Which Linux for a beginning desktop? - Linux

This is a discussion on Which Linux for a beginning desktop? - Linux ; Trent Buck writes: > If I may say this without offense, you sound like you need help to get > Linux onto that machine. Right now I'm having trouble getting anything onto the machine. Hewlett-Packard builds (or used to build) ...

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Thread: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

  1. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Trent Buck writes:

    > If I may say this without offense, you sound like you need help to get
    > Linux onto that machine.


    Right now I'm having trouble getting anything onto the machine.

    Hewlett-Packard builds (or used to build) good, solid hardware, but
    their obesssion with doing everything their own way--their own
    motherboards, their own BIOS, etc.--makes it almost impossible to
    install anything that they didn't specifically provide for in their
    original design.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  2. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    chris writes:

    > No. You simply didn't follow the (very simple) instructions, and it didn't
    > break your CD drive.


    I did follow the instructions: "Press enter to install." That's where
    it stopped.

    > Modern Linux distributions are simple to use and maintain.


    That's quite a generalization.

    > You have to forget almost all you "learned" from Windoze ...


    Like "ease of installation"?

    > You have to remember that anything done the MS way is (basically)
    > done the wrong way!


    Right or wrong, I had Windows up in 20 minutes when I first installed
    this machine. I've been working for days on installation of anything
    else.

    > MS "operating systems" are utterly different from EVERYTHING else out there.


    That's why they predominate.

    > MS went
    > off in their own way, and are now learning to their cost that their lack of
    > interoperability is going to significantly damage their business in the
    > near future.


    They have 95% of the desktop market. I don't think they are too
    worried.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  3. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Moe Trin writes:

    > I'm sorry, but no sane admin installs X on a server, never mind some over
    > bloated windoze wannabe desktop. Servers are servers. They do not have
    > lusers logging in an listening to the radio while they surf pr0n sites.


    I know. My server does not have any kind of GUI installed.

    > But the same token, a workstation should never have more than SSH and
    > perhaps an MTA to handle mail from cron jobs.


    Does it need a MTA running for this?

    > And you see less than a tenth that many mentions of SuSE, Mandrake or
    > the commercial Red Hat. Why? Do you think it might be because the various
    > distributors use different mechanisms to get the word out?


    I don't know.

    > Running what GUI.


    None. It the old days, we knew how to work and have fun without
    graphics. I still have nethack and adventure.

    > And how many desktops did it come with? How many
    > office suites?


    None. In those days, you only installed what was useful.

    > Or have you forgotten the standard complaints about Emacs (which wouldn't have
    > enough room to run on most PDP-8s)
    >
    > "Emacs is a great OS. The only thing it lacks is a decent editor."
    >
    > and the classic
    >
    > "Emacs - Eight Megs And Continuously Swapping"


    Emacs and its ilk were the GUI toys of their day. Geeks in those days
    had no graphics, so they spent their time building increasingly
    elaborate text editors and scripting languages. That's why UNIX has
    such a plethora of overcomplicated editors and scripting environments
    today.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  4. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    SeaBass writes:

    > Gentoo, is good, if you can manage to install it.


    Right now, installation is the biggest hurdle, on this bizarre hardware.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  5. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Mxsmanic wrote:

    > chris writes:
    >
    >> No. You simply didn't follow the (very simple) instructions, and it
    >> didn't break your CD drive.

    >
    > I did follow the instructions: "Press enter to install." That's where
    > it stopped.
    >
    >> Modern Linux distributions are simple to use and maintain.

    >
    > That's quite a generalization.


    But it's generally true!

    >> You have to forget almost all you "learned" from Windoze ...

    >
    > Like "ease of installation"?


    I don't consider endless reboots, driver location, firewall and anti-virus
    installation, service pack downloads (which usually break many things that
    were working before), registration / activation, and then installation of
    any software you want to use to be in any way easy!

    >> You have to remember that anything done the MS way is (basically)
    >> done the wrong way!

    >
    > Right or wrong, I had Windows up in 20 minutes when I first installed
    > this machine. I've been working for days on installation of anything
    > else.


    You must have a super fast CD drive and computer, then. Any basic
    installation of Windoze (of any flavour) takes an hour at least. Then you
    have to install all the other stuff in an attempt to get the MS brokenware
    anywhere near useable.

    >> MS "operating systems" are utterly different from EVERYTHING else out
    >> there.

    >
    > That's why they predominate.


    No. They predominate because of the restrictive trading practices employed
    by MS. Most computer manufacturers are tied to a deal with MS that means
    that they have to load Windoze on to every box they sell if they want to
    sell ANY with Windoze. (This is, incidentally, illegal in most countries).
    Luckily, we now have some manufacturers who are going out of their way to
    avoid the MS lock-in, and the more clueful ones are now shipping systems
    either without an OS loaded, or with a proper OS pre-loaded.

    >> MS went
    >> off in their own way, and are now learning to their cost that their lack
    >> of interoperability is going to significantly damage their business in
    >> the near future.

    >
    > They have 95% of the desktop market. I don't think they are too
    > worried.


    It might be 95% in your country, but in the world as a whole, you'll find
    that the percentage is very much lower (and falling).

    My recent visits to a number of countries in the Far East showed that M$
    hasn't got any significant foothold over there any more, because their
    "operating systems" and abysmal software are grossly overpriced, and far
    out of the reach of many would-be computer users.

    C.

    --
    Everything gets easier with practice, except getting up in the morning!

  6. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Up spake chris:
    >> They have 95% of the desktop market. I don't think they are too
    >> worried.

    >
    > It might be 95% in your country, but in the world as a whole, you'll find
    > that the percentage is very much lower (and falling).
    >
    > My recent visits to a number of countries in the Far East showed that M$
    > hasn't got any significant foothold over there any more, because their
    > "operating systems" and abysmal software are grossly overpriced, and far
    > out of the reach of many would-be computer users.


    Extramadura, anyone?

    --
    -trent
    Before long, Microsoft will attempt to patent the alphabet (hoping we'll
    have to pay royalties to use our keyboards and keep their stock solid).
    -- Phil Paxton

  7. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Up spake Mxsmanic:
    > > But the same token, a workstation should never have more than SSH and
    > > perhaps an MTA to handle mail from cron jobs.

    >
    > Does it need a MTA running for this?


    Yes. A lot of Linux services assume a sendmail(1) compatible binary in the path.

    Of course, you can install something like ssmtp(1), which forwards mail
    from services to another machine. It doesn't receive mail or route
    local mail or anything like that, so it's footprint is small (negligible?).

    > Emacs and its ilk were the GUI toys of their day. Geeks in those days
    > had no graphics, so they spent their time building increasingly
    > elaborate text editors and scripting languages. That's why UNIX has
    > such a plethora of overcomplicated editors and scripting environments
    > today.


    Emacs is not complicated, it is complex.

    --
    -trent
    The difference is that Unix has had thirty years of technical types
    demanding basic functionality [for] it. And the Macintosh has had
    fifteen years of interface fascist users shaping its progress. Windows
    has the hairpin turns of the Microsoft marketing machine, and that's all.
    -- Red Drag Diva

  8. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 18:36:22 +0100, Mxsmanic wrote:

    > Right now, installation is the biggest hurdle, on this bizarre hardware.


    I ran Debian unstable for many years on 2 old machines. I have a p2 400
    an a k6-3 400. They both had 128 mb ram for a long time. The only issue
    I see is your 2 GB hd space. I've since moved on to LFS and find a need
    for 5 GB or more on the root fs with an eventual migration of most of /usr
    to someplace else. It's possible to install Debian in 2.0 gb fairly
    easily. The question will become: how big do you want to get with it?
    You'll need more hd space.


  9. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 06:39:11 +0100, Mxsmanic wrote:

    > Why is it that everyone is rushing to produce DVDs, but nobody is
    > thinking about diskettes? For that matter, why is the software so
    > bloated that it only fits on a DVD?


    It's not Debian's job to tell you how to make boot disks. Go to
    www.tldp.org and read the relevant HOWTOs. They probably have a HOWTO for
    boot disk generation. Whatever tools you need to make the boot disk,
    Debian will have a package for it.


  10. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    chris writes:

    > But it's generally true!


    That depends on the stadard of comparison. Compared to Windows or the
    Mac, all Linux distributions are extremely difficult to install.
    Compared to the Mac, Windows is difficult to install, but compared to
    Linux, Windows is easy to install.

    > I don't consider endless reboots, driver location, firewall and anti-virus
    > installation, service pack downloads (which usually break many things that
    > were working before), registration / activation, and then installation of
    > any software you want to use to be in any way easy!


    I agree, but I was talking about Windows.

    > You must have a super fast CD drive and computer, then.


    Extremely fast CD drives are the rule today, but installations didn't
    take that long even years ago. I seem to recall that an installation of
    Windows NT would take about 20 minutes.

    > It might be 95% in your country, but in the world as a whole, you'll find
    > that the percentage is very much lower (and falling).


    It's 95% worldwide.

    > My recent visits to a number of countries in the Far East showed that M$
    > hasn't got any significant foothold over there any more, because their
    > "operating systems" and abysmal software are grossly overpriced, and far
    > out of the reach of many would-be computer users.


    Since most people in the Far East don't pay for their copies of Windows,
    the price is irrelevant.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  11. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Steven B writes:

    > It's not Debian's job to tell you how to make boot disks.


    And it's not my job to install Debian. Fortunately, there are many
    other competing distributions.

    > Go to
    > www.tldp.org and read the relevant HOWTOs. They probably have a HOWTO for
    > boot disk generation. Whatever tools you need to make the boot disk,
    > Debian will have a package for it.


    Time's up. It won't be Debian.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  12. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Steven B writes:

    > I've since moved on to LFS and find a need
    > for 5 GB or more on the root fs with an eventual migration of most of /usr
    > to someplace else. It's possible to install Debian in 2.0 gb fairly
    > easily. The question will become: how big do you want to get with it?
    > You'll need more hd space.


    I needed far less than what I have to install Windows NT. I thought
    Linux was supposed to be compact, not bloated.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  13. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Mxsmanic wrote:

    > I needed far less than what I have to install Windows NT. I thought
    > Linux was supposed to be compact, not bloated.


    Perhaps you don't understand the meaning of "bloated". A base install of
    Windoze NT is about 450 Mb. That's without any applications, and with an
    unusable web browser, but includes their windowed desktop.

    A base install of Linux is about 2 Mb, and if you add some basic CLI tools,
    it comes up to about 4 Mb. If you add a basic windowed desktop and a web
    browser, you might hit 40 Mb.

    Most Linux users use one or other of the mainstream distros, and these come
    with a CHOICE of desktop, a CHOICE of web browser, a CHOICE of web server,
    a CHOICE of complete Office suites, a CHOICE of graphics tools, a CHOICE of
    comprehensive software development tools, a CHOICE of multimedia programs,
    and lots of other goodies. You don't have to install anything you don't
    want or need, so you can make your installation as big or as small as you
    want.

    In the MS world, you have to pay for a web browser that works properly, you
    have to pay for Office programs, you have to pay for software development
    tools and you have to pay for web servers. If you installed a fully
    comprehensive MS-based system, with all the tools and facilities found in
    the average Linux distro, you'd pay THOUSANDS of pounds for the software
    and it would actually take up MUCH MORE disk space than the equivalent
    Linux install.

    C.

    --
    Everything gets easier with practice, except getting up in the morning!

  14. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Mxsmanic wrote:

    > chris writes:


    > That depends on the stadard of comparison. Compared to Windows or the
    > Mac, all Linux distributions are extremely difficult to install.
    > Compared to the Mac, Windows is difficult to install, but compared to
    > Linux, Windows is easy to install.


    Wrong.

    >> I don't consider endless reboots, driver location, firewall and
    >> anti-virus installation, service pack downloads (which usually break many
    >> things that were working before), registration / activation, and then
    >> installation of any software you want to use to be in any way easy!

    >
    > I agree, but I was talking about Windows.


    That IS Windoze, you dummy!

    >> You must have a super fast CD drive and computer, then.

    >
    > Extremely fast CD drives are the rule today, but installations didn't
    > take that long even years ago. I seem to recall that an installation of
    > Windows NT would take about 20 minutes.


    Wrong. Typically 2 hours on the hardware available then. And then you had
    to load the software, with all the endless reboots, patches, fixes,
    incompatibilities, and other Windoze crap.

    >> It might be 95% in your country, but in the world as a whole, you'll find
    >> that the percentage is very much lower (and falling).

    >
    > It's 95% worldwide.


    Don't be silly.

    > Since most people in the Far East don't pay for their copies of Windows,
    > the price is irrelevant.


    They don't use Windoze because it doesn't work properly and because they
    don't pay the MS Tax with every computer sold. You simply Don't see
    anything MS over there anymore. They are generally less tolerant of the
    crap promulgated by Bill Gates and his pals, and laugh at the western
    "governments" bought by MS. There has NEVER been any kind of MS-based
    governmental project in ANY western country that has ever worked properly.

    C.

    --
    Everything gets easier with practice, except getting up in the morning!

  15. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 19:10:50 +0100, Mxsmanic wrote:


    > No, SuSE is just bloated, like so many other software products.
    >


    I've run SuSE 8, 8.1, 8.2 and now 9.0 on an older Compaq GX-1 with
    P-II 200MHz, 256M, 4GB drive & CD drive. It is now the firewall and
    network resources server for my home. N'ary a problem with any install.

    It's twin helps me with RedHat 7, 8, 9, Fedora FC1 & FC3 projects.

    But when I want plain speed, I use my Dell Latitude C810 (P2.2, 1GM,
    DVD/CD-RW and swappable 40G hard drives - separate ones for SuSE, SLES,
    RHES, FC and W2K.

    Having watched your thread for a while, methinks you protest a bit too
    much - "it broke my CD", "time's up, it won't be...", "bloat", "but it
    still works with NT". Nice job of trolling, but I could recommend
    you might want to spend some time at the Linux Documentation Project.

    One thing is certain, the plethora of CDs are for convenience, as most
    distros at which I've looked have had roughly 3 CDs with binaries (of
    which I might use 1/3 if I wanted to experiment a lot), and 3 CDs of
    sources, in case I wanted to enhance things. I think the idea was to stop
    whiners about having to look for stuff they might want to get. But those
    same whiners tend to see 6 CDs instead of reading and attempting to
    understand the labels.

    I constantly see the the shock to those of Windows background: "Whoaaa, 6
    CDs! What crap! What Bloat! My Windows OS only needs one CD, and my MS
    Office only needs 2 CDs and my AntiVirus only needs one and my printer
    only came with one, and each of my network cards only has one and my
    scanner has only one and ...", followed by "what do you mean, check the
    distro update site for patches, fixes and updates. In Windows, I only
    need to monitor 39 vendor site to check for vendor driver updates, after
    the WindowsUpdate site automatically screws up my settings."

    The only challenge is getting past the 'install' screen. But I've had
    that with NT as well, especially when the CD drive has been unsupported,
    has been the wrong bus type, or has been on the verge of dying.

    To give you fodder for further trolling, the two issues I've had with
    Linux are: in X11, using a wheel mouse through a KVM; a USB Palm Pilot
    sharing a USB hub with a USB Flash Drive. Of course I know what the
    problems are ... but then again, I don't mind reading.

    lol/FGB

  16. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    chris writes:

    > Wrong.


    A Mac generally requires no installation at all, since it is
    preinstalled. The same is true for many PCs delivered with Windows
    preinstalled. A fresh installation of Windows requires 20 minutes or
    so, depending on the speed of the system. A fresh installation of Linux
    or UNIX without a GUI takes about the same amount of time or a bit
    longer. However, installation of X and a GUI under Linux or UNIX can
    take a very long time indeed, since GUIs are extremely
    hardware-depdendent and most open-source products aren't very good at
    dealing with anything outside the most conventional configurations.

    > That IS Windoze, you dummy!


    No, it's not. None of the things you describe is typical of Windows.

    > Wrong. Typically 2 hours on the hardware available then.


    I installed Windows hundreds of times. Twenty to forty minutes was
    typical, depending on the speed of the hardware (particularly disk and
    CD drives).

    > And then you had
    > to load the software, with all the endless reboots, patches, fixes,
    > incompatibilities, and other Windoze crap.


    I never had any problems like this with Windows. I have a lot of
    problems like this with UNIX/Linux.

    > Don't be silly.


    I have the numbers in front of me. Overall market penetration is 95%,
    worldwide.

    > They don't use Windoze because it doesn't work properly and because they
    > don't pay the MS Tax with every computer sold.


    They _do_ use Windows, but they just pirate it rather than paying for
    it. Windows is easier to use than other operating systems, and there
    are more applications available for it.

    > You simply Don't see anything MS over there anymore. They are
    > generally less tolerant of the crap promulgated by Bill Gates
    > and his pals, and laugh at the western "governments" bought by MS.


    This doesn't match any of the market profiles I've seen for Asia. It's
    difficult to get truly objective data, though, and since Asia pirates
    the commercial software and doesn't have to buy the free software, it
    can be nearly impossible to know with certainty exactly what is running
    on most machines.

    > There has NEVER been any kind of MS-based
    > governmental project in ANY western country that has ever worked properly.


    Most Western countries use Microsoft software every day. I'm not sure
    what you mean by "MS-based project," though. Microsoft writes operating
    systems, and Office suite, and a few server utilities and
    compilers--that's all. Not much to base a "project" on.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  17. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    GreyBeard writes:

    > I've run SuSE 8, 8.1, 8.2 and now 9.0 on an older Compaq GX-1 with
    > P-II 200MHz, 256M, 4GB drive & CD drive. It is now the firewall and
    > network resources server for my home. N'ary a problem with any install.
    >
    > It's twin helps me with RedHat 7, 8, 9, Fedora FC1 & FC3 projects.
    >
    > But when I want plain speed, I use my Dell Latitude C810 (P2.2, 1GM,
    > DVD/CD-RW and swappable 40G hard drives - separate ones for SuSE, SLES,
    > RHES, FC and W2K.


    Just out of curiosity, what do you actually do with these systems, apart
    from configuring them, swapping them around, rebuilding them, and
    reinstalling them?

    > Having watched your thread for a while, methinks you protest a bit too
    > much - "it broke my CD", "time's up, it won't be...", "bloat", "but it
    > still works with NT".


    You have to look at it from my point of view: I use computers as tools,
    not as toys. I need to be able to install and configure systems quickly
    and efficiently. I cannot afford to spend hours or days playing around
    with them. They have to be up and stable enough that I can do real work
    with them.

    Geeks are different. They never actually _do_ anything with their
    computers. They spend all their time installing, reinstalling,
    tweaking, configuring, and so on. But they don't do any real
    application-level work with any of them. Their income doesn't depend on
    the machines being up and functional 24 hours a day. They don't pay
    their rent with their computers.

    The time and effort required to bring up an OS may seem trivial to a
    geek, who has no life outside of his computer(s), but to someone who
    uses computers as tools, this same time and effort are often intolerably
    great.

    And the majority of the world's computer users are in the second
    category, not the first. That's one reason why you don't see Linux on
    every desktop.

    > I constantly see the the shock to those of Windows background: "Whoaaa, 6
    > CDs! What crap! What Bloat! My Windows OS only needs one CD, and my MS
    > Office only needs 2 CDs and my AntiVirus only needs one and my printer
    > only came with one, and each of my network cards only has one and my
    > scanner has only one and ...", followed by "what do you mean, check the
    > distro update site for patches, fixes and updates. In Windows, I only
    > need to monitor 39 vendor site to check for vendor driver updates, after
    > the WindowsUpdate site automatically screws up my settings."


    See my comments above. For a normal end user, installation means
    inserting a CD and pressing Enter a few times. It works for Windows,
    and even that much isn't necessary for the Mac ... but it's impossible
    for Linux or UNIX.

    > The only challenge is getting past the 'install' screen. But I've had
    > that with NT as well, especially when the CD drive has been unsupported,
    > has been the wrong bus type, or has been on the verge of dying.


    Apparently nobody supports my two SCSI disks, then. Except Windows.

    I really wanted to install something other than Windows on this machine,
    for the sake of gaining experience, but it's beginning to look like
    Windows is the only OS that can properly handle the hardware.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  18. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Trent Buck writes:

    > I cannot reproduce these symptoms with Debian stable.


    Are you running a system with SCSI disks only?

    > Why would you put an enterprise system on your old desktop?


    Why would I buy Office to put on my old desktop?

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.

  19. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Mxsmanic wrote:

    > I'm thinking of experimenting with Linux, which I've never used before
    > (although I've used UNIX and many other operating systems). Which Linux
    > distribution should I use for a nice desktop configuration? I have a
    > few constraints:
    >
    > - It has to be downloadable for free (I can burn installation CDs and
    > make diskettes from the download).

    Debian as previously suggest for a desktop. you can choose either
    stable(woody) or sarge I reccomend sarge
    > - I have to be able create boot diskettes, since the old machine I have
    > will not boot from CD (although it has a CD drive and can read them).

    the directions for booting the sarge installer from floppy are at
    http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/...-images-floppy
    > - I'm looking mainly for a desktop environment and GUI, not a server.

    that's why sarge
    > - It should run on old hardware (this is an HP Vectra XU that is eight
    > years old).
    > - It must not require more than 2 GB or so of disk. I have two SCSI
    > drives of 4.5 GB each.

    debian base can install in about 120mb (cron, cc etc) apt-get install
    x-window-system and it'll install a gui that works but is kinda ugly. you
    can install different window managers applications as you like kde will
    install about 600mb of stuff so that's 650mbish for a working desktop.
    XFCE might fit your requirements rather than a full desktop like kde/gnome

    debian will install over the network so you only need to download a 45mb
    netinst and a 1.44mb floppy image.

    > - It should support a dual Pentium Pro.

    no problem. 2.4 has good SMP support 2.6's is slightly better.
    > - It should not require more than 384 MB of RAM.

    no problem

    Grant

    --
    All software sucks all hardware sucks.

  20. Re: Which Linux for a beginning desktop?

    Spake Mxsmanic:
    > Trent Buck writes:
    >
    > > I cannot reproduce these symptoms with Debian stable.

    >
    > Are you running a system with SCSI disks only?


    One machine is a Dell with one SCSI disk and one ATAPI CDROM. It is in
    fact running a hybrid of Ubuntu/warty and Debian/unstable.

    > > Why would you put an enterprise system on your old desktop?

    >
    > Why would I buy Office to put on my old desktop?


    You appear to be confused. An 'enterprise' system is something that
    goes on a server and serves hundreds or thousands of users -- i.e. it is
    something for Big Business.

    RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and Microsoft Terminal Server 2003 are
    'enterprise' systems. Because they are for big business, they are
    expensive.

    Neither Microsoft Office nor OpenOffice are 'enterprise' systems; they
    are application suites run by desktop and application users alike.

    --
    Trent Buck, Student Errant
    Do not meddle in the affairs of gurus, for they can make your life
    miserable by doing nothing.

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