Right distro for me?


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wst50

Thinking of setting up Linux on my main compy, but there are so many distros and sub-choices that you can make (Gnome/KDE/Xfce and beyond) I'm having a real hard time choosing.

Been asking a friend who is scarily comfortable with Linux (once, to convert a .opt file to .doc (schoolwork), he had to use a USB key in the only linux box in the school. It didn't mount, so he jumped into Konsole and was typing away merrily in a similar way to how you owuld in a word processor!), and we narrowed it down to Kubuntu. Just to get a wider opinion however, I want to ask you what owuld be right for me, and my family to use.

I use the computer for:

Surfing (Opera and FF)

Word processing/ Spreadsheeting/ Presentation-making (and as I will be dual booting this I can test it on Windows if I am forced to!)

Occasional gaming- but only low spec games that will be linux compatible (Seen them on 'tinternet as linux ready)

Playing Music (Will have to convert my files to either Mp3 or flac- muppet who ripped them for me ripped in wma- or is there a wma compatible player out the for linux?)

Also needed will be an email client (as similar to Outlook 2003 as possible- computer illiterate relative uses it ;)

And hopefully some eye-candy of sorts :D Heard about Beryl, but not sure what repository I would have to look at.

Not linux-proficient at all, only ever used DamnSmall, but found a load of jargon to refer to for this post that I can kinda talk about.

Now you know what I need it to do, here's some figures to see if it can do it.

Athlon 64 3700 s939 (if I get the x64 will there be driver issues with the other hardware? Should I wait for better driver support and get x86 for now?)

Radeon x550 pcie

1 gb generic ram

320gb sata partitioned into 3 chunks- 1 windows, 1 spare (same size as windows partition- might make a small 1 (60Gb for linux inside it), and a recovery 1. Would reformatting a partition reformat everything or just that partition?

And a DVD RW

Most worryingly- a USB Cable modem. I might put a new NIC in there it is also rj45 ethernet ready.

So, any ideas? I like the look and idea of the latest Fedora (werewolf) 8, as it is designed to be customised specially, and some of the features like 'Day/Night) walls are brilliant ideas, but I've heard it's bloated.

Ideally there would be a minimum need for commandd line usage.

If you can decipher what I'm on about, and give me a load of good ideas, please suggest. If you think I don't suit linux with my needs, say so, but give one that is as close a match as possible anyway. I don't want to go the Vista route until Vienna's out, if at all ;)

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markjensen

I wouldn't say that Fedora is any more "bloated" than (K)Ubuntu. I think that the biggest difference would be that Fedora comes with different Desktop Environments all together (KDE, Gnome, XFCE) while in *buntu-land, you have to select Gnome/Ubuntu, KDE/Kubuntu or XFCE/Xubuntu to start with. That makes Fedora seem a lot bigger - because it is all three of those environments and application suites rolled into one.

Once you select where you want Linux, I would either remove that whole partition (don't just delete the files in it, remove the whole partition), or use gparted (it comes as a LiveCD, too) to shrink an existing partition. If you have unallocated space on your drive, Linux will see this when you boot the CD and ask if you want to use the unused space when you install.

I am per-disposed to Fedora, personally, but if you look through my posts, I typically recommend Ubuntu, primarily because it is just so darned popular with the kids these days.

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SnowRanger13

I'd say Ubuntu or Fedora. Really I would not bother with x64 for your case. I have not tried any other desktop environment besides GNOME so I can't really tell you what one is best for you but I know GNOME does a good job.

To play WMA and many many other formats in Ubuntu all you have to do is open up terminal and type in one command. Don't be afraid of terminal just follow what I'm about to tell you. Open up a terminal and type

sudo apt-get install VLC

after hitting enter it will ask for your admin password, after entering the correct admin password VLC will be installed and on all media you will will have the option to "play with VLC" when right clicking. From what I remember VLC plays almost everything except a few (Real files it does not)

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wst50

Markjensen

From what you said about getting more than 1 desktop environ. in Fedora, it would be more convenient for me to start with than the Ubuntus, as I can try each environment before committing, I think.

The partition information is great- thanks. Will NTFS do? It'd be quite nice to be able to grab files produced in either OS and use them in the other OS.

With the info you gave, I'm leaning to Fedora as I can try each desktop enviroment fairly quickly, from what I gather from what you said. Plus, there's the whole 'Werewolf' thing which is very cool. But I'm not 100% on anything yet- still openminded to the distro of choice.

cloudstrife13

Thanks for that very nice and clean bit of info. I have a minor grounding in terminal stuff, so now that you've said it it seems obvious (minus the VLC, didn't know the name of it)- thanks for that info. x64 isn't totally necessary for me anyway, so that's okay.

Dysmatic

Thanks for the advice. I'll get them on livecd first and compare their usability.

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SnowRanger13

You don't commit to any desktop environment with Ubuntu or Fedora Core. With Fedora Core you can install multiple and a simply log out, select new environment and login is all you need. Ubuntu only comes with one (Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu KDE) but you can install any desktop environment at any time basically converting Ubuntu to Kubuntu or Kubuntu to Ubuntu. Hopefully that does not confuse you.

To install any Linux you'll probably have to use ext3 but newer versions of linux are able to read and write to NTFS (so you can get your windows stuff). So Linux will read windows stuff but windows wont even see linux stuff.

You said you have a 60GB partition free to install linux. If you use windows to delete this partition when installing Ubuntu or Fedora you can choose "Use the free space on drive <what ever your drive name is here>". It will automatically do what it needs with it. Linux usually uses at least 2 partitions (swap and your main file system) sometimes even more then that, but by deleting that 60GB partition and telling Linux it can use that it will set it up exactly how you need.

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wst50
You don't commit to any desktop environment with Ubuntu or Fedora Core. With Fedora Core you can install multiple and a simply log out, select new environment and login is all you need. Ubuntu only comes with one (Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu KDE) but you can install any desktop environment at any time basically converting Ubuntu to Kubuntu or Kubuntu to Ubuntu. Hopefully that does not confuse you.

It was more of a case of having to download another one to try it out. A friend of mine will be downloading it for me as it only takes him around 10 minutes for a full ISO, while it takes too long to d/l a few hundred megs of data. But thanks for making it clearer.

Also, the partition thing is very useful. Just deleting the partition and let Linux do what it has to to get it to work? Great. Can I tell it a maximum limit of size to use?

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Foub

If you want to dual boot make sure that Windows is installed first, then you can install Linux in another partition.

BTW, I like Ubuntu myself. I tried Fedora but didn't like it. It may be different with the newest release though. Ubuntu 7.10 now has writing to a NTFS drive along with the reading to one that it already had. I also like the Gnome desktop over KDE and the rest.

Ubuntu also has Compiz turned on by default, though you may have to install XGL as well.

You have to pay extra to get this in Vista. :)

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Tzimisce

honestly when i switched to linux i felt "wow since its all graphical and user friendly now maby i wont have to use the command line". And i believed that until i wanted to install anything that wasn't in a repository i could find ><. Im still a convert but the command line still stumps me most of the time.

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SnowRanger13

I don't see why people complain about rarely having to use the command line.

opening terminal, sudo apt-get install VLC

is easier then opening firefox, VLCs website, downloading it, extracting it, installing it, removing the install files from the desktop.

It works for many things...

sudo apt-get install azureus

sudo apt-get install wine

sudo apt-get install apache2

sudo apt-get install snes9x

of course many many more those are just examples I have used.

I thought that part of Linux was completely awesome.. maybe it's just the nerd in me :p

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wst50

I don't mind it on occasion- I sometimes use WinXp's command prompt to reformat usb drives and label them, etc, but it's a new OS and I don't want to get sudo stuff wrong much ;)

But, if in doubt, if I need to get something from a friend who understands sudo

"Sudo get me a sandwich" (a la xkcd)

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darkz

Ideally there would be a minimum need for commandd line usage. << get windows then

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Foub

Under Ubuntu you use the CLi even less than you think. For instance there is a menu option called ADD/REMOVE where you can type in VLC and then check the box next to it and then install. Or you can go the the Administration menu under System to the Synaptic option and search in that to install as well. Very little typing to get what you want. You can also get files in the .deb packaging that you double click on to install directly from your folder. Linux is very easy to use now and Ubuntu is the most "Ready for primetime" version of Linux that I've seen so far.

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markjensen

As far as different environments go, if you install Ubuntu, and want to try installing KDE, XFCE and fluxbox or anything else after, you don't need to re-download and install kubuntu, xubuntu and fluxbuntu. You can just apt-get install fluxbox or such. It is really easy to do, as Linux is extremely modular.

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BlueFiberOptics

For the users out there that don't understand other users' frustrations with the command line:

Some people like the freedom to go to websites and download software. What about if they want to download it and install it later or put it on a USB Flash drive? What if the software repository for Ubuntu goes down? What if that computer with Ubuntu is not connected to a network?

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Angel Blue01

Freespire? It includes some codecs out of the box

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markjensen
For the users out there that don't understand other users' frustrations with the command line:

Some people like the freedom to go to websites and download software. What about if they want to download it and install it later or put it on a USB Flash drive? What if the software repository for Ubuntu goes down? What if that computer with Ubuntu is not connected to a network?

For those people, there is the software management mess called Windows.

  • Why go to a website to download, rather than use a package manager that tracks updates? Big step backwards in system maintainability.
  • Go through the bother of downloading, to not install it today, but wait until an hour or week from now? Why bother then? An updated version may be available when you install it in a week, making your downloaded file outdated and needing to be replaced.
  • Put a package on a USB drive. Now that is a good point. That is one area that I think that Linux could do better, and you can ask anyone trying to get wireless working on a laptop that cannot (for whatever reason) connect wired to the network. They might need a package, and it isn't very easy to get it installed - other than picking all the files needed and bringing them over for a manual install. And, being outside the package manager (which, you don't hold much value in, judging by your first point), it would not get updated like it should (unless you then did an install when you were connected).
  • Software repo goes down? What? Seriously? All of them? Every mirror? :blink:
  • Last point of not connected to a network was covered in the USB drive item. Your one good point, but no need to cover it twice. It doesn't become two good points by mentioning it two times.

One of your points is very good. The others are meaningless, as there is no value in them (plus, you really *can* do those things -like download each package individually from their respective websites, if you choose).

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BlueFiberOptics
For those people, there is the software management mess called Windows.
  • Why go to a website to download, rather than use a package manager that tracks updates? Big step backwards in system maintainability.
  • Go through the bother of downloading, to not install it today, but wait until an hour or week from now? Why bother then? An updated version may be available when you install it in a week, making your downloaded file outdated and needing to be replaced.
  • Put a package on a USB drive. Now that is a good point. That is one area that I think that Linux could do better, and you can ask anyone trying to get wireless working on a laptop that cannot (for whatever reason) connect wired to the network. They might need a package, and it isn't very easy to get it installed - other than picking all the files needed and bringing them over for a manual install. And, being outside the package manager (which, you don't hold much value in, judging by your first point), it would not get updated like it should (unless you then did an install when you were connected).
  • Software repo goes down? What? Seriously? All of them? Every mirror? :blink:
  • Last point of not connected to a network was covered in the USB drive item. Your one good point, but no need to cover it twice. It doesn't become two good points by mentioning it two times.

One of your points is very good. The others are meaningless, as there is no value in them (plus, you really *can* do those things -like download each package individually from their respective websites, if you choose).

I'm not saying ditch the current system. I was giving reasons people may prefer an alternative to digging around in the software repositories. The only thing I want personally is an all-in-one file or a way to download programs for easy storage on a USB flash drive.

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markjensen
I'm not saying ditch the current system. I was giving reasons people may prefer an alternative to digging around in the software repositories. The only thing I want personally is an all-in-one file or a way to download programs for easy storage on a USB flash drive.

I agree with you. Just want to make sure you didn't take my long answer as critical of every concept you had thrown out there.

I think that the catch to this system would be that a computer, once connected to the network (or a local networked udpate server) would then "merge" the manually-installed packages into the package manager for updates.

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Foub
For the users out there that don't understand other users' frustrations with the command line:

Some people like the freedom to go to websites and download software. What about if they want to download it and install it later or put it on a USB Flash drive? What if the software repository for Ubuntu goes down?

What if the Moon was made of green cheese? :rolleyes:

Linux allows you to do that as well.

What if that computer with Ubuntu is not connected to a network?

What, all PCs with Windows on them are only on networks? Ubuntu doesn't have to be on a network either. Have you ever tried Linux like Ubuntu?

Freespire? It includes some codecs out of the box

Freespire 2.0 is also a big improvement over the first one and ironically enough it is better than their commercial version Linspire.

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Pikey

The bit I think I miss most is the 'click the .exe file' to install the program! ... sounds silly I know, but for a old geezer who's used Windoze for 10+ years these old habits die hard!

I'm dual-booting Vista (love it btw!!) with the latest Linux Mint which is quite nice ...

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wst50
Ideally there would be a minimum need for commandd line usage. << get windows then

I've heard of linux snobs but you're the first one I've met.

I'm not satisfied with windows so I'm branching out. Who knows, one day I might learn to use the command line more than I currently do, it's just that for a switch-to distro I don't want to have to learn loads.

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Mr Byte

I think the best thing is to download some Liive CD's and try out a few distro's. This will give you an idea as to what desktop environment you might feel most comfortable with and what hardware support the distro offers out of the box.

I have to admit that Ubuntu is a fairly polished distro requiring little use of a terminal. Another strong point is the amount of support available which can be important for a new user. I started using Linux with a Debian Sid based distrobution, Kanotix (prone to breaking). Often times in search to answers for problems, I would find the answer in an Ubuntu or Kubuntu forum.

Last but not least I add PCLinuxOS to your list of distro's to try.

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Foub
The bit I think I miss most is the 'click the .exe file' to install the program! ... sounds silly I know, but for a old geezer who's used Windoze for 10+ years these old habits die hard!

You can do that as well under Ubuntu with .bin and .deb files.

I'm dual-booting Vista (love it btw!!) with the latest Linux Mint which is quite nice ...

Vista is what drove me to Ubuntu. I had began to dread turning my computer on in the morning. Now I dual boot with a nLited copy of XP to play games, though I could play many of my games under Linux using WINE with a little extra work.

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Foub
I think the best thing is to download some Liive CD's and try out a few distro's. This will give you an idea as to what desktop environment you might feel most comfortable with and what hardware support the distro offers out of the box.

I have to admit that Ubuntu is a fairly polished distro requiring little use of a terminal. Another strong point is the amount of support available which can be important for a new user. I started using Linux with a Debian Sid based distrobution, Kanotix (prone to breaking). Often times in search to answers for problems, I would find the answer in an Ubuntu or Kubuntu forum.

Last but not least I add PCLinuxOS to your list of distro's to try.

I have Krusader (Total Commander clone) setup to use the terminal in it in Root Mode. This makes it far easier to change folders and do other things in installing programs that may require the CLi. In fact when I was using Windows I did pretty much the same thing with Total Commander as well but it was the command line instead.

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