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Hi all, This is my 1st post. I've decided after many years of using MS Windows to take the plunge and switch over to Linux. As an intermediate user I ...
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  1. #1
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    Guidance needed


    Hi all,
    This is my 1st post. I've decided after many years of using MS Windows to take the plunge and switch over to Linux. As an intermediate user I find that each version of Windows introduces more useless software and makes it harder to manage. I realized That I need to learn more about computer administration/security/maintenance and that led to the decision of starting fresh with a new operating system. Actually, I have been using thunderbird, firefox, openoffice and gimp for about 2 years now, under Windows to reduce the learning curve.
    I have spent a few days researching various Linux distros (installed Fedora and Debian on a test computer Toshiba satellite p200 USB and harddrive). I have installed packages on both distros and experimented with shell commands etc. Not everything worked ( see below) but for the purpose of playing around and getting the feeling for linux 90% worked "out of the box", I was very happy.
    My plans for later on will include setting up a home network (4 computers, 1 desktop 32 bit hardware 2 laptops 64 bit hardware, 1 laptop on 32 bit hardware and a wireless network including a wireless hotspot, as currently running under Windows).
    Reading some of the guides and howtos, I would like to start with a small basic distro and then add the features that I need. My desire falls somewhat between Linux Mint and Linux From Scratch. However, it is not a necessity to compile all software. My goal is to build up a system which I control and not the system that controls me. I have 2 users on my network that are computer illiterate, so a very simple graphical interface is required but for myself, I would like to manage the system via console.
    Things I would like to avoid or at least minimize:
    Software installation from rescue discs under windows is a major pain. 7 years after creating rescue disks I have to find out the discs are corrupted. 2 days fixings later I have a system working as "per factory". Create new rescue discs that are only half corrupted. Several hundred mgbites of updates later I discover I cannot connect to the new 4G wireless hotspot at home but everywhere else I can. (both debian and fedora connected out of the box with no problem!! as did a HP printer that never worked under Vista). Unassisted installs look like a priority to me!
    I'm a hobby programmer and I download lots of test soft ware and demos and on occasion have damaged the file system (i'm not very gifted) or my daughter has "caught" glitterware that proved very difficult to remove.
    Updating windows and software updates under Windows in general is an aggravating thing, even with update disabled. Several programs still attempt to do updates anyway, usually right after boot up.
    Absolutely No software with 3 month trial licence that can't be cleanly uninstalled later (also on your "factory" rescue disk).
    Reading my post shows that I need some couching here. Obviously, a minimalist console only distro as a base might be a Spartan choice because of the time factor for searching hardware solutions, dependency issues etc. After all hardware detection and installation needs to be done too and is included in the "larger distros". Which one of the dozens of distros would come closest to being minimal but an excellent starting point to build on?
    Here is a problem I have run in and I would like to know how an experienced Linux user would go about to fix:
    Both distros Fedora and Debian had the same media player pre installed. Neither distro was able to play movies. Fedora would show the picture with no sound (after trying most options in setup) and under debian no sound and no picture. The dvd player starts up, black screen and displays a file/name of 22 seconds (status bar) and then stops. I then downloaded and installed Miro, VLC and Banashee on the debian distro, all installed with no errors. The result is the same. No movie, no error messages. I tried 5-6 different movies, same result. I then tryed to burn a iso image to DVD with Brasero and it was successful, dvd would boot up. Next I played music CD's on both distros, Fedora played as expected, Debian no sound no error messages (Volume on max). A short google suggested it might be a codex issue for the dvd/movie? I also suspect an audio driver issue on the debian installation. Note: The debian (latest download 7.3 iso +net) is installed on the hard drive and fedora is installed on a USB stick. Computer and hardware is the same for both cases.
    What diagnostics could I run or what steps could I take to narrow down a problem like this? Keep in mind, I'm planning to switch 4 computers with 4 different sets of hardware and I anticipate that soft ware will run on one platform but not on the other or some hardware might not be supported at all. I try to develop sound strategies to solve problems as per the motto: give a man a fish and he will live another day, teach a man to fish and he will never hunger again.
    Thanks for your suggestions

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. Until you get familiar with linux, I would recommend that you start with an Ubuntu or Debian based distro. These have a large software repository, and plenty of forums and help available. You can read about and download different distro's at distrowatch.com. The top 100 distro's are listed on the right hand side of the page, below the ads, and they have a search feature which lets you select diffferent criteria, such as Ubuntu based, older hardware, etc. Select several distro's and burn live cd/dvd's of them for testing.
    Registered Linux user #526930

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    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard! Glad to have you join us!

    If you still happen to have Fedora installed, try taking a look here. Probably the best page I've ever come across for configuring Fedora for your everyday usage.
    The Debian Wiki is also quite extensive, so good info will be had there, as well.

    As far as getting a
    minimalist console only distro as a base
    you have the right idea on Debian. A minimal install will give you a base to build from. But you might also look to Slackware, Arch, CRUX and Gentoo for this. But they are, admittedly, aimed more at advanced users.
    Jay

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    Linux Engineer docbop's Avatar
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    Mint or Ubuntu are the two distro most geared for users coming from Windows so you might want to trying one of those first. Plus you still can open a terminal so you can study Linux under the hood to build admin skills. If you really want a barebones install then Debian you can do a text install and there is an option to select basic groups of packages to install so you can get lean and mean, but again as a noobie I would not worry about lean right now and focus on building Linux/Unix skills first.

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    On tracking down video and audio player issues: open a terminal and run the app from the command line. Examine text output. Also - open a second term and watch what's happening in the syslog with 'tail -f /var/log/syslog'. Hope this helps.

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    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    I'd recommend Debian. Mint and Ubuntu "hold your hand" too much in my opinion. They effectively protect you from having to know what's under the bonnet. Debian is absolutely mainstream; it doesn't require expertise like Slackware or Gentoo but it isn't aggressively newbie-friendly either. And it comes in three varieties with regard to newness: if you like using the latest bleeding edge software you can try Debian Unstable, if you are paranoid about software breaking, you use Stable, if you're inbetween, you use Testing.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"
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    for me i switched to mint after unity.

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    Thank y'all for your posts.
    Jimboballard, I did what you suggested and I find that the libdvdcss library is missing. I have downloaded a source package and will attempt to build the library in the next few days. <<Had a crazy few weeks and no time to play around much>>. Hazel, you are speaking my mind. I'm not out for an easy at all cost system. I want system that runs only the software I use on a daily basis, the least number of services needed etc. This in itself would reduce the number of security risks in the system. Better security is also on my agenda.
    What makes a Red hat distro different from a Debian or Slackware? <looking through the 100+ distros I notice all are based on something. I conclude that there aren't many different Linux kernels out there. At least not in the major 2o distros?
    The next question is somewhat hypothetical. If I were starting with a bare minimal distro based on a Debian kernel, how difficult would it be to graft a software package that is not designed to run on a Debian kernel, on this minimal distro. I assume all dependencies could be established.

    Some packages can be obtained that are built to run on a Debian distro and from the same source there is a package available to run on Fedora. Where and how do these packages differ?

  10. #9
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    The common factor for all Linux distributions is the kernel. After that, anyone can do whatever s/he wants. Debian is a good choice, 2nd oldest distribution still currently being developed (right behind Slackware) and both very stable. One of the major differences is the method of installing software. The major distributions generally have their own repositories from which you download software which makes the likelihood of incompatible or problematic software much less. The package managers for different distros (Debian/Fedora) are different and usually not compatible. You are always better off using the distributions repositories to download software rather than a third party site so you don't end up with incompatibilities.

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    Just Joined! sidzen's Avatar
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    Just to add to yancek's reply, take a look at
    linuxforums.org/forum/linux-tutorials-howtos-reference-material/64958-how-install-software-linux.html
    FYI

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