Linux Installs

I am in the process of doing a series of reviews of popular Linux versions books and the associated distributions. The goal is to rate the books as a)an Installation Manual for Linux including the amenities of the enclosed CD or DVD; and b)to rate the book as a Starting Guide to Linux and this particular distribution. Wach for the reviews here.

In the process I am discovering that installing Linux and any other OS is starting to rise to the top as a hot topic. And why not? Microsoft Vista is late and bloated (even Gartner is saying that half of corporate PCs will not be able to run it because of lack of memory and CPU speed). And so the opportunity for change-over to Linux or Mac is being anticipated as a really more serious possibility. And so the perennial – ” how easy is it to install question ? ” question is invoked as

And if Steve Warren over at TechRepublic is worth his salt and work in doing a similar exercise as yours truly ( installing several versions of Linux and doing a visual review (we have done written reviews)with a whole gallery of pictures to show for it); then Linux installs will get at best “even marks” for ease of install with Windows XP and perhaps even less for the upcoming Vista from Steve. Now I cant dispute the evidence because the galleries are like a silent film lacking text or words describing whats going on. So here are my quick takes:
1)Too bad Steve does not include Slackware and Linspire that consistently get top marks for ease of install; but 3 out of 5 best Linux distros for install is not too shabby. But that raises another point – why do so many distros persist given ever more uniform contents.
2)The Vista “bloat” factor is not taken into account – Linux will install and run pretty well on any I86 at 500Mhz or more with 256MB of memory. How gracefully does Vista degrade/disqualify itself when under-nourished PC (2.4GHz or less; 1GB of memory or less) is used as target machine ?
3)The “drivers for old peripherals and printer” factor is taken into account. Vista requires significant rewrite of drivers – how far down will peripheral vendors go to make their older hardwares available for Vista?
4)For each version of Linux I have had to learn a new installer/installation and system management process. So each version is reasonably fast and stable – and relatively easy to master with a good install guide. But having to keep up to date on so many different system management (add/remove software, etc) is not exciting. Some commonality here would be useful.
In general, I think Steve misses the mark a bit – Microsoft can make Windows install fairly simple asuming you meet their and their OEMs hardware requirements. As Gartner points out, meeting Vistas base requirements is going to be daunting for many users. SaaS vendors are going to make hay about this – saying stay with your existing Mac, Linux , or Windows desktops – let us bypass this conversions nonsense and manage all your info needs from simple easy-to-use Web interface. This time next year will be most interesting.

(c)JBSurveyer 2006

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