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Linux for the home user?

by Howlleo / October 10, 2005 4:46 AM PDT

I'm a student, just want to try linux because I heard it

gives you more direct control of your computer,

because Windows xp has everything so dumbed-down that I feel like an idiot using it,

and because I want to intro myself to some programming, and I understand that Linux has commands and requires a little more nerdy hands-on stuff.

So which Linux version is for the newby-home-user who wants to learn a little about computer guts?

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Get a general idea of the most popolar Unices
by jakem14 / October 11, 2005 9:26 AM PDT

The first thing you must know is that if you are interested in becoming a geek, you have come to the right pitch fork on the road-Linux. It is much harder than Windows is and it is optimized for server services
(where things are set and left to function without much human intervention) not the home user. Why not? because when it comes to desktop implentations it is not user friendly. All of the Linux implementations are still in a very primitive stage when it comes to addressing the home user. There is only one distro that right now is ahead of the pack when it comes to making the user more productive and better able to work with the existing Windows installed infracture. That is "Xandros OS" at And as it is typical of Linux this distro is the easiest to work with provided that you stay,upgrade, and function within this distro. Also, remember that freedon in Linux means freedom from Microsoft not freedom to install and manage resources and applications when you want to how you want to. That is why applications are provided for you in what is called a "package." This package will install a set of standard applications and some that you don't even need.

Linux is not an operating system but a central management station called a kernel. It is just a skeleton on which anyone, I said anyone, with little overseeing can cloth with xtra code and call it a distribution (a distro.) That is why Linux is all over the place and why you can not mix and match the programs that come in different distro packages. This causes them to brake down and not work properly or not work at all.

The other big problem for Linux is what is called "Linux Dependency Hell." This is a situation where you can never seem to install, upgrade, or adjust an application because there is always something missing. For example, you need a driver for a device, so, you painfully search for and download that driver. Then you find out that that driver needs an extra file to work properly, so, you search for and download that file. Then, you find out that that file needs another file...and so on down the line. Sort of like a "Catch 22." That is because at each step there are what are called dependencies of each file missing. You will get many headaches here, even if you are a programmer.The vocal Linux community has not been successful at addressing this problem. They are just happly to tweak and marvel at the intricacies of this UNIX variant.

So, most Linux home users spend their time tweaking instead of being productive. So, if you really want things to be harder, if you really want to tweak and then cry in the wildeness and have other people mock your state of Linux ignorance, go ahead, pick any distro.

Of course there are other Unices to choose from, for example, there is the BSD family. One popular one is "FreeBSD" which unlike Linux, is an operating system without many of the problems associated with Linux. It is a better overseen and managed implementation of a UNIX variant. In fact it runs most of the applications written for Linux and many time faster than Linux. You might want to check "" to see an example of this option.

So, now, we have the Unices coming to the forefront: Mac OSx (based on FreeBSD), Linuces, Solaris, ant the BSD family (NetBSD,OpenBSD,FreeBSD,PCBSD,etc)

So, you see, you have a lot of options in the rock solid world of Unix. Good luck.

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Don't believe everthing you read!
by jwscogin / October 17, 2005 1:14 PM PDT

There are versions of Linux that are available for the windoze users to start the migration toward linux and learn just as fast or slow as the first time with windoze. These linx versions will also run/perform almost all functions as any other linux version.

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Try Knoppix
by engineer331 / October 11, 2005 11:36 AM PDT

If you want to try Linux first, you might want to try Knoppix. It is a ?LiveCD? that lets you run Linux directly from the CD; no changes are made to the hdd.

Also, as the last poster noted, Linux is far less intuitive than Windows, so you may want to get and read through a book or two.

Good luck.

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Linux for the home user?
by septus / October 11, 2005 3:09 PM PDT

Hi "Howello",
Agree with "jakem 14" that Xandros is a very good choice. So is MEPIS, and both have overcome the annoying USB access/read/write to problems that were so common until very recently, even permitting "hotplug". It is really a subjective opinion, whether they are user friendly, which I find both to be. You may have to dual-boot with Win for a while, until you know whether your (?dial-up) modem, and printer have Linux drivers.
I have virtually no recent experience with Knoppix, except for the 50MB "live CD" version in DSL.

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(NT) 2 more:
by Howlleo / October 12, 2005 2:41 AM PDT

so where does Red Hat, GNU, and some other truly odd names come into things?

And what books would you recommend- I really want to become a geek!

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(NT) 2 more
by septus / October 12, 2005 10:55 AM PDT
In reply to: (NT) 2 more:

Hi "Howlleo",
Suggest you "google" Red Hat (commercial Linux company) and GNU (open licence).
As to books, they usually refer to earlier Linux distros by the time you read them. I suggest you read the Linux forum of your choice, and say Tuxmagazine on line. Personally I think this and much "trial and error" is the best method.

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re: 2 more:
by engineer331 / October 12, 2005 11:30 AM PDT
In reply to: (NT) 2 more:

Red Hat is a company that produces a Linux distribution called Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is aimed at the corporate market. They also support a community version called Fedora Core.

The GNU project was started to create a UNIX compatible operating system. The GNU utilities are used with the Linux kernel, which is why you often see the term GNU/Linux. Many open source projects are licensed under the GPL, or the GNU Public License. This license ensures that anyone will be able to obtain, modify, and publish changes to the source code. You can find out more about this at The Free Software Foundation web site (

As far as the book goes, O'Reilly Media publishes several good books.

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Re: Linux for the home user
by mierr / October 14, 2005 7:16 PM PDT

Hi! It's a good idea to keep a dual booting system to start. I have tried myself almost all distros in my computer and my suggestion is as follows:

first choice:
Based on Debian, best hardware detection results

nice and easy to install and update, very good support, not as good as ubuntu in hardware detection (yust try)

very good hardware detection and user friendly config tools, I would choose this if i were a Kde fan.

Best regards

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