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I'm considering taking the plunge...

...into the Linux world. I've been a Mac user for 20 years, and it still meets most of my needs, but I may be taking on a development project that might be more suitable for Linux. I imagine that I probably could find a way to run Linux on my Mac, but I'd rather keep that system separate, so I'm contemplating the purchase of a new system.

But...I am TOTALLY new to the world of PCs. I'd like any advice on choosing a system, and then choosing a flavor of Linux to run on it. My system doesn't need to be a fire-breather, and I don't think I'll have any unusual needs of it. I would like it to be compact and quiet, though, so I've been looking at components on silentpcreview.com.

But, I thought I'd ask here what people think might be a good "starter system" and flavor of Linux. Ease of installation would be appreciated.

Thanks for any input.


  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    It probably would depend on what the needs of your project would be, hardware wise. I have different Linux distros running on Dell laptops, on an EEEpc, on a HP Dual Core desktop, on an old Intel P4 system, on an old IBM Thinkpad and on many home built desktops that use Asus motherboards and AMD processors, and they all run great in the jobs they are used for.

    If your looking for a low cost setup, you could get a pre-built desktop with a Intel dual core processor, or an AMD X2 CPU and it would be speedy enough for most jobs. Combine that with 2 to 4 GB of memory, a 20" to 24" flat screen monitor and your in business. If, as you said, you are looking at components, and want to build your own we could go in to a whole list of different components to use, from the motherboard right on down to the case you put it in, but, I wouldn't start with that until I knew some more specifics about what you intend to use it for. More memory and a faster CPU would make compiling code a lot faster, if that's what you mean by development project.

    For ease of installation I usually suggest a distro like Linux Mint, although Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS and/or Mageia would be good second choices for a new user. Besides, most distros have the same range of applications available in their repositories, so, which ever distro you choose, you have the same capabilities available just by adding the applications you need for your work.
  • Thanks for the reply. I'm not going to go much special with this system; probably just run Qt and some very non-demanding GUIs. I may need to be able to directly address a USB port. And, I might want to get a LAMP stack up (if it isn't already). That's really about it (for now).
  • Someone mentioned these to me the other day:


    They look interesting, but...is 1-2GB of memory really enough to run Linux? I have more than that in my Mac.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    1GB or RAM is enough to run any Linux based distro, however if you want to have an actively used LAMP server 2+GB of RAM is a good idea.
  • I'm still looking at all of my options, both HW and OS. It occurred to me that I might want to develop a touchscreen UI for the app I have in mind. In my poking around, I've discovered something known as tslib. Do any of the distros include this (or are better suited to it somehow), or is tslib something that I'd add on later?

  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    I only have a Debian Sid install in front of me at the moment, but, Debian xserver-xorg-input-tslib available. I just looked at an old Fedora install and I also see tslib - Touchscreen Access Library available there also. So, I would just venture a guess that it's freely available in most distros. How well it's implemented can only be judged by actually trying it.
  • Good information here.

    I wasn't planning on putting an optical disk on my system. Can Linux be loaded on a brand new system by Ethernet? Is there a guide on this site for such an installation?

    Thanks for answering my rather unfocused questions...
  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    If you're talking about a network install, over Ethernet, most distros have an install over the internet boot option. Debian and fedora both have those options. Unfortunately, I'm at work and do not have quick access (I'm on Android phone) to search etc., so I can't look for a how-to on the site. A generic how-to might not be as good as the actual instructions that the particular distro you choose might have. I've never used this method for installing though, maybe someone who has could help give you some better information. The way I understand it, you need at least a boot.iso to start the install, then the rest can be done over the internet. Like I said, I'm not positive about what's needed, but if I can find more info when I get back to my home base, I'll post it. In the meantime, I'm hoping some of the other forum members can put in their 2 cents.
  • Pretty much every usual net install I've seen requires a boot media of some sort, but it can be a usb stick, full install from there as well.

    The usual recommendation is http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

    I have not done a net install either, because my internet is very limited. I have started the process though a couple times, and it looks relatively easy.

    But looks like it can be done without media with some work.

    Tslib shows up in the same package as GoinEasy9 says on the latest 'buntu derivatives.

    For ease of installation, I'd say a full install is best. Debian is "great", but distributions such as the Ubuntu family, or OpenSuse are a bit more user friendly for a beginner. Debian is not hard by any means, the others just have some custom tools/options that make general setup/use a bit easier (my opinion, installing things like codecs or graphic drivers, etc.). I ran Sid for several months, and had no problems, other than the large updates taking up too much of my internet.

  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    Sorry for the delay.

    All of my installations are done through netinstall and loading installation disks to the hard drive, so I have plenty of experience with this subject. The network installations require a boot medium, which can be a disk or a USB stick with the installer loaded and an ethernet connections, all net installers I have used only load ethernet because wifi requires too many applications for the limited filesize.

    Now many Linux based distros do not currently offer network installations, so I recommend looking into installation from USB sticks. Can you tell us more about the system you plan to put it on such as mac or PC, hardware and specific needs so we can recommend the best options?
  • You can try Ubuntu as a home linux based desktop. It has Ubuntu software center, where you can install any apps. on demand for free. Besides it got paid apps. too.

    Hope this helps.
  • win2tank
    win2tank Posts: 25
    edited November 2011
    This system that I found on Newegg looks like a great buy, I might get one myself when they get it back in stock:

    Fujitsu PRIMERGY TX100 S2

    For testing purposes I would get a virtualization product and run a Linux distro as a virtual machine, you can use VMware Fusion to run virtual machines on your Mac.
  • There's a quiz you can take on which distribution is the best for you based on your computer knowledge and preferences. http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/

    I'm a new user too, and my two cents: the plunge is definitely worth it. :)


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