This won't be brief, but let me start by saying that I do have some *nux experience, albeit from no less than 7 years ago. I will say that Linux does not scare me, even in command line mode. I'm here because I have specific requirements that the general 'pros n cons' discussions just don't answer except on an individual basis and with too many answers to evaluate for each. Not to mention alot has changed in the Linux community since the last time I dabled and I don't want to waste my time to later find out that there was a better choice to be made.
I have several machines in a home networked environment all running some version of a popular alternate OS. And a Mac Book, which isn't up for discussion according to my wife, though I think that is just fine since she runs the house and I only run a few segments of it. Ok, maybe just one segment. And hell, it already has a flavor of *nux on it.
I have 2 Toshiba Satellite laptops with the params as indicated in the attached pdf.
I have 1 Dell Optiplex GX280 with params as below:
Intel¬Æ Pentium¬Æ 4
1.5 Gb, 400 & 533 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Chipset: Intel Grantsdale
AC97, Sound Blaster emulation
PCI Express 1.0a
and currently using a Radeon 9200 vid card with 256Mb mem though the system board is integrated Intel Extreme Graphics (in case I decide to yank the vid card later)
For the Dell, I'd like to use it as a file server/media streaming server: audio, video, pictures, etc.--more appropriately a media center box that can stream to other devices (I have been using ORB to do this) as well as be used as a file server . The dell has almost 2 Tb of disk space, mostly on external USB2.0 drives.
For the laptops, I'd like to be able to view the streamed media (again, I have been using ORB to do this). I also need to have some programs, such as the game Spore or EQ II from the afore mentioned alternate OS; so something that can WINE. Until I can teach my kids how to use Linux, I'd like to also be able to take my existing hard disk images and create a virtual machine image and be able to run the image. There is a wireless Lexmark X3550 all-in-one on the network as well as the need to sync ipods and iphones from the non-Mac machines.
One more caveat. I'm a mobile guy who does web app development (currently in ASP.Net and looking to add to the repertoire, PHP on Apache and MySql--and like Linux, does not scare me); I'd like something that can both run linux on stick by booting to it, as well as over the top of what ever system I plug into while keeping my files in sync locally--PC and stick boot--or virtually.
Is this a tall order? If so, ok. I don't care if it takes multiple flavors of Linux to accomplish the end result, but I would prefer not having to take 2 months to do it either, though limiting the flavors to one is better. Or 2.
Someone out there has a home network setup using Linux like I just described--ah the beauty of open source software. What are you using, how successfully and what can you point me to? If I have to, I'll dig out my 1999 O'Reilly "Linux Device Drivers", but I really really do not want to.
Thanks and Regards,