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Re: Possibly stupid newbie questions

Rohan.Nicholls@informaat.nl said:
> I am finally making the plunge into Linux after various false attempts
> over the last couple of years.

> >From the development work I have been doing that Debian is the best
> distribution for me however I would like some advice... 

Debian is made by developers for developers (mainly). It is the most stable 
distribution I know of, has great support for upgrading and installing 
packages, but is also the hardest to install.

While with Mandrake the installation is easier than with Windows (in my 
opinion), I have spent lots of hours reading HOWTO files etc. for Debian, and 
it still doesn't do everything I want.

So it depends on your goals. I chose Debian, because once it runs it runs 
really well, but mainly because of the ease of installing any of the many 
packages that are available for it.

I still have Mandrake on one distribution, and try to migrate to Debian slowly.

However, if you are new to Debian, I would recommend you to start with the 
"stable" version e.g. "potato", also called GNU/Debian 2.2R4 at the moment, 
because you get the least surprises.

Note that I just wrote an article on this mailing list saying that everything 
newer than the 2.2.18pre21 kernel, which came with Debian 2.2R2 did not work 
for my pcmcia network card D-Link-650.

Rohan.Nicholls@informaat.nl said:
> 1. Is the hardware support completely to do with the linux kernel, and
> so the same across all the distros, or do certain distros have more or
> less support for hardware according to their business rules?  e.g. If
> Red Hat had a deal with Dell would they be developing drivers of their
> own to give that support?

Debian supports most devices other distributions support too, as long as the 
drivers are free software. This said, some distributions do a much better job 
than Debian in automatically detecting and configuring such hardware. In 
Debian you end up doing a lot of this manually, and reading HOWTO files ...

Rohan.Nicholls@informaat.nl said:
> 2. Does Debian have a different Lilo than Red Hat, because it seemed
> to have no problem booting into itself in a somewhat crippled mode,
> even though the boot(root) partition is on the end of the disk rather
> than the beginning, and Red Hat refuses to do this because of the 1024
> cylinder rule, so I am using a boot disk.

The lilo version might be different. Older versions of lilo do not support 
more than 1024 cylinders, newer ones do, if the BIOS can handle it too. Your 
RedHat version of lilo might be older than the Debian one. You could simply 
install a newer lilo on RedHat.

Rohan.Nicholls@informaat.nl said:
> 3. Stupid I know, but I have wiped out the boot sector on the hard
> disk, is there anyway to get lilo to recreate itself on the boot disk
> using a script of my choosing...

You can use the Debian CD you used for installing Debian, boot with it and at 
the prompt press F3, for instructions on how to do a rescue boot.
Should then be something like typing:
rescue root=/dev/hda2
assuming your root partition is on /dev/hda2. Replace by whatever it is really.

Then you can edit /etc/lilo.conf to your needs (read the lilo documentation), 
then run lilo (installing it into the MBR) and you should be all set.

The lilo file would look something like:

# for large hard disk:

# for booting from MBR (I assume again that your first drive is /dev/hda)


# edit /boot/bootmess.txt to give you a reasonable prompt,
# for example saying:
# enter "l" or "w"


# the default image by label name

# your favourite linux kernel:

# your other OS

--- end of file

Don't forget to run lilo before you reboot! Editing the lilo.conf file alone 
will do nothing.

Rohan.Nicholls@informaat.nl said:
> 4. Did I do something wrong with the installation.  Because I have
> adsl at home, so I am pretty sure that during installation i would not
> have access to the internet, I downloaded the disk images, and
> insatalled off the cds, and it seemed to go well except I guess I did
> not know enough, and although I got the command line, the x-server
> could not be configured, nor the ethernet card. 

If the network card was not recognized or not selected during installation, 
then the network will remain unconfigured.

I have no idea why your x-server did not get configured. Do you know your 
graphics card? Also: get first the network stuff figured out!
The newer XFree4 is easier to install than the older XFree3, though on some 
cards it is really different.

Rohan.Nicholls@informaat.nl said:
> 5. It has occured to me to just stay with Red Hat until I have more
> experience with Linux before diving into Debian, is this a good
> thought or have I missed some basic information, and the rest will be
> easy? 

Perhaps staying with RedHat will be easier. I had the same thought about 
trying Mandrake 8.1 first. It installs really easily etc. However, I already 
mentioned some of the reasons why I changed my mind. What do you want to do 
with your GNU/Linux box?

- Josef

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