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Re: Help with Linux selection please?

Mike McCarty wrote:
Chinook wrote:

Hmm, just looked this over. I hope it isn't overkill/too long/
confusing. I might point out that as far as *using* Linux, there's
very little difference between distros. It's in *system admin*
where they differ from each other, mostly.  ...

Not at all - interesting. Basically what is dawning on me. I've been off reading all the Debian info and just got back to my email.

There is a multitude of Linux distros out there. You haven't really
given a list of requirements, but I'll start out a little list here

(1) Not a LiveCD, want to boot/run from hard disc
(2) Not reduced feature set, this is not a server
    want to try a GUI
(3) I have a reasonably new processor, so I'm not trying
    to make it run on a 486, I have a relatively new BIOS
    and can boot from CD
A system I had built several years ago - basics:
Processor    x86 Family 15 Model 2 Stepping 4 GenuineIntel ~2519 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date Intel Corp. MV85010A.86A.0025.P10.0203282158, 3/28/2002
Intel(R) 82850/82860 Processor to AGP Controller - 2532
(4) I do/do not want to do my own support (with the help
    of mail echoes or whatever)
Do, with a question here and there when I stick my foot in it :-)

I'm familiar with ...

Good synopsis - thanks for the effort. Being in my latter years and seeing the current swing of histories undefeatable cycles, especially the excesses of the suits (as in the last stage of the software cycle), I try to stick to paying the craftsman directly when needed.

1) My wife will be using it for documents and communication. I'm sure OpenOffice will satisfy the documents use, and she prefers Thunderbird and Firefox for communications. Oh yes, she says she has to have her card games :<))

Any distro with X and either GNOME or KDE will run whatever you want.
I use GNOME as the window manager, others like KDE. You can start
flame wars on nearly any Linux mail echo by criticising either, or
promoting either. ...

Been trying to avoid contention because it's counter-productive :-) I'll probably go with GNOME for what little the wife ("she who must be obeyed") needs, and use mostly Terminal and the GNUstep GUI myself.

As far as games, GNOME and KDE both come with a game set, but either
can load and run games written for the other, in my experience anyway.

Good to know - thanks.

2) I mainly play at (I'm supposedly retired) software development on my PMac G5 using ObjC/Cocoa. I would like to be able to expand into the Linux world using GNUstep.

Sorry, those words mean nothing to me. I'm an OS and Telecom man, so
I just don't know what they are, and probably can't advise on that

My "baby" is a Dual 2.5 Power Mac G5 running OS X (10.4.3). My choice of programming languages is Objective-C (the Object Oriented superset of C) and Cocoa is the developer Foundation (predefined and implemented OO classes for "standard" functionality) on OS X. GNUstep is roughly the equivalent for *nix.

So, a combination of a simple home system and one on which an old SE can keep his head busy :-) I'm comfortable using Unix, but have had no experience using Linux.

Well, if you're an old had at UNIX, then Linux will be like "same song,
second verse", EXCEPT...

Being an experienced UNIX software developer (as I am) is *not* the
same thing as being an experienced Sys Admin. It took me months before
I learned enough to be fairly certain that I knew what needed to be
backed up, and what did not.

Understood, thanks.

There is fairly vigorous debate over
what tools even to use. There are, for example, three basic schools
of thought: dump/restore, tar, and cpio. Each camp has its fans,
which are also detractors for the other two. (There's also the
rsync bunch, but I consider that a non-answer, as it simply places
the burden for backup on another machine.)

I wrote the article:

Anyway, you'll have to learn how to administer a machine, which is
quite different from using it. There are log files which must be
purged from time to time. Then there is /etc/fstab which is a world
of its own. User management is much less of an issue, though I'd
certainly have separate user names for each one using the machine.

I knew it would be an issue to resolve, but didn't know to what length I'd have to go to resolve it. On OS X the chore is basically down to three periodic scripts that run automatically. Of course such does not cover the users that trash parts of their /System directory so they will have more room for iTunes :-(((

Though it may be as unneeded as on a Mac, I'll want to include ClamAV or an equivalent. Some sort of firewall would also be a consideration, as well as a volume cloning tool for backup and whatever system maintenance tools might be appropriate. Maybe I'll even have more luck keeping it networked with my Mac than I had with XP.

Do you plan to run a web server? Do you have wideband access? If
you don't want a web server and you have wideband, then I recommend
getting a router for your firewall put between your etherport and
your modem, and set the router up so that all ports on the WAN side are
stealthed except for the e-mail challenge port, which I'd close.
D-Link makes a nice one with that as the default. Do this even if
you only have one computer.

No web server - my dotMac account (1GB) is more than enough "internet" space for me.

I already use a Belkin for my LAN and DSL sharing.

There is a variety of tools, but there is also controversy over
which ones to use. Many of the commercial tools look to me to
be wrappers around standard UNIX tools, like tar or cpio.
What I have done is write me a little script which uses tar
to create a compressed archive, which I then burn to CD. So far,
I've not had to split one across CDs. One question you'll have
is "what do I need to back up?" I suggest getting and reading
a copy of the file system hierarchy standard, which provides
a rationale for where to put things. It'll be helpful for
figuring out what needs to be backed up, as most Linux
distro's come somewhat close to following its recommendations.
Try http://www.pathname.com/fhs/

Good suggestion, though my thought was just cloning to an external HD. I'm familiar with the Unix tools (as you might note from the article).

I use K3b to do the burning. I used to use xcdroast, but K3b
is (for me at least) much more intuitive.

Whatever you do about backup ...


I'm not sure what you mean by "volume cloning". The standard UNIX tool
is rsync, but there is also some sort of ghost clone (I am not
really familiar with ghost, and don't do that sort of stuff anyway, so
my advice here is pretty weak.)

Like Norton Ghost on Windows or Apple's "asr" Unix tool - I think I can work it out.

One possibility (and one I recommend, actually) is to get LiveCDs and
run off them for a while. That way, you can try out some stuff and
see what you like. Try http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php

With MS's weekly so-called security updates and other issues, I decided to put my time to better use and just expunge XP. OT: The last time I took the PC in for servicing they wanted to run software to "detect" malware/etc. I told them the only malicious software on the PC was W<snip>

Any comments are appreciated.

Well, HTH.

Thank you,
Lee C


Thanks for all the time and effort you put in trying to keep me pointed in the right direction.

An thank you Kelly for the additional comments.

Lee C

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