Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Give me cake, just choose one for me....

Filed under
OS

I'm not really sure if this should be a blog or a real article, news or story but I guess it'll fit somewhere.

I'm new to this Linux thing. It was just a few months ago, I had tried it way back in the past and went back to windows as I had no time to fiddle, that I installed my first distro, then uninstalled, then installed, then uninstalled... you get the picture and you're probably smiling remembering the good ole days when you first took a bite of the apple. Now, back to the point. I was trying to install a version of red hat that came with a book I bought yonks ago. I needed to pick up Linux for some work I've just taken on and I need to broaden the horizons to offer my customers more than just MS. Yes, it was an older version of RH and no, I can't remember the release (a month of going through distros will have that effect!)

After failing miserably getting it to work properly I took to the trusty net, google produced a considerable list of Linux offerings. Reading through them I saw a few familiar names, xandros, Linspire, Suse, Red Hat (what happened to Lindows? ah, money talks), didn't Corel have one too? Plus some I hadn't heard of Ubuntu, Gentoo, Turbo Linux, Mepis... so many options, I'm a kid in a sweet shop with a pocket full of silver coins ready to hand them over to the sugar god behind the counter! Then I had to make a decision, which one? Do I have a lifetime to read the reviews, trawl the forums, finally posting the newbie questions only to be answered by the Linux equivalent of mid American preachers? Yes, I did read a few posts akin to the praise be to the lord of Linux, remove thine eyes from that evil of all evils, WINDOWS ilk. It was somewhat surprising that the flag waving wasn't just against windows, these people were flicking the V's at each others preferred distros, that one does this... this one does that. Does, doesn't it? Jumpers for goal posts! Ok, I may be a bit slow, but isn't Linux supposed to be the flour in the OS sandwich? I mean the same core ingredient? Ok, you can get white and brown, I'll give you that, what I mean is, don't you just add the filling you require? Linux is Linux, right?

All of this was leading me nowhere. I tried about 6 of these things. A few of the installations actually worked first time but then fell over when I asked it to do such perverted acts as find my PCMCIA network card or the built in wireless one. Some of those that did work I found to be lacking in things like audio codec’s, graphic support. The burning question is which one do I choose? Which religion do I follow? In the words of Dire Straits, two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong. We're not faced with two, I could take 50-50, we're faced with 100's of 'em (probably, but my estimating experience is based on bank balance, wife’s credit card bill and the fact I own an Alfa Romeo that has a garage love affair!) So which one?

Taking a different view, if there were 100 different flavours of Microsoft windows to choose from, all built on the same core, given free (or minimal cost for CNR, support etc), each with their own slant, how big would the MS version be? Would it be installed so prolifically? You give a user an inch and they'll steal your ruler. So which distro do I go with and why?

I suppose the primary question a new Linux user needs to ask is:

What do I want to use it for?

Closely followed by:

How complicated do I need it to be?

Some of the installations I tried all asked far too many questions. I needed to know an awful lot to get it anywhere: what is the permatabulation factor to the power 100 over the square root of the transremitted HDD speed in un-viagra’d megaflops, not everyone is a kernel developer, NASA or a parking attendant with a brain the size of a planet.

I need a stable platform for developing Java, perl, tcl, .NET, HTML, JSP etc.
I need some good IDE's
I need an office suite, word processor, spreadsheet, calculators, database, and presentation tool, complete with the associated spelling and thesaurus tools.
I need a browser, supporting media plugins and email.
I need it to be easy to use as my wife will use it, my daughter too when she visits.
I need wireless connectivity as I move around a lot.
I need good laptop support, power saving acpi etc.
I don't need to spend hours installing applications or running updates every 5 mins.
I need very good multimedia support, airports are boring places, tunes are good for code and DVD's make flying fly by.
I need support for peripherals, USB mainly, cameras, webcam, memory.
I need it to be quick, time is money and I have no boot screen patience.

So which one? Well I settled or better to say, landed, on Ubuntu Dapper 6.06, it's not perfect, there's some problems with the ATI display, I don't like the gnome desktop but my wife does hence no kde... oh and that’s another thing, what are the differences in desktops? I see some of the Linux installs offering about 10 different ones. What difference does it make? What do I need to know to support my decision? If you people feel I made an error in choosing Ubuntu, I would like to know why, I don't mean just the 'V' waving, I need to know the real reason and a reason to go with the distro you wave the flag for. As a complete outsider, I see that people are loyal to their chosen path, why do you stick with it? Have you tried any of the others? I mean really tried? Not just the token install, boot and 'oh, it looks crap' reinstall. I am sure that every newcomer to Linux will want to know these things and wouldn't it be great if I could get back the 2 months I have just spent installing/uninstalling/breaking/fixing/whinging/moaning/crying/screaming over this decision? Is there such a thing as the Linux for all seasons? What do lose in one and gain in another when I walk the thin distro line? If it weren’t for the work element, what would keep me in Linux and away from MS? Why do I feel like betamax each time I install one of these?

But then, am I the type that will take someone’s word for it without trying anything else? Talk about Catch 22, my name is Yossarian, I will live forever or die trying! Or is that install forever?

Oh, and to finish the ‘why Ubuntu’... it was easy to install, I found it easy to configure and a little reading went a long way regarding wireless, printers and other hardware, and adding that it is well supported would round that one nicely. Buuuuut, I read the reviews of the others and I'm a bit lost here... gedit? Others? Lost? So many puns, so little time Smile I wonder if I'm missing out... the horror. The horror of making a decision!

And no, the answer isn't 42.

More in Tux Machines

Artificial intelligence/Machine learning

  • Is your AI being handed to you by Google? Try Apache open source – Amazon's AWS did
    Surprisingly, the MXNet Machine Learning project was this month accepted by the Apache Software Foundation as an open-source project. What's surprising about the announcement isn't so much that the ASF is accepting this face in the crowd to its ranks – it's hard to turn around in the software world these days without tripping over ML tools – but rather that MXNet developers, most of whom are from Amazon, believe ASF is relevant.
  • Current Trends in Tools for Large-Scale Machine Learning
    During the past decade, enterprises have begun using machine learning (ML) to collect and analyze large amounts of data to obtain a competitive advantage. Now some are looking to go even deeper – using a subset of machine learning techniques called deep learning (DL), they are seeking to delve into the more esoteric properties hidden in the data. The goal is to create predictive applications for such areas as fraud detection, demand forecasting, click prediction, and other data-intensive analyses.
  • Your IDE won't change, but YOU will: HELLO! Machine learning
    Machine learning has become a buzzword. A branch of Artificial Intelligence, it adds marketing sparkle to everything from intrusion detection tools to business analytics. What is it, exactly, and how can you code it?
  • Artificial intelligence: Understanding how machines learn
    Learning the inner workings of artificial intelligence is an antidote to these worries. And this knowledge can facilitate both responsible and carefree engagement.
  • Your future boss? An employee-interrogating bot – it's an open-source gift from Dropbox
    Dropbox has released the code for the chatbot it uses to question employees about interactions with corporate systems, in the hope that it can help other organizations automate security processes and improve employee awareness of security concerns. "One of the hardest, most time-consuming parts of security monitoring is manually reaching out to employees to confirm their actions," said Alex Bertsch, formerly a Dropbox intern and now a teaching assistant at Brown University, in a blog post. "Despite already spending a significant amount of time on reach-outs, there were still alerts that we didn't have time to follow up on."

Red Hat News

Container-friendly Alpine Linux may get Java port

Alpine Linux, a security-focused lightweight distribution of the platform, may get its own Java port. Alpine is popular with the Docker container developers, so a Java port could pave the way to making Java containers very small. A proposal floated this week on an OpenJDK mailing list calls for porting the JDK (Java Development Kit), including the Java Runtime Environment, Java compiler and APIs, to both the distribution and the musl C standard library, which is supported by Alpine Linux. The key focus here is musl; Java has previously been ported to the standard glibc library, which you can install in Alpine, but the standard Alpine release switched two years ago to musl because it’s much faster and more compact Read more

OSS and Linux Foundation Work

  • Using Open Source Software to Speed Development and Gain Business Advantage
    Last week, we started by defining “Open Source” in common terms -- the first step for any organization that wants to realize, and optimize, the advantages of using open source software (OSS) in their products or services. In the next few articles, we will provide more details about each of the ways OSS adds up to a business advantage for organizations that use and contribute to open source. First, we’ll discuss why many organizations use OSS to speed up the delivery of software and hardware solutions.
  • Linux Foundation Creates New Platform for Network Automation
  • Tying together the many open source projects in networking
    There are a lot of pieces to the ongoing network transformation going up and down the stack. There's the shift away from proprietary hardware. There's the to need to manage complex network configurations. Add subscriber management and a wide range of other necessary functions. Add customer-facing services. All of those pieces need to fit together, integrate with each other, and interoperate. This was the topic of my conversation with Heather Kirksey, who heads up the Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV) project when we caught up at the Open Source Leadership Summit in mid-February. OPNFV is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project which focuses on the system integration effort needed to tie together the many other open source projects in this space, such as OpenDaylight. As Heather puts it: "Telecom operators are looking to rethink, reimagine, and transform their networks from things being built on proprietary boxes to dynamic cloud applications with a lot more being in software. [This lets them] provision services more quickly, allocate bandwidth more dynamically, and scale out and scale in more effectively."
  • Master the Open Cloud with Free, Community-Driven Guides
    One of the common criticisms of open source in general, especially when it comes to open cloud platforms such as OpenStack and ownCloud, is lack of truly top-notch documentation and training resources. The criticism is partly deserved, but there are some free documentation resources that benefit from lots of contributors. Community documentation and training contributors really can make a difference. In fact, in a recent interview, ClusterHQ’s Mohit Bhatnagar said: “Documentation is a classic example of where crowdsourcing wins. You just can’t beat the enthusiasm of hobbyist developers fixing a set of documentation resources because they are passionate about the topic.”
  • OpenStack Ocata Nova Cells Set to Improve Cloud Scalability
    Among the biggest things to land in the OpenStack Ocata cloud platform release this week is the Cells v2 code, which will help enable more scale and manageability in the core Nova compute project. Nova is one of the two original projects (along with Swift storage) that helped launch OpenStack in June 2010. The original Nova code, which was written by NASA, enables the management of virtualized server resources.