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Hi all, I did not see a thread pertaining specifically to the distros or for that matter OS's that we use.

The last time I hands on used linux was in 2000 in a business environment. I basically bluffed my way into the position as the owner was riding the Hype train for red hat. He didn't even know how to use it but wanted it as part of his infrastructure. I was a 16 yo drop out who basically said fuck yeah I'll try and make it do something for $350 a week LOL.

After that, I did not actually have much of a thing for linux, I appreciated its Efficiency but it came with alot of shit I just did not need installed or even available to me. And how the #! do you install an application lol.

I could not understand why we could not just have installers like a damn windows box. I mean talk about shell elitism "real men use command line" .

Anyway, I have been watching and learning quietly in the background, since have played with fedora and open SUSE, and Debian naturally, but the question begs..

I am seeing alot of very polished looking distros now that are minimalist in nature and so forth with the likes of Elementary OS and CrunchBang standing out for me.

I simply ask, Is there any real core function one is missing out on by using one of these distros as opposed to installing for example, vanilla Debian if you will ? Or is as simple as "Here I'm Debian, Ubuntu whatever full-blown with everything installed use me" or "Hi im #! not much on me but you can add what you like im still Debian at my core" ???

Kind regards,


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Well in the linux world there ARE install wizards for applications just like there is for windows and there has been for a very very long time. It all depends on the developer really but if you are finding a program that is more of a mainstream program then it will most likely take advantage of one of the various installation wizards baked directly into many different distros (mint, ubuntu, debian, the list goes on). The reason why linux geeks use the command line is because its wayyy faster than clicking around through menu trees and that goes for every OS not just linux (excluding windows in a lot of cases because of how bad batch is). I have friends who do cisco work for a living and although a lot of cisco devices (routers, switches, APs) come with a web interface to manage them they still prefer to use the command line to configure and manage them even if they have to go through the hassle of using a console cable. As far as distros go if you are looking for a distro that requires minimal configuration and a lot of knowledge of linux I would look at ubuntu or linux mint. If you want a true geeks distro I would look at arch, not mangaro just pure arch. Linux doesn't get any better than arch

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I started in my school years with Slackware as it came free with a book on Linux that seemed interesting. Main reason I was looking was back in those days I had the venerable Cyrix 120 P150+ and that thing was about as stable as jello with parkinsons while running either Windows 95 or NT 3.51. So I tried to give Linux a shot and first time I wasn't very lucky. The command line interface was awesome, but I wanted to have a gui to play with aswell and I couldn't get my Trident card to work.

Fast forward a few months and I gave it another go, this time succeeding in reaching the desktop. From that point on I occasionally dual-booted into Windows for the rare time I'd play a game and everything else I did from Linux.

After a bit I had a hard time keeping the OS up to date. Sure, you could install whatever you wanted, but if it had a dependency you'd only be told as you installed that component. So you'd grab the dependency, installed it only to find out it too had unmet dependencies. This dependency hell really began to irk me so I looked around to see which distros had solved this. Sniffed at RedHat, but their package manager at the time wasn't able to deal with this dependency stuff very well either. I eventually ended up at Debian which really was the only one to get it done right. I ran this for several years, eventually using OpenBSD for my gateway box (proxy/router) to see how much I liked that but it came back to the Slackware problem where keeping things up to date just didn't work for me. I don't know how they do it and still don't.

At some point, still running Debian everywhere, I got a bit fed up with Debian. This had a lot to do with the fact that at that time you had Qt3 and GTK to pick from, and the guy that made the package picked which one would be used. I didn't like Qt for some reason (non-really-free at the time) so I tried to make a point of using only GTK progs but, as I mentioned, there were several programs out there that had front-ends for either, but came packaged with only one. Another example would be MySQL, which I hate, which was a default dependency to Apache even though I wanted to use ProgreSQL. I also very much hated that when I installed any Gnome or KDE app, half the universe in libraries would be brought in. This was an issue since at the time internet was really slow though, thankfully, no longer paid for by the minute. So I looked around for something more flexible.

I then came agross something called "Pengoo Linux" or something. It had a knight (the chess piece) as a logo and was unusual because it was completely compiled with ecgs (pronounced 'eggs') which was a patched GCC that would supposedly produce faster code. The package manager was so-so and eventually I ran into the same problems I had with Debian so I again went looking for something else.

At this point I decided to go bare-knuckles. I spent 3 days manually compiling and installing Linux From Scratch which is very, VERY true to its name. I learned a *TON* but in the end I had a system that was a nightmare to keep updated since there was no package manager to speak of. There were techniques described to either work around the problem or to do some really basic package management where you installed everything in /opt/programname and would use symlinks to make the package available at the appropriate locations. A great learning experience, but not very practical. What I did get away from it was that 1) compiling your programs from source yourself means you get the most optimal binary for your needs and 2) you really need a good package manager.

So I looked around and found Gentoo, the ricers of the Linux world, often made fun of because these users would, to bring out the very maximum of their CPU, enable absolutely *EVERY* gcc flag, compile with -O999 and wonder why their system would become unstable (answer: most of those switches were to tell GCC to cut corners which, in many programs, weren't meant to be cut). Still, their method of package management I felt was very elegant. The person maintaining the package would define 'flags' (keywords, really) that define which components the program can use and will use by default unless you override them. You get a file in which you say which flags either do or don't apply to you (so to get gtk but not qt your flags would be "gtk -qt") and the build system would take it from there. It would keep perfect track of which program installed what where, be a breeze to upgrade and the only drawback was that all packages need to be locally compiled which can sometimes take a while. In case of the really big offenders (*cough*LibreOffice*cough*) there's a -bin package which is just the binaries. Your call: quick to acquire but using someone else's settings and bringing in potentially unwanted dependencies, or a perfect fit but your machine will be compiling it for the next few hours. That's been my Linux for the past... Wow, over 10 years already. One could say they must be doing something right to achieve that...

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I have already been curious about Linux. As a young boy I ventured into a local coffee shop after school. They just happed to be hosting a LUG( Linux Users Group). I was a little oblivious at first as to waht was going on, but as soon as I opened my laptop in the corner, people started to rush over. I had just purchased an Alienware Area 51M with a 3.4Ghz processor and 2 GBs of RAM(top of the line at the time). One member suggested that I load linux and experience the full power of the beast that I had. Soon I was introduced to Slackware.

Slackware and I got along fairly well, Little to no issues. After about a year or so I was introduced to Knoppix, DSL(Damn Small Linux), and BSD. After about 4 Years of getting aquainted with Linux,I took a a job do MLS Databasing with a company. There were no windows machines in the whole company's IT environment. It was a little change than that of what I was used to with mixed environments. The company would require that I used Ubuntu. At the time ubunut 6.10 was out. After leaving this company months later, I enrolled in to college where I got the wide range of information pertaining to Linux.

Right after college, I started wo work for a company and the environment was RHEL. The admin usually had the heads up their a$$es and were unable to properly manage the systems they were assigned. After a manager got let go due to some personal files being on his server :wink:, I quickly became manager.

I prefer debian based distros for person use and as for corporate, RHEL or CentOS(free RHEL lol)

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I have seen this one on my radar newbi3 what personally keeps you using arch ? what features keep you loyal etc?

The fact that its mine, that I choose what I want on it from the beginning and that it doesn't have any pre-installed applications that I don't care about

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Thanks for all this info guys, I will write a better response in the comming days, TBH im overloaded from all the videos and learning ive done this week, Ive really got the bug again ! I dunno if its info overload or the Wifi from the pinapple has fried me a bit lol, thanks so far, Im feeling right at home on this board.

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So, I understand root to be the "all powerful" what I am not understanding <edit: shit I have been dealing with IBM too much lately> What I don't understand is if it is OK to run kali under root to perform awesomeness, then why should Kali not be used as an everyday distro for me to learn linux / debian on ?

  • Is there any point to me using another distro for learning my way around linux? how would using vanilla debian be more beneficial over customising my own kali ? I ask you lot as I feel a higher level of intelligence here.
  • Am I not paranoid enough? "Kali must be run on a disposable USB"
  • I understand I can make a everyday user account to work from, why not do this?

I would appreciate your input in dispelling what I believe maybe urban legends..


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Doing everything on the system as root is akin to driving around in a demolition derby with, instead of a seat belt, a long, sharp metal spike attached to the steering wheel aimed at your chest. When you're root and things go wrong, they can go very, VERY wrong. You can for instance write any data at any location on the harddisk, regardless of where the partition is supposed to start or end, and wether or not that data makes sense to the filesystem. You can write any data at any memory location, including kernel memory in RAM, microcode of your CPU, any memory present on your graphics adapter... If you're running Kali from that disposable USB drive, you'll probably have a simple Win7 install on the system to provide you with plausible deniability. As root, even running off that disposable USB drive, you can completely rewrite every sector on that drive.

Basically, unless you're confident what you're doing is the correct thing, you really shouldn't be using root and instead prefix any commands that require root privs with sudo.

The reason it's "okay" to run as root under Kali is because most of the things you'd want to do with a Kali distro - what it was designed to do - require root privs. Given that, why force your end-user to use sudo since your target audience are people who'd quickly do a sudo su and go like that.

The reason you don't use Kali as your daily go-to Linux distro is because it was specifically designed to take all the side wheels off, assuming that you know what you're doing. When that turns out not to be the case, you're going to hurt yourself and possibly others.

As for your three points:

1. When you start with a regular distro (debian, arch, gentoo, whatever) you'll find yourself in a relatively safe environment designed to guide you where most beginners need guidance. As you learn, you figure out where the side wheels specifically are and how to take them off.

2. This is to provide you with plausible deniability and it's how Kali is intended to be used by its target audience. It might be that you're not paranoid enough, but equally likely is that you're not the target audience to them.

3. You can but, again, this isn't why you use Kali. Your regular user would have the Kali toolset at his/her disposal but insufficient privs to effectively make use of them and likely insufficient knowledge to safely make the appropriate choices to keep the system afloat.

Edited by Cooper
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Doing everything on the system as root is akin to driving around in a demolition derby with, instead of a seat belt, a long, sharp metal spike attached to the steering wheel aimed at your chest. When you're root and things go wrong, they can go very, VERY wrong.

This would be a great SSH banner :)

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Never run as root unless you are needed to preform tasks that only root can do. Even when I administer linux machines I have access to root yes but I create a different, normal user account for my self to do my day to day tasks. Root has all the power but it doesn't enhance browsing facebook at all

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Cooper, your a warrior on this forum mate, and I appreciate this clear and upfront explanation. My gut was telling me best to run from a USB I am just not the best at listening sometimes. You have certainly made things a lot clearer tho now.

I will continue on my voyage of discovery! At present I have been playing in elementary OS (feels like training wheels lol) and enjoying trying to figure out this Arch linux which has been quite the experience!

Watch this space! in a few months I may be able to share some of my input back with the community I hope!

Thank you all.

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