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*nix Thread, Linux - Best distro for a relative noob? in Technical; Originally Posted by Midget And I, for one, welcome our new geeky overlords At your service...
  1. #16

    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midget View Post
    And I, for one, welcome our new geeky overlords
    At your service

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    At the risk of being flamed, what are the advantages to Debian, and specifically to Mint Debian?

    Although I'm new to Linux, I am willing to learn how to use it properly, and a nice shiny, rounded, Compiz injected desktop is not all that important to me, functionality and compatibility with existing hardware is...

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    At the risk of being flamed, what are the advantages to Debian, and specifically to Mint Debian?
    Brief history lesson:

    Debian
    Founded: 1993
    Type: all volunteer community
    Release approach: when it's ready (as few RC bugs as possible)
    Focus: freedom
    Learning curve: perceived as steep
    Strengths: very stable, very predictable, very competent package maintainers, decisions taken by whole project, long term support
    Weaknesses: packages can lag behind upstreams because testing is very thorough

    Ubuntu
    Derived from: Debian, with appropriate modifications
    First release: 2006
    Type: commercial, with strong community
    Release approach: every 6 months
    Focus: world domination (by sacrificing some free principles)
    Learning curve: perceived as easier, but much more hear-say to learn to avoid
    Strengths: up to date software, wide user base, commercial support available, long term support, lots of money for interface research
    Weaknesses: wider community can result in lower skill set in packaging and weird or bad decisions (like the python debacle), project decisions guided by Canonical Ltd

    Mint
    Derived from: Ubuntu normally, but they decided it was too unstable and next release will be Debian 6.0-based
    First release: 2006
    Type: (small) volunteer community
    Release approach: when it's ready after a Ubuntu release
    Focus: eye candy and usability
    Learning curve: similar to Ubuntu
    Strengths: pretty, derived from somewhere sensible even if it's a grandfather, ease of installation, up to date software
    Weaknesses: small developer base, derived from a derived project, upgrade path is awkward

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    LosOjos (8th October 2010)

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    I might jump straight in to Debian instead then. Although new to Linux, I consider my IT knowledge to be advanced, plus I like a challenge and part of the reason I'm moving to Linux is that I want to learn how to use it 'properly' with an end goal of being as sufficient with it as Windows (although I can already see that comparison is pointless, Windows is nowhere near as technically based as Linux distro's appear to be).

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    scholarpack's Avatar
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    The latest Ubuntus can pretty much be installed/run out of the box for anyone with some basic IT knowledge.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post
    The latest Ubuntus can pretty much be installed/run out of the box for anyone with some basic IT knowledge.
    Yeah I've tried out a couple of Ubuntu derivatives, and they are pretty looking but the dual monitor issue is really annoying me, particularly getting XBMC to run full screen on the TV. I thought I had found a decent solution in the form of DevilsPie, but it only seems to work if I manually start it in a terminal, and even then only the first time I open XBMC. I could write a script that starts DevilsPie then XBMC, but then I'd have DevilsPie running a hundred times (if I ran the script that much of course). I know it's no major big deal, but I like to keep my system running smoothly.

    I'd rather spend some time now finding a distro I'm happy with than sticking with Ubuntu because it's easy and ending up with a process list that's the PC equivalent of a duct taped burst water pipe (please excuse the naff simile)

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    scholarpack's Avatar
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    Hmm strange, I've had no issues with dual 24" monitors but never tried on a TV.. what have you added to xorg.conf?

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    Get a Nvidia card. AMD has yet to raise the quality level of the ATI drivers apparently which is rather sad. I finally dropped ATI in favour of Nvidia two years ago and now I enjoy good quality drivers whether it is on a Linux distro or on an OpenSolaris distro.

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    I avoided weighing into this discussion earlier, but hey ho...

    ATI has historically been a Really Big Problem™ because they don't release open drivers, they insist on dumping binary blobs - or, recently, making you build a kernel module yourself, to which the unprepared user just goes 'huh?'.

    Nvidia have a mixed history, but in their favour they are considerably more open about how their stuff actually works, so the reverse-engineering effort has been much more successful. New cards always take a while to gain support though, so if you really want compatibility check it before buying - IIRC, the Xorg folk have a list of good chipsets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post
    Hmm strange, I've had no issues with dual 24" monitors but never tried on a TV.. what have you added to xorg.conf?
    Nothing, I hope. Recent versions of X (and consequently Ubuntu releases) have been xorg.conf-less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post
    Hmm strange, I've had no issues with dual 24" monitors but never tried on a TV.. what have you added to xorg.conf?
    My TV should just act as a second monitor, it's connected via DVI on my dual head radeon card. I can get full screen working if I have two separate desktops, but if I try to use one large desktop then programs like XBMC decide to sit smack in the middle of the two monitors with half the picture on each screen (an interesting but unpleasant way to watch a movie!). If it comes down to it I can live with having two separate desktops, but I'd rather have one large one.

    With Ubuntu, I couldn't find an xorg.conf file anywhere (using 10.10/maverick) so was relying on Catalyst to set up my desktop when using proprietary drivers or monitor preferences when using the open source drivers (proprietary are a must though, playback of HD movies is too choppy with open source drivers).

    I also had the infuriating problem of Ubuntu randomly deciding which my main monitor was: I managed to get it set up properly a couple of times, then it would randomly change, even after I physically swapped the DVI cables on the card! I remedied that in Mint though by editing xorg.conf (Option "Primary" "true"/"false" for each monitor respectively)

    I downloaded openSUSE last night so I'll give that a go over the weekend, and also try out Debian and Mint Debian

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    and also try out Debian and Mint Debian
    We plan to release Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" before the year is out, if it's ready, so you'll find Lenny is looking outdated already... if you want to try effectively an RC version, use the testing suite, which is frozen and being manually assembled right now. (How Debian suites work.)

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    Handy to know, thanks I'll give it a go. I don't mid trying out the testing suite. One thing I love about Linux distro's is how quick it is to replace them: I was quite reluctant to try Windows 7 RC because I knew I'd have a b*ll ache re-installing and configuring XP if it all went wrong, but you can swap a Linux distro in 15 minutes with ease.

    So are you on the development team for Debian then? Is it entirely a community participation thing or are people actually 'elected' to develop it with input from the community (as per Mint)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    So are you on the development team for Debian then? Is it entirely a community participation thing or are people actually 'elected' to develop it with input from the community (as per Mint)?
    Yes, though there are about 1000 of us, so I don't really stand out (plus a further uncountable number of contributors, translators, documentation writers, DSA, etc).

    Debian is a do-ocracy: if you think it ought to happen, you get on with it. There is a process for becoming a developer, but newbies can work through a sponsor until they decide if they want to commit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    I avoided weighing into this discussion earlier, but hey ho...

    ATI has historically been a Really Big Problem™ because they don't release open drivers, they insist on dumping binary blobs - or, recently, making you build a kernel module yourself, to which the unprepared user just goes 'huh?'.

    Nvidia have a mixed history, but in their favour they are considerably more open about how their stuff actually works, so the reverse-engineering effort has been much more successful. New cards always take a while to gain support though, so if you really want compatibility check it before buying - IIRC, the Xorg folk have a list of good chipsets.
    I wonder if there is any chance of this policy changing now they are owned by AMD. Though they have been for a while now haven't they? I know they are dropping the brand ATI soon, so maybe they are having a bigger shift of policy too.

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