Thread: which linux?
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Old 11-06-05, 01:38 AM   #28
n4phth4
penguin dude
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 23
Default Re: which linux?

Hmm. Great question because there are so many options. 10 years ago it'd be an easy answer. Slackware.

Although I personally despise them (for a bunch of technical reasons), Red Hat and its Fedora project are among the easiest for newbies. Afterall it's been one of RH's goals to make their distribution user-friendly for many years.

As far as drivers there are not many OEM offerings that I'm aware of. However many many many hardware manufacturers *do* release specs for their hardware so that Linux OS (kernel) developers can write drivers for that hardware. You must understand that Linux is Open Source, meaning that the actual human-readable program code is readily available and can (usually) be freely modified at will by anyone. There's lots of people all around the world working on the code. Because it's open source, anyone who uses it can potentially add to its improvement.

I don't want to start a closed-source war but there are some companies out there that don't play nice with the open-source concept and don't release full specs or source code for drivers, yet still support Linux. One of such companies is our very own favorite NVidia. NVidia chooses to release binary-only drivers for their hardware and in doing so obligates themselves and themselves alone to write and release code fixes, updates and patches. Sure, they rely on the user community to report bugs, but what software manufacturer doesn't? Since the responsibility of writing progam fixes updates and patches is soley the responsibility of NVidia -- a relatively tiny population in comparison to the rest of the Linux programming community -- the release cycle for new updates can be pretty long. Generally speaking, the fewer developers working on the code the longer the release cycle and the longer it takes to get a bug fixed. That said, although NVidia's closed-source practice blatantly contradicts the theology on which the Linux platform is based, I still use them. The native X11 "nv" driver just plain sucks, as it should.

Do yourself a favor and get some Linux for newbies books and read up. Not to discourage you but it is no secret that Linux demands a bit of effort that Windows users simply aren't used to. There is plenty of power to discover in the Linux world. You need only the motivation to discover it.

Keith

PS -- I believe ATI releases binary-only drivers for Linux as well.
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