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Old 01-04-2007, 03:20 PM   #1
DasFox
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Linux And All The Choices - Information To Help

For those of you new to Linux it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the different versions, aka "Distros" in Linux, which you can find at Distrowatch

For those who don't wish to read any further, if you consider yourself to be the average computer user, looking for the simplest and best approach to Linux computing, you will most likely want one of the Top Five Distros on Distrowatch.

As we begin here, remember one thing, you can't always get away from learning completely, even with the simplest of Linux distros there is still a learning curve. You're going to run across problems because software isn't perfect, and you will need some basic knowledge, and the better you equip yourself, the easier the ride is going to be.

If you're not sure about your hardware, and the software support you need with the ease of use, again pick one of the top five distros listed on Distrowatch. They are the top picks simply because they support the widest range of hardware and software no matter what your needs are.

If you don't read on be forewarned, because you're going to miss out on some cool stuff, condensed right here to help you out with making life easier in the Linux world! Make sure you at least read the IMPORTANT section listed below if you are not going to read this entire post, which you should do.

For those that really want answers, please dig on!

Now to really begin, I'm not here to tell you one is better then the other, because the truth is there are many great distros, and that is why I said it is best to familiarize yourself to all the different versions, then make the choice for yourself, rather than someone else telling you which one is the best.

The world of Linux is about "Choice".

Let's talk about a few areas of Linux.

In all Linux distros there are many different desktops out there to choose from, but Gnome, KDE, and Xfce are the most popular.

Gnome
KDE
Xfce

Next we have what are called Window Managers. In plain terms this means something that "Manages Windows". Gnome, KDE, and many of the other desktops have their own defaults, but these can be replaced by other window managers to give a totally new look, feel, and functionality. Many window managers can also be run by themselves as a "Stand Alone" desktop.

What does all of this mean regarding desktops, and window managers? It's called productivity, and the ways in which you want to handle your tasks. All of these choices will help you to bring out, find your best efficiency.

Here is some Information on Wikipedia about X Window Managers.

There are several window managers out there, AfterStep, Blackbox, Enlightenment, Fluxbox, FVWM, Openbox, and Window Maker. These are only a few of the more popular ones.

AfterStep
Blackbox
Enlightenment
Fluxbox
FVWM
Openbox
Window Maker

Windows management in Linux has never looked better since OpenGL acceleration came along. This provides different ways, and looks in managing these windows with new enhancements, and visual effects. Beryl, Compiz, and XGL provide Linux this new direction in window management. Here you can watch Videos of Beryl, Compiz, & XGL in action.

Xwinman is the most complete list of desktops, and window managers for Linux.

Moving on now to the area of packages, Linux distros all incorporate their own ways of managing packages. Besides the basic functions of installs, updates, and removal, these programs can also handle other tasks dealing with packages. Some of these programs are more varied then others depending on the developers intentions, flexibility, and the ease of use intended. These programs are known as "Package Managers".

These are a few of the more common types of extensions one will find with all the different versions for package management, along with various spin offs from these.

.rpm (originally Redhat Package Management) .deb (Debian GNU/Linux package manager) .tgz .tar .tar.gz (Tarball Files).

Here are some popular package managers:

Apt-Get
KPackage
Portage
Rpmdrake and URPMI
Synaptic Package Manager
YaST
YaST2
Yum
Yumex (Yum Extender)

Package management in each Linux distro allows you the flexibility to work with the packages to a degree, and some more then others. How flexible you want to be is up to you, the system you choose, and what your needs are. Just because a certain Linux distro comes with it's own default package manager doesn't mean you can't install another one to meet your needs better, but this isn't typically done. Some Linux distros actually incorporate a few package managers to work with, or their default manager will run from either a GUI (Graphical User Interface), or a command terminal, where you can type commands, both allowing you different levels of flexibility, by the choices you need.

So what does all of this package management really mean, and how is it really going to help me? Quite simply put, it just means, "Management". What you really have to ask yourself here is, what kind of management would you really like to have?

Here's a look at the most common command terminals:

Konsole
Gnome Terminal
Xterm

Moving on to another subject, Linux like Windows during the start up, and shutdown goes through what are known as runlevels. Different functions of the startup, or shutdown processes are accessed, known in Windows as, Normal, Safe-mode and Command prompt only, etc. In Linux these are known as the User Modes, different ways in which to access the system. Besides the different modes in Linux, Services, and Daemons also come into play in these runlevels, basically in the same way as Windows does. The advantage Linux runlevels have over Windows’ boot modes is that Linux runlevels can be changed on the fly.

Here is some information on runlevels, services, and daemons:

Daemons
Linux Services, Devices, and Daemons

The runlevels most Linux distributions make use of are either the, "System V" init style, or the "BSD" init style, or a slight variation of them.

Runlevel Init Information:

Init Runlevels

What this runlevel system means to you is the flexibility to change the way in which a part of Linux behaves, runs for you, and how you manage certain parts of it. No matter what you use Linux for, this is an important aspect of system administration, helping you to manage, and customize Linux to your needs.

Runlevel information:

Run levels on Wikipedia
Run levels on Linux.com

With everything that has been mentioned so far, basically what separates most Linux distros is package management, runlevel operations, and various tools for system management.

Now putting the tech talk aside, Linux means not only choices, but Linux is also about personal tastes. Yes Linux is your own personal tastes, and that is another great quality of Linux, the ability to make it your own. That is why it's generally never wise to decide based on someone's own belief. After all we all have our own likes, and dislikes, and that is what makes Linux so attractive. There is enough out there to satisfy the needs of everyone.

I touched on a few of the major differences, but there are even more. I've been playing with different versions for 7 years, and I still continue to play with them as a hobby. There are many cool things each one has to offer, but when it gets right down to it, no matter what all the differences are, "Linux is Linux", and you just have to decide what works for you.

Now if you're really saying here at this point in time that this is for you, and you consider yourself to be a power user, or quite an enthusiast, then the sky's the limit, but go slow, or you might frustrate yourself with some of the more hands on distros that require more user intervention, setting up, tuning, and tweaking.

For the power user, or enthusiast that wants to jump right in, start in this order, then go from there based off the Distrowatch Ranking list.

Debian
Slackware
Gentoo

Linux is a Unix based operating system, and if want to start out using the purest form of this, then start out with Slackware.

If you find yourself, after trying any of these distros falling flat on your face in disgust, then don't worry, we've all been there. Go back to the "Top Five" picks, and get comfortable with one of them for awhile. Once you've gotten comfortable, and somewhat use to this new world, then try your luck again. Don't give up, because if you think Linux is your thing, then go for it, and have fun, but if the learning is going to be in frustration, then the journey is going to be even more painful. Just remember a good attitude learns more.

Once you've made a go of it with Debian, Slackware, and Gentoo, then after Gentoo just have at. Go where you want to go next, and have fun, but remember go slow. Linux has a lot to offer, but there is also a lot to learn.

For the hardcore that wants to learn it all, and do it all, and really take the leap off the deep end, this is the direction for you. Linux From Scratch (LFS)

For those that would like to read a comparison of Linux, and Windows, Wikipedia provides some excellent information.

Comparison of Windows and Linux

Here is a comparison of Windows programs with their equal counterparts for Linux to help you with your transition.

Alternatives to Windows software
Equivalent Windows applications
Linux software equivalent to Windows software

Programs to help you run Windows applications and games in Linux.

CodeWeavers CrossOver Linux
Transgaming
TransGaming.Org Games Database
Wine HQ

Here are a few Linux sites with a wealth of information to help point you on your new way.

GNU.org
JustLinux
Kernel.org
Learning Linux.com
Linux.com
Linux Online
Linux Format
Linuxhelp
Linux HQ
Linux Journal Magazine
Linux on Laptops
Linux Magazine
Linux Planet
Linux for Playstation 2
LinuxPrinting
LinuxQuestions.org
LinuxSecurity.com
Linux Slashdot
Linux Today
Linux USB
LinuxWorld
LWN
Newsforge
The Linux Documentation Project
Xbox Linux

Down the road awhile, and after all the reading, and brain absorbing, you still find you need help, and trust me you will, then the absolute best way to get support is live, in real time one on one with someone, or phone support, but when you can't find someone, or afford someone, then nothing beats the free help you can find on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). You'll want to join Freenode. On freenode's site is a list for the servers to join, but the most commonly used one in North America is, irc.freenode.net.

With no disrespect for forums such as ExtremeOverclocking.com, they do have their place, and are quite popular when you can't find, or afford someone, or make the time for IRC, but when you can, nothing beats the help, and experience to be found on IRC to ease you through the learning curve of Linux, which can get steep at times.

Freenode is the largest OpenSource IRC server in the world. Here you will find the help you seek.

Xchat is the tool of choice for IRC, and the most popular GUI (Graphical User Interface), IRC client that you can use. Most Linux distros either come with Xchat installed, or available to install.

IMPORTANT:
There are 100 distros listed on Distrowatch. Not all are listed here, so use it as your guide, first starting at the top, and then going from there as I have outlined in this post.


Here's a summary of what you've just learned. You're going to pick a distro, it will have it's choices of desktops, or window managers to use, package managers, runlevels, and other various tools I didn't touch on, and overall a look, feel, and functionality that you'll either love, or hate. In the end you'll find that what you're comfortable with is what you're going to stick with, and the key here is, "YOU", what you find that suits your needs, and no one elses. Through trial and error you'll find the best Linux distro, the one you like, not someone else. Everyone will have their own ideas of what's best, and you need to figure out yours, why because like I mentioned earlier, "Linux is Linux", it's a personal choice.

Now to stretch your brain a little further. When you're out there learning, and reading, learn what the name Linux really means, because Linux is the kernel, not the complete operating system as some people believe.

Now go have fun, go play, and go learn, because Linux is fun!

ALOHA

Last edited by DasFox; 03-25-2007 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 01-04-2007, 06:34 PM   #2
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What about redhat and slackware?
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Old 01-04-2007, 06:43 PM   #3
DasFox
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraCKz View Post
What about redhat and slackware?
All you had to do was READ the post, Slackware is mentioned on it, and LOOK at Distrowatch.

It helps to READ.

Someone give this boy some reading glasses.




P.S. I think I found my new avatar.

Last edited by DasFox; 01-04-2007 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 01-04-2007, 07:06 PM   #4
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yes i know, i need glasses lol
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Old 01-04-2007, 11:07 PM   #5
Xicer
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Nice post, possible sticky?
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:49 AM   #6
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Excellent job DasFox. I think this will help a LOT of people. I vote for sticky
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Old 01-05-2007, 11:35 AM   #7
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Excellent excellent excellent!!!

My ownly "lowly" suggestion is to add "Arch Linux" to the power users section / group.

It has advanced package control and a nice low-down dirty feel to it.

But again great job...

+1 Sticky!

-Rich
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Old 01-05-2007, 04:03 PM   #8
DasFox
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrocrep View Post
Excellent excellent excellent!!!

My ownly "lowly" suggestion is to add "Arch Linux" to the power users section / group.

It has advanced package control and a nice low-down dirty feel to it.

But again great job...

+1 Sticky!

-Rich
I said this:

Once you've made a go of it with Debian, Slackware, and Gentoo, then after Gentoo just have at. Go where you want to go next, and have fun, but remember go slow. Linux has a lot to offer, but there is also a lot to learn.

Distrowatch rankings are good, it's best to start at the top and work your way down when you are new to Linux.

I did say "Go where you want to go next" after Gentoo, so I guess you could say Arch, which is #24.
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:22 AM   #9
magg
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Wow, this is absolutely fantastic...I know so many people I could refer to this post. Definitely sticky, thanks man!
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Old 01-06-2007, 07:55 PM   #10
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Fantastic thread. I would vote for a sticky also !

I haven't meddled too much with Linux, but I really like Ubuntu and Fedora, I would recommend them as the first ones to try, pretty simple for the average user. I highly recommend doing some reading not only at distrowatch, but also at linuxquestions.org, theres a lot of info there! (yes, i know it was in the post)
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:26 AM   #11
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So I've been beating myself up with Win2k server as a web hosting server, with default IIS hosting software. This software seems to be buggy and slow on win2k.

I've always wanted to learn linux for a lower overhead solution, and less of a virus / worm target!

I've heard that Apache is great for web hosting.

Any recomendations on a web hosting setup?

Can a version of linux be used with apache?
Does a version of linux offer a better option for hosting?

is one linux distro better than another in regard to web-hosting? (ie, http website, and ftp hosting as well, maybe eventually even a store-front).

If I'm going to spend alot of time learning, I just want to start my research in the right place for a web server.

Gentoo, or UBUNTU or otherwise.... etc.

I currently have a win2k server offline due to some virus ridden file I dl'd so now is the perfect time to try out a dual boot OS for some experimentation.

Thanks!
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rutger75 View Post
So I've been beating myself up with Win2k server as a web hosting server, with default IIS hosting software. This software seems to be buggy and slow on win2k.

I've always wanted to learn linux for a lower overhead solution, and less of a virus / worm target!

I've heard that Apache is great for web hosting.

Any recomendations on a web hosting setup?

Can a version of linux be used with apache?
Does a version of linux offer a better option for hosting?

is one linux distro better than another in regard to web-hosting? (ie, http website, and ftp hosting as well, maybe eventually even a store-front).

If I'm going to spend alot of time learning, I just want to start my research in the right place for a web server.

Gentoo, or UBUNTU or otherwise.... etc.

I currently have a win2k server offline due to some virus ridden file I dl'd so now is the perfect time to try out a dual boot OS for some experimentation.

Thanks!
Apache runs on any version of Linux, as far as what's going to work for you, that is all going to be a personal choice. Every Linux distro out there comes with Apache to install.

As I pointed out in the post you should start from the top and go from there for ease of use, and learning Linux, so start with the #1 distro as ranked on Distrowatch, and play with a few of them until you find the one you like, that's all there is to it.

If I'm not mistaken Apache is all CLI (Command Line) in Linux, at least that is the way it was before, there was no GUI, but there might be something now, or a distro has created a GUI for it to help with using it, but many Linux users find working the CLI simpler.

Typically for a Web Server ONLY distro most users go with simpler, lighter no frills distros like Slackware, which also happens to be the most Unix like.

If all you are doing is running a server then you don't want to install X Windows it creates more of a security risk, then you will only have a CLI (Command Line) distro, there will be no GUI at all. Think of it this way, it will be like running DOS, and that is all, but then that is also the BEST security for a server.

You might want to also consider using FreeBSD, NetBSD, or OpenBSD. BSD are the best server OS out there. Linux can make a great server, but BSD still seem to rule the server world.

Last edited by DasFox; 03-06-2007 at 12:02 PM.
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