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So here's the deal. I do actually know a little bit of Linux (picking up things here and there at work), but I am still a newbie to all of this. I am thinking about converting over to Linux from Windows for my home PC as well. I would've already done it but a few things concern me. In particular:
1. Now, I was able to find Linux driver software for my HP Photosmart printer, so I know that it should theoretically still work with Linux. However, what is the Linux equivalent of say Photoshop?
2. I have a Netgear WGR614 wireless router. I couldn't find any drivers for that based on a simple Google search, but my assumption is that as long as I have the hardware on my PC (wireless card), I don't need "drivers" for this anyway right? (I have a Laptop with Windows XP as well in case I need to install it again). It should be able to automatically detect the wireless card in my PC and then establish a connection with the Netgear router right (provided that I give it the right credentials)?
3. I heard Mandriva was the best for beginners. Is it too basic? Can you still do the same stuff as you could on a more advanced distro (if you knew how of course)? What do you think I should go with?
4. Now I am familiar with the general steps that need to be done in order to make the switch. Should I use Partition Magic or something similar to wipe all the data off the machine and then put in a boot disk or something? I don't want a dual boot setup. I just want to run Linux on here.
Wow that was a lot of questions. Thanks to anyone who takes the time to answer!
1. Gimp or Krita
2. you don't need drivers for a router, you might need to install windows drivers with ndiswrapper for your wireless card, and I doubt it will auto connect, in which case you just need to open the network manager and connect to it
3. Usually PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu are touted as the most use friendly, can you do the same stuff is pretty generic, but if you mean by run the same programs then yes
4.You can get the Gparted Livecd, or there is usually a partitioner included with the installer
You need to boot off of a cd(usually at least) to install linux
When you download a linux distro, you need to first check the md5sum on it to make sure it isn't corrupt then you need to burn it as an IMAGE not as a data cd and don't uncompress the iso otherwise it won't work
Photoshop will run on WINE or CrossOver, but I actually like GIMP better.
HP is the best for Linux support of printing, so that's not going to be one of your issues.
Good choices for starting out include Ubuntu, PCLOS, Mepis, Fedora......NOT Mandriva. They do annoying little things to get you to buy it....example: The SW for my wireless (the ubiquitous Intel 2200) is not included in the free version of Mandriva, but they happily inform you that you can get it by joining the club.
There are, to be sure, benefits for paying for Linux. But a beginner is quite likely to do a bit of distro-hopping before settling down. Get you feet wet, then decide if the benefits of a paid distro will help you.