operating system

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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