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(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Best Place to "Download Linux"

From Dan Gibson on Mon, 29 Mar 1999

(?) Hi:

I'm looknig for the best place to download Linux from the net. And also any accompanying documentation. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks

Dan Gibson

(!) The best place to download Linux (the kernel) is http://www.kernel.org or if you are in the U.S. try ftp://ftp.us.kernel.org. The latter of these will connect you to one of over a dozen U.S. mirrors of the kernel archives. There are numerous other regional sets of mirrors so you can connect using ftp://ftp.XX.kernel.org where XX is your country's two letter ISO code.
I realize that this answer might be considered disingenuous. You probably meant to ask where you can download a full Linux distribution. This includes much more than the kernel --- and involves getting dozens of FSF GNU packages, XFree86 and other packages.
A typical Linux distribution fills a full CD, or several. So it's often not practical to "download" Linux. It's generally much cheaper, quicker and easier to buy a set of Linux CDs (http://www.cheapbytes offers them for as low as three or four bucks, U.$.)
It's also possible to download a Red Hat boot diskette and install the entire distribution over the Internet. Basically you boot it up, configure it for your Internet connection, and point the install script at a suitable mirror of the Red Hat FTP site. I won't describe that in great detail (search the LG archives, I think I didn't go into more detail a few months ago). However, I don't recommend this method. It is slow and unreliable (and will keep your modem busy for a couple of days if it works).
Using the Debian GNU/Linux distribution you download a base set of about 6 diskettes, install those (one of them is a boot diskette, naturally). That base distribution is sufficient to install the rest. It's still a pretty geeky process and NOT recommended for newbies.
As for "accompanying documentation" --- all of the "official" documentation for Linux is linked off of the LDP (Linux Documentation Project) web site:
... that's the best source of info on the subject.
So, in summary, you need to pick a distribution first. Take a look at the Linux Online list of distributions (http://www.linux.org/dist/index.html) for starters. For those that can be "downloaded" look at their FTP Sites (http://www.linux.org/dist/ftp.html).
That should get you going.


From Dan Gibson on Thu, 01 Apr 1999

Dear Jim:

Thanks for all your advice. I checked out the sites, and then looked around locally. I am in the Middle East, so it is hard to find things, but I did find a pirated copy of Red Hat 5.1 CD that I had to pay $20 for, but I am ready to get up and running. Installing this thing is rather hard! I hear Corel is going to produce a more friendly version! I hope that once it is installed it will be easier to run than the installation process is!

Thanks again for your help.
Dan Gibson

(!) I wouldn't worry about its being "pirated" --- it's perfectly legal to duplicate most Red Hat CDs (according to their license). There are companies besides Red Hat that distribute the Red Hat Linux distribution (including Cheapbytes http://www.cheapbytes.com) and there are derivatives of Red Hat, like Mandrake. These start with the Red Hat distribution and add their own packages (like KDE which Red Hat Inc refuses to ship with their distribution for their own reasons).
For now Red Hat is probably the easiest to install on most PCs. I don't know how long it will take Corel to come up with their OS offering.

Copyright © 1999, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 41 May 1999

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