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Consolidated Linux Distro and Software Guide

Consolidated Linux Distro and Software Guide


WIP... let the girl do her magic

Choosing a distribution
Desktop Environments
Desktop Distributions
Server Distributions
Installing Software
Linux/FreeBSD Software

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  1. <Flagged for integration!>

    Choosing your distribution:
    A distribution or distro is a specially configured copy Linux. Each distribution has a different mix of programmes, unique characteristics and styles.

    You can think of distributions like ice-cream. Each distribution is a flavour and each flavour appeals differently to each person. Collectively, all of these different distributions are called Linux because they all share the same characteristic of the Linux kernel. FreeBSD is like sorbet, while related being free open source software, Linux distributions such as Ubuntu share a distinctly different kernel to FreeBSD, similar to the difference between sorbet and ice-cream, while both being cold desserts, sorbet is fruit based and ice-cream is milk based.

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Fedora, like vanilla, strawberry and chocolate are the most common distributions of Linux. Each distribution is unique and user friendly, it's hard to go wrong with any of these major distributions, but it is not to say that it is the only flavour of Linux. Many other major distributions include Debian, Arch, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, CentOS, Puppy and Mandriva,

    There are literally hundreds of different distributions for Linux.

    Before you decide on what flavour ice-cream or sorbet you want to buy, a safe way to see what you like is through testing. Virtualisation software such as Virtualbox can allow you to run virtual machines on top of your base operating system. This allows you to install, tweak, and even break various installations without doing any harm to your computer. If you break it, you can just start fresh!

    Distrowatch is the best resource for updated news on distributions. For more information please click this link:


    Installation instructions are included on each distribution's website.

    When picking a CD image, there are tags you should be aware of.

    We recommend i686 Desktop iso images because they are the most compatible with Linux software and require the least tweaking.

    Live - indicates that the image is capable to boot into Linux without installation
    Desktop - the recommended version to install onto a desktop/laptop
    Alternate - a text based installer - use if the normal one fails.
    i386, i586, i686, x86 or 32bit - the 32bit installer, recommended for most desktops, most compatible.
    AMD 64, IA64, x64 or 64bit - the 64bit install, can address more RAM (4GB+) but is harder to operate, may not operate on all computers
    PPC - designed for Apple G-series computers eg. Powerbook G4.
    IA 64 - only for Intel Itanium CPUs isn't compatible with any consumer level hardware from Intel or AMD or on any Intel Xeons or AMD Opterons. IA64 is not compatible with any consumer level hardware from Intel or AMD or on any Intel Xeons or AMD Opterons.

    If you're running on older hardware, consider something with a lightweight desktop environment such as XFCE, LXDE, or Fluxbox.
  2. Desktop Environments


    * GNOME
    +Major DE, good support
    -Leaning curve

    * KDE
    +Major DE, good support
    +Plasma widgets

    * XFCE
    +Lightweight GDK DE

    * LXDE
    +Lightweight DE
    -Not as much software/support

    * Razor-Qt
    +Lightweight DE
    =Based on the Qt framework, thus shares parts with KDE
    -Very new, not yet fully featured
  3. Desktop Distributions

    * Ubuntu
    Default GUI: Unity
    Package: DEB
    Release: 6 months
    +User friendly interface similar to Mac OS X
    +Drivers are easy to install
    +Widely available support

    * Lubuntu
    Default GUI: LXDE
    Package: DEB
    Release: 6 months
    +Lightweight distribution
    +Drivers are easy to install
    +Widely available support

    * Fedora
    Default GUI: GNOME
    Package: RPM
    Release: 6 months
    +Mature GNOME 3.2 desktop
    +Free Open Source software only
    -Does not have Flash and codecs out of the box
    -Distributions only supported for 13 months

    * OpenSUSE
    Default GUI: KDE
    Package: RPM
    Release: 8 months

    * Puppy
    Default GUI: Openbox
    Package: PET
    Release: 6 months
    +Runs from RAM
    +Extremely lightweight and fast
    +LTS "Wary"

    * Linux Mint
    Default GUI: GNOME
    Package: DEB
    Release: 6 months
    +Easy to use
    +Largest distribution
    +Drivers are easy to install
    +Widely available support

    * Debian
    Default GUI: GNOME
    Package: DEB
    Release: 2 years
    +Stable release
    -Not cutting edge

    * Arch Linux
    http://www.archlinux.orgArch Linux
    Default GUI: User Choice
    Package: tarballs
    Release: Rolling
    +Cutting Edge

    * Sabayon Linux
    Default GUI: User Choice
    Package: tarballs
    Release: Rolling
    +Bleeding Edge

    *Free BSD

    *Other Desktop OS projects that aren't quite ready, but worth keeping an eye on include: Chakra, OpenSolaris, and PCBSD.
  4. Server Distributions

    * Debian Server
    Package: DEB
    Release: 2 years
    +Stable release

    * Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
    Package: RPM
    Release: Intermittent

    * CentOS
    Package: RPM
    Release: Intermittent
    +Based off Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    +Binary compatible with RHEL
    -No commercial support

    * Fedora Server
    Package: RPM
    Release: 6 months
    +Cutting Edge server distribution
    -Distributions only supported for 13 months

    * Ubuntu Server
    Package: DEB
    Release: 6 months
    +User friendly
    +Drivers are easy to install
    +Widely available support
    -Text mode and no GUI by default
  5. Installing Software

    Windows users should dual boot initially and keep an open mind.

    The other important distinction is the use of package managers for software installation. To install software from your distribution all you have to do is run the software package manager either using various GUIs or a CLI interface and you essentially tell the package manager to go fetch whatever it is you want to install.

    The package manager then goes out finds a software mirror, downloads the software, verifies the download and then installs the software for you.



    apt-get install openarena

    yum install glest

    yum install warzone2100

    yum remove warzone2100

    apt-get is used mostly on Debian based distributions.

    yum is used on redhat based distributions.

    On a yum based distro yum update will update all software on your system to the latest available version, there is no need to download 200 patches from microsoft and you don't have to reboot 20 times in the process either :D

    On most Linux distributions, except Ubuntu, you can install, uninstall, re-install and update the software packages from your distribution's software repositories without having to reboot a single time, with the exception of kernel upgrades.
  6. Software

    We know you don't have the time to go through and find the best Linux/FreeBSD applications, so we've done that for you!

    * Application
    + Feature
    - Drawback
    = Information




    Audio Players

    Video Players

    * VLC
    +Plays almost any audio/video file
    -Patchy Blu-Ray support

    Media Encoders

    Audio Editing

    * Audacity

    Image Editing

    * GIMP
    - Cluttered UI

    Video Editing

    Disc Burning

    IM/Video Chat

    * Skype
    +Most developed video chat software
    -Propitiatory software owned by Microsoft

    Office Suites

    * LibreOffice
    +Most feature packed Office Suite
    +Improved Fork of Open Office
    -Dependent on Java
    -Heavyweight application and bloated
    -Poor Powerpoint support

    * KOffice (Soon to be Calligra)
    +Lightweight and fast
    -Missing Features
    -Development focused on fork called Calligra

    * GNOME Office
    +Lightweight and fast
    -Loose collection of unrelated office apps
    -No common GUI



    * Firefox
    =Gecko rendering engine
    +Plenty of Add-Ons
    -Memory leaks

    * Chromium
    =Webkit Rendering engine
    +Very fast

    * Opera

    * Konqueror
    =Webkit rendering engine
    -Few Add-Ons



    Compression software

    * 7 ZIP

    File Recovery

    Secure Eraser

    System Backup


    * VirtualBox
    +Most fully featured VM software
    -USB support must be installed seperate
    -Not entirely open-source

    System Information

    Inspired by:

    Until we have some community contribution, this will be our software part:

    Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup
    Internet Apps (9/15/09)
    Communications Apps (10/19/09)
    Office Apps (4/29/10)
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    XP Mode in... Ubuntu Linux?
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