Linux for a web designer! Need advice of what versions to use.
February 21, 2006 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Linux for a web designer! Need advice of what versions to use.

I have just bought a brand new Dell laptop and I thought it would be good to learn other OS's like OsX (x86), Windows XP Media Centre and also Linux. Regarding Linux is where I stumble if you can help that would be great.

1) 12gb for Windows, 10gb for MacOSx and 5gb for Linux, 25gb for software, files to work. Do you think I need more for Linux or would 5gb be enough?

2) The files partition will have 25gb, What standard should I use (fat32, ntfs, etc) so that all of the 3 OS's would be able to see my music and work files.

3) What version Linux (e.g Red Hat, Lindows, etc) should I use. I have never used Linux before, however I was brought up on Dos. I would like a great platform which is easy to use, good looking UI like OSx, able to install Photoshop (through emulator), and be able to run a local host to test out php with apache. I have heard that you can run some windows applications on some versions of Linux.

4) Multiboot menu, what can I use for a multiboot startup? So I can choose which OS to load.

5) Is there any got to have applications that you recommend for both Linux or OsX?

My laptop specs are 1.86ghz centrino, 1gb ram, 60gb hdd and 128mb Radeon videocard. Basically Dell Inspiron 6000.

Thanks for your time
posted by spinko to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1) it all depends on the type of linux install you choose to do, but 5GB can certainly work. Keep in mind that Windows will never read your linux partition, but you can easily configure linux to read your windows partition. In other words, err towards giving windows more room than linux. You'll want the base kernel and linux apps on the linux partition, but data files can be stored on the other partition(s) and read by linux.

2) linux can read both fat32 and ntfs, but fat32 support has been around longer and requires less dorkage in linux to get it to work.

3) i'm a linux geek and use Gentoo, but I'd probably point a newbie to Ubuntu. I used to be a Redhat/Fedora only guy, but I've not been super happy with their recent distributions. I don't care for Lindows--it's kind of 'linux lite' and last time I checked cost money. When you can get a bizillion distros of Linux for free, why would you pay?

4) install linux last and then use Grub to do your multiboot handling.

5) Use Gnome as your desktop environment. A good terminal program (I use gnome-terminal), gThumb, Open Office, DIA, Firefox 1.5, Thunderbird 1.5, Amarok, Gaim, Gimp, Azureus. That pretty much identifies 98% of my daily linuxing.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:42 AM on February 21, 2006

"1) 12gb for Windows, 10gb for MacOSx and 5gb for Linux, 25gb for software, files to work. Do you think I need more for Linux or would 5gb be enough?"

Uh, you've never used Linux before but you think that you're just going to be able to slap Mac OS X onto a *Dell laptop?*
Think again.

You might want to look at SuSE (Now owned by Novell) - great desktop environment, and last time I used it, it was very easy to install alongside an existing Windows installation. It will help you resize partitions during the install.
posted by drstein at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2006

I would second Ubuntu. I installed it on my dad's machine. It's easy to install and easy to use.
posted by chunking express at 9:01 AM on February 21, 2006

1) For Linux, remember to set aside space for a swap partition. So far, I'm only using 41% of a 5G system partition on my Linux system, but I have /tmp, /var and /home on different partitions.Unless this is an uber-laptop, Photoshop is liable to be a dog under emulation, and you'll be drive

2) FAT32. Writing to NTFS from linux is asking for trouble -- support is still flaky.

3) Ubuntu. Look to Qemu (with the KQemu accelerator) for emulation. Wine is good for some things, but I wouldn't bet on running Photoshop on it. Photoshop will probably be a dog under emulation, and you'll be driven to boot into an OS where it runs natively.

4) Grub.

5) Emacs.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:02 AM on February 21, 2006

(apologies for accidental cut-and-paste there -- the joys of a laptop trackpad you can hit accidentally.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:04 AM on February 21, 2006

Uh, you can mount ext2/3 in Windows just fine with free software. You can't boot from it, but you can access files. NTFS read access works great under linux, NTFS write is a little more sketchy but still possible.

5GB would be cutting it rather close but still doable. I don't think you'd have enough room for much of a development environment in that kind of space though, so forget about using something source-based like Gentoo.

I wouldn't expect to be able to run photoshop under linux, not without a great deal of pain and fussing. You'd be a lot better off just booting to windows or using the GIMP.

You can install and run all the standard AMP stack components natively under Windows (Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl) so if that is your only motivation linux is not a requirement.

For the bootloader, you will probably use Grub which should come with any linux distro and can boot anything you shake a stick at. These are solved problems.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:08 AM on February 21, 2006

BLAG Linux (how do I put this) is Red Hat's radical activist step child. It's got alot of top notch multimedia goodies (mplayer, streamtuner etc) preconfigured and ready to roll, and because it's a derivitive of Red Hat, it's rpm-based for dirt simple package management. Then there's NVU, a full-featured and open source web authoring program for Linux users that simply owns. That combo should do ya nicely ;)
posted by rinkjustice at 9:27 AM on February 21, 2006

personally, i think the days of the major (as in, large, caters to corporate as well as consumer interests, e.g. red hat) distro are dead for the regular users. your two big choices are ubuntu and knoppix. those distributions basically pack everything you could want into them, and are built to work with just about any hardware your computer has. (to the point that, if it doesn't work on those two, it probably doesn't work on linux at all.)
posted by moz at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2006

Response by poster:

Sorry about this, but which one do I download? i386? I have a Intel Centrino 1.86ghz
posted by spinko at 10:09 AM on February 21, 2006

Yeah, you want i386.

I too recommend Ubuntu. But it might be best to go with what your web host has, so that you can have near-identical environments set up locally and remotely, and your new skills at home will translate to stuff you can do now on your server. You can get root on a really cheap ($7/month) server at unixshell, and install debian or ubuntu on it. It would be good practice for you. Otherwise, most hosts will run Red Hat or some generic facsimile thereof (CentOS), so you might consider running that. The way you install software is different on Red Hat vs. Debian/Ubuntu (rpm/yum vs. dpkg/apt-get).

Basically, what I'm recommending here is that you go for Ubuntu, as you were about to, and get a vps (virtual private server) from unixshell for experimenting with a live server. You can wipe your OS on your VPS at any time and try a different one, they offer a whole bunch of alternatives including Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, and like six other ones.
posted by evariste at 11:07 AM on February 21, 2006

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