Best distro for newbies?

Best distro for newbies?

Post by SepticTa » Sun, 06 Apr 2003 08:05:27



I own a computer shop and am toying with the idea of offering low-end
systems running Linux for users who just wish to get on the
internet/browse the web (ala like the Lindows PCs at Walmart).  Deep
down I know it's probably more trouble than it's worth, but might work
well for gaining attention in the community and will help my learning
of Linux.

Anyway, I am looking for a distribution of Linux that's fairly "easy"
to set up and configure for internet access.  The hardware that it wil
be running on is a simple VIA KLE133 or PLE133 chipset (integrated
audio, video, LAN) with a Duron or Celeron processor and a Conexant
based software modem.

What I plan to do is set these machines up to be able to get on the
net and that's basically it.  It's up to the user to explore learning
the OS.  If they*it up, the only support that we'll provide is a
ghosting back over of the original set up, etc.

Thanks for any input on this.

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by Patrick McDonnel » Sun, 06 Apr 2003 11:00:34



> I own a computer shop and am toying with the idea of offering low-end
> systems running Linux for users who just wish to get on the
> internet/browse the web (ala like the Lindows PCs at Walmart).  Deep
> down I know it's probably more trouble than it's worth, but might work
> well for gaining attention in the community and will help my learning
> of Linux.

> Anyway, I am looking for a distribution of Linux that's fairly "easy"
> to set up and configure for internet access.  The hardware that it wil
> be running on is a simple VIA KLE133 or PLE133 chipset (integrated
> audio, video, LAN) with a Duron or Celeron processor and a Conexant
> based software modem.

> What I plan to do is set these machines up to be able to get on the
> net and that's basically it.  It's up to the user to explore learning
> the OS.  If they*it up, the only support that we'll provide is a
> ghosting back over of the original set up, etc.

> Thanks for any input on this.

Download a couple and see what they're like.  Then, pick one or two you
think would be best for your needs, and purchase it so that the user can
have the manual, etc.  A good start would be Mandrake, which is fairly
simple to configure.  Its best to stay away from distros like slackware,
gentoo or debian.

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by Shawn Mi » Sun, 06 Apr 2003 22:48:28


The very best distro for newbies is Xandros, hands down.  I'm actually
writing a review of it which should be published today on Linurati.net
and today or tomorrow on Distrowatch.com.

Short version:  More things "just work" in Xandros than in any other
distribution.  I'm talking about sound card, wheel mouse, wireless
networking, connecting to Windows shared drives, sound cards, X
configuration, and that sort of thing.

Before it looks like I've gone soft, Slackware is still my favorite
distro.  I respect it and enjoy it.  But with Slackware, I have to
figure out how to make things work, thus increasing my knowledge and
confidence.  Xandros, on the other hand, "just works".  This makes it
ideal for newbies, or for your stable desktop system where you keep
your e-mail and files, while you mess around with other distros on
other computers for fun.

When I first started with linux (it's been almost three years, now), I
would download and try just about every distro I heard of.  I would
install it and then, inevitably, get stuck.  I loved the philosophy of
linux, and the friendliness and support of the linux community.  But,
I would always get stuck on not being able to get something working,
and I'd end up booting back into Windows, just to do whatever I was
trying to do in linux.

These days, I still download and install distros regularly.  The
difference is, I can usually figure out how to get things working.
But, when I get tired of the distro, or get stuck, I now sneak back to
Xandros.

So, give it a try.  For $39.95, you can't go wrong.  I've spent double
that on SuSE, and similar amounts on boxed versions of Mandrake, and
purchasing Xandros was the best value for my money I've ever spent on
a Linux distro.

If you try it and want to tell us what you think, or if anyone has
questions/comments about Xandros, check out their website or ask me in
this group. (www.xandros.com)

Shawn Milo

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by Paul Emmon » Sat, 24 May 2003 14:30:11


Quote:>Short version:  More things "just work" in Xandros than in any other
>distribution.  I'm talking about sound card, wheel mouse, wireless
>networking, connecting to Windows shared drives, sound cards, X
>configuration, and that sort of thing.

That sounds like a blessing indeed.  My experience with Mandrake 7.2
and 8.2 has been less than gratifying.  I've spent hours of
frustration both on my own and bothering other people, and my system
still only recognizes half of my RAM, refuses to use its swap
partition, and (worst of all) I'm still totally incommunicado: it
can't find my plain-vanilla U.S. Robotics Sportster external modem
connected to COM1.  (I'm writing this under Windows).  Many other
people have had this last problem, as well, which sorta leaves
Mandrake in the dust behind MS-DOS 2.0.

However, if and when I get a Linux functioning properly, I want to use
it for programming, and I've read that Xandros is not oriented to this
purpose: many of the most important tools are omitted, even gcc and
emacs.

If this is true, please tell me at least that they can be fairly
easily added.  If all I wanted to do was point and click my way around
a browser and a spreadsheet, I'd never be interested in getting away
from Window$.

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by Shawn Mil » Sat, 24 May 2003 19:48:14



>>Short version:  More things "just work" in Xandros than in any other
>>distribution.  I'm talking about sound card, wheel mouse, wireless
>>networking, connecting to Windows shared drives, sound cards, X
>>configuration, and that sort of thing.

> That sounds like a blessing indeed.  My experience with Mandrake 7.2
> and 8.2 has been less than gratifying.  I've spent hours of
> frustration both on my own and bothering other people, and my system
> still only recognizes half of my RAM, refuses to use its swap
> partition, and (worst of all) I'm still totally incommunicado: it
> can't find my plain-vanilla U.S. Robotics Sportster external modem

How much RAM do you have, and what type?

What does your /etc/fstab look like?

Are you sure you have a swap partition?  Type 82, under Linux fdisk or
cfdisk.

It may not display the modem anywhere in the Control Center or anything
like that.  Just try to configure the dialer using /dev/ttyS0 or
/dev/ttyS1 (look this stuff up, it's been a couple of years since I've
had dial-up).

Quote:> connected to COM1.  (I'm writing this under Windows).  Many other
> people have had this last problem, as well, which sorta leaves
> Mandrake in the dust behind MS-DOS 2.0.

> However, if and when I get a Linux functioning properly, I want to use
> it for programming, and I've read that Xandros is not oriented to this
> purpose: many of the most important tools are omitted, even gcc and
> emacs.

> If this is true, please tell me at least that they can be fairly
> easily added.  If all I wanted to do was point and click my way around
> a browser and a spreadsheet, I'd never be interested in getting away
> from Window$.

Xandros is based on Debian, so if you learn a little bit about apt-get,
you should have no trouble installing compilers, etc.  Also, I just
checked, and gcc is available in binary form, so you wouldn't have to
have a compiler to install it.

Also, I'm sure that you have been mislead -- gcc is included in Xandros
-- at least if you do a full install.  If you read my HOWTO about
getting encrpted DVDs to play at Linurati.net, you will see that the
instructions use the ".configure, make, make install" steps, which, in
my understanding, is using gcc.  I could be wrong -- I'm a web
programmer, not a C programmer.

Hope this helps.  I think that we can get you up and running, if you
keep asking questions and the rest of us can help you figure it out.

Shawn

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by Paul Emmon » Sun, 25 May 2003 16:42:25


Dear Shawn,

Thank you for trying to help.  Someone on the Mandrake newsgroup is
working on the swap partition problem already-- when I check that
group again maybe the solution is already there.  It turns out that,
for whatever reason,  fstab shows the swap partition as hda5, and
fdisk shows what I intended to be the swap partition as hda3, but it's
not the right format type.  So I think we're making progress there.

The memory problem is still peculiar, however.  

This is some info about the RAM, lifted straight from the Gateway
support site:

128-MB 133/100/66-MHz 64-Bit 4-Clock SDRAM DIMM

Having only 64K recognized doesn't seem to be much of a problem, even
without a swap partition working, because I'm hardly a power user yet.
But usually RPMDrake grinds down to a halt and stays there when I'm
trying to add one or more packages.  I've stopped using it and just
use RPM at the command line or click on a single RPM icon in
Konqueror.  Perhaps the lack of enough memory is the cause of this.

I have not wanted to complain about the modem problem until I have
re-read some old messages I saved about the issue and familiarized
myself with the advice and what I tried to do several months ago.  I
know that few Winmodems can be expected to work with Linux, but this
is just a simple external modem at least five years old.  

If we could work on the RAM problem first (even though it isn't the
most bothersome) I'd like that.

Thanks again for helping!

Paul




>>>Short version:  More things "just work" in Xandros than in any other
>>>distribution.  I'm talking about sound card, wheel mouse, wireless
>>>networking, connecting to Windows shared drives, sound cards, X
>>>configuration, and that sort of thing.

>> That sounds like a blessing indeed.  My experience with Mandrake 7.2
>> and 8.2 has been less than gratifying.  I've spent hours of
>> frustration both on my own and bothering other people, and my system
>> still only recognizes half of my RAM, refuses to use its swap
>> partition, and (worst of all) I'm still totally incommunicado: it
>> can't find my plain-vanilla U.S. Robotics Sportster external modem

>How much RAM do you have, and what type?

>What does your /etc/fstab look like?

>Are you sure you have a swap partition?  Type 82, under Linux fdisk or
>cfdisk.

>It may not display the modem anywhere in the Control Center or anything
>like that.  Just try to configure the dialer using /dev/ttyS0 or
>/dev/ttyS1 (look this stuff up, it's been a couple of years since I've
>had dial-up).

>> connected to COM1.  (I'm writing this under Windows).  Many other
>> people have had this last problem, as well, which sorta leaves
>> Mandrake in the dust behind MS-DOS 2.0.

>> However, if and when I get a Linux functioning properly, I want to use
>> it for programming, and I've read that Xandros is not oriented to this
>> purpose: many of the most important tools are omitted, even gcc and
>> emacs.

>> If this is true, please tell me at least that they can be fairly
>> easily added.  If all I wanted to do was point and click my way around
>> a browser and a spreadsheet, I'd never be interested in getting away
>> from Window$.

>Xandros is based on Debian, so if you learn a little bit about apt-get,
>you should have no trouble installing compilers, etc.  Also, I just
>checked, and gcc is available in binary form, so you wouldn't have to
>have a compiler to install it.

>Also, I'm sure that you have been mislead -- gcc is included in Xandros
>-- at least if you do a full install.  If you read my HOWTO about
>getting encrpted DVDs to play at Linurati.net, you will see that the
>instructions use the ".configure, make, make install" steps, which, in
>my understanding, is using gcc.  I could be wrong -- I'm a web
>programmer, not a C programmer.

>Hope this helps.  I think that we can get you up and running, if you
>keep asking questions and the rest of us can help you figure it out.

>Shawn

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by Joe Zef » Wed, 28 May 2003 09:41:23




Quote:>128-MB 133/100/66-MHz 64-Bit 4-Clock SDRAM DIMM

>Having only 64K recognized doesn't seem to be much of a problem, even
>without a swap partition working, because I'm hardly a power user yet.

If you're using LILO, you may need an append statement in lilo.conf.
If not, whatever loader you do use will probably have the equivalent.
Check man $LOADERNAME for details.

--
Joe Zeff
     The Guy With the Sideburns
*y kids these days! - Give 'em a logic probe & they wouldn't know
where to stick it.
http://www.veryComputer.com/ http://www.veryComputer.com/~sidebrnz

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by lcoe » Thu, 29 May 2003 08:38:38



>>Short version:  More things "just work" in Xandros than in any other
>>distribution.  I'm talking about sound card, wheel mouse, wireless
>>networking, connecting to Windows shared drives, sound cards, X
>>configuration, and that sort of thing.

> That sounds like a blessing indeed.  My experience with Mandrake 7.2
> and 8.2 has been less than gratifying.  I've spent hours of
> frustration both on my own and bothering other people, and my system
> still only recognizes half of my RAM, refuses to use its swap
> partition, and (worst of all) I'm still totally incommunicado: it
> can't find my plain-vanilla U.S. Robotics Sportster external modem

Don't blame Mandrake.  when i installed Slackware in 1995, it was
considered the "best" release, but it took some doing to get the
printer to print, that was the "test" for a newbie.  but at the
same time, as you overcame all of the "hurdles", you _learned_.

Quote:> connected to COM1.  (I'm writing this under Windows).  Many other
> people have had this last problem, as well, which sorta leaves
> Mandrake in the dust behind MS-DOS 2.0.
> However, if and when I get a Linux functioning properly, I want to use
> it for programming, and I've read that Xandros is not oriented to this
> purpose: many of the most important tools are omitted, even gcc and
> emacs.

it used to be possible, and practical, to install linux on a msdos
partition.  it should work as well or better on today's hardware.
this doesn't seem to get much coverage now, but it s/b a _very_
good path to "wade" in to linux,  ymmv.   --Loren
Quote:> If this is true, please tell me at least that they can be fairly
> easily added.  If all I wanted to do was point and click my way around
> a browser and a spreadsheet, I'd never be interested in getting away
> from Window$.

 
 
 

Best distro for newbies?

Post by TONY » Tue, 03 Jun 2003 23:33:47


Quote:

> However, if and when I get a Linux functioning properly, I want to use
> it for programming, and I've read that Xandros is not oriented to this
> purpose: many of the most important tools are omitted, even gcc and
> emacs.

> If this is true, please tell me at least that they can be fairly
> easily added.  If all I wanted to do was point and click my way around
> a browser and a spreadsheet, I'd never be interested in getting away
> from Window$.

Once you have linux upand running adding any development software should
be a breeze with nearly any distro, really.  I have no experience with
Xandros, but did use Corel Linux for a while (Xandros bought it from
Corel and developed theirs on top of it.)
I use Redhat and have for some time.
Redhat will come with lotso dev packages, recognizes most hardware
painlessly and is relatively simple to install and configure for newbies
(I've been using linux for little over a year, tried a few distros at
first and have stuck with RH since 7.2).
I recommend Psyche, RH 8.0, over Shrike, RH9.

tony

http://www.school-library.net
Freedom to Learn!

 
 
 

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