Which distribution of Linux should I get?

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by macktheknife, Feb 25, 2003.

  1. macktheknife macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #1
    I am going to build myself a PC soon (not abandoning my TiBook so don't worry), and I am interested in installing Linux for dual booting. My question is, which distribution of Linux should I get? I would rather not spend too much time on installation and configuration, so I'm not worried about paying for a commercial distribution of Linux ($100 or less).

    I have basically narrowed my choices to three versions: Red Hat, SuSE, and Mandrake. I want to hear from anyone who has used anyone of these versions and let me know how easy the installation procedure was, how easy it was to configure it, and how it performed. I have tried looking on the Internet for recommendations, and CNet apparently recommends Mandrake over SuSE but SuSE over Red Hat. Red Hat has its own partisans who swear by it, so I don't really know what to think.

    Many thanks in advance.

    (BTW, I know this question isn't a Mac help question per se, but the help section is more appropriate than the community discussion section. :) )
     
  2. law guy macrumors 6502a

    law guy

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2003
    Location:
    Western Massachusetts
    #3
    I just checked out the www.lindows.com site for the first time. Really interesting. The suggestion above for Lindows comes on the heals of an NPR story (well, I suppose the story was a few weeks ago now?) about the financial power of Walmart (apparently, it is the largest employer in 21 states!) and how Walmart pushes Lindows. The story touched on Walmart's transition into several areas - largest drug chain, largest optical chain, largest film developer, now selling used cars in TX - and noted that Walmart may be positioned to take on Microsoft with Lindows using bargain basement pricing and ubiquitous infrastructure.
     
  3. beez7777 macrumors 6502a

    beez7777

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    #4
    well, the one experience i have had with red hat was a pretty decent one. i had to install it on my friends new hard drive, and it was graphical and pretty simple for the most part. the os looks nice, and he says he really likes it, the only problem is that he has to use wndows to go on the interenet (still usin 56k :p ) because he can't find a linux compatable modem. my other friend has used mandrake, and said it was also pretty easy to install, and from what i got from him it seemed like he liked it. i guess i would reccommend either red hat or mandrake, it's a toss up from my pov. i think i would also say, unless you really don't want to, or feel like you have to buy a copy of linux, just download the ISOs. it's really not too much of a hassle, and you can get pretty much any distribution of linux at www.linuxiso.org
     
  4. mac15 macrumors 68040

    mac15

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    #5
    where do you download lindows or is it pay only?
     
  5. yzedf macrumors 65816

    yzedf

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #6
    http://www.linmodems.org/

    ----

    As to which distro? I would say Redhat has the most support. Mandrake is based on RH, but very much changed. Lindows is a mess.

    DL the 1st 3 discs of Redhat, burn them, and enjoy.

    Make sure you have a nice big 60 or 80 gig drive, give 40gig or so to Linux, install everything and play.
     
  6. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #7
    Pay only, you can get a stand alone version without access to the Warehouse for $49 or a full membership for $119, (although if you get the $49 version, there's loads of apps you can apt-get, yum)
    I'd get the $49 version and apt-get everything, a lot of the things that are in the Warehouse are avalible for no charge at www.lindowsdownload.com or www.debian.org or www.apt-get.org , One thing I like about it is that it installs in less than 10 minutes and everything is pretty easy to configure for the most part.
     
  7. mox358 macrumors 6502

    mox358

    Joined:
    May 22, 2002
    Location:
    Indiana
    #8
    count my vote for red hat

    definetly go with red hat. i'm one of those who swear by it. its got some really nice features as far as linux goes... seems very snappy too (atleast to me).

    i've used mandrake and it was a nightmare... i swore it off after two different versions were crap.

    never used SuSe... sorry, but you can't go wrong with Red Hat. They are the kings of the Linux world!
     
  8. kenkooler macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    Location:
    Mexico City
    #9
    I've had better results with Mandrake, it's hardware recognition seems like the best option to me and it's the easiest one to use.
    Haven't used lindows since the first public beta, but I have found it to be slower and with less compatibility than most linux distros.
     
  9. macktheknife thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #10
    Thanks for the response, everyone! Many posts thus far seem to be in favor of Red Hat and Mandrake (without an opinion on SuSE yet). My question now is this: How well do these two distributions of Linux install? I've heard Mandrake is better at recognizing hardware. I've also heard Red Hat 8.0 currently doesn't support MP3 and CD-RW out of the box. Can anyone give me more details on their experiences?

    Many thanks once again. :)
     
  10. vniow macrumors G4

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    #11
    I can't speak for myself, but many people have said that Mandrake is the best at detecting hardware out of all the distros.

    But I'm addicted to apt-get so I'm sticking with Debian for the time being.[​IMG]
     
  11. conceptdev macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    #12
    The last distro I used was RedHat - It was great and that was about five years ago when Linux hardware support was nothing but awful.
     
  12. guitargeek macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    #13
    Well, since I don't use anything BUT linux, I suppose I can help you a bit.

    I'm a staunch Mandrake supporter. I'm using 9.0 right now, and I absolutely love it. It's fast, stable, and easy to use.

    I tried a few other distros (Red Hat, Slack, Vector, Peanut, Lycoris, Knoppix, Yoper, to name a few). I always came back to Mandrake. Red Hat was not at all stable on my hardware (both versions 7.3 and 8.0), and was quite a bit slower than Mandrake. The other distros I mentioned are good (except Lycoris... don't even bother with it), but there would always be something lacking. Peanut was easy to setup, but doesn't come with too much out of the box, same with Vector, Knoppix was fun, but not as easy to use, Slack was fast as hell, but not as easy to configure, etc. So here I am typing this on Mandrake 9.0

    I have not tried SuSe, because I like to use .isos rather than an FTP install, and I don't want to have to pay for it, since I've heard mixed reviews. Some people love it, some hate it. It's kinda finicky.

    Both Red Hat and Mandrake are equal in detecting hardware in my experience. I never had trouble in either one, although Mandrake did detect my printer correctly, which Red Hat didn't. It was close, but not the exact one.

    The reason Red Hat doesn't include mp3 support out of the box is because of licensing issues. It looked like the people who came up with the mp3 format were going to try to cash in on it, and Red Hat didn't want to be caught up in it. You can easily find and install the .rpm or tarball for it, though. I have heard nothing aobut it not supporting CD-RW out of the box, as it burned CD's just fine for me.

    I wouldn't touch Lindows. The fact that it's pay only kinda rubs me the wrong way, and the fact that early on, they had their users running only as root also got my blood boiling. Running only as root is a BIG NO-NO! If they can make that kind of mistake, then they're bound to make other big ones as well, I say.

    Also, the ease of install of both Red Hat and Mandrake is incredibly easy. If you choose the recommended install on Mandrake, all you have to do is choose your language, click to make sure your mouse was detected correctly, and choose what packages you want installed. That's really it. And it only takes 15 minutes on my machine for a full install, every package that I want. Not too shabby. Red Hat's install is only slightly more difficult, but if you can install Windows, you'll have no trouble installing either distro.

    Hope that helps, and if you have any more questions, fire away!
     
  13. vniow macrumors G4

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    #14


    You have the option to create user accounts right after you install and so what if it's pay only? People don't work for free too often nowadays....
     
  14. macktheknife thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #15
    Thanks, guitargeek! :) I'll take you up on your offer right now. I would like to keep Windows on my hard drive (for games, etc.) and dual boot into Linux. How easy or difficult is it to partion a hard drive with Mandrake? Will Mandrake recognize all my drives and peripherals (i.e. CD-RW, DVD, USB, etc.)? I know I may sound a bit paranoid, but I want to make sure I know what I'm getting myself into before I start. I am willing to spend some time to make this work, but I won't make it my life project. ;)

    Thank you very much!
     
  15. guitargeek macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    #16
    I'm glad you can make user accounts now, but just the fact that they would release it while you COULDN'T is bad news. To me that means they'll screw up again.

    And I'm glad that you're asking questions. I've seen too many people just fall into it, and then post on a linux board asking why their favorite Windows game doesn't work :rolleyes:

    The first thing you need to consider is what filesystem Windows is using. Linux can read/write/create FAT partitions no problem, but NTFS support isn't that great. You can read from it, but you can't write to it and you can't resize it at all (although the beta version of Mandrake right now has a new tool that is supposed to resize NTFS... but I wouldn't try it until it's not beta anymore :) )

    To tell you the truth, I don't know about dual-booting on the same drive, since when I dual booted, I just had two hard drives. It made it much easier to keep track of and I could install distros without worry of messing up my ever-so-important Windows drive.

    Like I said before, I had no problem setting up any of my peripherals. My cable net was setup automagically, my CD-R drive works perfectly, my HP PSC 2110 works flawlessly (and it's a USB printer), and my USB gamepad works (I think. I only play tuxracer, and it works in that, so...).

    And don't worry, it really doesn't take long to get used it. I've even got my girlfriend Windows free, and she had no trouble at all migrating to Mandrake.
     
  16. macktheknife thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #18
    Thanks for the link. I plan to use Windows XP Professional so that I can try a bit of .Net development. As Sun Certified Java Programmer, I see .Net as a Microsoft clone of J2EE (running only on the Windows platform, of course), so no, I do not relish the idea of using .Net. Nonetheless, my friend has a copy of Visual Studio .Net, and I would at least like to familiarize myself with the technology. (I will probably pick up C# real fast--after all, Microsoft straight-out copied Java to create C#! :rolleyes: )

    Anyhow, I am wondering if the easiest solution would be to just get an extra hard drive for Linux. I think springing another $30 - $40 for a Linux-only HD might not be a bad idea. Considering that I am building this computer from scratch, I might as well give it a shot.

    Thanks again for your input everyone! :)
     
  17. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #19
    Getting another hard drive is probably the best idea I think, that's how I've got mine and everything works and boots great.
    Although I would install Windows first and then whichever Linux you choose, it's easier to configure that way from what I've experienced.
     
  18. FelixDerKater macrumors 68000

    FelixDerKater

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2002
    #20
    Once installed, Red Hat is nice. I don't know about the latest version, but in the past, installing Red Hat could be a real pain.
     
  19. guitargeek macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    #21
    Right. Windows will overwrite your bootloader otherwise.
     
  20. macktheknife thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #22
    Windows will be my primary OS on this new machine--Linux will be more or less a "toy." Thus, Windows will definitely be installed first. I want to get the "best" Linux distro right from the get-go to avoid some significant (and time-consuming) installation and configuration hassles. If it works, great. If not, no big deal.

    Thanks for the insights everyone. I really appreciate the assistance and advice. :)
     
  21. dstorey macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2002
    #23
    I would say install freeBSD :). Not exactly linux but more mature and has a cool fluffy daemon instead of that evil penguin. Ok the daemon mascot is a nerdy joke but who but nerds install unix on their machines ;-) I had no problem installing freeBSD at all and it even helped me set up the partitions so i could duel boot and named them for me. You can also get binary compatibility with linux and irix. The installation instructions should be all you need to get it working, just go to www.freebsd.org. Plus its based on the same core as OS X bar the Mach kernal of course, and the licencing agreement is better for developers but that may not concern you.
     
  22. yzedf macrumors 65816

    yzedf

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #24
    ignore the talk about how "hard" it is to install linux. that was in 1998. this is 2003.

    mandrake is a bit easier to install than redhat.

    most programs have pre-compiled rpm's for redhat.

    redhat is kinda considered the standard linux distro in the same way that windows is the standard; install base.

    i use mandrake.

    hope that helps... ;)
     
  23. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Cold beer land
    #25
    I run Hardhat Linux, Redhat & Darwin.

    I have a Linux box sitting next to my PowerMac DP867.
    In my opinion, the *nix for the desktop is OS X!:cool:

    Linux is a great flexible server, but for the desktop ...
     

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