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Old 07-21-2004, 05:39 PM   #1
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Registered: Jul 2004
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Question Abject idiot's questions.

Ok, lemme start off by saying that I'm a complete idiot when it comes to technical matters so forgive me if my questions reek of stupidity, 'tis not intentional... I've looked around a fair few Linux F.A.Qs and sites already and for the most part they lose me at the first mention of anything vaguely complicated, but even after gleening what I could from them it'd be nice to have someone to answer my questions and clarify things for me...

Erm, right, anyways, I'm currently running Windows '98 and after a grand fiasco when I attempted to upgrade to XP, which culminated in me having to format my hard drive, I'm finally looking to move away from my Microsoft operating systems and towards something that doesn't get screwed up quite so easily, Linux seems like the best/obvious choice... I don't have any great details on my system but here's what I know, incase it makes any difference to things, it's a:

P4 2.4Ghz
640mb RAM
20Gb Hard drive
Radeon 9200SE Graphics card
I think it has a Gigabyte motherboard, although due to the loss of documentation I'm not entirely certain.
I've also got a DVD Drive and a CDRW on it.

I guess the first and most important question is what distribution (right word?) should I be looking at? I'm just a home user so I don't need anything that's overly concentrated on networking. I mainly use my comp for the web, music and the occasional bit of gaming, perhaps the rare use of a graphics program as well...

My main worry about switching over is in compatability, both hardware and software wise. I've heard mention of programs which act as emulators for Windows programs, could anyone recommend a particular one to me? How relilable are they in general? Is there a chance that I'll have programs which won't work, even with the emulator? Hardware compatability is, of course, a major issue, if my computer won't work with Linux then it becomes rather a pointless excersise to try it...

I know that saying this won't do me any favours but I have an AOL Broadband account... Disregarding most people on the internets natural urge to lynch me for this would it actually work with Linux? I assume it would be a driver/software issue, would AOL's setup be ok? This is more laziness than a need to know thing on my part admitedly, if no one knows I'll just call AOL tomorrow and ask the questions, or just check their website, but if anyone has practical experience of trying to make it work it'd be appreciated.

Installation, how hard is it to install a Linux OS on your system? I'll probably set it up as a dual boot thingy to start with, just until I'd found my feet but is the setup process likely to beyond my abilities? Or more importantly is it likely to screw with my Windows installation? If anyone could recommend a partition/dual boot program as well I'd be profoundly greatful.

... Ok, I think I'm onto the last question now... Audio support, I use my comp for music 85% of the time and at the moment I'm set up with a whole swarm of audio programs, without going into emulators does Linux have any good audio software? At the very least I'll need a basic player, like WinAMP, or a Jukebox program, although I can check that myself it would, again, be nice to hear people's recommendations...

Right... Er... I think that's it

Thanks for reading this far, if anyone can offer any advice/warnings/help then it'd be greatly appreciated... Once again, sorry if some/all of my questions are incredibly, paralysingly stupid but I'm very much still learning so try not to be too harsh on me...

Thanks again.

Old 07-21-2004, 05:52 PM   #2
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Ohio, USA
Distribution: Arch Linux
Posts: 464

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First off, dual booting is a good idea if your a noob.
Perhaps the first thing to do is get a disk partitioning utility
and split your hard drive. 2 fat32 partitions will do.
Then install Windows on the first one.
Next, get yourself an easy distro like Mandrake. ( will have it)
Install Mandrake!
I haven't used that distro in a while but the install should ask you how
you want to partition your drive. Leave the first partition be (windows)
and let Mandrake setup automaticaly set up the second one. (ext3 probably)
Since you have Windows on the machine, if you have probs you can ask here.

Oh yeah, xmms is just like winamp.

Oh yeah again, right click on "my computer" and go into the
device manager and write down the specs for all your hardware.

Last edited by auditek747; 07-21-2004 at 05:58 PM.
Old 07-21-2004, 05:57 PM   #3
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Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Somerset, England
Distribution: Slackware 10.2, Slackware 10.0, Ubuntu 9.10
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Simple one first: playing mp3 you have the choice of xmms (very winamp 2 like), the command line mpg321, mplayer, ummmm....there are loads (there's usually loads of choice with linux programs)....

...though to contradict myself, the only real choice for windows emulation (not actually emulation, it's an API layer, but the end is the same) is WINE. Is there a chance you'll have programs that won't work? Does the pope wear a funny hat?! Mostly you'll find linux programs for everything anyway...and they'll be free Games like UT, UT2003/2004, Quake3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein all have linux versions (you don't need to buy them again, you use a linux installer that can be gotten free with a windows CDROM version of the game).

Distro is a matter of choice, but most beginners seem to think that Mandrake is a good start for newbies. I can't comment on it, I've never used it. Alternatively there are those who think SuSE or Fedora are good. I would say to stay away from Slackware for a while, it has a slightly different setup to the others and doesn't include nearly so many tools. There are a few live CD distros (run off the cd-drive, no install) around that might give you an idea of if your hardware will work. Try knoppix, if you like it it can be installed to your hard disk.

Your AOL account may be a problem. I don't use AOL so search this site to find some info on it. I'm sure there must be some linux users who are using it. There is a program called pengaol or something, but like I ssaid, I don't use AOL so I can't say.
Old 07-21-2004, 06:12 PM   #4
Registered: Nov 2002
Location: Kent, England
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Welcome to LQ (AcolyteRizla? friend of Hugo Rune? Another Rankin fan, methinks )

With your hardware, just about any distro will fit. You may have problems with the, now legendary , Radeon - I have seen a number of posts where people have had hassles with the drivers. But they do work - just takes a bit of effort.

To run your Windows programs (assuming there isn't a suitable Linux alternative), you will need a program called Wine. Alternatively, if you don't mind spending some money, Crossover Office will be what you are after. Frank's Corner will give you instructions on installing programs under Wine.

Winamp can be happily replaced with MPlayer or XMMS. A tip - in my sig block (below) is a link to my bookmarks. Among the links is a Windows/Linux equivalency table.

Most distributions are easy to install. Since you are just starting out (it is important to note that all of us here have tried out various distros before hitting on the one we like - and some are still trying them out) I would head over to LinuxISO where you can download a number of distros. There is also help with making sure the iso you download isn't corrupted and also instructions on how to burn an iso. I would suggest you start with Mandrake and/or Fedora - they are both very newbie friendly.

Also, to add to all that, head over to The Linux Documentation Project to read up on (you guessed it) Linux Documents. You may also want to check out RUTE. I'd also suggest grabbing some 'Howto Linux' type books from your local library, or from Amazon or the bookstore (again, if you don't mind shelling out some cash).

Anyway, have fun and if you have any questions, post back here.
Old 07-21-2004, 07:11 PM   #5
Senior Member
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Somerset, England
Distribution: Slackware 10.2, Slackware 10.0, Ubuntu 9.10
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Originally posted by XavierP

Most distributions are easy to install. Since you are just starting out (it is important to note that all of us here have tried out various distros before hitting on the one we like - and some are still trying them out)
Yes, Xavier makes a good point - don't be disheartened or give up just because the first distro you try gives you problems or doesn't suit your purpose, there are plenty of others to try.

Personally I started with Redhat 6.2 waaay back, then tried DefiniteLinux 7(now defunct), Red Hat 7.2, Red Hat 9, SuSE something-or-other before finally settling on Slackware 9.1 and now 10. Although it seems like that's a lot, up until Red Hat 9, linux was on and off my system and until Slackware 9.1 it was sharing a drive with windows.

Fortunately those days are over I've been windows (and MS) free for seven months now!
Old 07-21-2004, 08:57 PM   #6
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Registered: Jul 2004
Location: McKinney, TX
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Dual-booting will probably be the best way to go for starting out, if you don't have an extra computer handy. I've had other/older computers to play with, so it wasn't until recently that I actually wiped windows off of my main computer.

Also, if you're starting out, you may want to start with something like suse or mandrake. I haven't tried it (yet) but friends tell me that mandrake 10 is super easy and was really good about detecting hardware. I imagine I'll be trying it out in a few weeks here.

Suse is really easy also, but I'm finding a love/hate relationship growing with yast (the package manager for suse).

Like Xavier said, most people have tried many different distros before settling on one (speaking from my personal experience, redhat 8 nearly made me give up linux all together...well, not all wouldn't let me do that...anyway, moving on).

I'm finally looking to move away from my Microsoft operating systems and towards something that doesn't get screwed up quite so easily
This kinda makes me chuckle...heheh. It is very easy to screw up your system (log in as root and type "rm -Rf /*"). But (imho) you're not learning until you screw up your system at least once and have to reformat.

You probably won't have many problems with your system as far as hardware goes (well, except for maybe your video card as some have mentioned). OH...and let me just say that you'll hear often that it doesn't take much to run linux, but it is awesome if you have a good system!

Oh yeah...and when installing, always, ALWAYS create a normal user account and log in with it. Don't get into the habit of logging in as root...remember...rm -rf....try it someday.


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