And so my adventure began. I got my feet wet by trying Knoppix in my hard drive. My inital reaction was excitement - "hey I'm doing it, and I like what I see" - only problem was I couldn't get connected to the internet [I had a winmodem- as most computers in the US and the World have], also when I installed it to my hard drive after a trying learning experience, I found it morphed into a pseudo-Debian without aptget, automounted cd drives or some of the other niceties of Knoppix.
Next I tried JAMD 0.5 - A take off on Redhat 8 aimed at the beginner. Easy install, one disk and good package selection for a home user like myself. Now I'm up to my knees in the water of Linux - starting to learn, But I still couldn't get connected with my winmodem, there was no driver available to support my modem with the Linux kernel used with Jamd.
And so onto the next effort – Linuxinstall.org 3.0, also a version of RH8. I read a very brief review of this distro in OSNEWS where the author stated that this distro convinced him to make a permanent switch to Linux - I had to try it.
Got the cd [$5] and put it in my cdrom. Typed [dual] at the prompt and that was it. It installed right over my previous Linux attempt with no input from me- couldn't have been easier. I never had a windows install go this easily. All my hardware was detected automatically, as well as my timezone, mouse and keyboard. I didn't have to do anything. After roughly a 20 minute install, I rebooted and set up my password- no problem.
So now here I was looking at Gnome, which I prefer for it's uncluttered simplicity. I began to wander around the distro ,customizing it to my liking. I found it quite intuitive and by no means overdone. I was drawn to it's look and feel. My next goal was to get connected to the internet. This time I suceeded in finding a driver for my modem and was able to fire up Mozilla 1.3 Whoppee! I'm on the internet thru Linux - look Ma, no viruses. For me this is an important point as I know the vast majority of computer users are still on dialup modems and if they can't get connected without a giant hassle I fear they will shy away from Linux.
After a great deal of exploring [more than I've written about] I've found a distro that suits me just fine as a beginner. It has preconfigured Adobe Acrobat, Java plugin, Flash and Real Player. Also ms fonts were very easily installed along with the ability to read my ntfs partition. Did I mention it has Synaptic for updating? No need to get into the rpm struggle – Synaptic has been effortless.
The single cd install includes Evolution, Open Office [the latest beta], Gimp and all the necessary multimedia tools that a certain other distro chooses not to include. I've been able to play mp3's stored in my ntfs partition or on a cd without a problem. I've been able to update the kernel to 2.4.20 through a script from the Linuxinstall website. Support is excellent – Thomas Chung, the architect of this distro personally responds to all calls for help on the user forum – couldn't ask for more than that. It's i686 compilation is fast, stable,and uncluttered. I like it.
I've been using Linuxinstall 3.0 for six weeks now and I can honestly say I'm hooked. It allows me to use my computer to do what I need to do, both for work and play with no hiccups. So far the only problems have come from that guy pushing down the keys.