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Old 01-09-2005, 11:22 PM   #1
pyrotechnik
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Talking questions about linux - im new


hey all, i'm new to the forum. I may download linux, but before I do, i have a bunch of questions about it.

Ive never used an operating system aside form windows. is it possible, on start up, to choose which OS i will be using?
are these programs linux-compatible:
gmail notifier?
mozilla firefox?
Microsift office?(word, frontpage, outlook express, etc.) - that ones a big factor.
AIM?
is linux really hard to use? i hear that people take whole courses and seminars just to learn the basics on it.
what is the newest version of linux? does it look sleek and cool?

if you have time and such, i'd like the whole spiel about how linux is better than windows. try to convert me.
 
Old 01-09-2005, 11:26 PM   #2
vharishankar
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Hi,

welcome to Linux!

Your questions are very broad and general. You can have multiple OSes in one computer and you can choose which to boot also.

Take a look at some of the tutorials on Linux on this site and also read some of the distro reviews here. They will help you choose a good Linux distribution and get you started with Linux.

For specific questions, you can post in the correct forum according to your problem.
 
Old 01-09-2005, 11:41 PM   #3
pyrotechnik
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thanks, but I didnt find very much help on my questions... maybe I am just dumb and can't see the answers. anyways, can someone give me some straightforward answers to my questions?

oh, and one more thing - my dad says that if I installed linux, i would have to completely re-image my computer. I'm not sure what that is, but he said that I owuld have to reinstall everything, including windows xp itself. is this true?
 
Old 01-09-2005, 11:59 PM   #4
pyrotechnik
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questions about linux - may convert

heool all. i didnt see this forum till now. anyways, I posted the same thing in the "general" forum.... i suppose this is the appropriate forum to post on for my questions.
heres what I posted there:

hey all, i'm new to the forum. I may download linux, but before I do, i have a bunch of questions about it.

Ive never used another operating system aside from windows. is it possible, on start up, to choose which OS i will be using?
are these programs linux-compatible:
gmail notifier?
mozilla firefox?
Microsift office?(word, frontpage, outlook express, etc.) - that ones a big factor.
AIM?
is linux really hard to use? i hear that people take whole courses and seminars just to learn the basics on it.
what is the newest version of linux? does it look sleek and cool?
do you need to completely re-image your hard drive to install linux?

if you have time and such, i'd like the whole spiel about how linux is better than windows. try to convert me.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 12:13 AM   #5
Dark_Helmet
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Quote:
Originally posted by pyrotechnik
is it possible, on start up, to choose which OS i will be using?
Yes. The term for it is "dual booting". Many people dual boot their systems, and there have been many threads on LinuxQuestions about that exact topic. Some people find it extremely easy. Some run into problems. If you're curious to know more, you can use the forum's search feature to find lots of those threads.

Quote:
are these programs linux-compatible:
gmail notifier?
mozilla firefox?
Mozilla Firefox definitely runs under linux, because I'm using it right now. As for gmail notifier, there's a gmail notifier extension/plugin for firefox, so I would have to say "yes" for that too. I don't know if there is a stand-alone gmail notifier, but it would seem likely. Maybe someone will post its name if they read this thread.

Quote:
Microsift office?(word, frontpage, outlook express, etc.) - that ones a big factor
To my knowledge, most (if not all) of Microsoft's Office programs work using a program called Wine. Setting up and installing Wine is also a popular thread. Again, you can search for it using the forum search feature to see what kinds of success/problems people have using it. Also realize, there are other office suites available: StarOffice and OpenOffice. I believe both can open and save documents in Word/Excel/whatever format. Also, Evolution is the equivalent to Outlook.

Quote:
AIM?
AIM might work using Wine, but there are, again, other alternatives. A popular one is GAIM.

Quote:
is linux really hard to use? i hear that people take whole courses and seminars just to learn the basics on it.
Linux is different. It is a different approach to making your computer do the things you want it to do. People have had difficulty switching over because they believe the "windows way" is the "only way". Those folks get frustrated quickly because they hit a problem quickly and aren't willing to research/read documentation to find the solution. If you're going to learn linux, you'll need to be patient. Some things will seem to make absolutely no sense at first, but after time, the pieces will fit so to speak. As for seminars and classes: I could say the same thing about Windows. There are seminars and classes to teach the fundamentals of Windows ("This is a monitor. This is a keyboard. This is a word processor.") Also, do not expect to do everything from a mouse-click interface. You will quickly find that the command line (where you type in text commands) is extremely flexible and powerful.

Quote:
what is the newest version of linux? does it look sleek and cool?
The term "linux" typically refers to the kernel. In short, the kernel is what controls the hardware. It doesn't have a "look" to it; it's just code. What you're looking for is a desktop environment. The two most popular ones are KDE and Gnome. KDE is typically considered the "better looking". Search their sites for screenshots.

Quote:
i'd like the whole spiel about how linux is better than windows. try to convert me
Well, nobody here is going to try and "convert" you. Well, maybe a few. Most people who use linux use it by choice. Some use it because it's free (as in cost). Some use it because you can look at the source code for virtually everything. Some people use it because it gives them more control over the machine. Linux has its own strengths and weaknesses just like Windows. You'll need to try it out to know whether it suits you or not.

Quote:
my dad says that if I installed linux, i would have to completely re-image my computer.
To be honest, your dad is using the wrong terminology . However, his point is valid. You will need to install linux on its own piece of your hard drive. A hard drive is sectioned into pieces called partitions. More than likely, your entire hard drive is used in one partition for your Windows install. You'll need to either:
A) Buy a new hard drive and install linux on the new drive, or
B) Re-partition your current hard drive.

If you re-partition your hard drive, all the information currently on the drive will be lost. Files... operating system... everything. There are tools you can purchase that claim they can resize a partition without data loss, but I don't have any experience with them. If you have something extremely important, I would suggest burning it onto a CD or copying it to another computer as a safeguard.

One last thing I'd like to say: understand why you want to try linux. If you're just curious, great; give it a whirl. If you're looking to get a "free" copy of Windows, then you'll be sorely disappointed. Windows applications will not run in linux (including games), but there are some that will run through Wine as I mentioned earlier.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 12:25 AM   #6
ezra143
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Hats off to Dark_Helmet for a great response.

Also notable with openOffice which is a great replacement for Microsoft Office. Its' only downfall is that it does not have a MS Access counterpart that I am aware of. So, if you are a heavy user of Access you may have to use Wine. I would strongly reccomend using Openoffice to a new user as wine can be "fun" to setup.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 12:29 AM   #7
pyrotechnik
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oooh! sounds pretty..um...different. not the answers that I was expecting. anyways, it doesn't sound too bad. about the whole thing about re-partitioning my hard drive: I have no desire to go out and buy a new hard drive just for the heck of it, since i'm just curious about the OS. are the programs that claim to resize my partitions at a high risk to my PC?
 
Old 01-10-2005, 12:36 AM   #8
Zuggy
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Re: questions about linux - im new

Quote:
Originally posted by pyrotechnik
Ive never used an operating system aside form windows. is it possible, on start up, to choose which OS i will be using?
are these programs linux-compatible:
gmail notifier?
mozilla firefox?
Microsift office?(word, frontpage, outlook express, etc.) - that ones a big factor.
AIM?
is linux really hard to use? i hear that people take whole courses and seminars just to learn the basics on it.
what is the newest version of linux? does it look sleek and cool?

if you have time and such, i'd like the whole spiel about how linux is better than windows. try to convert me.
Wowwee, that's a lot.

answer to 1: Yes you can boot windows and Linux. It's called a boot-loader and booting 2 operating systems is called dual-booting. When you install Linux you'll be asked if you want to install either Lilo or Grub. If it gives you the choice select GRUB (looks better) and install it to the MBR or Master Boot Record (although if someone more experienced then me says different take their advice).

answer to 2: I don't believe gmail notifier works for Linux, but you could configure gmail to be recieved in an e-mail client.

answer to 3: Yes, Firefox has a Linux version and it runs very well.

answer to 4: Microsoft Office doesn't run in Linux natively, but you do have options. The first is to check out Open Office. It's an open-source office suite that can read and create Office Documents. If you must have office you still have a couple options. The first is Wine which makes it so you can run windows programs under Linux. The second and one I would recommend to a newbie is Codeweavers Office. It does the same thing as Wine with 3 exceptions. 1) It's targeted more for office type programs (MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, etc.) then trying to run all programs, 2) It has a graphical configuration tool that is easier to use then wine's, and 3) you have to pay for it. It starts at about $50 for the standard download version and the price goes up from there. Also I would look into a website design suite other then frontpage, because most frontpage sites can only be correctly viewed in Internet Explorer.

answer to 5: AIM doesn't run by itself, but can be run using Wine or better yet look into GAIM. It's an IM software that works on most major IM networks including AOL's IM network.

answer to 6: Linux can be difficult to use at times but is mostly as simple as Windows (in my experience). Your going to want to check out the major distros. Go to google and you can find links for these by searching. For a first time user I would recommend Fedora Core, Mandrake, SimplyMEPIS (See LiveCD), Knoppix (See LiveCD), Ubuntu (See LiveCD).

A LiveCD Linux Distrubution (distro) is Linux that can run right off the CD without touching the hard drive. It's a perfect way to try Linux without screwing up your computer. Just pop the CD into the CD-ROM drive and re-boot. Below are 3 of my favorites.

Knoppix: The Distro that made LiveCD Distros popular. It contains 2GB's of data compressed on a 700MB CD. It is perfect for testing to see if your computer will run Linux "out of the box" (without tweaking). It has a way to install it but I don't know how.

SimplyMEPIS: Based on Knoppix but has an easy-to-use graphical installer. If you like it just click on the install icon on the desktop and lett her go

Ubuntu: Ubuntu is it's own. It isn't based on Knoppix and you can't install it from the CD but it's a great way to see how well the Ubuntu distro will run on your computer. If you like it you can download the installable version. Or if your patient they'll send you a CD pack with both the live and install CD.

*takes deep breathe* I didn't think it would take this long, but I'm almost done

Answer to 7: Linux isn't like Windows. The newest version of the core of Linux or the Linux Kernel isn't something your going to see. What your going to see is all the software on top of it. You'll see the User Interface, you'll see the software, you probably won't see the kernel. People who help program the kernel or look at the srouce code will tell you it's slick, but you won't notice. What you will find Slick will come in the newset version of whatever distro you decide to use. The kernel is what makes everything work, but you will probably never see it. The kernel is what contains the drivers, tells your computer what a particular piece of software is trying to say, etc.

The Spin.

I'm not going to try to convert you, if you can be converted Linux will do it itself. What makes Linux and open-source software different from the Microsofts of the world is that you can read the source code and (if you program) contribute to it. At Microsoft, there is a core group that programs on windows, but in open-source software anyone can help program it. Your efforts may not make it into the final build of the project but you still helped. The windows world can be a lonely place but in Linux your part of a community.

EDIT: Now that I finish my long reply I see I got beaten to the punch. That's what happens when your a slow typer.

Last edited by Zuggy; 01-10-2005 at 12:37 AM.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 12:42 AM   #9
Dark_Helmet
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There are lots of tools available to repartition a hard drive. Every linux distribution that offers a simple install program will provide one. The thing is, those tools don't preserve data on the drive.

Once you've backed up any information you must keep, then there's no risk to partitioning the drive. There's no risk of damage whatsoever; you're just writing information to a reserved portion of the disk. If something goes wrong, then just try again.

Zuggy makes an excellent point though: try Knoppix or another "livecd". You download the Knoppix iso, burn it to a CD, and then boot from it. You can mess around with linux that way, and it won't touch your computer. However, some things to realize: it will be slow; everything has to be read from the CD, and you can't really download and install anything unless you have a gargantuan amount of RAM. Knoppix even has the option to install to the hard drive if you like.

Here's a link: Knoppix
 
Old 01-10-2005, 12:56 AM   #10
uman
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Well, the first thing you must know that many people unfamiliar don't understand is that there are a great deal of different Linux distributions, also called a "distro". These contain the core Linux operating system and a great host of useful programs. So there is no "Latest version" of Linux in general (except for the core of the OS, which is at version 2.6.10) because the version numbers are decided by the distribution makers. I would recommend Mandrake or Lindows for a newbie. The newest version of Mandrake is 10.1 if I recall correctly.

Firefox and AIM are compatible with Linux, and there is a Gmail notifier extension for Firefox. MS Office is compatible only if you buy the $40 "Crossover Office" program which enables most software to run on Windows.

There is an easier way however: OpenOffice.org is a free program that is one of the biggest competitors to MS Office. It has compatibility with MS Office, and can read and write MS Office documents.

If you use Mandrake, Lindows or another newbie-friendly distribution (which I suggested earlier) it should not be that hard to use. Definitely stay away from Gentoo, Slackware, Debian, and LFS. These are hard to install and/or configure.

There are ways to install Linux without reformatting your hard drive, but you must download a separate program to resize your Windows partition. I can't help you there, try googling it.

As for why you should use Linux, it is faster, more stable, and there is an enormous plethora of free software available for it. With the "newbie friendly" distros you will find yourself much at home and will be able to use the computer more productively than ever before with almost no learning curve.

Hope this helps, and good luck with Linux!
 
Old 01-10-2005, 01:32 AM   #11
__J
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if you want to try it out before installing anything, try one of the live cd's first. They are entire linux distro's that run completely off of cd/dvd's without needing a hard drive. I would suggest something like knoppix or slax.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 01:41 AM   #12
rvqbl
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I started with Knoppix to see what Linux was like. It let me run Linux from a CD without installing anything on my computer. When I saw that I really liked it, I moved to Mandrake. It allowed my to set up my system to boot into Windows or Linux automatically. I did not use a partition resizer because Mandrake did it automatically. Just make sure that you back up everything first.

As mentioned in the previous post, there are many programs that are comparable to the ones that you mentioned. You can check out Open Office on Windows.

I have gone to Linux on everything except for my work computer. I am in the process of slowly moving my co-workers onto linux because of the cost and features. I just have a couple of more obstacles and we should be fine (an easy database).

BTW, browsing this site has been extremely helpful. I have found many answers here.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 01:53 AM   #13
RodimusProblem
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If you like Knoppix and want to install it, just ask. I know how to install both Knoppix and Knoppix Gamer (which is an all play and no work version of Knoppix).

Also, Lilo, the bootloader for Knoppix (and some other distros) can be configured very throughly to your tastes.

You see a bootloader when you've got two or more OSs installed. Basically it's a menu of OSs, and they usually pick a default option if left alone for a few seconds.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 02:04 AM   #14
jschiwal
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When I installed Mandrake Linux on my hp pavilion laptop, I was able to use the install program to resize the XP's NTFS partition without damaging it. I choose the Manual Partitioning option, clicked on the NTFS parition and resized it.
 
Old 01-10-2005, 02:29 AM   #15
Electro
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Stay away from Lindows. Use either Mandrake, SUSE, Redhat 9, or Fedora.

Quote:
is linux really hard to use?
Not really. If you have use prompt based OS like DOS or FreeDOS, you should not have any trouble in Linux. The commands in Linux is almost the same as in DOS, but you type less characters. Sometimes Linux is hard to use, but there is always light at the end or a way out.

Quote:
do you need to completely re-image your hard drive to install linux?
Some people say no, but to be safe it does not hurt to backup your data.

It is good to have Knoppix, Knoppix STD, or PHLAK to fix up your computer if you did something wrong or Windows screwd up your computer.


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