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Thread: Open Source OS

  1. #1

    Default Open Source OS

    So I have a computer that I hardly use at all and I was thinking about using it to play around with open source OS, any ideas on what I should try. I know there are many versions of linux I can try.

  2. #2


    Didn't you just start using PCLinuxOS?
    If you want more Linux experience, as PCLinuxOS is KDE based, you can try some GNOME distributions. While I'm not a GNOME fan myself, it can't hurt to know your way around it.

    Other than Linux, there's the BSD OSes which are quite similar in many respects.

    If you want a open source windows clone (as many new users to Linux seem to expect), you can try ReactOS, but be aware many parts of it are still unfinished.

  3. #3


    It depends what your goal is. If you want to learn how the OS itself is written, I suggest looking at Minix. If you just want to play with it, Linux/BSD/(Open)Solaris would be fine.

  4. #4


    Get Ubuntu. I don't use it myself, but if you look on the internet there is way more tutorials and blog-posts for Ubuntu than for any other Linux distribution. Furthermore, most software creators look out to get it working on Ubuntu whereas they might not care about other distributions so much (this is true for some other distributions, too, though).

    I advise people to find open source solutions for their normal day-to-day tasks first before installing an open source operating system, though. If you already use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, 7zip instead of WinRar, VLC instead of Windows Media Player and Pidgin instead of MSN Messenger swiching your operating system (or installing one on a unused PC) will be way more comfortable :-)

    The good thing about open source operating systems is that there probably won't be a point where you will have huge problems with finding out how it works if you gradually learn more about it, whereas you won't be able to do that with Windows, for example. It will also show you different ways of doing or designing things, and you will learn how to use a computer differently. Personally I trust this to be one of the best learning experiences if you ever want to become better at using a PC, so stick to it and try it out on your main PC later on (You have to use it every day to really get the most out of the experience )

  5. #5

    Default Live CD

    I'd suggest first taking Live CD distributions for a spin. This will give you enough of a taste to start groping your way around the system without risk to your configuration.

    Once you've got a rough idea of where things are and what they do, you can install and start digging into the guts of whatever OS you choose.

    It sounds like you're just getting started, so I would second Ubuntu. I've never used it myself, but it appears to have all the nice shiny stuff that folks expect. *shrug* I use Open/FreeBSD with a CLI on my *nix boxes, myself, and have been partial to FreeBSD since about 2000-2001. It does what I need (servers, jailed virtual boxes, services, etc.) and I really like the fact that it doesn't hog up the memory with pretty pictures. I run headless, so pretty pictures aren't useful.

    The free OS world has come a long way since I started in 1995 with Slackware, and there are (of course) a ton more resources more readily available now than then.

    Some terminal commands you'll benefit from:
    • ls - will list files in the current directory.
    • ls -al (typically aliased ll) - list all files in the current directory, including dot-files.
    • cd - will change directory: cd /mnt/cdrom will change directory to (in this case) the FreeBSD mount-point for a CD ROM drive.
    • cat - will print a file to screen. You can use it thusly--cat <filename> | more to go through a file one screen at a time.
    • file takes a file name (remember, in the *nix world, everything is a file) and reports the type (executable, text file, etc.)
    • touch - takes a file name as an argument, and will either update the access time on an existing file, or can be used to create a new blank file. I like to do a touch tempfile to create a new file called tempfile.
    • man - short for "manual." Takes a command name as an argument and will give you more information than you could ever use.
    • find - can be used to find files. I typically use it like this: find / -name "Dissertation.txt" >> ~/results.txt & This will look at the entire slice mounted at / (root) and will recursively look for a file called "Dissertation.txt" Results will be in my home directory under "results.txt" and I'll have control of the shell while the process works in the background. If I wanted to check up on the progress, I could do a tail -f ~/results.txt to see real-time output.

  6. #6


    Thanks for all of the advice guy. Before I installed PClinuxOS I played around with the live CD. I am pretty much just seeing what else is out there besides windows.

  7. #7


    Install a command line operating system on it and screw around with it. Make it your learning machine.

    Personally I recommend 8.04 Ubuntu LTS. Hell, sooner or later once you learn your way around it turn it into a server.

  8. #8


    I've played with OpenBSD and Compilied and Configured things from Source. That may be a little to much. But that's how I really got use to using the CLI. I just had a VM running and connected to that every now and then to play around with the machine.

    But I had the general Idea of how Unix systems worked, just never really played with them seriously. So I think just playing with LiveCDs was how I did it. Just to make things easier to get things done, yet see how Unix systems differ from your typical windows machine. they don't have C drives . You may have to mount it manually. to something like /mnt/sda1 Or at least that's how I did it until they started auto-mounting them under /media/...

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