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Old 04-30-2010, 12:57 PM   #1
Chronic Apathy
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Considering Installing Linux - A Few Questions


Hey guys. I'm exploring the possibility of installing Linux here in about a month. I'm currently attending a cyber school, and I'm a senior, so I'll be graduating at the end of the month. I have a feeling they aren't going to request the laptop back, and if that is indeed the case, I just want to wipe everything on the drive and start fresh, and that seems like a prime time to experiment with Linux, which I've been curious about for a year or so now. However, from what I've heard, the prospect of installing and running Linux seems daunting, so I have some questions. I'm computer literate, but I've never done any coding aside from HTML here and there, and frankly, I don't even know if Linux involves coding. I'm completely in the dark.

- How long does initial installation generally take? Should I be setting aside a few hours or a weekend? Keeping in mind I'll have no idea what I'm doing and I'll likely be using guides from this site or elsewhere on this.

- How much maintenance does Linux generally require? If I'm less interested in learning and more interested in simply running it the way I would Windows (mostly just using internet, Word, Notepad, etc), is that difficult to go about, or should I just stick to a different OS?

I might have other questions later, but this is it for now.
 
Old 04-30-2010, 01:08 PM   #2
thorkelljarl
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Before the answer...

The replies to your questions are dependent on the laptop on which you expect to install linux. You can download one of the many live-cds and use it as a general introduction to linux and a test of linux on your hardware.

Post back with the make and model of the intended machine and in the mean time read this.

http://www.linuxquestions.org/linux/...Ask_a_Question

Here are the many choices. You might try Mint or PCLinuxOS, both just out in newly released versions.

http://www.livecdlist.com/

linux is daunting, but not in the way you imagine.

Last edited by thorkelljarl; 04-30-2010 at 01:16 PM.
 
Old 04-30-2010, 01:14 PM   #3
pixellany
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Welcome to LQ!!

For most of your questions, I think you will simply need to try it. The answers you get here will be mostly subjective.

On average, I have spent more time solving Windows problems, but Linux will give PLENTY of opportunities for problem-solving. One reason for this is totally under the control of the user----Linux gives you endless opportunites for tweaking and trying new things and--in so doing--creating problems to solve. If you just set up a system and leave it alone, it will be at least as reliable as Windows.

For a person who has never installed ANY OS, but has some basic technical aptitude, the average Linux installation will be faster and easier than Windows. In my case, I have installed Windows maybe 20-30 times, and I have probably done close to 100 Linux installs. On average, I can now set up a Linux system in ~1/3 to 1/2 the time that it takes for an equivalent Windows system. There are many specific reasons why this is true for Linux---most notably, the package management and the SW that is typically included.

Finally, contrary to what you might hear, there is no coding required, and--for common applications--you almost never have to do anything except open the package manager.

For a basic system (browser, e-mail, word-processing, photo editing), you can be up and running in about an hour. If you have never installed ANY OS, it might take much longer.

Advice? Just do it...
 
Old 04-30-2010, 01:38 PM   #4
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronic Apathy View Post
if Linux involves coding.
You don't need to do any coding to install and use Linux.

Quote:
How long does initial installation generally take?
1) Download a .iso file of the desired Linux distribution. If you have slow internet access, that could be slow.

2) Burn the .iso as an image (not as a file) to a CD. If you know how that is quick and easy. If you do it wrong, figuring that out will take a while. If you don't know how to do it, download ImgBurn and read some other posts here that mention ImgBurn.

3) The actual install. A beginner friendly Linux distribution, such as Mepis, on a fairly fast computer, the actual install is about 20 minutes, including some time to guess at the very few questions that might not be totally obvious.

But that is the problem-free estimate. A minority, but unfortunately not a terribly small minority, of installs will run into some problem with the video adapter or the wireless network access or the display refresh rate. Then a beginner will be lost and you probably need significant time to ask some questions online, get told you didn't provide enough hardware detail etc., provide those details, and get some constructive replies. (A wired internet connection greatly decreases your probability of difficulties in a laptop install.)

4) Then you need to figure out how to use it. How to launch firefox for web browsing should be obvious, no figuring out required. How to use Open Office instead of Word may be slightly harder, plus you probably need to learn the basics of your distribution's package manager to even get Open Office. How to upload movies from your camcorder and edit them (for example) will take a lot more online reading (ultimately Linux makes that easier and better than Windows, but it isn't at all the same if you already know how in Windows and the documentation may not be very beginner friendly).

Quote:
Should I be setting aside a few hours or a weekend?
For what part of the above? If you're pretty smart and don't hit any bad luck, all of the above could be just a few hours (excluding learning to edit movies). But I wouldn't rely on that.

Quote:
How much maintenance does Linux generally require? If I'm less interested in learning and more interested in simply running it
Many Linux distributions have tiny updates almost constantly. In Mepis, there is an icon that changes when updates are available. It isn't urgent that you install them right away, but I think it is a good idea to install them every few days. The process is much simpler, faster and safer than installing Windows updates (making up for it being more frequent). There is almost never a reboot required in installing Linux updates and in my experience updates that break something and then need manual correction happen in both Windows and Linux, but significantly less often in Linux (less likely per year, not just less likely per update).

Last edited by johnsfine; 04-30-2010 at 01:48 PM.
 
Old 04-30-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
timetraveler
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If you don't care about what's on your laptop and you have another computer for your email, etc. then go ahead and wipe it. But do not wipe your laptop if it's the only computer you have. If you are interested in exploring linux find another computer and play with linux on that.

Don't believe anyone that will tell you that installing linux is a slam dunk. If you're hardware is a little different then it can be a lot of work to get going.

For finding out what hardware you have there is a tool that I used before. It's intended to determine
compatibility with solaris/opensolaris but it still describes what devices you have so it's useful.

I would have included a link to the tool but Sun-oracle has a way of making you jump through hoops to download anything from their sites.

Search for "sun device detection tool".

No matter what, knowing linux and becoming familiar with it is a positive experience.
 
Old 04-30-2010, 02:03 PM   #6
catkin
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The more you know about Linux the longer it takes to install because after the base installation you know you can configure it just the way you like it -- and that can take months

When you know nothing you take what you're given by the base installation and start using/exploring right away. If you get curious and have the inclination you can then start on a life time of tinkering. Come to think of it Windows was the same way for me -- couldn't resist hacking around in the registry to make it faster, more secure, cleaner ...
 
Old 04-30-2010, 02:20 PM   #7
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timetraveler View Post
If you don't care about what's on your laptop and you have another computer for your email, etc. then go ahead and wipe it. But do not wipe your laptop if it's the only computer you have.
Good clarification. Anything I or others said that looks like "install first and worry about problems later" is based on the assumption that you have another computer that will be stable.

Quote:
If you are interested in exploring linux find another computer and play with linux on that.
But you don't need another computer. Lacking another computer just calls for a slower and more careful approach to starting with Linux.

Setting up dual boot, even if later you intend to drop Windows, is slower and more careful than wiping Windows to install Linux. It might not be slow and careful enough. Things can go wrong in a beginner setting up dual boot that a beginner couldn't fix without web access through another computer.

Playing with Linux in a liveCD, especially testing the display and network behavior, before installing is definitely slower and more careful.

Many Linux distributions, including Mepis, have a single .iso file that is both liveCD and installer. You can boot up Linux on the CD without disturbing the Windows install on the hard drive. That mode will have odd stalls of a few seconds in many operations that would be instant in installed Linux, but if you can ignore that it will give you a decent idea what that distribution is like and what hardware specific issues you need to ask about before a real install is safe.

If you can use Linux well enough to ask questions and read answers in the forum while booted from a liveCD, you probably can repair (with some help) the worst that goes wrong in trying to install to Linux to the hard drive. The liveCD is not just a way to ask questions. It is also the best tool you have for fixing whatever goes seriously wrong on the hard drive. If you can't get a liveCD to the point that it can access this forum, I wouldn't be at all confident about doing better with an installed copy of Linux.

On an unimportant computer, I'd probably gamble on being in the majority that can install Linux problem free. So I would skip messing around with the liveCD (which is annoyingly slow). On an important computer, I'd pick slower and safer.

Ubuntu is the common choice of distribution for your situation. Kubuntu is almost the same but with what I think is a slightly friendlier default "desktop" program. Mepis is quite similar to Kubuntu but with a few more beginner friendly details. I prefer it, but it is far less popular than Ubuntu. All of the above and many others come normally packaged as both liveCD and installer in one CD image.

Last edited by johnsfine; 04-30-2010 at 02:29 PM.
 
Old 05-02-2010, 12:02 AM   #8
alan99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronic Apathy View Post
Hey guys. I'm exploring the possibility of installing Linux here in about a month. I'm currently attending a cyber school, and I'm a senior, so I'll be graduating at the end of the month. I have a feeling they aren't going to request the laptop back, and if that is indeed the case, I just want to wipe everything on the drive and start fresh, and that seems like a prime time to experiment with Linux, which I've been curious about for a year or so now. However, from what I've heard, the prospect of installing and running Linux seems daunting, so I have some questions. I'm computer literate, but I've never done any coding aside from HTML here and there, and frankly, I don't even know if Linux involves coding. I'm completely in the dark.

- How long does initial installation generally take? Should I be setting aside a few hours or a weekend? Keeping in mind I'll have no idea what I'm doing and I'll likely be using guides from this site or elsewhere on this.

- How much maintenance does Linux generally require? If I'm less interested in learning and more interested in simply running it the way I would Windows (mostly just using internet, Word, Notepad, etc), is that difficult to go about, or should I just stick to a different OS?

I might have other questions later, but this is it for now.
I would suggest you clarify from your school whether the laptop is really yours to do what you want with or if they expect it back before you begin 'hosing' it by removing its resident operating system.
 
Old 05-02-2010, 12:05 AM   #9
alan99
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P.S There may also be 'lesson material' on the computer or special projects they may want you to do that require a certain operating system.
 
  


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