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Geek its like Greek, but without the R.

Ok.. so *ahem*


*listens for the hordes of screaming and thundering as people run the hell away from this post*

Still with me? Ok good.

I've been thinking about installing some form of Linux on my machine. Its a 64bit machine, so really thats the best way to get things to work at full speed (WinXP is 32bit only). However I have no idea what version/flavour I should install.

Ubuntu? Gentoo? Fedora? For all I know McHippy's Fried Happy Shacks might do a GREAT version of it, but I have no idea. Plus, while I'd be running it as a dual boot, actually using software is a prime concern. I'm a photoshop junkie, I need this program. Will it work under something like WINE? I have no idea.

Can I use my USB modem in Linux? Can I even connect to the lifeline that is the internet? These are the things I need to know.

So.. geeky people on my friends list. Talk to me, tell me about it. Tell your friends to come here. Link me. Do what you have to do, but educate me on Linux for the desktop, because the net is a vast ammount of white noise. Hopefully the stuff I learn here might help other people. Thats the beauty of the net. Talk to me.

Teach me oh geek lords.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
8th Mar, 2005 20:15 (UTC)
elmofromok just posted today about installing linux on his machine, go lookee. ;)
8th Mar, 2005 20:23 (UTC)
I did :) already commented.

His post kind of spurred me into action, as I've been thinking about it for a while, but I thought I'd drawn on the combined geekyness of everyone ;)

8th Mar, 2005 20:28 (UTC)
wish i could help out more, but i have no experience with installing or long term use of Linux.
8th Mar, 2005 21:11 (UTC)
I am about to try the photoshop wine thing.. I will let you know how that works out. I also gots to have my PS
8th Mar, 2005 21:40 (UTC)
What version of Photoshop? CS?
9th Mar, 2005 02:49 (UTC)
yeah, CS
9th Mar, 2005 15:54 (UTC)
Let me know how that goes.. because if it doesn't work then there is really no point for me...
8th Mar, 2005 22:33 (UTC)
Firstly, not sure why you're limiting yourself to Linux... other variations of Unix are also quite nice... such as Solaris (not as user friendly tho) and FreeBSD (free, like the name implies, and a good starter Unix flavor.)

But if you're going with Linux, I suggest you stick with RedHat - as it's probably the most standardized (ironic that) version of Linux out there, and it's a pretty easy learn.

Just my 2 cents.
8th Mar, 2005 23:04 (UTC)
Mostly because its more accessible to desktop newbs like myself. Also because I've yet to see a user friendly implementation of regular *nix.

two BIG factors in my choice - compatibility, and user friendlyness. Fedora looks good in that reguard. Like I said tho, no idea.
8th Mar, 2005 23:10 (UTC)
I've been running Linux full time for nearly five years now, much longer in general. I'm on Mandrake 10.0 Official now, I don't really have any need to jump to 10.1, but the 10.2 that's in Beta is supposed to have KDE compiled with some flags that should really increase app launch speed so I'll be going to that when it hits Official. I didn't really like Gentoo, although it could be because it was a nightmare to get working. Slackware is a bit much for the new convert who wants to actually be productive right away. It forces you to learn a lot (even when you really don't want to right at that moment) and it was my first distro, but I've never run it when I was only using Linux. Debian is a good choice, that was the first thing I tried on whispering_ibis's laptop via a Knoppix install (which is a good idea to try anyway to check for any major hardware compatibility issues). I only switched her over to Mandrake because Debian has a different "feel" I wasn't used to, and I was more comfortable supporting the same system I was on (and the wireless was easier to get working). Red Hat/Fedora Core is very similar to Mandrake, although I should say Mandrake is similar to them, since it's "based" on Red Hat. The problem with RH/FC is that RH costs money and Fedora is very bleeding edge. SuSe I don't really have any experience with, it has a pretty good rep but that's all I know. Of course there's a million "minor" distributions but I think I hit all the majors. I would recommend going with Mandrake or Debian (sarge).
As for your hardware working? "Probably". Without knowing the models I couldn't tell you. You can get an awful lot of hardware working with Linux. Unfortunately, only some of it is easy. Anything with a "Win-" in front of it will probably be a nightmare. Wireless can be a nightmare. Printing is hit or miss (linuxprinting.org is your friend). Scanning is mostly safe (SANE compatibility here but avoid Canon like the plague. Mandrake has a Hardware Compatibility List here, but it's by no means definitive. nVidia has very good (albeit closed) drivers here. ATI is notoriously bad about Linux drivers, but it looks like they're finally (as in today!) updated here. Mostly it's just about doing your research before you buy hardware. Usually just typing the hardware's model name/number and Linux into Google will get you what you need to know.
Finally, if you have some apps you just can't live without, check the WINE Application Database. It looks like Photoshop CS is a hassle, but version 7 will go pretty smoothly.

(Oh and you may have noticed I don't really use LJ, so if you need anything pass it through whispering_ibis to be sure I get it)
8th Mar, 2005 23:15 (UTC)
I'm a -huge- UNIX and Linux guy. You know this. It's what I do for a living and it's my hobby. I still say, on the desktop, Linux is completely fucking toss. Seriously. Don't bother. It's not even remotely mature enough of a desktop operating system to get work done easily and without hassle. Driver support is crap for many things.. OpenGL on Linux is an absolute joke. Also in my experience, as a whole, most programmers of which that program open source Linux apps have no ability in the realm of UI design.

All that being said, allow me to offer some suggestions:

Fedora I would recommend against simply because it's RedHat's bleeding edge desktop OS. That's where they test changes and new stuff before it goes into RedHat's Workstation and Server operating systems. Though, the pro to all this is that new stuff appears there generally first.

Debian is probably one of the worst desktop distributions. They haven't changed the latest version since 9600 baud was speedy. It's still using the 2.4 kernel for god sakes.

Solaris 10 has some amazing shit inside. dtrace, zones, zfs, the best memory management and SMP scheduling in the industry, etc... I personally love Solaris. It has been my UNIX of choice for quite a while. The problem with running this on the desktop is that while installing anything you'd grab on freshmeat is very possible, there are issues. Number one, you're going to be in download-compile-install dependency hell. Even with ports packages and basic GNU utils/libraries for Solaris, you're going to be spending a lot of time finding random dependencies. Also, the basic desktop interface installed by Solaris is something very similar to CDE of old. Granted, gnome is available, driver support is ass. Oh, yeah, and I hope you don't listen to music cause sound support isn't even there without third party packages.

Never touched Ubuntu. SuSE is pretty much debian with RPM. Slackware is well, slackware. It used to be -the- standard but that was about a decade ago. Nothing special.

Now we get to Gentoo. I think Gentoo is awesome. Driver support is about the best of any distribution. The install can be complicated and can take some time, but it's -very- customizable. You can either install precompiled binaries at install time or compile everything from scratch. That means an uber stable system and you can compile everything how you want. The documentation is just awesome. You can literally cut and paste from it to install. The best part about gentoo is the emerge package management system. You pick a server near your geographic location and install software with one command. Yeah, that's right. One command. It'll download the software, download any dependencies, compile all of that, and install it. Upgrades? Yup. Gotcha covered. Upgrade the entire system in one command. Choice of everything. Gentoo is about choice, stability, and customize-ability. It's my favorite.

If you really want a UNIX desktop though, I'd recommend an apple product. =D

Hope all this helps.
9th Mar, 2005 06:33 (UTC)
i knew you would comment oh linuxy one ;)
9th Mar, 2005 06:41 (UTC)
I wrote a bunch more but LJ cut me off with the posting limit. So, I cut it down to that.. figured Greg'd ask me questions if he had any ;]
8th Mar, 2005 23:37 (UTC)
Fedora or SuSe for out-of-the-box functionality, easy to set up and run.

I'd say the best distro for the newbie is the one that someone close at hand can help you with, Linux can have a steep learning curve, although I don't think you'll have a major problem with it.

Debian's what I used to run, though I'll be giving Gentoo a try when I build myself a new machine. Debian is a very strong and reliable distro with a massive support network, unfortunately it may test your patience to begin with - Debian tends to assume a certain level of UNIX familiarity on the part of the user.

Check WINE forums to see if Photoshop runs, although I would think it does - last I heard it wasn't a major problem. There is also The Gimp (www.gimp.org I think) which is an open source alternative to Photoshop, it boasts tremendous features but it's still a little lacking compared to Adobe's gem.

Your USB modem should be fine, it might be a pain tracking down the correct driver/module though. Most USB modems are easily supported in the recent kernels.

It's been a while since I've run Linux, really meaning to get back into it, just so frigging busy right now. Not sure if I answered any f your questions properly there but I'd say go for it. Try Fedora for now, if you don't like it you can always install a new distro on top.
9th Mar, 2005 16:10 (UTC)
After reading the comments here I'm going to sound like someone's retarded little brother, but the paradigm's shifted with 64-bit processors and I just don't know. It didn't occur to me to ask until you mentioned that XP is 32-bit only, and while I knew that I just never put two and two together: does this mean that running XP on a 64-bit processor is a waste of time? Not any faster than a comparable Intel chip unless you use an OS that takes advantage of 64-bit architecture?

I ask because a friend of mine is bugging me to build him a 64-bit desktop, and I'm not convinced that it's what he needs.
9th Mar, 2005 20:13 (UTC)
Its not a waste of time, as there will be SOME gains (the underlying architechture of a 64bit PC is MUCH faster), but not HUGE gains.

XP Pro 64bit should hit sometimes soon, but you have to remember that most of the software will still be 32bit. So it emulates 32bit, and while you will get a big speed boost it won't be the same as native 64 (but its quite close.. like 80% or more).

Really it depends on what your friend wants from the PC - if he wants a gaming rig then its worth it just because of PCI-Express and the future-proofing. Same with CAD or such.

64bit is long term planning right now - even if that long term is "within the next year or so".

example - using my new computer (which technically runs at 2/3 of the speed of my old 32bit chip) with a slightly better gfx card my 3dmark05 score went from ~300 to 2800! Thats basically because of PCI-Express and the CPU being 64bit.

Basically... what does your friend want?
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )