Sunday, December 16, 2007

Linux challange, comparing oranges with organges.

I finally got my old standby computer running and connected to my main brain. It's one of those home-brew, first love kind of machines. 850mhz, AMD Duron with 256mb of ram and a ATI Radeon 7200 video card, not an extreme machine by any means. It has Win98se and Wolvix Linux on the 20gig hard drive. You all know Win98se but the Wolvix is one of those smallish Linux distros with the Xfce desktop. Wolvix is Slackware based which is the oldest of the Linux distros and has a reputation of being a challenge even to seasoned Linux users. Wolvix is a mix of the old formats and new Linux strategies. It even has a program called Slapt-get like the Debian's Apt-get to handle program dependencies, a well known problem with the Slackware packaging system. What turned me on to Wolvix was the Xfce desktop. Though it is growing as it matures, Xfce is a light weight GUI compared to KDE and Gnome.
Now I don't want folks to get the idea that I hate KDE or Gnome, I just like and prefer Xfce. The point I am making, once again, is that Linux is a Linux is a Linux. My main brain has WinXP Pro and Xubuntu on it. Comparing Win98se to WinXP Pro is a night/day upgrade kind of thing. Comparing the two newer versions of Linux is almost like a mirror, but Xubuntu is Debian and Wolvix is Slackware. If you listen to some people you'd get the idea of extreme differences. But in reality the main struggle a user handles, besides the package format, is the GUI. The GUI is the look and feel thingy that most users squabble over. If you put your favorite GUI on any of the basic Linuxes, (rpm, debian, or tar.gz), a lot of the hassles of the other guys, seem to go away. The GUI makes the hidden part of Linux somewhat transparent. I say seem to and somewhat because some people are really picky.
Anyway, Xfce makes Xubuntu and Wolvix identical in look and feel. Now debian and tar.gz systems both have their advantages and short comings, also some things might not be available in one format or the other. So you have to examine what's there to see what is the right combo for your needs. And on top of that if you are inclined to tinker with code, you could convert a package to another format or compile the source code to run on your computer. This is all possible because underneath the GUI it is just Linux. In fact, you really don't need the GUI to run Linux at all. The GUI is there for our comfort and enjoyment. I only mentioned Xfce, KDE and Gnome, there are quite a few other window managers for Linux that are popular as well. I am going to end it here, I just want you to realize that the GUI is the look and feel part of the thing we call Linux.

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