Help choosing a distro

By HiDDeNMisT ยท 38 replies
Aug 2, 2011
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  1. I want to dual boot Win 7 Ultimate with a linux destro as I am a computer tech but i don't know how to use linux.

    From my reserch there are many different versions of this and i don't know which would be beneficial to me.

    I need one that will fulfill my needs as a Tech. I really dont want a watered down version of this OS.

    Can you guys help me out thx in advance
  2. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    I think you'll find the folks at Cobra are uninterested in linux. Seriously though, as far as linux DISTROs go you can't really go wrong with Ubuntu. It's simple, easy to use, and as useful as you make it. It's a debian based distro which means along with being able to compile your own stuff you can always use the many .deb packages already available. You'll also love apt-get once you get used to it and Synaptic Package Manager makes it simple to find apps to use as well.
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Think of Linux as a packet of crisps (chips if your American!)...... They always contain potatoes... Its just the flavour that changes. Well essentially, Linux is the potatoes, and the flavour is the distribution.

    If your new to Linux try Linux Mint. Ubuntu's Unity is not in the best interests of anyone trying to learn Linux in my opinion as it gives a totally misrepresented experience. It is also more usable out of the box for a newbie.

    Apt-get, aptitude and Synaptic are all present in Linux Mint.

    Out of bone idle curiosity, what are your needs that need to be "fulfilled" in a Linux OS?
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,166   +986

    With Windows we normally only see the Desktop/Client system. The server side (Windows 200{0,3,8} Server) is a whole other system (and is expensive).

    If you are interested in web servers, email servers and/or DNS, then be sure your
    selection contains those components. I've been partial to Redhat, which became Fedora. The Ubuntu distribution also has the server components and there's a lot that can be learned from them.

    The windowing system in Linux is X11 (regardless of the distribution) and that has what is known as a desktop manager (aka a look and feel) and there are several of them. Personally, I configure Linux to boot into command line mode (eg VGA) and then bring up the GUI desktop using startx. Errors in the X11 config or the desktop are then not allowed to be fatal and can be addresses.

    Recommend you review desktop manager and play with a few - - you may hate one and just love another :)
  5. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 231   +14

    lol now that i think about that those are a really bad choice of words.

    Basically I want to use Linux as much as i use Windows. I want to be as verstilie in Linux as i am in windows.

    So you say that Linux Mint will be able to to do the job for me. Leeky, can you explain by what you mean when you say "misrepresented experience"?

    How is Ubuntu misrepresenting the experience for a newbie in Linux?
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Well all Linux OS' will be usable as an everyday OS, and in all fairness they're all as powerful and versatile as one another are.

    I flip between openSUSE and Debian these days, and the majority of the time I use Linux as my everyday OS, Windows 7 remains for gaming mainly, but I do use it now and then for general use.

    I recommended Linux Mint because it comes pre-configured with many codecs and packages that other distro's do not come configured with in a default installation. Thats not to say they can't be, as thats the beauty of Linux, you can make it work for you in any way you wish.

    I recommend against Ubuntu now because personally I'm becoming increasingly concerned with the direction Ubuntu is taking. They're less for promoting Linux than they are for promoting Ubuntu. They're essentially marketing their distro as their Windows replacement OS, not a Linux OS to replace Windows. I disagree with that strongly.

    I also disagree with the way their funder, Canonical (and especially Mark Shuttleworth) run the show, and the way they are changing their brand in the direction of Unity, and the pressure they exert on DE providers like Gnome. They also tend to ship each new version with a lot of packages that tend to cause issues for new users. Having cutting edge packages and software is brilliant, but cutting edge does not mean stable, and Ubuntu can at times be very buggy, especially in the couple of months following each release.

    Its a personal preference mainly. I feel Linux Mint better serves new users with a more genuine Linux environment, and the support is better.
  7. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 231   +14

    If I had known and used Ubuntu, I probably would of switched to another destro when I noticed it was buggy. Thanks for the explanation on the differences of Mint and Ubuntu.

    If they are really marketing Ubuntu like you say you are then I strongly agree with your opinion.

    Thank you when I am ready to install my destro, I will go ahead and get started with Mint.
  8. steeve

    steeve TS Enthusiast Posts: 146

    another big vote for mint

    and there are different flavours of mint :)
  9. Zen

    Zen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 861   +50

    Personally, I'm seriously entertaining the notion of switching to Linux Mint myself. Leeky is very much onto something when advising against Ubuntu 11.04! If I stick with Ubuntu for a long while longer, I'm holding out on upgrading until they hit Ubuntu 11.10! Maybe that way enough time has gone by for Linux to have properly worked out the bugs that are currently making Ubuntu 11.04 a semi bad experience for some users.

    Also I know it's out there and still being provided, but if you really want to jump right on into Ubuntu, go for version 10.10, it's what I'm using right now and it does come with "long term support" and is a real joy to use! But other than all that if not Ubuntu, I'd roll with Mint...........seriously thinking about it myself!
  10. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    The buggy nature of Ubuntu is nothing to do with Linux Zen, its Canonical and the team that develop Ubuntu that cause the issue by running everything bleeding edge and causing the instabilities. Having 6 month releases really doesn't help either. You look at any serious Linux distro that advertises stability and the first thing you realise is they don't do 6 monthly releases. Debian and Slackware are two excellent examples; they move to a new version only when everything is perfect, and they aren't interested in releasing something buggy and broken.

    Canonical's 6 monthly release works against them, therefore when released its buggy as hell. It might look far prettier than say Debian, but thats of no conciliation when the OS crashes and kernel panic's non-stop. The LTS versions fair better, but the ironic thing is they finally iron out all the issues and then move to a new LTS version, thus starting the process all over again.

    I know you meant this, but it annoys me when people say Linux is bad (in as many words) because Ubuntu is buggy. Compare Ubuntu to Debian 6 Squeeze, and you got a totally different story.

    Debian Squeeze redefines the term stable. Its rock solid, and works 99.99% of the time. Thats because Debian don't run to the time schedule, they upgrade when everything is stable, not a moment before. Debian testing is more stable than Ubuntu 11.04 (or any new release from Canonical) for example.

    When using Linux its important to remember that stable equals mature packages, that have been current for a while, therefore have had bugs and issues resolved over time. Debian is harder work than Mint/Ubuntu, and requires more configuration, but you have more control, and considerably more stability in usage.

    If it was me I would go with a rolling release of Linux Mint Debian edition. Learn your way around the OS (including terminal) and then move to Debian. Very few that move to it ever go elsewhere.

    My first ever explorations of Linux were with Kubuntu (I lasted a week before getting fed up with the eyecandy), and then Ubuntu back in 2006. From there I moved onto Slackware, and in the last few years have distro hopped between openSUSE, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Debian. I've finally pretty much settled with Debian, though I keep my fingers in openSUSE as I don't feel they get anywhere near enough credit for their Linux releases.
  11. steeve

    steeve TS Enthusiast Posts: 146

    nice summary leeky

    i really like the stability of debian, but with that comes the occasional restriction of not being able to run the latest software

    i used ubuntu for years but became increasingly aware that it was becoming too mainstream (for me). a distro intended for the "masses" is bound to have a lot of extra bloat which more frugal users will find annoying

    mint seems to form a nice middle ground (at least among the debian based systems)
  12. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thanks Steeve. :)

    I guess that's the sacrifice you pay really, but I'd much rather a slightly older package that is stable and known to work well with others than one that is buggy and creates issues with dependancies.

    I prefer Mint Debian edition most, as it uses Debian as its backend rather than Ubuntu (as is with the normal version 11). Plus LMDE is a rolling release, so always remains current with a simple "apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade" as root.
  13. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 231   +14

    Yeah thx a lot for the summary. I really learned a lot. I also heard of another linux destro called backtrack 5. Is this destro any good at all. Apparently it was made for computer techs that rely on network security.
  14. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I would recommend you learn Linux first before worrying about distros like Backtrack5. Linux Mint is a good starting point. No sense in trying to run before you can walk, and you have much to learn before using anything relating to (Slax, which is derived from) Slackware.

    Its also absolutely no use to the average Linux user, its designed for digital forensics and penetration testing of OS's.
  15. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 231   +14

    Okay I see. Ill get started with Mint then.

    At the mint website i have two option for download. one is Gnome and the other is Xfce RC.

    Which one do I choose? and also another question since i dont have the computer i want to use this on is there a live CD that i can use until then?
  16. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 231   +14

    don't know if im allowed to bumb my thread but here goes nothing,

  17. steeve

    steeve TS Enthusiast Posts: 146

    well bumped!

    there are two main differences between those versions:

    the main mint 11 release is built using ubuntu libraries, etc and has the gnome desktop
    the other is built on debian and has the xfce desktop

    from an ordinary user pov, the only difference will be the desktop experience. in short, gnome is more of a full-featured desktop, whereas xfce is leaner and often used on machines where speed / memory may be an issue.

    also, debian tends to be more conservative and solid, so not advisable if you want to run the latest cutting edge versions of software

    why not give the gnome version a go - get the full taste of the potential of a linux system!
  18. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Sorry, I've been a little preoccupied the last couple of days and didn't see your posts HiddenMist.

    As Steve said, go with the Linux Mint 11 version, featuring Gnome. Once your more acustomed to Linux you can try XFCE. They're both very good, I prefer XFCE these days.
  19. Zen

    Zen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 861   +50

    ((Ring)) ((Ring)) Kids go to your desks, school is now in session!

    Jumping crickets, I think I just got taken to school! Nicely played Leeky, very nicely played indeed. Ever tell yourself in the morning when you wake up, "I'd like to learn at least one new thing today"! Well that just happened, so thanks Leeky!

    Leeky = The Sauntering Linux task master! :)
  20. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

  21. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Yeah, I try to learn something new everyday. Fuel for the mind and all that.

    Get your teeth into Debian, and I guarantee you won't look back. Its just as configurable as Ubuntu, and the knowledge gained in the former and be used with Debian. It requires more work from the user, but you'll learn considerably faster in the process, and understand much more of your OS than you do now.

    I'm a beginner when it comes to Linux when compared to others I hold in high regard; Caravel being one of them.

    I'm far from being a master. :haha:
  22. In fact debian unstable is "more stable" and less buggy than any 'buntu release. It depends on what you define as stability - if you mix the meaning of stability with bugginess as many do, then you've maybe misinterpreted the meaning. Stability actually refers to how prone a distro or piece of software is to change. Debian unstable changes a lot and testing nearly as much - you might get 30+ updated packages a day in some cases (it depends on what you have installed), whereas stable only gets security patching (usually no new versions of software just bug fixes).

    Debian operates on a roughly two year release cycle - but there's no deadline. It's released when it's ready. But users who find their feet with stable are not constrained as they can upgrade to testing/unstable and keep up to date (debian distribution upgrades actually work as well).

    This is in contrast to 'buntu who release what is essentially a modified debian unstable to deadline every 6 months - whether it's ready or not. The user base then do much of the testing (whether they want to or not).
  23. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    @Leeky, caravel

    Reading your posts somewhat convinced me to try Linux Mint Debian, just downloaded it yesterday.

    Having Mandriva as my first taste of Linux, and using Puppy when repairing non-bootable Windows, 'bout time I try Linux Mint Debian. Learn something new
  24. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    I jumped on that boat too yesterday. Downloaded and installed LMD in VirtualBox, but I'm having some issues with video acceleration. Everything else was pretty straightforward and clean.

    I've never used LMD but I've used a large number of distros over the last 12 years or so. Let's see how I fare with this since I have to do a new install at my wife's office next week. I may use this, though it's going to be a headless setup.
  25. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117


    Do you have "enable 3D acceleration" ticked in Settings > Display > Video > Extended Features?

    Usually that's the cause of the problem when using Virtualbox.

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