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In 12 step programs, the first step is admitting you have a problem. My name is Kris, and MS Windows is a problem.
Whew! That felt good!
Now, I have a notebook (Compaq Presario 2195 US) and a desktop (Dell XPS 120). I am contemplating trying Linux on the notebook that I recently wiped clean and reinstalled with Windows. I think I would like to start with a Live CD before going "all the way."
Any suggestions for specific distributions to try? Pitfalls in my plan? If all goes well, hopefully both will be running Linux-based OSes before long. Thanks!
Well Kris, its never too late. You did not mention the purpose of the machines. Do you use them for everyday use like surfing, mailing and word processing etc? Or there is some specific purpose that you are looking at? Because you are windows user trying to switch I think it is the first option as windows can do nothing better.
Ubuntu is good and once you use it you will feel it as well. Though some argue that it keeps most of things hidden from the user by bringing GUI for most. But that it what attracts newbies coming from windows. And because it has a Live CD you will have nothing to lose if you do not like it. Just dump the cd in the dustbin or better give it to some needy. May be you will convert some other windows guy to linux with you.
But then there are several other distributions that are as newbie friendly as Ubuntu. Fedora is one of them and new F11 is just out.
Open Suse is another. Mandriva is one more good looking and serious distribution.
I would also recommend you look into Dream Linux.
I think I would like to start with a Live CD before going "all the way."
If you start with a Live CD, which is a good idea, there is hardly any point in suggesting anything. Just try stuff. If you don't like what you try, try something else.
Take particular note of which GUIs you liked and which you didn't; knowing that, for example, you liked KDE and didn't like Gnome will help you later, when you come to decide on a distribution to install.
Sorry I left out the usage details. The notebook is basically mobile web access (wireless) and office computing with spreadsheets and word processing. The desktop is more for home use and we use it a lot for pics and music as well as typical office-type computing and internet access.
I like the idea of trying several Live CDs. No harm there, and no commitment either. We'll start with the laptop and see how things go. Does Ubuntu work well with wireless? It sounds like some distributions have problems there. We'll see how it goes.
Wireless is an issue with some distributions but it all depends on which chip you have. I tried Jaunty on Compaq and IBM laptops. One of them had Athros chip and other Intel pro wireless. And both worked out of the box without much issue.
I guess Broadcom chips have some issue and some tinkering makes it working though so no issue as such.
Does Ubuntu work well with wireless? It sounds like some distributions have problems there. We'll see how it goes.
I can give you a 'definite maybe' on wireless; the more common and better standardised the wireless platform is (for example, on Intel laptop platforms, with Intel chipsets, wireless is pretty well standardised, and usually 'just works'...but some manufacturers save manufacturing cost by using less well known wireless chips, and they cause more problems). I suspect that almost anything can be 'made to work' with some level of effort, but some things are more involved than you'd feel is reasonable for a newbie to attempt.
You need a distro that is more up-to-date than your chipset, or you need to grab updates.
Also, the bigger distros (eg, Ubuntu, RedHat, OpensuSE) tend to be better with stuff like getting wireless to work with zero effort, so try those first.
Also, please have a look at package management; there will be something called a package manager, or similar, and you should just have a look at how easy it is to grab extra software and how extensive the range of software (packages) is; this is a factor in how well you will like the distro, long term. And you would only make things harder for yourself by not using whatever package management facilities the distro gives you.
One further note that might be of some help; Ubuntu, kubuntu, xubuntu sound as if they might be seperate distros; they aren't really (no one else really does their naming this way). They are all versions of Ubuntu with different user interfaces and so, if you've got Ubuntu (Gnome Ubuntu) installed and you want to try the kde user interface, you can just get the package manager to get you the kde user interface and choose either kde or gnome (or XFCE, if you wanted that as well) at login time.