[svlug] linux installation advice?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Aug 7 16:46:00 PDT 2012

Quoting Joanne Sun (joannehsun at gmail.com):

> Hello,
> Finally this email list seems the right one. I wonder if I can ask you
> a linux question. I don't follow the current state of art information
> on linux now. So it is better to ask some expert if you are still
> active in this field.
> I need to get a laptop which runs a Unix or Linux command line prompt
> to install Python, Hadoop, Cascading stuff.
> Currently I have two laptops: a Win 7 Home and a Mac book pro (bought
> in 2007 or 2008 probably). I don't want to wipe out the Windows laptop
> to install Linux from scratch
> since I use it currently. I don't use my Mac much. It seems to have
> problems with the browser. Always freezing somehow. I don't mind
> upgrade it.
> I wonder what is the best option to install Linux and which flavor? I
> think there are some virtual boxes stuff. Not sure if they are really
> like a genuine linux box or any catches there. And I have no idea if
> Mac can run a Linux box?

Hi, Joanne.

Yes, a MacOS X laptop certainly can run pretty much any Linux
distribution within a virtual machine setup.  You don't need to make any
changes to MacOS; just install your choice of virtual machine software
into it.

Popular choices:

Oracle VM VirtualBox:  open source (GPLv2)
Parallels Desktop for Mac:  proprietary
VMware Fusion:  proprietary

If I might make a suggestion:  Install your choice of VM software, and
then bring your Mac to the next meeting of SVLUG's sister group CABAL,
which will next meet this Saturday, 4 pm to midnight, at my and my
wife's house in west Menlo Park.  CABAL is a relaxed social and dining
group that helps people do installations of any Linux or BSD
installation and solve software problems with them.


As long as your Mac has, say, 1 GB or more of RAM (1.5 GB+ is more
spacious), you should have no trouble running many Linux distros in a
VM under OS X, but be aware that some DEs (desktop environments) that
_can_ be used on Linux, but needn't necessarily be, are a bit hoggish on
RAM and CPU.

As others have already noted, you should also be aware that OS X itself
is a full-featured BSD-flavour Unix (proprietary-licensed, in part), and
certainly can run Python along with a great deal of what can run on
Linux distributions.

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