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Try Linux before you switch

Posted 05-21-2011 at 07:22 PM by Telengard
Updated 05-23-2011 at 10:12 PM by Telengard (Much more info, links for reference)

Are you thinking of switching from Windows to Linux? Are you worried about the installation process? How can you protect your Windows system and data just in case something goes wrong?

Before you begin playing with an operating system you may know very little about, please consider backing up any data you care about to at least two external media.

Boot Linux from a live CD

Notes
Advantages
  • You can try many distros and gauge how well you like each without risking your existing Windows system.
  • You get some idea of how well each distro likes your hardware configuration, and what problems you may have, before installing Linux.

Disadvantages
  • The OS will not perform very well because it has to frequently read from the CD, which is much slower than reading from hard disk.
  • Any customizations you make while running a live CD disappear when you reboot.
  • If your computer is very old you may not have enough RAM to load the live Linux image.
  • Lots of rebooting.

Install Linux on a virtual machine

Notes
Advantages
  • The least risky option. You can do anything you want to virtual Linux without any possibility of impacting your existing Windows system.
  • No rebooting required.
  • You can install and run many distros simultaneously, up to the limits of your physical RAM and hard disk space.

Disadvantages
  • You aren't testing Linux against your physical hardware.
  • Properly configuring a virtual machine and getting any particular distro to work with it sometimes requires more technical knowledge than simply booting a CD.
  • Running multiple OSes simultaneously places heavy demands on your computer's resources, especially RAM, CPU, and hard disk.
  • A virtual machine will never perform as well as physical hardware.
  • It isn't always easy to share data between virtual Linux and physical Windows, nor is it always obvious how setup sharing.

Dual boot Linux with Windows

Notes
  • To dual boot you will install Linux on your hard disk next to Windows.
  • The Linux installer will insert a boot menu into the boot record where you may select Windows or Linux when you boot the computer.
  • Dual booting - LQWiki
  • See the distro's documentation for information on dual booting with Windows.

Advantages
  • You test Linux on your physical hardware.
  • You get maximum performance.
  • Sharing data between Linux and Windows is as easy as copying a file.

Disadvantages
  • Editing the partition table always entails some risk. Even though Linux installers make setting up dual boot easy, it is still possible to mistakenly delete your existing Windows system.
  • You don't get full use of your hard disk for either Windows or Linux, so space may become an important concern sooner.
  • Lots of rebooting.

Install Ubuntu within Windows

Notes
Advantages
  • Similar to dual booting above.
  • Ubuntu is separated from Windows, so things you do inside Ubuntu aren't likely to affect Windows in any way.

Disadvantages
  • Similar to dual booting, above.
  • Wubi edits the boot record to insert the boot menu. There is a very small risk that you may have to repair the boot record later.
  • The very large file Ubuntu runs from is stealing hard disk space from Windows. If the file isn't created large enough you will run out of space inside Ubuntu rather quickly.
  • Wubi only works with the Ubuntu family AFAIK. If you want to try other distros then choose another method.
Posted in newbie faqs
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Comments

  1. Old Comment

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard
    Boot Linux from a live CD
    Simply using the term "Live CD" without any explanations of what it is, is not helpful, in fact it can be frightening for a newbie. When you use a jargon, you should always provide the meaning in simple words and a direct link, if you are too kind.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard
    Disadvantages
    ...
    Any customizations you make while running a live CD disappear when you reboot.
    Well, I don't think that this can be labeled as a disadvantage. You can say that it is a "property" of the Live CD, not some advantage or disadvantage. Example: You can't save anything in "RAM" too, but that can't be labeled as a disadvantage, it is just a property of RAM. The word "disadvantage" can be misleading.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard
    Disadvantages

    It isn't always easy to share data between virtual Linux and physical Windows, nor is it always obvious how setup sharing.
    Of course it is not easy to do those things, but simply saying "not easy" without providing any means/links to make it easy can be frightening too. I think it would be better, if you had instead said "it requires a bit of work". if I were you I would have either linked to a "easy" tutorial for doing the same or I would have explained it myself there (after mentioning that it is not easy).

    Feel free to delete this comment, if you think I have gone overboard.
    Posted 05-22-2011 at 11:38 PM by TheIndependentAquarius TheIndependentAquarius is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Anisha Kaul, thank you very much for your critique of my blog post. I really only write these posts as they occur to me, so they aren't very well organized at first. This one is still in its first draft, so to speak, and I expect to add to it over time.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Anisha Kaul View Comment


    Simply using the term "Live CD" without any explanations of what it is, is not helpful, in fact it can be frightening for a newbie. When you use a jargon, you should always provide the meaning in
    simple words and a direct link, if you are too kind.
    I don't think of myself as kind, but I do try to be helpful. Your criticizm is valid, so I will add more information.

    Quote:
    You can say that it is a "property" of the Live CD, not some advantage or disadvantage.
    It is a disadvantage to a newbie who doesn't understand the properties of Linux live CDs, as you mentioned in the previous paragraph. Newbies might well customize the desktop and install new applications without understanding that all those things disappear upon next reboot. I think it is a disadvantage in the sense that a live CD does not provide the same experience as using an installed Linux system. It is worth pointing this out to newbies so they don't think that is the way Linux systems really work.

    Quote:
    Of course it is not easy to do those things, but simply saying "not easy" without providing any means/links to make it easy can be frightening too. I think it would be better, if you had instead said "it requires a bit of work". if I were you I would have either linked to a "easy" tutorial for doing the same or I would have explained it myself there (after mentioning that it is not easy).
    Sharing data can also mean sharing the Windows clipboard bidirectionally with virtual Linux, you know? I've never gotten that to work consistently on VirtualBox, although I suppose others have with some tinkering. Sharing files can be accomplished a number of different ways, and VirtualBox has evolved some new functionality in the time since I've used it. No matter how you look at it, it requires some understanding of the virtual machine and various services to enable functionality.

    Quote:
    Feel free to delete this comment, if you think I have gone overboard.
    No way! I love thoughtful, on target criticizm

    I'll take the things you mentioned into consideration for the next revision.
    Posted 05-23-2011 at 11:43 AM by Telengard Telengard is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard View Comment
    It is a disadvantage to a newbie who doesn't understand the properties of Linux live CDs, as you mentioned in the previous paragraph. Newbies might well customize the desktop and install new applications without understanding that all those things disappear upon next reboot. I think it is a disadvantage in the sense that a live CD does not provide the same experience as using an installed Linux system. It is worth pointing this out to newbies so they don't think that is the way Linux systems really work.
    and now when you write a blog for installing Slackware or for installing a tar ball, you must also mention that it is a disadvantage of Slack that it doesn't spoon feed you by resolving all dependencies itself and it asks you to create the partitions yourself etc.

    Also, It is a disadvantage of tarballs that they don't open a GUI where you can point and click with closed eyes!! Huh!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard View Comment
    Sharing files can be accomplished a number of different ways, and VirtualBox has evolved some new functionality in the time since I've used it. No matter how you look at it, it requires some understanding of the virtual machine and various services to enable functionality.
    I said I know it is not easy, but you talk to a newbie and tell him that this xyz thing is not easy and move on, the newbie may take your word for granted and run for his life!
    Either you say it is difficult and then explain a some way to do it or don't say it is difficult at all.

    Remember the article "Windows is not Linux"? There the author says Linux is "different". He never says Linux is "difficult"! There is a difference.
    Posted 05-23-2011 at 11:43 PM by TheIndependentAquarius TheIndependentAquarius is offline
    Updated 05-24-2011 at 03:45 AM by TheIndependentAquarius
  4. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Anisha Kaul View Comment
    and now when you write a blog for installing Slackware
    This isn't about Slackware, nor is it about tarballs. If you are trying to make an analogy, then I think I fail to understand it. Can you please stick to the issue at hand?

    Did you notice that the post is now fully revised, and contains much more information and reference links?

    And thanks again for commenting
    Posted 05-24-2011 at 10:44 AM by Telengard Telengard is offline
    Updated 05-24-2011 at 10:46 AM by Telengard
  5. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Anisha Kaul View Comment
    if you are too kind.
    Anisha
    Did you mean "if you would be so kind"? If so, please be aware that that phrase is regarded as patronising and a bit sarcastic.
    Telengard
    Good article.
    Posted 05-24-2011 at 04:30 PM by brianL brianL is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by brianL View Comment
    Anisha
    Did you mean "if you would be so kind"? If so, please be aware that that phrase is regarded as patronising and a bit sarcastic.
    Nah, it's not a big deal. I accepted Anisha's words as I believe they were intended (ie just simple politeness).

    TBH though, I really don't see myself as a kind person. So maybe it's my outlook that is skewed

    Quote:
    Good article.
    O HAI THX U

    How can I make it better?
    Posted 05-24-2011 at 05:36 PM by Telengard Telengard is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard View Comment
    Nah, it's not a big deal. I accepted Anisha's words as I believe they were intended (ie just simple politeness).
    Yeah, I'm sure she wouldn't have meant to be sarcastic. There's a thread in the non-*NIX/General forum about English usage, and she's asked a few questions in there about phrases that could be misunderstood.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard View Comment
    O HAI THX U

    How can I make it better?
    Dunno. Seems OK as it is.
    Posted 05-24-2011 at 06:21 PM by brianL brianL is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Wonderful article!

    I dunno if there is much I can add, but maybe a small blurb about USB/Unetbootin? Optical media is getting deprecated these days (netbooks especially).
    Posted 05-24-2011 at 10:48 PM by lupusarcanus lupusarcanus is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Thanks for the praise.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lupusarcanus View Comment
    maybe a small blurb about USB/Unetbootin? Optical media is getting deprecated these days (netbooks especially).
    I considered that, but I've never done it and it would be better for me to stick with what I know.

    Thank you for commenting
    Posted 05-25-2011 at 01:00 AM by Telengard Telengard is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard View Comment
    If you are trying to make an analogy, then I think I fail to understand it.
    You said:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Telengard View Comment
    It is a disadvantage to a newbie who doesn't understand the properties of Linux live CDs
    So, you wrote the title "Boot Linux from a live CD" and under that, you wrote "Disadvantages": "Any customizations you make while running a live CD disappear when you reboot."

    My point was, if a newbie doesn't understand the properties/purpose of a live-cd, it doesn't mean one can label those properties as a disadvantage of Live Cd (like you appear to have done).

    Anyways, sorry for being pedantic, I won't bother you more on this one now.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Anisha Kaul View Comment
    if you are too kind.
    and secondly, reading Brian's comment on the above quote, I realize, I shouldn't be writing the statements whose meanings are not crystal clear to myself. Apologies for the above quote. I couldn't post this in due time since I had met a small accident.
    Posted 05-30-2011 at 12:26 AM by TheIndependentAquarius TheIndependentAquarius is offline
  11. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Anisha Kaul View Comment
    My point was, if a newbie doesn't understand the properties/purpose of a live-cd, it doesn't mean one can label those properties as a disadvantage of Live Cd (like you appear to have done).
    I suppose that for certain purposes it might be an advantage. For example, some people use a live CD for private web browsing. I can speculate for many pages about other possible exceptions to every single point in the article, but I don't think it would serve the target audience.

    OTOH the live CD experience is very different from running installed Linux. I think it deserves mentioning, because it really is a disadvantage to someone trying Linux for the first time. If you really want the Linux experience then eventually you must install.

    No need to apologize. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I welcome your remarks on any future entries I may make.

    Quote:
    I couldn't post this in due time since I had met a small accident.

    Sorry about that. Hope everything will be okay for you.
    Posted 05-30-2011 at 07:00 AM by Telengard Telengard is offline
    Updated 05-30-2011 at 07:02 AM by Telengard
 

  



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