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Old 12-19-2008, 10:27 AM   #1
Ssurno
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Want to make the switch: recommendations?


I am currently a 15 year old Windows user and I am willing to make the switch to Linux or even BSD. The only OS I have used is Windows and frankly I am tired of it. Too many viruses and other problems that often drive people away from Windows. Anyway, I am getting a brand new laptop for Christmas and would like a few recommendations based on your experience for a distro that I should use. I want something that can play DVD's/MP3's, and something that is fast and stable and of course easy to use. I play baseball for my high school and I make all A's, so I need something that I can get working fairly quick. Though I do not mind taking time to get the OS working if I have to, but not too much time because I am often busy. I am excited about learning a new OS, but as I am only 15 and not very computer savvy I will need something that will make this switch very easy. I have read extensively on BSD/Linux and I have found a few OS's that look like something I would enjoy using: Mint, PC-BSD, DesktopBSD. If you think one of these would be great or you have another recommendation then please reply with the OS that might be best for me. Please give reasons why as well.

PS: I am currently into web designing (HTML, CSS, PHP/MYSQL), and I like the look of KDE, and I love KATE. So if you know any great KDE distros that are fast and stable then that would be appreciated.
 
Old 12-19-2008, 12:19 PM   #2
thorkelljarl
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Come the Storm

You should gain many, many replies. Before you acquire a laptop be aware that not all function equally well with linux. It is advisable to choose wisely after googling extensively for the particular laptop and linux, perhaps adding the usual terms of woe: trouble, not connecting, not working, problem, no configuration, etc.

If you have not yet explored, there are forums, howtos and explanations illuminating the differences, explaining the structure and terminology, and allaying the pain in an experienced Windows user further exploring our glorious collaboration of an operating system. Welcome

Last edited by thorkelljarl; 12-19-2008 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Simplification
 
Old 12-19-2008, 12:23 PM   #3
penguiniator
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For KDE it depends on your working style. If you like to put icons on your desktop, you may find some implementations of KDE 4 somewhat restrictive. KDE 3 on the other hand will feel familiar to you as a Windows user. Some newer versions of distributions, such as Fedora 10, will have more up-to-date KDE packages. Kubuntu 8.10 is based on KDE 4.1; 8.04 is based on KDE 3. Personally, I find KDE 4.1 maddening for dealing with desktop icons. It makes me want to throw my computer through a window. Others swear by it.

Some distributions, such as Mint, enable DVD/MP3 playback by default. Others require you to install support for that separately. Most make doing so very simple.

Keep in mind that installing Windows games will not be as simple or even necessarily possible.

You will need some hand-holding to get through some configuration issues. If you want to develop websites, you will want Apache, PHP, and MySQL installed and configured for testing your work. This should not be a big problem, but you will have to edit some configuration files and set up your MySQL permissions. You may also want to have a look at Quanta Plus. It is a web development program for KDE and uses Kate for text editing. It integrates ftp and documentation for PHP, JavaScript, CSS, and XHTML and has support for templates and extensive syntax highlighting and browser previewing for Konqueror, Mozilla/Seamonkey, Firefox, and Opera.

Most distributions will install Firefox, OpenOffice.org, and Gimp. If you are going to use KDE, I suggest you use Kmail/Kontact for email. Kmail has some awesome features for mailing list management and filtering and will manage your Gmail account too. I've been using Thunderbird for a while now and used Evolution before that, and I miss Kmail for its filtering and mailing list management abilities.

As for your laptop, be sure that its hardware will be supported by Linux. Wifi, webcams, and power management will be your stickiest issues. Wifi and webcam support are improving dramatically, but power management is still an issue, with suspend to disk/ram being problematic. Have a look at the laptops sold by Dell, Lenovo, and HP specifically for use with Linux. You should have fewer issues if you select your hardware carefully.

When looking for help, do not overlook the Freenode IRC network. It is a goldmine for instant support. Mailing lists and forums such as this one are also very, very helpful. A good, general guide to finding answers is at http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html You can't go wrong following its suggestions.
 
Old 12-19-2008, 12:27 PM   #4
JosipBroz
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I hope I'm not too late but WATCH OUT TO GET A GNU/LINUX COMPATIBLE LAPTOP! That's the one most important recommendation I can make. Not all laptops are created equal and while you can throw almost any major GNU/Linux distro at a compatible laptop and get it working, there are laptops out there that simply won't work. Getting a reluctant computer to work may well take you 6 months of your life -- only to find it was time lost. I'd google for phrases such as "linux laptops", "linux certified", "linux compatible" to make the first broad selection, and then hunt for real-life GNU/Linux user reviews to further narrow down the choice. There are lists for more-or-less compatible laptops, but these generally only cover older laptops. Pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to the wireless chipset and the graphics card -- those two are the hardest to get working in GNU/Linux, followed closely by soundcards and softodems, and the newer they are, the harder it will be. There are threads in many linux forums dealing with purchases of new laptops -- try reading a few. Maybe a GNU/Linux preinstalled laptop is not a bad idea at all!
As for which distro to choose, that's secondary, really. If you're looking for a KDE-based distro which will hopefully work out-of-the box, I can recommend openSUSE or Mandriva. Be warned that, being a Windows user, even the most user-friendly distros will take quite a bit of re-learning, so don't go for Slackware just yet, OK? Always try several flavors -- sometimes a 32-bit Live DVD won't load whereas a 64-bit Live CD will, or vice versa.

A few links that should get you started:
http://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/
http://polishlinux.org/choose/laptop/
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13845_3-10076884-58.html
http://www.linuxcertified.com/
http://www.tuxmagazine.com/node/1000055
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...laptop-470203/
http://forums.opensuse.org/hardware/...ew-laptop.html
http://tuxmobil.org/hardware.html
http://tuxmobil.org/mylaptops.html

Last edited by JosipBroz; 12-19-2008 at 12:44 PM.
 
Old 12-19-2008, 02:11 PM   #5
farslayer
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DUAL BOOT

Just a thought, since you are new to Linux and have chosen one of the possibly more difficult pieces of hardware on which to make everything work. I would suggest you NOT wipe Windows off the laptop. Instead get windows setup, create recovery disks for your Windows installation (Manufacturers are getting so cheap they don't send windows recovery disks, you must Supply blank CD's or DVD's to make your own with a utility on the laptop.

Once that is done download the System Rescue Cd and use the gparted utility on the Sysreccd to shrink your Windows partition down to 30 or 40 GB or so. Then install Linux on the free space you have opened up.

This will give you a fully functional Windows system to fall back on if you have difficulties getting anything to work in Linux. Once you have finalized your choice of Linux distros you can go ahead and wipe windows off the laptop entirely..


As for Version of Linux. .I recommend anything in the top 10 at http://distrowatch.com/ or what they list as the Major Distributions.. < - Nice link with Overviews of the major Distros

Code:
Rank  	Distribution  	H.P.D*
1 	Ubuntu 	        2216=
2 	openSUSE 	1749<
3 	Mint 	        1509>
4 	Fedora 	        1309<
5 	Debian 	        1140<
6 	PCLinuxOS 	1070<
7 	Mandriva 	1004>
8 	CentOS 	        630>
9 	Dreamlinux 	590<
10 	Damn Small
KDE is just a desktop Environment which can be installed on pretty much any version of Linux.
Ubuntu has kubuntu which uses kde by default,
Debian has a specific install CD you can download that will setup KDE as the default desktop instead of gnome.
So don't let the default desktop deter you from trying a particular distro.

Enjoy your foray into Linux and the world of Free and Open Source Software, be very careful or you might get hooked like the rest of us.

Welcome to LinuxQuestions.org !!

Enjoy !!
 
Old 12-19-2008, 03:18 PM   #6
thorkelljarl
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Sorry to contradict

After you solve your first and most important problem, finding a laptop on which everything works well with linux, you will likely find the operating system on it is Vista. If you wish to dual boot, you should be aware that Vistas partitions should be changed using Vistas own tools. Here is a quick howto with the possibilities for dual booting.

http://apcmag.com/howto_category.htm?cid=198

As others have emphasized, the right laptop for linux is the key to everything. If you can't choose it yourself, exchange that Xmas gift.

I use KDE 3.5 on openSUSE 11.0, soon to be 11.1, and will continue with KDE 3.5 for its stability and flexibility. However the choices are many. In case you don't have it, here is the standard live-cd list.

http://www.livecdlist.com/
 
Old 12-19-2008, 05:20 PM   #7
teknik
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As you've already mentioned, I think Linux Mint would be a good choice. I'm not a fanboy or anything, I don't use it myself, but I know a few ex. windows friends who chose it as their first distribution and couldn't be happier with it. It does a lot of stuff for you, theres a kde version, configures everything for you, etc. and it's very nice looking.
 
Old 12-19-2008, 06:34 PM   #8
schneidz
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live-cd
live-dvd
live-usb
 
Old 12-19-2008, 06:42 PM   #9
nyle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ssurno View Post
I need something that I can get working fairly quick. Though I do not mind taking time to get the OS working if I have to, but not too much time because I am often busy. I am excited about learning a new OS, but as I am only 15 and not very computer savvy I will need something that will make this switch very easy.
I'm probably going to draw the ire of many, for which I make no apologies, but based on the above you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

To learn *anything* requires time on your part. Linux installation is deceptively easy, but if you don't have the time to spend on it then configuring every last thing and getting it all working correctly is going to be a very frustrating experience.

Dual boot if you must or use a LiveCD, but seriously rethink how much time you're willing to spend on your system.
 
Old 12-21-2008, 05:38 AM   #10
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ssurno View Post
...and I like the look of KDE, and I love KATE. So if you know any great KDE distros that are fast and stable then that would be appreciated.
so, that is one step forwards; you have selected a GUI (wouldn't do any harm to look at Gnome, Xfce, etc, but at least we can concentrate on kde here).

For me, while kde4.x has eye candy, it isn't yet ready; I wouldn't advise kde 4.x to a newbie, but would suggest that you stick with a late 3.x for a few months yet.

As to distros, I would suggest any of
  1. Kubuntu
  2. OpenSuSE
  3. Simply mepis
  4. Linux Mint
  5. Xandros

1) Kubuntu is the kde variant of Ubunutu (the Gnome Ubuntu). I don't like their config of kde as much as some others, but it is a pretty friendly end-user distro underneath and has a big community.

2) I like openSuSE, and have for a number of years. Has several GUIs available and their implimentation of kde is one of the best, im(nv)ho. Isn't famous for winning speed records, particularly the 'do everything' config and sys management utility, yast, which is a bit clunky. Yast is improving though, and maybe 11.1 reaches greatness, who knows (yet)?

As to laptops, it is a good sign when the manuf sells the model of laptop that you are interested in with some variety of linux (any variety; doesn't necessarily have to be the one that you are interested in) pre-installed.

These days, probably any laptop can be made to work to an extent with little effort (older models less so); but you may find that odd things like sound, wireless, fingerprint scanners are more of a struggle on some models than others.
 
Old 12-21-2008, 06:30 AM   #11
IndyGunFreak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyle View Post
I'm probably going to draw the ire of many, for which I make no apologies, but based on the above you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

To learn *anything* requires time on your part. Linux installation is deceptively easy, but if you don't have the time to spend on it then configuring every last thing and getting it all working correctly is going to be a very frustrating experience.

Dual boot if you must or use a LiveCD, but seriously rethink how much time you're willing to spend on your system.
Good post.. Best bet, is to dual boot for a while, get your feet in the water and learn how to swim, then if you want to wipe Windows away, go for it. Remember, Linux isn't Windows, and there's few similarities between the two. Hardware is the biggest issue for Linux and Laptops, especially because you can't really change it like you could a PC.

Graphics, Nvidia and Intel chipsets are generally easy, ATI you can usually get to work w/ some hoop jumping, and SiS will be awful(at least in my experience). Thankfully, SiS isn't used much.

Wireless, Intel and Atheros are generally pretty easy, Broadcom and Ralink, require a bit more effort on your part.

You've gotten good suggestions in this thread. I personally despise KDE, but if you like it, thats great. Kubuntu and Linux Mint are both solid choices. I think the *buntu's always have the edge for a new user, due to massive support options. The Ubuntu forum here at LQ, ubuntuforums.org, and the IRC channels are always packed. Not to mention, almost anything can be found w/ Google. Most of the time, support in any of those areas, you can use on Linux Mint, provided you know what version of Ubuntu, your version of Mint correlates to.

I wish stores wouldn't be so apprehensive about letting you boot a Live CD to check hardware, but they act like you're trying to put a virus on a display system if you ask them.

Good luck..

IGF

Last edited by IndyGunFreak; 12-21-2008 at 06:33 AM.
 
  


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