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  1. #1
    Joined
    Aug 2000
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    Vvardenfell
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    58
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    Which distro to try?

    Right folks, I need some suggestions. I've decided to have another go at playing with Linux, after not touching it for a year or two, and I need suggestions of which distro to go for. In the past I've used Mandrake (several versions), Redhat/Fedora (which I don't like) and several revisions of SUSE. My first thinking is Debian 4.0, which I gather is just out, but I'm open to suggestions. Ubuntu is out though, purely because the hype annoys me. Yes, I'm that shallow....


    I'm not a complete n00b, but not far off. I'm not scared of the command line, but that doesn't mean I want to use it all the time, especially if there's a sensible package management system. The distro needs to be popular enough that googling will find me solutions to most problems. The hardware will be:

    XP3200+
    Abit NF7-S v2.0
    1GB RAM
    ATI 9800 Pro
    IDE HDD
    on-board sound

    The difficult one wll be the NIC: a Netgear WG311T wireless card. I'd prefer native support for that, but most distros seem to do without, leaving me to use MadWifi. I'm not worried about the terrible ATI driver support as I doubt I'll do much 3D work - it's really just trying to learn Linux.

    The machine will be Linux only, so dual-boot isn't needed. I'd prefer a distro with a fairly mainstream way of doing things.

    So - what do people recommend?


    M

  2. #2
    Joined
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    Age
    70
    Posts
    585

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Why not have all of them?

    No law against sleeping with several Linux. You can enjoy an orgy by throwing Windows and other systems into the same PC. Go wild by choosing one to run a VMware too.

  3. #3
    Joined
    Jul 2001
    Location
    UK
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    51
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    20,229

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Well, you seem to have covered most of the major distro's in your comments.

    Whilst I too am very shallow and dislike a lot of the hype around Ubuntu, it still would be a good choice especially since you're keen on debian and Ubuntu is based off debian. It will also cover your requirements for googling solutions better than most simply because of the exposure it's getting plus you have as good a chance at getting things like wireless working in Ubuntu than anything.

    Fedora and Suse are also both good options too.

    I've not really played much with wireless but did manage to get my no name OEM wireless nic working by using the Windows drivers and NDISwrapper. Native support is always nice though when it exists. The rest of your hardware will be fine with any modern distro - I've run Fedora core 3, CentOS 4 and 5 on my NF7-S in the past.

    As your motives are to learn Linux, our usual advice of trying out a few distros holds particularly true (no one distro will ever suit everyone) - you'll learn more in the first few weeks installing and setting up than you will in the next few months due to the steep learning curve. So try out a few - debian, Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu and see which you like best.

  4. #4
    Joined
    May 2005
    Location
    Texas
    Age
    46
    Posts
    239

    Re: Which distro to try?

    I first tried PCLinuxOS 2007 and was pleased with it. I had some problems with sound on my laptop and got it sorted out. I never could get my wifi to work though. I was very happy aside from the wifi, it is based on Mandrake and has synaptic manager and I never had a problem with it. But, I switched to Ubuntu 7.04 Fiesty and everything worked... Almost.... Hardware wise everything worked. I had to do some finagling to get DVD to work and I am truly not that impressed with the quality. Other than that it is really simple to install and just works. It has Synaptic Manager as well as a software repository. I am ok over all with Ubuntu. This is my vast experience with Linux.... Keep us updated with what you choose and what you like/dislike.


    System Specs:
    1)Asus A8N32SLI Deluxe, Opteron 165, 4gb Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864Z503, Hitachi 160gb HD, DVD Burner, CD Drive, X-FI extreme, liquid cooling, Alienware Star Wars "Dark Side" case, Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit.
    2)DFI NFII Ultra Infinity, AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Mobile (AXMH2500FQQ4C), Sony AWG170S-B2 Sata DVD Burner, 1GB mixed memory dual channel, 160gb Hitachi Dekstar HD, Coolmax CX-450B PSU, Linux-Ubuntu 7.04 Fiesty.

  5. #5
    Joined
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Out there, just read my posts
    Posts
    5,473

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Well, you've knocked my suggestions down already - for ease anything RedHat based, Cent, Fedora.

    For Flair Suse.

    For Stability - Cent and Ubuntu.

  6. #6
    Joined
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Arizona's White Mountains
    Age
    73
    Posts
    3,629

    Re: Which distro to try?

    MEPIS 6.5 It just works.
    FRH
    If more sane people were armed the crazy ones would get off fewer shots.

    Win 7 Premium SP1 / MX 15 KDE / MEPIS 11

  7. #7
    Joined
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Nchas,SC
    Age
    53
    Posts
    272

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Newbie here. I have tried a few releases myself and have been looking into release forums to see what kind of help or how much help was being offered.

    Ive run ubuntu and can honestly say I could make anything work that I needed to just by doing a search in their forums,except for my printer which doesn't work in linux.

    I'm currently running Sabayon now.Not as newbie friendly as Ubuntu and support looks like it would be alot less helpful.But everything worked after install.The only problem I had to figure out was audio on my tv card.The only thing I had to do is unmute something in alsa mixer.

    Sabayon installed nvidia drivers,drivers for my tv card,compiz fusion,codecs for video and dvd.All things i had to search for and do manually in Ubuntu Feisty fawn.I haven't tried the new releases yet.

    Sabayon is based on Gentoo and comes with Kde and gnome.It also compiles from source. Which can be very slow. They claim its better,less chance to bork up your system then binary packs.I do plan on installing new Ubuntu or Kubuntu on another hdd in the near future as well as try some other releases like maybe pclinuxos.

  8. #8
    Joined
    Dec 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    70

    Re: Which distro to try?

    toadman:
    Your experience with Sabayon mimics my own. Very easy to install. Had some probs with the audio but eventually got it working. Compiz/Beryl with XGL worked right "out-of-the-box". All of the media "goodies" you have to d/l and search for under Ubuntu were already installed. The Sabayon forums could use more members, however, the Gentoo forums are very helpful to search.

    Except for a handful of crashes while playing the installed games, it was stable. After restarting "X", Sabayon picked up where it left off.

    Since you like Sabayon for the features that Ubuntu does not provide "out-of-the-box", you may want to consider LinuxMint's Celena (not the Light Edition). It's an Ubuntu clone with everything already installed. Furthermore, it uses Beryl instead of the newer Compiz Fusion. Beryl has more working plug-ins and is currently more stable since CF is still in development.
    DFI Expert Bios 04/06; Opty 165 (CCBBE 0615) 9x323/264@1.425Vcore 24/7; G.Skill F1-4000USU2-2GBHZ @ 2.6V; Sapphire X800GTO^2 (16p-stock); OCZ Powerstream 520ADJ; Air-cooled SI-120_Panaflo FBA12G12U 120X38MM @ 115CFM;

  9. #9
    Joined
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Hemet, California (Mandatory age 65 + area, like Palm Springs)
    Age
    58
    Posts
    742

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Have any of you guys tried Linspire yet or gOS ? I am going to try them both as alternatives to expensive M$ software, especially when I build a box that just needs to do email and some light media duty. From what I've read about Linspire so far it seems to offer a clean GUI and a desktop easy to navigate for newbies to computers. I prefer free like gOS is but am willing to try a few distros that may include proprietary software.

    Regardless I will keep reading here for information on what works well for noobs.

  10. #10
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Southern Ontario
    Age
    45
    Posts
    13,194

    Re: Which distro to try?

    I tried Linspire a couple of years ago on a friend's computer, just after their name change. Personally I couldn't stand it. They took everything that I hated about Windows and tried to put it into Linux. The worst being forcing you to run as root.

    They also didn't allow you to configure the hard drive the way you'd want. It was their way or the highway. We had a special case (2 hard drives) and it wanted to format the wrong one.

  11. #11
    Joined
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Toronto, CANADA
    Posts
    1,392

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Side question about Ubuntu - it has an 18 month supported life span. What does that mean? After 18 months, expect a new version?
    Intel E6750 C2D
    400x8 (3.2GHz) 32C idle/58C Load @ stock 1.31V/HSF | Gigabyte DS3R Rev 1 bios F13 | OCZ XTC Rev 2 @4-4-4-15 | Antec Sonata 3 500W | Palit 8800GT driver v.169.21 | WD 500GB | 22" 226BW | Logitech x-540 5.1

    AMD64 (754) 3000+ @2GHz |
    | ASUS K8N-E DLX BIOS 1.11 | 512x 2 OCZ Premier DDR400 2.5-3-3-7 | Antec Sonata 380W | 9600 Pro 128MB | 19" 930B

  12. #12
    Joined
    Jul 2001
    Location
    UK
    Age
    51
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    20,229

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Quote Originally Posted by chrispycrunch View Post
    Side question about Ubuntu - it has an 18 month supported life span. What does that mean? After 18 months, expect a new version?
    I'm not 100% sure as I don't personally use Ubuntu, but my understanding is that there will be security updates available for 18 months. New versions tend to come out more frequently than that - about every 6 months I believe. So generally the current version plus the previous 2 versions would be supported at any given time on a rolling 6 month cycle. This effectively means you need to be upgrading every 12-18 months.

    If this sounds like a laborious task then consider something with longer term support such as Ununtu LTS (Long Term Service) or a true Enterprise Class OS such as CentOS that has a 7 year support cycle and an 18-24 month release cycle.

  13. #13
    Joined
    Aug 2000
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    Vvardenfell
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    58
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    10,902

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Another update.


    I decided to try SUSE again as I've not used it since 10.2 a year or so ago. So I installed 10.3 tonight over the top of Mandriva on the laptop.

    Good bits:
    As usual, the install is well handled. SUSE picked good defaults, but is good at letting you choose other options. Unlike Mandriva which pretty much asks you which desktop then does the rest automatically. The Intel wireless drivers were installed by default after the hardware was detected.

    Bad bits:
    No ATI drivers in the distro in any form: you have to download them and install them yourself. I've not had time to try, but i gather the latest "one-click" drivers only work with 28xx cards - and I have an X1700. But I gather older one-click versions may work. And I can't get the interweb to work properly. I can ping the gateway, and I can ping other machines on the network, but I can't get outside the network even with the firewall off. I just get "Network is not available". I think the problem is the fact I have two network devices: the wired NIC, IP address xxx.xxx.xxx.11 and the wireless card, IP xxx.xxx.xxx.20. If I "ping xxx.xxx.xxx.11", it pings that once then starts pinging xxx.xxx.xxx.20 instead.


    More playing later I guess...



    M

  14. #14
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Southern Ontario
    Age
    45
    Posts
    13,194

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Quote Originally Posted by chrispycrunch View Post
    Side question about Ubuntu - it has an 18 month supported life span. What does that mean? After 18 months, expect a new version?
    This basically means that after 18 months, they will no longer do security updates or other improvements. But the good news, the system updater will notify you of the newer release before the 18 months are up, and you will given the option to upgrade the entire system to the latest version just like it updates any other security issues. Then of course, you'll need to do a reboot.

    I did this on one of my machines just to try it out. This was the first time I ever allowed an OS to do a version upgrade on the fly. Well, it went perfectly smooth. But I should hope so, considering it wasn't a very elaborate install (the computer was a BOINC cruncher rather then an everyday beater ).

  15. #15
    Joined
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    Vvardenfell
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    58
    Posts
    10,902

    Re: Which distro to try?

    Found the SUSE problem: forgot to set a default gateway. Or at least I thought I had but SUSE disagreed.


    M

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