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Hello all, I need some advice. I'm looking installing Linux on one of my home machines to be both my source control server and to be able to try out Mono a bit. Currently, I'm looking at either Mandrake 10 or Mepis (a Debian-based distro). I've seen mentions of other distros like Libranet and such but I honestly don't know which to go with.

I want a distro that isn't too low-level (I'm pretty much a Linux newbie here). That is one of the reasons I like Mandrake. However, I've heard many good things said about Mepis. On Distro Watch, Mepis is already number eight, which I think is pretty impressive for such a new distro. Most of the top ten at Distro Watch are established distros are distros done by companies with distro experience (like Fedora Core).

I would like to hear any of you weigh in on the issue. Let me know your thoughts!

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 3:51 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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I've almost no experience with Linux, but one cool thing I found was Mandrake Move. It's Mandrake on a single cd. You boot and run from the CD. I found it extremely handy. (You can also read NTFS files - but not write)

Have you considered virutal PC? Then you can try a few before settling.
Left by TomB on Oct 18, 2004 4:01 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Sorry my right hand's a little faster than my left. (Because I'm right-handed...no other reason)

Virutal is meant to be Virtual.
Left by TomB on Oct 18, 2004 4:04 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Hey Tom,

Geez, you'd think that I would have thought about Virtual PC since I already have Virtual PC 2004 running on my machine for Longhorn. Hehe.

As for the boot from the CD and reading NTFS, that's exactly why I have Knoppix STD :). It's already saved my rear once when my laptop crashed and I hadn't backed up the files in over a week.
Left by Jason Olson on Oct 18, 2004 4:10 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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I've tried Libranet and its not to bad. Mepis looks very nice.

Most linux distros work well under virtual PC (I also have a Suse 9.0 distro in virtual PC).

I've just never gotten the hang on linux. I like to develop off my laptop. Getting wireless to work took forever.
Left by Dave Kekish on Oct 18, 2004 4:42 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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I installed Knoppix to the hard drive. It works great and you have the most up to date and compatible system you can possibly have.

apt-get install mono and away you go
Left by a on Oct 18, 2004 4:51 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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The Mandrake Move is a full distribution. I'm not sure if I was clear on that.

Curious--have you seen Virtual Server 2005, it's pretty cool too.
Left by TomB on Oct 18, 2004 4:58 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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If you're curious about Mono you can get Monoppix <http://weblogs.asp.net/jgalloway/archive/2004/09/01/223945.aspx>

It's basically Knoppix with mono installed. It makes setting up Mono easier.

If you want to go ahead and install a distribution I'd say go with Mandrake 10. I use it at home and really enjoy it. I switched to Mandrake after Red Hat started having issues installing on my server. Mandrake hasn't let me down so far. Stable and compatible with everything I have.

Now, I'll have to admit that setting Mono (at least the MonoDevelop portion of it) was a pain in the ass. Dependencies.

But you can get Apt4rpm and Yum.

Yum will supposedly work like Apt in that it gets what you need along with all the dependencies and sets you right up with no issues.

Of course... due to dependency issues and an alleged issue with the python version in Mandrake 10 (might be fine in 10.1) I can't get Yum to work either. Ironic in that I want to install Yum to take care of the issues that are preventing me from installing Yum. *sighs*

I like Mandrake for quick ease of use. But Debian (which knoppix is based on) has a real winner with apt-get.

Rev
Left by Rev on Oct 18, 2004 5:21 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Both Redhat and Mandrake burned me once, so I tend to try to stay away from them. Redhat back in 6.0 was highly insecure and I cringe when I think about trying to go back. Mandrake isn't much of an issue though I don't ever see the point in paying for something that was meant to be free. Mandrake does have a ton of cool "user candy" that gives novices a leg up on a traditional linux distribution. There's a free version of both Mandrake and Redhat but I'd question the usefulness of them.

I use Slackware on both my work firewall and the one I use at home. The work firewall is a K6-333mhz PC with 256mb of ram I believe. I ran slack on my Cyrix p166+ (133mhz) for the longest time before the mobo finally gave out. Slackware 10 is a little more "bloated" meaning you'll need a slightly faster machine than a p166 to get good use out of it, but I can even run X rather well on the 333mhz.

If you want to get slackware, go to slackware.org. They make an updater called slapt-get which is modelled after the debian apt-get. I use that to stay patched and the rest of it I barely touch.

I could offer limited help and support if you wanted, or you could probably find some great tips on slackfiles.net I believe. I used that site to help me setup the IPSec configuration between the 2.6.x kernels I use. Automatic VPN networking between 2 subnets = ownage. Try to do THAT on Windows WITHOUT Internet Connection Sharing. Oh wait. You CANT. It's like my home network is a part of the work network and it's as seemless as I can make it. Linux does have its strong points, though I'll never use it as a desktop OS quite yet. KDE and X have a long way to go before ever being as user friendly as Windows. Sorry to all you Linux r0x0r g33ks out there, but it's true.
Left by Jeremy Brayton on Oct 18, 2004 5:59 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Jeremy,

How "user-friendly" is the install for Slackware? The times that I have seen slackware mentioned, it was mentioned in the more "hard core" set of distros, hence the reason I was originally going to avoid it. But, I obviously don't have enough knowledge to dispute or verify that claim.

At the same time, I don't want to get too "commercial". I don't really know why, it just seems kind of contradictory to me. This is the reason that I'm avoiding Red Hat and Linspire. It's also one of the reasons that I'm not too sure whether I want to go with Mandrake or not. Although, from what I've seen, Mandrake certainly is pretty user-friendly.

Perhaps I'll try out Mepis and see how that is. If it is #8 at Distro Watch, it can't be half bad.
Left by Jason Olson on Oct 18, 2004 6:16 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Jason, we use CentOS for servers (it is basically Red Hat Enterprise), but if you are looking to also do GUI work say with Mono, then Fedora is not too bad on Virtual PC, but I personally have just switched to Suse as the Novell version is getting more Mono attention and testing due to Ximian now being owned and Miguel working there.

I've used about a dozen distros and once you are up to speed with compiling src instead of using RPM's then it really doesn't matter. But it is nice to have an auto updater and not worry about having to learn 400 new things everytime you need to configure something new.
Left by Justin King on Oct 18, 2004 6:38 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Suse is the easiest Linux OS I've tried and it works in Virtual PC 2004. But they only have .iso downloads for the crippled version that has no development tools, not even GCC. I don't know if it's legal to download the Professional edition from file sharing networks or not.
Left by Chris Lundie on Oct 18, 2004 7:21 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Hey Justin. Yeah, that's what I've heard about distros. Once you're up to speed compiling src, different distros aren't really that big of a deal. Well, I have a ways to go before I get there :). That's one of the reasons I've been leaning towards a debian-based distro; because of the things I have read about apt-get technology.

At the same time, the "1337 h4ck3r" in me doesn't want to use a distro that is *too* main stream because I still want to have some fun learning the internals of Linux. Hence the reason I've been kind of shying away from Red Hat, Mandrake, and to a far lesser degree, Suse. And because I'm not a true "1337 h4ck3r", I've been shying away from real tech-heavy distros like Slackware.

Thanks for the comments :).
Left by Jason Olson on Oct 18, 2004 7:24 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Chris,

That's one of the things I just noticed when looking into Suse after Justin's comment. The only Suse .iso downloads I can find are to the Personal edition which isn't what I'm looking forward. And since I've already sold my soul (as Linux people would say), if I'm going to actually pay for an OS it is damn well going to be Windows. Linux technology isn't to the point yet (for my personal uses) that I will pay money for the OS.
Left by Jason Olson on Oct 18, 2004 7:26 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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ive been using linux since redhat 7 (using fedora core 2 now) and i must say, it rocks. i would advise you to try fedora core 2, it is fast and easy to use, as it configures everything for you. another option is debian, that is even better.

for mono install

fedora: "yum install *mono*"
debian: "apt-get install mono"

and it allready cames with Gtk# and monodevelop, it cant be easier than that.

:)
Left by Miguel Carvalho on Oct 19, 2004 8:33 AM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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CentOS is VERY Stable and Cool. You can use Red Hat and Fedoa packages.
Left by jack on Apr 04, 2005 7:58 AM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Mandrake is the easiest to get up & running, problem is, the applications it uses tend to be "bleeding edge" versions, and so often do not properly function. SuSE is your best bet, it's very nearly as easy to set up, and rather more stable
Left by Tony Bradley on Apr 15, 2005 7:21 PM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Underground Desktop (based on debian) www.ludos.org
Left by spider on May 09, 2005 8:17 AM

# re: Which Linux Distro (Need Advice)?
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Tried several over the past year or so and thought I'd probably end up with Mepis because of its popularity; I was a little disappointed, not just by the looks, but also lack of drivers - couldn't get the wifi running. The best by a long way has been Kanotix - seems to be very sorted with the exception of parallel port support. Runs well from the CD, from the iso if you don't want a full install, but is tailored for a harddrive installation.

If you want a 'pocket' edition have a look at Beatrix - it's remarkable.
Left by Mike F on Jul 12, 2005 5:37 AM

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