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Considering Linux

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by trekguy, Apr 8, 2008.

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  1. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    The hard drive on my XP Home desktop PC went belly up. I bought the PC used, and it did not come with a Windows CD. I have installed a brand new 80GB drive, but now, I do not have an XP disk to reinstall an OS. I went out to buy XP, and I discovered that XP is not available in stores anymore... around here anyway. I can get it online, but then I remembered the Linux OS... which is free.... another option.

    So, I've been reading some about the Linux OS, and the different versions of it. Is this something that a regular person, with a basic understanding of computers can handle?? Some of the stuff I've been reading is making my brain hurt, and I'm concerned that it may be more trouble than it's worth.

    All I need it to do, is the basic stuff... web browsing, letter writing, and handling pictures (not video) and music.

    I also do some website work using Yahoo/Geocities on the web... would there be any problem working with that... because I would be using Firefox instead of IE, correct??
     
  2. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor

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    Yep. :)

    A lot of people recommend PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu is also popular.

    The best thing you can do is download a LiveCD of a distro and boot it on the machine you want to install it on. You can boot directly from the liveCD and take the Linux system for a "test drive", if you will. If you like it, you can install it on your hard drive. Also, booting a liveCD will give you somewhat of an idea of how your system will be supported by Linux. A liveCD won't be exactly like running from a real installation but you can get a general sense of whether Linux will run on the box or not.

    Peace...
     
  3. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    OK, first dumb question of many... the new hard drive is completely empty... as in no drivers for anything... will the LiveCD run everything?? :confused:
     
  4. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor

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    That's not a dumb question at all. :) You don't need to have anything on the hard drive to install Linux or run the liveCD. Just as long as the hard drive works and is recognized by the BIOS, at least, the Linux installer will handle the rest.

    Obviously, you'll need access to a machine with an Internet connection and a CD burner so you can download the liveCD and burn it to a CD. Once burned to a CD, you boot your target machine from the CD-ROM with the liveCD in the drive and the liveCD will handle the rest. :)

    You can see screenshots of an Ubuntu liveCD boot session here. That page will discuss doing an actual install but you DO NOT have to do the install to use the liveCD. Just boot the liveCD and fire up the browser and see if you can surf the web. :)

    Peace...
     
  5. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    I have a laptop that I can download/burn with... I'll try it tonight. Do they all have the LiveCD option?? (Dumb question #2).

    You mentioned PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu... which is easier?? Yes, I am nervous about this, can you tell?? :D

    I found this...

    http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

    I wish the "pros and cons" were in a language that I speak. :eek:

    OK, in your opinion, which ONE should I try??
     
  6. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor

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    Most Linux distros have a liveCD but not all do, so this was a great question. :)

    If I were you, I would try BOTH PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu. I would look at the screenshots of the desktops of the distros at Distro Watch and see which desktop strikes your fancy. LiveCDs are free to download, except for the time spent downloading and the blank CD media. :)

    I've got liveCDs for Ubuntu, Kubuntu (Ubuntu with a different default desktop manager), OpenGEU, ZenWalk, and a few others. I like to try out distros via liveCDs to see what the distro is like. :)

    ZenWalk is another distro you might want to check out.

    The thing is, ANY of these distros will suit your needs of web surfing, e-mail management, digital music management, digital photo management, and office productivity. PCLinuxOS is known for being "easy", especially for newbies coming from a Windows background. For me, Ubuntu installed without any problems.

    The BEST thing is by trying the liveCDs, you don't have to commit until you're ready to do so. :)

    How about this: just to get the ball rolling, download an Ubuntu (or Kubuntu) liveCD. This will get your feet wet in terms of downloading the ISO and burning to CD, etc. Then, boot the liveCD on your laptiop and give it a whirl. If you like it, install it. If you want to try PCLinuxOS out of curiosity, download a liveCD image from the PCLinuxOS website and burn that to a CD and boot that on your laptop.

    You might find when you boot the Ubuntu liveCD that something might not work, like a wireless network adapter in the laptop. If this is the case, you know that particular distro might not be the one for you OR you might learn that some extra work would be required to get that adapter working. Another distro might more readily support that wireless adapter.

    Download an Ubuntu liveCD image and burn it to a CD and give it a try. :)

    Peace...
     
  7. InterKnight

    InterKnight

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    Hello, trekguy.

    I will give you a slight bit of insight into the Ubuntu-way of things (I guess that's what you'd call it), as that is what I use here at home now. :)

    I used to be in the place where you are now, and I was kind of nervous about making the switch. I am a partially blind computer user, and I got really tired of having to figure out how I could afford to pay nearly $600+ for a screen magnifier for Windows (the company only develops for Microsoft, might I add). I was tired of being a "captive" customer, and so I looked into Linux.

    I was in your slight predicament, where I did not know which distribution (distro) to use. I looked at Fedora Core, Debian, PCLinuxOS, and then Ubuntu. This June will be my first full year running solely Ubuntu. I chose it because (for my situation) the community has a LOT of support for people with disabilities. I am using a screen magnifier plugin which is much more smooth and is not AT ALL a memory hog like the Windows applications were...and even more...I did not pay a DIME!

    Ubuntu is very user friendly, and they have a very active community of volunteers who are always willing to help over at the Ubuntu Forums. Now, this is not to say that other distros are not good, as I am sure all of them are, but Ubuntu was what met my needs. It comes with OpenOffice (which can open and save to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel formats); it uses Firefox as the default Web browser; it uses Pidgin as the default multi-protocol (AIM/Yahoo/ICQ/etc) instant messaging program; and, there is just a plethora of other applications that come with the system that just meet many other needs.

    Another thing I love about Ubuntu (and Linux in general) is that of a Package Manager. I used to go out and search Download.com and other sites for freeware programs when I used Windows, but on Ubuntu there is an Add/Remove Programs application that allows you to both add AND remove programs by searching online repositories for programs.

    My wife was really leery of Linux at first, but now she loves it.

    In about sixteen days, on April 24, 2008, they will be releasing Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron", which will offer long-term support for its users and will be even more feature-full than the current version (which I am using).

    I(n any case, I hope that this has been of a little help to you. I have sen Linux evolve in great bounds over the past few years, and it will only get better and better.

    I hope that all works out well for you.

    Take care.
     
  8. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor

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    Interesting, I wasn't aware of this. :)

    Peace...
     
  9. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    I did some reading in the Ubuntu Forums... command line ... code... terminal... yikes. I've never been one to type in commands... I like to use the mouse. :D Do you have to use the CLI stuff at any point, or can all Linux/Ubuntu operations be done via mouse?? ( #3 :eek: )

    Downloads are quite large... I'm going to start the Ubuntu download when I'm done here, and let it go overnight. I can't burn anything until tomorrow anyway... it seems that my daughter has "burned" through my entire stack of media. :eek:
     
  10. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the input. Yep, still a bit nervous about this deal... out of my comfort zone, you know. I'm going to try it. It seems ridiculous to me to have to spend hundreds of dollars for basic software.

    So, what happens when the new version arrives? Is it complicated to upgrade? Should I just wait, maybe?
     
  11. RootbeaR

    RootbeaR

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  12. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the list. How come there's such a big difference in the min/max (699 to 3553mb) for Ubuntu???

    And, what's the difference between the primary functions "Desktop" and "OS Replacement"??
     
  13. RootbeaR

    RootbeaR

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    Minimal install or full install. Sometimes you can have the repositories installed as well instead of going to the internet to get packages.

    "Desktop" probably doesn't work with laptops. I am not positive, guessing.
     
  14. trekguy

    trekguy Thread Starter

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    Oops, didn't read down far enough.

    Primary Functions:

    Desktops: provides a working GUI desktop environment with a collection of desktop programs, such as browsers and text editors. Many also include utilities for other purposes, such as home entertainment, but are only listed here because the additional functions are not their primary focus.

    OS Replacement: provides an option to transfer the cd to the hard drive, or to install an OS in a different form.
     
  15. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor

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    The Ubuntu install won't require any command line interaction. If you cruise through the Networking forum, you will see PLENTY of Windows users invoking a command prompt to diagnose and fix problems let alone editing the registry. :)

    The command line is nothing to fear and something you won't have to use very often.

    "Desktop" is used to distinguish one form of install from the "server" form of install. The "Desktop" version will work fine on a laptop. :)

    Peace...
     
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