Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

An Intro to Linux Distros and Live CDs
Linuxaria ^ | 23 October 2011 | linuxari

Posted on 10/24/2011 8:47:39 AM PDT by ShadowAce

With over 600 GNU/Linux distributions available, 300 of which are under active development, what’s the best? How do you choose?
It would be nice if there was a Linux Store, like the Apple Stores, where you could actually walk in and “testdrive” a Distro (short for Distribution). Unfortunately, there aren’t any “Linux Stores”. Money’s just not there. Apple products are premium products with premium price tags. Leasing a store, stocking it with “testdrive systems” and having Geeky Guru’s on the payroll just won’t work with a FREE product.

Why are there so many Distros anyway? Makes it difficult to find the right one. Let’s start by cutting the 600 in half. Almost half of the Distros out there are no longer being developed. No longer being improved. Bugs aren’t getting fixed. Dead bits ;-)

This isn’t written in stone but probably the best Distro for you will be one of the 300 odd Distros still under active development.

Complicating this dilemma of choice is the broad differences in Distros. Some are general purpose and some have a very specific focus like a Distro for Scientific or Music Production use. Some Distros are for business use and others focus on the individual Home user.

There are others like the ones Banking Institutions have developed where security is King and other Distros can hack your windows passwords or WiFi security.

Even though most Distros are free, the time involved in installing a Distro onto a PC or laptop can be costly because “Time is money”.

Enter the Live CD…

Live CD: “A Linux Distro that boots from a CD (or DVD) and runs in your computer’s memory without being installed is a Live CD. ”

Rumor has it that Linux Live CDs have been around since 1998, so the concept isn’t new. But it is FREE in the best way – it frees you from committing yourself until you actually see and “testdrive” the new Distro. Live CDs free you to sample the field without consequences or investing much time nor will they modify your system (unless you want it).

Last May (2011) Ubuntu came out with a radically new Desktop Interface called “Unity” that was very controversial. The “father” of Linux, Linus Torvalds, disliked it so much that he switched to an entirely different Distro of Linux. I downloaded the new Distro (Ubuntu 11.04) and “testdrove” the live CD. Decided I really liked the Distro so by clicking the Install Icon on the desktop installed it without hitch on my harddrive permanently (until something better comes along). My cup of tea.

I also tried the new Gnome 3 Desktop with the latest RedHat Fedora Distro and didn’t like Gnome 3. Went off in a direction that I didn’t care for in it’s look and feel. Was easy enough to find out with the Live CD of Fedora without any wasted time and effort. Just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Live CDs are simple to obtain and use. I’ll use Ubuntu as my example. Other Distros are similar. There are two ways to get a Live CD of the latest Ubuntu Distro – download it from the Ubuntu Website (http://www.ubuntu.com/) or order a free CD already burned for you from the same website.

After you get the CD ISO then just burn it to a CD and boot it.

Modern PCs and laptops have a boot provision that allows you to select the boot device. It varies with the maker of the computer. So it’s just a matter of inserting the CD , rebooting the system, and selecting the CD Drive to boot from.

However, doing even this simple procedure could get tedious if you try “testdriving” several hundred Distros.

Some suggestions for narrowing the field:

  1. Define your needs. List them out. What do you need with particular attention being given to your unique priorities and application/hardware restraints.
  2. Read reviews on the Distros. They are out there and just doing a bit of Googling will get you up to speed and current. Especially if it’s something new, like Ubuntu 11.04 was last May or 11.10 in these days. Get referrals from friends, too
  3. Watch the video reviews on youtube (or other video sites), I find them very interesting to get a first impression of the look and feel of a distribution.
  4. Then download your much smaller list and “testdrive” them until you narrow down the field to the one you want to go with, a big help can be to use USB stick instead of CD, it’s easier and faster to get a Live distribution on a USB stick, the requisite is usually to have at least 1 GB USB stick.

Google’s your friend here.

Happy “testdriving”!


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: linux
DistroWatch for lists/reviews of linux distros.

FrozenTech's list of Live CDs.

1 posted on 10/24/2011 8:47:43 AM PDT by ShadowAce
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

2 posted on 10/24/2011 8:48:52 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

3 posted on 10/24/2011 8:49:32 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
I like Fedora. It's what I have on my personal laptop, and it fits in nicely with my work environment.
4 posted on 10/24/2011 8:50:23 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Try before you buy, then “buy” for free!

Puppy Linux will give an old slow PC a new lease on life. I know a guy who’s been using it to recycle donated PCs for military families.


5 posted on 10/24/2011 8:53:35 AM PDT by bigbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

I’m a Ubuntu fan since many communications applications that I use are based on it.


6 posted on 10/24/2011 8:53:42 AM PDT by NewHampshireDuo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
I started with the original Slackware on floppies. I'm running SUSE 11.1 on my personal laptop. SUSE 11.2 on my FreeRadius servers. I think I still have Fedora on one or two legacy boxes. And the old 2.4.19 kernel on an ARM appliance.

But, whatever I pick, and works for the need, I stick with it. I'm not big on updates and moving to the newest.

I have work to do, and don't have time to be installing and figuring out new distros.

/johnny

7 posted on 10/24/2011 8:56:52 AM PDT by JRandomFreeper (gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: NewHampshireDuo
My kids' computer has Ubuntu on it.

To be honest--and it's probably a lack of familiarity on my part--I don't like it as much. It's based on Debian, and most of my experience (and job experience) has been Red Hat.

8 posted on 10/24/2011 8:57:09 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
I'm biased toward Linux from Scratch. I use that a starting point for my homegrown, heavily-customized system. Every single component is built from source (Acrobat Reader and Flash are among the few exceptions) and tweaked for my CPU. Plus the kernel is light, comprised of only the features and drivers that I have on my platform.
9 posted on 10/24/2011 8:57:48 AM PDT by re_nortex (DP...that's what I like about Texas.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Thanks for the links.

I had no idea there were so many live CD distros!

Live distro-wise, I’ve only used Linux Mint... it works fine for my purposes.


10 posted on 10/24/2011 8:58:34 AM PDT by Nervous Tick (Trust in God, but row away from the rocks!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: re_nortex

I’ve explored Linux From Scratch, but it’s been several years. Has it gotten any easier?


11 posted on 10/24/2011 8:59:52 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: NewHampshireDuo
Real men pipe /dev/ttyS0 to /dev/audio and listen to the bits fly by. ;)

/johnny

12 posted on 10/24/2011 9:01:02 AM PDT by JRandomFreeper (gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper

#!/bin/bash

say() { mplayer “http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?q=$1";; }


13 posted on 10/24/2011 9:03:11 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
7 years ago I was in to Gentoo, like it fast. Today? Mostly Win XP and 7, seems I have just lost it for Linux. I mean, I tried Ubuntu a couple of years ago, and yeah it was super cool/easy, etc, but I'm back on Win 7.

I guess I will try Linux again soon, especially to open the potential doors to other employment. Question, what distro is the most used out there in the "paying" world, Redhat?

14 posted on 10/24/2011 9:05:10 AM PDT by Paradox (The rich SHOULD be paying more taxes, and they WOULD, if they could make more money.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper

/12.1

15 posted on 10/24/2011 9:05:42 AM PDT by Michael Barnes (Obamaa+ Downgrade)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
your command line fu is strong.
16 posted on 10/24/2011 9:07:32 AM PDT by Michael Barnes (Obamaa+ Downgrade)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Paradox
I would say Red Hat is the most popular out there.

To learn it, you can use CentOS or Fedora.

17 posted on 10/24/2011 9:07:43 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper

SUSE 11.4 has been real good and the upgrade was smooth. Lets you make an easy update to KDE 4.7 with improved performance. But stay away from SUSE 12.1 (RC right now). Been a disaster.


18 posted on 10/24/2011 9:10:26 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
I have Festival installed on my machines so they don't need net access to talk to me. ;)

/johnny

19 posted on 10/24/2011 9:10:44 AM PDT by JRandomFreeper (gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: bigbob
Puppy Linux is cute and slick in so many ways but I have never been able to get wireless to work (and keep working) satisfactorily, but for desktops a few years old it is great. For really old desktops and laptops (like my 400 Mhz Celeron) you want something like AntiX, as current Puppy is just too big a bite.
20 posted on 10/24/2011 9:17:45 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: re_nortex

I tried LFS a few years back. I must have missed something in the process as I didn’t get it to work. Went back to debian, but might try again at LFS.

I use my linux machine as a test server, nothing too radical.


21 posted on 10/24/2011 9:17:47 AM PDT by Betis70 (Bruins!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: steve86
But the big question is "Does kuickshow work?" Because for scanning, sorting, and viewing the thousands of family photos, all the other .jpg viewers injest vacuum for my needs. So I'll stick with 11.1 on my personal box. even if I have to manually mount /proc/bus/usb to get the GPS to work.

/johnny

22 posted on 10/24/2011 9:17:52 AM PDT by JRandomFreeper (gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper

Linux may be a good OS but the lack of standardization is a crippling issue.

as for me I have MINT running on old P4 for YouTube etc on my big screen TV.

for a starter Linux PUPPY is good esp on older Pc’s (it does have some probs with WPA2 networks)


23 posted on 10/24/2011 9:19:58 AM PDT by Bidimus1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

Do You Want FR To Survive?


Click The Starving Forum Skeleton To Donate

Then Support Your Forum

24 posted on 10/24/2011 9:29:58 AM PDT by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are here! What will you do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

25 posted on 10/24/2011 9:40:38 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

I’ve slowly been switching over from linux to Mac OSX. I don’t like the Ubuntu Unity interface, and I have to keep a windows XP virtual machine on my linux computer just to use my scanner. Seems like too much work these days...maybe I’m getting too old. Soon I’ll be buying a new iMac, and I’ll retire the old linux computer.


26 posted on 10/24/2011 9:42:38 AM PDT by shorty_harris
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

One “fact” in the article is incorrect - Live CD’s have been around since 1995ish - Yggdrasil was the first such entry. For those who don’t like to “update” the real problem I’ve had personally is hacked systems. I’ve had a system up and running exposed to the internet hacked twice. It had ftp and http deamons exposed - and these were used as infestation vectors. I’ve found if I do an update about once a year, this tends to not be a real problem.

Over the years I’ve moved from SLS to Slackware to Suse to Ubuntu. I’ve tried many - I’m not real keen on Unity at the moment, and prefer Gnome-2 mostly because it ISN’T that different from what I expect. I have Unity up at home, and Gnome-2 at work.

Unity also had real stability issues on bleeding edge Intel hardware like Sandybridge that was one of my problems with it.


27 posted on 10/24/2011 9:52:04 AM PDT by fremont_steve
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

I have Knoppix (debian) on a USB drive that works great. I just save anything I need on another USB.

Saved my butt when the hard disk in my laptop died.


28 posted on 10/24/2011 9:53:57 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

I have ubuntu on one of my computers. Very sluggish (I forget which GUI I have). Anyway, I am looking for a command-line only distro. The main requirement is speed. The only app I run on it is CherryPy. I would also love a replacement for vi (no matter how much I use it, I can never remember how to do anything with it, without the cheat sheet), but don’t want to have to run a GUI.

Any suggestions?


29 posted on 10/24/2011 9:55:04 AM PDT by jjsheridan5
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

I have been away from Linux for almost 10 years now.. Didn’t like the Red Hat back then, so I went back to Win..

A couple of months ago I went the easy path and DL/Installed UBUNTU on my laptop. I have had no problems with it so far.. but after advice from a friend in Holland, I searched and found ‘CentOS-6.0-i386-LiveDVD’...

I have not messed with it yet, so I have no idea how it looks.

I am worried that it will be FAR off from the midway point (UBUNTU - Win)..

I used to use unix (decades ago), but I don’t remember the commands.. I at least remember most DOS commands :D

Anyway, any advice on whether I should try it out or not?


30 posted on 10/24/2011 9:55:04 AM PDT by Bikkuri
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Probably heresy to say this - but although I like LiveCD’s as rescue disks - the idea that you slap a LiveCD into a disk drive and then find out if you “like” a distro or no - to me doesn’t really make sense.

Whether I like a distro has to do with how it feels to live with the actual distro - set it up to do real work - a Live CD “test drive” will show you what the user experience “feels like” - but not sure I buy how useful that is in real life.

YMMV.


31 posted on 10/24/2011 10:02:57 AM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten

What I do (or used to do) is install the distro as a virtual machine using Virtualbox. That’s closer to “real” than a live CD.


32 posted on 10/24/2011 10:08:17 AM PDT by shorty_harris
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce; Betis70; JRandomFreeper
I’ve explored Linux From Scratch, but it’s been several years. Has it gotten any easier?

Easier?

NO! :-)

Like the Grumpy Old Man on SNL, that's part of the reason I like it. While not exactly like climbing Mt. Everest, the challenge of Linux from Scratch is why I find it worthwhile. I'm a software developer in real life so LFS helps me keep my skills sharp (in my advancing years) as I untangle the things that don't quite work (such as Linux PAM with the recent glibc-2.14 which has deprecated Sun's RPC). It'd never recommend it for a Linux newcomer or for those who don't enjoy tweaking or get easily discouraged.

That said, the LFS documentation is beyond excellent. If you follow the steps to the letter without any deviation, you'll have a fine, working system. As opposed to a pre-packaged distro, I think the LFS docs are so good because they have to be! It also like LFS because it's in the spirit of early Linux as Linus Torvalds wrote back in 1991: "...do you pine for the days when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?"

33 posted on 10/24/2011 10:10:58 AM PDT by re_nortex (DP...that's what I like about Texas.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

After a (cross country) family member had a rootkit/trojan on their PC last week, and I “theoretically” got rid of it for them, I suggested to them they create a bootable Linux CD to use for online banking. I decided to test one here, so I downloaded Ubuntu 11.10 and created the disk. I booted my Win7 x64 laptop to the disk and tried it out for a while.

When I rebooted to Win7 it was royally pi**ed about something, and insisted on “recovering” by restoring a system restore. During the time I was running the Ubuntu disk I never once asked it to modify my existing partition.

Now I’m trying to locate a decent bootable Linux disk that can be simply used for online banking purposes, that will guarantee to not touch any existing partitions. Ubuntu has me gun shy.


34 posted on 10/24/2011 10:14:27 AM PDT by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
I just went through a terrible experience with a certain flavor of Linux that is distributed by a used-to-be-well-known company that was the original pioneer of computer networking. I'll not give the name of the company, but I will say that the first letter of it's name is "N".

This distro was so trouble-ridden, so messed up, so full of misbegotten cybernetic dreck, that it cost me two consecutive all-nighters to do something that literally took all of thirty seconds once I blew it off my new Dell server and installed a totally free alternative distro.

I will give the name of the alternative that has now made me very happy and made the learning of wonderful, fascinating Linux the enjoyable experience it should be.

Ubuntu.

35 posted on 10/24/2011 10:15:15 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MarineBrat

To answer my own problem from above.... I discovered this...

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=lps
http://www.spi.dod.mil/lipose.htm

Will burn it and see how it goes.


36 posted on 10/24/2011 10:25:41 AM PDT by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: jjsheridan5
I believe that most Red Hat-compatible distros would work. Customize the install to not install X or any desktop Managers, and it should boot directly into a CLI.

I don't know if the Ubuntu family can customize the install to do that.

37 posted on 10/24/2011 10:42:58 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: shorty_harris

Totally agree - this makes way more sense to me.


38 posted on 10/24/2011 10:44:26 AM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Bikkuri
Anyway, any advice on whether I should try it out or not?

Would it hurt to try it?

I don't know what you didn't like about RH 10 years ago, so I can't help you out. However, it has made great strides in those 10 years, and won;t be anything like you remember it.

39 posted on 10/24/2011 10:44:56 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Steely Tom
This distro was so trouble-ridden, so messed up, so full of misbegotten cybernetic dreck, that it cost me two consecutive all-nighters to do something that literally took all of thirty seconds once I blew it off my new Dell server and installed a totally free alternative distro.

That what happens when you partner with Microsoft. :)

40 posted on 10/24/2011 10:53:34 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
That what happens when you partner with Microsoft. :)

Thanks for the clue! Makes sense in so many ways. I had no idea.

41 posted on 10/24/2011 11:33:07 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: 21stCenturion

...


42 posted on 10/24/2011 12:00:09 PM PDT by 21stCenturion ("It's the Judges, Stupid !")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
...there aren’t any “Linux Stores”. Money’s just not there...

There is a lot of money, it's just not in stores.  A few days ago I bought Red Hat (RHT) and it's already made me $800 richer.  It's hard for most people to understand where technology has gone and how a $9B S&P500 company make money giving away software.  It does.

43 posted on 10/24/2011 1:12:45 PM PDT by expat_panama
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MarineBrat

I use PCLinuxos it works great with just about everything i throw at it

www.pclinuxos.com


44 posted on 10/24/2011 2:40:28 PM PDT by markman46 (engage brain before using keyboard!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: markman46

There are three main categories: Debian-based (Ubuntu and variants), RPM-based (Mandriva and variants and Slackware-based (Gentoo and variants). Every Linux distro will have a GUI interface layered on top of the X Windows system: GNOME, KDE, XFCE, and LXDE and assorted other window managers. The first four are DE’s. Linux uses a unified package manager to manage and handle updates for both the system as a whole and for individual packages. There are different command-line package managers and GUI front-ends for them like Synaptic and YAST. Linux’s greatest asset is its rock-solid stability and computing ease of use. That explains why its been around so long and offers an amazing variety of distros to cater to every interest and serve every possible need.

We’ll see what its going to be like for it when the next twenty years come around.


45 posted on 10/29/2011 2:16:21 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: Paradox
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is used in most larger organizations. Oracle's 'Unbreakable' Linux (which is really a customized version of RHEL) is starting to gain alot of traction mostly due to Oracle's commitment to a monitoring environment that will manage the entire Oracle HTTP Stack (Apache/OracleWebLogic/Oracle DBMS).

You're not going to go wrong picking up and learning Red Hat Linux if you're going to be looking for a job supporting Linux.

46 posted on 10/29/2011 2:57:33 AM PDT by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson