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Old 06-01-2005, 08:14 PM   #1
Registered: Jun 2005
Posts: 139

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Where to start!

Firsty, hello to you all.

I am not a tech head, but am so fed up with Windows that i'm pretty much decided on getting a Linux based operating system, but my question to you is, which one?

I have a relic of a computer which i'm not prepared to upgrade (it's a Pentium II, 450mhz machine), but all the same, I am looking for improved speed and stability which, as I understand it, is something Linux can optimize from my machine.

My computer being as it is, I have no CD burner, and have a dial-up connection, so ideally i'm looking to purchase CDs to install Linux. I'm not looking to make any alterations to the operating system, or do any tinkering, basically a commercial release with idiot proof instructions, internet connection, word processor, spreadsheets, ... all the usual gubins will do.

So, if somebody would be so kind as to tell me where my money should go? Would Mandrake be a good start? Where would I get the software from too?

I should point out at this juncture that I wish to keep Windows.

Well thanks in advance,


Old 06-01-2005, 09:08 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2003
Location: SoCal
Distribution: CentOS
Posts: 465

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Your best bet would be to pick up one of the Linux Bibles at a local bookstore. Redhat Fedora 3 Bible would be fine. Redhat, Mandrake, and Suse are the distros a lot of people new to linux start with (myself included). The book will cost you about $50 but it will document (in plain english) almost every feature the Operation System has to offer. It will also come with the installation CDs. A lot of the newer linux releases are resource hogs because of their pretty interfaces, but you can usually turn down all of the quality settings to make them run smoother on older machines.
Old 06-02-2005, 03:12 AM   #3
Registered: Jun 2005
Posts: 139

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Thanks for your assistance.

I take it there are instructions on installation with - or on- these discs, and importantly for me, details of setting up of a dual boot BIOS?

Do you recommend Redhat because it's the 'best', or simply because it's suitable?

Just to clarify distributions (distros, right?) are not commercial, and are not alll fancy pants, whilst the commercial affairs will be? i.e. the CDs with the Bibles don't inlcude the pretty interfaces, whiz-bang features etc? Consequently my machine will not be slowed down so much?

Kind Regards,

Old 06-02-2005, 03:33 AM   #4
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Registered: Dec 2004
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Originally posted by NirvanaII
Thanks for your assistance.

I take it there are instructions on installation with - or on- these discs, and importantly for me, details of setting up of a dual boot BIOS?

Do you recommend Redhat because it's the 'best', or simply because it's suitable?

Just to clarify distributions (distros, right?) are not commercial, and are not alll fancy pants, whilst the commercial affairs will be? i.e. the CDs with the Bibles don't inlcude the pretty interfaces, whiz-bang features etc? Consequently my machine will not be slowed down so much?

Kind Regards,

the ones from the books will be the commercial distro's, but missing a few things that you only get if you purchase it from the vendor ( some proprietary packages you don't get with the free versions). if you get the boxed set, I believe you get a owners manual, or if you get the book, you have the book to look to for guidance ( and the entire internet). for your distro question, there are many distro's, all having different philosophies. one distro may be based off of another ( like vector linux being based from slackware or kubuntu/ubuntu/knoppix all being based off of debian) but do things a different than the distro it was originally based from. generally, one thing a distro can do any other distro can do it too, it's just that some do it for you, some do some of it for you, and some expect you to do it yourself.

another thing I'll throw in is based on these forums, alot of new users expect linux to be "free windows", which is not the case. it requires you to learn how things work and it's up to you to learn it, like when you first started using windows/mac's for the first time. at first it seems complex, but after awhile it becomes second nature.
Old 06-02-2005, 03:35 AM   #5
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Valby, Denmark / Citizen of the Web
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
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Actually, I simply recommend reading up on the topic on-line and then buying a Linux magazine like LinuxFormat, for instance. They usually have install CDs or DVDs included and an introduction in the magazine. It is a bit cheaper, and since most support is web-based anyway, there is no need to invest in the dead-tree version.
Old 06-02-2005, 03:48 AM   #6
Registered: Apr 2005
Location: Florida
Distribution: Ubuntu 5.04
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i think the best way is just trying a distro for yourself, if you have a decent pc with atleast 94mb ram you can run live cds of distros such as knoppix or ubuntu.. i've tried like ten different distros, liked knoppix for while and know fallen in love with ubuntu. its been my only OS for coming to a month probably, and about two months on linux, and it's great.. comes with a large list of packages you'd want from coming from windo.. i'm sure. i'd probably be able to help, it might be a bit difficult at first but seriously after you do it once or twice you're simple! hence the handle :/ any way just know your hardware and get docus on setting it up and you'll probably be hooked they have a live cd also you can try, so that's my recommendation (:

i'm not good with testimonials or really anything in general heh.. so anything friegthning sounding i said it won't be, and anything good i said it's better...

Last edited by simple; 06-02-2005 at 03:53 AM.
Old 06-02-2005, 04:03 AM   #7
Registered: Sep 2004
Location: Vestfold, Norway
Distribution: Slackware
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According to what you say you want, I'd recommend FedoraCore 3, Mandrake or maybe RedHat.
You should know that WindowManagers like Gnome and KDE (which are the most known), are heavy, and will probably not be as fast as you want, on your computer.
For best performance, I'd recommend FluxBox. It's by far the speediest WM I've used so far.
Though you'll need some time to figure out how to configure and use FluxBox, it's definately worth it.

Old 06-02-2005, 07:33 AM   #8
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I started a few months ago on Fedora Core 3, i really like it, hasn't taught me all the ins and outs of Linux that i want to learn, but tthats what this place and other distros can hep me with however it provided a good framework to experiment and play around (thank god re-installing is quicker than windows :P) with and eased me into Linux.

However you need to look at the bigger picture than which is easiest straight out of the box. For instance some hardware has trouble on linux, like retail soundcards and 'windmodems'.

I'd write a list of all your requirements in terms of tasks you need to do, i.e internet, word processing, listen to music etc. etc. then i['d do research on your major hardware bits, see if there's reports of errors running on linux or anything (dial up modems can be hit and miss in Linux so i hear). If not then hit the popular distro manufacturers websites like Redhat, Novell (SUSE) or Mandrakesoft. Look at the features/packages for each, see which includes most of what you want straight out of the box so you aren't required to download additional stuff (i'd find one with open office included, it's like 70mb d/l). This also brings me to my next point, Having used Fedora Core 3, there's something that needs updating every other day, and if you isntalled it right now, you're looking at a couple hundred meg of updates, which will be a pain on dial up. You're probably better off with distros on a slower delevopment cycle, like mandrake. Although that said, Fedora core 4 is coming out june 6th apparently, maybe you could wait for that? (although using Gnome/KDE on it cna be bloated)

I don't think you're going to find something that doesn;t need a little tweaking but hey, windows needs more done to it after a fresh wipe.

There are always plenty of people willing to help out here anyway

You can keep windows with any Linux distro, but you'll need to create space for it (a partition on your harddrive) and defragment your old one first so as not to lose any data.

Most distros sell the CD's and other bump from their sites, and this money goes to supporting the development costs etc.

I can't tell you which distro to use, as my experience is very limited with them, so i'm just trying to give some useful advice based on personal experience. Fedora Core 3 works pretty well for me, i tried mandrake 9.2 a while ago, never got on with it, i hear it's improved though.

Whatever you choose though, you'll have a great experience and learn a whole lot more about that box of joy sitting on your desk.
Old 06-02-2005, 07:47 AM   #9
Registered: May 2005
Location: India
Distribution: RHEL 4.0
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Well I wuld sugget you for RedHat
Old 06-02-2005, 08:53 AM   #10
Registered: Apr 2005
Location: Ohio
Distribution: Slackware && freeBSD
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been on Linux for almost 3 years now and I fully suggest Mandrake ooops, sorry Mandriva, for a starter.Got me and a few of my friends up and running so to speak, everyone here has valid points as to what distros to use, so the ultimate choice is your preference. I suggested Mandriva as the "learning curve "is not as steep. Docs are almost always included , and man pages rule, albeit a little terse i there definitions.
Old 06-02-2005, 10:06 AM   #11
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Maryland, USA
Distribution: Mint 13
Posts: 276

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I've only been playing around with Linux for a couple months, so I'm still a newbie. I'm also one that has held off on updating the main system. I'm just not confident enough on Lniux to make that jump.

That being said, I bought a bunch of distros from one of the CD warehouse on-line stores. Got about 12 distros for about $30. The allowed me to play around with them and decide what works for me. I put on Mandrake 10 and it detected everything and works great. Mepis is another that worked fantastic for me. Both are supposed to be easy to use for a newbie.


edit: ok, now why doesn't this sig work?

Last edited by Fritz_Monroe; 06-02-2005 at 10:08 AM.
Old 06-02-2005, 10:29 AM   #12
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Santiago, Chile
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 410

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I think there are also some books that come with a Debian Sarge CD. I know Debian is not as easy as Fedora Core or Mandr???, but I find them so heavy and slow, and I think it is not only a matter of desktop environments. Besides, using their package system can be very frustrating. I'll recommend you Debian or, at least, Debian-based (like Ubuntu). Those are NON-COMMERCIAL!
Old 06-03-2005, 01:42 PM   #13
Registered: Jun 2005
Posts: 139

Original Poster
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Wow! Look at all those replies, you people sure are nice.

When it comes to the acutual purchase they'll be a fair bit of diliberation, all comments will form part of my decission, so thanks for your posts.

I should point out that yesterday, I sort of had a decission made for me when I went to my local library: you see they had a Red Hat book with 2 discs which i've loaned. Consequently, I spent most of yesterday trying to install Linux. I say 'trying' because i've run into trouble already,but, i'll post another "partition troubles" thread on the forum, instead of going through it here.

I will say though, that it is a very nice feeling to understand better how my computer works.

I'll let you know how things come on, but yep, looks like some good advice that you've given me, and so far i'm 'enjoying' myself... you know as much as you can with a computer.

Thankyou kindly,

Old 06-03-2005, 03:01 PM   #14
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Registered: May 2005
Distribution: Ubuntu with IceWM
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Try checking Point-and-Click Linux out from the library. It has Mepis Linux inside (which is a live CD and installer in one). Most Linux distros will let you order CDs for super-cheap. Ubuntu will send them to you free... though, it may take three months. I'd recommend Mepis, Ubuntu, or Blag. Mepis and Ubuntu have live CD versions and are Debian-based. Blag is Fedora/Red Hat-based.

Last edited by aysiu; 06-03-2005 at 03:09 PM.


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