[NBLUG/talk] Request for hardware and distro recommendations

S. Saunders sms at sonic.net
Wed Apr 26 17:39:36 PDT 2006

On Wed, April 26, 2006 16:58, droman at romansys.com wrote:

> > 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 CD's.
> 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.

Yeah, but you get to understand some linux/*NIX stuff.

It's perfectly viable to learn from the "top down" (e.g. begin with the
end-user perspective, advance to "power user" and thence SysAdmin) rather
than jump in at the deep end, with an unfamiliar OS to install...

Given that someone will *eventually* be doing from-scratch installs from
dowloaded sources there's no real *advantage* (and, I'd argue, substantial
*disadvantage*) to starting with the more-obscure methods, instead of the
more-polished ones.

YMMV, of course!

I'd ask the OP how they, personally, work best?  If they fubar the install
and end up with a boat-anchor 'til they fix it... for the 3rd time in a
row! ... will they be motivated to really dig in, or annoyed at the inept
people who configured the installation-process to be so very
counter-intuitive / broken?  If they have a WORKING system, all slick &
shiny, will they be motivated to dig into the guts to
explore/extend/understand those slick features... or just use all the
functionality already configured?

>> 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

See now... there's Linux, in all it's various incarnations.  There's
various shells.  There's the Gnome-vs-KDE thing, not to mention the 37
gazillion window-managers.  Utilities/languages/services/etc -- perl,
python, awk, apache, sendmail, etc.  All of these are areas to
learn/explore; and, potentially, you can spend YEARS on them -- specially
as a software-developer sort, so you're liable to be examining (and trying
to understand) source-code from time to time, not "merely" using

Then there are the app's.  Evolution; the gimp; etc.  Again, potentially
years JUST learning features of all the software... let alone digging into
the code.


If your primary aim is to *USE* Linux as a tool, I'd begin with one of the
more-polished installations (likely LiveCD-based) or better-supported
distributions (e.g. one that comes bundled with a good "How-To" book), and
explore your system as you use it.

If your primary aim is to *understand* Linux (guts and all) then begin
ANYWHERE (as droman suggests), but start working with packages and code &c
sooner rather than later, and don't try to learn the app's 'til later on.

If your "primary aim" doesn't break down in that manner... well, it's
still grist for your mill, eh?

> My recommendation:
>   1) Double your physical memory to 512MB

Or even more, to 1GB...  ;-)

If you DON'T bump the RAM, then you may want to begin with "DSL" or
"Puppy" or one of the other distro's that's aimed at lower-resource

>   2) Just grab ANY distro and install.
>      - Debian if you REALLY want to learn what's going on behind the
> scenes.

Debian seems to be a very popular choice amongst a certain kind of geek...

>      - 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.

Or a first religion...  ;-)

- Steve S.

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