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Old 08-17-2005, 05:53 PM   #1
Superion
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Considering switching...which version? (with details!)


Hello everyone! I'm new here, and I hope I'm not intruding!

I'm just about fed up with Microsoft, their price-gouging tactics, their cranky OS, and their restrictiveness. For the first time, I'm very seriously considering changing my OS. A co-worker has been championing Linux for a while now, but I still have reservations. Even though I despise Microsoft, I'm familiar with their OS/programs, and I actually do like certain MS products (like MSWord). Not to mention that I have several major Windows-OS programs that I use for personal/business purposes.

I know there are multiple flavors of Linux floating around, so I'm trying to find one that will best suit what I need. If any of you have any experience, advice, or anything that would help, I would greatly appreciate it!

Here's what I'm looking for...If I HAVE to prioritize, I'd say in roughly this order:

1) WINDOWS COMPATIBILITY/INTEROPERABILITY: I have a host of programs (old and new) that run on Windows. I need to continuing using most of these particular programs, for personal and business reasons - as opposed to someone simply saying, "There's bound to be a Linux-version application that's better..." as my co-worker is fond of pestering me with. ;-P Also, since my workplace and most of my colleagues use Windows, I need to be able to save my files in the applicable windows format (ex: MSWord/doc files) and in a manner that will allow seamless movement between my computer and windows-OS computers with a minimum of translating/converting, since translation is where a lot of things get garbled. Last but not least: I'd like to keep playing my Windows-OS games! ;-D If I can do any of this without dual-booting (or a minimum thereof), I'd consider it a minor miracle.

2) SECURITY: I'd like a Linux version that imitates the capabilities of Windows' new NTFS file system, which allows for encrypted folders and files. I've heard that Linux uses its own proprietary file system, which I admit I'm a little skittish about. I've heard that Linux features very strong firewalls, which I'd definitely like.

3) NETWORK-FRIENDLY: I have a wireless network with a "primary" computer (has the most horsepower), a storage/repository computer (the slowest), and a mobile one. I'd like a Linux-version that is very network-friendly, and one that would ideally allow me to keep my current equipment...I already have a wireless router and USB wireless network-adapter, but I'm not sure how - or if - they'd work under another operating system, since their drivers/software are Windows-oriented. I'd like VERY strong security (particularly since it's wireless!) and compatibility with the WEP and WPA/PSK/TKIP network security protocols.

4) PRICE: Obviously, nothing beats free, if such a monster I'm looking for truly does exist for free. But I'd settle for ridiculously inexpensive. ;-D

5) CUSTOMIZATION: I'd like something that would allow me to customize its appearance and operation. Appearance, especially, is a quirk of mine. I'd been looking at using Windowblinds to tweak the appearance of my Windows-OS, so if there's a Linux-OS version which has that sort of graphical customization built-in, I'd love it. Also, I've heard that Linux primarily uses a command-line interface, with various GUI overlays. I don't mind having a command-line; I know you can do some interesting/powerful things from there...but I definitely want to spend more time with a GUI interface, whether it's traditional point-and-click or something unique that I've customized.

6) VERY MEDIA-FRIENDLY: I use video and music on my computer for both business and pleasure, and sometime in the not-too-distant future I intend to build a Media PC...so I'd like the Linux-OS version that is the most media-friendly.

WHEW! Sorry for the long-winded post, but I wanted to give all of you as much info as I thought you'd need to give me your advice. THANKS a ton in advance...and if you have any questions, let me know! I appreciate it!
 
Old 08-17-2005, 06:09 PM   #2
boxerboy
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hi i was reading over ur list of items and do be totally honest with u every linux ive used fits in ur items. most linux os's can be downloaded for free if not all of them. if u dont wanna take the time to download and install 600 or more mbs per iso image u can pick up the cds/dvds fairly cheap. i have the fedora core bible i picked up for like 20 bucks and it came with the dvds. the book has been helpful in alot of areas but sometimes they get hard to understand.
 
Old 08-17-2005, 06:20 PM   #3
Moloko
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You're facing a tough time already with such a list Most of it is perfectly possible, but some require a certain degree of knowledge which you will only get if you take your time learning Linux.

Probably the worst thing you can do right now is to dive into a mixed environment with both Windows and Linux. It will be so tempting to blame Linux if you fail to get everything working.

Some comments on your list:

WINDOWS COMPATIBILITY/INTEROPERABILITY
You seriously have to reconsider running Windows apps on Linux. They aren't called Windows(!) apps for nothing. Still, Wine and Cedega might help a bit. Working with MS file formats will work. You can open .doc etc. with Linux software.

SECURITY
Linux has no proprietary file systems, you can choose out of many systems, like ext2, ext3, xfs etc. Linux can support encryption, but I wouldn't know why you should risk it. Linux already is more secure than Windows will ever be. Linux can be used safely, even without a firewall.

NETWORK-FRIENDLY
Linux is developed as a network operating system.

CUSTOMIZATION
Welcome to heaven. There are lots of interfaces and all can be tweaked till you like it.

VERY MEDIA-FRIENDLY
When your knowledge permits

Yes, I am chewing on your enthusiasm. Sorry about that, but you need to know that Linux can do all you want, but it's not as easy as you may hope for.

I do know a 76 year old who only started with Linux two years ago and can now work with Xandros and Linspire. Those two may be the right choice, since they offer more help to the user and are really geared towards the end-user.
 
Old 08-17-2005, 06:26 PM   #4
aysiu
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I agree. You can take this quiz to find a place to begin, but, honestly, almost every major Linux desktop distro will suit your needs well or not well. If you insist on using Windows programs and Windows-only games, you may have to shell out a little money for Cedega or Crossover Office (Wine is free, but doesn't work with every Windows program). But your friend isn't lying. Even though there are a few exceptions, most Windows programs have Linux equivalents that are just as good or even better. And almost every Linux office app (KOffice, OpenOffice, AbiWord) can save in the .doc format. You can even try out OpenOffice in Windows to see how it is. In the meantime, this list of Linux equivalents for Windows programs will probably help you out. Before you begin your Linux adventure, though, read Linux is not Windows.
 
Old 08-17-2005, 06:44 PM   #5
Superion
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Thanks to everyone who responded so far! OK, Moloko:

Quote:
Originally posted by Moloko
WINDOWS COMPATIBILITY/INTEROPERABILITY
You seriously have to reconsider running Windows apps on Linux. They aren't called Windows(!) apps for nothing. Still, Wine and Cedega might help a bit. Working with MS file formats will work. You can open .doc etc. with Linux software.
Unfortunately, that's NOT an option as far as my business applications go. :-( I've been looking at WINE; that may be the way to go, hopefully. But I'm also wondering about my games. I have older games like Tiberian Sun that I'd like to get around to finishing...however, I'm really worried about my latest, City of Heroes.

When you say, "working with MS file formats will work", I'm assuming you also are answering my question about transferability...that I can take a disk, save my work in Linux and (assuming the file is a Windows-friendly file format) I can put that disk into a Windows machine and load that same file.

Quote:
Originally posted by Moloko
SECURITY
Linux has no proprietary file systems, you can choose out of many systems, like ext2, ext3, xfs etc. Linux can support encryption, but I wouldn't know why you should risk it. Linux already is more secure than Windows will ever be. Linux can be used safely, even without a firewall.
*wry chuckle* Well, just call me security-conscious. I'll still want encryption (as well as a firewall), so it's nice to know that it's out there.

Quote:
Originally posted by Moloko
NETWORK-FRIENDLY
Linux is developed as a network operating system.
I'm assuming that's a yes to my question about it supporting my existing hardware. Does it have its own security protocols, or does it use the standards already out there (WEP, WPA/PSK-TKIP, etc)?

I'm glad to hear about the customization. However:

Quote:
Originally posted by Moloko
VERY MEDIA-FRIENDLY
When your knowledge permits
*sniff* That doesn't sound too promising! :-(

I took that little quiz at zegeniestudios...it listed these distros (I can't believe I'm using that word already), in this order:

Mandriva
Mepis
PCLinuxOS
XandrOS


From what I'm hearing/seeing on the net, both Mandriva and Mepis appear to be very good solutions. I'm still researching XandrOS...I think there's a fee for that one (or there may be one later, something like that I read). Mepis appears to have more newbies raving about it here. In any case, I'm still considering. Any additional comments are welcome! THANKS!
 
Old 08-17-2005, 06:52 PM   #6
aysiu
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superion
From what I'm hearing/seeing on the net, both Mandriva and Mepis appear to be very good solutions. I'm still researching XandrOS...I think there's a fee for that one (or there may be one later, something like that I read). Mepis appears to have more newbies raving about it here. In any case, I'm still considering. Any additional comments are welcome! THANKS!
I'd try Mepis first. Mepis is both a live and installer CD (one CD for both--yes). It also has fairly good hardware detection, and it's all point-and-click, including configuring stuff. The Guarddog firewall comes with a base installation of Mepis. Look into Cedega for games, seriously. Can you mention specifically what these "business applications" are that you use? If you do that, people can let you know right away if there are Linux equivalents or not.

Last edited by aysiu; 08-17-2005 at 06:54 PM.
 
Old 08-17-2005, 07:11 PM   #7
Superion
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Quote:
Originally posted by aysiu
I'd try Mepis first. Mepis is both a live and installer CD (one CD for both--yes). It also has fairly good hardware detection, and it's all point-and-click, including configuring stuff. The Guarddog firewall comes with a base installation of Mepis. Look into Cedega for games, seriously. Can you mention specifically what these "business applications" are that you use? If you do that, people can let you know right away if there are Linux equivalents or not.
One of them is Illustrator. The other one is...hmmm, I'm forgetting the name of it! It's an advanced, multi-track sound-production application...kinda like SoundForge on MAJOR steroids. ;-D

I also use an older version of DreamWeaver...I was sure there's a better Linux program out there for that, so I wasn't gonna mention it at first. But I thought I'd throw it out there and find out what the alternative was.
 
Old 08-17-2005, 07:31 PM   #8
aysiu
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superion
One of them is Illustrator. The other one is...hmmm, I'm forgetting the name of it! It's an advanced, multi-track sound-production application...kinda like SoundForge on MAJOR steroids. ;-D

I also use an older version of DreamWeaver...I was sure there's a better Linux program out there for that, so I wasn't gonna mention it at first. But I thought I'd throw it out there and find out what the alternative was.
Remember that link I gave you before?

http://linuxshop.ru/linuxbegin/win-l...en/table.shtml

It has Linux equivalents for all of those programs. I'm not saying they necessarily will do everything you want to do, but it's worth trying them out (they're all free) because if you can use native Linux applications, why worry about Crossover Office or Wine?
 
Old 08-17-2005, 11:09 PM   #9
volvogga
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I think that you might want to rethink your position on dual-booting. At least until you are sure that Linux can really do what you need.

There will be a learning curve in going over to Linux, make no mistake about that. There will also be a learning curve on trying and using some of the windows alternative programs for linux (I hear that Inkscape is a decent vector drawing program, but I havn't used it), as you probably won't find a program that is a exact replica of Illustrator, but it still may do everything that you require of it. Taking Linux out of the equation, sometimes just going from version 3 to 4 of one of your favorite apps can lead to relearning some things. In a setting where the machine is sometimes used for business, that 'learning downtime' can sometimes be anywhere from a nuisance to a major problem (if it is crunch time for a project). I have seen my Father go through these learning curves as he started using Windows XP coming from DOS 6 (held out all those years, I'm so proud).

So, in my opinion, it would sound like a good idea to keep your Windows partition around until you are sure that everything will work for you (no matter if it is by using a native Linux app or using WIne). It will also be good for if work must be done quickly and you're not that comfortable with your new software yet.

Your co-worker may be dissapointed if you don't dive in head first, but it wouldn't be his job on the line if you suddenly can't produce your work at the rate your company requires.

My 2 cents anyway.
 
Old 08-18-2005, 01:34 AM   #10
foo_bar_foo
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well that's a tall order

you can basically forget about getting all the windows programs to run
with varying degrees of sucess for different versions of wine you can sometimes get some windows programs to work if you know what you are doing and are lucky.

you mention multimedia and since i know a bit about that i think you should install the latest version of planetccrma
http://ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software/
with that if you have the time to learn you can do all the stuff the unix movie heavyweights can do.
plus a full suite of sound recording/mixing/synth apps.

planetccrma is based on fedora core3 so performance generally sucks and after a while you will hate it for that reason but it is basically the only mutlimedia introductions for knewbies i know of.
later you will do better building your own system from scratch anyway.

Linux is more than network freindly Linux can be a moster wins server or anything else you want it to be. Networking is just an afterthought tagged to Windows compared to Linux.

as far as encryption Linux and Unix can do some amazing things in terms of security including encrypted file systems and being major hardened way beyond what windows can do (of course without all the crappy buffer overun code windows has)== US intelligence services uses Linux.
but you will not be able to do any of this stuff to start out so just forget it for now.
desktop linux is setup as a multiuser permissions based system that actually works as oposed to M$ permissions that is a poor and unuseable. All linux kernels can do policy based firewalling and ipmasqeurading

the main thing is just forget what windows can do and use Linus for what it is
 
Old 08-18-2005, 03:21 AM   #11
nabeelmoidu
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I'd suggest you try working on Knoppix(live CD) for some days and if you really plan to install any distro , go ahead with a Mandrake installation without removing your windows installation. Its got almost everything you want for an easy switchover from windows .And in case you need anything extra you can always find the rpm packages at www.rpmseek.com.
 
Old 08-18-2005, 04:27 AM   #12
samael26
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Hi,
To be honest, with all your requirements, I doubt Linux is the best solution for you.
As has already been pointed out, Linux is not Windows with security and no fees
whatsoever. The posters above are merely preaching, save for foo_bar_foo, for the 'Linux church',
whereas it does not need preaching.
Unless you're ready to try to tackle a very deep learning curve, especially for wireless networking,
configuring and learning the linux way, and you're willing to forget about most windows games,
you're facing a real frustrating period of time, which length is not clearly defined, depending on
your willingness to learn and stay cool.
You can't have both of these worlds. And all the talk about programs providing compatilbility is
IMO not very fair, because the number of Win apps you're going to 'use' with them is very little.

Don't complain later in case you go for it that you've been told it's doable whereas only part of it really is, at the expense of
a very tough reading and figuring out what this weird OS is about.

regards

Last edited by samael26; 08-18-2005 at 04:31 AM.
 
Old 08-18-2005, 11:21 AM   #13
Superion
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Quote:
Originally posted by samael26
Hi,
To be honest, with all your requirements, I doubt Linux is the best solution for you.
As has already been pointed out, Linux is not Windows with security and no fees
whatsoever. The posters above are merely preaching, save for foo_bar_foo, for the 'Linux church',
whereas it does not need preaching.
Unless you're ready to try to tackle a very deep learning curve, especially for wireless networking,
configuring and learning the linux way, and you're willing to forget about most windows games,
you're facing a real frustrating period of time, which length is not clearly defined, depending on
your willingness to learn and stay cool.
You can't have both of these worlds. And all the talk about programs providing compatilbility is
IMO not very fair, because the number of Win apps you're going to 'use' with them is very little.

Don't complain later in case you go for it that you've been told it's doable whereas only part of it really is, at the expense of
a very tough reading and figuring out what this weird OS is about.

regards
Well, good grief. :-(

I know that, speaking from a philosophical point of view, that Linux is not meant to replace Windows, it's meant to be an alternative to Windows. But with these recent posts, I'm starting to wonder if it's for me. From the posts I'm reviewing, it sounds like working with Linux is a difficult and continual struggle. Please everyone don't get upset and scream; I'm only telling you the impression I'm getting from everyone.

Now, if that implied struggle I'm sensing is the endless quest to tweak and customize your own version of Linux until it looks and does exactly what you want, then that's OK. As I mentioned before, I enjoy customization. I'd love to have my own Linux that's Media-based, has a screen that looks like a blend of Skynet/LCARS, and features the occasional pinup in dialog boxes...you know, to soften the blow of whatever bad news is popping up. Even if that means occasionally tinkering with command-line interfaces. I'm not a stranger to DOS; I was fiddling with that before there was a Windows, and I remember the days of playing games by typing "game.exe" (I think I'm revealing my age here). Plus, as a programmer, I can kinda feel my way around a computer, sometimes. ;-) Even though I don't consider this my ideal job, I enjoy it occasionally.

But, if that struggle I'm sensing is digging deep into some code because you can't get your soundcard to work, or spending days tampering with and recompiling code just to get your monitor to display at the right resolution, then I'd have problems with it. Even though I'm a programmer, I like for my things to WORK...and when they don't, I like to have [fairly] clear signs pointing to where the problem lies (fix A, then tweak B, then adjust C)...guess you can tell I'm used to getting good error messages. :-S Sometimes I tend to get frustrated when I've done everything indicated, and then it still doesn't work and there's no sign of progress and no additional clues.

This "dependency hell" thing I keep hearing about troubles me, too: where you may download an application (or "package", I think Linux-er's call it), and you find you need additional bits of code...but you get those, and then those bits need OTHER bits of code...and so forth, ad-nauseum. That would drive me up the wall. I've read that there are solutions to that, but it keeps popping up in things I read, so is the situation actually resolved?

Those are my concerns from a more abstract, personal standpoint. Maybe the new things I've told you about (my DOS background, etc) may give you a new perspective on what to advise. But in any case, I hope that NO ONE takes offense. I'm only looking at Linux in light of MYSELF: my personality and my needs.

As always, I welcome additional input! THANKS!
 
Old 08-18-2005, 11:21 AM   #14
aysiu
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Samael26, I only partially agree. You make it sound as if Linux is some tough "only for experts" set of operating systems that newbies can't handle. On the other hand, for this post-er, you're right--Linux probably is not the right choice. I don't think the learning curve is that steep, but there is a learning curve, and the problem is that many people seem to expect Linux is just Windows but better. It's totally different from Windows, and when you have the expectation that it will be the same and that you'll accomplish tasks in the same way, you'll be disappointed.
 
Old 08-18-2005, 12:54 PM   #15
Ynot Irucrem
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Superion, sounds like you've definitely got what it takes to learn linux (you know what a start button is), it's just that it might not completely fulfill your needs. You should definitely keep your windows partition around until you are absolutely sure everything is working fine.

As for .doc files, it depends what you want to do. OpenOffice has the best .doc support but it is not 100% complete (pretty damn close though), so just check that it can do everything you want before you erase your windows partition.

Dependency hell is all but extinct with the advent of tools like apt and yum.

Out of the Distros the test recommended for you I'll suggest you try Mepis, because it comes setup with OpenOffice, Xine (media player - supports mp3, wma, etc), Guarddog firewall, Samba (for networking with Windows), The GIMP (Image editor), and it's debian-based so it has apt and synaptic (a frontend for apt). On top of that, it's a live-cd (runs from the cd without touching the hard drive, with option to install to hdd if you like it). I don't think it comes with wine, but you can always install that with synaptic.

Nvu is a good wysiwyg html editor.

If you have any problems, just post 'em on LQ.

Last edited by Ynot Irucrem; 08-18-2005 at 12:55 PM.
 
  


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