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Author Topic: What linux OS to get?  (Read 16584 times)

MamaLiberty

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What linux OS to get?
« on: July 01, 2010, 11:38:04 am »

Ok, I know I'm probably opening myself up to a lot of grief, but I just can't make up my mind.

I am going to get a new computer... the refurbished sort with no OS on it. This old relic has seen better days and even with puppy linux is slow and starting to have issues. I'd rather not wait until it goes tits up.

Puppy has been great as a learning environment, but it really doesn't do WELL some of the things I need done...

I know that ZooT and lots of others just love the plain vanilla characteristic of it, and don't see any need for more features, but after running puppy for more than a year, I'm ready to upgrade to something with more. And yes, I tried the puppy upgrade and could see absolutely no difference except minor cosmetics.

So, I've been looking at Ubuntu and a few others. Without being able to download and actually USE them, I have no way to evaluate whether or not they would actually serve my purposes any better.

Features I need:

Word processor. The one in puppy absolutely sucks. I do not need the bells and whistles of "word," by any means, but I need to be able to produce a .doc file that other people can open. So far, it's hit or miss with puppy.  It has other real problems, of course, and one is incompatibility of the fonts between file types. If I'm not careful, a copy/paste to another program results in gibberish.

html composer. The one in puppy really sucks - and that's not just because I used Dreamweaver for more than 10 years. It just doesn't do what I need it to do sometimes, and what it DOES do is usually the hard way. Takes just too much time that robs my productivity.

FTP - sorry to be redundant... but the one in puppy is not very good at all. The permission settings tend to change themselves from time to time, leaving me scrambling to get things done. It also does everything the hard way...

So... the question. Any suggestions for a relatively user friendly linux or other open source OS that I could install myself (or with a little help)? I don't want one that requires me to surf the net for the next six months to find all the plug ins and drivers, thanks.

I will get a Compaq, H or IBM box of some sort, if possible. I will NOT be getting any type of "emachine." I also have no interest in Apple or Mac of any kind.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 11:42:51 am by MamaLiberty »
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Lenny

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 11:57:04 am »

For the most part, apps that run on Linux will run with any distribution. The main exception is some KDE apps if you use Gnome desktop, and vice versa.

Back in 1993 or so, I used Slackware, and stuck with it until 1996; then used Redhat exclusively till 2003 and moved with it to Fedora, which I used until about 2006. Recently I got a netbook and messed with a few netbook-specific distributions, and have pretty much settled on Ubuntu. It's very friendly and rather Mac-like, which I can't tell from your post whether that's a plus or a minus. :)
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LaughingBear

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 12:52:20 pm »

If it were me, I would choose Ubuntu, solely based on the number of drivers available.

HTML editing is a bit tougher because I don't know your skill level, but if you've used Dreamweaver for 10 years, you would probably put yourself in the web design category?  If so, Bluefish (http://bluefish.openoffice.nl/) should work well for you.

Word processing, Open Office  has worked well for me, ymmv.

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securitysix

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 02:29:34 pm »

I haven't played around with the word processor in Puppy much, so I'm not sure what it comes with.  Open Office is probably the best solution for Linux (or OS X or even Windows without having to pay Microsoft to use MSOffice), but if you're looking for something a little lighter, there's AbiWord.  AbiWord is not a full suite, only a word processor.  It will do .doc files.  If my experience with the Mac version of AbiWord is any indicator, it may not be 100% satisfactory.  The formatting of the document on the screen seems to be heavily dependent upon the way you have the AbiWord window sized, which I dislike.

I have noticed some formatting issues in Open Office when going from the Open Office created/saved .doc file to MSWord, but that was several years ago and I'm not sure if the issue still exists. 

Edited to add:  As far as distributions go, I've dabbled with Red Hat, Caldera, K/Ubuntu, Puppy, DSL (Damn Small Linux), Knoppix, and Gentoo.  Of them, I ran Gentoo the longest (Caldera was a somewhat distant second).  Gentoo is very powerful, but a giant pain in the arse to install, especially if you don't have high speed internet.  It's fairly easy to update or install new programs once it's installed, though a high speed internet connection is still highly recommended.  I find myself liking KDE over Gnome as far as look and feel, though it is less forgiving of older computers. 

If you like Puppy and you're running it on the hard drive or from a USB Flash drive, you should be able to find a way to install the programs you need (haven't tried installing anything in Puppy, so I don't know how involved that gets).

If you're set on switching distributions, I understand Ubuntu has some of the best native wireless support in the Linux world.

I don't do a lot of HTML these days, and when I do, I usually just use Notepad or the Mac equivalent.  Haven't done any FTPing in years, so I can't help you there.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 02:39:31 pm by securitysix »
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ZooT_aLLures

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2010, 02:43:38 pm »

Quote
I know that ZooT and lots of others just love the plain vanilla characteristic of it, and don't see any need for more features, but after running puppy for more than a year, I'm ready to upgrade to something with more. And yes, I tried the puppy upgrade and could see absolutely no difference except minor cosmetics.

No Mama..........I prefer Slackware...........but not for new users.

And what I'd do..........is run puppy on your old machine to be able to get your work done while you "learn" the new distribution on your new machine....whatever that new distribution happens to be.......and when you feel comfortable with the new distribution........hook your phone line to the new machine and have at it...........


Quote
(haven't tried installing anything in Puppy, so I don't know how involved that gets).

Puppy uses glorified tarballs....just download em and click em'.....nuff said?*grin*
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underhill

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2010, 02:51:13 pm »

I am using Debian on my machine.  Debian comes in 3 flavors, actually 4, with Old stable (currently called Etch).  Mainstream one is Stable, currently named Lenny.  Lenny was released about a year and a half or so ago, it is current with security updates.  Software can be a bit dated by now, but it works well.  "Testing" is the next version that will eventually be released as "stable" probably later this year.  It has mostly current software.  Current Testing version is named "Squeeze".

Experimental is the bleeding edge version, sometimes things 'break'.  Experimental is always named "sid"

When Debian releases Squeeze as "Stable" later this year, "Lenny will become the Old stable version, and a new version for Testing will start.

Ubuntu is based on Debian Experimental, so it is always more current, as well as having a faster release cycle, something on the order of 6 months.

Most of my equipment is a bit older these days, light on ram, Ubuntu seems to run better with more ram.  My Debian installs, with current releases, have been happy with lighter ram that I have, so far, than the equivalent Ubuntu current releases, which have always seemed a bit sluggish for me.

Ubuntu does a lot of focus on making things work, so if you are unfamiliar with things 'under the hood' it is more likely to work for you.  Tips and tricks published to get things working for ubuntu, almost always are good for debian, due to the common structure.

I'm playing with Puppy as well, but as my base debian install is working well, I just don't mess with it enough to get more comfortable.  It's actually what I keep on an older machine  I have, but again, I don't use it that much these days.  The eee is just too handy and at hand all the time.

Both Debian and Ubuntu default with Gnome, I've been more comfortable with KDE personally.  Both make it available easily

There is a current release of knoppix, 6.2 which works pretty well for me, at this time.  Also based on Debian, with a light weight windows manager.

Linux Mint, also a debian/ubuntu based distro, is also rather popular.

I replaced the stock xandros OS that came my eee with a full debian "Lenny" (debian eee project) install on my little Asus eee and it is running quite well for me, no complaints.

Just wanted to add a bit of background for consideration to the thread.  Many of the perceived shortcomings of another distro are probably me just not being familiar with it.

Underhill
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 02:58:28 pm by underhill »
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MamaLiberty

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 03:37:08 pm »

Thanks everyone. I do appreciate you taking your time to tell me about your experiences here. I've been using a computer since 1986, but I'm no programmer or geek, by any means. :)

And what I'd do..........is run puppy on your old machine to be able to get your work done while you "learn" the new distribution on your new machine..

That's pretty obviously the best thing to do. :)

securitysix, "Abiword" is what I'm currently using in the puppy OS, and it is truly terrible.

Most of the people I've been talking to say the Ubuntu is probably my best bet.

LaughingBear, I've heard of the "bluefish" and may well try it. I have hopes, however, that the Ubuntu will come with program software so that they are already compatible with each other and I don't have to hunt for fixes.

I use a computer to do my work, and I'm willing to learn whatever will further that goal, but I don't care to mess with all this stuff for its own sake particularly. I want to drive the car, not build one from scratch. :)
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ZooT_aLLures

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 04:08:42 pm »

Quote
I want to drive the car, not build one from scratch.

That's why I don't recommend slackware for new users*L*
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MamaLiberty

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2010, 04:19:52 pm »

Quote
I want to drive the car, not build one from scratch.

That's why I don't recommend slackware for new users*L*


And which is why it was never under consideration. :)
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securitysix

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2010, 09:45:26 pm »

Quote
I want to drive the car, not build one from scratch.

That's why I don't recommend slackware for new users*L*


And which is why it was never under consideration. :)

Don't even look at Gentoo, then.  Updating it isn't too bad, but installing it is like that old Johnny Cash song "One Piece At a Time".

You might try installing Open Office on your current Puppy install just to see A) how well it runs on Puppy and 2) whether it will suit your needs.
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rockchucker

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2010, 09:57:33 pm »

For the most part, apps that run on Linux will run with any distribution. The main exception is some KDE apps if you use Gnome desktop, and vice versa.

Any decent package manager will detect dependencies not present, and offer to download them for you. Any app compiled for Linux should run on any distro, absent odd conditions such as hardware not present, kernel too old, or something like that.

So, I've been looking at Ubuntu and a few others. Without being able to download and actually USE them, I have no way to evaluate whether or not they would actually serve my purposes any better.

PM me with a mailing address, and I'll send you an Ubuntu CD, and even a Kubuntu CD. The difference between Gnome and KDE as a desktop environment is pretty major. I don't use either any more, but people say I'm strange. :0 You can run either as a Live CD, and also install. As far as a word processor goes, I think OpenOffice.org is a bloated piece of pig snot, but then I think that about M$ word too. Haven't used AbiWord. Maybe KWord? The Kubuntu CD might even come with KWord included -- I haven't looked recently.
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securitysix

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2010, 10:17:23 pm »

Oh, yeah!  KWord.  I had forgotten about that one.  Haven't used it in years.  It's pretty good as I remember it, though.  Can't remember if it will do MS compatible .doc files, though...
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Bill St. Clair

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 06:24:42 am »

You might try installing Open Office on your current Puppy install just to see A) how well it runs on Puppy and 2) whether it will suit your needs.

There used to be a disk image of Open Office for Puppy that made installation as simple as downloading a (large) file, and putting it at top-level of your disk. Haven't used Puppy in a long time, though, so I don't remember.

I'm typing this from a fully-encrypted-disk install of Debian. I'd recommend Ubuntu, however, for non-techies. It took me a long time to pull together and configure all the pieces to make this a productive working laptop. But the Debian install disk probably makes it easier. I did almost everything a package at a time (after installing Gnome).
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MamaLiberty

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2010, 06:30:52 am »

PM me with a mailing address, and I'll send you an Ubuntu CD, and even a Kubuntu CD. The difference between Gnome and KDE as a desktop environment is pretty major. I don't use either any more, but people say I'm strange. :0 You can run either as a Live CD, and also install. As far as a word processor goes, I think OpenOffice.org is a bloated piece of pig snot, but then I think that about M$ word too. Haven't used AbiWord. Maybe KWord? The Kubuntu CD might even come with KWord included -- I haven't looked recently.

You are a doll. :) PM coming. A CD would be fine. I don't have a DVD player on this old box. :)
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Rarick

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Re: What linux OS to get?
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2010, 06:40:59 am »

Ubuntu.  I am a hardware guy when it comes to computers, not software.  Ubuntu is a good point and click interface, is a common platform that has a nice software library written for it, and is easy to maintain.  It also runs well on old systems.

Ubuntu with Wine (a software emulator) can run most stuff written for the microsofrt abomination O/S too. Open Office is free and s good alternative to the other Microsoft abomination, and can read the same files........

Installing programs is not a big deal, there is an automated program that is part of the O/S that takes care of it all.  If you do not have a "driver" that a new program is dependant on, it will go out and find it as part of the install process.

I have fooled around with it, but work requires I stick with windows.  Oh yes, Ubuntu and Wine can run a lot of real cool games, but since you are on a salvaged computer I would not recommend that- resources issues.

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