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Old 04-15-2009, 12:47 AM   #1
HalifaxJ
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complete newbie questions...


Well I'm getting into learning Linux, and hopefully installing Mint tomorrow morning. I'll double boot with Vista and thinking of keeping the GRUB bootloader as I believe this will also boot Vista?

While reading about the various distributions, I've noticed that they don't all come with the latest software, and some come with barely any. Now, if I want to add or get the latest version of software...is this possible? I know this sounds like a crazy question...but I'm a newbie of all newbies.

I'm guessing that like Windows, various software can be installed regardless of what the distribution comes with?

Also having a hard time understand what is KDE and GNOME. All I read is reviews, but I don't really know WHAT they are, and why that makes a difference.

Ubuntu seems to have a lot of support. Will this support apply to the Mint distribution?

I'm really looking forward to learning Linux on a simple OS...but didn't really like the look and feel of Ubuntu from the images I saw online. I like the look of Fedora but wanted something that had codecs from the start. I'd also be open to SUSE as I have it on DVD from a magazine I picked up, LXF.

Any thoughts appreciated,

Julien
 
Old 04-15-2009, 01:30 AM   #2
1337
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Quote:
Well I'm getting into learning Linux, and hopefully installing Mint tomorrow morning. I'll double boot with Vista and thinking of keeping the GRUB bootloader as I believe this will also boot Vista?
Yes, it will boot Vista, or any other operating system you may have installed, provided you configure it properly.

Quote:
While reading about the various distributions, I've noticed that they don't all come with the latest software, and some come with barely any. Now, if I want to add or get the latest version of software...is this possible? I know this sounds like a crazy question...but I'm a newbie of all newbies.
Yes. Depending on the distribution you choose, there are several different package management systems. Red Hat uses the RPM, Debian and Ubuntu use .deb packages, many distros use the tar.gz package format. There are many formats, it all depends on the distribution you choose. Most software is released in all of the package formats I have just described.

Quote:
I'm guessing that like Windows, various software can be installed regardless of what the distribution comes with?
Yes. Provided all the dependencies are fulfilled for that software (meaning you have all the required software for the software).

Quote:
I'm guessing that like Windows, various software can be installed regardless of what the distribution comes with?
KDE and Gnome are desktops so to speak. They provided a visually appealing interface for the user. I personally prefer KDE 3.5 as it is stable and lightweight. It's really preference and you can always try the other one later. Some other desktop environments include xfce, blackbox, and fluxbox.

Quote:
Ubuntu seems to have a lot of support. Will this support apply to the Mint distribution?
The Ubuntu forums are open for anyone's questions. However, the users on the Ubuntu forums will be able to provide better support if you are using Ubuntu. In my opinion, Ubuntu is a great distro for a first time linux user. You can get the feel of linux, without being overwhelmed. It is a very graphical oriented distro.

Quote:
I'm really looking forward to learning Linux on a simple OS...but didn't really like the look and feel of Ubuntu from the images I saw online. I like the look of Fedora but wanted something that had codecs from the start. I'd also be open to SUSE as I have it on DVD from a magazine I picked up, LXF.
The "look and feel" depends on the desktop environment you choose. However, this isn't windows, and desktops are COMPLETELY customizable. Maybe try a google search on KDE screenshots and also GNOME screenshots to see the different things you can do with these. The images you saw online were probably the stock desktop without any eye-candy.

I hope this helps, if you have any more questions feel free to post again on this topic. Welcome to the linux community!

Last edited by 1337; 04-15-2009 at 01:33 AM.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 01:35 AM   #3
jay73
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Well, who cares about looks. It's not as if we are talking about windows. Ubuntu tends to be pretty mundane out of the box, but like any other distro, you can customize to your heart's content: move menus, change wallpapers, change colours and icons, install applets and/or a dock, etc. Of course, if you find a distro that you like straightaway, then you may as well install that one.
Mint is based on Ubuntu so it should have one the largest collections of software - but as I have never used it, I prefer to be tentative. Installing software, by the way, is a piece of cake: you simply select applications from a menu, click a button, done.
Yes, the bootloader will boot vista, too. However, if you are going to install to the same drive, it is going to overwrite the master boot record (MBR), which implies that if at any time you decide to remove linux, vista will not be able to boot anymore. This is easily fixed, though, as long as you have a windows install cd/dvd.
Oh yeah, one of the major differences between KDE and Gnome: the latter has a sparser interface. KDE applications tend to have menu items for about any option you could ever think of. While some like it, I think it is rather overwhelming. But you can install KDE on a distro that has Gnome and the other way round; after all, they are just sets of applications.

Last edited by jay73; 04-15-2009 at 01:39 AM.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 01:57 AM   #4
everest40
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You may also want to check out Full Circle Magazine. It's got a lot of helpful tips for beginners learning Linux, especially for those who use Ubuntu (or Ubuntu-based distros like Mint)

http://fullcirclemagazine.org/
 
Old 04-15-2009, 02:17 AM   #5
jschiwal
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Since you are interested in different desktop environments, you might want to go with a distro that isn't based on only one.
Fedora, SuSE and Mandriva come to mind.

Another boot option is to use windows loader to chainload Linux. This can be safer if you are afraid of screwing up the MBR. If you google for "Linux NT Dual boot boot.ini" you should find several pages with instructions.

I would recommend defragging the Vista partition and then using the Vista partitioner to size down it's own partition. I had to fix up both filesystems after resizing Vista. I forgot to defrag and vista was too greedy with the amount of diskspace it would free up. Using gparted to get more space caused problems for me. Recovering wasn't hard though. I just needed to let Vista scan the disk, and in Linux run fsck on the Linux partition.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 02:32 AM   #6
tommcd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by everest40 View Post
You may also want to check out Full Circle Magazine.
Now there is one I've never seen before. Looks like a great site for beginners; or even guru-wannabees like me!
Here is another great site for getting started with Ubuntu. It will also be apply to Mint also:
http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/
Also check out Herman's site. He has a lot of good info on dual booting, plus a great grub tutorial:
http://users.bigpond.net.au/hermanzone/

Last edited by tommcd; 04-15-2009 at 02:35 AM.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 07:38 AM   #7
maresmasb
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The choice of distribution is only relevant if have a specific goal for using Linux. Running a firewall server like Smoothwall Linux is completely different from running a Linux system specialized in Sound Editing. If your interest is generic, then it will be mainly irrelevant where you start. Any contemporary distro will give a reasonable headstart.

Simply start out with Mint, if you are already focused on that, and everything else will fall into place.

If you want to try other distributions, then get their LiveCD's, so that you can have a look without having to install to disk each time.

KDE and Gnome are window managers, also called desktop environments. Windows and Macintosh systems usually provide a single desktop environment, Linux and UNIX systems have a lot. Other options are XFCE, fluxbox, WindowMaker, twm. All of these have their areas where they shine.

Last edited by Tinkster; 10-30-2010 at 04:28 PM.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 07:53 AM   #8
pixellany
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Just install (any version of) Linux and some questions will get answered automatically.

Mint is a very good choice---anything in the top 5-10 at http://distrowatch.com will be fine.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 08:20 AM   #9
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
what is KDE and GNOME.
...
didn't really like the look and feel of Ubuntu from the images I saw online.
I think that means you didn't like the look and feel of GNOME.

Without seriously using it, I don't think you could get any idea of Ubuntu "look and feel" on a deep enough level to have meaningful differences from any other distribution with GNOME.

I don't happen to know the default desktop in MINT. I think you would prefer KDE.

A Linux desktop does what the desktop, start button, task bar, and related GUI features do in Windows. In Windows it is possible (but unusual) to substitute a different program in place of the part of explorer.exe that acts as desktop. So people think of the Windows desktop as part of the OS. In Linux there is a wide choice of desktop programs.

Compared to the Windows Desktop, I think you would find KDE a little bit sparse and missing features. But any other Linux desktop would seem very sparse and missing features. Linux desktop programs aren't designed to be as big a part of the UI as the Windows desktop.

In Windows, the same program (explorer.exe) acts as both a desktop and a file browser, giving you very seamless integration between the two. It also tries very hard (with annoying consequences in my opinion) to provide seamless integration with the web browser.

In KDE, the desktop program isn't a full file browser. With KDE, distributions normally provide Konqueror, which is a file browser, a web browser, a help browser and a few other things. I prefer to use Firefox as a web browser, and (unlike Windows explorer.exe) Konqueror used as just a file browser will act as just a file browser and won't do any undesired transfers to the web browser.

Last edited by johnsfine; 04-15-2009 at 08:22 AM.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 11:07 AM   #10
HalifaxJ
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Thanks for all the great and prompt info!

I think I will try Ubuntu for now as there seems to be lots of newbie support for the OS everywhere I look. Like many have mentioned, I can always switch later. For now I want to learn the basics, such as a few shell commands, file structure and management, and management packages (and getting new software).

So if the Kernel is generally the same, or the "linux" proper, and the desktop environments vary such as KDE, GNOME and others, where lies the differences in the various distributions? What is "changed" in order to make Fedora or Ubuntu different?

As for the look, I really dislike any brown or caramel colors on my computer. Call me silly, but it's just me. So my question is this: Can it be customized to the point that the background is a wallpaper of mine and the color theme is not brown? If so, then I'll be happy.

So once I install Ubuntu, what is the procedure for getting all the codecs?

I'm going to defrag and resize my HD using the vista tools. I have my HD backed up on my external HD just in case.

Cheers,

J
 
Old 04-15-2009, 11:58 AM   #11
pixellany
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Quote:
So if the Kernel is generally the same, or the "linux" proper, and the desktop environments vary such as KDE, GNOME and others, where lies the differences in the various distributions? What is "changed" in order to make Fedora or Ubuntu different?
configuration files, utilities, themes, often a custom compilation of the kernel, choices of SW version (conservative vs. latest), re-branding of proprietary or trademarked things, etc.

Quote:
As for the look, I really dislike any brown or caramel colors on my computer. Call me silly, but it's just me. So my question is this: Can it be customized to the point that the background is a wallpaper of mine and the color theme is not brown? If so, then I'll be happy.
You can customize any way you want.

Quote:
So once I install Ubuntu, what is the procedure for getting all the codecs?
Many will already be there---search Google, Ubuntu fora, or here at LQ for the others.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 01:47 PM   #12
maresmasb
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The various distributions differ often in the locations where they install certain applications and how they deal with configuration files. Another big field of differences is in the type and arrangement of the GUI administration tools. And of course logotypes, icons and art work is usually individual for each distro.

Core UNIX tools are usually quite the same. And by sticking to a specific window manager you will get quite the same behaviour on different distro's.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 02:12 PM   #13
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
I think I will try Ubuntu for now as there seems to be lots of newbie support for the OS everywhere I look.
You might be happier with Kubuntu, just so you have KDE as the default from the start (I still think you would prefer it). But it also isn't that hard to switch to KDE after installing Ubuntu.

Quote:
getting new software
Debian based distributions (including Ubuntu) all use the same underlying command mode program for package management (adding, updating or removing software). That program is not very beginner friendly and there are several front ends available for it that are beginner friendly. The best seems to be Synaptic.

Many Debian based distributions include Synaptic in the initial install (because most beginners should use it) but then fail to tell beginners they should use Synaptic for adding, updating or removing software. I don't recall what Ubuntu does for that, but now you've been told.

Quote:
What is "changed" in order to make Fedora or Ubuntu different?
The package management is one big difference between Fedora and Ubuntu. Fedora is based on Red Hat and uses Red Hat package management. Most beginner friendly distributions are based on Debian and use Debian package management. My limited experience with Centos (Red Hat based) has given me a much lower opinion of package management there vs. Debian, but I don't know how much of that is pure ignorance nor how much is Centos specific, so it might or might not really mean Red Hat package management is harder to work with than Debian.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 04:01 PM   #14
mark_alfred
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
Well I'm getting into learning Linux, and hopefully installing Mint tomorrow morning.
Mint is a good choice. It's a prettier version of Ubuntu, with all the fixin's already present (codecs, etc).
Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
While reading about the various distributions, I've noticed that they don't all come with the latest software, and some come with barely any. Now, if I want to add or get the latest version of software...is this possible?
Mint is compatible with the Ubuntu repositories. Ubuntu, like Debian upon which it's based, comes in stable, and testing and unstable releases. The repositories for the stable version of Ubuntu will not have the latest releases of software, whereas the testing or unstable versions would have newer software. See Ubuntu testing release site. I imagine you could upgrade Mint from the testing repositories of Ubuntu (note: doing this does increase risk of software screw-ups slightly, though).

Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
Also having a hard time understand what is KDE and GNOME. All I read is reviews, but I don't really know WHAT they are, and why that makes a difference.
There's more choice in Linux. KDE and GNOME are desktop environments. Think of them as clothing. There's the naked, bare, unclothed system (the command line), and then the full tuxedo (the desktop environment -- the general user interface). In Windows, you have just one suit in your closet. No choice. In Linux, there's a greater variety of clothing you can put on your system. You can install both environments at the same time, and then decide at boot which tuxedo you wish to choose that day. Or, you can just have one suit in your closet (KDE or GNOME, or the lighter more casual XFCE). If you're machine is uncomfortable with a formal suit, you can just dress it in a T-shirt and jeans (like Fluxbox).

If you find my clothing analogy confusing, then disregard it. All I'm saying is there is more choice in Linux regarding desktop environments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
Ubuntu seems to have a lot of support. Will this support apply to the Mint distribution?
I imagine so. Most support for Linux comes in the form of email mailing lists, and forums. Occasionally you'll run into jerks, but usually the support is good. I'm guessing that most Ubuntu users in support forums and mailing lists would welcome a Mint user. I imagine that Mint has it's own support as well. Debian (which Ubuntu is based upon) has a good user mailing list, where some users of Debian derivatives (Ubuntu, Knoppix, etc) also post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
I'm really looking forward to learning Linux on a simple OS...but didn't really like the look and feel of Ubuntu from the images I saw online. I like the look of Fedora but wanted something that had codecs from the start.
I think Mint has the codecs, so it's a good choice. PCLinuxOS (aka PCLOS) also comes with the codecs, I think. While Debian (or Ubuntu, or many other distros) doesn't come with w32codecs, a simple inclusion of the multimedia repositories makes installing these a snatch.

Anyway, good luck.

Last edited by mark_alfred; 04-15-2009 at 04:05 PM.
 
Old 04-15-2009, 04:21 PM   #15
mark_alfred
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
So once I install Ubuntu, what is the procedure for getting all the codecs?
See Ubuntu repositories help page. After adding all the repositories, look for the w32codecs package (assuming that you're using a 32 bit system, otherwise perhaps w64codecs, if that package exists, would be for you, though in such a case the w32codecs would still work, I think.)
 
  


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