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erislover
05-30-2002, 12:57 PM
I've been hopping around here and there over time, generally telling myself that I'm going to start using Linux, at least in a non-internet PC kind of way at first, for quite some time.

I've basically been out there and did nothing. Glanced at some FAQs and left it at that.

Mods: There are some GQ and some IMHO stuff here, so I wasn't sure where to post this. IMHO it belongs in GQ ;) But, I won't shed any tears if it gets moved.

Ok. Now onto the questions.

[list=1] Processor matters? I have an AMD 450 MHz machine that I was planning on playing around with for Linux. This thing will have no hardware other than the hard drive, floppy drive, and CD drive. Many of the FAQs I've read go into some detail about 'alternative' processors like Sun's and such, but AMD gets nary a word, even though I've seen some specific mention of things that the Intel chips utilize that Linux is happy to play with. I know that the core instruction set for AMD and Intel are the same, so in principle I should be set. Is there any reason I should be concerned with an AMD chip?
Bios? Are there any BIOS or general motherboard concerns? Will I have problems with a PCI bus in some way? This motherboard is older (450MHz is the top processor speed it will accept) (and, ok, I realize that this doesn't mean "older" to some geeks (affectionate term) who still run god knows what machines from the 70s) and I think I've since thrown out any documentation I had about it... like what brand it is.
Does the core Linux package come with a C/C++ compiler? I swear I remember hearing this but that seems to be a waste of space and I somehow doubt that I remember correctly. I am experimenting with (read: teaching myself) C++ and without MSVC++ I am basically out of luck. So I need a C++ compiler one way or the other, I just want to know where or if I need to go somewhere specific to get it.
There are many distributions of Linux, what the hell is going on? Well, specifically, am I going to run into compatibility issues between, say, Debian and Mandrake? Does all software written for a Linux kernal release 2.x.y have to wark on it? I won't run into "hey, you need XWindows running on this 'brand' with this version in order to... blah blah", will I? If I might, how could I pretty much avoid it? If I will, then I need not have my question #7 answered. Red Hat it is.
General hardware issues. Hard disks: does size and company matter? NIC cards, are there specific "Linux-friendly" companies I can locate? In fact, is there a list of general hardware manufacturers that support Linux?
What the hell is X Windows? Is it a general package on all Linux 'versions'? (by versions I mean the different types, not the specific release builds)
And finally, which version should I be most interested in? I understand the Big 4 are Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSe, and Debian. I've asked this question before, and almost everyone told me Mandrake or Debian. Since I posted this in GQ please only answer in a manner which demonstrates why one is better than the other, not just which one you have, and such. I don't much care which is the best, just really need to know if there are any I should stay away from. I'm a pretty quick learner in most things, so which one would be best for me would be one that installs easy, runs easy, but doesn't baby my like successive Windows versions have ("Press the 'Start' button to start, you dunderhead! If we don't hide all system files from you you'll crash your machine because you are an idiot!" damn it all, I hate that... and if I have to view one more stupid thing as a web page I'm going to puke). Since I've been with MS my whole life I'm used to vast resources of documentation that are either entirely too technical (MSVC++ help? LOL...) or completely worthless. So even no documentation will still probably be a slight improvement :p But seriously, I want an OS that I don't have to know the intricate details of to run it, but that if I wanted to know the intricate details they are available to me. Know what I mean?[/list=1]
As a final note: I was perfectly happy with DOS, and I was madly in love with (and wish I still had!) DOS 6.x. I'm not afraid of command lines! :)

Thanks, and if there are any question I should have asked but didn't, please ask (and, if you can, answer!) them for me.

ftg
05-30-2002, 01:35 PM
1. AMD is known and loved by the Linux crowd. They are Intel compat. chips but Linux kernels can be built to take advantage of AMD extras.

2. The biggest BIOS issue is so-called "plug-and-play". Life is simpler for Linux kernels if the Interupts and such are fixed and not changing after every boot. There are Linux docs that cover this (and all your questions).

3. Standard distros will let you choose what to install. One of the packages is the gnu C/C++ compiler. I love it and have used it for years.

4. The distro you pick should be sufficiently complete to meet your needs. If you need something extra, download the source and compile it. End of version of headaches.

5. Hard drives and standard NICs are easily handled. (Be sure to know the Int/Addr (in hex) of your NIC.) The main hardware issue is video cards. Check the docs to see how well supported your video card is.

6. X windows is a standard cross platform windowing environment and more. (It makes WinTel add-ons like PC Anywhere look like a joke.) Nowadays most people like the Gnome or KDE type windowing environments over the old vanilla X windows (but I still like it 'cause it's faster). Again your distro will come with X windows etc. and will let you pick which to use.

7. In recent years I have used only Redhat. Recently Slashdot (http://slashdot.org) posted that several of the others are getting to together to standardize their distros.

8. (?) On my WinTel boxes I have installed Cygwin (www.cygwin.com) so I can run Unix stuff (including gcc and Xwindows) on them unders MS-Windows. It's a good intermediate step to try before jumping into Linux full bore.

9. (??) The Lyn-nux pronunciation you hear all the time is wrong. Common but wrong. Lee-nux or Lie-nux are correct.

Giraffe
05-30-2002, 02:22 PM
I have Redhat 7.1 and really like it. You won't be unhappy with it.

Whatever distribution you get, don't pay $100+ for it in a software store. Either download it off the web, or buy a book which comes with a CD. Usually a book + full distribution will cost you like $40. Having a book is pretty helpful during installation, when you can't access the web to find out what's going on.

To really use linux, you need to know basic unix commands. grep, cat, tar, etc. Redirects and pipes. Man pages are your friend (e.g. 'man tar' to see all the options and/or syntax). Also, "Unix in a Nutshell" is a good reference, and only $20. For programming, use gnu emacs (not xemacs). Don't let anyone tell you vi is a good idea. It isn't.

I'm still calling it "lih-nux". "Lee-nux" sounds dumb. I don't care what anyone says.

buckgully
05-30-2002, 02:33 PM
ftg covered things pretty well.

1- Both my two main linux boxen are AMD chips- one's a Athlon and the other is a K6-2. I have had no problems with anything that was precompiled for i386 compatible processors.

2- Not that big of a deal for most recent releases. I've got machines that dual boot windows/linux and don't have problems with plug-n-pray hardware.

3- You can get compilers/development tools for just about any language you can think of, and most distributions will come with most of the more popular ones, but you don't have to install them all. However, most of these will be command line tools, not IDEs like Visual Studio.

4- Most distributions have installation package systems to make installing software easier. Debian's main advantage is that it has the apt-get system which is nice if yo, Redhat and Mandrake use RPM. You can get precompiled binary versions of a lot of programs in the format for your distro for most programs out there.

5- It's good to know the chipset used on your NIC.

6- If you're used to windows, KDE might be a good desktop enviroment to go with. I prefer Gnome, but it's really all just a matter of personal taste.

7- If you're new, I'd go with Redhat. Version 7.2 has the best hardware recognition during install than any other OS I've seen. Debian can be difficult to install if you're new. Mandrake has a nice, easy to use installer, but it doesn't have the hardware recognition that Redhat has, or at least it didn't last time I used it (about 8 months ago).

tourbot
05-30-2002, 03:36 PM
I'm still just playing around with and learning linux (which I used to pronounce lie-nux but switched to the more common lih-nux, even though I think it sounds dumb), which means I'm hardly an expert but maybe I'm more familiar with the pitfalls than an advanced user might be. ftg gave some very good answers, so I'll just add answers for the questions where I have experience.

4)Compatibility: If it will run on one distro, it can be made to run on any distro. There may be exceptions, but I doubt they would be in anything you will run across in ordinary usage. A lot of software is installed using one of the package install tools, such as RedHat's rpm. Package tools track installed programs and dependencies, similar to the way MS OS's do. Rpm comes standard with several other distributions, and as I said, rpm can be added to any distribution and used to install rpm packaged software. Slackware (which I'll have more to say on for question 7) uses its own software package tool, which IMHO is superior to rpm (easier to use anyway), but also comes with rpm.

5)For hardware compatibility, check the linux hardware how-to (http://www.linux.org/docs/ldp/howto/Hardware-HOWTO/index.html). Especially NICs, there are many out there which will not run under linux. Linux will run with any video card, but for X-windows you may want check the documentation (http://www.linux.org/docs/ldp/howto/XFree86-HOWTO/x68.html) to see if your card will work. I've had bad luck getting older video cards to work in x-windows, but most cards with 4MB ram or better seem to work fine. As for the hard drive, you can probably get by with 2GB, but more is definitely better. Standard installs on most distros are approaching (in some cases exceeding) the 1GB mark.

7)I've tried most major distributions, though I haven't tried Redhat in awhile. Suse and Debian have their strong points, but neither is very newbie friendly. I think Mandrake was the absolute easiest to install, it autodetected all hardware and did the best at configuring everything the first time. The install interface is very nice, and it comes with a large assortment of extras. On the other end of the spectrum, Slackware comes with everything you need and more, but with less goodies built in. This isn't neccessarily a bad thing... remember, most of the stuff can be added from free downloads anyway, and on a slightly older PC, fewer things installed may mean a faster running machine. With slackware, not everything is automated. This means you have to learn how to set things up. For instance, you have to either manually configure x-windows or use one of the configuration tools to get it up and running (much easier than it sounds). If you are serious about learning linux, this may be a good thing (I think it is). Also, slackware is the only distro I know of that makes unattended custom installs possible. If you are serious about learning linux, this is useful as you may find yourself reinstalling multiple times to get the setup you want, or just beacuse you crashed your system and don't know how to recover yet.

SDP
05-30-2002, 04:09 PM
Mostly good replies, and I suppose I don't have a lot to add, except to vote for Slackware if you want to learn Linux and something like Red Hat if you are more interested in just using it. (Though even with Red Hat you can still get under the hood if you need/want to -- however, a lot of it is just done for you. Much less is done for you than in Windows, of course.)

Linus (American: Lie-nus) says Linux as lihn-nix rhyming with Minix, the Unix clone that Linux bears some resemblance to; in English it rhymes with "cynics." If this is how the Creator says it then it is good enough for me; furthermore, "Lin-nix" is by far the most common pronunciation around.

chorizo
05-30-2002, 04:22 PM
Not much to add here, either. Basically, know what hardware you have before you install - video card, monitor specifications (vert and hor sync rates), NIC model and what driver it's going to use, etc. This will all come in handy.

Distros: All use the Linux kernel, and many of the GNU (Gnu's Not Unix) utilities. They all use the same Xfree86 windowing system, the same desktop managers (KDE, Gnome) and many other things.

They differ in where they put programs, configuration files, how their installers work, what GUI config tools they offer, how they package, software, etc.

The way to figure out which distro you like is to download a bunch of them (assuming you've got a fast internet connection). You can also buy them from various places online for the cost of the media and shipping, usually no more than 5 bucks

Install them, see how they work with your hardware, and what you think of them. I've used Debian, Slackware, Mandrake, SuSE, Progeny, Libranet, and Redhat.

I personally like Redhat the most - the intstaller works for my hardware, it's got GUI based system configuration tools if you want them but dosen't freak out if you don't use them (like SuSE apparently does), it's pretty stable, and isn't as buggy as the versions of Mandrake that I've used. It just works, and works like it's supposed to. A lot of people bitch about Redhat's packaging system, and the general fact that it's the "big company" in the linux world. But hey, I like their distribution. You may not, that's fine. That's why there are several dozen distros.

I honestly use Linux 99% of the time. I dual boot with Widows 2000 and rarely use it. It may not do everything you want it to do, but for me it does - surfing, email, programming, graphic design, etc. When I have to use Windows, I feel all awkward and get mad at the things that I can't do that I can in Linux.

Derleth
05-30-2002, 07:24 PM
A few random notes:

Some notes on the X windowing system (a windowing system called X, heir to the windowing system called W): It is a GUI (Graphical User Interface) that sits on top of the actual command line-based operating system. X is itself a platform: It handles the low-level operations of keeping track of the mouse and making the windows, but it is not pretty and really has no way to interface with the user. You need a window manager, like twm or IceWM (twm is very basic and fast, IceWM is prettier, and many more exist), before you can do anything with it.

You could stop with the window manager (and a lot of geeks, who use the command line for their real work anyway, do), but it wouldn't look as nice, or have as many features, if you didn't have a desktop environment running on top of the window manager. GNOME is a desktop environment. It can run on top of twm, IceWM, sawfish, and other window managers, and each window manager gives GNOME a different flavor. KDE has its own window manager built-in, which makes it look more unified but reduces your ability to customise the environment. Other desktop environments exist, such as Enlightenment, but I have no experience with them. KDE and GNOME are the main players, and both should be on any modern distro.

All Linux distros, big and small, corporate and end-user and ubergeek, have a great compiler called gcc, the GNU Compiler Collection. It is not specifically any kind of compiler: It is a backend with many language-specific frontends. The most-used frontend is for C, but gcc has frontends for languages such as FORTRAN 77 and C++. gcc is essential to the fully-functional distro: The kernel is compiled with gcc, for example, and downloading source code to build applications on your machine is very common in the Linux world. C is the lingua franca of *nix land. (*nix = All OSes based on the original UNIX to one extent or another.)

KDE has a development environment called KDevelop, I believe, but I like the command-line environment, myself.

Another language you should learn is Perl. Perl is a Tool of the Gods. :D With Perl, you can run your system much easier and more efficiently by not only automating complex tasks with an easy, idiomatic language, but by writing quick, one-off programs to do specific tasks quickly in a language much more expressive than other interpreted languages in Linux. You can learn Perl bit by bit, reading the manpages to learn the syntax of the task you want to do, and use it as a glue language to do all of the little things that would be too complex to write in something like C. Or you could by Learning Perl, published by O'Reilly, and really get into a fun language. :)Posted by chorizo
I honestly use Linux 99% of the time. I dual boot with Widows 2000 and rarely use it. It may not do everything you want it to do, but for me it does - surfing, email, programming, graphic design, etc. When I have to use Windows, I feel all awkward and get mad at the things that I can't do that I can in Linux.Right on. I dualboot with Windows ME and I almost never use it. Compared to Linux, Windows just seems small, constrained, and underpowered. It's like going from a Cadillac to a Model T, or an F-16 to a glider.

In addition to my ravings, I agree with everyone else (except to say that it is, in fact, pronounced lye-nuks). I run Red Hat 7.1 and I love it. :)

SDP
05-30-2002, 08:19 PM
Originally posted by Derleth
In addition to my ravings, I agree with everyone else (except to say that it is, in fact, pronounced lye-nuks). I run Red Hat 7.1 and I love it. :)
Bah. There is just no way that you can make this argument. It is conceivable that you could argue for a pronunciation of "leenucks," or something along those lines, based on this (http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/SillySounds/english.au) (cat it to /dev/audio to play it). However, that pronunciation dates from the early '90s, and is at odds with the way Linus himself pronounces it today:
Now that Linus has been in the US a few years, he's starting to adopt an American pronunciation. When I saw him speak at LinuxWorld in 98, he pronounced his name "Line-us" and his OS "linnix". Even when he used both in the same sentance.
and
When I met him, he introduced himself as LINE-us. And in his talks, he says LIN-ucks (last I heard anyway.)
Both of those quotes are taken from http://www.linuxgazette.com/issue58/tag/4.html. So, while I think a case could be made for "lee-nucks" based on Linus' own words, it is very clear to me that his own pronunciation has changed over the years, but it never has been "lie-nux." Numerous other easily accessible references back this up; here's one: http://grouchy.cs.indiana.edu/usr/local/www/linux/gs/subsection2.3.6.3.html. Knowing how to pronounce Linux is the least of your concerns when trying to get started with it. ;)

ftg
05-30-2002, 08:48 PM
See section 8.8 http://theory.uwinnipeg.ca/faqs/section8.html

Note that Linus alters his pronounciation based on the language of the people he is addressing. Hence the two preferred pronunciations.

SDP's link is laughable for its many errors.

SDP
05-30-2002, 08:56 PM
Originally posted by ftg
See section 8.8 http://theory.uwinnipeg.ca/faqs/section8.html

Note that Linus alters his pronounciation based on the language of the people he is addressing. Hence the two preferred pronunciations.

SDP's link is laughable for its many errors.
Feel free to point out those errors. Until compelling evidence is produced to the contrary I will continue to say "Lin-nix" as Linus and most of the rest of the world seems to do today.

erislover
05-30-2002, 11:02 PM
Excellent stuff, guys! Anyone recommend the "Red Hat Bible"? I've got the "JavaScript Bible" and it was excellent.

Yeah, i've been meaning to get into Perl... it seems to be pretty powerful for its "simplicity". Neat. :) I'm pretty excited, everyone. New computer stuff is interesting.

DougC
05-31-2002, 12:58 PM
- - - I tried Mandrake 7.2 (when it was current). It installed easy enough and also installed multiple Windows-GUI-systems and asked which one you wanted as the default. So really, you didn't need to know anything just to install it, except that the partitioning program was a bit confusing. I had two diffferent-sized HD's at the time so I just put Linux on the second smaller HD.
- At the time, I couldn't find any drivers for the peripherals I had. With a GUI, poking around in Linux was easy enough, it works basically the same as Windows does really. I put an old 33K hardware modem in it and it was easy to get Linux to "find" the modem and then getting online worked, but even though the Winmodem and a NIC card I had were supposed to have "Linux drivers" available, I couldn't ever get either to work. Also none of my outboard stuff would run either: USB Zip drive, printers (two different ones), scanner, graphics tablet or the game controllers I used back then.
- I never noticed Linux to be any faster than Win98. It started up and shut down even slower. It never crashed, because I never used it for anything except surfing a few times, and even doing that, it couldn't display fonts smoothly.
- The help files are fragmented in Linux, which is a big disadvantage. You spend lots of time looking for help files, because they're not all in one "place" like in MS Windows.
- I eventually ran into problems in Win98 that related to the LILO/dual-boot program and I needed the MSWindows programs for school, so I reformatted and never put Linux back on.
- There's lots of free software for Linux out there, but not much all-comprehensive like MS Office. You see lots of little-bitty programs that each do one thing, and finding and learning to use them all can take a lot of your time. IMO, it's not so bad to be able to pay a bunch of money up front for one huge program that does everything you want, rather than have to deal with 30 little programs that each kinda-sorta can amount to the same thing. You won't find anything like Photoshop for free, but you may find 30 or so little programs, all of which will collectively posess most of the major features of Photoshop....-but that ain't the same. I'd rather have Photoshop.
- Your best bet is to decide which brand of Linux to buy, based on the quality of book you can find on it. Go to a big bookstore and take some looks at the support books for various kinds of Linux; you want to be able to buy a book specific to your brand/version you are starting out with. Check the back chapters, because some of these books are very basic and only hit on the very basic operation, but skip bigger things, like "how to install programs". You often don't know how to do something, and don't know where to look on the PC to find out how to do it, but (if the book is for your brand/version, and it's got useful information) you can always crack open the book. - DougC

Billy Rubin
05-31-2002, 04:50 PM
If you don't have a bloody fast modem or a better connection you may find that downloading 7.2 or other Redhat distributions taskes some time. I found a guy selling the disks on Ebay, they cost me about three bucks plus shipping, and hey have worked well for me. I'm still very new and learning all these things too, so keep us posted how you make out.

b.

mnemosyne
05-31-2002, 07:10 PM
Comment from the SO:

"If you really want to LEARN (the hard way) how Linux works, but in the process REALLY get to know what you're doing (redundant, aren't I?) then get Debian."

Both my comp and his have it, and he spent a LOT of time messing around with it (my comp was more annoying due to having a Celeron and a "hidding" (my term - it was a bitch to get working) monitor. But he knows my comp and his inside and out, and learned it all in less than a year (which sounds like a lot of time, but he did have to go to school occasionally).

Have fun! (from the girl who did NOTHING herself to get Linux working, but likes it more than Windows anyways :) )

Derleth
05-31-2002, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by DougC
- The help files are fragmented in Linux, which is a big disadvantage. You spend lots of time looking for help files, because they're not all in one "place" like in MS Windows.This is remedied in GNOME by a unfied help system that allows you to browse the three main help file types (HTML, manpages, and info files) in a web-browser like environment. It's a great step forwards, and as Linux documentation leaves the average Microsoft 'help' file in the dust, a neophyte should have few problems using the system.
- There's lots of free software for Linux out there, but not much all-comprehensive like MS Office. You see lots of little-bitty programs that each do one thing, and finding and learning to use them all can take a lot of your time. IMO, it's not so bad to be able to pay a bunch of money up front for one huge program that does everything you want, rather than have to deal with 30 little programs that each kinda-sorta can amount to the same thing. You won't find anything like Photoshop for free, but you may find 30 or so little programs, all of which will collectively posess most of the major features of Photoshop....-but that ain't the same. I'd rather have Photoshop.Half-true, half-irrelevant. True, Linux does tend to stay away from the 'one-prog-fits-all' model. True, that can confuse some users from the proprietary software world. No, that's not a defect in the system. Why not? Because using multiple programs in conjunction is so trivial in Linux. Especially on the command line, as you can pipe everything to everything else. Piping is a kind of output redirection: Instead of sending output to the screen, it ships it to a different program, which does something to it. Think of it as a series of filters in a physical piece of pipe: Raw input flows in, various filters operate on it as it goes through, and nice output hits the screen. With a little practice, this becomes second-nature, and is the reason *nix-like command lines are so valued.

It is becoming irrelevant, now. Photoshop has a serious competetor in The GIMP, for example, an all-in-one image manipulation application relased for free under the GPL. KOffice is an office suite that includes everything you'd expect from MS in a much more stable (read: less likely to eat important files) environment. Linux has it both ways now, and it lets the user choose.
- Your best bet is to decide which brand of Linux to buy, based on the quality of book you can find on it. Go to a big bookstore and take some looks at the support books for various kinds of Linux; you want to be able to buy a book specific to your brand/version you are starting out with. Check the back chapters, because some of these books are very basic and only hit on the very basic operation, but skip bigger things, like "how to install programs". You often don't know how to do something, and don't know where to look on the PC to find out how to do it, but (if the book is for your brand/version, and it's got useful information) you can always crack open the book. - DougC True. Buying a distro in a book is usually a much better value anyway, and the book can be a really big win.

rjung
06-01-2002, 02:55 AM
Not to be a wet blanket, but offhand I don't know of anyone who does professional illustration work who's ready to toss away Photoshop and go with Gimp instead. My anecdotal experience is that "Gimp is as good as Photoshop" is something only Linux advocates who don't do commercial illustration believe.

DougC
06-01-2002, 06:01 AM
"With a little practice, this becomes second-nature, and is the reason *nix-like command lines are so valued..."
- - - Uh, time for a reality check: the ordinary comsumer (which is who buys most of the PC's) does not want to have to learn to use a foreign, obtuse command-line environment in order to make a bunch of single-function programs do what Photoshop can do with just a couple of simple mouse clicks. GUI's are here to stay: they are far, far, far easier to learn to use than any command-line, and the absence of one is not a selling point. - DougC

Kirkland1244
06-01-2002, 07:19 AM
I have put Linux (SuSE 8.0) on my Dell Dimension 4100, as part of a self-motivated exploration of the open source thing... I'm using Chimera, an open-source web browser for Mac OS X that's based on the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine (which should hit 1.0 any day now, the final checktags have all been changed in the latest nightly builds), and was impressed with OpenOffice 1.0 for Windows (Star Office 6.0 repackaged). And since I hate Windows (I rarely boot my Dell, I do all my writing on my PowerBook, everything else on my iMac G4), and have become comfortable with the basics of Unix with Mac OS X, I decided to give Linux a real whirl.

I've used Red Hat in the past and now SuSE... Red Hat is easier to install. The KDE desktop is "prettier" than Gnome, but they mimic each other's functionality. Neither shows the polish of Windows, though they're less garish than Windows XP. KDE has too many "oooh!" features like throbbing icons et al, and it can be confusing to turn them off -- and sounds associated with windows opening and stuff, I hate that sort of thing.

One thing you'll need to get used to is root permissions, and how it can make installing software kinduva pain. Some programs want you to boot into root, install them, then log in under your user account to use them. I haven't figured out how to get the KDE menu to add the icons automaitcally... maybe it can't. I had to add Mozilla and AIM to the menu manually. OpenOffice "integrated" with KDE during its installation.

For software that's, ostensibly, free, its all quite impressive. It's not pretty, and the clash of UIs, since there's no central authority dictating design parameters, is often ugly, but I'm spoiled from Mac OS X. The Gimp is nice, but it's no Photoshop. OpenOffice can be a reasonable replacement for MS-Office in a pinch -- it recognized my Word files, and the commenting features between the two programs are interoperable, which is important for me. However, since my screenwriting software is Mac-based (and the Mac is a much friendly version of Unix), Linux isn't going to take my tech world by storm anytime soon.

Also, there's no such thing as X-Windows. It's X-Window System. Or X-11. :)

Most Linux installs are pretty similar across the board, shipping with KDE and Gnome, usually with Netscape, often with Star Office (though that spot will probably be taken by OpenOffice). The "K" programs are all adequate.

If you were comfortable with DOS< you should be fine with Terminal -- it's a command line with some actual logic behind it. I prfer the TCSH, but Linux comes with a bunch of them, defaulting to BASH. The syntax is generally similar between the shells.

I've never seen a Linux crash. So for a development platform (you mentioned something about that, right?) it should be good. Same as a server, etc. At my University's newspaper office we have Windows in the accounting office, Macs in all the production offices, and Linux running our web servers... And there's a reason for each choice. Linux's stability is top notch.

I just wish that it was more polished. Say what you will about Cathedrals and Bazaars, I want the software on my system to all look like it was designed to go together. I don't want the UI in one program to tbe totally differen than that of an other program. Linux needs a GUI czar who can establish guidelines. Sure, you can skin KDE and fiddle with default colors and whatnot to get Linux to look nice, and ease the horrid clashing that sometimes happens (having two competing GUIs doesn't help things, really), but it's still not something I like. It distracts me -- kinda like the throbbing taskbar buttons and whiz-bang stuff on Windows. I can't write when I'm distracted, which is probably why I only write on my PowerBook.

But in any case, all late-night-its 6-am-why-haven't-I-gone-to-bed rambling aside, Linux is pretty neat, and more interesting to use than Windows, if not as polished. Go with Red hat for ease of set up and better hardware support, and above all ENJOY.

Derleth
06-01-2002, 04:29 PM
Originally posted by DougC
"With a little practice, this becomes second-nature, and is the reason *nix-like command lines are so valued..."
- - - Uh, time for a reality check: the ordinary comsumer (which is who buys most of the PC's) does not want to have to learn to use a foreign, obtuse command-line environment in order to make a bunch of single-function programs do what Photoshop can do with just a couple of simple mouse clicks. GUI's are here to stay: they are far, far, far easier to learn to use than any command-line, and the absence of one is not a selling point. - DougC Can you back that up with facts, or is it just an opinion? Because the command-line is simple, fast, and only requires a little introduction before it can be used. Any good text can provide the introduction, and to say that it's 'beyond the average user' is, quite frankly, an insult to both parties (command-line designers and users).

BTW, Linux has some great GUIs. Try KDE and tell me how much you enjoy not having Explorer crash in the middle of something. Try GNOME and tell me how pretty you can make it look, or how fast you can make it run, by fiddling with window managers and themes.

rjung: What's Photoshop got that The GIMP hasn't got? Can you support that statement?

DougC
06-01-2002, 08:03 PM
...Can you back that up with facts, or is it just an opinion? Because the command-line is simple, fast, and only requires a little introduction before it can be used. Any good text can provide the introduction, and to say that it's 'beyond the average user' is, quite frankly, an insult to both parties (command-line designers and users)...
- - - Well, it's an opinion that comes from watching new users struggling with simple tasks in DOS classes, and knowing that they'll rarely if ever use the info they are learning, assuming they manage to remember it at all.
- Most PC users don't know a rat's arse what goes on inside their PC, and don't care as long as they can get it to do what they want without having to remember much. You are speaking loftily of "Educating The User", and all they want to do is know how to open a text file on a floppy disk and edit it. A GUI makes that way easier to learn, because the text file looks like a page with lettering on it, and the floppy disk drive icon looks like a floppy disk. No text needed. Often, no explanation even needed.
- But hey, maybe I'm wrong: go to a typical retail computer store tomorrow, and do an informal poll of the people who visit: ask them which they use more often: a GUI, or a CLI. (Hint: you may have to explain the terms, as well as demonstrate the CLI) - DougC

Derleth
06-02-2002, 12:37 AM
Well, Doug, that's why Linux has some great GUIs.

But that makes the CLI no less intuitive. The only intuitive interface is the nipple. From there, it's all learned. And the CLI still is the best, the only, way to do certain things. The fact that Linux is still based around it is a testament to the basic philosophy of not sacrificing a fine interface to the altar of 'intuitiveness'. If the users only want to use graphical toys, fine. Their loss. But if they ever want, or need, to use the power and the glory that is a CLI, they will be extremely glad they have bash instead of a lousy emulated DOS box running the infantile command.com.

When all of your fancy graphics are unusable because a virus is eating up your files (and Linux has notably few virii anyway, but let's just say), you'll need very much something of substance below that flash. Linux has it. MS-Windows does not, and never had (DOS has all the substance of creme-brulee, and none of the taste).

(Boy, do I sound like a geezer. :))

Kirkland1244
06-02-2002, 02:25 AM
Linux has GUIs, but neither of them are stellar. They lack polish, they're not interally consistent, they've got a steep learning curve compared to Windows or Mac OS, and there's nothing really original about them. At best, they're adequete.

erislover
06-02-2002, 09:41 AM
The only intuitive interface is the nipple... man, that is a great line!