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Old 05-13-2015, 10:49 AM   #1
cj133
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Thinking about switching to Linux but have some questions


Hi all,

I need to swap out my HDDs this weekend due to some problems and at this point, am getting tired of Microsoft.

For the longest time I've stuck with windows because I was big into gaming, but these days not so much. And it seems like all of the games I like are available for Linux these days.

So, my questions are :

I've heard that every time a new version of Linux comes out you need to completely reinstall your OS. Is this true? I've got a feeling it may be partially true, but there is more to it. I'm assuming you only need to do this if you want the latest overall version, like Windows, but you get minor updates and can keep running it for years?


How do games run on it? My primary game (be nice..) is Minecraft and other games would be Half life 2, TF2, Counter Strike Source etc. I also run emulators for NES/SNES etc.

If I lose 5-10 FPS over it, it's not a deal killer.

I'll be installing a 250GB SSD + 1TB WD Green this weekend and ditching my two 1TB drives that are showing signs of trouble.


System specs going by memory are :

I5 750 running stock. EVGA P55 SLI motherboard. EVGA GTX 460 video card. 12GB Gskill Ripjaws ram.

I expect it will run any version of Linux fine, but would like opinions on that as well. The last I tried was a few versions of Ubunutu and had no complaints but that was back in 2008-2009.

All opinions are welcome.
 
Old 05-13-2015, 12:46 PM   #2
maples
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj133 View Post
I've heard that every time a new version of Linux comes out you need to completely reinstall your OS. Is this true? I've got a feeling it may be partially true, but there is more to it. I'm assuming you only need to do this if you want the latest overall version, like Windows, but you get minor updates and can keep running it for years?
It depends on the distro that you choose. Some, like Fedora, come out with a new version every 10 months or so, and upgrading from version (n) to (n+1) is sketchy at best. However, others such as Debian don't upgrade for 2-4 years at a time, and upgrading to the next version when it comes out is really easy.

Quote:
How do games run on it? My primary game (be nice..) is Minecraft and other games would be Half life 2, TF2, Counter Strike Source etc. I also run emulators for NES/SNES etc.

If I lose 5-10 FPS over it, it's not a deal killer.
Minecraft runs with Java, and Java runs on Linux. So there's no problem there. (BTW, I play it too sometimes.) I don't know about HL2 or CS, but I know that TF2 has Linux support. Most distros include Steam in the repositories, so installing it is no problem. And since you don't need as many background processes to keep Linux running, you should see either the same FPS or better. However, getting the driver for your graphics card depends on the brand. Nvidia distributes drivers that (in my experience) work great. AMD, not so much, but I don't use AMD so I can't speak from experience.
I know that there are NES and SNES emulators for Linux, so that's covered.

Quote:
I'll be installing a 250GB SSD + 1TB WD Green this weekend and ditching my two 1TB drives that are showing signs of trouble.
That will be more than enough space. You'll probably want to use the SSD for your root filesystem and the 1TB for /home. I know that both Steam and Minecraft store their information in your home directory, so you will want plenty of space for that.
The operating system itself doesn't need a lot of space, I have a netbook at home that only has a 4GB SSD and Linux fits just fine on it (although it isn't a "fully-featured" install).

Quote:
System specs going by memory are :

I5 750 running stock. EVGA P55 SLI motherboard. EVGA GTX 460 video card. 12GB Gskill Ripjaws ram.
The i5 should be more than enough for day-to-day activities; you'll only really be straining it (maybe) when you're running games. And I doubt that you will ever use all 12 GB of RAM unless you start editing day-long HD videos...

Quote:
I expect it will run any version of Linux fine, but would like opinions on that as well. The last I tried was a few versions of Ubunutu and had no complaints but that was back in 2008-2009.

All opinions are welcome.
Any distro shouldn't have any issues at all. Personally, I like Debian Stable, so that's my recommendation. Ubuntu is based on Debian, so you probably will already know about the package managers such as Synaptic and apt-get. Debian Stable is exactly what its name implies; you don't have to worry about updates breaking your system.

Another distro that is commonly recommended to people new to Linux is Mint. It is based off Debian (or Ubuntu, I can't remember now), so like with Debian you've probably heard of and used Synaptic and/or apt-get.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by maples; 05-13-2015 at 12:47 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention emulators.
 
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Old 05-13-2015, 12:56 PM   #3
cj133
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Hi maples, thanks for responding!

I was planning on using the SSD for programs as well and hoping to run lean for once. Just the stuff I use often will be installed so I think 250GB should be plenty for everything. The 1TB I'd use for music, pictures etc. I'll take a look at my current Steam folder to see how big it is, but I have a feeling it's scary big right now. I wouldn't be surprised at 80GB.


Just after I posted I learned about Ubuntu 14.04 LTS which is good for 5 years. I don't mind doing it every 2 years or so, but every year or less is kind of pushing it in my opinion. I used to reinstall Windows 98SE every 2 months or so, but I'd rather not go back in time.

I'm glad to hear Nvidia drivers are known to be decent for Linux.

Regarding 12GB of ram. Yeah, I went from 4GB to 12GB and never noticed a single change. I had hoped Windows 7 would cache more, and maybe it does but it never mattered. Minecraft also seems to refuse to use more than 2GB or so no matter what you change. I gave it 8GB to use and it still peaks at just over 2.
 
Old 05-13-2015, 12:57 PM   #4
Tadaen
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Quote:
I've heard that every time a new version of Linux comes out you need to completely reinstall your OS. Is this true? I've got a feeling it may be partially true, but there is more to it. I'm assuming you only need to do this if you want the latest overall version, like Windows, but you get minor updates and can keep running it for years?
Most distros can be upgraded in place although like anything a major system upgrade can cause unexpected issues depending on what changes you made to the system. Upgrading Ubuntu versions with ppas in place can cause issues. I always find a fresh install is the better choice in my case with Ubuntu. However to simplify things many people recommend a separate /home partition to keep all of your data safe. I go one further personally and have a separate data partition that I link into my /home. This way I keep my data safe in a re-install, and I wipe out old configs from the /home folder with a fresh install. Just ln -s the folders in the data partition to your /home.

Quote:
How do games run on it? My primary game (be nice..) is Minecraft and other games would be Half life 2, TF2, Counter Strike Source etc. I also run emulators for NES/SNES etc.
Minecraft is almost the only game I play right now on Kubuntu. I love it, it seems to run real well although I have problems using the MCPatcher for texture packs. However I don't know if the problems come from my laptop only being so powerful, or if it really is a Linux specific problem.

Quote:
I'll be installing a 250GB SSD + 1TB WD Green this weekend and ditching my two 1TB drives that are showing signs of trouble.

System specs going by memory are :

I5 750 running stock. EVGA P55 SLI motherboard. EVGA GTX 460 video card. 12GB Gskill Ripjaws ram.

I expect it will run any version of Linux fine, but would like opinions on that as well. The last I tried was a few versions of Ubunutu and had no complaints but that was back in 2008-2009.

All opinions are welcome.
Linux will run on virtually any hardware out there although it will occasionally have troubles with the absolute latest and greatest. Ubuntu and it's derivatives will run great on that hardware I'm sure. You are fortunate with the Nvidia gpu as the AMD drivers are not exactly great for linux.

If I can recommend it, you coming from Windows I would highly suggest a *buntu, most likely Kubuntu or Xubuntu. Kubuntu looks nicer in my mind and has many more features to play with. Vanilla Ubuntu I never recommend only out of my own never ending troubles with Unity these days. It's always one error after another and I got tired of it. KDE stuff is more integrated as well I find. Stick with an LTS version, current being 14.04.2. Again only from personal experience, LTS are the best way to go, I've always had trouble with non LTS releases.
 
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Old 05-13-2015, 01:06 PM   #5
cj133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tadaen View Post
Most distros can be upgraded in place although like anything a major system upgrade can cause unexpected issues depending on what changes you made to the system. Upgrading Ubuntu versions with ppas in place can cause issues. I always find a fresh install is the better choice in my case with Ubuntu. However to simplify things many people recommend a separate /home partition to keep all of your data safe. I go one further personally and have a separate data partition that I link into my /home. This way I keep my data safe in a re-install, and I wipe out old configs from the /home folder with a fresh install. Just ln -s the folders in the data partition to your /home.
Sounds just like every copy of Windows I've had. I have never been able to use an "upgraded" Windows machine without redoing it fresh.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one playing Minecraft.

I only play survival mode and have been mainly playing the same game since April 2012. Though, I started a hardcore survival game around a year ago that I play from time to time. Hardcore makes you a little more careful and the game a lot scarier. One wrong move and it's all gone.
 
Old 05-13-2015, 01:36 PM   #6
suicidaleggroll
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this yet...

With Windows, you get what you get. Whatever Microsoft rubber stamps as their "Release" version is what gets released, bugs and all. With Linux you can pick what level of antiquity/beta-testing you want to go with.

Something like Ubuntu, Fedora, etc. are pretty aggressive with their releases. They'll push out a package version soon after it's released publicly, sometimes still in beta or even alpha. As a result, you get new features very soon after they're released, but it also means you become a testbed for those same new features. You need to familiarize yourself with bug reporting, and don't get upset when a routine update breaks something. These distros also typically have a very fast release cycle, and if you want to keep receiving security updates you'll need to update with them (you'll need to reinstall once a year with Fedora, for example).

On the other hand, distros like RHEL/CentOS, Debian stable, etc. are quite a bit more cautious with their releases. You'll often have to wait months or even years after a package version is released publicly before it'll be pushed out to you. As a result, you don't get any new features when they're added to programs, instead you get an old, tested, rock solid version that won't break on you. If you need a newer version of a program or library, it's up to you to go download the source code from the provider's website and compile it yourself (sounds daunting, but it's usually pretty straight forward). These distros are also supported for YEARS. With CentOS you get security fixes for 10 years after the initial release. CentOS 7 was just released last July, and will be supported through June 2024.

Those are the two extremes, but there are hundreds/thousands of Linux distros out there that run the gamut in between. For servers I usually stick with CentOS, and for laptops or other machines where I need a bit more recent hardware/software support I usually go with OpenSUSE, which is somewhere in between the extremes I listed before. You get to pick what works for you.
 
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Old 05-13-2015, 01:36 PM   #7
ardvark71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tadaen View Post
Linux will run on virtually any hardware out there although it will occasionally have troubles with the absolute latest and greatest.
I wouldn't say that. There's still quite a bit of hardware out there that Linux won't run "out of the box," wireless adapters for one. Some chips or brands are better supported than others. For example, Nvidia is far better supported than SiS. How well a vendor supports Linux plays a big part in how well the device works in Linux.

With Linux, it's very important to research compatibility before purchasing a device.

Regards...
 
Old 05-13-2015, 02:09 PM   #8
maples
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj133 View Post
I was planning on using the SSD for programs as well and hoping to run lean for once. Just the stuff I use often will be installed so I think 250GB should be plenty for everything. The 1TB I'd use for music, pictures etc. I'll take a look at my current Steam folder to see how big it is, but I have a feeling it's scary big right now. I wouldn't be surprised at 80GB.
Your documents and files go in /home, so using the 1TB for that will work fine.

Quote:
Regarding 12GB of ram. Yeah, I went from 4GB to 12GB and never noticed a single change. I had hoped Windows 7 would cache more, and maybe it does but it never mattered. Minecraft also seems to refuse to use more than 2GB or so no matter what you change. I gave it 8GB to use and it still peaks at just over 2.
Then you'll be happy to hear that Linux uses almost all of your RAM for cache. It doesn't impact your applications; as soon as a program needs more RAM, it takes it out of the cache. Read http://www.linuxatemyram.com/ for more.

EDIT: Also, I second suicidaleggroll's post above. That's one of the best explanations I've seen in a while comparing different distros.

Last edited by maples; 05-13-2015 at 02:16 PM.
 
Old 05-13-2015, 02:37 PM   #9
273
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I beg to differ about putting /home/ on the spinny rust -- the files within /home/ are accessed fairly regularly and may include things like "texture chache" for games. Yes, using the SSD for cached things will mean it ages earlier but I think you need to ask yourself whether that matters.
I should also add that moving to Linux will result in you being very annoyed at yourself, Linux, this forum and the world in general -- the first install is likely going to be wrong in some way you only learn a few months from now.
 
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Old 05-13-2015, 02:38 PM   #10
cj133
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Curious on everyone's thoughts regarding MS buying Minecraft and future support for Linux?

Obviously they still are supporting it, but who thinks they will intentionally stop?
 
Old 05-13-2015, 02:45 PM   #11
cj133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
I beg to differ about putting /home/ on the spinny rust -- the files within /home/ are accessed fairly regularly and may include things like "texture chache" for games. Yes, using the SSD for cached things will mean it ages earlier but I think you need to ask yourself whether that matters.
I should also add that moving to Linux will result in you being very annoyed at yourself, Linux, this forum and the world in general -- the first install is likely going to be wrong in some way you only learn a few months from now.
I can deal with growing pains. I had them in MS Dos as well as minor amounts in every version of Windows. I think I'll be ok.
Worst case scenario is I give up and reinstall Win 7.

Honestly, I think the hardest for me is going to be getting used to no file extensions and the way partitions are identified.
 
Old 05-13-2015, 03:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj133 View Post
Honestly, I think the hardest for me is going to be getting used to no file extensions and the way partitions are identified.
Linux still has file extensions for just about everything except binaries.

The drive lettering/partitioning/mounting/filesystem setup is SO much nicer than Windows. That's one of the best features of Linux and Linux-like OSs.

Rather than having a separate directory structure for each mounted device, with arbitrary names like C, D, etc., there is ONE directory structure. Each device is given a name that actually makes sense (sda is the first physical disk, sdb is the second physical disk, sda1 is the first partition on sda, and so on), and can be mounted at any point in that common directory structure to hold its contents. Want /home to be on the second partition of the third drive? Then add one line in /etc/fstab to mount /dev/sdc2 at /home and you're done. It's still /home, still referenced as /home, still backed up as /home, but it physically lives on whatever partition of whatever drive you decided to mount there. Want to move /home from a subdirectory of / on your root drive to its own partition on its own drive? Mount the new partition somewhere else temporarily, move all of the contents of /home onto that new spot, then remount the new partition at /home and you're done.

Network shares, loopback mounts, iso files, etc. are also mounted at a location of your choosing in the same directory structure in the exact same way as physical drives. It's all seamless.

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 05-13-2015 at 03:06 PM.
 
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Old 05-13-2015, 03:15 PM   #13
cj133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suicidaleggroll View Post
Linux still has file extensions for just about everything except binaries.

The drive lettering/partitioning/mounting/filesystem setup is SO much nicer than Windows. That's one of the best features of Linux and Linux-like OSs.

Rather than having a separate directory structure for each mounted device, with arbitrary names like C, D, etc., there is ONE directory structure. Each device is given a name that actually makes sense (sda is the first physical disk, sdb is the second physical disk, sda1 is the first partition on sda, and so on), and can be mounted at any point in that common directory structure to hold its contents. Want /home to be on the second partition of the third drive? Then add one line in /etc/fstab to mount /dev/sdc2 at /home and you're done. It's still /home, still referenced as /home, still backed up as /home, but it physically lives on whatever partition of whatever drive you decided to mount there. Want to move /home from a subdirectory of / on your root drive to its own partition on its own drive? Mount the new partition somewhere else temporarily, move all of the contents of /home onto that new spot, then remount the new partition at /home and you're done.

Network shares, loopback mounts, iso files, etc. are also mounted at a location of your choosing in the same directory structure in the exact same way as physical drives. It's all seamless.

Ah,
Maybe I'm thinking of OSX regarding no extensions?

I would assume if I put an SSD in and have two partitions, this would end up sda1 and sda2 and my 1TB with 1 partition would be sdb1? Or do they start at 0?
Do USB drives and optical drives show up as "sd**" ?
 
Old 05-13-2015, 03:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj133 View Post
I would assume if I put an SSD in and have two partitions, this would end up sda1 and sda2 and my 1TB with 1 partition would be sdb1? Or do they start at 0?
Yes that's most likely correct, they start at 1. The only question would be which drive is sda and which is sdb, which depends on what order they're detected on boot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cj133 View Post
Do USB drives and optical drives show up as "sd**" ?
USB yes, optical no, optical drives are usually /dev/cdrom or similar.

Note that because sda/sdb/sdc can swap around depending on when you plugged them in or in what order they were detected on boot, modern OSs use unique identifiers for system drives instead, such as UUID. This makes the fstab a little more complicated to look at, eg:
Code:
UUID=6113b48a-64a2-4bc5-a646-3b15555615a2   /   xfs   defaults   1 1
All this is is a unique identifier for a particular physical device and partition, so you don't have to worry about rebuilding your computer, accidentally swapping your SATA cables, and having sda and sdb swap places. For manual mounting you can still use the sda/sdb terminology though, the line I posted above is /dev/sda5 on my machine, which you can see here:
Code:
$ ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid/6113b48a-64a2-4bc5-a646-3b15555615a2 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 2015-04-21 09:18 /dev/disk/by-uuid/6113b48a-64a2-4bc5-a646-3b15555615a2 -> ../../sda5

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 05-13-2015 at 03:45 PM.
 
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Old 05-13-2015, 04:15 PM   #15
gcreager
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One note of caution: I've had problems, in general, with WD Green drives. They tend to 'save energy' but they're slow. Go with an enterprise-grade SATA or SAS drive, and don't keep yourself small at a single terabyte.
 
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