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  • #2213329

    Thinking about playing with Linux


    by gsg ·

    OK, first, the rules are NO BASHING of any OS, whether it be a flavor of Linux, Windows, etc…! I want some constructive opinions regarding the flavors of Linux.

    I have an older workstation that I rarely use. I really don’t want to upgrade it to Windows 7, and I hate to see it just sitting there, so I’ve been thinking about seeing if I could load Linux on it.

    We have Linux servers at work, but no workstations, so I have zero experience.

    The question is, what flavor of Linux would you recommend for a newbie who’s thinking about dipping her toes in the Linux pool?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #2869853

      I’ve fiddled in

      by boxfiddler ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      Fedora, Mint, Ubuntu. Loaded them on an old lappie (came with WinMe), and loaded Ubuntu on a desktop that I’ve only recently stopped using.

      All three loaded easily, found and made functional all hardware but the dialup (Winmodem).
      Fedora and the sound system never got along, but that’s about the only problem I had with it.
      Mint is still on the lappie, and Ubuntu on the desktop. Video probs, there, need to rebuild. Will probably put it back on there, along with WinXP.

      Of the three, I prefer Ubuntu as I found it easiest to manoeuver.


    • #2869852

      Flavor of linux to try

      by wookieshaver ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      No bashing of course, heh. I have installed and ran a number of distrubutions of Linux and I keep coming back to Ubuntu. There are a number of them out there but for sheer fun and ease of use into the Linux pool, I do recommend Ubuntu. If you want a more media player, movie player, and mp3 friendly out of box experience I recommend Mint Linux (which is itself an expanded offshoot of Ubuntu). That said, welcome to the land o linux! I think you will like exploring it just as much as I have.

      • #2869843

        Not into the media stuff

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Flavor of linux to try

        Sure, I rip the occasional CD if I can’t get it from amazon as an mp3, but other than that, I’m not into the media stuff.

        The biggest question I have is, what DOES it take to shave a wookie? I mean, do they hold still for the shaving, or do you have to dart them? And, what do you do with all of the hair?

        • #2869839

          Last I heard

          by seanferd ·

          In reply to Not into the media stuff

          They have shaving parties before big swimming competitions.

        • #2869707

          Shaving a wookie

          by wookieshaver ·

          In reply to Not into the media stuff

          A few Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and they sleep nicely through throught the whole thing.

        • #2869520

          Mixed universes!

          by charliespencer ·

          In reply to Shaving a wookie

          “Introducting a ‘Hitchhiker’ drink into the ‘Star Wars’ mythos.

          15 yards, yellow card, pit road ‘stop and go’, 5 minutes in the penalty box, and the opposing team is allowed two free throws and a penalty kick. The league office will issue a statement Tuesday regarding additional penalties and a possible suspension 😀

        • #2868728

          If he’s recently consumed one..

          by neon samurai ·

          In reply to Mixed universes!

          .. how is he to be held responsible for seeing through time and space resulting in a confusion of realities?

        • #2868661

          No excuse.

          by charliespencer ·

          In reply to If he’s recently consumed one..

          It’s like DUI. If he’s had a PGGB, he’s responsible for his misactions!

        • #2868535

          Someone may have

          by seanferd ·

          In reply to No excuse.

          switched on the Improbability Drive, and wookieshaver isn’t in the shielded part of the ship.

        • #2868544

          Yellow card?

          by wookieshaver ·

          In reply to Mixed universes!

          That must be some reference to this “sports” humans speak of so often. Hmmm, must take notes for the guide. Arguing the whole multiverse sort of mish-mash thingy, star wars and hhgttg universes’ need not be exclusive with proper transport and a very big therapy bill to handle the after effects.

        • #2868530

          Yeah… with all the extras in SW

          by ansugisalas ·

          In reply to Yellow card?

          the improbability of a hitcher showing up isnt’ even in the 1*10^-8’s.

          EDIT: aaaand seanferd beat me to it by half an hour… *grrr* :p

    • #2869847

      start here:

      by neon samurai ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      What is the distribution you use at work? If Red Hat then Fedora may be a comfortable starting point or one you can ask about around the cooler. If Suse then OpenSuse would be a good starting point potentially.

      Linux Distribution Chooser

      It should give you a good recommendation based on how you answer the questions. They have descriptions at each question if your not sure what to answer.

      I’d start with five or so liveCD distributions that you can just boot the computer off:
      – see how it recognizes your hardware
      – see how you like the desktop
      – see how you like the default program selection

      You can get a feel for each from the liveCD without installing it to the hard drive.

      If the LDC site doesn’t give you enough:

      PCLinuxOS seems to be well liked and have good hardware support. Mandriva was my preferred for a long time due to it’s “new user” focus and hardware support.

      Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu are popular introductory distributions.

      Mint and ELive tend to be well polished also.

      • #2869845

        Red Hat

        by gsg ·

        In reply to start here:

        But, I’ve done very little, and only in the apps that run on the servers. I’ve done exactly zero with the OS. All I know is that those suckers are workhorses.

        Thanks for the link. I’ll check that out.

        • #2869838

          since it’s RHEL on the servers

          by jaqui ·

          In reply to Red Hat

          I would actually recommend CENTOS

          it IS a community branded RHEL so it is EXACTLY the same as you have on the servers

          They leveraged the sources from RH [ easily done, RH honors the GNU-GPL ] and changed icons, a bit of text here and there, otherwise it is a binary compatible version of RHEL.
          [ means you can point the package manager to the same repository as your servers and install the software. ]

        • #2869781

          Fedora potentially then

          by neon samurai ·

          In reply to Red Hat

          Jaqui mentions CentOS which is basically RHEL from a third party and with branding removed. I hear it does a nice desktop though it is often chosen for server use. Worth a look either way.

          Fedora would also give you a good starting point. This is Red Hat’s non-commercial distribution used to test things before they go into the commercial server/desktop products. Fedora 13 is the most recent version and looks very nicely done.

          My thinking was that the common Red Hat base behind your servers at work and potential home machine would make it easier to ask questions of the nerds at work (depending on your relationship to the IT department). Forums can be good, documentation can be good but someone you know directly and can ask questions of is often the best (for all OS).

        • #2869760


          by gsg ·

          In reply to Fedora potentially then

          Oh, I’m right smack dab in the the middle of the department. Not only that, I keep everyone’s favorite gum and candy on my desk. I’m more specialized than server/hw, so I make sure I take care of those guys in thanks for all the work they’ve done for me.

      • #2869842

        I’m with him.

        by seanferd ·

        In reply to start here:

        Don’t forget that you can always change desktop environments, file managers, etc. Install a new one, and choose a session with you new desktop at login. You can usually find most distros with a variety of pre-packaged desktops. I quite liked Mint with XFCE, which I was playing around with recently.

        Also, if you don’t want to burn CDs, you can always load the ISOs on a Flash drive. Easy way: Some distros can also be configured for persistence of settings, etc., on the Flash drive.

        Neon: I’ve looked for something like that distribution chooser for other people to use for a while. Nice find!

    • #2869846

      Oh, come on. You have to bash Linux.

      by seanferd ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      Bash is the best CLI ever! 😉 😉

      • #2869844

        Re:Oh, come on. You have to bash Linux.

        by wookieshaver ·

        In reply to Oh, come on. You have to bash Linux.

        Ok, we probably deserved that one! Regarding your avatar – Understanding is a three-edged sword.

        • #2869840


          by seanferd ·

          In reply to Re:Oh, come on. You have to bash Linux.

          Your side, Their side, and the Truth.

          And really, I have no vested interest in the command interpreter/terminal/shell wars. I’m sure that heavy-duty Unix geeks will look upon my little joke as one of those horrifically pathetic and corny “dad” jokes. :p

      • #2869836

        you do know

        by jaqui ·

        In reply to Oh, come on. You have to bash Linux.

        that every other shell for a cli is a fork from the Bourne Again SHell. 😀

        so the facts support your weak pun. 😀

        • #2869833

          Every last one of them, really?

          by seanferd ·

          In reply to you do know

          I dinnae know that.

          I knew that all the shells I’m aware of are forks (excepting the original sh (Bourne shell) of course). But I did not know there was not a non-Bourne-fork shell.

          I would have assumes, has I thought about it, that someone must have said, “Fork this, I’m mot satisfied, I’m writing a new shell from scratch.”

          And so we have terrible pun #2.

        • #2869662


          by jaqui ·

          In reply to Every last one of them, really?

          since they all claim bash compatibility, if they aren’t, then they cloned the base bash functionality.

        • #2869637

          Good enough for me.

          by seanferd ·

          In reply to well

          I’m mostly just saying that I’m surprised there isn’t some departure from bash-like/clone/fork. I’m just that clueless. :^0

        • #2869617

          it’s partly

          by jaqui ·

          In reply to Good enough for me.

          the transferrable skills from one posix os to another thing.

          just like vi(m) is on all of them.
          there are certain tools that are expected to be on all unix and unix-like systems. the bash being a lowest common denominator tool.

          ifconfig, vi(m), mail, more, less, sed, grep.
          all on every one of them. with the exact same arguments [ switches for ms people ].

          it’s why post secondary comp-sci courses cover command line only for their unix/linux segment, the cli tools are the same.
          it’s the gui wrappers that are different.

      • #2868574

        Unix is more stable

        by gypkap9 ·

        In reply to Oh, come on. You have to bash Linux.

        I used to work in a department where the servers were all AIX. Very stable, people were lest tempted to hack things.

        • #2868533

          lol, you didn’t read the post, did you?

          by seanferd ·

          In reply to Unix is more stable


          Sure, a lot of the proprietary Unix is more stable. Agreed.

    • #2869831

      Ubuntu from me as well

      by .martin. ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      I always found it to be the easiest to use of the distros I have tried.

    • #2869788

      I’d strongly recommend Ubuntu

      by jkameleon ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      I’ve purchased new box with preinstalled Ubuntu for my computer illiterate daughter, because she’s dead scared of computer viruses for some reason, and uses computer only for web browsing, music, movies, and a little bit of study.

      It works lika a charm, no problems at all. Daughter was able to find her way around immediatelly. It connected to home LAN & internet without any trouble at all. I had some problems finding proper software for iPod, but even that took me about half an hour tops.

    • #2869758

      Thanks, I have a plan

      by gsg ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      The liveCD thing is brilliant, as is the pen drive. I’ve got both the CDs and the drive available, and will be going through the chooser that Neon Samurai suggested.

      I have a 4 day weekend this week where I’ll be getting all of the chores, etc.. done day 1. Playing and test driving the different distros sounds like a good project.

      When I make my selection, I’ll see if I can make a good list of why I liked that particular distro over the others, and post an update.

      Thanks for everyone’s awesome suggestions!

      Edited to Add this update:
      I took the test, and you guys are just too good. Here are the 100% results based on the test: Mandriva, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Mint, Ubuntu, and OpenSuse. I think I’ll test Ubuntu Mint and Ubuntu first.

      • #2869752

        Sounds like my last weekend

        by neon samurai ·

        In reply to Thanks, I have a plan

        I just finished a Debian 6 Squeeze build on an X201. Outside of requiring the generic Vesa video driver; it’s up and running pretty (encrypted hard drive and all). Now to finish off the polish with field testing against my training targets.

        (Debian would have been my suggestion if you had previous experience with distributions)

      • #2869636

        Have fun storming the castle!

        by seanferd ·

        In reply to Thanks, I have a plan

        And enjoy your weekend. 🙂

    • #2869717


      by gsg ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      I downloaded the Mint .iso, and made a liveCD, and wanted to test it out, so I put it on a machine set to boot from the CD Drive. It failed. So I dinked around and took the advice to create a bootable USB stick. Wow, was that easy! I just formatted it with Fat32, put the boot utility on there, and then put the Mint .iso and the Ubuntu .iso on there, and I was good to go.

      Until I tried to boot with Mint… It seems that out of all the download sites, I pick the one that had a bad .iso. I was able to boot to Ubuntu, but I got a message that the Mint .iso was bad.

      At least I know booting from the USB stick works, and all I have to do is download mint from a different site and put it on the stick.

      So, off to a slow start, but I have hopes that it will get better!

      • #2869715

        check your MD5

        by neon samurai ·

        In reply to Grrr….

        As was recently demonstrated by Gentoo and UnrealIRCd, check the MD5 hash to confirm what you got was undamaged. if the MD5 from the site doesn’t mach your local MD5 hash of the ISO then it may have been damaged during transfer. (ISO are usually pretty robust but it’s just a good habit for any software you download).

        Also, what hardware is in that machine? The graphics card seems to be a sticking point for some people.

        • #2869704

          You are right

          by gsg ·

          In reply to check your MD5

          It was definitely damaged. I downloaded the file from a different site, and it was a different file size. I didn’t check the hash as I’d already deleted the old file.

          I finally got both Mint and Ubuntu on the USB stick, AND defragged, which was another small, albeit timeconsuming, challenge.

          I just got done booting with both of them, so I know I am now set up to begin testing tonight.

          First impression, from a purely, “ain’t that purty” standpoint is that I like Mint better. I’ve not delved into the guts at all, so that’s just based on the superficial colors and layout.

        • #2869700

          A common opinion on Mint

          by slayer_ ·

          In reply to You are right

          It’s still presently my favorite. Just wish there were more programs for it (specifically media players and games).

        • #2869696

          that is what Mint does

          by neon samurai ·

          In reply to You are right

          Multimedia, hardware support and more polish on top of Ubuntu.

    • #2869688

      My preference would be Xandros Desktop Professional..

      by peconet tietokoneet ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      I have tried many Linux distros but they have not come up to the security that i needed. I tried out Xandros (and it comes with it’s own book to help you) and bought it, it connects to any Windows system through the network. I have it as my back up server (many hdd’s installed) and mapped the drives for easy access. If you are interested read more and download here:

      Trial version:

      I know it is not for free (though you do get a trial version to test out) but to me it is the best for my photographs (of which i have well over 5000 pictures, raw and in jpeg formats, and data.
      So, if you want it to seamlessly connect to your Windows over the network then this might be for you, or maybe not.

    • #2869619

      Linux Flavour for beginners

      by licensedpenetrationtester ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux


      I would suggest you redhat version 9 for or Fedora fordesktop use. It is easy to install and use. Redhat 9 can also be used for servers also.

      Let me know if you have more questions.


      • #2869616

        Red Hat 9? you are nuts

        by jaqui ·

        In reply to Linux Flavour for beginners

        to suggest something that old.
        it won’t support modern hardware at all.
        [ I know, I have a distro even older that won’t support above a pentium 2. ]

      • #2868534

        Shrike? Yeah, that is old.

        by seanferd ·

        In reply to Linux Flavour for beginners

        Unless you mean RHEL 9, which is still a bit dated, and not free.

        It was my first modern Linux (i.e., not 60 floppy images that needed compiling). 😉

        • #2868526


          by jaqui ·

          In reply to Shrike? Yeah, that is old.

          since RHEL is currently only releasing version 5, how can you say RHEL 9 is dated? it isn’t even on the market yet.

        • #2868522

          RHEL 9 is not even out, so you are correct there…NT

          by peconet tietokoneet ·

          In reply to rotflmao


    • #2869605

      Linux for newbies

      by hobbitreal ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      Use Ubuntu

    • #2869521

      Thinking about playing with Linux

      by noah212 ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      I just went through this myself.Since you’re using desktop hardware I’d load Fedora. It’s very common and there is loads of support. At my office CentOS is the preferred server distro, and Fedora is the workstation version.

      1. Download the Fedora 13 ISO (

      2. Burn the ISO to CD/DVD and boot your desktop from it. Alternatively you can install from a USB stick. Directions on page mentioned above.

      3. Fedora setup will take care of the rest.

      Ubuntu would be my second choice.

      Here is a quiz which will help find the right distro for you.

      Noah Wolff
      Online Tech

    • #2856542

      Mint or Ubuntu, leaning towards Mint

      by em dubyah ·

      In reply to Thinking about playing with Linux

      Mint is absolutely fantastic, usable immediately w/o having to download extras. I like Ubuntu also, but I find Mint to be even easier.

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