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Choosing a Linux Distro

If, on the other hand, you want a server, you will need something which is secure and stable and which is not vulnerable to being broken into by hackers. Red Hat Linux (in a default install) is extremely vulnerable to being hacked, and needs a custom configuration (plus a lot of downloaded upgrades), before it is suitable for deployment as a server. Debian and Slackware are much better in that they give you a reasonably secure install (which is extremely easy to customize and "harden", i.e. increase security).

There is extensive documentation for the major Linux distro's (and better still, lots of personal experiences narrated by users) out there on the Web. www.google.com will find a lot of it for you. Here's a brief comparison of the major Linux'.

Red Hat: It's pretty simple and easy to install. It is easily available, as several magazines (PC Quest and Chip, for example) have been distributing it in their CDs for the past few years. Also it has an easy but reputedly buggy config tool called Linuxconf.

Mandrake: As we said, it's a much prettier version of Red Hat - snazzy interface, easy install, and the full version comes bundled with recent versions of several excellent software. Lots of "drakes" help you with your config like, HardDrake, UserDrake etc.

Caldera: Extremely easy to install, configure and use (perhaps, easier than Mandrake), it makes an ideal desktop machine.

SuSE: This is a full-featured Linux (comes with a staggering amount of software, has an easy install/config app. called YaST). Highly recommended for both server and desktop use. Plus, as one of the SuSE members is closely associated with the XFree86 project, even the most obscure video cards (such as the infamous SiS 6215c) are supported in SuSE.

Slackware: This is simple and stripped down Linux at its purest. Shorn of all frills, is extremely user friendly, but (as the old joke goes), is very picky about choosing its friends. Slackware 7.1 has got quite a recent kernel and software versions though. Once you get to know it, it becomes a whole lot more user friendly. SuSE has its roots in Slackware, but is considerably more user friendly.