Mar. 25th, 2007 05:34 pm
memevector: (Default)
[personal profile] memevector
Thanks to a couple of nudges in the right direction by [ profile] lovingboth, I'm now seriously looking at having Linux as my main OS on the new PC. Hurrah!

::exuberant metaphorical happy dances::

I am now part way up what feels like a fairly enormous, though exhilarating, Linux-centred learning curve.

I will shortly have a choice to make of which flavour, and I would welcome clues and opinions!

Factors I have in mind:

1) Hardware communications. This is a bit of a two-way thing: as I'm yet to buy the bits for the PC, I can choose a Linux distro and then check which hardware works with it, as well as having my eye on which distros work best with the hardware I'm thinking of.

However, good cooperation with wide varieties of hardware would certainly be a plus. In particular, is there much of a variation in their ability to cope with SATA hard drives or DVD-RWs?

Under the same heading, Printer drivers. We currently have two printers, a HP LaserJet 4P (parallel port) and a Canon BJC6500 (USB1.1). As is probably obvious, they're both ancient in computing terms. Is there much variation among Linux distros in terms of which has the drivers for what? Or is that only an issue for new devices just out?

2) Possibility of same Linux version on different machines. Ideally, I'd pick a version which is also available for PowerPC Mac. Then we could use the same one for W's Mac laptop (which we plan to switch at the same time), for economy of learning-curves.

There's also a chance I might one day bother setting up a Psion 5 to run Linux. This site says Debian Sarge works for that. But the Psion idea is only a minor factor, mainly because I might not ever even get around to doing it.

3) oXygen. It's a strong possibility that I'll get that as my new main writing app.

(because XML is the future!! Or not as the case may be. But at any rate I'm a big fan of it, partly because it's designed to be transmutable into whatever is the future.)

oXygen wants, I quote, "An official and stable Java VM version 1.4.2 or later from Sun Microsystems". (Some other Javas might work but aren't officially supported.) I'm not quite clear yet whether that has any implications for the Linux distro. It evidently doesn't have major ones, as you can add the Java bit afterwards, but I don't know if some Linuxes would arrive with that Java VM already, which seems like it would be handy.

4) An inclination towards stability and "Things that work properly" as opposed to "New toy that's so poised on the narrowest cutting edge, it falls over".

5) Which versions you lot are running, in case I'm back here asking for more clues later :-)

Comments welcome, on any of those factors or any other crucial ones which I in my newbie stage have completely missed.

Thanks in advance again, o wise readers!

Eeeeeee! (::excitement::)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-25 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I use Ubuntu, it's user friendly and works as a Live CD, so you can check if it'll support your hardware before installing. HP released a driver to the linux development community allowing them to extend and improve it as long as its only ever used for HP printers, because of this just about every flavour of linux will support HP printers really well.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-25 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just wrote a lengthy and informative comment which LJ promptly ate. In summary (google will fill in the gaps):

SATA - should be okay in recent kernels, unless someone knows otherwise. I'm a luddite and sticking with PATA until there's a good reason to make half my hardware incompatible with the other half.

Printers - see and google for model number + name of potential distro. Postscript lasers are trivial. HP are nice. I think Epsons are well supported too. Oldness is generally desirable.

PowerPC - Debian and Ubuntu support this, probably others too.

Java - Licensing issues mean the Sun JVM probably won't be there out of the box, but installing it isn't usually too painful. Worst case you decompress an archive to a convenient bit of the filesystem and point some environment variables at it manually.

Stability - Ubuntu is roughly "Debian Testing" with actual updates and patches. This is roughly optimal for a desktop system. See also Ubuntu 6.06 with Long Term Support. Debian Stable, though rock solid, is so old it's going to frustrate you with ancient versions of Firefox and so on. For servers and specialist applications only.

Geeks like Debian, and Debian-based distros are much the same under the cover. Bear in mind, however, that J Random Debian Geek, on asked how to do X, will be completely ignorant of the shiny Ubuntu (or similar) GUI tool for installing and configuring X in 20 seconds, and may lead you round the houses at the command line. Their advice will probably still work, though. I find myself doing this a lot on my own system.

Other Distributions Are Available.

I've been using Linux for years on headless server boxes, but until recently Windows on the desktop. My desktop experience of Linux is therefore somewhat limited compared to others who will be reading.


*copies to clipboard, crosses fingers, clicks 'post'*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-25 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aslo, to make things clear, I'm using Ubuntu on the desktop, hence the Ubuntu-centricity of the above.

Audio/video codecs and so on are in much the same situation as the Sun JVM. There's a nice program called 'automatix' that installs all the conspicuously absent stuff on Ubuntu with minimal fuss.

The Ubuntu live CD is *slow* when compared to other live CD distributions like Knoppix. I attribute this to a lack of otimisation for live running in what is fundamentally an install CD. Ubuntu runs perfectly well once installed to hard disk.

Kubuntu is Ubuntu with a load of KDE desktop applications instead of all the Gnome ones. See also Xubuntu. It is possible to have all the Kubuntu and Ubuntu packages on the same system (should one user prefer KDE, another Gnome). It is also possible to be running a Gnome desktop and install and run a specific KDE package that you need to use, or vice-versa. The package manager will Do The Right Thing and install whatever KDE libraries etc are required to run it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-25 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And most importantly, a machine built to run Linux will run Windows without a headache, as everything has Windows drivers. Vice-versa does not always apply. Selecting hardware with Linux compatibility in mind is therefore a Good Thing.

Dual-boot is viable if your need for specific applications doesn't overlap (eg. all your music stuff runs under Windows, everything else Linux). Otherwise you're forever having to reboot, and ensure you haven't left files on a filesystem that Windows can't read. To minimise pain when setting up a dual-boot system, install Windows first, leaving unpartitioned space for Linux.

Consider VMWare or equivilant if your Windows requirements aren't too hardwarey. WINE sometimes works.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-25 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There is a windows app called explore2fs which lets windows read Linux filesystems, and since I run all my machines dual boot, I find it saves a lot of the rebooting I used to do.

I use Ubuntu too, after 10 years of plain Debian. It has installed beautifully easily on all the PCs and laptops we have in our house (6 or 7). No serious hardware incompatibilities yet. The days when it used to take a lot of very technical fiddling to install Linux seem to have gone!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-25 07:14 pm (UTC)
the_borderer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_borderer
I'm another Ubuntu user (currently using 7.04 beta, I started with 5.10) and agree with most of what has already been said. If you aren't already familiar with either Gnome or KDE it might be worth trying both the Ubuntu and Kubuntu live CDs to find out which feels better for you.

There won't be a PowerPC version of Ubuntu 7.04 (due for release next month). Ubuntu 6.06LTS will be officially supported for another four years though (6.10 will only has support and updates for another year).

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-26 10:13 am (UTC)
ext_40378: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Re: 5) There is also an active Linux Users Group in Nottingham and the council were looking at moving to Linux a few years ago so you can probably find local support as well as on the net.

I run Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, Scientific Linux (a free Red Hat clone), SuSE and have looked at others.


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