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Old 11-29-2006, 03:31 AM   #1
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Which distro to use?

Hi there,
Im moving from windows to linux and I have a bit of experience with linux but not much (mainly u/kubuntu) and I have a few questions:

1) Can you use the skins from on any KDE based distro?
2) What's the difference between Linspire and Freespire? (apart from the cost) and whats the difference between Open SuSe and Novell SuSe Enterprise Desktop (apart from the price)
3) Can you use Crossover Office on any distro or is it built for a certain one. Also if anyone could recommend any better software that crossover office, that would be appreciated.
4} Is there an easier way to install software then that apt-get thing because I still haven't been able to install one piece of software (and does the Linspire CNR thing work with all distro's)
5) Can anyone recommend what file format would be the best to partition a hard disk with if i will dual boot Win Xp and Linux.

Also, I'm looking at Fedora C6, SuSe 10, SunWah Ray Lx and Linspire/Freespire. Would anyone recommend any one of these over another? Also, is there much differences on recompiling the kernel with any of these distro's.

Also, can you use the K Desktop Environment on all distro's or just the ones that were built to use KDE, I'm not to sure on how this works, I just know that I prefer the look of KDE because I've come from windows.

I know it's heaps to ask but if anyone could help with just one thing that would be appreciated,
Thanks Heaps,
Liam Mackie
Old 11-29-2006, 07:27 AM   #2
Registered: Apr 2003
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Not sure I can answer all your questions, but I can hit a few. 1. You can use KDE skins, or themes, on any distro. Just install KDE, if it's not the default desktop. 2. I think the difference between linspire and freespire is that freespire is free as in beer, and includes some proprietary (patented anyway) multi-media codecs. (I might be wrong, so take that with a grain or three of salt.)I wouldn't use either, as CNR is a bit of a con or hustle. Anyone can get the same functions as CNR just by using synaptic or adept. The common feeling is that linspire is taking advantage of linux noobies. Some linux guru's have a problem with some choices linspire has made, like running as root by default, which some consider to be just stupid. I'm afraid I don't know the difference between Novell SUSE products either, and after their little deal helping Microsoft take shots at the GPL, I'm not interested in finding out. (I think it's just support anyway.) I've paid $80 for a retail box version of SUSE a few years ago, but I won't be supporting them in the future, and I hope you don't either. If you like KDE, Kubuntu is excellent, I use it myself, and think it's just fantastic. They have promised to keep a version free as in beer, and you can purchase support if you need/want to. Their forums are very friendly, if you choose to go with free help. 3. You can use crossover office on just about any distro, some will "just work", some others you wouldn't likely be running anyway will require some fiddling. A few distro's include it in their repositories, Mandriva does I think, in one of their paid for versions. That should "just work". It's not expensive. Have you heard of wine ? I messed with a trail version of crossover office, and it was ok, but I had really good luck with wine, so I didn't even need crossover office. As for other software, it depends on what you want to do, you weren't very specific. 4. Don't use CNR. Use synaptic or adept, or if you use Mandriva, use Mandriva Control Centers front end for urpmi, just google for easyurpmi, and it'll walk you through setting everything up, it's very easy. If you use fedora or a redhat based distro yum works very well, though I found it a little slower than Kubuntu's adept, but maybe that was just my connection or my machine. If you want multi-media stuff to just work check out simplymepis, they are Ubuntu based, with most codec's installed by default. To get synaptic installed, just type, as root, "apt-get install synaptic" on the command line. If you have your apt-repositories set up correctly it should just work. As for working well with windows, the easiest filesystem to use with windows is fat32, as both windows and linux can see it and write to it. THere are some third party utilities to write to ext3 from windows, but I've heard that sometimes bad things can happen, I don't need/use them myself, so I'm not sure. I just use ext3 for my linux stuff, with a separate fat32 partition to transfer windows stuff to, when I need to. Fat32 has a 2 gig file size limit, so if you need it for large files you might want to figure something else out.

As for distro choice, everyone will have their own ideas. Just try a few and see what you like. I like Kubuntu. Everything just works. I used Mandriva and FC5 before I found Kubuntu, and they are both great. Kubuntu handled a few difficult installs for me with no sweat (eclypse and java, to name two), things FC5 and Mandriva both had trouble with, and everything "just works" with Kubuntu, at least for me. Last, you can use KDE with any distro, if it doesn't come installed as the default, you can install it yourself without much trouble. I would avoid SUSE and Linspire, but that's just my opinion, use them if you like them. That's the greatest part about Linux. You are free to do what YOU want.

Best of luck....


Last edited by budword; 11-29-2006 at 07:43 AM.
Old 11-29-2006, 07:38 AM   #3
David the H.
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1) KDE is basically a program, just like any other. Or rather it's a set of programs. It pretty much runs the same way on every distro and platform. So I'd say yes, themes should be easily transportable. Installation of the themes may be a bit tricky though, as that can depend on the distro you use.

2) Linspire and SED are commercial products. They start with open source GNU/Linux and build from there. Some of the stuff they include may be proprietary in nature. Freespire and OpenSuse are spin-offs that only include the Free stuff.

3) Crossover Office is designed to be platform independent. It only needs to be some form of Linux on a 386 compatible computer. Actually, almost all Linux software either runs, or can be compiled to run, on any distro. There are rarely any major showstopping issues at that level, just some differences in the names and locations of the necessary libraries and such. See #1.

As for alternatives to Crossover, there's really only wine, which is the FOSS project that forms the basis of Crossover. Basically, Crossover takes wine and adds whatever various improvements their customers need to run their programs specifically. The codebases are therefore mostly identical and they share a good working relationship.

A final option would be to run an instance of Windows within a virtual machine/emulator inside of Linux. That requires a pretty fast machine though, as well as a licenced copy of Windows.

4) Nothing is easier than apt! Provided you get it running, of course. I don't know why it wasn't working for you, but if and when you do get it working, it's really the best package management system out there. Seriously. Well, except for Klik. I think the Linspire thing is part of their proprietary offerings and isn't available anywhere else, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

5) I assume you mean what filesystem to use when you partition your drive? The Linux portion can run on many different formats, the most popular being ext3 and Reiserfs. The differences between them are rather small when it comes to desktop use, so you can basically just choose whichever one you like. Windows will of course stay on an ntfs or (rarely now) a fat32 partition.

As for sharing between them you have several options. Linux support for fat32 is good, and most people create a separate fat partition to use as a transfer space between the two OS's. But ntfs support in Linux is finally usable and almost ready for prime time (through ntfs-3g), so maybe soon it won't matter as much. Finally, there are also a few tools available for Windows that will let it access Ext3 drives.

6) I'm not familiar with all the distros you mention, so I can't recommend any single one. I think you'll find that people just tend to recommend the ones they like/are familiar with anyway. I suggest you read up on them at distrowatch, and try them out yourself. Install each one for a while and play with it until you're satisfied you know what it's like. You won't ever really know which is best for you until you do.

7) See my answers #1 and #3. Just because a distro doesn't include a piece of software doesn't mean you can't get it to run on one. You can usually still find major packages like this available for installation through their repositories. If not, you can compile it yourself.
Old 11-29-2006, 08:09 AM   #4
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Frankly it's impossible to recommend a distro to someone who doesn't bother to post their computer's specs.

If you couldn't use apt, you probably failed to read the documentation as apt is about the easiest package management out there. Using Linux requires one to do some reading to get familiar with it and how to get things done.

To get an idea of which distro might be right for you, go to the Distributions forum section here at LQ and read through the several hundred threads there regarding the question "Which Distro?". In the end, which distro is best for you can only be decided by you.
Old 11-29-2006, 08:10 AM   #5
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The running as root thing is enough for me to steer you away from Linspire.
I'm familiar with SuSE & Fedora Core and was a long time user of Mandrake Linux in the past.

Look and Feel
Mandrake installed KDE by default, Fedora core uses Gnome by default, but you you can install KDE instead. FC's config programs have a bit of a Gnome look to them. On SuSE you can decide when you install. It's KDE style resembles Windows XP more than the others, and it's easy to use Xgl and compiz which give you some nice 3d eye candy. It currently seems to prefer KDE but are changing to Gnome in the future.

All three distros use patched kernels rather than stock kernels. I've had the least problem with hardware issues using SuSE.

Mandrake compiles its packages for Pentium instead of for 386 mode so there may be a performance gain. I'm using the 64 bit version so it doesn't matter for me. SuSE seems to be a bit bloated. A minimal install requires over 1GB.

All three use PAM, which is a standard Linux authentication system. Fedora Core uses SELinux whereas SuSE uses AppArmor for additional protection. All three distros are very good at promptly providing security patches.

All three of these distros are RPM based. They all have a GUI Sofware Installation program. SuSE's new RUG update system had problems at first, but the 10.1 release was remastered after these problems were resolved. All three also have console programs for performing updates as well. I like the URPMI setup that Mandriva uses. You can also use the SMART installer as well.

I think that the MS/Novel deal has to do mostly with virtualization, but Novel rushed into the deal to quickly due to a recent Oracle announcement. While their Linux business is increasing, their Netware business is loosing marketshare faster than their Linux business is increasing, so the decision may have come from on high. Also, MS was awarded a dubious patent on the FAT32 file system (which was based on the CP/M filesystem) which could force American based Linux distro's to drop support for fat32, and thus devices such as cameras and MP3 players which use this format. They haven't accepted software patents yet in Europe.

Last edited by jschiwal; 11-29-2006 at 08:17 AM.
Old 11-29-2006, 08:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by budword
I wouldn't use either, as CNR is a bit of a con or hustle. Anyone can get the same functions as CNR just by using synaptic or adept. The common feeling is that linspire is taking advantage of linux noobies.
Although some people objected to paying for CNR (Linspire's Click 'N Run warehouse), I thought it was reasonably priced at $20/year for the basic service. Most people blow $20 a week or more at Starbucks and it is not saving them time or making installation of programs easier in any way. Besides, even though I have installed lots of software from source, the amount of time you save by not having to search the web, compile the software, deal with errors and dependency problems, etc. is a nice bonus for those of us who don't have time to kill. Besides, the basic CNR is now free. (Yes, free as in beer.)

Further, CNR Gold (which still costs money), gives people access to proprietary, commercial Linux software such as CrossOver office or Cervesa at a discount, has a licensed DVD player so you can legally play DVDs, etc. Linspire also has occasional sales near the smaller holidays like Valentine's Day where they offer the subscriptions at a discount, and you can get it for around half price.

Even the most expensive CNR subscription is cheaper than Mandriva Club, and a whole lot better, since it offers many times more software. You may also recall that Ubuntu has been considering offering subscriptions through CNR, but using a different warehouse (since Linspire and Ubuntu are both Debian-based and use similar, but not identical builds). I don't know how those talks are going, but they were attracted to it as a viable, legal method for distributing proprietary Linux software to those people who chose to use it.
Old 12-01-2006, 09:37 PM   #7
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Thanks guys for all the help, this is what I like so much about the Linux community.

Anyways, all the comments will help me on my search for the right distro but I guess I just need to try them but I think I will steer away from Linspire/Freespire.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to help me out.


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