Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Which Distribution?

This is going to be a long blog post.

When I build a machine for someone, or get the job of setting up small to medium sized office I often get asked a few questions about the OS that they will have installed. Some outright request an MS Windows install and some more enlightened managers ask about Linux. Below I have complied a short Q&A.

1) Which Linux Distribution is right for me?

2) There are many hundreds of Linux Distributions and finding the right one for me without the need to install each and every one is a royal pain in the arse.

3) Is Linux like MS Windows?

4) I have been told that Linux costs more than MS Windows.

5) Won't I/we have problems if we use a Linux Distribution when other use something else?

6) What is the differences between the various Linux Distributions?

7) I have been told Linux is hard to use.

Some of those questions do not have a quick and easy answer but they can all be answered in a fashion that can be understood by everyone.

Answer 1) The right Distribution for you is the one you and whoever it is that will be using it feel comfortable with. Myself I would recommend one of the Ubuntu distributions. Of those I recommend Xubuntu or Kubuntu.

Answer 2) See answer 1. Of all the distributions available very few will actually fit the vast majority of users and potential users. X and Kubuntu are excellent at hardware detection. They are easily monitored from remote and are easy to update and add extra packages.

Answer 3) Yes and No. Yes in that an OS operates the same way at the very base level. They allow for copy files, they allow editing of files etc etc. No because if all OS's where the same what would be the point of all the various OS's out there?

Answer 4) Cost or Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comes up all the time with offices with more than 4 computers and is a massive subject and I don't have the time nor space here to cover every facet of it. The truth is that you can get a Linux distribution for nothing but getting someone to maintain the whole network can be expensive. However, weighed together a Linux distribution is cheaper as the cost of the OS itself is nothing. However, there is a lot more to TCO than I cover here.

Answer 5) A Linux distribution comes with or can be added later, lots of applications that can handle 99% of all formats out there. Be they document formats, video formats or music formats. So, the short answer is a no you will not have interpolarity issues.

Answer 6) The main differences between all the various distribution are: package management (some have it, some do not). Some have a GUI to work in, others do not. In short the differences can be huge.

Answer 7) If you can use a muse and keyboard you can use a modern Linux distribution.

I have been short in my answers and have not gone in depth on any given subject so if you would like more information on a Linux distribution then feel free to email me at mr.jeepster at gmail dot com (replace at with @ and dot with .) the email address is obscured in an attempt to squash spammers. If you do email me then I will answer any questions you have and will if requested send an information pack which I compiled myself. I can also offer my services as a Remote Administrator and installer of Linux Networks.

I hope that some of the information given here was and is useful to you.

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