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Ideal Linux System for Newbies? 486

Posted by Cliff
from the gotta-start-somewhere dept.
spiffyman asks: "In the next year, I'll begin advanced work in mathematics, and I'll also be upgrading my desktop box. In light of the advantages of Linux and FOSS in the area of science and mathematics, I want to convert from a Windows system to a dual-boot one with Linux. Primary tasks aside from math/logic activities will include learning intermediate programming, web maintenance, some computational linguistics (in Python), and LOTS of LaTeX work for my publishing activities. What do Slashdot readers recommend in terms of hardware, OS, software, and perhaps reading for a quasi-power Windows user (with no previous Linux experience) to convert to an all-Linux system?"
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Ideal Linux System for Newbies?

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  • Re:No Experience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:08PM (#17371268)
    This answer shows why the question is nonsensical on its face. No one can tell you what distro is best for you. Everyone has a different personality. For me, Slackware is the ideal distro for a newbie. But then, I like to read up on any product before I use it. So I thought it was easy to install and now it is very easy to administrate. It has lower overhead from all of the bells and whistles that some of the other distros have included. There is no dependency hell that can be so frustrating to a newbie. If you stay away from the auto updaters and read the changelogs, you will never have a broken system. If you are like a lot of the Windows users that come over to Linux, however, you will probably be better served by one of the other distros. The majority of them want to run the installer CD and then just have everything be set up and work. Of course some of them become so frustrated the first time they run into a problem and have no idea on how to fix it, they run back to Windows. But good luck to you.
  • by IANAAC (692242) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:11PM (#17371304)
    OSX Leopard It had to be said.

    No it didn't, particularly when he's specifically asking for a Linux system.

  • Rule #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eno2001 (527078) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:11PM (#17371306) Homepage Journal
    Forget everything you know about Windows. Linux is not Windows even if some of the GUI environments are starting to resemble aspects of them. Linux is closer to the Unix ideal of MANY MANY MANY tools that do one thing really well and need to be intertwined with other things to do more. As a non-programmer, I find Linux much easier to customize than Windows in terms of actually building new functionality. This is not something easily accomplished on Windows unless you want to get a Devel kit. In Linux it's practically a survival skill. Take a look through some of my Slashdot Journal Entries for examples of how I accomplished some interesting things with Linux that would have been nearly impossible with Windows.
  • Try vmware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by astrashe (7452) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:26PM (#17371490) Journal
    Try vmware first. It will let you run a virtual system in a window on top of windows, so you won't have to reformat your drive, or repartition, or do anything like that. It's a very inobtrusive way to get started.

    The virtualization penalty in terms of performance is very slight, and you don't have to worry about drivers at all, which is huge, especially if you're new to linux, and haven't selected your hardware with linux in mind.

    Which distro depends a lot on the specific apps you want to run. As you probably know, linux doesn't have universal installers the way windows does -- packages have to be rolled up for your specific distro. (They don't *have* to be, but it's a lot easier if they are.) I don't use TeX often, but I think it should be pretty widely avaialble on most distros. Python is ubiquitous, you won't have any trouble anywhere.

    I tend to think of apt as the "killer app" of linux. You just ask for an applicaiton, and it downloads and installs automatically. Not all distros have it -- it's something that exists in distros that are part of the debian family tree. Ubuntu is a debian based distro, and so it has apt.

    So Ubuntu is really the safe answer.

    There's a fair amount of stuff that doesn't work out of the box in Ubuntu -- almost always for licensning reasons. Software to play multimedia files often falls into this category, and it's sort of a pain to get all of that set up, and things like flash for your web browser don't work out of the box either.

    So my advice to you would be to do virtualization for your math stuff with unbuntu, and to stick to the host layer windows install for multimedia stuff. Once you know your way around linux, you can take the plunge and go all linux. But this way, you never have a machine that won't do whatever you need it to do.

    SuSE is in disfavor now for political reasons (fights over licensing, and I'm pretty down on them myself), but if you want a really slick desktop, it's hard to beat. It's better for multimedia after the initial install, and it tends to work better out of the box generally. There are lots of little details that are handled better.

    My main problems with SuSE are mostly ideological now, and those problems are severe enough that I wouldn't use it. So I don't want to downlplay the political stuff, it's real, and it's important, and I think that Novell is on the wrong side of it. But one of the reasons the fight with Novell is so painful is that very shortly before the problem emerged, they came out with what were pretty much the most beautiful linux desktops ever.

    My other problem is the lack of apt, the package manager, which you really, really want, even if you don't realize it now. Life without apt can't really be called living.

    Finally, if you're in a math department somewhere, ask around and see what other people are using. Because the single most valuable thing for you as a new user will be someone you can ask for help.
  • Virtualisation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:29PM (#17371534)
    If you are upgrading your desktop anyway, I would suggest a VMware (or possibly Xen: with modern hardware, Windows is a supported guest OS) solution rather than multiboot. Just make certain you have enough RAM. The host OS can be Windows or Linux with a virtual machine taking care of the other OS. Considerations on choice of host OS are
    • a Linux host will perform better, will be more malware resistant and, perhaps, be more robust;
    • if you are buying a brand new system, driver support may be better under Windows (Linux in a virtual machine will not care about the host hardware drivers);
    • if you go 64-bit, Linux is the best choice of host OS.
    As others have suggested, Ubuntu is a sound choice of Linux distribution. I am going to blow my karma by noting that SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is even better if you are willing to give Novell some money.
  • Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:31PM (#17371564) Journal
    Before Ubuntu, I tried Red Hat (this was pre-Fedora), SuSE, Debian, Knoppix, Gentoo (with the help of a friend who knew what he was doing), and Mandrake (as it was then known.) All of them had serious issues--mostly unrecognized hardware, but a couple couldn't even make it through installation (for example, Knoppix would hang no matter what I did.) I was a newbie, but I wasn't utterly helpless... I knew my way around a shell. With each distro, I spent several days troubleshooting the problem and got nowhere. I *wanted* to use Linux, but I simply couldn't afford to invest so much time making the basics work. There's a huge difference between a little tinkering in my spare time (which I was looking forward to) and trying to live without a functional network card.

    And then, along came Ubuntu and EVERYTHING JUST WORKED. Obviously, your millage my vary (some people say that Ubuntu has given them nothing but headaches yet e.g. MEPIS is a dream) and I'm sure Ubuntu's improvements have since been incorporated in all of those other distros I tried, but Ubuntu's philosophy and their large community of helpful users has me sold. Virtually every single niggling little problem I had in 5.04 (the first Ubuntu release) has been resolved. I've installed Xubuntu on my mom's old laptop and she loves it (and unlike Windows, it's virtually maintainance-free.)

    If you do encounter problems after installing Ubuntu, just check out ubuntuforums.org--I've installed it in half a dozen computers now, and virtually every problem I've ever encountered has been easily solved by following a step-by-step guide some kind soul has posted.

    Ubuntu really is "Linux for Human Beings."
  • Kubuntu, anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dbneeley (1043856) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:33PM (#17371588)
    I think the KDE interface makes more sense for the Linux newbie, and the Kubuntu distribution has many advantages as well. As mentioned above, tremendous online resources and a very active community for advice and support are substantial advantages.

    For LaTeX, I suggest Lyx...available for your Windows side as well as in Linux. See http://www.lyx.org/ [lyx.org]

    I would also create a separate partition for those things you will need to share between both windows and Linux. I'd probably format this as a fat32 partition, since that is somewhat simpler to use for Linux and will appear transparent to Windows. The occasional glitch in the handling of NTFS partitions is not worth the hassle, yet you are bound to have a fair amount of information that it would be helpful to have available in either side.

    David
  • by Bastian (66383) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:34PM (#17371606)
    Well, that really depends on why the person is looking for a Linux system. If it's someone who's looking to get into desktop Unix (or just looking for an alternative to Windows) and doesn't realize that Linux isn't the only player in town, then it may be worth mentioning OS X or FreeBSD. At the moment, OS X is my current favorite desktop Unix in all respects except politics so I think it does deserve mention.

    Now if the person needs to have something that works with existing hardware or specifically wants Linux for political reasons, then it's different and it's not worthwhile to mention other OSes.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fimbulvetr (598306) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:36PM (#17371620)
    If a linux distro has a gcc installed by default (Hopefully the same one that was used to compile the kernel, cough, unlike redhat, cough), it chould be a sign that the distro may be bloated and a heavy weight.

    More packages installed by default == more space used, more security vectors and more clutter.

    Personally, I prefer having to install "less" or "build-essential" in debian because I know that if they don't exist, there's probably very few useless tools on my system that could be exploited, that take up space, that conflict with other packages, that run as daemons and steal precious memory/cpu cycles, etc.

    Ubuntu, while certainly heavier than debian, follows more or less the same guidelines.

  • Re:cygwin (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Junta (36770) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:39PM (#17371648)
    If the submitter never tries linux, how would they supposed to find out when it *would* be better for them? I think the description shows clearly he has reason (working with latex and python, and the platform is popular in the field he is working more into).

    If they have the time and resources to evaluate a platform, particularly one that enjoys fair popularity in their field, they should do so.

    In fact, I would recommend delaying a Windows license purchase on the new system entirely, unless transitioning his existing license from his old desktop. Leave Windows on the older system and see if Linux can fit the bill more than he realizes. Windows is not free by any legal measure, so already there is benefit migrating to a free platform and save a fair chunk of money (even XP home OEM is 90 bucks right now)..

  • Re:OSX (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WillAdams (45638) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:36PM (#17372154) Homepage
    Reasons not to buy a Mac:

      - already have a PC and don't want to go through the nuisance / expense of selling it and buying a Mac

      - want/need a form-factor Apple doesnt make, e.g., subnotebook sans optical drive or a pen-system w/ integrated graphics digitizer (Tablet PC)

      - no single vendor clause / requirement to purchase a supported configuration

    Which is why I wish Apple would license Mac OS X or build a pen slate.

    William
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arethan (223197) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:44PM (#17372222) Journal
    I fail to see how having RPMs and DEBs available makes installation any easier for "most distros out there". Being a Slack user, perhaps you never noticed that new versions of libraries tend to be released every 2 to 4 months, and each distro tends to be compiled against the bleeding edge newest libraries available at that time. This generally causes an absolute ton of dependency hell at all levels. This is the exact reason why most commercial packages build against the enterprise distros, because their life cycles are counted in years instead of weeks. Having a precompiled rpm/deb in the distro repository helps, but it is far from an effective solution when it comes to newbies installing software, and it certainly doesn't make Linux a very friendly looking target for ISVs.

    While rapid software evolution is the biggest strength to Linux based systems, it's ironic that it is also the absolute biggest downfall. After using Linux for over a decade on servers, and during that time even spending a 2 year stint of Linux as my only desktop OS, I can safely say that it isn't the distros' package system that's broken. Instead it's the complete lack of enforceable standards. If Linux wants to ever become a serious contender for the desktop OS throne, it will seriously need to standardize the versions of the core libraries. If you want to continue to maintain rapid development, deployment and deprecation, that's fine, but at the end of the day the distros should have a single version target for these libraries. The more bleeding edge versions can coexist on the same system right along side the legacy standards. The Linux Standard Base did a fair job at starting this, but as far as I can tell it's mostly fallen off the map, not to mention that it never went far enough.

    I really hate to break the dream-bubble here guys, but we need a "Standard Linux Desktop" specification that fully defines the available libraries and their versions all the way from libc to gnome. Now I'm not saying that once you implement the standard you're done innovating, that's just stupid. What I'm saying is that a user should have a single super-package to install that brings their Linux installation into full compliance for a standard desktop specification. Multiple standard assemblies can be installed on a single machine, and would allow the use of older binaries on newer systems. In order to enforce this standard, the installation of gcc should use the latest standard assembly by default, switchable to older and custom assemblies through the use of command line switches.

    Of course the biggest pain in the ass with all of this is getting all 9 million of the various distros to work together for 6 months to define these standards. Luckily we don't need to go that far. Simply getting RedHat and Debian to work together on it should be enough to affect the majority of machines out there.

    Getting back on topic for the article: If you want to use a commercial package, use a distro that claims compatibility with RedHat Enterprise Linux. Otherwise pick a RHEL compatible or something based on Debian. Those are the easy picks that offer the broadest set of precompiled software that tends to work 75% of the time.
  • Re:cygwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:53PM (#17372304) Homepage
    If you are already used to Windows, and can try out the benefits of Linux without completely abandoning what you have, why would you want to "dive in" and waste what could be a perfectly good system?

    Cygwin allows you to try out some benefits of Linux without dedicating anything. That's [my] point.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:56PM (#17372336) Homepage Journal

    The ideal solution for a newbie comes pre-installed. The distribution does not matter that much. I anticipate that many readers will object, but I am convinced that it makes sense to introduce a working system. I started working with GNU/Linux when I was finishing the high school, back in 95. I did not start by making a clean install, but rather by playing around with whatever was installed at my dad's work. It just happened to be Slackware, but you know, since it was up and running, I could not care less. I was free to poke around a learn new things.

    If you really are a newbie, the last thing you want to learn is how to test hardware configurations and patch the kernel just make your drivers work. This knowledge is very useful, but is rather irrelevant for someone who seeks a good introduction to how the new OS works. My advice: commandeer a geek friend of yours to set up a distribution of his choice and then run with it.

  • Re:No Experience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:09PM (#17372428) Homepage
    "This answer shows why the question is nonsensical on its face. No one can tell you what distro is best for you. Everyone has a different personality."

    No, it's a good question. Your answer, however, leaves plenty to be desired.

    My guess is that Linux "newbies" want a system that just works. They're probably coming from either a Windows or Mac perspective, and aren't particularly interested in what personalities distributions are tailed for.

    Their first Linux distribution should be intuitive and and functional. They shouldn't have to read manuals to get it working, and how-to information should be readily available in the system.

    All this crap about what "personalities" are right for particular distributions makes me want to strangle someone. It's a cop-out excuse for why no Linux distribution is particularly attractive yet. Make it work. Make it simple.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by trick.one (682514) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:14PM (#17372478) Journal
    No, your response shows why so much of the non-technically-savvy population won't take Linux seriously. This guy wants to switch from Windows to Linux--he's already decided, you don't even have to try to convince him!--and yet your response to his perfectly valid question is "Figure it out yourself, asshole, and stop asking retarded questions." Sure, everyone has their own needs and every distro fills its own niche. This guy gave a pretty good description his needs, and is trying to figure out what fits. Surprise--not everyone thinks that fucking around with various Linux distros is a good use of their time. Most people use computers for things OTHER THAN figuring out how computers work. It's like asking the waiter for a recommendation and being told, "Why don't you just get everything on the menu and see what you like?"
  • by sasha328 (203458) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:21PM (#17372524) Homepage
    If the goal is to learn how Linux works, then stay clear from Ubuntu. It's too user friendly. In this case, I'm not sure what to recommend. Never used Debian, I used Slackware for about a week, and I think it is a good choice in this scenario, or Fedora. I know it is possible to "learn Linux" with any distribution, but the tendency is to use a shortcut when it is available than to go the long "unix" way about doing it.
    For an excellent learning experience, try Linux from Scratch.

    Ofcourse, if all you want is to just use the PC to do stuff (assignments, internet, and such) then like most people are recommending use Ubuntu.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pyite69 (463042) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:35PM (#17372638)
    Ubuntu is great - but the best version of it is Linux Mint. This is basically Ubuntu with Flash, Java, media codecs all pre-configured.

    On a standard Ubuntu or Fedora system, if you put in a DVD nothing will happen.
  • by frisket (149522) <peter@@@silmaril...ie> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:40PM (#17372670) Homepage
    I just moved from FC4 to Ubuntu, and the first thing I did was rip out the Ubuntu-installed TeX and install it from the TeX Collection CD. Otherwise Ubuntu is doing just fine, and much more up to date than FC, and it recognised everything I had...with the exception of CUPS, which still plays sillybuggers with the printer defs.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @10:58PM (#17373112) Journal
    I can tell that most of those words in your post must mean something because they seem to make sense, in a sentence construction sort of way. But I'll be honest that my eyes just glazed over when I hit by changing your repositories in the Synaptic upgrade tool from Dapper to Edgy. It didn't get much better after that.

    This is a big problem for those that may not have oodles of free time; maybe the OP does. I have tried (and, I admit) given up on several packages, including RedHat (before the break), Ubuntu and Knoppix (both LiveCDs, admittedly), and Slackware.

    What I've learned in the process is that
        1. I don't run much server stuff.
        2. I can't afford te time to "mess" at the office - real work still has to get done
        3. Everything at home is multimedia, and practically no server stuff exists
        4. Server stuff at home is so simple that peer shares are more than adequate
        5. There's nothing _I_ do that requires the "cool" stuff in linux, unless you count TiVo hacking, and I don't do enough to justify a whole box
        6. There is just too much technical software in my field (structural engineering) for Win only

    I will happily admit that when I have to mess with my TiVo I get my nipples get hard when I work from the command line in a telnet session. There's just something "right" and "pure" about it that takes me back to my roots. But I've learned the dirty little secret of MS, which is not really a secret to anyone. Using MS day in and day out, you pick up the OS operations and gather your personal favorite apps - and how to use them - in the course of business. At nearly 40, I've got well over 25 years of tweaks and standards and process and training built up. Even worse, it's been 10-15 years since I've really had the free time to play with OS components and know the ins and outs. I came of age before the internet "existed" - and there has been so much that has gone by since that gaining a comfort level in a new OS is truly a daunting task. Gaining that knowledge without a manual is even worse. In defense of Linux, I would be loathe to switch to MS if it weren't my current platform of comfort, and OSX, I'm certain, would be little better.

    Anyway, for good or ill, it's posts like your that remind me just how much I'd have to learn to switch. Maybe most people aren't as bubsy as I am, but I'm not sure where I'd find the time to learn everything I would need to to be comfortable, much less "productive".

  • Re:No Experience? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @11:28PM (#17373330)
    You sir, are a moron. NetBSD installs within 200MB - with gcc. Is it bloated? An OS without a compiler is a broken OS.

    More packages does not mean more security vectors. Do you mean to say that all of your packages start up network services without you asking them to? Do they all have setuid binaries for your local users to exploit?

    On a desktop system, more software is good. On a server its probably not, because you want to be familiar with every piece of software on the system so as to identify problems quickly (and potentially, though unlikely, detect suspicious bits and pieces placed by malicious users).

    Your motives are flawed. Please stop spreading FUD.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tacocat (527354) <tallison1.twmi@rr@com> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @11:40PM (#17373394)

    Unbuntu is based on Debian unstable. Not Debian stable. Right now Debian unstable is in a freeze pending release. But once that is done, expect Unstable to live up to it's name and hence take unbuntu (potentially) with it.

    No distro flame war. But I really get pissed off when something breaks.

  • Re:No Experience? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @01:40AM (#17373942)
    Agreed on all points. That's why I suggest the poster run Linux in VMWare instead of dual booting. Dual booting is a PITA if you need to switch back and forth. Besides, VMWare makes it easy to revert back to previous 'versions' if you mess up your *nix system while learning it. It also will allow him to try out a number of Linux distro's (as well as *BSDs if he feels like it) easily, so he can try out a variety to compare and play with to see what he really likes.
  • you should use (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Syber Phreak (1043962) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @03:23AM (#17374334)
    well so far alot have said Ubuntu, why not to Linspire or Freespire, its great for new people. Im getting it cause im still trying to get used to linux, ive used Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Ubuntu, and Suse 9.1-10.0 and im still not good with it.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mackyrae (999347) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @03:40AM (#17374402) Homepage
    Agreed about it being pre-installed. I installed mine with no problem, but I looked up my hardware first to be sure it'd work. Now some friends are asking me about Ubuntu and wanting to try it. I'll install and configure it for them. I don't expect them to figure it out on their own. They, like a lot of Windows users, are sick of spyware and viruses, and this is a cheap way to get rid of that issue (because a Mac would cost a pretty penny). My brother and sister see that benefit and have decided that they will use Ubuntu on their laptops when they go to college in 2 years. To help them adjust, I installed it on my mom's computer. She can barely use Windows, so there's no relearning. It all runs without a hitch. The video driver doesn't break once a week, it's faster, no virus issues. They like it. I got two negative responses. The first was "I don't know how to make it save a MS Word file" (click on file type, and choose that one). The second was "my info on AIM looks a little bit different" (font issue is my guess). Other than that, they have no problems. It's easy for them to adjust.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @04:06AM (#17374486)
    Administrate?

    Also, I suspect the poster was expecting a number of different opinions with brief explanations, which he could peruse before making his choice from among those offered. That is far from nonsensical.
  • by delire (809063) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @04:42AM (#17374616)
    90% of a good distro is in it's community, in the knowledge base it produces and maintains. No matter how technically good a distro is, it's less useful if there isn't documentation in your language, if a bug isn't noticed by a user, the forums aren't lively, or if people aren't packaging for your distro because no-one's using it - if it doesn't attract developers +/or package maintaners for all these reasons.

    For this reason Ubuntu is the winner, hands down, despite being extremely sensibly put together. I'm a Debian user but would never suggest it as a starting distro for a newbie. I have pointed many people at Ubuntu that have very little computer experience, with great success. Some of these people have been running Ubuntu exclusively for over a year now.
  • Re:No Experience? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rick17JJ (744063) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @06:32AM (#17374978)

    If Make it work. Make it simple is your goal, then just use Ubuntu. You don't need to look any further. Not everyone has the right personality for a distro such as Linux from Scratch [linuxfromscratch.org]. That would be for someone who wants to better understand how it is all put together and how it all works. Building your house from scratch isn't for everyone either, although some people have that kind of "build it yourself" personality. I built my own computer from scratch partially as a learning experience. Not everyone has a "build your own computer from scratch" kind of personality either. I do understand your point though.

    In Linux there is some disagreement about whether it is easier for an experienced user to use point-and-click GUI utilities or by knowing how to manually edit the various configuration files manually from the command line. Some Linux geeks also seem want to prove their superiority in the geek pecking order by using a more expert oriented distro such as Slackware or Gentoo. Perhaps they should just get a life instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:11AM (#17375552)
    try the following after switching back using the KVM. echo -n "reconnect" > /sys/bus/serio/devices/serio0/driver
    This is why Linux will never conquer the desktop market. The answer to every simple problem seems to be something like "Oh, just drop to a shell and type 'florp -7 | xargs eflorp -gbm', then open etc/diddly with emacs and change the third line to '[opts=4,8,3]'."

    A claim that any Linux distribution will be able to take the place of Windows or OS X in the desktop market is simply ridiculous.
  • by PapaZit (33585) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:41AM (#17375754)
    I doubt this'll be read by many folks (after all, the article was posted -hours- ago), but I haven't seen anyone else mention it.

    I think that there are two things that should affect your decision.

    The first is application support. Open Source stuff isn't a problem. You can just assume that it's available for any distro that you like. If you're going to use any commercial software, you should check with the makers of that software to see what distros they support. A lot of academic software expects Redhat Enterprise (or a clone like CentOS) or Suse.

    The second thing you should consider is distro lifetime. Many linux distributions stop offering support and upgrades for old versions after a year or two. A lot of us -like- to wipe everything and reinstall, but if you're trying to get work done, it can be really annoying. There are a few distros that offer a longer support window, though. Ubuntu offers a "LTS" ("Long-Term Support") version, and Redhat (again, and clones like CentOS) offers support for their products for several years.

  • Re:No Experience? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by because789 (1044140) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @03:08PM (#17379654)
    Jesus, Thank you!! I'm so sick in tired of these "go fuck yourself" flaming answers to valid questions! Has anyone thought that maybe, JUST maybe, if forums like this were "on a whole" a bit more compassionate and helpful and less filled with this geek bully bullshit talk that, that might help the adoption of open source software? In my opinion, if I was a "newbie" and I read responses like "Ideal Linux system for newbies? I recognize the words, but together they make no sense." would tell me that this linux shit is still in a hobby tinker state and I might not want to use it because I need to actually get work done. And posting questions on forums like this is more likely to lower my self-esteem than provide me with a helpful answer. We all know linux is not in a "hobby tinker state", but stop and think about how responses like that come ac crossed to others? If we all want linux to be adopted by the masses and dare I say it, "user" friendly, start with yourself and be friendly. I know I'm opening myself up to get flamed too but fuck it. I can take it from you social retards. Just wipe the pizza grease off your fat little fingers before you start typing.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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