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Old 07-06-2008, 08:53 AM   #1
klopper
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Cool Basic questions from an arrogant windows user


Hey all, I've been on windows all my life and for some reason have been bagging Linux even though I have never used it and don't understand it. I'm not sure why I do this, it might be because I'm associating Linux with Mac, and where I'm from only upscale pretentious designers/coders use Macs. Anyway thought I'd try to duel boot Linux with Vista in the coming weeks, so I have a few questions which I would greatly appreciate if assistance was given.

- Why are there so many "Distributions" of Linux?
- Why is there a need for using commands and where are they entered?
- Will I encounter issues when installing any video drivers, motherboard drivers etc?

Sorry if this is an awful unrelated example, but after reformatting and loosing my Office 2003 disks, I installed OpenOffice and had many problems. - Where these problems just from me expecting the program to behave like Word? Or are free/opensource programs (or operating systems) generally inferior?

thank you for any insults, suggestions or recommendations.
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:00 AM   #2
jomen
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A lot of what you ask for is mentioned here:
http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

1.) so you can pick the one which suits your needs best - to name just one reason
2.) because it is sometimes the only (headless machines) - sometimes the more convenient way instead of using a GUI to do a simple task
3.) not unlikely

4.) that is probably a part of it - though nobody knows what kind of problems you had...

HTH
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:11 AM   #3
klopper
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Thanks for that speedy reply. I apologise for not doing more background research. Here are some more questions which I'd also appreciate if you could answer or direct me to some further information.

- http://www.gnome.org/about/ I'm confused exactly what this does?
- What should one do if I cannot get updated drivers for my hardware?
- For dual booting are there less problems if Windows and Linux are installed on different hard-drives?

thanks once again
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:18 AM   #4
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klopper View Post
Hey all, I've been on windows all my life
sorry to hear that...never an Apple-II, MSDOS, VMS.....
Quote:
- Why are there so many "Distributions" of Linux?
Because it is possible. Seriously, it's a a bit like asking why there are so many books. Imagine if you needed permission to write a book from the equivalent of MS.
Quote:
- Why is there a need for using commands and where are they entered?
Windows uses commands--they're just buried. Unix has a core philosophy about using small simple commands to do complex tasks. Linux follows this tradition and commands in a terminal are often the easiest way to do something.
Quote:
- Will I encounter issues when installing any video drivers, motherboard drivers etc?
It is now quite rare to find something that won't work in Linux. In many cases, it is EASIER than on Windows**
Quote:
Or are free/opensource programs (or operating systems) generally inferior?
I'd say the opposite. Linux is already a far superior OS, and many of the applications are at least equal to the Windows counterparts.
Quote:
thank you for any insults, suggestions or recommendations.
Insults?---no
Suggestion: Install Linux....

**For a typical setup with a web browser, e-mail client, and an office suite; the total time to install and setup Linux can be MUCH less than for Windows. This of course assumes a user with similar competence on each system.
For starters, most drivers are included on the installation media. Also, a complete distro will include all the applications--once the distro is installed, everything is there.
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:24 AM   #5
Count Zero
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klopper View Post
Thanks for that speedy reply. I apologise for not doing more background research. Here are some more questions which I'd also appreciate if you could answer or direct me to some further information.

- http://www.gnome.org/about/ I'm confused exactly what this does?
- What should one do if I cannot get updated drivers for my hardware?
- For dual booting are there less problems if Windows and Linux are installed on different hard-drives?

thanks once again
Gnome is a desktop environment. There are others, such as KDE and Xfce. There are also slimmer, lighter alternatives to this, called window managers, such as fluxbox or openbox. These are the graphical interfaces you use. A Desktop environment consists of program that manages your windows (be they your filemanager, your word processor, your movieeditor or whatever (i.e. windowmanager) but they also include stuff as panel with a menu, a filemanger and unsually some bells and whistles. What confuses many Window users is that in Windows, the operating system and the desktop mangager comes in one package, i.e. you can't have one without the other. In Linux, you can have the operating system without a desktop manager, indeed without an graphical interface at all (servers for example), or you can have it with just a light windowmanager (for speed, because you like it or have old hardware) or you can have a it with desktop environemet, and if you do, you have several choices. Gnome is one of those choices.
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:25 AM   #6
jomen
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Hi,

again only short and by numbers

1.) Gnome is a graphical desktop environment providing most of the programs you will need to do usual tasks and more.
It is a way of providing a consistent look&feel throughout all programs. Think of it as the equivalent of the windows graphical desktop.
There are quite a few such desktop environments (Gnome, KDE, xfce, enlightenment...) as well many more so called window-managers to choose from - again ...

2.)The kernel provides the drivers for the hardware (normally) - to get the newest you upgrade the kernel.
Of course that does not mean that all hardware is supported - nor that it ever will be. Th write drivers people need documentation. If no docs are provided by the manufacturer - it is at least hard, if not impossible, to write drivers.

3.) that does not really make a difference in terms of "difficulty" or ease of use or setup.
It does not make any difference for linux.
But Windows should be installed on the first partition of the first drive.
I think it is eighter impossible or at least difficult to get it installed elsewhere.

Last edited by jomen; 07-06-2008 at 09:29 AM.
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:27 AM   #7
klopper
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Thanks for that great reply, another couple of questions.

- How do you install specific drivers? So once I've installed a distro, what are the default drivers? Do I need to download mother board drivers?
- Is a distro just like a patch? Or is it like a customised version of the base client linux?
- How could I compare all the distros to find which is right for me?
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:42 AM   #8
jomen
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Quote:
How do you install specific drivers?...
This has already been answered briefly twice - if you use any recent distribution, most drivers are already included and even auto-detected and installed.
Quote:
Is a distro just like a patch?...
It is a "flavour" of the same groundwork with (maybe) different look&feel and different ways to manage it (mostly different in the way new software is added/removed).
...because of that it is difficult to answer the "driver install" question precisely...

How could you compare?
There are websites that talk about and explain...but to try a few on the basis of what you read is the easiest way to find out.
http://distrowatch.com/ is one that I remember

Last edited by jomen; 07-06-2008 at 09:46 AM.
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:45 AM   #9
klopper
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So is linux available on it's own? I'm confused what exactly linux is? So all distros contain kernels that contain drivers for say every recent card, motherboard, soundrive etc? (that must be huge?)

- What's the difference between a windows manager and a dekstop?
 
Old 07-06-2008, 09:54 AM   #10
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klopper View Post
- Why are there so many "Distributions" of Linux?
Mainly because anyone who want to go to the (significant) required effort can invent a new distribution. The result probably has more cons (new user confusion) than pros (flexibility and choice). But it shouldn't be a big problem.

Quote:
- Why is there a need for using commands and where are they entered?
Because Unix comes from a command line environment. Because anyone expert enough to build a good GUI for system admin tasks is expert enough to not really need such a GUI themselves. Because, in the hands of an expert, command line operations are inherently more flexible and powerful.

Once you have a GUI environment running in Linux, you can open a window for non GUI commands, very similar to (but more powerful than) "command prompt" in Windows. Almost all commands can be done that way. Alternately, either before starting the GUI or by switching away from the GUI, you can use the command UI that exists before and outside of the GUI. A few things can only be done in that mode.

I think one of the most important factors in choosing a Linux distribution for someone with previous experience just in Windows, is the extent to which that distribution enables system admin tasks by GUI rather than command.

Later on, you may find it worthwhile to learn some of the types of command mode system admin to get the extra flexibility and power. A distribution enabling system admin by GUI never means that it disables any command mode system admin. It just means you don't need command mode until you want it.

The Mepis distribution is much better than most at letting you use GUI for almost all tasks, and it is even further ahead of other distributions in the documentation to tell you which GUI to use for each task (Linux programs tend to be strangely named and menu trees strangely structured, so finding the program for a given task is often more than half the problem for a beginner).

Quote:
- Will I encounter issues when installing any video drivers, motherboard drivers etc?
My own experience with a wide variety of video cards and a moderate variety of motherboards:

1) I've never had the slightest problem with a current or anywhere near current motherboard in Linux. It just works.

2) In Windows, I've run several times into the complex situation that Windows doesn't understand the motherboard's built-in network interface until after you run the setup program from the CD included with the motherboard. But before you can get the ability to run that program, the Windows installer has already misconfigured things it would normally get right by looking at the local network earlier in the install process. With the inherent secrecy of Windows, it can be very hard to get things working again once those setup steps are forced to occur in the wrong sequence.

3) More often than not, I've had problems with video cards when installing Linux. I often need to reboot the liveCD a few times with different boot up options before the GUI works at all. Then I usually need to install a proprietary (non open source) video driver, then edit the xorg.conf file a little to get to exactly the video configuration I want. But new or old, standard or strange, everything I've tried can be made to work and it really is never terribly hard.

4) With Windows, a display system is much more likely to just work, straight from the installation with no tweaks required. But when you hit one of the ones that doesn't work initially, you are in for a nightmare. I have never heard of any systematic approach to fixing it. There are a bunch of different slow difficult things you can try and you run through them blindly hoping and cursing. Most people just conclude their display card isn't compatible with their monitor and buy a new display card. In every such case I've seen, Linux can make the original Display card and Monitor play well together with a simple (systematic and understandable) edit to xorg.conf.


Quote:
I installed OpenOffice and had many problems. - Where these problems just from me expecting the program to behave like Word? Or are free/opensource programs (or operating systems) generally inferior?
I never learned how to use Word well, so I found OpenOffice writer a little more intuitive. I don't really know how different they are. If you are so used to Word that every difference is a problem, I expect you'll be disappointed.

I am pretty expert with Excel and am an extreme user of Excel. OpenOffice calc is very much inferior, but I'm not sure a casual user would care about the differences. I was extremely impressed with how well calc duplicates Excel feature by obscure feature. I would have assumed that would be the hard part. But while the processing features match, the visual display in calc is significantly worse, and the big problem is speed. OpenOffice calc is so much slower than Excel that for a power user it is worthless.

Last edited by johnsfine; 07-06-2008 at 09:58 AM.
 
Old 07-06-2008, 10:10 AM   #11
klopper
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I'm really after a "desktop" (hope that's the right context) similar to this one: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...1/Xfce-4.4.png

Because that's a desktop it is compatible with any distro? As I don't understand/can't comprehend the differences in the different distros, I'm loving the look of Gentoo.

So if I wanted I could install Gentoo, beryl and Xfce? Is that possible?

Also back to my other question, if I have a new computer with a 500 gig hard-drive, is it better to purchase another hard-drive so I can install Vista on one and Linux on the other? (does this avoid problems?)
 
Old 07-06-2008, 10:18 AM   #12
Count Zero
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klopper View Post

- What's the difference between a windows manager and a dekstop?
A window manager is a program that controls the behavior of your windows and it allows you to manipulate them as well (move them around, change their size an so on).It might come with a small panel to give you the time and a menu might pop up when you right-click on the desktop but that's about it. Very slim and basic. Some peopel, me included, love it.

Others prefer the full monty and goes for a desktop environment. This includes a window manager but also gives you a full panel with a complete menu, a filemanger which often automounts new storage that you might connect (such as usb memories). They usually include a fair amount of eye-candy.

Whatever you chose, you'll be able to configure and costumize it to a large extent but a desktop manager might be a good start as it'll be fairly familiar for you coming from Windows. Especially KDE and Gnome...

(scurries off for cover...)
 
Old 07-06-2008, 10:20 AM   #13
mnsse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany View Post
sorry to hear that...never an Apple-II, MSDOS, VMS.....Because it is possible. Seriously, it's a a bit like asking why there are so many books. Imagine if you needed permission to write a book from the equivalent of MS.Windows uses commands--they're just buried. Unix has a core philosophy about using small simple commands to do complex tasks. Linux follows this tradition and commands in a terminal are often the easiest way to do something.It is now quite rare to find something that won't work in Linux. In many cases, it is EASIER than on Windows**I'd say the opposite. Linux is already a far superior OS, and many of the applications are at least equal to the Windows counterparts.Insults?---no
Suggestion: Install Linux....

**For a typical setup with a web browser, e-mail client, and an office suite; the total time to install and setup Linux can be MUCH less than for Windows. This of course assumes a user with similar competence on each system.
For starters, most drivers are included on the installation media. Also, a complete distro will include all the applications--once the distro is installed, everything is there.
Pretty good explanation
 
Old 07-06-2008, 10:22 AM   #14
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klopper View Post
So is linux available on it's own?
Almost every piece is available on its own, both as an executable binary and as source code.

Quote:
I'm confused what exactly linux is?
Technically "Linux" is just the kernel. What we normally call "Linux" is that kernel plus lots of other programs from GNU and other free software sources.

Quote:
So all distros contain kernels that contain drivers for say every recent card, motherboard, soundrive etc? (that must be huge?)
That doesn't seem to be a problem. Drivers aren't needed for the card, just for the chip families on the card. There are an amazingly large number of cards (motherboard, video) but a very limited number of chip families. Support for all the common chip families is just a tiny fraction of the space and contents of a liveCD.

For video, the chips almost always implement one or more standard (slower and/or lower resolution) modes, usually parts of the VESA standard. If there is no driver for the specific video chip, it can use a generic driver based on a standard. Then you can download a better (faster and/or higher resolution) driver directly from the manufacturer of the video chip.

It is not space on the liveCD that prevents inclusion of the support for more specific chips. It is secrecy by the chip manufacturers to force you to get the latest drivers from them.

Quote:
- What's the difference between a windows manager and a dekstop?
I'm not sure whether those are the right two names, but there are two parts (I use KDM and KDE) and I've never seen a good explanation of where the boundary is between them. You just need both and you don't need to understand why.

I think KDE is the clear best choice for a beginner with previous Windows experience.

In many distributions, it is easy to install multiple Desktop systems to try them and see which you prefer. I did that in Knoppix, in order to discover that KDE was the best choice. My own experience later with trying to use something other than KDE in Mepis was a total failure. I never did figure out exactly what was wrong, but sometimes the various versions of various packages included in a distribution can box you in and make it very hard to install some other software that other users of that distribution aren't using. It is fairly rare and only occurs with packages (like a Desktop) that interact with lots of other packages. Even then, I'm sure an expert could work around it.

I quickly decided I had no reason to use anything other than KDE and the other advantages of Mepis far outweigh that one glitch (which might not still exist anyway).
 
Old 07-06-2008, 10:32 AM   #15
klopper
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Thanks for these wonderful replies. After reading the replies above and this page http://apcmag.com/howto_category.htm?cid=197
I have decided that Ubuntu with Gnome seems like the easiest option.

- Gnome and KDE are both desktops?
- Does Ubuntu come with Gnome in the default package?
 
  


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