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Getting started in more uncommon way

Link to this post 21 Feb 11

(Tried to read n search as much as possible before opening this new topic, so hopefully not too many repetitions and won't give mods and admins too much work).

New to Linux. Very new. Why? after all never learned any programming nor was a huge genius in IT. Rather laziness I must admit now, yet still - no impressive background. I see computer rather as a simple tool - o.k., maybe more sophisticated, than a hammer, yet still a tool. Since Windows systems are... well... to put it least offensive way - making my life more difficult and turn basically any computer rather into an obstacle, than a tool - I got motivated. To spend some time, move my lazy ***, learn, do some work and make it work better. Again: since 'm new, don't have a clue about most of them things and would appreciate very much some advice. All major issues, I will try to sum 'em up below.

1) NOT interested in a ready version with all in it. Don't need a million programs, desktops, colorful features and what-have-yous. I would like to download a possibly stable, minimalistic (light) kernel and than develop it custom, according to my needs. Hence:
a) Which kernel would be best, in Your opinion?
b) Where it's best to seek for programs to incorporate later on?
c) Where is the best source of commands (library perhaps?), from which I could learn and practice?
d) Best source of drivers?

2) Getting transferred. Is there any program, which could help me with choosing a system to boot (still need to keep my ekhmmm... Win...ekhe-ekhe until the OS is ready and alive.

3) Programs, operating common file formats, such as .doc and others, which seem to be very much in line with Microsoft products. Hope it's not difficult to find appropriate ones?

Enough for now.
Cheers for all help and advice,

Jaca

Link to this post 21 Feb 11

Your really making this more complicated than it needs to be. Even minimalist distros, like AntiX and Slitaz, have everything you need without all the fluff.
There is only one Linux kernel, some distros modify it so it performs better. The latest stable Linux kernel is in most cases the best one.
The best place to seek programs, is in the repo(s) of the distro you are currently using.
The best sources for commands is in the terminal, just typing "man <command>" , or use the beginners guide for bash here:
http://tldp.org/LDP/Bash-Beginners-Guide/html/
The file formats that you ask about, since you mentioned .doc, are mostly all interchangeable between Linux and Windows. There are a few Microsoft proprietary formats that are problematic, but, you deal with them when you need to. I've never had to.
If you really want to set up Linux from the bottom up, even though I'd suggest you start with one of the distros, you can try Linux_From_Scratch. Link here:
http://distrowatch.com/index.php?distribution=lfs&month=September&year=2010
It takes a bit of your time, but I've heard there's no better way to learn Linux than to install Linux from scratch.

BTW - you don't need to know programming or be even interested in IT to use Linux. These days many distros can be set up automatically, and, many will even set up the dual boot with Windows for you.

Link to this post 22 Feb 11

I agree with goineasy.Since you are a beginner to linux, it would be best to start with a custom made distro, like fedora, ubuntu. Both distros comeme with basic programs that need and allows to install others if you need. Any additional programs you want, you will be able to find them in the distros repositories accessed from the distro's software install app. There is little googling involved.

I prefer ubuntu because it has a very easy installing program the allows you to easily resize your partition, and dual boot with your previous OS. The installation is easier than window system installation.

Kernels are updated from the previous one. The newer the kernel, the better support it has for your hardware. Most dstros you download will have the lasted kernel.

You should first get familiar with linux on the basic foundation of how it works, how to install it, how to manage user accounts, security , the file system,etc: http://www.linux.com/learn/tutorials/411999-weekend-project-taking-the-next-step-with-linux-after-the-install
Once you understand the system in its basic form, then you can move on to more advanced stuff like building your linux OS from scratch. Start will an easy distro that is built for new users. Any distro based on fedora or ubuntu is where you should start. There are a lot of resources that will help with this. Start small and simple, then advance.

Link to this post 22 Feb 11

Check out arch and gentoo, they build from source but use build scripts that you can re-write for your needs. These would be very good ways to learn about Linux based systems.

Link to this post 24 Feb 11

Most of this advice is pretty good. If you REALLY want to understand what's going on, and learn a lot about the system (more than you can ever find out from MS about Windoze), then go with something like "Linux From Scratch" where with the help of the book (freely available) you can build your entire system from 'bits' and pieces. Or try Gentoo, which while not quite so bare-metal in its approach, you still will be building your system from a minimal install, compiling all the applications you want to use. I have used Gentoo in the past, and one of my older systems still runs it. I have the LFS book, but I haven't yet gone to that extreme in building a truly customized system. It does look intriguing however and when I have a spare few days I may try it out.

Link to this post 26 Feb 11

I would have to agree with those above as well that, for a beginner, one of the "popular and easy" distros is best even though most come with stuff you might not want or use. There are "lean and mean" versions of most! For example Xubuntu (my favorite - I'll explain why below) has all of Ubuntu's ease of installation and shares it's huge repositories, but it's quicker and simpler (for me anyway), prettier in my opinion, and much lighter on my hand-me-down 'puter's modest resources. Xubuntu has been "on a diet" recently and remains a great choice for speed and ease. It's my favorite because last summer when I built my very own custom perfect-just-for-me Linux (Debian, with Xfce and selected software), it took two months of searching and researching, trial and error, and even a few temper tantrums to finally get it to work on my hardware and do what I needed it to do. When I was all done and had my perfect-just-for-me mixture, what I ended up with was very little different from Xubuntu! I went through all that frustration and stuff only to end up with something I could have installed and fully customized in a few minutes!

Oh I learned alot in the process, but wow. I'll never try it again. I'm not a technically inclined kid at all. I just had my summer obsession I guess.:lol: But a beginner should use a distro that "just works" and take smaller steps at first.

Here's something else to consider: When you choose a distro, you're also choosing a repository. Some of them are vast, huge, wonderful, updated daily, and getting better all the time. Some distros have very limited repositories and people to maintain the applications. Some are very responsive to requests (the folks at PCLinuxOS, for example, add requested software quickly, usually a day or two), and some just ignore requests and offer the "common and popular" applications. So there's yet another reason to go with a distro like Ubuntu (or Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, etc) or Debian: Ginormous, humongous, vast, endless, awesome repositories where you can find all kindsa software you might not have even thought of or heard of! Experiment and discover what is best for you! Such limitless exploration is great for beginners (and kids like me who love to explore new stuff anyway), and is only possible with limitless repositories.

Enjoy!

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