Introduction: I’ve actually decided that I’m not switching to Linux, at least not right now. I’d already written this when everything changed, though, so I’ll still post it here in case it’s useful to anyone…
What’s a Distribution?
There’s a lot of different distributions around, some commercial, some slightly commercial, and some not at all commercial. Some are more suited to desktop systems, and some are only really suited to servers. Some require relatively little knowledge of Linux to set up, and some expect you to know what you’re doing.
Even if you’re after a fairly straightforward desktop system, and you don’t know what you’re doing all that well (like me), there’s still a fair few choices. I’ve used
Almost all are based around one of two package management systems…
Kind of like a cross between
Red Hat started a package management system called RPM – Redhat Package Manager. You get your software as .RPM files, and that file contains everything needed to install a program. A bit like a single file you run to install a Windows program.
Most other distributions use the same system.
The problem with this initially is that it doesn’t do anything for sorting out dependencies. Say one program needs a certain set of libraries to be installed before it will work. With RPMs, you can install the program, but it just won’t work properly until you get the libraries it needs, and install them too.
Not too much of a problem, but if those libraries need something else installed, you can get into a bit of a cycle trying to get everything installed and working.
The upshot of it is that when you tell it to install the program, it just reports back that it needs to get three packages, and tells you how bit they are. You say ‘ok’, and it goes off and does it all for you.
Actually, package management for RPM distributions has become much better these days anyway, so the difference isn’t as significant as it sounds any more.
But all of this means that systems based on Debian tend to be easier to update and add or remove software.
Can we just gloss over the fact that there’s other package management systems too? We’ll be here all day if we start talking about
So You Want?
Something based on Debian would be preferable, though it doesn’t matter as much as it used to.
Yes, sorry, I’m getting carried away there with details. My choice?
I’m going for
I booted the live CD version on Zippy (our desktop machine) yesterday, and it seemed to recognise everything in the machine without any problems. Just gave me a working desktop. I saw enough to think I’d be happy to use it, so I need to carry on preparing from here…