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Old 01-18-2006, 06:10 PM   #1
Shrike1969
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Registered: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
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Super newb


Ok,
I am completely new to this.
My boss came in today and said she wanted someone who knows Linux in our department.
Me.
She gave me a Sony Vaio w/ no OS and told me to start playing around with Linux.
The plan is that I start checking it out, get some basic familiarity, then we will see about some training.

So,
My first question is:
can I use Linux as my only OS? Even if I can, would it be better to load Windows also?
In any case, what version of Linus should I use? Where is a good place(s) to download it from?

Thanks, and sorry for so many questions!
 
Old 01-18-2006, 06:18 PM   #2
Kavon89
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well first off i think this is the wrong area to post ur problem, but i'll help u out. i think the best distrobutions for beginners is Mandriva & Slackware (both r download able or u can order the cd set online) im quite farmilliar with mandriva and i like it, it looks great and is very stable. you can use linux as your only OS (it comes with many programs to get u started) + u can use Wine, which i think is like an emulator which can run lots of Windows applications. u can have windows and linux dual booted on ur laptop, only issue is i dunno how to do that... any takers?
 
Old 01-18-2006, 06:22 PM   #3
Hangdog42
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Sure, Linux make a great only OS. I've got a small business running almost completely on Linux. In fact having a blank machine is a great way to learn because when you foobar something (and you will) then you only have one OS to reinstall.

As far as distros go, it kind of depends on what kind of short and long term goals you've got going here. If you need to demonstrate that you can get a linux box up to speed yesterday, then one of the distros aimed at newer users would be good like Ubuntu/Kubuntu or Mandriva. However, if you need to learn some proficiency (less hand holding and a steeper learning curve) then Slackware, Gentoo or Debian would all be good choices.

Of course since this is for your office, they might feel some outside support would be in order, in which case Red Hat Enterprise or Suse both have commercial support for sale.

Downloading for a large number of distros can be done right here from LQ at the LQ ISO site
 
Old 01-18-2006, 06:31 PM   #4
pljvaldez
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I agree with all of the above. The one thing I would caution is that the blank sony viao may not be the best machine for you. One problem with the world is that it's a windows world and hardware support in linux is somewhat spotty (really good considering the community is reverse engineering drivers). But there are still some pieces of hardware that don't work well in linux. Not sure if your viao is one of them.

Look in my signature, there are two links to "tests" that will help point you to a linux you can start with. It may not be the right distribution, but these tests will give you a few to try.

Another thing would be to get a live CD like Knoppix and just pop it in the CD drive, reboot, and play with linux. It won't install anything!
 
Old 01-18-2006, 06:37 PM   #5
Poetics
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Check out distrowatch.com to figure out what distribution you'd like to try (I'm a fan of Slackware but it is a bit of a steep learning curve for some). Make sure to use the 'search' button here on the forums and I'm sure you'll find hundreds of people who have had the same problems as you may encounter, 99.99954% of them having found the solution pretty easily once they learn the system more.

Enjoy!
 
Old 01-18-2006, 06:58 PM   #6
scott_R
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Nice that your boss just kind of dumps it on you out of the blue. At the very least, she should have given you a few parameters, like what distribution(s) your company is looking into working with, as it would be frustrating to learn one, and find out later that you are going to be using a different one. Granted, most distributions are essentially the same, but some items, like installation and configuration utilities, vary widely, from systems that are entirely hand configured, to systems that are highly automated and need little user input.

That said, your best bet is to go with a more user-friendly system, because once you're comfortable with using Linux, you can adapt to other variations relatively easily. You'll also want a system that includes a wide variation of software, so you can try out a number of programs to make suggestions to your boss about what applications your company might want to use. You'll want a system that has a fairly easy install and upgrade system, so you spend more time using programs, not hunting not dealing with installation headaches. You'll want something that works across a wide variety of hardware, for the same reason (some distributions don't include drivers for some hardware, for policy reasons -- some companies refuse to provide drivers, so some distro's don't include some of the available workarounds, in protest). Lastly, you'll want something that you can download and install for free, because you're new to Linux and the number of distributions can be daunting. You don't want to go out and buy one, only to realize it's not for you, nor do you want to fork over a bunch of money to try out something that you might only use for a few minutes before moving on.

So, with all those items in mind, a few of my suggestions, and as with any situation like this, take these with a grain of salt, as everyone's taste is different, and depending on your hardware situation. One of the big problems you might face is setting up certain wireless networking cards, and some of the proprietary equipment used in laptops can require headache-inducing workarounds, but once you figure out those workarounds, you'll find Linux is worth the little bit of installation hassle.

1) Mepis - Includes tons of drivers, including drivers many other distros don't include by default. Mepis is based on Debian, which offers the apt installation system, and includes thousands of programs, all easily installable using "synaptic".

2) Suse - Novell's version of Linux, and for many corporate users, this is all they need to know. Suse includes a lot of software, supports a lot of hardware, and Novell has a solid support reputation, should you eventually buy support (not that others don't, but a recognizable name can often make the difference to supervisors). The downside of Suse is perhaps that some of their corporate-level software (servers and so on) can be nearly as expensive as Redhat and Microsoft's offerings. That said, I've had few complaints about Suse.

3) Mandriva - Formerly Mandrake, Mandriva has been a long-time favorite for newbies, although some complain about the instability in some of the software, which is to be expected, as Mandrake tended to be more cutting edge than some of the others. Still, it's a good option for many people.

Those are the three I'd recommend, as I've had success introducing new users to Linux with each of them. Still, like I said before, each person's taste is unique, and you may find that eventually even in your own company you might have a number of distros used by different people for different purposes. That's one of the beautiful things about Linux, that it is so flexible and versatile. You have distributions for newbies, some for system administrators, some for researchers, schools, graphic artists, film makers, etc.

Here are some links to help you on your way. My suggestion is to get a pile of blank cd's, download a few of them, and try them out, from installation to everyday usage. It's not really something you can do well in a short amount of time (if your boss wants a report in a week, you're not going to get a fair chance to test different distros, which is why I suggested the three I did), but if you have more time, you can really dig into Linux and find something that fits your company well.

http://distrowatch.com/
http://linux.com/
http://searchopensource.techtarget.com/

Of course, Linux Questions is very helpful, both while you are learning about Linux, and later on, while you use it on a daily basis.

Good luck with your testing, and I hope this helps you out.

For more information
 
Old 01-18-2006, 07:43 PM   #8
fair_is_fair
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I am curious about the company you work for. Are you running servers? Why is your boss interested in Linux?

Regardless of the reasons, I think your boss is a pretty smart cookie.
 
Old 01-18-2006, 07:54 PM   #9
greyrhee
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Registered: Dec 2005
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Since you're working on a laptop, this may be helpful:

http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/

some of the distros mentioned there are old versions,
but still worth a reading - I think.
 
Old 01-18-2006, 11:04 PM   #10
Shrike1969
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Location: Texas
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Great advice!

Wow!
Thanks for all the helpful replies.

Kavon89- Sorry about the wrong forum, but one called Linux-Newbie seemed to call out to me! I don't esp. want to run 2 OS's. It'll probably make me learn faster if I have to use just Linux.

Hangdog42- Short term goals are just to get my feet wet. Long term are still unknown!

pljvaldez- That was something we hadn't thought of. If the Vaio just won't work, we'll look for something else. But that is a last resort.

Poetics- thanks for the tip, I'll check them out.

scott_R- I was the only one not working on a project!
She couldn't really give me a lot of insight, because she isn't very familiar with it herself.
I agree about starting with an easier one first. I can always change later on. Thanks for the links, I bookmarked 'em and I'll wade thru them asap.

ctkroeker- Bookmarked!

fair_is_fair- I work for a university. The Library web department actually. If you think of the library as a body, I am the big toe being dipped into the Linux pool. We just don't have anyone familiar with Linux and my boss thinks that we are limiting ourselves. Possibly we will run our intraweb off of a Linux box. I'll pass along your kind words!

greyrhee- thanks for the link, I'll take a look!

Last edited by Shrike1969; 01-18-2006 at 11:17 PM.
 
Old 01-19-2006, 04:21 AM   #11
bulliver
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Quote:
well first off i think this is the wrong area to post ur problem
Well, this is linux-newbie, and Shrike1969 is a linux newbie. Seems the perfect place to post, no?
 
Old 01-19-2006, 10:58 AM   #12
Hangdog42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike1969
Wow!

fair_is_fair- I work for a university. The Library web department actually. If you think of the library as a body, I am the big toe being dipped into the Linux pool. We just don't have anyone familiar with Linux and my boss thinks that we are limiting ourselves. Possibly we will run our intraweb off of a Linux box. I'll pass along your kind words!
Beyond just getting this laptop up and running, you might do some searching both here and on the Web on how libraries are using Linux. I know I've seen a couple of thread here started by people in public libraries looking to solve a few problems with linux and I believe that there is even a Linux distro aimed at libraries. A little searching might help put some concrete ideas into what Linux could be capable of doing in your library.
 
Old 01-19-2006, 11:26 AM   #13
Fritz_Monroe
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Great advice from the other folks. The Linux on Laptops link above is a fantastic resource. I made extensive use of that site when deciding which laptop to buy.

If you post the model, we might be able to help a bit more. But my Sony Vaio is extremely happy with Ubuntu. It installed like a charm. Only thing I really had to do to get up and running was put the latest firmware in the right places. However, I don't find Ubuntu to be the best distro to learn all about LInux with.

Since your goal is to really learn Linux, I suggest you partition your drive to run 2 different distros. Maybe load up Ubuntu to be able to get online as fast as possible. Then load up somethign like Slackware on another partition. That way you can get online with Linux, and still play around with the inner workings of Linux in Slack. I know that the couple months that I used Slack, I learned a lot. Then once you get Slack up and running perfectly, wipe that partition and load up another distro.

If your boss tells you that they are trying to move to a specific distro, then by all means learn that distro, but just to learn Linux, I think the best distro would be Slackware.

F_M
 
Old 01-19-2006, 02:27 PM   #14
Shrike1969
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Registered: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
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Hangdog42- good call, I'll see what I can find.

Fritz_Monroe- It's a Sony Vaio model PCG-491L. I am burning Mandriva as we speak, but I like your idea of running 2 distros at once. I found out this a.m. that the eventual plan is for me to become familiar with RedHat, but there is no rush. I think I'll start d/ling Slackware...Thanks for the tip!
 
Old 01-19-2006, 02:40 PM   #15
Fritz_Monroe
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Good luck with it. I have to triple boot. I've got XP, Ubuntu, and soon will install Slackware. I went with Ubuntu because I needed to get online as soon as possible for college. XP for some college courses that require me to use Access 2003. Slackware because I want to learn truely how Linux works, plus I like the geek factor that's associated with Slack.

These folks here are a great resource. As long as you demonstrate that you did some homework before asking the question, the folks here seem thrilled to help you out.

F_M
 
  


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