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Old Feb 29, 2012, 1:03 PM   #1
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Default How many varieties of Linux?

When looking at a website about Linux Mandriva, I discovered that it lists 21 different varieties - from ALT Linux to Zenwalk. This is the URL - http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2011/09/01...p-2011-review/

I've tried several of them - Ubuntu, Mint, Mandriva, gOS, and Parsix. The first three of those have too many bells & whistles for my liking. Mandriva was the most frustrating because often, if I clicked on something to see what it did - it certainly did whatever it was - but I could find no way to undo it.

On the other hand gOS seemed to be a bit simpler and installed much faster than any other. And it included Wine (something I've never used before). Using Wine I found I could install both Faststone Image Viewer and Photoshop. On the other hand, after doing that, Firefox stopped operating properly. gOS incidentally has an interface that looks a bit like that of Macs. It also has some very large and ugly and ikons on its opening page, but they can be easily deleted.

Parsix seems (to me) to be a bit more sophisticated than gOS.

Has anybody else tried these or any of the other versions among the 21 listed? What do you think of them?

While doing this I was also persuaded to try out a system called Reactos. The descriptions of it sounded interesting, but I got nowhere with it....

Last edited by Herb; May 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM. Reason: Syntax correction
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 1:22 PM   #2
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There are hundreds of different [current] Linux distributions, and I've tried hundreds of them (sometimes a lot of different versions of some of the more popular distros as newer versions are released).

Linux is only the underlying kernel.

The setup utilities, hardware recognition scripts, drivers loaded, software included, admin utilities, software in the distro's repositories, desktop type (Gnome, LXDE, KDE, Unity, etc., etc., etc.,) are going to vary between different Linux distros and versions.

Even if most everything else is the same (using same software repositories, menu systems, etc.), you can still see significant differences between them because of the way they're configured for desktop theme, drivers included, software installed by default, etc.

IOW, you can't judge one distro by another. ;-)

Here's a site that tracks a lot of them (but, there are a lot more distros than this site is tracking now).

http://distrowatch.com
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 9:12 PM   #3
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JimC - Thanks for that link. I can see that I shall have to go out and buy a lot more CDs and DVDs to download .iso files onto!
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 3:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herb View Post
How many varieties of Linux?
There is really only one. You can get it here: http://www.kernel.org/

Linux is the kernel or core part of the operating system. As you have already
discovered, there are many different distributions which bundle the Linux kernel
with other software to make a complete operating system.

I use Debian. In the past, I have used Redhat, Slackware and even
Linux From Scratch.

As Jim has already mentioned, distrowatch maintains a list of
Linux and other Unix based distributions like the various BSDs and
Solaris. This is just a partial list. There are other 'distros' which are
not listed because distrowatch don't know about them. There are
others like Ubuntu Satanic Edition which they deliberately exclude.
http://ubuntusatanic.org/news/about/
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 6:12 AM   #5
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JimC - Thanks for that link. I can see that I shall have to go out and buy a lot more CDs and DVDs to download .iso files onto!
The easiest way to "test drive" Linux distros is to install them in a Virtual Machine.

I use VirtualBox for that purpose. You can use Linux, Windows or OS X as the Host Operating System; and it lets you create a "Virtual Machine" (a.k.a., VM) in software that the guest operating system treats as if it's a real physical machine (the guest OS won't know the difference). That way, you can run a different Guest Operating System inside of a Window in the Host Operating system (letting you run multiple operating systems at the same time).

VirtualBox is free for personal use:

https://www.virtualbox.org/

Basically, after you install it, you just tell it to create a new machine, and plug in some basic info about it (what you want to name it, how much memory is allocated, how many CPUs the guest machine has, what graphics features are supported, how much disk space you want to allocate to a virtual hard drive, etc.). It also includes "presets" for common operating systems (but, you can change the defaults for more memory, etc., if desired).

Then, you select the .iso file for the Operating System you want to use in it's virtual CD/DVD drive (with no need to burn the downloaded .iso to a physical CD or DVD), boot into the machine, and the Operating System you're installing treats the virtual machine as if it were a real machine (it doesn't know the difference), where you can setup partitions on the virtual hard drive you create inside of the VM, just as if you were installing it to a real hard drive. Then, reboot the machine into the Virtual Hard drive after the install is completed, just as if you're booting into a real machine.

You can install a variety of guest operating systems in a Virtual Machine. For example, I installed the new Consumer Preview of Windows 8 that way yesterday (in VirtualBox running in Linux) to see how it works; and I test drive new Linux distros on a regular basis that way. That lets you run more than one Operating System at the same time (where you have different guest Operating Systems running in Windows on top of the Host Operating System). Of course, you need to make sure your machine has enough memory to support the requirements of the Host OS and the Guest OS (since you'll allocate some of the host memory to the Virtual Machine while it's running).

Having a CPU that supports Virtualization extensions is also a good idea to improve performance (AMD-V support with an AMD CPU; or VT-x support with an Intel CPU). See this page for more info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86_virtualization

But, that's not a requirement to use VirtualBox (it also works with CPUs that don't have those extensions -- it's just not as fast if your CPU doesn't have virtualization support built in).

Then, if you decide you like a distro well enough to install it on a physical machine after "test driving" it in a VM, just burn it to a USB flash drive and boot into it.

I rarely use CDs or DVDs for that purpose anymore, as you can reuse a USB Flash Drive, over and over again for testing different linux distros..

Note that you can also use a memory card in a USB attached card reader for that purpose, as long as your PC has a USB boot choice in it's BIOS (and most modern computers allowing booting from USB attached drives)

There are multiple tools available to let you burn popular Linux distros to USB Flash drives. Unetbootin is one example, and it has both Windows and Linux versions available:

http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

Here's a similar tool (but, it's Windows only):

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/univers...easy-as-1-2-3/

If you don't see the Linux distro you want to burn listed in these tools, try one that's close. For example, if the distro is using the same "base" as one of the major linux distros like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.(and many of them do, and just build on top of another major distro with their own desktop, utilities, themes, drivers, etc.), just select the appropriate base distro version (Debian 6, Ubuntu 11.10, etc.), then point Unetbootin to the .iso file you downloaded and want to burn.

Basically, it just needs a FAT32 formatted USB drive (that can be a Flash Drive, or memory card in a reader), and it burns the .iso file to your media in a way that you can boot into it (just as if you'd burned the .iso to a CD or DVD instead). You can also tell it that you're using an unlisted distro and try it that way.

There is also a "syslinux" method of burning distros to a flash drive. IOW, there are many ways to approach it without needing to waste CDs and DVDs.
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Old Mar 3, 2012, 12:11 PM   #6
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Default Linux versions

The discussion of various sorts of Linux has been a real eye-opener. I've found many that I'd never heard of. I've tried out several that sounded interesting. Some are very much to my liking - including one called Zorin.

Zorin looks & behaves rather like Windows and can run Windows programs. I guess this is because it has a Wine function that's very easy to use. I used it to install Faststone Image Viewer. I assume that it would be just as easy to install Irfanview and ACDSee. I haven't had the same success with Photoshop Elements but maybe that's because this was all done on a Gigabyte computer?

Has anybody else tried Zorin?
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Old Mar 4, 2012, 7:07 AM   #7
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Zorin, huh?

I haven't tried it lately.

The latest Zorin releases are using an Ubuntu 11.04 base, with a menu system called GnoMenu installed. See more about it here:

https://launchpad.net/gnomenu

GnoMenu is also available for lots of other distros (you'll see links where you can download both the source code and packages for various distros on their project pages). But, I'm not aware of any distros other than Zorin that uses GnoMenu as the default.

From what I can tell, not a lot of development has gone into GnoMenu lately except for bug fixes,, which is one reason Zorin is probably still using an Ubuntu 11.04 base (even though Ubuntu 11.10 has been out for a while), since that menu system may not be fully compatible with the latest versions (I get the feeling from reading through the announcements that the Project Lead is trying to figure out how to proceed with future development for integration with the latest Gnome and Unity releases).

Note that Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support Release) has just gone to Beta 1 after multiple Alpha releases. So, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will probably be released as stable towards the end of next month after more betas and release candidates. That release is currently scheduled for April 26, and it's a Long Term Support Release that will be supported with security updates and patches for 5 years:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PrecisePangolin/ReleaseSchedule

At that point (once Ubuntu 12.04 LTS launches), Zorin 5.x will be using an Ubuntu base that's two versions behind the latest one. One problem with distros that are based on older Ubuntu releases (like Zorin 5.x using an Ubuntu 11.04 base) is that the available software in their repositories tends to get further and further behind the latest versions as time passes. Another problem with releases like Zorin that use customized third party menu systems on top of an Ubuntu base is that in place upgrades to another major Ubuntu release are not usually practical either.

You can add some of the Ubuntu PPA repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list file get around some of that, where the community tries to compile newer versions of software and add updated packages to repositories for newer software versions (although sometimes newer software versions require dependencies that conflict with packages in the older releases, so it's a "hit and miss" thing as to what versions of software you can expect to install in an older Ubuntu release).

Note that any more official support for Ubuntu 11.04 will end in October 2012 (after that, Ubuntu will no longer provide any more patches and security updates for it).
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Old Mar 4, 2012, 12:35 PM   #8
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Jim,

It'll be interesting to see how Zorin develops. I've tried several earlier versions, but meantime version 5.2* seems (to me) to be quite the best one. At first I doubted the claims that it runs faster than Windows 7, but now I'm inclined to believe it.

*The one I mean is the 5.2'core' version that goes on a DVD. I didn't like the 5.2 'Lite' version (it fits on a CD).

Last edited by Herb; Mar 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 1:50 PM   #9
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The most important thing (for me) about any O/S is that it must be able to run both Photoshop and Faststone Image Viewer.

That was why, so far, I've stuck with Windows. I don't know about the latest Macs that use Intel chips, but any earlier Mac that I've tried wouldn't run Faststone. Nor could I get either Faststone or Photoshop to run under Linux.

But that seems to have changed.

Linux gOS (which in itself is very easy to install) also has a built in Wine function - & I've discovered that the Wine function in gOS also makes it very easy to install and run both Photoshop and Faststone.

Zorin 5.2 "core" version also (via Wine) runs Faststone quite readily. At first I couldn't get it to run Photoshop because it said some obscure 'permission' was missing. However, after installing some extra plugins for Wine, Zorin runs Photoshop as well.

Consequently, I'll be quite happy to have my computers run either gOS or Zorin. Both work very fast too. The only difference (to me) is that I suspect that the Brasero disk burner works a little better in Zorin - and I think Zorin looks a bit nicer. The Mac-like dock displayed by gOS doesn't appeal to me either, (though I think that it may be possible to remove it or change it's contents?).
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 2:13 PM   #10
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You can install Wine in virtually any Linux distro. ;-)

I'm using Mepis 11 (using a Debian Stable base) with community supported repositories enabled (where community members compile a lot of newer software versions and include them in repositories you can use to install software), and have Wine 1.4 installed now (and you can install it just by searching for Wine using Synaptic (the most popular Software Manager for Debian based distros), then "right clicking" on it and selecting "Mark for Install" and pressing the Apply button.

You can also do it like this from a console in any distro using a Debian base:

su
apt-get update
apt-get install wine

Or, in Ubuntu based distros like Zorin, sudo is needed, so you'd install Wine like this (the update part just downloads the latest list of available packages so that you'll get the latest version in the repositories when you install software):

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine

Other distros have similar package management utilities (where you can install software like Wine using a mouse click or two from the included GUI based Package Managers, or install software from their repositories from command line).

You'll find a variety of different package managers in use (both GUI and command line versions), depending on the type of distro you're using (if it uses .rpm packages, .deb packages, etc.). But, major software like wine is supported by almost any popular linux distro you'd use.

The main issue with Wine is that it tends to lag behind support for the latest software. IOW, you may be able to install an older version of Photoshop, but you may have issues with the latest versions.

There are also "helper" packages available (Wine Doors, etc.) that can copy libraries from Windows that are used by some software (versus using the built in libraries included with Wine), provided you agree that you have a legal copy of Windows on the PC you're installing those packages on.

But, having Wine preinstalled is a very minor consideration when comparing Linux distros (as it only takes a minute or two to install it in virtually any Linux distro using a mainstream base "under the covers", either by using a few mouse clicks from their Software Managers, or via a couple of commands using a terminal window).
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