Linux

Discussion in 'Computing and Networks' started by Dave, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Just a general enquiry:

    Do any of you guys use Linux for either personal computing or work? If so what distro do you use? What are your experineces of using Linux?

    I've got Suse 10 installed as a dual-boot with Windows XP at home and we use Scientific Linux (formerly Fermi Linux) on the 64-bit machines in the labs at work, and both have there quirks, but also have some considerable advantages over Windows.

    Dave
     
  2. n9352527

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 14, 2005
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    Gentoo. I like it because it is easy to customise, install, update and uninstall applications/modules. I have several lightweight installations.
     
  3. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Does Gentoo have an automatic update module like Yast in Suse? If not is it a manual update procedure. Updating software is one of the things that delayed my interest in Linux, and when I saw Yast I was pleasantly surprised.

    It may also be interesting to see which desktop environment is most popular: KDE or Gnome? I prefer KDE, which I use on Suse at home, but use Gnome at work.

    Btw, if you have tried Linux and didn't like it (or just prefer Windows or Mac OS) say so; what is it about Linux that doesn't do it for you?

    Dave
     
  4. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    Hi Dave,

    I picked up Red Hat some years ago. I did not stay with it, as the GUI's weren't too good then (KDE lacked drivers for many video cards). After years of fudging with machine code, assemblers, and DOS, I just didn't get excited about learning zillions more obscure one- and two-letter executable prompts.

    I do think the naming conventions for apps is fun, though.

    Looking ahead, Microsoft may have done itself in with Vista - now going to be at least a year late in release. I'd be happy with a less-featured GUI that simply worked in a consistent manner, with modular applications so I could dispense with never-used features.

    I believe Novell bought SUSE last year, so there may be some interesting developments in the future.

    I took my recent install of XP SP2 in to a T1 line for updates. They numbered 54, to the tune of 1,000,000,000 bytes. Microsoft is not getting on top of its security issues. On the other hand, I got a new IE and operating system for free, in effect.
     
  5. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Hi Bill,

    The Red Hat distro was the big one although to be honest, I have never had the chance to look at it myself. I know what you are saying regarding the somewhat "over-techy" feel of using Linux, paticularly when it takes you several hours to do what you used to do with Windows (this is mostly down to inexperinece with Linux). You are right about Novel purchasing Suse, and this has lead IMO to more streamlined product to make the averaghe Windows user think. Some in the Open Source community are sceptical of Suse thesedays, because they feel it is tii much trying to be a Windows alternative rather that just Linux - although depending on your point of view, this is exactly what Linux should do. There are also issues with the fact that certain (the paid-for) versions that ship with commercial software bundled as part of the package, some feel this contravenes the OS philosophy - again a very subjective area.

    From my dealings with Suse, I like it probably as much as XP; that said they both have their advantages and disadvantages. I personally find Suse more robust than Scientific Linux, but this may have more to do with the circumstances under which I use Scientific Linux - 64-bit dual-core processors, 8Gb RAM with 72Gb swap - the OS has plenty to do!

    The Windows Vista issue is an ongoing one, and I like many am not really that bothered by it - XP is more that sufficient for my needs. As for the security issues, the biggest problem is Windows lack of care for security out of the box, it is pretty easy to tie the OS down so that you have a secure system.

    As for getting IE for free - thats all its worth!! :p That said IE7 RC1 looks pretty good (particularly the new protected mode security zone), even if there is nothing new for the users of Opera, Safari and Firefox.

    Dave
     
  6. Dcrunkilton

    E-book Co-ordinator

    Jul 31, 2004
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    1. Which one do I use? I am using MEPIS today. It works well with my 802.11g card when I visit friends who have cable internet. MEPIS is a Debian deriviative. I will probably not use the new version of MEPIS in the future because it does not directly support the winmodem in my thinkpad a20m like the Mepis version I am using now. Mepis used to be derived directy from Debian. Mepis is now derived from Ubuntu which is a Debian deriviative. Ubuntu may well be the most popular Debian derived workstation Linux at this time.

    When I work on Lessons in Electricity, I use another a20m thinkpad that I have had longer with Mandrake 9.1 This is not anywhere near current, and I will not be upgrading to a newer version. But, I do have it on my desktop computers. Mandrake, like SUSE is a RH derivitive. I had to compile the drivers for the winmodem from sources to connect to phone line internet. I also had to compile the kernel to make it more compatible with the a20m laptop. (Linux works better on desktop computers) Some years ago, Mandrake was the more desk-top friendly derivitative of RH. Since that time, It looks like SUSE is the desktop RH derivitive to pick. Keep in mind that while RH is the most popular server Linux, it has never been a contender as a desk-top, workstation Linux. (Most of the Linux out there is for servers.)

    2. What are the choices? There are many Linux distributions out there. However, they fall into three categories: 1) Red Hat, 2) Debian, 3) Slackware. Number 3 is almost not a choice, not widely used. But it is fast on old hardware. But difficult to configure. So, you need to pick between choices 1 and 2. What I really mean is either a RH deriviative, or a Debian deriviative, which leaves a lot of choices under each catagory.

    3. Why did I get interested in Linux in the first place? I read in EDN, Electronic Design, or maybe EE Times that there was an opensource IC layout program by the name of Magic. But it only ran under Linux back in 1996. So, I subscribed to "Linux Journal", called the phone number for one of the advertisers, and ordered a disc, and a book "Running Linux". One of my students was able to get the Transameritec Linux running, after I failed.

    By 2000 I installedMandrake 7.0 on an old computer, moving up to 8.0 and 9.1 as years went by.

    4.Why did I make the window to Linux transition? By 2001 I concluded that all MS windows computers should have at least a minumum Linux partion for the purpose of running backup scripts. In other words, I was using Linux to backup my Windows data to a removable hardrive.

    The turning point was when I was able to connect to the internet under Linux. This made it possible to get many hours of use out of the Linux desktop.

    A second turning point was writing for "lessons in Electricity" Admittedly this is a special case. The tools are Linux based. Xcircuit schematic drawing, LaTeX typesetting of the book version, various utilities for processing the source into html and pdf. The path of least resistance was to use a Linux system for production. These days, I only really need MS Windows to do my taxes. Or, if I get a question about running the DOS version of SPICE.

    4. Which Linux distribution should you use? I think that I have heard of Scientific Linux. I believe it makes some number crunching tools used by scientist more readily available so you don't have to install them seperately. There is a possibility that the Display manager-- what makes it look like MS windows-- may not be as up to date as bleeding edge distributions. Not necessairly a consideration for heavy duty data processing. Anyway, if you are looking for a Windows substitute, most people look forward to the latest "cutting edge" distribution-- better support for new peripherals, fancier user interface. Your main consideration is to be as compatible as possible with the Scientific Linux you use at work. Is it a Debian or RH derivitive? Choose your Linux accordingly.

    Try out as many of the "run-from CD" distributions as possible. They run much faster once installed on the HD. You want to evaluate operation and peripheral support before committing to a full installation. Once you find a distribution that meets your needs, do not install another newer one unless you have a very good reason, like support for some new piece of hardware.

    5. Moving to Linux is a longterm committment. It is difficult to get started. There is almost an infinite amout of material to be learned. I was using both a Win computer and a Linux box side by side for a long time.
     
  7. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    Hi,

    The learning curve is about as bad for Linux ass for C. It is a long-term commitment.

    Frankly, I am tired of endless learning of OS quirks, Windows or some Linux distrubution. I would really like to see computers turn into appliances, with minimal differences between OS's and app's. I help keep up a mixed bag of computers running from P2's to Gateway E-4500's. My eyes cross when going from W98 to W2000 to XP (ME has died the real death). Microsoft certainly is anything but consistent.

    I think it was real fine when I could set up Overview to launch app's in a DOS environment. The OS did not dominate the computer. There is a fairly consistent agreement as to the appearance of a GUI - why not for the OS?
     
  8. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Hi Dennis, thank you for getting involved in this discussion and for your insight into Linux, you make some interesting points.

    To pick on certain points you have made during your post:

    The biggest concern I currently have when using Linux is that there is often poor support when it comes to using wireless network cards. This is also the case with Suse, who recommend the use of ndiswrapper to wrap around the Windows network card driver. From speaking to the guys at Novell this is a painful task at best - particularly when you compare it to the ease with which you can do this with Windows.

    Thanks for the cincise breakdown here, it makes the myriad of Linux categories seem quite simple. There is guy at work who swears by Debian, but when I ask him his reasons he begins to loose me!

    For many of us engineers, Linux is not so-much a choice, rather an necessity. My first dealings with Linux stemmed from a series of medical imaging software I wrote for the University of Manchester, a core requirement of their specification was the real-time image processing had to be designed for use on Linux workstations (we could look into off-line variants based on Windows machines, but we never pursued this as an option). The reasons cited for the Linux requirement was the low operational overheads of Linux and the perceived stability for real-time medical applications. Future work I have carried out in the medical field has followed this principle.

    Again the Internet connection issue is a problem for those wishing to look into the feasibility of using Linux - particularly when you look at the ease with which such functionality can be achieved with a Windows machine.

    I still find the software availability for Windows to be superior to Linux (at least for the field I work in). I am currently doing some research into engineering software available for use with Linux and will open up my findings to the wider forum.

    Scientific Linux is what is provided in the labs at work, we the engineers had little (read as no) say in which distro we would be using. We are led to believe it is the distro of choice for physics laboratories around the world, and hence is highly suitable for high-computation applications. For this reason, it was chosen when taking account of the huge imaging requirements we have.

    Incidently, Scientific Linux is a Red Hat derivative.

    LiveCds is certainly the way forward for those looking into Linux, particularly if you are wanting to look at distro support for your hardware etc.

    Indeed it is. In my opinion, I think Linux has a way to go before it can truely represent an alternative to Windows for the layman. Many in the Linux community would slap me for saying that, since they believe Linux is not trying to replicate Windows, more so stand on its own two feet. Sadly, the layman by-and-large associates PCs with Windows, and hence are not interested or have the computing knowledge to trying something new. Though for the curious and techies, Linux is a must-try.

    Dave
     
  9. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    This discussion on Linux generated a spin-off topic which can now be found at: Computing over networks - an OS replacement?

    This move is intended to leave this thread open to discussion purely related to Linux.

    Any questions or objections, please PM me. Thanks.

    Dave
     
  10. sci-3d

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2006
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    I use Fedora Core 6 now. In my opinion, the new kernel 2.6.x has many bugs whereas the 2.4.x is more stable.

    However, It's free and opensource so I like it.
     
  11. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    I have heard some say that the Linux kernel 2.6 is less stable than 2.4, but to be fair I wouldn't be able to say for myself since all the distros I use are 2.6.

    As for free and opensource, isn't that the whole objective of Linux. Sure there are commercial versions of some distros available (i.e. pay for), e.g Novell's Suse distro, but the only difference between that and the freely available version of Suse is that the commercially sold version has some proprietary software bundled. The underlying code-base is freely available under the open source GNU license. I'm interested to hear if there are any wholely closed source versions of Linux, I just thought that it was against the principles of ol' Linus T.

    Dave
     
  12. Dcrunkilton

    E-book Co-ordinator

    Jul 31, 2004
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    As of this date a Linux based collection of electronics software is available. Fedora Electronic Laboratory is a version of the Fedora Linux dsitribution (a derivitive of Redhat) targeting most of the major Linux electronics software packages. This is a niche distribution. General purpose Linux distributions do not include most of these packages. Though, available in source code form for any distribution, some of these do not readily compile. Thus, a ready-to-go collection of electronics packages is most welcome.

    The present live-disc is in beta testing.
     
  13. Eduard Munteanu

    Active Member

    Sep 1, 2007
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    I use Gentoo Linux on my personal computer. In a server environment, I usually prefer Fedora, Slackware (though not one of my favorites anymore) and maybe Debian.

    Gentoo is very nice for development. Its package manager can handle cross-toolchains and different compiler versions installed. CVS/SVN ebuilds are also nice, along with the package masking system.

    There aren't any closed-source versions of Linux and there can't be any (GPL disallows it). One may charge for binary builds of modified open-source packages, but he must provide the source code for free. Take Redhat's non-free distros for example. You can either:
    1) Pay for the binary distribution.
    2) Download the source packages for free and build them yourself.
    3) Use CentOS, which is a project that releases free, unofficial binary builds of Redhat's source packages.

    As for electronics on Linux, I'd say the only problem is the integration of schematic capture with simulation.
    - Qucs is the most promising (component library, nice plotting options, parameter sweep), but unfortunately it has some quirks and the sim engine isn't mature enough. It would be nice to have a Qucs-to-spice netlist converter to get a second opinion easily.
    - Oregano is nice, but it has some bugs. It doesn't have a model library, but it can use a spice model file. Can use both ngspice and gnucap.
    - The other combos (geda + spice, XCircuit + spice) look quite intimidating, but I'll give them a second chance.

    I'm looking for a nice plotter & script that can use spice3f5, ngspice or gnucap to do parameter sweeps on transient analysis and show 3D cartesian graphs. I test my circuits by sweeping temperature and beta and looking on the voltage over time over temp/Bf plot. (Though I suppose I'll need to write one soon :()
     
  14. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
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    Unfortunately open software doesn't mean gratis one. In the case of Red Hat Linux, only the kernel is common. There is also the case of Linspire (aka Lindows), which is the safeless version of Linux ever (Linux with windows policies). Also, it doesn't come cheap.
     
  15. Eduard Munteanu

    Active Member

    Sep 1, 2007
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    cumesoftware, the kernel isn't the only common part, RedHat is still a GNU distribution. I don't think they provide any closed-source software, so it's 100% open-source. When you buy RedHat, you buy binary packages, support and certification that you use one of their approved products (some open-source app support providers require that you have a RedHat environment).
     
  16. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
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    Never said they were closed source. I'm aware that their distro is under the GNU license. But the GNU license states "free software" as in freedom, not as in gratis. So open source software can be free or charged. That is a matter of option of who provides the software. Of course, most of it is gratis.
    When I refered to the fact that the kernel is common, I was refering to the gross of the distros. It is not hard to find distros with different environments, but using the same kernel.
     
  17. Eduard Munteanu

    Active Member

    Sep 1, 2007
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    Of course you can charge for open-source software. But you have to provide the sources for free (as in gratis, without charge) even for those that haven't bought the binaries.
     
  18. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
    1,330
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    No, the GNU General Public License only mentions that the source code should be publicly available, doesn't mention if it is free or not. For example, the GNU license predicts that you distribute the program and the source sode in the same package, from which you may charge or not. If you do charge, you are charging for both the program and the source code. If you do not distrubute the source code, you are oliged to give directions so the user can get the source code. I think that is completely different from having no source code available at all.
     
  19. Eduard Munteanu

    Active Member

    Sep 1, 2007
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    Yes, you're right. It's a bit confusing if you get into depth, but here's what they say:
    So you cannot charge an indefinitely high price for source code, since that would hamper the selling of binaries.

    Although it's futile to try to restrict the distribution of source, since anyone can redistribute it for free after he buys it.
     
  20. Ridius

    New Member

    Oct 22, 2007
    3
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    Hi Dave,

    I've personally used Gentoo, Fedora, Red Hat, Slackware, Suse, and Ubuntu. All my use has been at my home. I've setup a Firewall, Web Server, Print Server, and File Sharing Server. I also have used it as a workstation on my Macbook, Dell Latptops, and Desktops. I am currently running Ubuntu as I like the community, the package manager, and the ease of installation. I LOVE Gentoo and would use it if my machines weren't so old (I compiled Open Office from source just to see how long it would take... 13 hours).
     
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