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5 Advanced Linux Distributions you should try

5 Advanced Linux Distributions you should try

There are over a hundred Linux distributions and more come out every year. Linux gives users the freedom to setup their computer almost any way they want. They are generally more secure and lighter than their Windows and OS X counterparts. Most advanced Linux distributions give users the opportunity to dig deep into their computer to find out exactly what’s happening underneath the hood, and they provide a great way to learn a lot more about how computers work.

Here are 5 advanced Linux distributions that you should try if you are up for the challenge:

1. Arch Linux

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    Photo by Dxiri Via Flickr Creative Commons

    Arch Linux is known for being one of the more “Bleeding edge” linux distributions, meaning it gives users access to software that is still in development, beta, or for some reason has not been released yet on other systems. If you like being the first to have access to technology and are willing to potentially encounter and fix bugs, then you will probably love Arch. Arch Linux is also one of the few “Rolling Release” Systems in use. This setup is awesome because there is no such thing as an “Arch XP”, or “Arch 8”. Arch gets updated on a day by day basis and the user is always running the latest and greatest packages.

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    Don’t just think you can pop in an Arch disk and be ready to go. Arch starts as bare bones and forces you to install everything manually. You are greeted with the command line, and will pretty much have to do the entire installation inside your terminal. Give Arch Linux a try and you will soon be the owner of a secure, lightweight and ultra customizable computer, making this one of the greatest linux distributions. Their main IRC channel is #archlinux

    2. Slackware

    slackware

      Photo by Roger Will Comply via Creative Commons

      Created in 1993, Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux Distribution, and still going strong. Slackware is known for it’s rock solid stability and security. This distro releases updates slowly compared to other systems, but it’s also released with far fewer security holes making it an excellent option for use as a server. Slackware is one of the harder to install linux distributions and provides ample bragging rights for those who are able to use it as their primary system. Once you learn how to use Slackware, you’ll be rewarded with a system that works almost perfectly, and is “simple” to use, highly secure, and customizable. Give this linux distribution a try and you will not be disappointed. Check out their IRC channel: #slackware

      3. Kali Linux

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        Kali Linux is a very specialized Linux distribution. The sole intention for using Kali Linux is “Offensive Security”. This is the tool that both good and bad guys use to break into and exploit other peoples restricted areas. The good guys use this tool to make their own systems and their clients systems more secure, while the bad guys do bad things that we won’t talk about. Kali provides hundreds of tools out of the box for the security professional – Metasploit, SqlNinja, and WireShark to name a few.

        This linux distribution is NOT for general purpose use, and users will most likely use Kali only when doing penetration testing related activities, and then switch to something else for watching cat videos.

        If you want to become a successful security professional, or learn how hacktivist groups like “Anonymous” and “Ghost Security” use their hacking skills to fight terrorism online, then you could greatly benefit from learning about “Social Engineering”, using Kali Linux, and learning a programming language like Python or C.

        You should definitely give Kali Linux a try! Check out their IRC channel here: #kali-linux

        4. Gentoo

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          Gentoo is known for being extremely difficult to install. When the topic of installing Gentoo comes up, the average time seems to be around three full days to just get the system installed. Once it’s installed you still need to setup programs for your desktop, sound, wifi, the ability to watch videos, etc… Oh, and every single program is installed and compiled from source, but it’s not always as scary as it sounds. This is probably the most difficult linux distribution that people actually use on a regular basis.

          So why would anyone in their right mind use Gentoo? For starters, it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about the intricacies of how Linux works. About half-way through the installation you decide whether you want to manually configure the “Kernel” or if you prefer to use the “General kernel”. The Kernel can be considered sort of like the heart of linux. It’s also great if you need a very small system. Gentoo is extremely well documented and very flexible. You get to make a decision for what you want on just about everything, including which bootloader you would like to use.

          What you end up with is a 100% customized computer that has exactly what you want and use, and nothing more. It’s lightweight, fast, secure, and there’s no other system just like it. Once you have installed Gentoo you already deserve bragging rights, but being able to use it puts you in the ranks of “Super Powered Hardcore User”.

          Most of the benefits of Gentoo mean nothing more than mumbo jumbo to a mere mortal, however, ask a Gentoo user why they like the distro and you’ll hear nothing but praises for this advanced linux distribution. Check out their IRC channel at #gentoo and say hello!

          5. Linux From Scratch (LFS)

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            Linux From Scratch is the ultimate educational opportunity. With LFS (Linux From Scratch) you are essentially building your very own linux distribution similar to how you would make your own bread from flour, yeast and anything else that is in bread. Nothing is done for you, and you don’t even have a package manager. LFS is good for university students doing computer projects, or any geek looking to learn more about how a computer system is put together. LFS is not something you would want to use on a day to day basis unless you were to go beyond Linux From Scratch with the next step called “BLFS” (Beyond Linux From Scratch), and even then it’s still not a secure system until you do a lot more work. If you’re wanting to geek out on some computer stuff then head over to Linux From Scratch and get started! Check out their IRC channels #lfs and #lfs-support

            No matter what Linux distribution you use, there is plenty of fun stuff to learn and do. Linux offers you plenty of challenges and gives you the freedom that Windows and OS X simply don’t have. Only about 3% of the population uses one of the linux distributions as a desktop, but many people are using Linux in some form and don’t even realize it. If you use a TV, microwave, refrigerator, or some other sort of technology then you’ve been using Linux for a long time and probably had no idea.

            There are many benefits to using Linux, especially if your in the tech field, so pop an installation cd into your computer and have fun!

            Featured photo credit: dxiri via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on February 15, 2019

            7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

            7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

            Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

            Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

            Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

            So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

            Joe’s Goals

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              Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

              Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

              Daytum

                Daytum

                is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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                Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                Excel or Numbers

                  If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                  What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                  Evernote

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                    I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                    Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                    Access or Bento

                      If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                      Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                      You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                      Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                      All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                      Conclusion

                      I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                      What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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