[NBLUG/talk] Request for hardware and distro recommendations

droman at romansys.com droman at romansys.com
Wed Apr 26 16:58:57 PDT 2006

> I have been attending NBLUG meetings fairly regularly for some time now
> (and enjoying them immensely, I must say) and I have finally decided to
> get serious about Linux.  I have an older machine running NT 4.0 which
> I would like to turn into a Linux machine.  I have a number of questions:
> 1.  Is it even reasonable to try using this machine for Linux?  Some
> facts:
>         x86 Family 6 Model 7 Stepping 3
>         500 Mhz (?)
>         261,492 KB RAM
>         12 GB disk

As you have said, your goal is to "learn Linux and associated software
from the ground up".   This box is perfect for that.
I would, however, double or quadruple the memory since you will probably
be running various X configs, and disk swapping is as fun as using
9600Kbps dial-up to your BBS or your terminal(if your from the old days
you'll know what this means).

> 2.  If the answer to question 1 is No, please recommend what hardware I
> should buy.  Ideally I would prefer not to spend a ton of money, but I
> want to end up with a reasonably useful system.
> 3.  What Linux distro is recommended?

   After years and years of using various linux distro's, etc....I'm going
to give you the advice that isn't popular.  If your learning linux, and
your goal is to learn linux, it just doesn't matter what distro you go
with since your likely to load/reload/change distros numerous times
before you REALLY LEARN to love linux and all it's glory.
   Go to http://www.linuxiso.org/ and just start downloading a few install
   You'll find that you'll like some more than others(after the install),
and that some have good traits as well as bad traits.  In the end, your
going to find that there really isn't any one distro that is best and
it really depends on what you want to do with it.  As has been said
earlier, if you want to run a web/mail/xyz server, then I like Debian
for it's stability and purity(and it has come a long...long...long ways
since the old days of the <=2.0x kernels), I like RHEL for it's clear
dominance in the commercial world...if you plan on running any
commercial applications such as Oracle, matlab, verilog, etc. you'll
find that they may run on the other distros, but will only be
officially supported on RHEL.  Fedora is great if you want a pretty
stable desktop with a lot of features and is easy to install and want
to learn more about RHEL as there very close, in fact RHEL is basically
built from Fedora. The single CD distros like knoppix are pretty new to
the linux scene, but are really easy as you just stick the CD in and
your running.  The problem is you get a running system fast, but you
don't really learn much in the process.

> My primary aim here is to learn Linux and associated software from the
> ground up from hands-on experience.  I should say that I'm a software
> developer who has been around since punch-card days (you know all those
> old greybeards who show up at NBLUG meetings?  I'm one of them) so I
> have some technical background.
> Any recommendations or suggestions will be appreciated.

My recommendation:
  1) Double your physical memory to 512MB
  2) Just grab ANY distro and install.
     - Debian if you REALLY want to learn what's going on behind the scenes.
     - Fedora if you want a lot of functionality with easy install, etc.
     - Knoppix is you want the easiest to start running right away.

I'm sure you'll get many, many recommendations...linux distros are a
second religion to many people.


> Roger House
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