First off, I finally got work's Cisco vpnclient running on Windows 2000 (formerly, only Gentoo was successful) which freed up the 20GB hard drive I am installing Linux on for playing around with.
I have given myself only a couple weeks before I move the Windows 2000 installation over to the 20GB hard drive so I can try and recover the data in the primary (80GB) hard drive after the partition tables were blown away last year.
I started off with a Desktop installation of CentOS (RHEL) 4.3 with the KDE and minimal bells-and-whistles so that I could fool around with Yum and KDE's Yum repository.
I wanted to try a KDE-centric environment so I didn't install OpenOffice or even Firefox. Unfortunately, games don't come with the CentOS CDs.
Everything went off without a hitch and the whole system worked pretty smoothly. Once I got the phone numbers I could set up the Internet connection and surf the net.
Once I understood that I had to download the kde.repo file into my /etc/yum/repos.d/ directory I was pretty good to go. I also added Dag's Yum repository, but the script didn't want to run online so I downloaded the rpm file and ran it (# rpm -Uhv ...) locally without any problems. These, along with the default CentOS repositories, gave me a good starting collection to choose from.
One thing I noticed, though, was that Mono was a little behind. Dag has Mono-basic 1.0.6 while the latest version, 1.2.3, has much better VB.NET support and so for me is essential. Eventually I would have to look at seeing how to best manually download and install the Mono RPMs so it won't destabilize or cause problems with dependencies, but I won't have this system running that long to get into it at this time.
After a few days running Yum I actually kinda liked-it. It reminds me of my Gentoo days and seems to run fairly smoothly for my cursory overview. I am sure as time goes on I would find frustrating points with Yum but that is true for any system.
What got me, though, was that CentOS fails the video playback the same as all flavors of Ubuntu does, which would have been a major kudos and sticking point to stay with CentOS. So it seems if I want Linux on this box I will have to do some digging around to fix this.
OK, after getting my feet wet with Yum, I was ready to try some more KDE fun. KOffice, KPim, Krita, Karbon, and more. With a dial-up internet connection, though, I was not about to start downloading all 116MB of packages (not including dependencies like Qt). Work does not look favorably on downloading anything and my USB key chain drive is only 64MB so I don't want to have to make 2-3 trips to the Library to use their systems.
The easiest way to "update" my KDE was to install Kubuntu 6.06 LTS from the CDs I had shipped to me for free (ShipIt!).
Kubuntu installs from a running LiveCD environment. Unfortunately the LiveCD makes use of any Linux swap partitions it finds on the hard drive. This may help make the system feel more responsive, but if you want to change anything with the partition scheme for that partition, you have to unmount it yourself. It would be nice if they let you know, or auto unmount it when you select to have Kubuntu installed on your entire hard disk. This took a few tries to figure it out.
When it was successfully installed it seemed nice enough. While the KDE is a little cleaner than CentOS, the Bluecurve theme still looked a little nicer than the default for Kubuntu.
When the installation is done, you have a fairly rounded desktop.. OpenOffice, Krita, Gwenview, Amarok, Digikam, etc. I've already fooled around with most of these so I didn't bother checking them out again yet. Eventually I want to test out Amarok with my iPod shuffle but first-things-first.
Time to get on the Internet! KPPP has worked fairly well for me even with RedHat/CentOS misconfigures my wvdial so that even in Gnome, KPPP works better.
To my dismay, I keep getting a KPPP Error Code 1 and no matter what I put into the password textbox it just doesn't want to connect! This is not good because without Internet connection, there are no program updates (install KOffice), no album information (Amarok) and no email (KPim)!
I will have to try again but if I cannot resolve this in the meantime, it puts a "nix" on my Linux testing.