View Full Version : Linux recommendations?

06-26-2008, 12:18 PM
I'd like to install a Linux distribution on my IBM Thinkpad T43p and be able to dual boot with my current XP Home edition. I don't have a lot of application requirements - just want something in which to re-familiarize myself with UNIX development that I haven't done in years.

So I'd like something free -- though I wouldn't be opposed to paying a nominal price -- and easy to install.

What say you?

Mario F.
06-26-2008, 12:31 PM
My preference is SUSE and it integrates very well with Windows (both ways), from console management to specialized virtualization. It is also very friendly to beginners like myself who only a few months ago regained an interest on Linux (after a >5 year hiatus and in consequence of Vista shipping). I have it on both my laptop and desktop. The former, a licensed Enterprise OEM version that I bundled with the ThinkPad when I personalized it before ordering, the latter a download unsupported version.

Like many other distros, you can get it for free at the expense of support.

Ubuntu is also a very popular choice as you probably have noticed already.

06-26-2008, 01:06 PM
I have used Ubuntu and love it. I have also heard lots of people recommend SUSE as well, although I haven't used it.



Mario F.
06-26-2008, 01:16 PM
Speaking of Ubuntu... I'm partial towards KDE. Having the same distro on both machines doesn't suit my fancy very much. There's no reason to not install a different distro just to broden my horizons. The laptop is my main machine. Which begs the question...

Thinking of getting Kubuntu for the desktop machine, or is the gnome version better?.. or it doesn't matter?

06-26-2008, 10:56 PM
SUSE 11 was kinda buggy for me. Or maybe its KDE 4 that's buggy making a lot of things crash (http://i28.tinypic.com/24wzh47.jpg) and break (http://i29.tinypic.com/r7szmx.png) :(

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, but fixes many of its bugs and has multimedia support out of the box (That's my main OS). I'm also working with PC BSD, like its one click install PBI packages. PC BSD too has multimedia codecs pre-installed.

06-27-2008, 02:32 AM
Speaking of Ubuntu... I'm partial towards KDE. Meanwhile, having the same distro on both machines doesn't suit my fancy very much. There's no reason to not install a different distro just to broden my horizons. The laptop is my main machine. Which begs the question...

Thinking of getting Kubuntu for the desktop machine, or is the gnome version better?.. or it doesn't matter?

It depends on whichever suits your taste more. Generally, KDE is more customizable and featureful while GNOME emphasizes on being easy to use and is more basic (although it gets better and better on recent versions). Some people think KDE is bloated, other think GNOME is too basic, etc.

If GNOME vs. KDE weren't what you were looking for and that you have already settled on it, then it doesn't matter.

As a side note, there are two versions of the latest Kubuntu, one with KDE 3, and one with KDE 4.

@OP: Beside Ubuntu and SUSE, I hear that the latest Fedora is pretty good, too.

07-01-2008, 05:15 PM
I really like Debian, but don't place too much emphasis on this recommendation because I've never really used any other distros. My hard drive isn't big enough. :rolleyes: :p

07-01-2008, 08:27 PM
I'd say go with Arch or Slackware. SuSE and Ubuntu are not for me (used SuSE for ages!).

Arch is especially good if you don't have a good internet connection (but like to stay upto date). Since there are really no "versions". You could use an install CD from 2002 (be it a net-install ;)) and have the latest build :)

07-02-2008, 08:40 AM
Slackware sucks IMO, really painful to install and if you dont get just the right version it wont run properly. Which version is the right version? Your guess is as good as mine. I think it realyl depends on your system, btu there is neither rhyme nor reason.

Im gettign ready to try Ubuntu, have heard enough good things about it that it gets to be the once every 6 months test distro.

07-02-2008, 08:53 AM
I like the KDE interface much better than Gnome. Gnome reminds me of a smoother version of swing.

07-02-2008, 09:52 AM
I like the looks of KDE, but ive so far not been able to get a distro that included it to install right. I dont have the time to de-........ a distro for just one system, so if it doesnt run out of the box, I usually uninstall it after a day or two of messing around. Honestly, I coudl get the distro runnign eventually im sure, but I cant recommend somethign to customers that they cant get up and runnign in half an hour with no serious problems on whatever El Cheapo hardware they have. And if our customers arent running it, i have no incentive to develop for it.

07-02-2008, 10:54 AM
KDE has worked out of the box under Debian on my AMD64 system. I think it even worked under Debian 3.1, which wasn't officially supported under AMD64.

Of course, you'll have to download quite a few CDs to get to KDE; the first CD includes Gnome, but KDE's too big for it. Unless, of course, you go the easy route and download just one CD, installing any other packages you need from the internet.

You should be able to install KDE from the internet by issuing the following command as root:

apt-get install kde-core
You'll probably want to add KDevelop or other programming tools as well.

07-02-2008, 05:14 PM
I guess I'll wait for a new computer to experiment with. I downloaded Ubuntu and tried the full install, but for some reason it said it couldn't add a partition for Linux next to XP, and offered the only option as wiping out XP and creating a single Linux partition.

07-02-2008, 10:14 PM
I downloaded Ubuntu and tried the full install, but for some reason it said it couldn't add a partition for Linux next to XP, and offered the only option as wiping out XP and creating a single Linux partition.
Did you defragment your Windows file system?

Oh, I once referred to Psychocat's Ubuntu Linux Resources (http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/) when starting out with Ubuntu (though admittedly I had already tried out other distros before that).

07-02-2008, 11:25 PM
Arch + Openbox user here.
Arch is great because it doesn't put useless junk on your system. After installation you have the bare necesaties for a Linux system. You then use Arch's package manager (pacman) to install your apps from the repos.
Plus there is no need to install an upgrade every so often. All you need to do is run
pacman -Syu
That will update the package list on the repos and then download and install all upgrades to the packages only installed on your system.

07-03-2008, 08:03 AM
Did you defragment your Windows file system?

Yes, after removing unused applications to free up space.

Mario F.
07-03-2008, 09:31 AM
A good bet would be to create the partition under windows before moving on to linux with any of the available partitioning software.

Create it with the necessary space at the end of your HD. It's irrelevant if its primary or logical. Then from Start->Administrative Tools->Computer Management->Disk Management right click on the new partition and delete it. Yes... that's right, delete it :)

Boot from Ubuntu or Kubuntu CD and when asked about partitions, choose the Guided Free Space Option. Voilá! Ubuntu will grab that deleted partition divide it in two and install itself without one whisper of complaining.

This pretty much works for any other distro that offers similar options during install. I find that having free unpartitioned space at the end of the drive is probably the most failsafe way of installing Linux.

07-04-2008, 01:35 PM
I (okay, someone I know) had success with booting into a gparted liveCD to resize an NTFS partition that took up the entire hard drive. Of course, this is probably a bit risky, but it lets you put Linux on a hard drive that is completely taken up by Windows otherwise.

(Note that the Debian installer doesn't support resizing NTFS, which is why I did what I did . . . .)

07-06-2008, 12:58 AM
Ubuntu :) IMO, its better than SUSE. SUSE 10.0 gave me a lot of problems with my graphics card and sound card. Ubuntu 8.04 works like a charm.

07-07-2008, 07:00 AM
Check out Wubi. It allows you to install a linux distro in windows and boot just like you would linux.

07-08-2008, 08:35 AM
Installed with Wubi, but when I boot into Unbuntu at startup, it throws me to a shell (BusyBox v1.1.3 built-in shell).

Don't I get the Desktop via Wubi?

07-08-2008, 08:42 PM
Before I moved to OS X I was an Arch user specifically and yes, I find it quite nice. I learnt a lot about linux over the ~2 years I used it, and the package management is excellent. The main gripe I have is that the package repositories are a bit small when juxtaposed with some distros, but you can reference the community packages and use the Archlinux User Repository to install stuff that isn't in the main tree.

The second (fixable) package complaint with arch is that my Perl installation broke pretty hardcore after updating to Perl 5.10-3, and I can't say if this has been fixed yet. But after a google, it was a simple fix of adding to my PATH and running 'perl -MCPAN -e recompile'. Not sure if it's been fixed since, but my system had a lot of old legacy crap that might have interfered (due to dynamic extensions - shared libraries - linked against older versions of perl.)

07-08-2008, 10:06 PM
The Arch repos are growing very fast, I'm installing less by source everyday :)

07-09-2008, 05:13 AM
Am I to understand that Arch is somewhat like Gentoo but without source installs? I might try it.

07-09-2008, 05:18 AM
Correct, it's supposed to be one of the highly optimized pre-packaged x86 distro (specifically just i686). I haven't used x64, perhaps won't for a while. I switched after I got fed up with Gentoo, which I had switched to because I was fed up with SuSE -- from Fedora Core etc ;)

I'd recommend it to anyone, as long as you have a bit of Linux experience under your belt as the installer doesn't hold your hand. Not to mention it's bandwidth saving release cycle/style. And pacman is fantastic! I see no reason to use GUI front-end to pacman (specifically libalpm).

But I've had similar legacy issues as Mad_guy, specifically with Java. Easy fix or work arounds though, as the bug reporting system works fantastically.

07-09-2008, 05:49 AM
Interesting. Of course, the question is where to put it. I suppose I could splice another few gigs off my lvm volume. It's not like I use them.

07-15-2008, 09:16 AM
How familiar are you with Linux/UNIX?

If you know your way around Linux, it doesn't really matter much what distro you use. They are all Linux afterall. Just pick any one from the top ten most popular.

like dwks pointed out, ntfsresize is really nice. If you don't want to go that far, though (or if you are not experienced enough to do it), grab a copy of Norton PartitionMagic (sorry I don't know any free alternative that partitions and support ntfs resizing under Windows).

As for the original question, I used to use Fedora when I first started, and then Gentoo, and switched to Debian when I no longer felt like spending so much time tweaking my OS, and finally to Ubuntu when I felt like spending even less time. Each switch took me ~2 hours of getting used to the new distro. Not a big deal.

Gentoo allows you to tweak and compile everything, and Ubuntu works out of the box. I only recommend Gentoo if your goal is to learn about Linux. For actually using it, I recommend Ubuntu.

07-15-2008, 12:53 PM
Not very experienced but if i boot linux it will be debian with fluxbox, and i like it alot! no icons on desctop, lots of consoles....love it!

07-15-2008, 05:38 PM
> sorry I don't know any free alternative that partitions and support ntfs resizing under Windows
A GParted boot disk? :)

07-15-2008, 06:20 PM
It doesn't run under Windows last time I checked :).

07-15-2008, 07:48 PM
With a GParted liveCD, you boot into Linux entirely off of the CD. From there, you can run gparted, which lets you resize NTFS partitions. I've used it successfully to resize a Vista partition before installing Linux.

07-15-2008, 08:00 PM
Yeah GParted is a good idea.

Somehow I thought you meant doing the NTFS resizing on the command line:).

07-16-2008, 08:27 AM
Totally not worth it for what I need...I downloaded Cygwin and compiled my old code. I'll perhaps opt for a pure Linux box the next time I'm in the market for a laptop.