The dreaded Linux Thing...

18 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 61

I got a semi-good PC at a yard sale for $5. 400MHz, 2x 13Gb drives, I put in a generic CD, no floppy. Only problem is 64Mb of RAM, but I'll be fixing that soon. Anyhow, it has Win2000 Pro on it, which is nice, but I doubt I'll ever really be doing win-esque stuff with it. I wanna Linux box.

I've dabbled in Mac Linux, and now I'm going to try to use it as a primary OS on the PC. What OSes would people suggest? I'm not sure if I'm going to keep win2000 on it or not.

Thanks,

Doc.

__________________

_________________________________________________________________
The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Eudimorphodon's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
Depends on what you want "Linux" for.

If you want a friendly, graphical, point-and-click workstation OS, Mandrake and Redhat Fedora both come to mind. You'll want more RAM, of course. The "Yum" update manager in Fedora is particularly nice, and might be familiar if you've used Yellow Dog Linux on PPC.

If instead you're after something "leaner and meaner", you might want to look at either Slackware Linux or FreeBSD. (Yes, FreeBSD isn't "Linux", but for most purposes it's essentially interchangable.) The learning curve's higher but they're both more "educational" then the "pretty" distributions, and can be more easily tuned to run on weaker hardware. (Although a 400Mhz machine should be fine for most things, if slighly sluggish running CPU pigs like Gnome.)

The "hard-core" choice is Gentoo. Unless you know what you're doing it's worth avoiding.

--Peace

Cruller's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 19 2003
Posts: 89
.

I personally would throw Debian on there and use XFCE, possibly KDE.

No fedora. Fedora baaaad. If you're going to go the RedHat route, get an older version, like 7 or 8, possibly earlier. Anything higher on that machine will make you die, if dog slow OSes make you die. RedHat 9 was absolutely terrible on a machine with much more power than that, and twice the RAM.

Eudimorphodon's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
Re: .

Cruller wrote:

No fedora. Fedora baaaad. If you're going to go the RedHat route, get an older version, like 7 or 8, possibly earlier. Anything higher on that machine will make you die, if dog slow OSes make you die. RedHat 9 was absolutely terrible on a machine with much more power than that, and twice the RAM.

It's a bad idea to run "old" Linuxes, at least if you plan on exposing the machine to a network. For the same reason it's a bad idea to run outdated versions of any OS.

Anyway. Fedora *per se* isn't really the problem. It's the same Linux kernel and whatnot as Debian. The real problem is the choice of Gnome as the standard desktop. :^b

(Gnome sucks. It pains me to say it, because so many well-meaning open source projects are built using it as a framework, but... it just plain sucks.)

I've run Redhat/Fedora headless on servers without any particular performance hit relative to, say, Slackware. Admittedly, I swore off Fedora on servers pretty quickly because "Core 1" was *far* too buggy to be trusted, but... speed wasn't a problem.

Debian has always pi**ed me off, due to its annoying political hinderances, and the fact that you either have to limit yourself to the incredibly obsolete "Stable" brances or risk turning your system into a steaming pile of code by drawing from "experiemental", but... some people love it. Different strokes for different folks.

--Peace

Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2004
Posts: 142
.

I use redhat linux on a intell pentium mmx running at 200Mhz and am VERY happy with it, but each to his(or her)own...

performaman's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 209
Mandrake

I've had experience with Knoppix (based on Debian), RedHat 8, and Mandrake 9.1 and found that Mandrake was probably the easiest to use. They have v10 out with kernel 2.6 now.

__________________

Egg freckles?

Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 354
Re: .

Eudimorphodon wrote:

. It's the same Linux kernel and whatnot as Debian. The real problem is the choice of Gnome as the standard desktop. :^b

(Gnome sucks. It pains me to say it, because so many well-meaning open source projects are built using it as a framework, but... it just plain sucks.)

--Peace

I ask this humbly, as someone who just doesn't know any better, but why does Gnome suck? In my dabbling in linux on the Mac, I felt that it had a more attractive "look and feel" to KDE. But I readily admit that there could be things going on underneath that I didn't grasp.

__________________

"One day I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas I have no idea."

Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 52
i happen to love slackware bu

i happen to love slackware but for most its too much of a learning curve so most of the machines i setup use red hat 9. if you want a very robust os with no frills i would go with free bsd5

rael9's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 26 2003
Posts: 215
Debian/SuSE

Personally, I like Debian. Apt-get is a great tool, though when using it on the 'unstable' and 'testing' branches YMMV as far as packages breaking. I think I've only had 1 unrecoverable apt-get related error, but I've had a few that I had to play around with quite a bit before fixing.

If you want more of a point-click solution, I would suggest SuSE 9.1 They just realeased an install ISO, so you can download the personal edition for free. YaST is a pretty good tool, and the whole OS feels pretty solid and quick.

__________________

James M. Baker
----------
Computer Nerd
----------
[url=http://rael.webhop.org"]My site[/url]

chrismeyer6's picture
Offline
Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 40
In my opinion Suse linux is t

In my opinion Suse linux is the best around i tries mandrake and red hat they fail in comparision to Suse in the ease of instalation and use. I recomend the newest version of Suse linux. Suse has the best hardware support than any other distobution of linux.

__________________

I love my 1985 Buick Regal

performaman's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 209
SuSE

I got the pro version of SuSE with my laptop for my birthday. I tried to install it on my laptop (Sony Vaio PCG-FRV25) and it won't go beyond loading braille (some kind of display thing, I'm not sure). So I can't install it. If you're going to buy a distro, try to get a free bootable CD first to test it on your hardware. I know that SuSE has them, and Knoppix/Morphix/Gnoppix is basically Debian. It's a good ideia if you plan to buy.

__________________

Egg freckles?

Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 61
I feel stupid....

I'm sure that I should know how to do this but... how do you boot from a CD on a PC? I downloaded the SuSe linux ISO, burned it as an ISO disk on my powerbook, put it in the PC, and win2000 recognises it as a CD, so the drive and everything works, I just don't know what to do from here.

Thanks,

Doc.

__________________

_________________________________________________________________
The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.

Eudimorphodon's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
CD Booting

The problem is probably your BIOS boot order.

Power up the machine. As the self-test goo is happening you should see a message something like "Press ALT+ESC to enter Setup". (The exact key combination varies between BIOSes. "F2" is fairly common, as are variations on CTRL+ALT+somethingelse".) Hit whatever the key combination is, and then pick around the menus until you find something along the line of "Boot Order". There's a good chance that the hard disk is listed ahead of the CD drive. Reverse them.

If that doesn't work, if the CD-ROM drive is the only device on a secondary IDE channel, check and make sure it's set to "Master". Some BIOSes are picky about that.

--Peace

Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 61
Thanks, Eudi. I managed to ge

Thanks, Eudi. I managed to get into the BIOS after I posted the first message, and set it so that the boot order was "CDROM, C, A" so I'm pretty sure that the CD goes first. The CD is on it's own bus, and it's configured to be the master. Still nothing. I'm thinking that I must have bruned the disc wrong. I think I burned it as an ISO (forget the number), but I did is on a Mac. Should I download the image on a friend's PC and burn it on that?

Doc.

__________________

_________________________________________________________________
The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.

Eudimorphodon's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
Hm.

Well, just as a sanity check, when you look at the CD you see what looks like, well, a Linux install CD, and not just a single file named "whateverlinux-install1.iso"? ;^>

(It's a mistake we've all made, one time or another.)

Beyond that, hm. I'd try the following:

A: Try the CD in another PC. (If possible)
B: Try a different (known working) bootable CD in yours.

If "A" fails, then life is easy. Either your burn didn't work, or the .iso isn't bootable.

If "B" fails, life is hard. You don't have a Sony CD-ROM drive, do you? I've had trouble with those with certain BIOSes. (Mostly "Award".)

If "A" succeeds *and* "B" succeeds, then... I have seen rare cases where a given PC would hate one sort of bootloader but work with another. I have an old Toshiba laptop, for instance, that refuses to boot a FreeBSD cd, but works fine with Slackware Linux. (Burned on the same media, and both CDs verified in other machines.)

The last-resort scenerio is to install a floppy drive and use that to load the kernel. Most Linux distributions still come with a boot floppy generator on the CD. Once the kernel's loaded it should recognize the CD-ROM drive and let you get on with installing.

--Peace

Jon's picture
Jon
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
I'll second the some-PCs-don'

I'll second the some-PCs-don't-like-cetain-booters thing. I've got a Gateway Celery Stick that won't boot the Seagate or Maxtor drive tools CDs. My K6-2 generic box boots them just fine. The Gateway is also more picky about the PC100 DIMMs than my iMac...

__________________

I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

rael9's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 26 2003
Posts: 215
Older CD-ROM Drives

Also, some older CD-ROM drives just won't boot period. I had a Pentium box that I was installing SmoothWall Linux on, and it wouldn't boot off the CD. I swapped the drive for another (newer) one, and it worked fine. The old drive was a circa 1997 DVD/CD-ROM drive.

__________________

James M. Baker
----------
Computer Nerd
----------
[url=http://rael.webhop.org"]My site[/url]

Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 61
Ho Hum

I'm without any other PC to test this on, but I might see a friend later on tonight and I'll try the disc on his. Seeing as I've nothing to do today, I'll rummage around and try to find a PC floppy drive (I remember getting one somewhere) and try that boot floppy. The disc is an actual disc, I did burn it right. Also, my BIOS is an Award BIOS, but the CD drive isn't a Sony. It's some generic IDE drive.

This is much more time consuming than I though... I love it!

[EDIT] Rael- you might have hit the nail on the head. This is an ooooold drive, pulled from a StarMax clone of mine. Works fine in a PC or Mac, but it's rather aged. Now to find a more current drive...

Doc.

__________________

_________________________________________________________________
The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.

performaman's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 209
Gnome v. KDE

I've got an iPaq on which I've installed Linux. Now, I've used the GTK based interface to it and the Qt based interface to it (Gnome is built on GTK and KDE is built on Qt). The GTK interface (Gpe) took up about 2mb more than the Qt interface (Opie). Now, this might seem insignificant, but Linux took up more space than WindowsCE, and left me with very little space left. GPE left me with 1.5mb (not much) and Opie left me with about 3.5mb (better). Now, this is probably due to the multitude of extranaeous applicatons that GPE shipped with, but I still prefer KDE.

__________________

Egg freckles?