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vineyridge 01-03-2013 08:36 AM

Considering Linux--what do I need to know?
 
I don't speak IT language at all, so plain English would be appreciated.

Linux has intrigued me for years, and since Microsoft will no longer support XP Pro in the future, I'm considering going to Linux in the future. What is the best version for older computers? One is a Thinkpad 600X (2545) and the other is about three years old and doesn't have USB 3. Motherboard is ASUS P5G41-M LE/CSM. I also have two old or older WD external HDs. The newer one (WD My Book Essential USB 2.0) does not have a Linux driver available from WD; I have not checked the older one to see if it is Linux compatible.

Where do I go for basic english Linux tutorials? I'd like to learn as much as possible before starting with Linux.

TroN-0074 01-03-2013 08:49 AM

If you are concerning about the age of your computer I would suggest you look into distros that offer support for light weight application such as

Lubuntu ----------------------------->http://lubuntu.net/ (The L stand for Light Weight)
Linux Mint Xfce edition ------------->http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
Fedora LXDE Spin -------------------->http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora-options

You can download them in ISO format and burn then on a CD and then boot the your computer from the disk to test them.

There are lots of reading material online or you can borrow a book from your local library or even buy a linux book from a book shop. You can find material relate specifically to the distribution you are interested in, but you can ask direct questions on the forums, that is always a good approach.

Good luck to you

szboardstretcher 01-03-2013 09:01 AM

Quick mention: Arch Linux is a very light distro. I use it on a 10 year old laptop just fine.

johnsfine 01-03-2013 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vineyridge (Post 4862063)
What is the best version for older computers? One is a Thinkpad 600X (2545) and the other is about three years old and doesn't have USB 3. Motherboard is ASUS P5G41-M LE/CSM.

To evaluate how "light weight" a Linux you need, the key factors are the amount of ram in each computer and the amount of hard disk space. You haven't told us those numbers.

Quote:

I also have two old or older WD external HDs. The newer one (WD My Book Essential USB 2.0) does not have a Linux driver available from WD
I use my old USB external hard drive on both Linux and Windows. I'm pretty sure there is no driver specific to my hard drive. I think there is generic support for USB hard drives that works across many brands and models. (I haven't investigated, because for me it just works).

Quote:

Where do I go for basic english Linux tutorials? I'd like to learn as much as possible before starting with Linux.
Not a good idea.

Learn by doing.

Reading a tutorial won't teach you much. Trying the things described in the tutorial on your own Linux system will teach you. Trying something a little different than what the tutorial suggests and seeing the difference in results will teach you much more.

Start by getting Linux. Then learn it.

If you are very cautious and your three year old computer has a lot of ram, you can try Linux via liveCD without disturbing the Windows install on that system. But generally it is a better idea to shrink the Windows partition(s) to make room to install Linux on the hard drive.

vineyridge 01-03-2013 09:58 AM

Thinkpad 600x 589 megs RAM and a single 25G HD in XP Pro, SP3, as well as another single HD that I can plug in that has 12 G and Windows SE. This one currently has a 500 G Toshiba Canvio external HD, but has used a WD Media Center external HD in the past. To get USB 2.0, it has a SIIG Cardbus PCMCIA card, which provides both US and Firewire support.

Desktop: 4G RAM to be upgraded to 8G, one 240 G HD and one 500 G HD. Intel Core Duo Processor, not sure of the particulars. Windows XP Pro, SP3.

External HDs: WD My Book Essential 2.0, 1 Terabyte; WD Media Center, 180 Gs; and the Toshiba Canvio, 500G.

What I would like to see happen is that all this stuff will work seamlessly together with one operating system. And I'd like to save as functional the XP Pro, SP3 from the Desktop and the one from the Laptop AND the Win98SE laptop hard drive and have those be available from the externals.

I'm getting sick of having to start all over whenever I get a Windows computer with a new operating system.

johnsfine 01-03-2013 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vineyridge (Post 4862147)
Thinkpad 600x 589 megs RAM and a single 25G HD in XP Pro, SP3, as well as another single HD that I can plug in that has 12 G and Windows SE.

There are too many things I don't know for me to give you much useful advice on that system. My main advice on that system is keep it as Windows for a while, until you learn enough about Linux on the other system to make good choices yourself.

Quote:

Desktop: 4G RAM to be upgraded to 8G, one 240 G HD and one 500 G HD. ...Windows XP Pro, SP3.
Is that 32-bit XP or 64-bit? Are you sure the hardware supports 8GB ram (obviously 32-bit XP does not support 8GB ram).

That is not at all a "light weight" system for Linux. Install whatever Linux distribution you think will be easiest to learn on (typically that is Ubuntu). You have plenty of hardware.

I think you will be best off installing Linux on partitions on one of the internal hard drives. That means backing up some of the Windows data on that internal drive (you seem to have plenty of external space for that) then defragmenting and shrinking Windows partition(s) to make room for Linux, then installing Linux into the unpartitioned space.

The GUI partitioning tool in any Linux liveCD is good for shrinking a Windows XP partition. But before doing that, it is a good idea inside XP to disable paging and then defragment the partion(s) that you want to shrink. (After using Linux liveCD to shrink the partitions, you would reenable paging in XP).

Anyway, the first step is to download and burn a Linux liveCD. Most Linux distributions have an install CD that can also be used as a liveCD, so you only need to download and burn one image for both purposes.

There is a freeware program called ImgBurn that is the best tool on XP for burning an image to a CD. If you never burned an image file to a CD, a very common beginner error is burning the .iso file to the CD in "files/folders" mode. That makes a completely useless CD. It must be in image mode. Many CD burning programs have UI that is unclear about the difference between files/folders mode and image mode.

sneakyimp 01-03-2013 10:31 AM

One thing you should understand about Linux is that there are different "distributions" of Linux: Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat, CentOS, Mint, etc. While the linux kernel is typically more or less the same for all these distros, the distros vary widely in some ways. E.g., the command to install new software on Debian and Ubuntu is not the same as Red Hat or CentOS. Some distros offer a complete desktop computer environment (windows, mouse integration, etc.) while others may not and you'll have to learn the linux command line.

As for hardware support, I don't think I've ever seen linux fail to recognize a piece of hardware. I typically use Ubuntu, but might be re-thinking that soon.

vineyridge 01-03-2013 11:07 AM

It seems that the My Book Essential has a VCD installed that automatically takes the drive to Windows when it's plugged in. I found a page on the internet where the guy was able to disable the VCD on that exact same drive, and Linux had no trouble recognizing it. So I've contacted WD support to see how to disable the VCD on that particular drive.

sneakyimp 01-03-2013 11:14 AM

Not sure what you mean by VCD. If you are trying to get your laptop or desktop to boot into windows, you have to address the boot sequence of your computer in the BIOS. Every computer, when it boots up, will go to one drive first, then another, etc., until it finds a viable bootloader. Sounds like your computer is checking the drive with windows installed first.

How are you trying to boot linux? Do you have a CD or DVD with linux on it? If so, you'll need to set your optical/CD/DVD drive as the first in the boot sequence. If you are trying to get the laptop to boot off an external USB drive, then you'll need to specify in the BIOS that the USB hub is first.

vineyridge 01-03-2013 11:30 AM

VCD = Virtual CD that is embedded in the drive.

As to boot sequence, I've already set the CD as the first in the boot sequence on both computers.

DavidMcCann 01-03-2013 12:10 PM

By Linux standards, the desktop is very powerful and the laptop is adequate if you steer clear of distros that need a lot of memory. I suggest you use the same distro on both if you switch: so much easier. I'd also suggest encrypting the laptop: they are so stealable!

I suggest you look at Fuduntu and the Mate version of Mint. Both will run on the Thinkpad and are reliable. You can see reviews here:
http://distrowatch.gdsw.at/table.php?distribution=mint
http://www.linuxquestions.org/review...p/product/2188 (the long-term-support version)
http://distrowatch.gdsw.at/table.php...bution=fuduntu
http://www.linuxquestions.org/review...page/15/sort/7

As for beginning tips
1. Always read the installation instructions on the distro's site.
2. Create 3 Linux partitions: root (for the OS and software), home (for your files), and swap (for hibernating or when memory runs short).
3. Don't create file names with spaces in them: it inevitably leads to trouble. Use a hyphen or under-score.
4. Remember Linux is not Windows. You don't expect a smart phone to work like Windows, and neither will Linux. Some things will be similar, other very different.
5. Get your software from your distro's repository, not by wandering round the web picking up odd things here and there.
6. If in trouble or doubt, ask for help. The only silly questing is the one you don't ask!

Have fun!

johnsfine 01-03-2013 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMcCann (Post 4862238)
I suggest you use the same distro on both

I disagree. .5GB of ram is different enough from 8GB of ram that you shouldn't handicap yourself by forcing unnecessary similarity. I would select both from the Debian family of distributions (which includes Ubuntu) or select both from the Red Hat family (OpenSuse and Fedora, etc.) rather than one from each family. But same distribution only makes sense if you happen to like a distribution that is a good choice all the way from .5GB to 8GB.

Start by making a good choice (such as Ubuntu) for your 4GB or 8GB system. Make a choice for the smaller system later.

Quote:

1. Always read the installation instructions on the distro's site.
I always follow standard engineering practice: When all else fails, read the instructions.
The instructions aren't that good and following the prompts without reading instructions isn't that hard. Getting it wrong and starting over is neither very harmful nor very time consuming. (Getting a Windows install wrong and starting over is time consuming and risky. Linux install is faster and is less damaging to get wrong).

Quote:

2. Create 3 Linux partitions: root (for the OS and software), home (for your files), and swap (for hibernating or when memory runs short).
I disagree about the /home partition. You don't need it and you won't guess accurately how big it should be if you decide to have it. /home works just fine as a directory inside the root partition.
Quote:

3. Don't create file names with spaces in them: it inevitably leads to trouble. Use a hyphen or under-score.
4. Remember Linux is not Windows. You don't expect a smart phone to work like Windows, and neither will Linux. Some things will be similar, other very different.
5. Get your software from your distro's repository, not by wandering round the web picking up odd things here and there.
6. If in trouble or doubt, ask for help. The only silly questing is the one you don't ask!
I agree with all that.

rabirk 01-03-2013 03:08 PM

I agree with trying the Mate edition of Linux Mint. Mint is a very polished distribution and you probably won't have much difficulty figuring out how it works. I would mention, however, that for the most part you'll end up using less polished software on a Linux system. At least, this has been my experience. Some things will be the same, like being able to use Firefox as a web browser if you like, but the "Office"-style suite in Mint will be LibreOffice, and it has some rough edges. In general, I think it's easier to use than Word; you won't need to take a course to figure out how to use it, but you also won't have the same level of functionality. With Mint, you should be able to play CDs and DVDs, and the Software Center will offer you several different options for playing your multimedia, some of it better than others. I'd start with the laptop you don't *need* to use, play around with the distribution, try a couple of different software selections, and then install the same things on the other hardware once you're pleased with your setup. With Mint, you won't absolutely need to know the command line, but with Linux it doesn't hurt to study some command line basics.

Shadow_7 01-03-2013 03:44 PM

Get a couple live optical discs distros and do some burning. Or alternatively setup a usb stick to multiboot those images without ever burning them. But since you're not that experieced, just burn the optical disks. Unless you don't have an optical drive. I run debian linux, but it's probably not for a noob. Ubuntu seems to be the most braindead starter distro these days with lots of gui tools that lessen the learning curve. And the discs give you the option to run it from the disc or install it from the disc.

If you can dhcp over ethernet for your network, you could probably save yourself some frustration. Wireless can still be a real pain to get going initially. If you have more than just the one machine, installing linux is easy when you can reference google, and other sources, while doing your installation. Otherwise it's really not that much of a learning curve. My old compaq presario, 2GHz 32 bit single core, 0.5GB of RAM, is still chugging along running debian from a $5 8GB usb stick. It's so quiet now with no (working) fan, and no spinning HDD.

chrism01 01-03-2013 05:45 PM

I agree with getting some LiveCD versions to get your feet wet.
Have a look at www.distrowatch.com and try a few off the top ten there.

Here's a couple of good links to read
http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm
http://rute.2038bug.com/index.html.gz


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