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Old 10-07-2011, 05:32 AM   #1
ghoultek
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Windows to Linux Transition questions


Hello all,

I'm back with some questions. I'm working on testing my hardware (some older stuff) and working on the transition to Linux. I will still have one foot in the Windows world. To clarify, I'm looking for employment and preparing to return to school (undergrad), and will most likely find work in a Windows IT environment before I will be ready to work in a Linux only or mixed Linux + other IT shop.

The older equipment I'm testing are some older Adaptec SCSI cards (2940UW and better), SCSI CDROMs (Plextor), SCSI hard drives (2x 18GB LVD drives), some 2.2GB Castlewood Orb drives (IDE), some 1GB Jaz drives (SCSI) and an Artec flatbed USB scanner which I believe will work with Linux. The test PC, from here forth referred to as the "beige box", will be my target location for the test equipment. It will have a P4 1.8Ghz CPU, 512MB RAM, and an AGP 2X video card (Trident 3DImage9850). Does anyone see a potential problem with the above equipment and Linux? Will the CPU, RAM and video be enough to run a GUI and have the PC as a file, print, web, and database server for personal use and learning? I was considering Slackware for the beige box since a full install is less than 10GB (I believe) and has many of the server packages I would want. Is Slackware a good choice? Is there a specific GUI I should load?

As far as my desktop environement transition goes:
- I would like to be able to transfer music to/from my Dell Digital DJ MP3 player if possible.
- I need to transfer/convert some large MS Outlook PST files (200MB to 1.2Gig in size) to a desktop Linux environment and pick an email client for POP mail... preferably something close to Outlook's UI.

I have a large set of windows shortcuts (*.url files) that point to websites. The files are organized into folders. Is there a way to dynamically generate a cascading menu from a folder and it's subfolders? I'm also a toolbar junkie. I hate the look of the Windows 7 start menu and thus don't like the KDE menu for similar reasons. In windows 7 I have several rows of icon toolbars that convienently auto hide when not needed. Is this difficult to recreated in the various Linux GUIs (Gnome 2.x, KDE, Fluxbox, Openbox, <whatever>box, etc.)? How about a simplified, cascading menu like the classic Win98 or Win XP start menu? See attached pics.


- There is VLC for Linux (yay).
- There is 7zip for Linux (yay again).
- I'm using MS Virtual PC 2007 but I see there is virtual box (yay again) for Linux.
- I'll have to setup and learn WINE for windows gaming unless there is another option (Diablo2, Torchlight, Starcraft-2, etc).
- Linux Teamspeak client and server options (grin).
- Ventrilo client in development (boo... Vent boyz are slacking...). I'm not sure if the windows client will behave in WINE.
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Old 10-07-2011, 04:34 PM   #2
salasi
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Not totally sure which bits are the questions, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post
Hello all,

I'm back with some questions. I'm working on testing my hardware (some older stuff) and working on the transition to Linux. I will still have one foot in the Windows world. To clarify, I'm looking for employment and preparing to return to school (undergrad), and will most likely find work in a Windows IT environment before I will be ready to work in a Linux only or mixed Linux + other IT shop.

The older equipment I'm testing are some older Adaptec SCSI cards (2940UW and better), SCSI CDROMs (Plextor), SCSI hard drives (2x 18GB LVD drives), some 2.2GB Castlewood Orb drives (IDE), some 1GB Jaz drives (SCSI) and an Artec flatbed USB scanner which I believe will work with Linux. The test PC, from here forth referred to as the "beige box", will be my target location for the test equipment. It will have a P4 1.8Ghz CPU, 512MB RAM, and an AGP 2X video card (Trident 3DImage9850). Does anyone see a potential problem with the above equipment and Linux?
RAM. 512 M will be a little constrained, and while that can start with KDE4/Gnome, it probably won't be much fun. Do you have the option to use more?

Assuming that 512M is a constant and not a variable, XFCE/LXDE/Enlightenment/anything with a 'box' in its name are waiting for you to try them out and find one that is to your taste.

Not sure about that Trident card; I assume that it must be possible to get it working, but with an undetermined amount of hassle to get there (probably not all that much, but you never know).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post
I was considering Slackware for the beige box since a full install is less than 10GB (I believe) and has many of the server packages I would want. Is Slackware a good choice? Is there a specific GUI I should load?
If you were asking for my advice, it would be to try something more newbie-friendly, and maybe try Slackware(/Gentoo/Arch/...) if the newbie-friendly thing didn't work out. Not sure what the point of the size of the full install is - isn't this just to say that installing the same set of packages on any distro (assuming availability) would be roughly that size, so the only point is that under this distro, the 10G is all there is, so you can't accidentally select to install more? And, how does that compare with, eg, Puppy, DSL, Slitaz, etc, etc, where there aren't 10G of packages directly available? Not sure that I have learnt anything that I can make a useful comment on from this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post
- I need to transfer/convert some large MS Outlook PST files (200MB to 1.2Gig in size) to a desktop Linux environment and pick an email client for POP mail... preferably something close to Outlook's UI.
Haven't tried this, but I believe there is some kind of 'work-around'/hack that involves importing into the thunderbird e-mail client and re-exporting into a format that you actually want to use. Don't quote me on that, as i last heard of this ~10 years ago, and so it
  • might not be correct for current versions
  • brain fade may have got it

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post
I have a large set of windows shortcuts (*.url files) that point to websites. The files are organized into folders. Is there a way to dynamically generate a cascading menu from a folder and it's subfolders? I'm also a toolbar junkie. I hate the look of the Windows 7 start menu and thus don't like the KDE menu for similar reasons. In windows 7 I have several rows of icon toolbars that convienently auto hide when not needed. Is this difficult to recreated in the various Linux GUIs (Gnome 2.x, KDE, Fluxbox, Openbox, <whatever>box, etc.)? How about a simplified, cascading menu like the classic Win98 or Win XP start menu? See attached pics.
I'm going to pass on this almost completely, except to note that:
  • never tried this with *.url files - this wouldn't meet my requirements, so I have no idea at all
  • when you say 'the kde menu' I'm not sure what you mean; under KDE 3.x (largely), the kde menu was really rather different from the way it has become under kde 4.x; I think that you probably mean the kde 4,x default menu style; if you are referring to kde 4.x, and you were to change back to the 'classic' menu style, you would get the old-fashioned kde 3.x menu style, which sounds to be more to your taste
  • (kde 4.x is still not recommended, by me anyway, with a modest amount of ram, irrespective of whether you can arrange the menu to your liking - you'd probably be able to make it work, but whether you'd really be happy with it once you got it working and tried to actually do real work with it is another matter entirely - there is no point in getting a GUI up-and-working only to find that it has hogged all of the memory, and when you try to run programs everything slows to a crawl)

Last edited by salasi; 10-08-2011 at 03:00 AM. Reason: missing ] causing poor formatting
 
Old 10-20-2011, 12:31 PM   #3
ghoultek
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Thanks for the reply Salasi... sorry for my long delay in replying... been taking care of a sick relative.

I don't want to alter my main PC that is shared with my wife and son. They need access to a stable PC so I would rather not experiment with that box. The Beige Box is like Frankenstein, it will be built from old bits and pieces of hardware, thus its cash free. However, I've been unable to get more than 512MB RAM for it and I don't want to invest money into it.

I realize Slack isn't the most newbie friendly distro. However, with Slack a full (everything) install is less than 10GB, has many of the servers I want to experiment with (web, dns, database, email, samba, NFS, LDAP, etc.), and there are several GUIs to choose from on the install image (no separate install). With the full install being less than 10GB it leaves plenty of space on a single HD for experimentation. Should I consider another server oriented distro. that is more newbie friendly? I'm not ready for Gentoo yet, but I will be soon enough.

The PST conversion seems to be a big concern among newbie Linux converts. I'll have to spend some time with Thunderbird. I'm surprised that someone hasn't come up with a one-click solution to PST conversion and that the solution be well documented.

The *.url files are text files that are browser neutral bookmarks. Since they are text files I'm sure there is a way to convert them to a Linux useable format. I have a shortcut (url file) for this website. The file contents are the following:
Code:
[DEFAULT]
BASEURL=http://www.linuxquestions.org/
[InternetShortcut]
URL=http://www.linuxquestions.org/
Modified=40633DDA45D1C20193
I have another box (P4 2.4GHz CPU, 1GB RAM) which I will be using as my Linux desktop PC. Its still modest, but I expect to be working primarily in a lightweight GUI with terminal windows for command line access, web browser, email client, and text editor(s) for writing programs (C, HTML, etc). If I can recreate my cascading menus of web links (*.url files) and toolbars it will make the transition much better for me.
 
Old 10-20-2011, 12:40 PM   #4
trxdraxon
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Everyone has given you pretty good info. If Slackware is your first Linux experience the learning curve can be a bit steep in the beginning. But if you stick with it you will learn a lot about Linux. I would suggest checking out http://www.slackware.com/~alien and http://www.slackbuilds.org for some good information and software for Slackware.

Also for a vent client you can use Mangler. It's open source and can connect to Vent 3.x servers. They even have an Android version out.
 
Old 10-21-2011, 04:19 AM   #5
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post
I don't want to alter my main PC that is shared with my wife and son. They need access to a stable PC so I would rather not experiment with that box. The Beige Box is like Frankenstein, it will be built from old bits and pieces of hardware, thus its cash free. However, I've been unable to get more than 512MB RAM for it and I don't want to invest money into it.
OK, so that's a 'no' to more than 512, then... Irrespective of which distro you choose, look at the lighter GUIs...XFCE, LXDE, maybe Enlightenment. Gnome and KDE use more memory and would have been options with more ram, but you won't be able to get much real work with them unless there is more ram, as I say, irrespective of the distro that you choose. That seems to me to be a recipe for frustration as soon as you really try working with it, but, for some people, I suppose, that is tolerable. Or maybe they like complaining about stuff that they have done, I don't know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post

I realize Slack isn't the most newbie friendly distro. However, with Slack a full (everything) install is less than 10GB, has many of the servers I want to experiment with (web, dns, database, email, samba, NFS, LDAP, etc.), and there are several GUIs to choose from on the install image (no separate install). With the full install being less than 10GB it leaves plenty of space on a single HD for experimentation. Should I consider another server oriented distro. that is more newbie friendly? I'm not ready for Gentoo yet, but I will be soon enough.
Server orientated? Some distros just go to greater lengths to be user- (or, maybe, newbie-) friendly than others. The biggest trade-off is the learning curve, versus exposing you to all of the details. If you really want to learn, you want to see all of the details sometime, but whether that is straight away is a valid question.

Anyway, don't underestimate the learning curve. Probably have a look at couple of 'live' distros, so you don't have to install, and go with what you like.
 
Old 10-21-2011, 09:55 PM   #6
ghoultek
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Quote:
Server orientated? Some distros just go to greater lengths to be user- (or, maybe, newbie-) friendly than others. The biggest trade-off is the learning curve, versus exposing you to all of the details. If you really want to learn, you want to see all of the details sometime, but whether that is straight away is a valid question.
Slackware seems to be more server oriented in that the full install option includes the servers. I'm not sure if Ubuntu or many of the other more user/newbie friendly distros. do that. Ubuntu seems to be targeted/customized toward desktop Linux use. I know that the servers are installable on it because its linux and getting them may just be a trip through the package manager. Slackware isn't the most user/newbie friendly.

As far as the Beige Box goes, I wouldn't bother trying to do serious work on it other than setting up and managing the services on it. The light weight GUI is just for convenience. I'm hoping the P4 2.4Ghz box with 1GB of RAM will be enough to do end-user stuff such as email, web-browse, programming, word processing, listen to music, watch a movie, etc. I was expecting to use RSH or telnet to connected to the Beige Box.
 
Old 10-21-2011, 10:21 PM   #7
k3lt01
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I don't agree fully with the Gnome needs more than 512 MB RAM idea. My old Acer laptop, currently running Ubuntu 10.04 has 256-512MB RAM and runs perfectly ok. It also runs Debian Squeeze perfectly ok and has run Wheezy and Sid/Experimental perfectly ok.

Gnome 3, on the other hand, is a completely different matter but it also needs better graphics so it's not going to run on some older hardware anyway.

Ubuntu has a separate server disk so is no need to install a GUI to get a server up and running. Debian is similar in that you can easily install a server without installing a GUI.

I agree with looking at a LiveCD or DVD first. Debian has a good set of LiveDVDs available and you can even build your own. Ubuntu and LinuxMint also are known for their LiveCDs. Fedora is another quality distro.
 
Old 10-22-2011, 07:07 AM   #8
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoultek View Post
Slackware seems to be more server oriented in that the full install option includes the servers. I'm not sure if Ubuntu or many of the other more user/newbie friendly distros. do that.
Well, essentially all distros do allow you to install all of the servers (assuming you mean things like DHCP, DNS, SAMBA, etc), it just depends a bit on how many hoops you have to jump through to get there. AFAIR, Ubuntu gives you a more-or-less stock install, having chosen a selection of packages for you, and given you little or no choice in what is in that initial selection (people who like this describe it as 'user friendliness'...). Adding extra packages isn't a big issue, unless you don't have any internet bandwidth, because the first thing that you do, post install, is to click a few boxes and you then have what you wanted. (This will be different with Ubuntu server, but I don't remember the exact details - Ubuntu server does not default to having a GUI at all, from what I remember.)

Slightly more worrying is if stuff that you know you don't want is installed by default: if you go round uninstalling stuff, and you don't know what you are doing, you'll break something, eventually, so this takes a bit more care (but still isn't really technically difficult to carry out, necessarily, just a bit worrying).

Some other distros, even the 'user friendly' ones allow you more control at installation time, and while that feels more closely aligned with what you want, adding extra packages really shouldn't really be significant to you, unless, maybe, you are on a dial-up connection, or something.
 
  


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