Best distros for VMware

Q I want to do video capture, watch TV, audio and video editing. I definitely want to learn to program and if possible get into development, I also want a good gaming system and I want to improve my Linux sysadmin skills. It seems that there isn't one distro that will do it all well, so I'm thinking that running virtual machines will do the trick. Of all the flavours of Linux, which is the best for virtualisation with VMware; does it run well on a laptop and are there some distros that don't work well as a virtual machine?

A Most distros on VMware play nicely together. However, there are some limitations to a virtual machine caused by the fact that the guest operating system does not have direct access to your real hardware, only the virtual hardware. As a result, gaming is often out of the question as the virtual graphics cards have no 3D acceleration. The same goes for video capture and watching TV, and your capture card is not available to the guest OS - although capture is possible from a camera with a USB connection.

However, any general-purpose distro can do all of what you ask. Some may be better suited for certain tasks in their vanilla configuration, but all are the same Linux underneath. Since you want to learn more about administering Linux, I recommend you pick one distro and look at making it fit your needs, which brings us back to the "Which distro?" question.

If you're serious about learning Linux administration, I would recommend Gentoo (www.gentoo.org) since it takes a 'kit car' approach to building a system. There is more work involved and you must be prepared to read the instructions before you do anything (as opposed to the usual approach of reading them after you have broken something).

Debian is also a good choice. It has a huge range of software available, is popular among server admins and has a large community and plenty of online help. Any distro can be used as a starting point to get where you want, but your interest in system administration makes these two the top choices.

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