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Guide to Linux distributions and Unix like OS's


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#1 TheSecret

TheSecret

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 03:40 AM

Introduction

I have seen a lot of people who are interested in trying Linux, or a Unix like OS as an alternative to windows and don’t quite know where to start. There are also a lot of people who are in the middle of learning Linux, and are unsure of where to look for help. This thread is an effort to hopefully make everything a bit clearer. I have outlined the major distributions, their first points of call for help, Atomicans most familiar with given distributions, the main differences in where configuration files may be kept and tools specific to a specific distribution. I have also outlined the primary focus of each distribution, e.g. desktop, gateway etc…

My hope is that this thread will make it easier for people to learn about alternative operating systems and to seek help should they need it, by having a resource they can turn to in order to find answers quickly.

Overview

At first…there was UNIX. Originally developed in the 1970’s by Bell labs employees, and the first operating system to be entirely written in the C programming language. UNIX was extremely influential in developing operating systems, most of which are still used today, such as pipes. UNIX was also the first fully portable operating system, which helped to bolster its popularity. Eventually, the commercial versions of UNIX became quite restrictive, which led to the development of the BSD Unix.

BSD Unix existed side by side with commercial Unix for a while, contributing many important factors such as the TCP/IP stack and the C shell. Eventually, AT&T, the company that owned the rights to the UNIX IP, became annoyed with BSD making Unix based and inspired code available. AT&T settled with the BSD developers out of court, which resulted in the BSD codebase being allowed to be distrusted except for certain files. This eventually led to the development of FreeBSD and NetBSD, and then OpenBSD each of which are expanded on below.

Around the same time all this BSD stuff was going on, a student at the University of Helsinki decided to write a free unrestricted implementation of Minix, a version of Unix like OS written for teaching purposes. The development of Linux was a bit slower than that of BSD, but initially gained in popularity due to a number of reasons, such as the legal troubles with BSD, the appeal of the GPL software license, the interest in building something from the ground up... Linux is now the most popular open source Unix like OS, and has become the poster child for the Open source initiative. Linux is expanded on in a section below.

Each of the above operating systems are considered to be implementations incorporating the UNIX design, differing in sometimes major ways while still adhering to the core philosophies. Generally, each of these operating systems including Linux, can be referred to as a Unix-like operating system or *nix for short. The community for Unix like systems and open source software is very large, and greatly diversified. There are many places to get help, including this forum, the mailing lists and forums for your particular chosen system, IRC channels such as those on irc.freenode.net as well as various user groups and meets.

Linux

Linux has seen an amazing adoption rate in the last few years, from being a hobbyist activity to being something adopted by large corporations and governments, and coming installed by default on some computers. When I started using using Linux in 1996 or so, a lot of hardware was not supported, there was no such thing as Plug and Play, and the various graphical interfaces were a nightmare. These days, the story is quite different, with distributions such as Ubuntu being tightly integrated and consistent, and most hardware working out of the box. It really was an amazing development to have witnessed.

It is important to note, that as far as Linux has come, it is still not a complete replacement for Windows or OS X. For the msot part, your hardware will work, and you will be able to browse the web, edit documents, and do most simple things fine, perhaps even better than you are used to. Due to proprietary hardware, or a lack of interested developers however, there are many areas in which Linux has not caught up for the desktop. Some examples of these areas would be complex document editing, video capturing and editing and gaming. One main thing holding Linux back, is the lack of standards. While there have been some attempts, currently the few main distributions still do things their own way, which if obtaining software not in your repository, will require the version tailored for your distribution.

Linux is however, quite a mature server platform. Linux, combined with a webserver such as Apache can make quite a decent webserver, or can also be used as a gateway with the iptables firewall toolset. It is important to stick to a distribution best suited to your use however. While you can use Ubuntu as a gateway, due to the focus on desktop use, using it as a gateway or secure server would not result in ideal performance or a high security environment. Likewise, attempting to use ClarkConnect as a desktop system would be an exercise in frustration, due to the lack of drivers and the way the configuration is managed.

I've outlined the main differences between the distributions below, and a bit of their history, as well as where ot get help. It's worth noting there are often other less obvious differences than are mentioned below, for example most distributions tend to apply patches and modify their kernels extensively, adding in various improvements for performance and drivers. The distributions geared towards desktop use tend to include binary only drivers/codec which are legally questionable and other, freer, distributions frown upon. Distributions like Gentoo and Debian, which are more community efforts, tend to maintain repositories of software and extensive knowledgebases.

RedHat

Ahhh, RedHat. RedHat was the very first distribution I ever used, and is now one of the oldest, third after Slackware and Debian. For a longtime, Redhat Linux was the Linux distribution. They were the only major commercial Linux vendor, and able to influence and drive the market in a significant way. I honestly don't think Linux would be where it is now if it was not due to RedHat. Redhat Linux as it was known, no longer exists as of 2003. The company instead decided to make their offering commercial, renaming their product to Redhat Enterprise Linux. They released the existing codebase of Redhat Linux as the Fedora project, which Redhat sponsors, and every six months refines it to release a stable version as Redhat Enterprise Linux. Redhat were also responsible for introducing their RPM package format and manager, which despite it's problems, helped simply package management on Linux machines greatly. Redhat were also responsible for introducing many GUI tools and wizards, helping to facilitate the drive in making Linux ever easier to use and administer.

RHEL

RedHat Enterprise Linux, as it's name suggests, includes features geared for the enterprise. When People talk about RedHat, they they may well be talking about the enterprise version or Fedora Core. RedHat enterprise Linux is Redhats commercial offering, and is aimed at the commercial market, targetting everything from workstations to mainframes. The appeal of using RHEL is that it has many customised administration tools and technologies, that are streamlined are far easier to use. Redhat is also somewhat of a standard in the industry, is will quite often be the distribution used at various companies. Part of the reason for this, aside from Redhat being a standard, is that Redhat offers extensive support and service contracts, and quite often companies that make software for Linux will only list Redhat as a supported platform, such as with the Oracle line of databases. Despite being opensource, RHEL is not free to download, due to restrictions on trademarks and copyright. The source is avable for free however, and several community groups have recompiled it to remove any copyrights or trademarks, the best known of which is CentOS. RedHat is an excellent distro, but unless you are going to need the commercial support, Fedora or CentOS is a much better option.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

SledgY
wlayton27

The latest version can be obtained from:

RHEL Homepage

Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://www.centos.org/modules/newbb/”"%20target="_blank">http://www.centos.org/modules/newbb/”</a>"]CentOS Forum[/url] - Most advice should apply to RHEL

#rhel and #redhat on irc.freenode.net

CentOS

Latest version is 5.3

CentOS is an acronym for Community ENTerpise Operating System, and the name is a reflection of the distribution being a community effort. Because of the nature of RHEL being only available due to paying customers, the community has taken advantage of the open source license RHEL is released under and recompiled the source devoid of any trademarks or proprietary programs. The end result is a distribution very similar to the commercial RHEL. CentOS is provided completely free as in beer, as well as free as in freedom. Technical support is available via mailing lists, forums and chat rooms, as mentioned below. CentOS releases generally have matching versions to the RHEL release they are based on, being release a few months later. Each CentOS release is supported with security updates for seven years. CentOS is an excellent distribution if you want to use a RedHat server operating system for software support or other reasons, but cannot afford the cost.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

SledgY
SquallStrife
wlayton27

The latest version can be obtained from:

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://www.centos.org/modules/tinycontent/index.php?id=32”"%20target="_blank">http://www.centos.org/modules/tinycontent/index.php?id=32”</a>"]CentOS Mirror List[/url] – Scroll down to the Australian mirrors

Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://www.centos.org/modules/newbb/”"%20target="_blank">http://www.centos.org/modules/newbb/”</a>"]CentOS Forum[/url]

#centos on irc.freenode.net

Fedora -

Latest version is 11

The Fedora project is responsible for the Fedora distribution, and is sponsored by RedHat. When RedHat shifted their focus to enterprise systems, the home and small business user community was reluctant to stick with Redhat as their distribution, and adopted Fedora instead. RedHat decided to sponsor the Fedora project instead of continuing development on a separate desktop version suited to the fedora community. Fedora releases a new version every six months, which has support for approximately a year. RedHat takes a snapshot every so often and uses it as the basis for the next versio of RHEL. Fedora has a reputation as being a leading edge distro, and tends to have a lot of the latest software and drivers, while still being very stable. Security is an important goal for the Fedora project, and it is a more secure distribution that most, with SELinux and executable space protection enabled by default. Fedora is the distribution of choice for Linus Torvalds, namely due to familiarity. Fedora ships with the latest versions of Gnome and KDE, as well as plenty of desktop software such as OpenOffice.org. Fedora is an excellent choice for a desktop system if you are interested in learning one of the most common Linux distributions, and having a very current and stable system.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

wlayton27

The latest version can be obtained from:

Fedora Download homepage

Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://fedoraforum.org/”"%20target="_blank">http://fedoraforum.org/”</a>"]Fedora Forum[/url]

#fedora on irc.freenode.net

OpenSUSE

Latest version is 11.1

The result of Novel purchasing SUSE linux in 2003, and completely releasing it as a free and open source product.. It used to be famous for shipping with approximately 16gb of software, or about 5 DVD's in the era of dialup internet. Nowadays, it tends to be quite polished for workstations and desktop use as a result of Novels and the communities efforts. OpenSUSE is one of the more refined desktop/workstation distributions. Novel, and the community, have been major contributors to KDE, OpenOffice.org and other major desktop applications for years. Additionally, due to Novels partnering with Microsoft, OpenSUSE has slightly better integration with Microsoft products.One of the things unique to OpenSUSE is the YaST control center, which allows you to configure every aspect of your system through this interface, and a series of modules, not unlike the “Computer Management” interface in later versions of Windows. OpenSUSE is an RPM based distribution, and packages are installed and removed via the YaST control centre. OpenSUSE is best suited to those wanting a smooth and stable workstation computer, with a minimum of clutter.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

bnew

The latest version can be obtained from:

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://software.opensuse.org/”"%20target="_blank">http://software.opensuse.org/”</a>"]OpenSuse Download homepage[/url]

Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://forums.opensuse.org/”"%20target="_blank">http://forums.opensuse.org/”</a>"]OpenSuse Forums[/url]

#opensuse on irc.freenode.net

Debian

Latest version is 5 stable

Debian is the second oldest Linux distribution, and has a focus on free software. As such, all of the software incorporated into the Debian base system is 100% free and open, released under an OSI approved license. Debian intends to be a complete operating system, not tied down to any specific kernel. They recent released support for Running Debian over the FreeBSD kernel, and if HURD is ever completed, Debian will support this as well. Debian is known to have, perhaps the most strenuous development process of any of the distributions, careful checking and testing to make sure everything is stable. Debian has three development versions at any one time, stable, testing and experimental. Stable is the most popular, with quite outdated software, with testing being more current software, and for the most part quite stable, with experimental being decidedly unstable and only used for developing. They have a reputation for releasing a stable release, which is several months behind other distribution releases, often lacking features or comparability. However, this is of great benefit to people where stability is a major concern, and so it has become quite popular for servers and workstations in certain fields.

Debian was also the pioneered of the DEB package format, and the apt-get package management system. This has greatly eased package management on a great many Linux distributions, enabling the install of any package with a single command, include all dependence resolution and required packaged being installed and configured with minimal user input. Debian also provides many repositories, where Debian packages can be obtained from official Debian servers, with checks for security and authentication which allows for a degree of trust. One downside of this approach, is that the packages in the Debian repositories will not be the official 'clean' versions of software, and will have been modified by Debian for whichever reasons. This will likely not affect most users.

Debian is also the basis for a great many, perhaps most other Linux distributions, the most popular of which is currently Ubuntu Linux. Due to the ease in package management and almost guaranteed stable base, it has become the popular choice for many. This has helped the Debian system, and DEB package format become something of a standard next to Redhat, and you will encounter instructions or packages for Debian quite often, which you will eventually learn to adapt to your distribution of choice. By default, Debian ships with a gnome desktop, and everything needed for a working desktop, including email, browsers, multimedia players etc. If you want a very stable system, with the ability to do automatic updates and upgrade between versions easily, as well as have desktop or server software at your fingertips, Debian may be for you. Debian has outstanding documentation, and possibly the largest community, and it is very easy to find help for any issue you may be having. Due to it's free policies however, certain codecs and binary drivers for hardware will not be installed by default, in which case Ubuntu or Mandriva may be better suited for a desktop system.


People knowledgeable with this distribution

Iamthemaxx
Redhatter
Sledgy
The latest version can be obtained from:

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/”"%20target="_blank">http://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/”</a>"]Debian Download homepage[/url]

Other places to get help

#debian on irc.freenode.net

Ubuntu

Latest version is 9.10

Ubuntu is a Debian based distribution with a heavy focus on usability. Ubuntu was created by entrepenur Mark Shuttleworth, and is supported by hiis company Canonical. Ubuntu has been responsible for a strong uptake in Linux, due to the advances made as a desktop operating system. Ubuntu uses the DEB package format to install software, which can be facilited by the graphical frontend, Synaptic. Ubuntu has been responsible for some major innovation on the Linux desktop, as well as providing versions specialised for education(Edubuntu) or less powerful computers(Xubuntu). Something rather unique to Ubuntu, is that you can request a free CD be sent out from the Ubuntu website, which is a useful feature for those without bandwidth to spare. Ubuntu is a perfect distribution if you are interested in Linux as a home user, and want to look at an alternative to Windows. If you are interested in learning the internals, Ubuntu is not ideal due to obfuscating a lot of the configuration to be easier to use, and a distribution such as Slackware or Debian may be better suited.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

Iamthemaxx
Redhatter
Robzy

The latest version can be obtained from:

Ubuntu Download homepage

Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://ubuntuforums.org/”"%20target="_blank">http://ubuntuforums.org/”</a>"]Ubuntu Forums[/url]

#ubuntu on irc.freenode.net

Mandriva

Latest version is 2009 Spring

Mandriva Linux was originally based upon RedHat Linux, and named Mandrake. The goal of Mandriva Linux was to be as easy to use as possible, and was geared specifically for the desktop, at a time when Redhat was targeting both the desktop and server markets. While I have not used Mandriva, it is my understanding that it is one of the easiest and intuitive distributions to use on the desktop, with excellent documentation. Unfortunately, Ubuntu seems to have surpassed this Mandriva in popularity. Mandriva uses the standard RPM package manager, and tends to have the same locations and configuration options as RedHat or Fedora Core. There are additional Mandriva specific configuration files and options, which I am not actually familiar with enough to discuss.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

Glennspref

The latest version can be obtained from:

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://www.mandriva.com/en/download/free”"%20target="_blank">http://www.mandriva.com/en/download/free”</a>"]Mandriva Download homepage[/url]

Other places to get help

Mandriva Forums

Linux Questions forums - Mandriva

#mandriva on irc.freenode.net

Gentoo

Latest version is 2008.0

Gentoo is a source based distribution, meaning that the Linux kernel, and userland as well as any additional packages are retrieved as source files, and everything is then compiled locally for optimisation purposes. Gentoo has excellent documentation, and a very active community. Gentoo may be the perfect distribution if you feel you desire that level of control over your packages. For the most part, little speed advantage will be gained for compiling most software, and this is not a reason to use Gentoo.. I would recommend against this distribution for new users, as it can be quite complex.

Gentoo has a unique, and very powerful package management system named portage, which is very similar to the BSD ports system This system is quite powerful, in that you can edit the parameters of each application by editing the associated ebuilds, which allow you to configure USE flags. A USE flag allows you to disable or enable particular features in a software package, such as when using a configure script to enable a particular option. Gentoo additionally has a binary package format, which is very similar to the Slackware package format, being just a .tar.gz file with additional metadata.

People knowledgeable with this distribution

NagChampa
RedHatter

The latest version can be obtained from:

Pacific Gentoo Mirror

Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://forums.gentoo.org/”"%20target="_blank">http://forums.gentoo.org/”</a>"]Gentoo Forums[/url]

#gentoo on irc.freenode.net

Slackware

Latest version is 13

Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution that is still actively maintained. I learned the most from using Slackware, and it would be my first choice for any new users that actually want to learn how an Operating System works. Unlike most other Linux distributions, you are encouraged to edit configuration files directly, instead of having to go through a wizard or menu interface. Slackware has a poor reputation for package management, however this is not entirely accurate.

The Debian and Redhat package managers, apt and rpm can be used on Slackware with little effort, and there is also a port of the excellent NetBSD pkgsrc package manager, and a port of the Gentoo ports system. Personally, I tend to use software called checkinstall, which replaces the 'make install' step when compiling from source, which install the package, allowing it to be uninstalled with the standard Slackware tools if required. I have been informed that src2pkg is a far superior tool for this use, but have not had a chance to try it.

There is also a large availability of SlackBuilds, which are not unlike ebuilds found in Gentoo. There is a repository here, with many contributions being from Slackware developers, and eventually making their way into Slackware. Personally, I have found SlackBuilds available for all software that I use. The package management system on Slackware may seem archaic, but if you know what you are doing, and don't have a need to constantly install different types of packages, and prefer a greater degree of control over your system, then it works brilliantly. It is true to both Unix, and Slackware philosophy in that it gives you control and options, rather than limiting you with something that happens to be convenient.

The latest version can be obtained from:

Australian Slackware.com mirrors

The AARNET mirror

People knowledgeable with this distribution


Other places to get help

#slackware on irc.freenode.net

Addendum

There are also many slightly different distributions, or specific use distributions based on the above. e.g. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, but has some binary drivers and programs installed by default. ClarkConnect is based on RHEL and is geared towards being a gateway server with simple administration via a web interface. Red Flag Linux is a distribution aimed at Chinese speaking users, and Yellowdog Linux is suited towards the PowerPC architecture. The questions of which distribution of Linux to use can be daunting at first, however the above synopsis may give some idea. If you are completely new to Linux and interested in using it as an alternative to Windows, Ubuntu or Mandriva are the best options, with Ubuntu having a larger and more active community. If you are interested in learning more about how your computer and operating systems work, then Slackware or Debian are better choices, as they don't attempt to hide things from the user in the name of user friendliness. If you have dabbled in Linux already, and want to try something new, or Linux does not suit your needs somehow, perhaps one of the following systems will be of interest to you.

BSD

Unlike Linux, The BSD systems are a complete system, unlike Linux which is a collection of software, a lot of it GNU, combined with the Linux kernel and any customised software to create a distribution. The BSD systems are maintained in house, which means you have the same people looking after documentation, userland, the kernel etc. Each of the BSD's can run Linux software via an emulation layer. BSD's have many aspects in common which are quite different from what is normally found on Linux systems. An example of this would be runtime configuration scripts, with BSD systems using the BSD runtime, and most Linux distributions using the SystemV runtime. There are other differences that may not be so obvious, such as missing or additional hardware drivers, or differences in the kernel such as the VM subsystem or filesystem support. Due to the BSD systems not being restricted by the GPL license, and instead using the BSD license, it is common for some companies to incorporate code from a BSD system into their own products, and to release code back to the BSD community. BSD may be worth investigating if Linux can not meet your needs, or the idea of having the the main parts of your operating system develops under the same roof appeals to you.

FreeBSD

Latest version is 7.2

FreeBSD is a true BSD system directly descended from the 386BSD and 4.4BSD systems. Like all the BSD systems, FreeBSD is a complete system. The kernel, userland, documentation, drivers etc are all managed by the same development team, which is divided into specialised teams. FreeBSD has two main branches, -CURRENT which is continuously in development, and -STABLE which is taken at specific intervals corresponding to a version number, approximately every 6 months. FreeBSD has a ports system in place of a traditional package manager as found on Linux system. The FreeBSD ports system is focused on installing every package in the tree from source, and was the inspiration for Gentoos portage package manager. There is also the possibility to install binary versions of packages. FreeBSD is known to be excessivly stable, and has been used for some of the worlds largest and busiest server farms, such as the Hotmal website. FreeBSD is a good system to use if you want a general use desktop system, or a stable server.

People knowledgeable with this BSD

MisterT
Sponger
wilsontc

The latest version can be obtained from:

FreeBSD download page

Other places to get help

#freebsd on irc.freenode.net

NetBSD

Latest version is 5.0

NetBSD, like FreeBSD is also a derivative of the original 4.3BSD and 386BSD releases. NetBSD was founded out of a desire for a more open development model, with a philosophy of producing clean and portable code. To date, this philosophy has been adhered to perfectly, with NetBSD being exceptionally clean and lightweight, and extremely portable, running on more architectures than any other Unix like OS. NetBSD uses the pkgsrc package manager which is very versatile, and available on many platforms, including Linux. NetBSD also has a strong focus on security, incorporating many features such as executable space protection and restricting which files can be executed based on signatures. NetBSD is an excellent choice if you want a simple and lightweight BSD, while still having the flexibility and power of FreeBSD.

The latest version can be obtained from:

NetBSD download site

People knowledgeable with this BSD


Other places to get help

[url="http://”%20<a%20href="http://netbsd.org/community/#forums”"%20target="_blank">http://netbsd.org/community/#forums”</a>"] NetBSD community links[/url]

#netbsd on irc.freenode.net

OpenBSD

Latest version is 4.5

OpenBSD was the result of the lead developer, Theo de Raadt, who was at the time a senior developer for the NetBSD project being asked to resign. He started the OpenBSD project which was to have an increased emphasis on security. OpenBSD has a focus on security and quality, and is well suited to usage as a gateway or server. As with NetBSD, there is not a emphasis on developing OpenBSD for use as a desktop system, and while it may work, it may be harder to find drivers for proprietary hardware, where as they may exist for Linux. It is also important to note that while OpenBSD is quite secure due to their emphasis on auditing code to remove bugs, and subsequently vulnerabilities, the system does not include significant additional protections for locking down than say, Linux or NetBSD. I personally feel this is an oversight of the developers, and what is stopping OpenBSD from being considered a truly secure system.

The latest version can be obtained from:

Australian OpenBSD mirrors – Note, no ISO images are available, instead you must make your own…

People knowledgeable with this BSD

MisterT
Sponger

Other places to get help

#openbsd on irc.freenode.net

Others

There are also other OSS Unix like OS's, that are not exactly distributions, and not related to Linux at all. Examples would be Plan9, HURD, HP-UX, IRIX, Minix as well as OpenSolaris and Apple's OS X, both of which are briefly discussed below.

OpenSolaris

Latest version is 2009.06

OpenSolaris is the result of Sun releasing the majority of the Solaris codebase as opensource under the CDDL license, and setting up a community and distribution around it. OpenSolaris is a complete operating system that gives you the ability to learn an entirely different set of tools. Due to the use of the CDDL license, the code is free and opensource, but is incompatible with the GPL, and so cannot be incorporated into a Linux system. This means you get to play with, and learn things like Dtrace and ZFS, and have a better idea on what is used in the Unix world outside of Linux. Some of the more advanced features unique to OpenSolaris and Solaris are Dtrace, Crossbow and complete ZFS integration. OpenSolaris is not ideal as a windows like desktop system due to the lack of hardware drivers and some applications, and is best suited for a learning platform or server/gateway.

The latest version can be obtained from:

OpenSolaris download page

People knowledgeable with this OS

Iamthemaxx
Zebra

Other places to get help

#opensolaris on irc.freenode.net


OS X

Finally, OS X deserves a mention. Despite not being completely free or opensource, OS X is a Unix operating system. In fact, it is not just Unix like, but is one of the few OS's to actually be certified as true UNIX, and be allowed to use the UNIX trademark. OS X is based on technologies developed in NeXTSTEP and subsequently OPENSTEP, and as a result is based on the Mach kernel with elements from FreeBSD. This core part of OS X is called Darwin, and is released opensource under the APSL. OS X is a completely modern operating system, and introduced capabilities such as pre-emptive multitasking and the Quartz graphics subsystem. OS X alone was possibly responsible for playing a significant role in boosting Apples popularity as a computing platform. The core of OS X was also used as the basis for the operating system on other Apple products, such as iPhone OS. The security of OS X is questionable, as it still lacks somewhat basic technologies like complete ASLR and executable space protection, however this situation is improving. While it is possible to recompile Linux applications and use them under OS X, in practice it is not always easy to do because of the different API's and graphic subsystem in use. OS X is only available to you if you use Apple products, however the legal status of using OS X on non Apple hardware has yet to be determined by a court.


Final Notes

If you would like to be added as capable of helping with a specific distribution, or can think of anything to add, or perhaps want your name removed, feel free to PM me or post and I will edit accordingly.

I will also probably add an overview of the differences between KDE, Gnome, Xfce etc...., and perhaps an overview of other important aspects such as the LSB when I have some more time...

If anyone can think of anything else to add or any way to improve this guide please let me know, and credit shall be given where credit is due. I would appreciate any tips when a new system comes out as I won't generally keep track of most of them. If there is anything that can be done to improve the format, or anything that may be unnecessary, please let me know.

Edited by TheSecret, 08 September 2009 - 09:15 PM.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#2 wlayton27

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:05 AM

Very fab post TheSecret. Just started prepping Fedora Core 10 for upgrade into Fedora Core 11 before reading this one. I've never seen or used CentOS, but if it's RHEL, I could more than likely provide help for users with simple issues. Mac OS X definitely needs a slot in this distro list of yours. And there's also eComStation that Serenity Systems International pulled from IBM's abandoned OS/2 ... it might appeal to many MSWindows users who are looking for an out -- if it develops to a desktop system...it's not a "'nix" like OS X, but it is a distribution of sorts.
ASUS M4A87TD EVO; AM3 Phenom II Dual 555; EVGA GTX 460; Zalman CNPS10X Performa Cooler; Antec 300; ThermalTake TR2 500W

#3 bnew

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:45 AM

Good idea. Could prove to be a handy resource. I mainly administer OpenSUSE, so you can put me down if you want.

#4 TheSecret

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 10:40 AM

Updated

Thanks wlayton27 and bnew.

I didn't actually mean to post it so soon, so I'll complete all the other sections ASAP.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#5 iamthemaxx

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 09:18 AM

zebra is big on OpenSolaris and I have a bit of knowledge on Solaris 9.

#6 TheSecret

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 12:28 AM

Updated

Added zebra and iamthemaxx to users for OpenSolaris.

Added info on OpenSUSE, Debian, RedHat and rewrote Gentoo section.

Only the BSD's, OpenSolaris and a few other distros to go.

If anyone wants to contribute further, or can think of anything else to add, or any way I can reorganise it to make it simpler, please do let me know.

Edited by TheSecret, 11 July 2009 - 01:30 AM.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#7 GlennsPref

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 11:31 AM

Hi, Very nice roundup...

I've been using Mandriva since 10.0, 2004/5 and have kept up to date on most aspects.
<edit>
Currently I have the cooker version of Mandriva running (2010.0) (cooker is pre-release, un-stable)
With Realtime kernel preemption, 2 installs on this box, one desktop and a daw (using qjackctl and ardour), 2 winxp installs, one in vBox</edit>

I prefer (that's the .pref bit in my tag) kde4 windows. But also use icewm and/or xfce4 when required.

I have played with other distributions, but Generally I have found Mandriva the most complete hackable system,
That I have gotten used to.

I use slax on a stick, and mepis from dvd

If it don't work, we can make it work. (A+ cert background)

used for my General setup for fw'd proxy server Gateway (from Ashton Mill's Uber Linux Box), come kde4 desktop & DAW.

Two other good places for mandriva tips and answers...

http://forum.mandriva.com/index.php

http://www.linuxques...ns/mandriva-30/

Thanks for the mention

regards Glenn

Edited by GlennsPref, 15 July 2009 - 11:40 AM.

"Everything depends upon relative minuteness". Life is what "you" make of it. http://counter.li.org registered as GNU/Linux user #406321 Mageia1, kde4, openbox VirtualBox (non-ose AMD64) must read... http://www.religious....org/taoism.htm #(spiritual-stuff, it's good!) http://www.webofdebt...r-deception.php

#8 SquallStrife

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 12:39 PM

I administer CentOS 5 (with Asterisk and VMware Server running under it) and Smoothwall Linux (router distro) at home. CentOS for about 12 months, Smoothwall since 2006. Happy to answer questions if they're fired my way, but I won't claim to be a be-all-end-all of knowledge... :$ Nice post, anyway, TheSecret. :)

Edited by SquallStrife, 15 July 2009 - 12:43 PM.

SyDjDDk.png [retro swim] | AzpUvwG.png @retroswimau | q5O6HgO.png +RetroSwim
四時半を待っています!

#9 TheSecret

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 07:49 AM

Updated

Thanks guys :)

It is..completed, at least as much as I intended it to be. Hopefully it will grow and improve with time.

I have added the help links for Mandriva suggested by GlennsPref, and added SquallStrife under the list of CentOS users.

Cheers
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#10 Mister_T

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:41 PM

TheSecret: You can put me down for FreeBSD, OpenBSD and OS X as a Unix system.

#11 SledgY

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:37 PM

Been a Debian user/part time admin for last 10 or so years. As well as experienced in CentOS/RHEL (about to get certified). Built many Linux systems from scratch (ie no distro, just the software) for various applications.

Edited by SledgY, 19 July 2009 - 11:44 PM.

poweredbypenguins.org - SledgY lives in the cloud...

#12 sponger

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:43 PM

You can put me down for OpenBSD and FreeBSD. Note you can download ISOs for OpenBSD now (since 4.3ish). They're only as basic as the floppies (in fact they just contain what the floppies do), you still have to get the sets separately.

#13 TheSecret

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:29 AM

Updated

Thanks guys :)

MisterT and Sponger added as knowledgeable users for OpenBSD and FreeBSD.

SledgY added as a knowledgeable user for CentOS and RHEL.

The OpenBSD mirror listed is the same one linked from the OpenBSD website, so that should be fine.

MisterT,

I'm not really adding users to OS X, just giving it a mention. People will end up in the Apple forums if they need help and wouldn't think to know to check this thread.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#14 Redhatter

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 04:02 PM

I should point out, yes, I know about Debian/Ubuntu and can navigate them quite successfully, I'm far more adept at Gentoo.

Comes with the territory I suppose... my last Debian box (Lemote Yeeloong) is now running Gentoo/MIPS with KDE 4.3.0 after a apt-get dist-upgrade broke a heap of packages and failed to fix other long-standing breakages.

I'd also make a note of the various projects related to the Linux desktop... particularly in relation to drivers. These include...


A lot of similar devices will have drivers maintained by one of the given projects above... e.g. almost all video drivers are maintained by the X.org project above, with the direct rendering interface kernel drivers maintained by the DRI project. All sound card drivers are looked after by the ALSA project (I'm ignoring OSS here, which is deprecated in Linux). The tools lsusb and lspci should not be forgotten either... these are even useful for tracking down drivers for Windows systems, as it'll give you a very accurate lead to use in web searches.

Edited by Redhatter, 22 August 2009 - 04:12 PM.

Stuart Longland (aka Redhatter, VK4MSL) I haven't lost my mind, it's backed up on a tape somewhere...

No longer active on these forums, see http://stuartl.longlandclan.yi.org/ for contact details.


#15 bnew

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 10:02 AM

The question is, how does the original post get updated now that TheSecret is banned?

#16 GlennsPref

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 10:07 AM

Why was he banned? How long for? I guess that's the mod's job. Glenn
"Everything depends upon relative minuteness". Life is what "you" make of it. http://counter.li.org registered as GNU/Linux user #406321 Mageia1, kde4, openbox VirtualBox (non-ose AMD64) must read... http://www.religious....org/taoism.htm #(spiritual-stuff, it's good!) http://www.webofdebt...r-deception.php

#17 greycat

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:01 AM

#debian on irc.oftc.net is another fairly active and helpful channel.
I saw this wino, he was eating grapes. I was like, "Dude, you have to wait."

#18 i_am_banned

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 02:42 PM

While it is possible to recompile Linux applications and use them under OS X, in practice it is not always easy to do because of the different API's and graphic subsystem in use. OS X is only available to you if you use Apple products, however the legal status of using OS X on non Apple hardware has yet to be determined by a court.



Well... OS X does run the X Windows managment system as well as Quartz and given that it is a certified Unix operating system any properly written software should compile on OS X without any real hassles at all. I've compiled a few things here and there, and mostly with success on OS X. Software like OpenOffice was ported across for a long time using the X Windows, window manager. I'm not sure what they're up to these days as I've crossed the dark side and am using M$ office.

Edited by i_am_banned, 17 January 2011 - 02:46 PM.

People keep coming up to me and asking, 'How does it feel to be banned for life?' Banned for life. I wasn't banned for life. There was never a word of suspension, probation or ban in that agreement. It was never meant to be part of it.

#19 The Tick

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 03:18 PM

Considering the author of this thread has been banned which means the OP will never be updated, I have un-pinned it. If someone wants to own a new thread based on a similar premise, by all means get cracking and message the mod team once posted.

Edited by The Tick, 18 January 2011 - 03:19 PM.

Disclaimer: this post may have been made via a mobile device. All formatting, grammar and the possible hilarious substitution of key words should be attributed to the autocorrect features of the mobile device and likely has nothing to do with the idiot driving it.

 

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