[lug] linux distro for a beginner

Hugh Brown hugh at math.byu.edu
Thu Jun 16 14:31:42 MDT 2005

On Thu, 16 Jun 2005, Michael Hirsch wrote:

> On 6/15/05, Hugh Brown <hugh at math.byu.edu> wrote:
> > As I discuss what I do by day (linux sysadmin) with folks and complain
> > about windows periodically, I sometimes get asked which Linux distribution
> > I recommend for someone who wants to get started with Linux but doesn't
> > want to be their own sysadmin.  So far, I've been telling them to get a
> > Mac.
> >
> > Which distribution would you recommend for someone that thinks MS is vile,
> > doesn't want to support them, but doesn't want to become a techie?
> >
> > I use Debian and I suspect that may be a bit out there for someone just
> > starting out.  I've heard positive noises about Ubuntu (they'll even ship
> > you CDs for free).   No idea where Fedora is, though I suspect it may
> > change a little too often/too quickly for a home user.
> >
> > Any recommendations?
> There are lots of good ditributions out there.  My acid test is
> whether the users ever have to worry about mounting CDs, floppies,
> thumb drives, etc.  For instance, it should be possible to eject a
> drive while you have a file browser (or shell) open looking at that
> volume.
> So far I know that Mandrake and SuSE can both do that.  RedHat used to
> fail my test--I don't know if it still does.  I haven't heard of
> others that can do it, but there must be some out there.
> I believe that if a new user finds that they can't just pop a
> floppy/CD in, use it, and pop it out whenever they feel like it, they
> will think the OS is broken.  And IMHO it is.
> Michael

I remember in college getting a call from a guy that lived nearby.  He was
writing his term paper in Word and saving it to the floppy.  As soon as he
finished it, he pulled the floppy out, ran to the lab and tried to print.
When he opened the file in the lab, it was corrupt.  When he took it back
home it was still corrupt.  He hadn't closed Word and the file was still
open on the floppy.  He had managed to do this twice.  So, there are times
when it is useful that users understand that disconnecting r/w media is
something that should be done with some care.

Point taken about user expectation though.  RH4/gnome will now
automatically put an icon on the desktop for a usb thumb drive.
I didn't try unplugging it while
it was mount'ed (I've been typing mount/umount for too long :)


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