Quoting John Flanagan (seagull at clubi.ie):
> I have a basic PC, with a Duron 750, 40gb HDD, 256MB Ram, a CD-ROM and
> CD-RW (separate drives), 10/100 Ethernet card.
This looks to make a very fast Linux workstation. It's certainly a
faster machine than any of my servers. People coming from MS-Windows
usually are accustomed to needing way more CPU power and RAM for
reasonable performance than is needed for Linux. Linux machines are
usually I/O-limited, rather than CPU or RAM-limited (because MS-Windows
users get used to short-changing themselves on hard drive and network
interface architecture, which MS-Windows can't use very effectively
> My main use for the PC at the moment is dial-up Internet access using ICQ,
> Internet Explorer, Outlook Express. I also use it for some spreadsheets,
> developing a small personal website and an occasional bit of programming
> using VB.
I basically concur with other people's remarks. The big thing to
realise is that Unixes (of which Linux is a family member) are radically
different under the hood, and you'll have a learning curve while getting
acculturated. You'll also tend to be in contact with the on-line Linux
community, who tend to work from a set of somewhat different set of
assumptions and habits, compared to typical "desktop" users.
Some distributions do a generally good job of making your initial
encounter seem painless. Nonetheless, you'll find much that is wholly
unfamiliar, and a bewildering array of choices, once you start figuring
out where to look.
> For the above uses, what is the best version of linux to install?
Epic flamewars have raged over such questions, and even over the
criteria by which one might decide it. But SuSE and Linux-Mandrake
both seem popular among newcomers.
> Linux is too big to download on 56K dial-up
As others have clarified, you mean that _distributions_ based on Linux
(which is a operating system kernel) are too big to download on 56 kbps.
> What books should I be looking at for basic user?
You'll want a tutorial and a reference.
The tutorial book referenced there, O'Reilly's _Running Linux_, seems
perfect to me. But people who weren't old MS-DOS folk sometimes
complain that it assumes too much basic technical knowledge. I don't
know what to say: I still think it's about perfect.
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