Friday, December 28, 2007

A Few Reviews

In the last few days, I've set up a few VirtualBox systems. The idea is to install and use an OS well enough to get a good idea of it. As I try out a system, I focus on one primary principle- Ease of Use. I try to put myself in a frame of mind of a complete new computer user. It's not easy.
Here's my experiences so far:

CentOS, short for Community enterprise Operating System, is a complete copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The difference is, other than community support, CentOS comes with no official support. Oracle produces a copy of Red Hat called Unbreakable Linux. Fedora is Red Hat's cutting edge future work, but Red Hat Enterprise is what is used in business.

I decided to load CentOS in a VirtualBox machine so I could go through some Red Hat tutorials. The installation and desktop reminded me of my first experience with Linux - Fedora Core 4. Other than being an RPM based distribution, CentOS is pretty good.

Many businesses use Red Hat Enterprise, or even CentOS, on their servers. I need to know how to use it in a business setting. From what I can tell, CentOS is an excellent way to learn how to use Red Hat Linux.

PCLinuxOS is topping the distrowatch chart lately, so I decided to try it out and see why. Installing PCLinuxOS was fairly straight forward, but there were a few places where a new user unfamiliar with Linux might get confused. Just like Windows, it's easier to just go with the default settings.

PCLinuxOS is a KDE based distribution. There's a variant designed to look much like Windows XP/Vista, but it's not really supported by the forums.

Other than visual appeal, I didn't see anything really special about PCLinuxOS. I'm not sure why it's topping the Distrowatch list at the moment. It looks better than Ubuntu/Kubuntu, but the Ubuntu variants installation seems easier.

I'm not a KDE fan, so PCLinuxOS wouldn't be a primary choice for me. Don't get me wrong -I'm glad KDE offers a choice. Maybe KDE 4.0 will change my mind. But, for now, my desktop of choice is Gnome, and my distro of choice is Ubuntu.

I did a few reviews of gOS recently, but I wanted to comment a bit more on it. There have been some recent reviews of the Everex gPC, featuring gOS, and they were not raving reviews. gOS offers an excellent Ubuntu variant, but can be confusing for a completely new user. I still think gOS is a good option for millennium kids, but not for the average person. Everex would have done better to go with a straight forward version of Ubuntu.

Over the next year, I'm going to try out the top 20, and maybe a few more, Linux distros. I'll report on them as I experience each one. Unfortunately, a Virtual Computer doesn't give you the real information about a Linux installation. A true test would be to install and use it on a laptop.

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