Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Which Linux?

If you are planning to run Linux the first thing that you need to decide is which Linux you want to run. From the outside looking in, the dark continent of Linux looks depressingly tribal. LinuxCD.org boasts a 1000+ versions of Linux and BSD. What? And they think that's a good thing? I guess it depends on your point of view.

If you are coming to Linux from Windows you naturally want to know what's the best "distro" to install. Do you install openSUSE which is sponsored by Novell? Or Gentoo? Or Fedora which is sponsored by Redhat? Or Ubuntu which you are going to be able buy pre-installed on Dell machines? Or something else?

I'm going to stick my neck out here. You know what? It doesn't much matter. Linux is Linux: whichever "distro" you install you are going to get basically the same Operating System with the same applications.

It is time for me to fess up. I've been playing around with Linux for a long time. But "playing" is right: I've never really got to grips with Linux and I've never used Linux as my main OS. I first installed Linux from a Yggdrasil distro. I still have the CD which is dated "Fall 1993." The kernel version is 0.99.13. But then came Windows 95... Over the years I have regularly installed Linux to see what was happening. In the main it has been Redhat Linux that I have used. So, because I'm familiar with Redhat, but also because Redhat have a strong commercial rather than home focus, I'm going to install Fedora.

Here's the plan. My trusty Dell Inspiron 1150 laptop is slowly grinding to a halt. In a few months I'm going to buy a new one. Should I install Linux on my new laptop? Because I'm not brave/stupid (delete where applicable) enough to just dump Windows, I'm going to test Linux out on VMWare before making a decision. I must be able to:
  1. Connect to my company's Exchange Server and get my mail.
  2. Connect to my company's Windows 2003 Server and access files.
  3. Print stuff.
  4. Optionally authenticate via Active Directory.

That is a pretty modest set of objectives, I think. They are, of course, business focused objectives and the focus for this blog will be in using Linux for business.

It is time to download Fedora.

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