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Old 06-29-2009, 09:35 PM   #1
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Default Need ubergeek linux advice

So I have this old Dell Inspiron 8000 that is starting to flake out on me. Lockups, BSODs, etc. For the hell of it I am thinking about reinstalling the OS, and considered giving Linux a try again. I want to throw the laptop in the garage and use it as a music server. So all I need is internet access, the ability to connect an external drive (USB, formatted by XP, FAT 32 I think), an MP3 player, and something like winamp that can connect to and stream shoutcast.

So last time I looked Ubuntu was the distribution of choice. Easy to install, good GUI. Is this still the case, or is there a better option?

I am a moron that never figured out how to compile linux code for a particular distribution, so one that is set up for morons who want to easily install apps would be a plus.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:48 PM   #2
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Yea go with Ubuntu. Still the most user friendly option as far as I know and will suit your needs fine.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:11 PM   #3
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Ubuntu or Redhat... doesn't take a uberlinuxnerd for that one

If you have a well sorted PC (other then said laptop) you can run a VMware player instance of both to "test" the waters.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:14 PM   #4
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Yeah, I found installing Ubuntu quite easy. Automatically formatted the hard drive and partitioned it. Automatically found all the right drivers for my video, sound, LAN, mouse, printer, etc. Automatically created admin and user accounts. Etc.

Now, if you want to actually install any kind of applications on it, that I found to be a challenge.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:47 PM   #5
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make sure your hard drive is good. often a drive going dead can express itself in funky ways.
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:49 PM   #6
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Thanks, Ubuntu it is. I am downloading the ISO now.

Yeah it could be getting flaky due to a bad hard drive. It was my tuning laptop for a little while and getting mildly abused and banged around in the car was probably not good for it.
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:02 AM   #7
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Slackware or Archlinux are my Linux distros of choice, but might be a little bit more involved for installation.
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:12 AM   #8
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Ubuntu is probably the most popular. I have used Fedora Core before with success as well.
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Old 06-30-2009, 01:00 AM   #9
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I tried Fedora Core once and it was okay, but it lacked support for the chipset in my wifi card and I could never get it to work no matter what I did. I then tried Ubuntu and it had support for all my hardware, so I stuck with it.

After you burn the ISO you can boot from the DVD without actually installing it, and take it for a test drive to make sure you like it before you commit to formatting your hard drive.

App installation is pretty easy if the program you want is available as a .deb (Ubuntu is based on Debian), then you can just use the built-in package manager. It's pretty good about grabbing whatever supporting modules are needed automatically, and is therefore the easiest for noobs. Where the learning curve can get steep is compiling a program from source code, then if you get an error code you have to track it down. Sometimes it can be like a wild goose chase. In that event, the huge user base of Ubuntu can be pretty helpful because chances are somebody else has already had the identical problem. I've had really good luck finding solutions by just typing my error message verbatim into the search field at ubuntuforums.
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Old 07-03-2009, 11:43 PM   #10
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OK so I was able to install Ubuntu 9.04 on my Dell. There was some video display weirdness at first but after a brief search on the Ubuntu site I found the solution. So it is up and running, or running well enough. I am using it right now to post this message
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Old 07-04-2009, 01:56 PM   #11
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once you learn to do the software installation its easy. First time I installed Megatunix and compiled it from code it took 5 hours... it seemed like every time I took another step there was another and another and another dependency that I needed... but the last time I installed it it took 30 minutes, so once your over that initial learning curve tis all good.
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Old 07-04-2009, 03:02 PM   #12
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Only two problems I've had with Ubuntu.

As Joe mentioned, applications are sometimes difficult to install especially if you have to compile the binary. I've found with many installs of Linux more often than not not all libraries and compilers are installed with the OS.

Secondly I was building a media center PC with dual displays. One is a 50" DLP HDTV, the other is a 15" ELO Touch Systems touchscreen monitor. Installing Ubuntu with the monitor's usb cable plugged in it automatically found the driver. Calibration of the monitor on the other hand turned out impossible. Theres no application built in for that, and none that I downloaded would build or even execute. So it was basically useless and I gave up, installed TinyXP and went on my way.
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Old 07-04-2009, 03:07 PM   #13
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Old 07-04-2009, 04:28 PM   #14
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Yeah if I was going to do something serious with it like tuning, gaming, or the like then I probably would not have installed Linux. But, for just streaming audio and MP3s it works. The apps I need already came with the installation; I've got it playing internet radio in the garage right now.
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Old 07-04-2009, 06:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hustler View Post
i play games on my *nix boxes all the time!
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:07 AM   #16
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Heh...

I finally found the best of both worlds: VMWare. It's a virtual machine platform similar to VirtualPC, however since it's a non-MS product, there is a pretty significant Linux community built around it.

You can download the WMWare player application for free. It's fully functional with the exception that you cannot create new virtual machines with it. This is not a problem, since there are hundreds of virtual machines (called appliances) freely available. You can find 'em on the main VMWare site, using Google, or using your favorite bittorrent engine. An appliance is basically a hard drive image, in the formated used by VMWare player.

So I downloaded a SuperUbuntu appliance, loaded it into VMWare, and now I have a fully functional Ubuntu machine which I can open in a window and use whenever I get the itch.
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:47 AM   #17
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VMWare Server is free as well and will allow you to create VMs. It's also a web interface so you could run VMs remotely and all sorts of other fun things.

Ubuntu is my preferred Linux distro. It's much more hassle free than Fedora/Red Hat. apt-get build-essential and finding the proper libraries for each program you're trying to compile is easy enough. The first time I tried Linux, I tried Red Hat (about 10 years ago). It was horrible (though a lot better now), so I actually started off with Slackware. Slackware was much more geared toward compiling from source. Gentoo is another great one for compiling from source. Heck, during installation, you can choose the route to compile your compiler.

Curious which media player you're using for your music. It's been awhile since I've used Linux for fun and I would assume XMMS is no longer top dog.
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:27 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickerZ View Post
Curious which media player you're using for your music. It's been awhile since I've used Linux for fun and I would assume XMMS is no longer top dog.
It is whatever player is installed by default with the Ubuntu distribution. I forget the name of it...
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:39 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Heh...

I finally found the best of both worlds: VMWare. It's a virtual machine platform similar to VirtualPC, however since it's a non-MS product, there is a pretty significant Linux community built around it.

You can download the WMWare player application for free. It's fully functional with the exception that you cannot create new virtual machines with it. This is not a problem, since there are hundreds of virtual machines (called appliances) freely available. You can find 'em on the main VMWare site, using Google, or using your favorite bittorrent engine. An appliance is basically a hard drive image, in the formated used by VMWare player.

So I downloaded a SuperUbuntu appliance, loaded it into VMWare, and now I have a fully functional Ubuntu machine which I can open in a window and use whenever I get the itch.
Woman, did you not see my post 13 above yours where I said this?
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