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I will need a new computer pretty soon, and am planning on building a dual-boot Windows/Linux box for weekend programming and play. Unfortunately, this will be my first time building a pc from the ground up and I'm a total novice when it comes to Linux. The *nix OS I was considering was CentOS based on a friend's recommendation, but I'm not sure about that yet. If this was just a Windows box I wouldn't be too worried, but I know with *nix stable drivers may not be readily available.

Besides this, is there anything else to watch out for? More specifically:

  • What roadblocks should I be aware of before purchasing parts for and building a pc that will have a Linux-booting partition (besides driver compatibility)?
  • Is the *nix community or the hardware manufacturer the right place to go for looking up compatibility?
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I realize the second question is a bit objective... but I thought it might be generally applicable to many computer builders in the long term, so worth asking. –  AlexMA Jan 19 '13 at 4:20
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

When it comes to Hardware, unless you are going for very exotic parts or state of art devices, you shouldn't have a problem. So just checking forums/blogs/wikis for those exotic pieces as well as video cards, wireless cards, etc. Should suffice.

If it's a desktop computer, so far, my video cards of choice are NVidia. Better performance and support for drivers. And for Nvidia Optimus, the bumbblebee project is making progress.

On the distro part, I'd like to suggest trying Arch Linux, it demands an extra bit of work, but you get exactly what you need (no bloatware-ish stuff that you have no idea is there). But the Arch Wiki is very thorough with everything you can possibly need. And that extra time spent installing it, comes with a huge learning experience as added value. It's the distro that (in my opinion) provides the best learning experience right from the installation, without being totally crazy like Linux From Scratch (LSF).

However, choosing a distro is very subjective, people who like on OS that is easy to install and works out of the box, go for Mint, Ubuntu, Suse, etc. More meticulous people or people that want to be more aware of what is behind the pretty lights, go for Gentoo, Slackware, Arch Linux, etc. Advanced users or people who want to make their very own distro go for LSF.

Centos is a great distro, specially as a production server like Debian, they excellent choices.

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Thanks for the input. Quite helpful. I'm glad the hardware isn't going to be a problem most likely. –  AlexMA Jan 19 '13 at 15:19
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