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Windows user considering switching to Linux - any guidance or advice please?

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by jhgreene, Dec 18, 2011.

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  1. jhgreene

    jhgreene Thread Starter

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    Hi -
    I've been a long-time Windows user (not necessarily a Windows lover), and am considering loading a Unix/Linux OS on my desktop machine at home. I've been considering this for a year or so, and after a long, frustrating weekend trying to get past the F6 problem when trying to install Windows XP Pro SP2 onto a new hard drive, I'm wondering if this might be the time to get serious about it.

    I've really never used Linux on a desktop before, but have talked to friends who have done the installation before. My desktop is a 3.2GHz machine with 4GB RAM, and i would be installing a 32-bit version of the OS. But what i just don't know is what kinds of issues I might run into with things like drivers, files, etc. Here are a few questions I have right off the bat that I know you experts will know the answers to:

    1. I'm thinking the latest 32-bit version of Ubuntu? Thoughts? This is a home PC that could be used lightly by other family members to check email, surf the web, write a doc, etc. I will also want to install a unix version of Eclipse for software development. Do you think a Linux OS will be family friendly?

    2. What issues if any should I expect with the Linux OS detecting and functioning properly in my wireless home n/w?

    3. My new hard drive is replacing one that has been acting like its got bad sectors, and I will want to try to hook it up (temporarily) as a 2nd HD after the new OS is installed so I can retrieve some data files I want to keep. Will I be able to do this - i.e., temporarily hook up my original HD, currently loaded with XP Pro, as a 2nd HD in order to copy files to a drive folder on my new Linux OS?

    4. Some of the files I want to preserve are doc, docx, xls, ppt, and other MSOffice-type files. So I was wondering if there was a Unix/Linux alternative for MSOffice or OpenOffice. I'll need to be able to view/create these types of files.

    4. What about the CD/DVD currently on my box? Should I expect a driver problem? I would think it would be functional so that I can load the Linux OS.

    5. My wireless n/w also has a wireless HP Printer/Copier/etc. on it. Should I expect any problems with this? I also sometimes use a Canon Scanner that runs off a USB port. How about any other USB type devices, like digital camera card readers, etc.? Should I expect any driver-related problems with these external devices commonly used in Windows environments?

    7. What about general reliability and frustration level using a Linux OS such as Ubuntu as compared to Windows?

    Anyway, sorry for the wordiness - any guidance or advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. CouchMaster

    CouchMaster

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    http://distrowatch.com/
    About halfway down the page - on the right - hits ranking.
    They are mostly all free - I'd start at the top and work my way down if Mint didn't work.
    The top 3 or 4 should have wireless working out of the box.
     
  3. Ent

    Ent Trusted Advisor

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    Josiah
    Ubuntu is reputed to be the most intuitive of the mainstream Linux distributions, so family friendly shouldn't be a problem at all. I know that it is perfectly possible to do software development in Linux, but I've never done it myself so I don't know how it compares to Windows.

    So long as it works properly with your wireless card, getting onto the network should be easy enough. Linux used to be notoriously bad at working with wireless, but I believe that is all in the past now.

    This depends on many factors. Ubuntu can directly read the NTFS file system used by modern versions of Windows, but some distro's cannot. If the drive is damaged, it will be substantially easier to get windows based recovery tools (even those as simple as checkdisk) than equivalents in Linux. I would suggest that it may prove easier to use a friend's windows machine for moving the files onto a properly working removable disk, and then copy from that into Linux.

    OpenOffice will run on Linux, many distributions come with it preinstalled. Microsoft Office won't run natively, though I believe it can be run through the WINE project.

    I don't think that would be a problem, optical drives are generally quite generic.

    This one I have absolutely no idea. Sorry.

    There will be a learning curve. There will also be some rough edges that are removed in the very consumer-focused Microsoft product. Overall I would say Linux is more reliable, how frustrating it is depends on what you are trying to do and what you expect it to do for you. Bear in mind that you can always come back here if you have a question.
     
  4. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    Terry
    2. No OS issues with wireless. The question you should be researching concerns your wireless adapter.

    3. No problem with Ubuntu or most other Linux distributions. If the drive is damaged and Ubuntu can't handle it try Puppy Linux, as in some cases it can deal with drive defects better.

    4 (first). OpenOffice, LibreOffice and others.

    4 (second). Have never heard of a CD/DVD drive issue with Linux (assuming the drive works).

    5. Unless your HP is not one of the supported 2,068 printers there should be no problem. See HP Linux Imaging and Printing.

    7. The new GUI in Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 is not friendly with my Dell Inspiron 8600. With prior versions of Ubuntu my frustration level is about equal to that with XP.
     
  5. Ent

    Ent Trusted Advisor

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    One interesting thing about Linux distros is the level of flexibility and you have in nearly everything. For example if you don't like the Gnome GUI you can install the KDE Kubuntu version instead. This one looks and functions more like Windows. In fact you can have both Gnome and KDE installed at once, and choose which to use when you log on!
    http://www.kubuntu.org/
     
  6. 1002richards

    1002richards Retired Trusted Advisor

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    Hi,
    Give the Ubuntu live CD a try before committing yourself. The live CD is slower than an install so don't be put off by that, once it's almost fully booted you get a clear choice between 'Try' and 'Install'.
    If you do go for either a full install or a dual boot with Windows make a full backup of all your important docs, pics, tunes and vids etc to external media. A full install will wipe the hard drive to put Ubuntu there, a dual boot should be fine but a backup is always a good idea!
     
  7. Ent

    Ent Trusted Advisor

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    Excellent advice.
    Of course if you're installing it on a fresh hard disk anyway, this isn't really relevant.
     
  8. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79

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    Hi jhgreene,

    In line with the advice above to give a Linux Live CD a try, you might also consider burning the .iso image to a USB (which loads faster than a Live CD).

    The notion of a Live environment is that none of your hard drives are altered in the process and you run entirely from RAM. Since no hard drives are mounted, there is no exposure of your system to the Internet via Windows attacks.
    If an attack manages to get through your (hardware) router, when you power down from a Live CD/USB session, the malware is no longer on your system when you next reboot.

    I work exclusively in a Live USB environment, and if I want to save something I have downloaded, I disable networking, become root (admin/super user) and mount the hard drive, save the file(s), unmount the hard drive (with the umoutn command), and then re-enable networking. I have my own tailored scripts that I have developed since I gave up on WinXP Pro SP2 in 2006.

    -- Tom
     
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