free linux distro?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by robb., Oct 4, 2004.

  1. maybe i'm just a non-tech douche who hasn't googled enough. are there any good, free linux distros? it's about time i got off of windows for my web surfing at home.

  2. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    If you write an e-mail to linux they send you a free cd of suse9 i think. Even though that is a paid for version. some pc magazines give linux away free. I would try e-mailing first.
    if you will download it, make sure you use a good connection and that you won't disconect.
    Make sure the programs you use have a linux version, or a similar program to it.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The easiest way is to find a distro that will let you run a copy of Linux from CD rather than installing it to your hard drive - eg. Knoppix. What's the reason for wanting to move to Linux? If you're determined not to learn about computers and you don't have a neighbourhood geek who's keen to support you, it may end up being frustrating for you.

    I love it... but then I'm a geek :D

  4. despite my opening statements, i'm geek enough for linux. i basically want to go to an OS that isn't as susceptible to spyware and viruses, instead of buying software to try to prevent them from infecting my system. also, we've had a lot of trouble with compatibility with our USB printer. pre-XP windows has a lot of troubles getting it all to work.

  5. RLT


    Jul 10, 2004
    South Central OH
    I would second the Knoppix suggestion to see how it works on your system. If you like it then install it to your hard drive.
    Knoppix has a nice automagic setup for us lazy types.
    Go to for info on the most common distros. is another informative site for distro information.

    I'm currently running a Knoppix hard drive installation. Up for 7 months now. Nice thing about Knoppix is you can use the Debian apt-get and install new programs with ease.

    What ever you choose have fun and enjoy yourself. :hyper:
  6. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Most Linux distributions can be downloaded for free. If you're paying money for it (online or in a store) it's usually 'cause you're paying for documentation/cost of someone making the disks, or support (as in the case of Red Hat Enterprise or SuSe Professional).

    Knoppix is a great live boot CD. There's also an interesting audio/multimedia live CD called dyne:bolic that has a drum machine, software synths, MIDI/sampler, recording software, audio streaming, etc. It has some idiosyncracies but it's a good way to get your feet wet in Linux audio without installing on your HD. There's also a scientific/engineering distro called Quantian that looks cool. You can get Linux to run on XBoxes, Palm Pilots, and old x486 computers.

    I'm looking to get a more serious recording setup together, so I'm researching Agnula and Planet CCRMA. Both are very deep but I hope to reformat my HD, put in a good soundcard, and install Agnula pretty soon. The key to doing quality audio in Linux is making sure you have a low-latency kernel installed.

    I've only been into Linux for about a month, but I'm going apesh!t about it. I've used computers for 20 years but they've only really started to make sense since I've gotten into Linux. I hate the way Micro$oft has made billions off of a very mediocre, highly insecure/unstable OS.

    Taking advantage of Linux definitely requires time and effort, but I'm learning useful skills and having lots of fun. I'd suggest trying it on a non-critical machine before putting it on your main computer, or at the very least on its own hard drive. You really need to understand the diff btwn. MS and Linux file systems (and back up everything) before installing Windows and Linux on the same HD. I'm "practicing" Linux on a 4 year old Dell before I put it on my new HP.

    I'm using Red Hat Fedora Core 2, which has a lot of cutting-edge software that's still being tested. If you just want something that works I'd suggest finding a distribution billed as stable (i.e. "Debian stable") that's thoroughly debugged. When I install Agnula I'm going to go with their custom version of Debian stable called DeMuDi. is a great place to start, and Google searches will uncover massive troves of Linux info. If anyone wants to talk more about Linux, I'm eager (but not an expert!)--feel free to email me.
  7. kserg


    Feb 20, 2004
    London, UK
    how about... all of them :D

    slackware is great
  8. Some of my friends are big fans of Mandrake...might want to give that a shot.
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Is there anything like Virtual PC for Linux?

    We are heavily MS dependent at work, and all of our documents and spreadsheets are MS Office.

    It is about time for me to reload my PC, and I would love to load Linux, if it wouldn't make it impossible to do at least some of my work related stuff on it.

    Any inexpensive mp3 players that have an interface for Linux?
  10. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    There is an application called WINE. According to Chris Negus, author of the "Red Hat Fedora 2 Linux Bible,"

    "WINE is not really an emulator at all. WINE is a mechanism that implements Windows application-programming interfaces; rather than emulating Microsoft Windows, it provides the interfaces that a Windows application would expect."

    That said, I have not used WINE (I've heard of problems with certain apps) and you should check and search Linux forums (fora?).

    Most Linux distros include the Sun Microsystems OpenOffice suite, which has word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, publishing, image editing apps that are compatible with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PhotoShop, etc. I have not had problems opening MS Word or Excel docs. I have also not tried getting OpenOffice docs to work in Windows--I'm still setting up my home network.

    If you want to add Linux to your PC with a minimum hassle, look for a stable or supported distro, back up your system (Linux can deal with the Windows file system but not vice-versa), and try a bootable CD or install on a separate HD. If you do decide to do it on one HD be sure to Google "Linux Windows dual boot problems" or similar (there's an article on the RedHat site with the definitive fix), and be certain that you go into BIOS to make sure that LBA mode on your HD is supported/active. Dunno about the MP3 player but I'll look into it for you.
  11. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I think many of the options most of the popular distros come with include open office or one of the many other great spreadsheet/wp packages, which translates office files (not sure about office 2003).

    IME Mandrake has the shallowest learning curve, but you don't get the full experience from it.
  12. slackware is great 2.

    If you are a windows user, first Try Mandrake/Fedora, and after using it for a while, if you feel that it is still too much like windows, try slackware/debian/gentoo.
  13. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Well, I'm falling further and further down the Linux rabbit hole (penguin hole?) I'm getting more competent with UNIX commands and I'm close to getting a functional recording setup together.

    I've been downloading a lot of Linux distributions that can be burned onto a live bootable CD so you can get a taste of Linux without putting anything on your HD (though many can be permanently installed). If anyone is interested I would be happy to burn them and send them a CD for a few bucks to cover the disc and shipping. Contact me by PM if interested

    Note to moderators/whoever else: This is entirely legal and encouraged by the GNU/Linux free license. It's one of the reasons Micro$oft is getting very nervous, and rightly so.

    Embellisher--you should be able to hook up an iPod or other MP3 device through firewire. I've done a little bit of searching on the net, sounds like it take some doing. Firewire device detection in Linux has some ways to go.
  14. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    lots of us mods are geeks too. I'm a Debian guy... but am knee deep in BSD at work.
  15. With the constant "BSD is dying/dead" stuff that comes up, that becomes a Doom level reference: Knee deep in the dead. :p

    I did a fresh install of Fedora Core 3 four days ago (with the gcc update and the change to udev it is just safer that way), pretty nice so far. This replaced FC2, which replaced FC1, which replaced RH9... all the way back to RH 5 which replaced Slackware which replaced Yggsadril... I messed with BSD a few times in there, after switching back to only x86 hardware when Sun went from SunOS to Solaris (QNX on a 3 node network of 386 machines in the same timeframe, but it didn't pan out for anything but process control at the time), which I went to from Interactive SysV UNIX (Kodak was in software in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was their UNIX distro)... I've never been an M$ customer, other than a copy of MS-DOS I was forced to own. Apple ][s and used PDPs got me by before that. Hmm, kinda got off track there... The earlier reference to is a great place to start for people looking into a GNU/Linux distro. The SUSE reference is OK, it starts as free but then you have to pay for updates after a couple months. The Debian installer is a little much for first timers generally, though it is easy compared to Gentoo or LFS or Sourceror... I think Fedora Core is a good place to start, and not a bad distro to stay with. You can have fun installing and configuring less polished distros, but don't gain much other than experience installing and configuring those distros for the effort. Gentoo and Debian have one bonus, having to do with the nVidia binary drivers, but it isn't that difficult with the others.

    All the distros work from the same set of available software, the differences are in the installers, version choices and patches applied. Some choose to stay with older versions, some stay on the bleeding edge and some stay just behind the bleeding edge. Pick one and dive in, you may choose to stay with your first choice or try a few before settling on the one you like best. It isn't more difficult, just different, so have fun and welcome to the free (and Free) side!
  16. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    There's a program called VMWare ( ) that will allow you to boot Windows while in Linux and vice versa. This program used to be free (IIRC) but it costs cash now.
  17. Where does that comes from?
  18. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    Debian - Woody :: it's got the uber wonderful apt-get which is imho like sex with a computer :)

    Knoppix - :: it's built off of debian, but it's a bootable live cd so you could fiddle before you try

    Mandrake 10 - :: very nice for first time *nix users

    Gentoo - :: if you're feeling brave i'd do this, they have an EXCELLENT step-by-step procedure for installing and maintaining

    I think you should really follow the distro that supports you the most, if you want to be able to upgrade to a new release with 0 downtime, grab the source of a package because you need to recompile for some reason, have great stability, excellent package management then Debian is your diggety.

    If you want something incredibly easy to use then I'd suggest Mandrake.

    If you want to be a real man you'd go get a SPARC box and throw Solaris 9 on :bassist:

    EDIT: Just thought I'd throw in one little thought/fact. Everything in Linux is "free." The way you are refering to free is different then what this actually means. Linux is OpenSource which means anyone is able to look/edit/reform/or do whatever they want with the original source code. In a business sense all most all of linux is free as well, some offshoots but hey.....programmers have familys too.
  19. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I've done a bit of reading about BSD but I've haven't used it (yet). Could folx with BSD experience give a quickie lowdown compared to Linux? As I understand it, BSD is more organized/centralized in its release structure.

    My intro to Linux was Christopher Negus' wonderful "Red Hat Fedora Core 2 Linux Bible", with the 4 CDs included. Since then I've been using mostly Agnula DeMuDi (Debian-based music distro) and Knoppix-based live CDs. Since I installed Knoppix to HD I haven't really used FC2. I've messed around a bit with Slax, a Slackware-based minimal live CD. So far Debian makes the most sense to me (I find updating with terminal-based APT vastly superior to GUI-based RPM system).