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Old 02-19-2014, 01:13 AM   #1
n7tek
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What Linux distro would you recommend to replace WinXP in a Family History classroom?


I'm a Linux Noob (but about a decade ago I worked on UNIX Solaris systems daily) and I installed Zorin on an old laptop that I have about 2 weeks ago but I've been a bit disappointed by it (and the lack of info out there on it).

My goal is to find a distro that I can install on four old (2006?) Dell PC's running XP that have small hard drives (<50 GB) in a small Family History classroom.

Can Ubuntu or Mint be configured to look like Windows to help those that have never worked in a Linux environment? I would like to have a dual-boot option available to occasionally boot back into XP but most of the time I would like these old PC's to be running in a Linux OS and be able to run some of the windows programs (like Rootsmagic) running under Wine or some other alternative.

I've been trying to get a windows program called Rootsmagic running under Wine and it works until you minimize a sub-window (i.e. Rootsmagic spawns another window) and when that sub-window gets minimized I can't ever find it again so the program is hung.

What do you recommend? Ubuntu looks very interesting and very well supported to me but I would like to hear your suggestions and the pros & cons. Can Ubuntu be tweeked to look a bit like a WinXP environment (I know that is horrible thought to some but my goal is to make the PC's act as much as possible like they did when running XP so the seniors that are used to them feel comfortable BUT the XP slowness and instability is gone)?

Thank you,
John
North Salt Lake, Utah USA
 
Old 02-19-2014, 01:25 AM   #2
TobiSGD
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If you want a look like XP and it running reasonably fast on older PCs I would recommend to rather try Xubuntu or Lubuntu, they are more lightweight and come with environments that rather resemble XP.
Rootsmagic should run fine, if you install GDI+ using the winetricks program, according to its entry in the Wine database: http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManage...sion&iId=28023
Nonetheless I would recommend to search for native Linux alternatives, you may want to have a look at Gramps, for example.
 
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:45 AM   #3
gold_finger
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Linux Mint in either the Mate or Xfce desktop environment would likely work well on those computers and be relatively intuitive to use. Suppose you could just download a Win XP wallpaper to make it "appear" more like XP.
http://www.linuxmint.com/release.php?id=21

No personal experience with Wine or geneology programs, but have read good reviews on the gramps linux package recommended by TobiSGD.

Might be a good idea to use UNetbootin to make one or more live USBs with a persistence file to test out Mint and other recommendations by others. Setting it up with a persistence file will allow you to save settings, make changes, install programs, etc. and have them available on subsequent bootups.
 
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:48 AM   #4
n7tek
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Vielen Dank - TobiSGD!

Do you know of any good websites (YouTube) that have detailed reviews of Xubuntu or Lubuntu?

I installed Rootsmagic 3 different ways (i.e. thru Wine with Winetricks, then thru Vineyard, and finally thru a trial version of Crossover) trying to overcome the disappearing minimized sub-window problem but Rootsmagic appears to run OK until you minimize a sub-window (it disappears and there doesn't appear to be a way to bring the sub-window back). I'm pretty sure GDI+ was installed by at least 1 or more of the 3 methods that I tried but how do you tell?

One of the features Rootsmagic has over GRAMPS is the ability of the program to go out and search various online databases for you and display the search results next to the information in your database then you can easily copy any of the information that you desire into your personal database.

Rootsmagic also has an Automatch feature that does automatic online searches and compares the info between your data and the online data and if there is a high (75%?) match it will incorporate the online info for you. These features save tons of search time.

John
 
Old 02-19-2014, 02:00 AM   #5
Ztcoracat
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Hi:

I'm running a Xubuntu based distribution on my Desktop and I like it.
You could try it first before you install it to see if you like it.
http://xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Xubuntu

Lubuntu 13.10
http://lubuntu.net/
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lubuntu/GetLubuntu
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HowToMD5SUM

This is a Open Source software that helps you organize and analyze your family history--
http://eogn.typepad.com/eastmans_onl..._for_linu.html
https://gramps-project.org/

You can dual boot your new Linux distribution and XP by completing a few steps.
 
Old 02-19-2014, 02:38 AM   #6
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n7tek View Post
Do you know of any good websites (YouTube) that have detailed reviews of Xubuntu or Lubuntu?
I woudlnt get either of them.

Ubuntu has both 'LTS' ('long term support') releases, which as far as normal ubuntu goes is 5 years. here are also 'normal' (short support length) releases. The current LTS is 12.04. 12.10 has 18months support, 13.04 and newer non-LTS releases only have 9 months support.

so if you installed ubuntu/xubuntu/lubuntu 13.10, the current newest versions, they are only supporte until july 2014. Is it really worth installing something that you'll need to upgrade to a newer version (which can break the system) or install a newer version in 5 months?

So, you might be thinking 'I'll get lubuntu/xubuntu 12.04 LTS'.

However, lubuntu 12.04 is not an LTS, it only had 18 months support (so it is now out of support). Xubuntu 12.04 is a LTS, but it only gets 3 years support, so you'll need to upgrade/install a newer version in about 1 year.

Maybe Mint 13 (ubuntu 12.04 LTS based but with 5 years support for Xfce) would be a better idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by n7tek View Post
Ubuntu looks very interesting and very well supported to me but I would like to hear your suggestions and the pros & cons. Can Ubuntu be tweeked to look a bit like a WinXP environment (I know that is horrible thought to some but my goal is to make the PC's act as much as possible like they did when running XP so the seniors that are used to them feel comfortable BUT the XP slowness and instability is gone)?
I cant suggest ubuntu at all. Its got spyware. Sure, you can disable it, but I dont want to support any company that installs spyware by defualt.

The current ubuntu desktop enviroment is 'unity', and it does not run well on older systems, or systems without a decent video card/GPU, or systems without quite a bit of RAM. Its also very hard to modify.

Quote:
Originally Posted by n7tek View Post
I'm a Linux Noob (but about a decade ago I worked on UNIX Solaris systems daily) and I installed Zorin on an old laptop that I have about 2 weeks ago but I've been a bit disappointed by it (and the lack of info out there on it).
If you want info, maybe debain?

Its got a lot of information around about it, there is a great wiki page (though I'm not sure that someone who asked for youtube reviews is going to be intrested in text, but its very handy)-

https://wiki.debian.org/

Its also what ubuntu bases itself off.

You can get it with Lxde or Xfce, its generally a little faster than mint/ubuntu using the same desktop enviroment. I've found it to be more stable than ubuntu/mint as well. The same tools are avaible, though by defualt debian will use 'synaptic' as a GUI software mananger, ubuntu uses 'software centre', but you can install software centre in debian.

BTW, one iof the main reasons why mint/ubuntu are seen as 'easier' is because of the 'closed source hardware drivers install tool', a.k.a. 'jockey'. Its doubtful that 2005/2006 dells are going to have hardware that even has a closed source driver that is installable. So debian might be worth a look at least.

Last edited by cascade9; 02-19-2014 at 02:57 AM.
 
Old 02-19-2014, 02:47 AM   #7
qlue
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For the most XP like appearance, use LXDE. (Lubuntu or LXDE with Debian)
I seldom use WINE but when I have I have always used playonlinux as my front end. I don't think that will solve your specific issue, but it does help to sandbox each installed Windows app nicely.
 
Old 02-19-2014, 08:33 AM   #8
snowpine
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To play devil's advocate: why wouldn't you simply upgrade to a supported Windows release, like Windows 7? You might have to upgrade the hardware, too, but you would be able to run your Windows applications natively, and it would be an easier transition for the seniors.

As far as distro selection, I personally use and recommend Linux Mint. I like the Xfce desktop myself, which should be appropriate for older hardware. Make sure you choose the "LTS" release so you aren't reinstalling every 9 months!
 
Old 02-19-2014, 02:39 PM   #9
bcwagne
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I hate to say so, but snowpine might be right. It might be better to go from Windows to Windows, simply because most family history software won't touch any OS that isn't windows. If you needed support from RootsMagic, they probably wouldn't help unless it was running on Windows. This is something I've found anyway.

The other thing is that Gramps (AFAIK) doesn't support LDS ordinance data, or importing from LDS Family Search. I don't know if this is an issue for you or not, but it's something to consider. Also, you might have difficulty with RootsMagic being able to communicate with the Family Search servers if it is running under Wine. Again, I don't know if this even matters for you, but it does for some.
 
Old 02-19-2014, 03:11 PM   #10
John VV
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Quote:
The other thing is that Gramps (AFAIK) doesn't support LDS ordinance data,
i was able to import the Mormon LDS generated cd from a relative
now for some odd reason they ad a .1 to the suffix of everything
a image is "name.jpg.1 "

so that needs to be removed using sed
 
Old 02-19-2014, 03:20 PM   #11
haertig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
As far as distro selection, I personally use and recommend Linux Mint. I like the Xfce desktop myself, which should be appropriate for older hardware. Make sure you choose the "LTS" release so you aren't reinstalling every 9 months!
Agree 100%. LinuxMint 13 (that's the latest LTS release) running Xfce desktop. Xfce looks more like Windows than Windows does these days. And Xfce is a lightweight desktop, therefore much easier on the hardware requirements. LinuxMint uses the Ubunto repositories, so you have a large amount of software out there available for easy installation. There is stuff required to play commercial DVD's (for example) that does not come in Ubuntu (but it's trivial to install it). However, LinuxMint includes that stuff by default in its base install - so simpler for you to get up and running.
 
Old 02-19-2014, 03:34 PM   #12
haertig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
...and it would be an easier transition for the seniors.
Personally, I think it is easier to transition from WinXP to Xfce than from WinXP to Win7, let alone Win8. The OP's existing computers are probably still useable running Linux (you have much more choice under Linux to install lightweight software for slower and older hardware). I doubt 8 year old computers would be able to run Win7 or Win8 effectively though. And don't forget the cost of buying new licenses for Win7/Win8 to run it on the existing computers. An installation of Win7 or Win8 would take up close to half of the OP's (<50Gb) disk ... just for the OS.
 
  


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