Ok so I'm a complete neophyte in the world of Linux and I'm going to be setting up a box in the next week or so. Anyone any suggestions as to which distribution would be the best to get? Looking to run it as a basic desktop (for learning purposes) and possibly an email server.
If you are new to linux I would recommend you try one of the following:
Whitebox (redhat enterprise clone)
They all come with easy to use graphical installers and will guide you through the entire installation process.
DO NOT try:
Although you may hear a lot about the above they are not really suited to beginners.
knoppix - no install needed.
Fedora gets my vote and I'm an utter newb
I have Fedora Core 2 and it was easy to install and use. Quite suitable for a newbie. Though there are reported problems if you dual boot with Win XP, there's a way to fix it, but it's something you should be aware of first.
I'm starting to think this whole newbies shouldn't touch linux idea is wrong. Linux is very userfriendly now.
I had that problem. What happens is that Fedora more or less removes the XP partition from the MBR. You have to edit the MBR manually to add it back in. Of course I'm a lazy SoB who was reinstalling anyways so I just formatted the HD.
I disagree sorta, I would recommend that anyone here trying out Linux for the first time be a power user of Windows and have a grasp of their machine's innards and of PCs in general.
Using Linux is frequently challenging, more so as most of the guides on the net are utter tripe. They assume a level of expertise that just won't be there with new users or provide half-assed explanations. What's that point in telling us to enter command xyz without telling us why we use that one.
You're right. The main problem is when things don't work. Mainly hardware. The you'll have to have a bit of knowledge about PC and hardware to get it to work. And if something goes wrong prepare to do a lot of reading. There is hardly ever a quick fix.
However that's if things go wrong. You don't really need to know all this stuff just to use the PC. Then again what would you do if your windows machine broke? If there weren't shops which you could leave in broken (Windows) PCs and not have to think, you'd be kinda screwed.
hehe, i disagree, if your going to learn linux, go for it full on, no point in half measures imo.
I guess it boils down to how much you want to learn, if you just want to use email, web stuff and services without getting into the innards do as blacknight said and follow his recommendation.
But if you really want to learn Grab the gentoo live cd and install.
Thanks for all the tips guys. Looking at either Mandrake or Fedora so far (I know I'm chicken but I don't fancy the learning curve of Gentoo et al).
then after a while (when you're comfortable) try debian
A bit too easy if you ask me - I find Mandrake makes people lazy. I've known several people to install Mandrake to 'try linux' who then don't actually learn bugger all about linux due to Mandrake's ease of use - it does everything for you!. It's a great distro for what it does, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't reccommend it for someone who really wants to learn linux. Last time I installed Slackware (Slackware 10 is out now btw), I cried at how easy it was, recalling what I had to do in the bad old days to get a linux distro installed. Anyone could have done it after 10 minutes of howto reading. Same with Debian, and Debian has the n00b-friendly advantage of apt.
I'd have to disagree as well. I started with slackware, and I still consider it the most straightforward distribution around. Other distrubutions try and protect you from the 'hard' stuff with GUIs, but the 'hard' stuff isn't actually that hard. You just have to get used to using the setup files. And all the standard files included with slackware are HEAVILY commented, so if you have half a brain you'll have no problem figuring out what each of them does.
If you want my advice, I'd say install slack using the full option, set that up how you want it, and use it for a few weeks. Once you have some experience you'll be in a much better position to decide what you really want. Trust me - you'll learn more in those few weeks using slack, than a year or two using fedora, etc.
id have to go with slackware aswell, i started with SuSe but found as sico said, when the distro does everything for you, your not actually learning how to do anything and when you actually have to do something hard, its too much of a learning curve..
slackwares simple, has a nice gui but still makes you do stuff that will help you learn, and nothing is seriously hard even for a newb.