OS Install Experiences - Introduction

Over the next few days or weeks I intend to install quite a bunch of free (as in beer) operating systems on one of my machines.

This has several reasons and benefits:

  • I want to get an overview of most popular OSes out there and hands-on experiences on how to install them and partly also how to administer and use them.
  • As I intend to not delete the OSes after the install, I'll have a massive-multi-boot system (>= 10 OSes) in the end. Managing to get this alone working might prove to be not exactly trivial... but definately interesting.
  • Recently I started a disussion on the debian-devel mailing list about which system users on a Debian system should get a valid shell (/bin/sh, for example) and which should only get something like /bin/false [1]. While I install all these OSes, I will create a comparison chart of which users have a valid shell and which don't on every other Unix-like OS I install. This will be quite interesting, I guess, and it might help others package maintainers to decide whether or not to give certain system users a valid shell.
  • It's a lot of fun :)

On the list I plan to install are most major (free) Unix-like operating systems, e.g. Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Fedora Core, OpenSuSE, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, PC-BSD, OpenSolaris, and whatever else I can find out there. Basically, if I can download a CD image for free off the net, it's fine.

I'll be writing one small blog article per OS, stating my experiences, gotchas, pros and cons I noticed etc. If you have any suggestions for OSes or distributions I should look at, or ideas about other aspects of the OSes I could compare, please leave a comment.

[1] It has been pointed out that /usr/sbin/nologin or something similar is probably better than /bin/false, because it logs login attempts at these accounts (/bin/false doesn't).

Update: Articles published so far:


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how about kanotix as debian installer?

http://kanotix.com . It's a nice way to get a sid based desktop under 30'

also try OPENSTEP 4.2 and Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

don't ask, just do it.

OPENSTEP 4.2 and Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

I'll probably try Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, and if you can provide me a link where I can download a CD image of OPENSTEP, I might even have a look at that ;-)


Plan 9

If names like Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan, or Dennis Ritchie tell you anything, you definitely should take a look at Plan 9.

Plan 9

Will do, thanks :)

please try

http://plan9.bell-labs.com/plan9/ :)
http://www.atheos.cx or http://www.syllable.org/


More OSes

Thanks a lot for the pointers. I'll surely not look at all of them (I have a life, you know ;), but I'll consider one or two which sound interesting...

Thanks, Uwe.

I like your to write up

I like your idea to write up about each of them, but have you considered Linux From Scratch? I'm guessing you can learn a lot more about Linux that way than installing 10-odd distributions. :)


Yeah, I'll probably try LFS, too. However, I know quite a bit about Linux already - no need to learn the basics or similar ;)

My main interest is to learn the differences of various Unix-Like OSes (not only Linux). I want to see how various things are handled by various OSes and vendors...



Maybe also try PCLinuxOS. This distribution got quite popular in recent times.

And one small correction: There is no distribution called OpenSuSE. The distribution is simply called SUSE.



Never heard of PCLinuxOS, but I'll have a look at it. Thanks!