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Re: (OT?): Operating Systems

by zentara (Archbishop)
on Dec 13, 2006 at 12:19 UTC ( #589567=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to (OT?): Operating Systems

I think Ubuntu is good too, but for a programmer, it may be "too" simple. For example, (without jumping thru some special hoops) it boots directly to a gui, so no terminal (on an old underpowered laptop the gui may be too slow). It dosn't give you root access by default, so you don't get a real feel for administrating a linux OS. But it does install and run well.

Most of the newer distros have GUI installers, and an old underpowered laptop may not handle it well. I would recommend either Slackware( which still uses the console based installer) or something like DamnSmallLinux.

I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. Cogito ergo sum a bum

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Re^2: (OT?): Operating Systems
by OfficeLinebacker (Chaplain) on Dec 13, 2006 at 13:28 UTC

    Isn't it true that even on non-Ubuntu boxes one only very rarely wants to actually be logged on directly as root? Isn't that the whole point of sudo? I kind of liked that feature on Ubuntu, that you create an account as yourself, then when you need to do tasks that require superuser, you sudo the command, and enter the root password. Also, once you've entered the root password once in an active xterm, ensuing `sudo`s don't ask for your password again.

    I'm familiar with sudo since my job class has some SU privileges (we get to sudo dhog and some other commands I can't remember right now).

    Again, I program in RedHat at work and just have this Ubuntu box for fun--the most complicated thing I did with it was probably get it to run Folding@Home and use LM-sensors (the CPU is overclocked). That and I went with Dapper Drake before it was released, so I had some "early adopter" hiccups. I don't think I wrote anything more complicated than a "hello, world" program on it. Ubuntu has some great games that you can easily `apt-get.` (I have regular Ubuntu but have all the games from Kubuntu and Edubuntu on it) That's about all I use it for now--my 8-year-old son loves Kolf.

    Speaking of which, Ubuntu has cool names for their releases--Breezy Badger, Dapper Drake, etc. That alone is worth the cost of installing it!

    Please correct me if I am wrong about not being root very often, even on your own home computer.

    Edit: Isn't booting to console in Ubuntu as simple as holding down a key or two during bootup?

    I like computer programming because it's like Legos for the mind.
      Well the sudo approach is useful, but for a sysadmin or programmer who is installing packages and moving libraries around, it seems kind of limited to me. Granted, it does prevent the newbie from accidently chmod'ing /usr, or deleting root, etc. And you can use apt-get( or whatever ) for package management, but that limits your exposure to what is really going on in the system. I think programmers should build from sources, so they get a good idea of what programs, and libraries are really all about. Package Managers put an artificial layer of abstraction between you and the program. I also find it more secure, to specifically have to log on as root to do system stuff. Relying on sudo, you may fall into a false sense of security, and walk away from your machine thinking "I'm logged on as user so it's safe", but anyone can walk up to your console and run a sudo command.

      Watching a system boot in console mode gives you an entirely different perspective on what goes on in /etc/init.d. Of course a user really dosn't care, and probably prefers not to know; but a programmer really needs to know what goes on underneath the gui surface.

      As far as a "button hold at boot" ,booting Ubuntu into a console, I think that only boots to what is called single user mode(runlevel 1), and is only for system emergency maintenance. What is normally referred to as "booting in console mode", is multi-user mode, with network, (usually runlevel 3). Ubuntu does have a server-version which does this, and has no gui. They also have a special "alternate install disk" which is text mode, for finicky systems.

      What I am trying to point out, is that Ubuntu, in the name of newbie safety, has made difficult, what is easy in most other distributions. If you wanted to study programming, you would be better off with a more straight forward distro.

      I started with linux probably about 10 years ago, when gui's were just a novelty item. And until just a few years ago, every distro, would install into multi-user-console mode, and after that you were given the option to try and install X ( which was often very difficult because of the lack of drivers). Now, the opposite is happening. Everything is going directly to gui, and the internals are being hidden from you. Often, many servers and services are auto-installed, and bloat and slow down the system. Someone who understands the console mode, more easily understands what he needs and can customize his system for his own needs.

      But all in all, I think Ubuntu is great for spreading linux, and maybe it would be better for a large group to know how to handle sudo, so they can answer sudo related questions as they come along. Me, I'm an old dog, and refuse to learn the new tricks. :-)

      I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. Cogito ergo sum a bum
Re^2: (OT?): Operating Systems
by jcoxen (Deacon) on Dec 14, 2006 at 14:03 UTC
    I run Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu at home on an old 1Ghz PIII box with 512Mb RAM. It runs just fine. I keep a couple of X-terms open for when I want a command line (fairly often). If I need to be root and don't want to 'sudo' everything I use the common and well-documented workaround - 'sudo passwd root'. Do this once to set a root password and from then on just 'su' the same as on any other xnix system.

    Firefox handles my surfing needs, Thunderbird handles my email, OpenOffice gives me MS-Office functionality and file compatibility. Response time is acceptable - and that's with MySQL and Apache running in the background. More RAM would really speed things up but SDRAM is about $60.00/512MB stick and I'm a cheap bastard at heart. :)

    The one thing I would recommend is using Xubuntu (Xfce gui) instead of Ubuntu (Gnome gui) or Kubuntu (KDE gui), especially if you have a light-weight video card or not much RAM. Xfce gives you good functionality without the overhead of Gnome or KDE.

    Just my .02 worth,


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