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A Linux distro that just works?
JAB Creations

 10:37 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been trying out different Linux distros now that I've had some time and I'm trying them out on my main system (with my data drives unplugged). First I tried Debian 6.01a 64 bit with ten different installers and the fancy GUI installer wouldn't allow me to remove the swap partition (I have 4GB of RAM, not 16KB) and it turned out the Commander Keen installer worked just fine. After finally getting Debian running my RAT5 mouse clicks weren't being registered 80% of the time and my onboard digital audio didn't work. After spending almost the entire day getting those to work (and having to mess around in the terminal) I somehow borked the entire OS from booting to the GUI when installing a package that hinted I might be able to assign the fourth and fifth buttons on my mouse, at this point was time to try a different distro.

Today I've been trying Fedora 14 64 Bit LXDE which didn't give me an install option so I have to wait an hour for it to boot from the CD. I had the same problem with my RAT5 mouse though was able to resolve the issue though it still took a solid hour. I'm not sure about my sound as it doesn't play MP3's and after two hours couldn't get Flash to work to any degree.

On top of this both distros sit around twiddling their thumbs when both booting and shutting down requiring me to press the space bar numerous times to remind the computer that I'm sitting here looking at the screen waiting.

I don't mind if the system takes a minute to boot and I don't mind learning new things associated with a different OS. I'd like to switch from XP to Linux at some point as Microsoft has been intentionally reducing the usability of their products however I can't test any production software if I can't get even the basics to work! Does any one have any recommendations on a Linux distro that just works?

- John



 10:51 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I run gnome AND KDE on Ubuntu for different apps. No problem as far as I know. Although Lucid has always run slower than my previous Hardy I don't think the gnome/KDE mix is to blame as I ran the same combination on Hardy.


 11:49 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

The machine I'm typing this on has 4 gigs of RAM and is running mint and win7 ulti in a dual boot ..the win7 was installed first as it would have done what all winstalls do and trashed the linux ..I used a live CD to install mint ..took less than 10 minutes including the time spent in repartitioning the HD ..didn't freeze once.

I think you may have flaky RAM there ..RAM gets pushed more in an install than it does running an OS ( unless you do a lot of 3D renders in windows using Maya or Blender etc ..or a lot of transcoding ) your RAM could be fine running win ( whatever it is ) but sometime seem a little slow ..that might be all you notice if your RAM isn't well ..until one day the box won't boot in to win or whatever it is installed with .

I'd run a memory test ( memtest if you are on win )on it before trying to install anything by way of another OS ..just in case ..leave it run over night ..see what it found in the morning ..


 6:55 am on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

KDE has one massive advantage for webmasters: every KDE application can open remote files over ftp or ssh.

There are alternatives: you can mount a remote server using FUSE (there are GUIs for this), or you can use a combination of other apps (I currently use PCManFM for browsing remote servers, and Komodo Edit or gvim for editing them), but KDE is the most reliable and lowest hassle option.

@Leosghost, good advice. Always test the memory if a machine is flaky. I learned this the hard way. Most Linux installers have a memory test option.

That said, an install issue may also be caused by a bad CD burn (If your installing from CD - I always install from USB these days).


 5:18 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

anecdotally, I was setting up a server on CentOS and found it beyond aggravating. Old versions of PHP, incompatible modules, stuff missing from the standard "yum" install that necessitated reinstalling the same things from source. I had to add extended repos to get some packages that weren't available in CentOS's default ones. Obvious things like versions of PHP that don't support SQLite, incompatible versions of rrdtool and ganglia, and more.

Then I rebuilt the same server with Fedora 14 and it went smoothly. Everything in the repo worked immediately, all together, compatible, with all the ingredients I needed. awesome.

That's for the web server.

I have only one laptop running Linux and it's Ubuntu. No problems there, though I'm often disappointed by the lack of good software to do basic things. e.g. I'm good at PhotoShop, and Gimp is a terrible substitute. I can't stand developing on the thing because I'm used to a stellar text editor (Coda for mac 1up ++). I mainly use the Ubuntu laptop to surf/tweet/blog.


 6:05 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)


I just found a sweet text editor that I am learning to love.

It is called Kate Editor. It is pretty smart, it does autocomplete of var names, which bugged me a little at first but as I got used to it, it now bothers me using one that doesn't do that.

The other great thing is it has a terminal window as part of the editor so when you are done working on a script you can execute it right there. Very enjoyable.

The only issue is it is for KDE so if you have a Gnome setup you have to add a bunch of libs to get it to work. Not that big a deal though.


 6:19 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm good at PhotoShop, and Gimp is a terrible substitute.

Agreed , but then Gimp is good enough for 99.9999% of computer users ( in fact most machines are waaay over powered for what people actually do with them ..but thats another subject ;-)..I only use Linux machines for the net, the win machines are for photo or 3D or sound work..

That said..as a freeware 3D app, my son ( who works with pro paid 3D and animation apps and flash etc ) says Blender is incredibly powerful ..but the lack of any usable manual means it really takes a huge amount of effort, time and practice and scouring of 3D fora before one can put it to use ..

But for the vast majority of people on the net ..and probably very many members here, OSS and freeware would still give them the capability to do way more than they would ever need or actually use or do.


 11:26 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I second the Kate nomination. I was turned on to it in this very forum some time ago and use it exclusivley now for web site editing (several sites). Only real problem is that the code lives on a Windows2000 server on the floor here, and Kate will not look at it unless I also run SMB4K and mount the server's disks in that.

For miscellaneous text editing (configs etc) I use gedit.

I now run almost everything in Ubuntu - I turned on the Windows machine's screen yesterday to modify an Access DB but first time in several days.

So far I have not really needed a graphics editor. I tried making a couple of small images in Gimp but it was tedious (I've use Windows Corel Photopaint until now). I recenty installed several graphics apps to try out with a view to installing one or more on the new machine I build for my wife. Gimp will not be one of those. :(


 8:38 am on Apr 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have no graphical ability so if I need to do something graphical I usually use a drawing app (Xara Xtreme) rather than a painting app so that I can tweak and tweak and tweak before exporting to a bitmap format for the final tweaking (usually in GIMP)

As for editors, I prefer a full IDE - I like to be able to do things like right click on a function and choose to have the IDE find the file and open it up at the right point. Got fed up of various problems with Eclipse so I now happily run NetBeans.


 8:31 am on Apr 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Status_203 Xara for Linux is not being developed any more right? I use Inkscape for the same reason as you - I need to do a lot of tweaking before I get stuff right.

That said, some talented people can do incredible stuff with Xara and Inkscape. Beautiful, photo-realistic images. Beyond me though!

@dstiles, can you not install ssh and sftp on the Windows server? Also please tell me if you discover a better photo editor than GIMP, especially if its more lightweight.

I have recently been using Komodo Edit. Its a freeware (also open source if you can be bothered building it from OpenKomdo source) editor, that is the base of Komodo IDE. It is extensible and it feels more IDE like, especially with the right extensions. It can open remote files over sftp and ftp.


 10:18 pm on Apr 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Graeme: I could probably install ssh on the local web server but not sure what that would achieve - SMB4K works at least as well and is in any case required (I now discover) for things like cross-platform backup controlled by Ubuntu.

(I installed ssh on a Windows 2003 server last time I instantiated a new one, a couple of years ago. After an hour I disabled it and went back to secure FTP: on a brand new server I got thousands of ssh hack attempts in that short time! None were successful but it took up an awful lot of resources.)

I seem to recall having to manually install gimp when I shifted from Hardy to Lucid. The new graphics tool seems to be krita (they really wanted me to use it: it installed about 20 links in various menus!).

Haven't really used any of the graphics tools I installed yet but all I did was work down the Software Centre listing and install those that seemed neither stupid not complicated. :)


 9:30 am on Apr 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Status_203 Xara for Linux is not being developed any more right? I use Inkscape for the same reason as you - I need to do a lot of tweaking before I get stuff right.


I was just starting to get used to it as well. Looks like dev stopped 2-3 years ago! Thanks for the heads up. I wonder how much longer it would have taken me to notice?

Time to start using Inkscape then. That at least appears to be under active development [sourceforge.net]. In fact, releases per year seem to have picked up around the time Xara stopped.

JAB Creations

 11:18 am on Apr 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Gnome 3 is out and I'd like to try it, are there any distros out that have it by default yet? I've already had two OS-fatal encounters with package managers and if I can't get a distro to last long enough to get the basics working then I have a continuously dwindling incentive to try different distros.

- John


 11:32 am on Apr 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

gnome.org says:

GNOME Shell is currently in active development and while many planned features are not yet implemented it is stable enough for everyday use.

Probably not what you want to use if you want things to just work.

Are you saying package managers cause errors? While installing? Something is badly wrong. If it happens with multiple distros with different package managers it sounds like a hardware fault.


 10:42 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Debian is about the best you can get and most other distros are based on it, but you do sometimes have to put your head under the hood, some latest hardware might not be found right of but you can get them 99% of the time running, and you will find answers on the Internet unlike windows where you will find just people with the same problems..

Ubuntu does work straight out of the box take a LTS version (10.4 now) and you can test it before installing it.

Its just like windows but is a real multi thread OS and works great

Also its good to be sure and check before buying hardware if it is nix compatible.

Have fun!

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