[kwlug-disc] Newbie... Playing with Linux etc...

John Van Ostrand john at netdirect.ca
Sat Apr 10 22:35:40 EDT 2010

----- "Michael Savage" <msavageca at yahoo.ca> wrote:

> I am starting to get a little time with playing with linux, and am
> interested in mostly database things, i.e. mysql...
> A bit about me... I've been involved in computers in some form or
> another since my first toy, The Timex/Sinclair ZX81. I then moved to a
> Commodore 64, then to an IBM XT, DDOS world. Then of course through
> versions of Windows starting at Windows 3.10, and continuing to
> present day. 

My experience exactly, except for a brief stint on CBM PETs. I worked in Unix and Linux from mid 90's on and I diverged completely from Microsoft around Win2k.
> I enjoy using Open Office products, ad have stopped using MS Office at
> MS Office 97 level. Just found the need for a learning curve each
> version was getting in the way of being productive. I'm sure I don't
> use all of the features in Office 97, probably less than that in Open
> Office.

Good, then you're already there on the major application side.

> I am living in the windows world, all of my customers are using
> products that I've developed using various ms products. so forgive me
> if I seem naive. 

So are you a programmer or system integrator?

> So a few first questions to get me started:
> 1. What Linux distro would be a good one to start on... low learning
> curve, but not likely to frustrate me, as stated, I'm a window geek.
> It needs to have some power, as eventually I'm probably going to use
> one of my more successful products, and migrate it to teach myself a
> lot of the things I know well in Windows, but don't have a clue how it
> works in the Linux world.

Look back in the archives on this one and you'll see this repeated a few times.

Being a professional you might want to consider this:

Red Hat (whose derivatives are CentOS and Fedora) is the most widely third-party supported distribution of Linux. That means that you'll be able to find a major hardware vendor (like IBM) that supports it, and you'll find that most software vendors that support Linux support it on Red Hat. This of Fedora as a beta version of Red Hat. CentOS is the binary compatible community supported version of Red Hat.

That not to say that other distros won't actually work with hardware and software.

Debian is the most polific distro. Many other distros are based on Debian (like Ubuntu) and there is a rich developer community for it.

In my mind it's clear. If you want a distro for personal use try Ubuntu or another Debian-based distro. If you want to build software for company use you want Red Hat (or CentOS.)

Linux is Linux is Linux. You'll find that all the distros have the same main software. Some are more current and as a result more unstable, while others hang back and prefer stable versions of software. The main difference between distros is the administration tools. Package managers vary (Red Hat uses RPMS, Debian uses DPKG), admin tools vary, and how the software's default configurations and file locations vary as well. You can take most advice designed for Debian and use it for Red Hat if you know the subtle differences. It's like the difference between Windows versions, except the software is the same.

> 2. Setting up mysql... What are the best tools to use to manage and
> administrate it?

I choose to use web-based management tools since they work well remotely are are cross platform, but that's so that my Windows-based customers can access them. PHPMyAdmin is the one of choice. I have heard of very good native GUI Linux tools for MySQL, but I can't recall the names. I may switch soon since my customers don't seem to care about direct database access.

> 3. Keep in mind, that I know very little, and am interested a lot. So
> bear with me with my simple questions. I've heard good things about
> this group. Don't disappoint me, please. :) <vbg>

Feel free to ask the list. I recommend referring to the on-line manuals for MySQL. I'm in them often. Depending on your skill level you many find that a MYSQL Tutorial book is handy. 

Get prepared for a steep learning curve. Not only do you have to learn new software and new ways of doing things, but you have to get used to a very different community. Where the Windows community is strongly commercialized, and you end up using lots of third party tools to get jobs done, Linux is very community oriented and comes with all the tools I need (except proprietary codecs and plugins.)

You should not restrict yourself to the KWLUG. You are likely welcome on other LUG lists regardless of geography and there are software specific lists and IRC channels that can be very helpful. If you are focussing on development find a list particular to the development tools you'll be using.

In the Windows world one often looks for the exact tool needed for a specific job. In Linux tools are generalized and very configurable. This may make some things difficult at first, until you get used to it. For example, infrequently I need to transcode videos for web consumption or blackberry use. It would be nice if there was a tool just for those jobs. Instead Linux has general tools that can do any video modification that you want. They are command line though and sifting through the long list of GUI tools (that just use the command line tool) is a pain. This may be the most extreme example.

Also consider that comfort with the command line is not necessary but the most efficient Linux users know how to use at least a small part of the rich set of command line tools.

> That should be a start for me at this stage.

Good luck and I hope to see you out on Monday night.

John Van Ostrand 
CTO, co-CEO 
Net Direct Inc. 
564 Weber St. N. Unit 12, Waterloo, ON N2L 5C6 
Ph: 866-883-1172 x5102 
Fx: 519-883-8533 

Linux Solutions / IBM Hardware 

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