for the number of different OSes installed....

I have gotten good mileage out of simply installing around 5. The most popular distros are now so good that it is seldom neccessary to switch to get some substantive feature---the differences are much more cosmetic.
Old 10-10-2007, 07:16 AM   #5
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DSL is not the only choice around, Slackware and Zenwalk are great too -- and can be installed onto a "small" disk too, without filling it up. Not taking Gnome/KDE in is a huge step towards a nicely working system on low resources, and there are good alternatives (XFCE being very nice, but even less resource hungry solutions exist, that are just as good).

10GB is a "small" disk only if you collect illegal movies, music and games; if they're legal, you have them on DVDs, CDs etc., so the only reason to keep them filling your disk space is that you can't do anything else Well, were they illegal or not (not my business anyway), unless you're collecting them, 10GB is good for a whole lot of things in addition to a broad OS.
Old 10-10-2007, 07:44 AM   #6
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I would suggest that you look at Debian. It has a strong package manager and very good hardware support.
You then need to choose a window manager; I would suggest looking at something like fvwm2 (which I personally like but it's a bit fiddly to set up) or xfce (which keeps cropping up as a "lightweight" window manager.

You don't have to stick to the WM that comes with your distro; you can normally just install the one you want through the package manager then select it at the login screen.

Just my twopennies worth,

—Robert J Lee
Old 10-10-2007, 08:32 AM   #7
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I like each major Linux family represented in the box, thus Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, Gentoo, Slackware are must. Then there are nice variants of Debian like Ubuntu and Knoppix, nice variant of Mandriva by PCLinuxOS, Slax family headed by Slax, small distros like Puppy and DSL. What about XP and Vista, Saolaris and one or two BSD?

To me not installing a distro and speculating what would happen is harder than installing it.

All the answers will be revealed ( or able to reveal) if you have to system to work with.
Old 10-10-2007, 09:13 AM   #8
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The more I read, the more questions I come up with..
Been working with Linux for several years now and that statement still holds true.. It's what keeps Linux interesting for me. There's always something new to learn. The more I learn the more I realize how much I still don't know.

My preference is Debian for a number of reasons. For a low end machine with Debian I would recommend using the Debian XFCE install iso

Lots of good choices out there, and we all have our favorites. Don't let the number of choices or the initial steep learning curve with Linux throw you off.
Old 10-11-2007, 12:57 AM   #9
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Debian net install

Do a debian net install,

it will get you a bare minimum install,
next install xfce, it will get you a usable desktop (no fancy eye candy)

next install all the apps you need via APT package manager

install just what you need.(since space is a constraint)

Use a debian stable branch, (instead of testing/unstable)
(you wont have to download upgrades often)



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