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Linux Distributions
3

Linux Distributions

Linux Distributions

(OP)
Does anyone have an opinion on which Linux Distribution is best - from the perspective of a small business? I've read good things about the Caldera OpenLinux distrubution, particularly because it includes some useful applications (MSOffice - type apps) on the CD. Any comments or experience with Caldera or others?

RE: Linux Distributions

I am currently in the process of setting up my own home network with a linux box as a gateway and ftp server. I am using mandrake linux. This distribution is basically a redhat v6.0 distribution that has been supped up. I choose this version for it's easy of setup, and stability.

Don't worry about all the applications that are bundled with the version of linux that you plan on getting. Pretty much one version is the same as the next. Really the only difference is that some are easier to install, while others allow for much more setup options.

As far as buying the distribution, that is fine, in fact here is a site that has very good prices on a large number of distributions.

www.cheapbytes.com

This site has some distributions bundled with as many as 8 cds (if I recall correctly!) loaded with apps, information, etc.

I would recomended redhat or mandrake for a small business because it is the easiest to setup and get working. In fact, linux (any flavour, I think) is 10 times easier to setup on a network then windows 98! I discovered this tidbit to my surprise.

If you plan on converting all machines to linux, I would recomend converting a single PC first, to experiment and play with. Then when it has show itself to be reliable, then by all means convert the rest of the computers.

As far as MS Office type applications, I have heard that Applixware offers an office suite that is similar, and may be more powerfull then MS office.

regards
Troy

RE: Linux Distributions

My experience is that OPEN LINUX (Caldera) is quite easy to install for a basic PC copnfiguration. It worked on my PC from scratch, with the exception of the sound card. However, if I remember correctly the vers 1.3 offers only experiment PCI card support, but a new version should be out by now (with a kernel vers 2.2.x).

I also have had a good with the MANDRAKE 6.0 installation, which, e.g I had no problems to install my soundcard.

In use, I think that the kernel and system admin too from OpenLinux (LISA) is better then the one in the other distribution.

The office suite that comes with OpenLinux (startoffice is a good alternative to MSOffice - but use it with a lean Windowmanager (FVWM2 or other) instaead of KDE as it is quite memory demanding. Here again, I suppose that a more recent distribution of OpenLinux comes with StarOffice 5.0 which offers a reasonable compatibility with MSOffice.

RE: Linux Distributions

Redhat or SuSE.  They have the best hardware detection
routines.

SuSE is what I've been using for over a year, since it
uses the BEST file system: ReiserFS, a journaling filesystem, which makes recovery a breeze if you have a
crash.

SuSE includes 6 CD's, and one DVD, and 2500 applications.

The Germans are pretty aggressive (pretty smart too) with
Linux.  Give it a try.

RE: Linux Distributions

I would suggest that RedHat is very easy to install, especially if you are unfamiliar with the OS.  Try finding "RedHat *.* Unleashed", by Bill Ball, et al (where *.* represents your version number)  This book gives a reasonable explanation.

RE: Linux Distributions

If you are looking for "real" support, then Caldera is the way to go.  They seem to have the most knowledgeable people.  Not, to slight Redhat, which is what I am running, but for a business, support is essential for someone starting out.  I am fortunate to have a local expert, who is generally available anytime I need him.
If support isn't the issue, then I would go with Redhat, as it has the largest user base.  The journaling file system in version 8 is very worth while to insure data intregrity and loss prevention.

RE: Linux Distributions

Mandrake is an easily installable distro, but of recetly, u can try out knoppix, which serems to be quite stable and moreover, u can try it out before installing the same to your harddisk, as it is a live cd.

Hope this news is not very late for u.....

RE: Linux Distributions

Well, you can now forget Caldera.  They bought SCO/Unix and are cancelling their Linux distribution.

I am currently running 2 servers on Redhat 8.

RE: Linux Distributions

How does linux compare to windows these days?  If we switch over to linux, will we still be able to use AutoCAD and .dwg files?

RE: Linux Distributions

AutoCAD only runs under Windows.  There is a Windows emulator for Linux but I haven't heard of much success in it running Windows CAD programs (they tend to rely too much on the windows graphics drivers) and anyway being an emulator would mean the program would run much slower than under Windows directly.

There are native Linux CAD (2D) programs that will read .dwg or .dxf files.  Linuxcad and Qcad spring to mind.  (Qcad is GPL so it's free.)  Depending on how demanding your CAD requirements are you could look at these.

As for how Linux compares to Windows - really you're looking at oranges versus apples here.  Which way you go really depends on your needs.  Windows has better hardware driver support (most hardware vendors write windows drivers first, and only some write Linux drivers at all).  Windows has MS Office.  There are programs for Linux that are compatible with MS Office but there are always compromises there.  If you need VBA capability and extreme interprogram linking for spreadsheets and word docs and such then you're pretty much stuck with Windows (as far as MS Office goes).

Linux has advantages though.  It has literally thousands of people who use it, fix bugs, share the fixes, discuss improvements, develop new hardware drivers, etc etc etc.  It is much better at memory management and networking than Windows.  It has good robust applications if you're willing to make the break from Windows-dedicated file formats.

Having said all that, I use Windows 2000 at work here (no choice since we use a Windows-specific CAD program - Solid Edge) and I was using Linux at home for a number of years (recently started looking at FreeBSD and have been using that more and more).  I crash Windows regularly, usually a memory segment error or a graphics driver error.  I have never locked up my Linux computer (although I have frozen programs and once froze the X window system - but easy enough to switch consoles and kill the offending programs and carry on).  Obviously I prefer the *nix systems (Linux, FreeBSD).

RE: Linux Distributions

Jwillison has described the oses as it really is, well written and true to the word!!

RE: Linux Distributions

mferguson,

check out - http://www.linux.org/dist/ - for a good sized list of some of the available linux distributions.  From there, you can search different distributions based on your business needs.  Whether it's security, red hat based, embedded systems or just wanting a game console they'll have it listed.

jwillison,

As far as the "windows emulator for linux", check out - http://winehq.com.  You also will want to check out - http://www.linux.org/apps/all/Graphics/CAD/CAM.html - as they have several CAD programs that run specifically under linux.  

You will also want to take a look at http://http://wwws.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/6.0/ - and go to the Technical FAQ's which will answer the supposed myth's about the so called "compromises" in using such a product.  If you are going to make bold statements, please make bold educated statements, not just information you believe is correct just because you heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend...

Remember, we are supposed to be professionals here giving professional advice.

Your statement about linux compared to Windows being like comparing apples and oranges is incorrect also.... especially on the part of what this thread started about in the first place.  This is for small business and I think the following fits nicely into comparing linux and windows for small business purposes:

http://www.informit.com/isapi/product_id~%7B9C802930-E6DD-4119-9A8F-A7580B158E6D%7D/content/index.asp

RE: Linux Distributions

cspilman,

Who's the professional here?  Me, for giving my "educated" opinion (based on my personal experience, not on "friend of a friend") or you for questioning it because I don't happen to agree with you?  I was replying to pquillet regarding his query on AutoCAD and/or dwg files, not to mferguson from 4 years ago. (should really have been a new thread by the way)

I did mention there are a number of good Linux-based alternatives - in fact I use one, Qcad running on my FreeBSD-based machine.  But it won't load 3D AutoCAD drawings (I've tried).  I have also used Varkon under Linux.  And I have personally had no success running AutoCAD under wine.  I stand by what I said, even if it did run it would be much slower because of the emulation layer overhead.

As far as I know Star Office does not use Visual Basic, they use "Star Basic" and excel spreadsheets with VB programming lose a lot of the programming when loaded into Star Office (again, from personal experience, with version 5.2).  There is no mention on their site that they do more than load MS Office files, which is true and is probably sufficient for a lot of people's needs.  But if you rely on VB programming and have to convert it all to "Star Basic" to switch, that's a compromise that you have to take into account.  Just as switching from AutoCAD to another CAD program involves a lot of manual file conversion (again from painful personal experience).

If someone is going to consider making the switch from Windows to Linux they need to consider ALL the factors involved in that switch.  I personally would prefer that they did switch, but they need to understand it's not simply a matter of load new OS, load new programs, and go.  Especially where CAD is concerned, many of the major CAD programs are windows-specific (AutoCAD, Solid Works, Solid Edge).  If you need to pass information with suppliers and customers you need to know that you can convert the information to a format they can deal with.  Again, possible compromises.  Much of the information in a CAD file is lost on conversion, even between windows-specific programs.

I don't understand why people have to continually "compare" Linux to Windows all the time.  And to quote the article you  linked to,

even though the title of this narrative is "Linux vs.   Windows 2000," it must be stated that truth in such a comparison can be elusive

Each person has to first decide what they want in terms of an OS and then look at which works better for them, which is exactly what the article was doing.  A generic "Linux vs. Windows" is like a generic sub-compact vs pick-up, which vehicle should I buy?

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