Distro Magic

Filed under
Linux 101

I am an IT person who just recently made the "switch" to Linux. I say that with a disclaimer. I run a dual boot to Windows XP for Sims 2, Star Wars: Empire At War, and various tycoons. I am relatively new to Linux. I've played with K/X/Ubuntu, Suse, SimplyMEPIS, Mandriva, Knoppix, PCLinuxOS, Linux XP, Linspire, Gentoo, Arch. Some more than others. I've attached myself to the *buntus and Knoppix and even SimplyMEPIS. I don't want a Windows clone. I don't want it so simple that it's boring, but I want a distro that will recognize my SATA harddrive or at least let me mount it with rw permissions fairly easily. My ultimate goal is to get rid of Windows entirely, but until the previously mentioned games run on it ... I need to run my DVD editing stuff, music stuff, and web design on it as well.

I recognize that every distro has to be tweaked. My question is, which one (perhaps just in your experience) is best for tackling these issues? I lean towards Ubuntu, but there are still some issues there. I love Knoppix, but I want it installed on my harddrive and from what I've read that's not a great option. I like APT. I want to experiment with different programs. I have broadband. I have an AMD athlon XP +2000 (waiting on a motherboard and processor upgrade I just purchased. I think it's an AMD athlon64 +3000),778 RAM (will have 1gig after upgrade), nvidia geforce 5200. Yes, I'd like the 3d acceleration, so I'll install the drivers.

Please, just give me your opinions and why you feel that way. Thanks in advance.

Suse 10.2 - Dreamlinux - LinuxMint

Pretty much I am in the same boat, while not and IT professional per say, since I make my living in Product Development / Engineering. I recently started following linux news sites again after leaving it alone for more than 3 years... With the imminent release of Vista and the increasing annoyance that I feel towards all things MS and Digital Content Control related I started looking for a distribution to eventually replace or live beside Windows XP which I will no doubt keep simply because my wife is used to it.

I have two Desktop PC's that I use at home, one mainly for managing downloads and files etc. and for my father to use occasionally when he needs to, and a second that I use as my main desktop, for Graphic/Web Design, and some hobby related Digital Media Creation (videos, dvd's etc, music all the good stuff)

After trying out the Ubuntu's, Mepis, Mandrake, PC LinuxOS, DSL, Puppy, Xandros, Freespire, and so many others - Found a few which really worked well for me Suse 10.2, Dreamlinux and LinuxMint. Each of them work well for different things and I currently have both LinuxMint and Dreamlinux running on my old P3 450 and Suse on my main desktop(Athlon 64 3800).

I keep Suse on the main desktop because frankly it was the only distro of all the ones I tested that I could easily get my analog TV Tuner card to work with. Besides it did so flawlessly and without any help from me, so who can argue with that. Installing binary drivers, codecs, and additional software were really easy once the system was installed. VMware, and absolute deal breaker for me, installed perfectly and hasn't crashed on me yet. K9copy from the packman repositories works so well I will no longer be backing up or burning anything in Windows ever again. I could go on and on but if you need a solid desktop that will grow with you as you learn I would most likely go with Suse as recommended.

Besides that the new features in 10.2 (kickoff) are worth sticking it to MS just to see

Linux Mint is another distro that is totally slick. Based on Ubuntu the single CD(Live), boots fairly quickly and installs just as easy as Ubuntu. Comes with all the proprietary codec and DVD playback by default(may not be legal) but who really cares I paid for the DVD why can't I watch it.

If you really want to get a different Gui I would give DreamLinux a try.. LiveCD will let you know whether it's going to work and it gives you a really intuitive interface. One of the things i like best is the built in Make your own distro utility MKDistro. Very cool and one of those feature you will only find in the Linux OSS community. who else would encourage you to create something new based on what you really love yourself.

One final note... I totally agree about letting things settle. Find a distro that supports the hardware you have, and learn to make it work the way you want (if it doesn't already).

Once you have one working well download the VMware trial and set that up so you can test to your hearts delight without pooching your system.

I feel that SuSe is your

I feel that SuSe is your best option. One of the best features about suse that makes it an easy linux distro to switch to is YaST. YaST provides you with a centralized control panel so you can configure all the items you mentioned above (excpet the games).

In regards to simple and boring...its linux...i dont know how you got simple and boring. Im not really into the whole GUI thing but i know KDE gives you endless possibilities with how you want it to look...you just have to "tweak" it to your satisfaction. As you know, linux is open source so its only as boring as its user...you can always dig through the code of any linux distro and find more fun for yourself. As far as the 3d acceleration goes...research your video card and make sure it can support it. The Distro wont have much effect on how your graphics perform...its all about drivers.

It does seem like you went through to many distro's in a short period of time. I suggest sitting down with 1 distro and just learning it...if you dont like it in 3 months then switch. Untill you get a good understanding of the whole linux OS (command especialy) it wont matter which distro you run....especialy if you plan to use it at work. I hope this helps you in your path to zen!

-Sean-
http://www.projecttpan.net