I tried Slackware and now I want to change to Linux

Story: An old hacker slaps up SlackwareTotal Replies: 22
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Oct 26, 2005
8:00 AM EDT
I tried slackware 3.2 or something like that. I bought it at a store and it was distributed by CDROMs. It cost like $5.

It took me forever to install it and I had to get an old video card at a swap meet to get it to work.

It booted up and said bash#. I never got the GUI to work. So, I continued using Windows NT workstation. I use a lot of GNU ports to Windows and I don't know what I would do without them. I especially like the gimp and use it everyday. It's got stuff that Paintshop Pro doesn't have. I really find Photoshop disgusting because they constantly upgrade it and it's too expesnive.

I use Firefox, openoffice.org - 2.0 now. I use Thunderbird and vim32. I write code with vim. I actually like it because of the clean text format.

I really want to learn UNIX and I've read that Linux is basically UNIX. I don't have to get off Windows and I don't dislike the company. They never gave me any problems.

So, what do you suggest?

I program in java and C++ and do a lot of web stuff. Switching to Linux worries me and might be too much of a stretch. I don't want to constantly fix stuff even if its fun. Windows XP is pretty stable now even though it requires a lot of defragging and maintenance. I never got a virus and I keep the skyware off with spybot s&d.

What version of Linux would fit a developer who uses IM a lot and writes his code and web pages by hand with a text editor. (I used to do all my html in notepad).


PS - I heard this was a friendly site and you don't attack people. I hope that's true.

Oct 26, 2005
8:35 AM EDT
It sounds to me like you are an ideal candidate for a switch to linux apart from your comment: "I don't want to constantly fix stuff even if its fun" Some of that is inevitable with linux but vastly less so than in the 1990s when you last tried it. As a "Ubuntu attack hamster" (to quote tuxchick) I suggest Ubuntu: The amount of post install hacking is less than most distros and hardware recognition is excellent. Download and burn from here: http://ubuntulinux.org/

Then if you have problems go here http://www.ubuntuforums.org/

The folks there are very friendly and helpful. Hey Shuttleworth can I get my tout fee now?


Oct 26, 2005
8:38 AM EDT
I'll take a look and get back to you.

I have to admit, though, this jargon makes my head spin.

what's Shuttleworth?

Oct 26, 2005
8:42 AM EDT
First of all - welcome to lxer!

"What version of Linux would fit a developer who uses IM a lot and writes his code and web pages by hand with a text editor. (I used to do all my html in notepad)."

Take your pick. The hardware you are using may have something to do with your choice.

The question is sort of a bit like "I want to buy some jeans, should I buy Levis or Wrangler?" - which shows you when I last bought a pair of jeans.

Personally I would advise you try a few live cd's out. Have a mooch about and see what's what. The tool set is more or less identical in all distros. The bells and whistles vary.

Debian is great, stable and reliable. Doesn't get upgraded so often and has a rock solid development process. Mandriva is good, great for beginners. Fedora is beta and may not be such a good place to start. SuSE is another good one, loaded with apps. Slackware is great, but you need to know how to get things sorted post install or it can be horrid. Ubuntu - Debian based, 6 month release cycle, well integrated apps but only installs Gnome.

I'm not goiing to list them all.

Worthy of note here is Simply Mepis (Debian based) and PCLinuxOS - Mandriva based). Both of these have "install to my harddrive" shortcuts on the desktop so if you like the live cd, just follow the link.

Hope that helps some. No doubt others will jump in with their thoughts too.

Hope you like the site.

Oct 26, 2005
8:49 AM EDT
I don't mean to sound strange, but nothing on that page made much sense to me except that it won the Reader's Choice awards. I feel pretty frustrated.

"Ubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with A picture of the Circle-of-Friends Ubuntu login screen both community and professional support. It is developed by a large community and we invite you to join."

Am I daft or is this some kind of cult? I don't mean to seem offensive. To me programming is a job and a business.

I'm sorry, back to the drawing board.

Is there some Linux operating system I can install that's just for a programmer who wants to learn UNIX? I know about Red Hat and Novell and SLACKWARE,

I didn't get Slackware off the ground. Red Hat is too expesnive and Novell is hard to get. they don't have an on-line store and I can't get a price.

Oct 26, 2005
8:52 AM EDT

I'll do a search on the distributions you listed.

Thanks for the welcome.

Oct 26, 2005
9:05 AM EDT

Linux guys have already been through the learning curve. The jargon is somewhat difficult at first. You'll usually see people suggesting sites to visit. But, it doesn't have to be hard. You also don't have to go looking for sites.

Linux is a complete operating system -- much like Windows. You can use the same computer you use with Windows and not disturb your existing setup.

Modern Linux systems can co-exist on your current computer and dual boot - so you can boot up Windows when you turn on your system or choose Linux.

We suggest a LiveCD because it's a complete Linux operating system but it runs on your CD Rom drive or DVD drive. It let' s you experience Linux without having to install anything. I recommend you download a CDRom iso imagine from http://www.knoppix.org/, select the American flag and just follow the directions.

Sorry if you feel confused, but we're here to help.

You can email anyone on this forum by clicking on their name. This is an internal email system and doesn't leave this site.

Thanks for logging on and registering.

Oct 26, 2005
10:35 AM EDT

Yeah Ubuntu sounds a bit cult like but it isn't. Community of users is one of their selling points since if something goes wrong as it will with Linux who helps you out? There's no paid help desk so you have to rely on other users and your own resources. If you want a "programmers" Linux ANY of the distros will suffice. Question is what do you do if something goes wrong. Community and books are a great help there.

If you want something really challenging where you learn an enormous technical amount about linux try Gentoo. I am a bit confused by you being a programmer but not keen to "hack around". Sound contradictory to me.

Shuttleworth is a billionaire that started Ubuntu from Debian about a year ago.

Oct 26, 2005
11:47 AM EDT
Thanks. I'm not what someone would call a hacker, I don't think. I do contract programming, mostly web stuff. Most web stuff today involves using a database, an application server like JBoss, Websphere, Weblogic and tomcat.

I think a majority of work I run into these days requires knowledge of Linux and Apache. Getting it installed is the biggest concern I have and then getting it working.

I like your website. It's very simple. I poked around and even added an entry from my rss reader. Someone posted it right away. That was cool.

I think I'm going to download SUSE 10. Everything else looks unprofessional to me. But, Novell is a known quantity. They had a technet-like support area and people say they answer technical questions right away.

I don't mean to sound offensive, but Ubuntu and Gentoo look like cults to me instead of technically oriented portals. You guys seem so caught up in whose has the best distribution and how bad Microsoft is that you don't discuss foundation classes, programming, technical trends, etc. I not looking for a social club and I think pictures of people holding hands in a circle doesn't produce the desired effect IT people want to see or expect to see.

I'll install SUSE 10 and check back now and then. I'll read some articles and poke around. I did like the article about awk. I bought a book with a CD of Windows ports from GNU for $10. Those utilities worked for me.

Thanks again.


Oct 26, 2005
11:52 AM EDT

I agree with some of the other guys. Get a few of the better live CD's and find out what suites you. I'm partial to straight Debian and Debian related because of the apt packaging system. Debian should be easy for you since you've already done Slack. But if you'd prefer a kinder install, Kanotix is a good one to start with, or Mepis is also a viable choice to learn on. PCLinuxOS is very nice if you must have an rpm based Distro. You'll be able to set up your programming environment in any of those.

The point is that you can't make a valid assessment unless you try a few of these to see what suites you. You also need to know that the underpinnings of Linux are very different than Windows. Not any harder to learn, definitely a lot less work once you get it configured, but a new ballgame. Have fun, click your heels, and remember 'you're not in Kansas any more' :).

Oct 26, 2005
12:00 PM EDT

suse linux online shop:


follow the North America or Europe links depending on where you are. Otherwise check their distributors. $59.99 for the full blown version with 90 days e-mail support.

I would reccomend Simply Mepis, or Libranet. These are debian based and can be configured very easily. pcLinuxOS is RPM based but easy to configure. They all have very active user communities.

Red Hat and Fedora are more for developers than they are for complete newbies.

Oct 26, 2005
12:32 PM EDT
number6x: I think he was referring to Novell Linux Desktop, which is built on top of SUSE Enterprise Linux 9.

Is that right?

Oct 26, 2005
12:38 PM EDT
That would be here:


I think that is based on SuSE 9.x. Using the older version so it is already patched and consequently more stable.

I have not tried this version.

Oct 26, 2005
12:49 PM EDT
That's what I thought. It looks like you can't buy it from Novell directly. You have to get it from a partner. But the top link works. I don't know what to think.

SUSE 10 is a free download and NLD 9 is either $85 or $50. Looks like $50. Same price as JDS.

Oct 26, 2005
3:38 PM EDT
Bono once said that "Compared to Johnny Cash, every man is a sissy."

Well, Compared to Slackware, every other distro is for sissies.

Oct 26, 2005
3:40 PM EDT

What about Gentoo and Debian?

Oct 26, 2005
4:29 PM EDT
Mark Shuttleworth made millions selling Thawte, he went up to Fred (the International Space Station) on a Soyuz and does splendid things for Open Source, including start the Ubuntu distribution. He's an excellent speaker and puts his money where his mouth is. http://www.markshuttleworth.com/

I use and recommend Mandriva Linux, it has good hardware support, stays reasonably bleeding edge (ie up to date but not painfully so) and lots of GUI tools to make administration simpler. Making administration too simple is a mistake, BTW, which will come back and bite you sooner or later. Once you have URPMI (click on "Configure your computer", then "Software management") pointed at a file repository, installing stuff is about three clicks. http://www.mandrivalinux.com/en/ftp.php3

That said, most modern distributions (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE, etc) are simpler than MS-Windows to install, maintain and use (most of your difficulty will come from unlearning Windows habits).

They will typically arrive with several of each of an IDE; SQL database; scripting language; office suite; any networking tool you can imagine; games, audio/video/graphics editors (including stuff like scores and MIDI); a complete "swiss army dinner set" of utilities for stuff like archiving, monitoring, file management, conversion, backup, failover, RAID, communications and so on; a bazillion services (email, web, FTP, streaming, webmail, virus scanning (protect the 'Doze boxes), DNS, DHCP, BGP/RIP, assorted VPNs, instant messengers, internet telephony, yadda yadda; major "web service" style apps like webmail, wikis, builletin boards, statistics and so on and so forth. In the "main" and "contrib" repositories alone, Mandriva includes 11,840 packages. I lost track of Debian a while ago, but would guess roughly 20,000 packages.

Oct 26, 2005
5:08 PM EDT
The suggestions by the previous poster are all good, but personally I think you made a good choice by starting with OpenSuse 10. Six years ago, I started using Red Hat Linux then I tried Suse. Today, Suse is still my main distro (distribution). It is complete good desktop/server that has everything and any think you can think of and available as part of FOSS (Free Open Source Software). Very solid reliable easy to install and available for free (I suggest contributing though). I constantly keep up with the latest releases of other distros but Suse has been the best for me. The best way to determine what you like and suites you is to take a look at the major distros and determine for your self. You really have to spend a few weeks to make an intelligent choice. You seem to be in a hurry and want to become productive right away, I hope you don't have the impression you are going to be just as you are on MS. Initially you wont, but eventually you will be much more. Here is my opinion to help you expedite your decision.

- Knoppix: It is Debian http://www.us.debian.org/ based. Made to run from CD/DVD to learn and explore without installing any thing on the hard drive (You can do that though). It is also very good to test your hardware and make sure it is Linux supported. Many of other LiveCD distros are based on Knoppix

- Mepis, Kanotix, PCLinuxOS: Excellent user friendly simple distros. They come with KDE desktop, which in opinion, easier and more like Windows desktop than GNOME. Your familiarity with Windows will be helpful here. They all are more of a desktop than a server. They do have all basic applications but doesn't have the development environment that I thing you are looking for. Your can install development package on them right of the Internet though. Like Knoppix, they come on a LiveCD which you can boot and work with it just as good as XP plus features you wont find in windows. You can install it on the hard drive in 10-15 minutes and you have a full working desktop. They co-exist with Windows on a separate partition. They use Synaptic, which makes applications installation easier than XP right of Internet repositories.

- Suse & Mandriva: They are not based on Debian but very good systems. Mandriva, I personally don't recommend but it is very popular among users who want good support furnished through their club. Suse is my favorite and you wont be disappointed. It comes on 5 CDs which you can download of the Internet. ftp://mirrors.usc.edu/pub/linux/distributions/suse/i386/10.0/iso/ is a good site for me. Installation is solid and very user friendly. Although is lengthy, you get the chance to select to install whatever you like, including Apache (web server), MySQL (database), PHP & Perl (Web scripting) (LAMPP). For a stack of these, lookup XAMP which will get you going in web development in no time. Suse has very automated process to patch and install applications especially security patch which you can automatically monitor to down load as soon as they are published by Suse.

Keep in mind that Lxer.com members here are always eager to help but also consider other sites that are specialized in furnishing support and help via forums. Keep in mind that you have to spend some effort on your own searching and looking for things in this Universe we call the Internet. FOSS developers and advocates are not going to feed you with a silver spoon. Don't forget that big part of the fun is learning on your own (I noticed that you don't enjoy doing that which could be a problem). I hope this helps and good luck.

Oct 26, 2005
9:01 PM EDT
Well, Compared to Slackware, every other distro is for sissies.


Slackware is for masochists and people who want to learn every nut and bolt.

The rest of us want to get on with using the OS for a purpose.


Oct 26, 2005
9:36 PM EDT
salparadise: you seem to have overlooked Gentoo, LFS, and sundry other bolts-and-wires style distros. (-:

Oct 26, 2005
11:07 PM EDT
Yup, You's right. I did forget them.

Not intentionally.

Oct 27, 2005
2:45 AM EDT
I love Slackware, yes it can be a hassle to set up but once its done it stays done!

Current Slackware 10.2 supports just about most hardware, installation is pretty easy as long as you understand disk partitioning as thats really the only hurdle nowadays for new users. But Slack is for those who want to really learn about their hardware and how it all works together and i for sure, wouldn't reccommend it to a new user.

If you want something easy that works then go get the PCLinuxOS live cd from http://www.pclinuxonline.com

Oct 27, 2005
1:07 PM EDT
WOW. You guys wrote a load of stuff here.

I went with SUSE 10. I downloaded the free DVD iso image and installed it to dual boot. I removed a XP partition I set up as drive F.

SUSE took about 4 GB.'s.

It saw all my hardware and completed in about 50 minutes.

I'm still reading but email and IM were a snap. I like the instant messaging becasue it works a lot like Trillian.

This was nothing like my experience with Slackware. I mean everything just installed without having to configure anything.

I appreciate you guys trying to help. I'm going to keep Lxer.com in my rss reader and follow what you're up to.

Really thanks....


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