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Old 05-19-2007, 07:46 PM   #1
turnipkiller
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Potential Linux User with a few questions


Hello everyone. I apologize for some stupid questions, but I am a little confused, and I want to make sure that I can make a good decision before trying Linux. I've looked at plenty of sites and articles on Linux, and it seems a little confusing to me, perhaps just a steep learning curve. I'm willing to give it a try, I just need a bit of a nudge in the right direction.

I am using Windows XP right now on a PC. Mostly what I do on this computer is use the web, play a flight sim (Targetware) and a few other games, and do some work with GIMP. Windows is a little too much for me anymore with odd crashes and no help from MS. I do like the look of Windows however, and the ease of use it has for the more simple tasks.

I see many types of Linux screens and versions of Linux, which one would be best for a beginner with the things I do on here in mind?

Does Linux have a setup similar to Windows in terms of appearance and the way it is used? For example, does it have a "log on" type screen, or do you start in a DOS type mode?

As I understand it, to install a program or game, you need a special file to get it to work with Linux? Is this a difficult job, or are there premade files for this purpose.

Are there Linux specific items, such as media players or word document editors that can be added to it for ease of use?

Any suggestions on a setup version would be greatly appreciated, I'll probably have a ton more questions. Thanks very much in advance.
 
Old 05-19-2007, 08:28 PM   #2
GrapefruiTgirl
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Hello everyone. I apologize for some stupid questions, but I am a little confused, and I want to make sure that I can make a good decision before trying Linux. I've looked at plenty of sites and articles on Linux, and it seems a little confusing to me, perhaps just a steep learning curve. I'm willing to give it a try, I just need a bit of a nudge in the right direction.

Hi, and welcome to LQ!

I am using Windows XP right now on a PC. Mostly what I do on this computer is use the web, play a flight sim (Targetware) and a few other games, and do some work with GIMP. Windows is a little too much for me anymore with odd crashes and no help from MS. I do like the look of Windows however, and the ease of use it has for the more simple tasks.

With a bit of adjustment, Linux can be just as easy to use as Windows, without the frustrating crashes all the time. It is extremely stable. It DOES take patience to get used to the way some things are done, but when you think back, how long did it take you to get very comfortable with Windows, when you first started? A while, right? Same with Linux, the big difference being that there are TONNES of people in here willing to help you sort through the issues you will have while you get used to it, AND you can totally customize your Linux near 100% the way you want it. No weird crap behind the scenes doing things when you aren't looking, like Windoze does.
GIMP is readily available for Linux, and is included with many Linuxes. Games are one slightly weak point for Linux, and the ONLY reason that some people like to keep WIndows around for 'gaming emergencies' either on a separate machine, or by 'dual-booting' their main computer to whichever OS they choose. I can't speak much for games individually, because I don't play them. There is also a tool called 'Wine' and there's Cedega, and VMware, Crossover Suite, and a few others, which allow you to run Windows applications under Linux, and Vice-Versa. Linux can make easy tasks even easier, once you get comfortable.


I see many types of Linux screens and versions of Linux, which one would be best for a beginner with the things I do on here in mind?

Check out www.distrowatch.com, particularly the TOP 10, and check out the user reviews on LQ here, as well as the website for any distro that interests you. There are MANY, but under the skin, many of them are VERY alike. Google, and read, and you will get a decent idea which ones interest you. Some you can get as a 'LiveCD' which you can boot, and use the system just like it was installed, without actually installing anything. This allows you to play with it and get a feel for it, adn see if you might like to have it installed. Lots of applications come preinstalled in MANY distros, from Web browsers, chat messengers, text editors, music players, video players, programming utilities.. And just about ANYTHING can be obtained from somewhere and easily installed..

Does Linux have a setup similar to Windows in terms of appearance and the way it is used? For example, does it have a "log on" type screen, or do you start in a DOS type mode?

Pretty much, yes. It has a login screen, and user accounts, and a ROOT account, which is the administration account. You can start your Linux in either Shell mode (what looks like DOS mode to you) or you can have it start at the GUI. Whatever you like. It has a main menu, a taskbar, multiple desktops, wallpaper, all the goodies, PLUS full customizability like Windows can only dream of.

As I understand it, to install a program or game, you need a special file to get it to work with Linux? Is this a difficult job, or are there premade files for this purpose.

Special file? Well, if you want an application or tool, generally you download a package, and install it. Sometimes one oackage depends on another one, but "generally speaking" you usually download something and install it, or 'build it' and then install it. No special files involved, really. There are distro-specific packages, and there are non-specific packages, designed to install on ANY Linux. Most Linuxes come with a 'Package Manager' which can download and install stuff for you. I won't go into detail, because there are so many of them.

Are there Linux specific items, such as media players or word document editors that can be added to it for ease of use?

Yes, LOADS of them!

Any suggestions on a setup version would be greatly appreciated, I'll probably have a ton more questions. Thanks very much in advance.

Hmmm.. Ubuntu, Slackware, EasYs, Sabayon, Gentoo, Mandriva.. There are hundreds.. Do some more reading and see what piques your interest. For the record, I love Slackware (I LOVE it ) as do many people, but everyone has a favourite. Try some LiveCD's, by downloading the ISO's and burning them with something like Infra-Recorder for Windoze, and try them out
Welcome to the community.
 
Old 05-19-2007, 08:28 PM   #3
Junior Hacker
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Don't be afraid to further your technological knowledge.
If you limit yourself to Windows, you limit your knowledge. Knowledge is power and you will eventually gain respect and admiration with more knowledge. Linux is different from Windows, therefore you may find you are starting from scratch again, but don't let that deter you.
Based on what I deducted from your post I suggest you look at trying Ubuntu, or even Kubuntu, (Same, but different looks). I don't use this distribution as I am a little more advanced and just like most humans, I need more challenges. Linux Mandriva would be the second choice distribution for ease of installation and use.
Most all Linux distributions are not much different from Windows during installation, yes there is more command line involved after installation to set up obscure hardware and for complicated tasks. But this feature of Linux makes it a powerhouse compared to Windows in the hands of a home computer user, giving you more freedom to explore and understand the technological world. An because it is open source, you do not need to agree to license terms limiting your involvement and/or contributions to the evolutionary process of technology as in the Windows world where you have to talk money and still be limited.
As far as appearance goes, Linux has allot more to offer in the area of customization compared to Windows. I also started in the Windows world, Windows is now considered a child's Operating System in my mind.
 
Old 05-19-2007, 10:51 PM   #4
turnipkiller
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I thankyou both for your responses and advice. I've a bit to learn by the sound of it. Thankyou for the suggestions, it has helped me narrow my search of Linux versions. (I guess they are called versions?) I'm going to try the live cd versions of Ubuntu and Slackware, and see how they work and feel.
I will probably have a few more questions after I give them a test drive. Thanks again.
 
Old 05-19-2007, 11:06 PM   #5
GrapefruiTgirl
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There's no LiveCD version of Slackware that I know of (am I missing something?? ).
"Slax" is the (most popular) Slackware-based LiveCD though, and it is very good too, giving a good sample of what Slackware is like, with a relative fraction of the packages which come with a full install..
Keep in mind a few things with any LiveCD:
1 - They run slower than a harddisk-installed version, because they run completely off the CD and in memory.
2 - They contain (sometimes) fewer packages and extra gadgets than a real install does.
3 - Due to the size constraints of a LiveCD (650MB approx), every possible driver for every existing piece of hardware is not necessarily included. FOr example, if you have an internal PCI modem, it probably will not work with a LiveCD, however ethernet or DSL/Cable internet should work.
The full Slackware install is actually 3 CD's or 1 DVD.

You're welcome, btw have fun!

Oh, PS - generally they are called 'distros' short for 'distributions'. Ubuntu is a distro, and Slackware is a distro. Slackware 10.2 is a release, and Slackware 11.0 is another release.

Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 05-19-2007 at 11:11 PM.
 
Old 05-20-2007, 01:13 AM   #6
hashash
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As I understand it, to install a program or game, you need a special file to get it to work with Linux? Is this a difficult job, or are there premade files for this purpose.


If you meant how to run/install games (like your flight sim) in linux, there is a package called 'wine' which will let you do that,
Though smooth working depends on a few things..You will surely find help on that too.
 
Old 05-20-2007, 11:13 AM   #7
spindles
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"I see many types of Linux screens and versions of Linux, which one would be best for a beginner with the things I do on here in mind?

"Does Linux have a setup similar to Windows in terms of appearance and the way it is used? For example, does it have a "log on" type screen, or do you start in a DOS type mode?"
___________
Well, I switched to Linux with some trepidation (because I could not afford interruptions to my work).

I felt right at home as soon as the KDE desktop appeared: there was the panel ('task bar' in Win), menu, desktop icons with obvious names. Right clicking on the desktop showed a menu just as in Win. Using KDE, the appearance of the desktop and windows can be customised MUCH more than it can in Win.

I would suggest, for your introduction to Linux, try a version with the KDE desktop. Windows users should feel right at home with that. I would not say the same about the GNOME desktop -- it's a bit different to customise, but it's still pretty obvious how to actually use it.

What made me confident enough to switch to Linux was trying out some of those live CDs that grapefruitgirl mentioned. You just put one in your CD drive, restart your computer, and you are booting up a Linux system. I found that all my hardware was detected properly and I was also on the web (AND the home network) without me needing to set up anything at all.

The reason you see many types of linux desktops is because there is so much choice. And then they are usually extremely customisable as well.

This is possible because in Linux the 'desktop environment' is a separate layer of operations on top of the basic system. My Suse distro came with about 9 different desktops to choose from. They are all installed: I can just pick one from a menu when I log in. The children, who log in as a different user, use a different desktop from me.

And by the way - running Linux means it's a lot safer to let the children use the computer. All my work is in another user's account that is easily made inaccessible to them.

I don't use KDE any more because I like a more lightweight desktop. However I still use Konqueror all the time as my file manager. I did not need to give up the habits I formed using Windows Explorer. It is, in my opinion, a much better tool than Windows Explorer: you can drag and drop files, use a right-click menu on files, ftp, and so on, plus there are numerous other features and convenient ways to do things.

And yes, you usually start with a log-in screen. But you don't have to. Some people like to boot up just to a command line. Then they choose what they are going to do next.
 
Old 05-20-2007, 10:38 PM   #8
turnipkiller
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Thankyou again for the advice and assistance.

I downloaded a Ubuntu LiveCD, version 5.10. I have tried a few things, and none seem to get it to work. I browsed it with Windows, and it gave me a bit of a tour of what Ubuntu was about.
I restarted my computer, went into my BIOS (this is scary stuff I haven't done before :O ), and changed my drive boot sequence to make the CD drive boot first. Windows came on still.
So I reboot, go into BIOS again, and disable my hard drive. This time I get 1962: No operating system installed. Press F1 to restart boot. The odd thing is, everytime the CD drive light would blink momentarily, the 1962 error would flash on the screen. So I let it do this for about 10 minutes thinking it might just take a while to load Ubuntu. Still no luck.

Am I doing something wrong, or could it be a bad disc?
 
Old 05-20-2007, 10:42 PM   #9
GrapefruiTgirl
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How exactly did you make the CD? Did you use Infra-Recorder (or maybe *shudder* NERO?) and burn it at a low speed (don't burn at high speeds, it isn't reliable).

Sure sounds like the CD is no good (not burned right).
 
Old 05-20-2007, 10:47 PM   #10
slimm609
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it sounds like you got a bad disc or (not being rude) did not burn the cd correctly. Put the cd into your windows machine and open the cd in my computer and list what you see in there.
 
Old 05-20-2007, 11:16 PM   #11
spindles
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Yes, you should check the CD as people have said.
On the other hand, I have used Morphix and Knoppix live CDs a lot on old computers but I have one oldish Windows machine here that just won't boot from them. I have never figured out why not. Also, from memory, I think I have had machines that would boot from one but not the other.
Maybe somebody here knows more about problems like this -- and some tips and tricks relating to using live CDs.
 
Old 05-21-2007, 02:06 AM   #12
Junior Hacker
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turnipkiller

What kind of computer is it?
If you have two optical drives, make sure the disc is in the drive set to boot in the bios. My older HP Pavilion would only boot CD's from the ROM drive, not the CD-RW (burner). It sounds like you burned the ISO file properly if you got a video, (burn CD Image).
The best way to download a Linux ISO is with a torrent client, when the download is completed, the ISO is verified against the sha1-sum or md5-sum for integrity, which means if you got the ISO sitting on the hard drive after the torrent application said it completed successfully, the ISO is good.
There's no need to disable the hard drive in the boot order. I had this happen to me once with Mandriva 2007, it took a while before I found the brains and remembered the old computer I was trying to boot this DVD only had CD drives. Some old CD ROM drives have a hard time reading burnt discs, some can't read them at all, but that's pretty old, but if it can be read from within Windows, the drive can read it.
 
Old 05-21-2007, 08:43 AM   #13
turnipkiller
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Hi all,

To burn the disc I used my wife's computer which has Windows Vista. (My computer doesn't have a burner.) I simply popped in the USB stick, it read it, and I clicked burn to disc. There were choices for how many X ie. 24x 16x and 8x. I chose 16x, perhaps 8x is a better choice?

My computer is an IBM NetVista P4 1.6. It isn't great but gets me by for what I do.
I have upgraded a little, it has 1GB RAM, Radeon 9200 video, SoundBlaster Audigy Card. The CD drive is original and is ROM only.

When I open the disc in Explorer, I see the following:

Folders: .disk, bin, casper, disctree, dists, doc, install, isolinux, pics, pool, preseed, programs

Files: autorun, md5sum, README.diskdefines, start.bmp, start, start (Configuration settings), ubuntu.

When I do a properties click it says I have 629 MB on the disc.

I appreciate all of your patience and help on this everyone.
 
Old 05-21-2007, 09:04 AM   #14
masonm
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Ah you probably simply burned the image file over to the disk. You have to select "burn image" so that the image is extracted and then copied to the disk, otherwise it's not bootable.

The exact wording will vary a little depending on the application used, but the word "image" or "cd image" something like that will the one one you're looking for. A simple copy of the image file only results in moving that image file from one medium to another, which simply won't work.
 
Old 05-21-2007, 09:28 AM   #15
dasy2k1
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hmm sometimes cds can burn dodgey,

if your cd burner has some "verify written data" type option check it...


other live distros you may want to try are kbuntu and suse
 
  


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