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Old 07-04-2009, 08:49 AM   #1
Linuxnewbie9
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Question Linux newbie doubts


Hi LQ.
I’m newbie to Linux and LQ and this is my 1st thread. I frantically wanna give a try for Linux as it seems to be humdinger and get free of windows after I adapted to Linux. Initially, I have the following perplex questions about Linux.

1.Is partition (swap/root) in Linux really obligatory?
2.Does dual booting windows XP and Linux makes system sluggish with 512MB RAM hard disk?
3.Is Linux vulnerable to virus?
4.I wanna buy a spanking new laptop for dual booting xp (XP pre-installed) and ubuntu/fedora or any heavy distro Linux .What should be the Laptop configuration /specifications.

Thanks.
 
Old 07-04-2009, 09:09 AM   #2
stress_junkie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linuxnewbie9 View Post
Hi LQ.
I’m newbie to Linux and LQ and this is my 1st thread. I frantically wanna give a try for Linux as it seems to be humdinger and get free of windows after I adapted to Linux. Initially, I have the following perplex questions about Linux.

1.Is partition (swap/root) in Linux really obligatory?
Live CD distributions can run without a swap partition so the answer is no. However it is recommended for performance reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linuxnewbie9 View Post
2.Does dual booting windows XP and Linux makes system sluggish with 512MB RAM hard disk?
No. The existence of Windows on a partition has no effect on Linux performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linuxnewbie9 View Post
3.Is Linux vulnerable to virus?
Yes. Viruses were invented on UNIX. Linux is a UNIX clone. The term 'root kit' comes from UNIX.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linuxnewbie9 View Post
4.I wanna buy a spanking new laptop for dual booting xp (XP pre-installed) and ubuntu/fedora or any heavy distro Linux .What should be the Laptop configuration /specifications.
http://www.phoronix.com/

Linux + X GUI runs at about the same speed as Windows XP on any particular computer so the specs are the same.

Last edited by stress_junkie; 07-04-2009 at 09:13 AM.
 
Old 07-04-2009, 09:12 AM   #3
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linuxnewbie9 View Post
1.Is partition (swap/root) in Linux really obligatory?
Do you mean partition swap separate from root? Or do you mean partition both of those separate from Windows?

A) Swap space is optional, but with just 512MB of ram, I wouldn't suggest having zero swap space
B) Swap space can be set up as a file rather than a partition

I think there are also ways to install Linux into files in the NTFS partition.

But normal partitioning really is better. Why don't you want the normal partitioning for dual boot?

Quote:
2.Does dual booting windows XP and Linux makes system sluggish with 512MB RAM hard disk?
"RAM hard disk space" ??

RAM is one kind of space. Hard disk is another.

In dual boot, whichever OS you are not using at any moment takes zero RAM space but does take hard disk space. That does not make the system sluggish. But I don't know whether you have enough hard disk space.

Quote:
3.Is Linux vulnerable to virus?
In theory yes. In practice no.

Avoiding viruses in Windows is a constant struggle. You need to be careful in many ways and you almost certainly need anti virus software and you'll probably still get careless at some point and get a virus.

Avoiding various malware in Linux primarily consists of not using the root account except for actions that clearly need it. Even if you select an easy distribution, such as Mepis, that lets a beginner surf the net or play games as root, there is no reason you ever should surf the net or play games as root. Mepis allows you to do anything as root, which is very convenient when you want to use the same GUI file manager as root that you have leaned to use non root. But the process is still specific enough that even a beginner would know he is doing something wrong when he surfs the net as root. Other distributions assume a beginner can't make that choice wisely and hide the method of doing general GUI functions as root where a beginner can't find it.

Most Linux users have no anti virus software and never have any problems with malware.

Quote:
4.I wanna buy a spanking new laptop for dual booting xp (XP pre-installed) and ubuntu/fedora or any heavy distro Linux .What should be the Laptop configuration /specifications.
Where can you find a decent price on a laptop with XP pre installed? When I shopped for laptops, every decent price I found was for Vista pre installed. Getting XP or Linux or even nothing was so much more expensive it wasn't a viable choice.

Do you have the opportunity to bring a Linux liveCD with you and test boot it when you shop for a laptop? (Some stores would permit that. I expect most won't). It would be nice to know whether you can get the display adapter and wireless network to work without any grief with just the default drivers available on the liveCD.

But the specifications are pretty much whatever you feel is worth paying for. Unless you're going for a very minimal laptop (not enough to run Vista) most available choices have enough CPU, ram and hard disk space that the difference between a lite and "heavy" install of Linux ceases to matter. If it is enough for Vista, it is enough for any Linux.

Last edited by johnsfine; 07-04-2009 at 09:19 AM.
 
Old 07-04-2009, 09:20 AM   #4
Simon Bridge
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Quote:
1.Is partition (swap/root) in Linux really obligatory?
No - but it is a good idea and it's small. Most installers will not work if you do not specify a partition for swap. What is your concern here?
Quote:
2.Does dual booting windows XP and Linux makes system sluggish with 512MB RAM hard disk?
No. 512MiB System RAM is usually quite sufficient - though if you can go the whole gig that helps.
Quote:
3.Is Linux vulnerable to virus?
Yes - and no. gnu/linux viruses are rare and have little effect. To be fair, OS viruses are pretty rare now anyway - most attacks arrive via application vulnerabilities and social engineering.

All computer systems are vulnerable to malware. Gnu/linux is usually hardened by default and encourages secure behaviour. What most people notice is how they have extra configuration steps to do things they previously took for granted because they have to open holes in linuxes security.

Synaptech lists vulnerabilities for windows, apple, and linux. The most recent vulnerability they list is 2004. (I used to be able to search that database - darn.)

Quote:
4.I wanna buy a spanking new laptop for dual booting xp (XP pre-installed) and ubuntu/fedora or any heavy distro Linux .What should be the Laptop configuration /specifications.
As a total newbie with concerns, fedora is not usually recommended.
You should make a list of the laptops you like the look of in the store which also suit your price ronge, then google "<laptop brand and model> jaunty" and see what other people say.

In general, intel chipsets and more than six months old will have given the hackers a chance to iron out any issues. The places you can run into trouble are the bits that the specs do not tell you enaugh about - like the modem and wireless, so you need to check them out before you buy. Tell the salesfolk that you intend to run linux, so the bundled software is irrelevant - watch them struggle to adjust their salespitch. If the salesfolk try to get you to buy while you are there, maybe there is a special discount for today only? Leave and do not go back. If they tell you that you void your guarantee if you install linux, leave and do not go back.

What I do is go round the stores with an ubuntu live CD and ask to test the computers.
Some stores will let you do this, especially if you want an expensive model.

The best way to lower the price is to find two or more other people who want a laptop and ask about bulk purchase. Yep - very often three machines is "bulk".

Don't bother paying extra for additional windows software - there is free software for windows and you'll find yourself not using windows except for games anyway.
 
Old 07-04-2009, 10:42 AM   #5
pixellany
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Can't add much but...

Don't forget that there are companies that sell laptops pre-configured with Linux.

I would now regard 1GB as the MINIMUM RAM---at the moment, memory is dirt cheap, so I would get the maximum that the computer supports. With modern processors, RAM is perhaps the major determinant of system performance.
 
Old 07-04-2009, 12:49 PM   #6
onebuck
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Hi,

Welcome to LQ!

You should take a look at 'GNU/Linux-Newbie' section of 'Slackware-Links'. More than just Slackware® links! Loads of links for a 'Newbie'.
 
Old 07-04-2009, 01:58 PM   #7
malekmustaq
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Linuxnewbie9:

Have nothing to add after the good things well said by Seniors, Guru and Moderator.

Except one more...

BEGIN TO ENJOY!
 
Old 07-04-2009, 04:52 PM   #8
Quads
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I would just tell you not to worry about a swap file. With 512MB of ram it will probably get used. I know on my machine I'm running 32bit Mandriva so it sees 3295MB of ram and my swap file never even gets touched.

If a computer runs XP it will run ubuntu no problem. The only thing to concern yourself with is that a distro with KDE 4 is going to be substantially heavier than windows xp and therefore slower, at least in my experience. But since you are looking at ubuntu you should be fine.
 
Old 07-05-2009, 03:33 AM   #9
Simon Bridge
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Hmm... one caveat an swap - if you have a laptop, swap gets used for hibernate. So you gotta have it. Even so, you can always add a swap file.

With more that 1gig of ram, swap is unlikely to be used much for most people. Lots of people put swappiness down to zero.

But see:
http://kerneltrap.org/node/3000

There is ongoing debate about this - some people claim a performance benifit to having some swapping occur. Andrew Morton (2.6 kernel maintainer) routinely sets swappiness to 100 (always swap).

Basically, if you switch apps a lot, and you have the ram, you will benifit from low swappiness, even swappiness=0. (Hello Quads?) However, if you run only a few apps, which tend to eat ram (big calculations for eg) then you want high swappiness.

Me - I am normally in the first camp, but sometimes I have to do a big calculation of the kind where I must leave it number crunching for hours on end. In which case, swappiness=10 guarantees that all the ram possible is available to that process.

Anothre example would be rendering 3D animations, editing DVDs etc.
 
Old 07-05-2009, 04:13 AM   #10
Quads
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Bridge View Post
Basically, if you switch apps a lot, and you have the ram, you will benifit from low swappiness, even swappiness=0. (Hello Quads?) However, if you run only a few apps, which tend to eat ram (big calculations for eg) then you want high swappiness.
Well what would the benefit be from going to zero swap other than freeing up hard drive space and a split second on startup? If it doesn't use it, then it doesn't matter if its there or not, right?
 
Old 07-05-2009, 04:58 AM   #11
Simon Bridge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quads View Post
Well what would the benefit be from going to zero swap other than freeing up hard drive space and a split second on startup? If it doesn't use it, then it doesn't matter if its there or not, right?
Swap may still be used a little bit, sometimes. swappiness=0 guarantees it is not used at all, ever. Some people feel the need for that little bit extra performance. For you personally? I doubt you'll notice. I oly pointed you out because you have the kind of system where swap is pretty irrelevant for performance.

(though I'm guessing about what you use it for - you may be running higg-boson simulations in real-time...)

You also want swappiness=0 when you have no swap partition or file. This is to avoid errors about no swap available.

However - I run swappiness=10 on my main machine, giving swap useage at 0.7% with four apps up and 1gig of ram (40% used). It is when I need high swappiness that I notice it.

OTOH: remember when fedora had a bug which disabled swap? I never noticed. Similarly, the acer 4315 came out with ubuntu 7.10 and disabled swap - no noticable difference, except hibernate didn't work.

For a long time, a certain other OS used the entire FS as swap.

Last edited by Simon Bridge; 07-05-2009 at 04:59 AM.
 
Old 07-05-2009, 05:28 PM   #12
Quads
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Bridge View Post
Swap may still be used a little bit, sometimes. swappiness=0 guarantees it is not used at all, ever. Some people feel the need for that little bit extra performance. For you personally? I doubt you'll notice. I oly pointed you out because you have the kind of system where swap is pretty irrelevant for performance.

(though I'm guessing about what you use it for - you may be running higg-boson simulations in real-time...)

You also want swappiness=0 when you have no swap partition or file. This is to avoid errors about no swap available.

However - I run swappiness=10 on my main machine, giving swap useage at 0.7% with four apps up and 1gig of ram (40% used). It is when I need high swappiness that I notice it.

OTOH: remember when fedora had a bug which disabled swap? I never noticed. Similarly, the acer 4315 came out with ubuntu 7.10 and disabled swap - no noticable difference, except hibernate didn't work.

For a long time, a certain other OS used the entire FS as swap.
I see...I have not used linux for very long, just over a year now I've been using it exclusively, but I have noticed that it seems to be incredibly efficient with memory. Seems that similiar apps under windows use tons more memory. Even when I'm running three or four apps it always seem to have tons of ram available.

I've always assumed that swap was like an overflow...when ram gets low it will use swap, so i figured there was zero performance detriment and that its good to have it for that unusual situation where you may need it. Kind of like having insurance even though you never plan on having a fire.
 
Old 07-05-2009, 05:48 PM   #13
NeddySeagoon
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Quads,

The way that linux works means that only pages of anonymous memory are written to swap. Thats memory that applications allocate dynamically. Code or data that have homes on filesystems are never written to swap. The kernel may reuse the RAM they occupy but they will be reread from thier disk locations when they are needed again.

Not having any swap space does not stop swapping. It forces the kernel to keep dynamically allocated RAM in RAM and forces it to 'swap' fixed code and data if it needs more RAM.

In short, a swap partition is a good thing as it allows the kernel to decide how best to swap.
 
Old 07-05-2009, 07:35 PM   #14
Johnnie J
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Hi Linuxnewbie9,

I've been using Ubuntu and several BSD desktops at home for a year or better and am no expert at all. I can tell you that they have all been quite easy to install and allow me to do anything I would do using an MS OS, not being a gamer.

The advise about burning a Live CD and taking it around to test systems is wonderful. I wish I'd asked that question when I bought my laptop. The only thing I haven't got working on it is the built in webcam, which I don't use anyway.

That's Ubuntu out of the box.

Then if you want to learn more about Linux you can play at the command with online resources or books. I've just started with a very basic Unix book, "Visual Quickstart Guide Unix Third Edition". It's very easy to follow covers a lot of material, very basically, and I think is a good beginners book for those with lots of interest but limited time to devote and little or no base of knowledge to start from.
 
Old 07-05-2009, 08:04 PM   #15
masonm
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Your questions were answered, so all I can add is dive right in and give it a try. What do you have to lose?

As for the RAM, it's pretty cheap these days so max it out. The performance gain is well worth it.
 
  


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