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Old 03-13-2007, 03:44 AM   #1
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Registered: Mar 2007
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Complete Newbie, know nothing, where do i start?

Hey guys,
Im completely new here so please be gentle with me. I have been interested in exploring Linux for a while now but i dont know anyting.
Up to this point i have been nothing but a Windows boy but now im interested in finding out about this alternative OS.
Problem is - i dont know ANYTHING? (Literally!)

Where do i get this OS from? (ive heard it is free and can be downloaded).

Is there just one kind of Linux OS or many different kinds.

Does it have like a Windows update feature to correct bugs etc?

Device Drivers - Where do i get these or will Windows ones work?

Software - Again where do i get software from or will Windows Software work?

System requirements - Wat is recommended?

I know this is ALOT of questions but i really appreciate any help!
Old 03-13-2007, 04:09 AM   #2
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Registered: Jan 2004
Location: NJ, USA
Distribution: Slackware, Debian
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Those are some very broad questions, so excuse me if the answers are equally as broad.

1. Yes, you download it for free from the Internet. You can even download it from the site you are currently on, LQ ISOs.

2. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different versions of "Linux". Linux is itself not an operating system, but part of an OS. Many OS's are built around Linux, each being called a distribution.

3. Some distributions have automatic updates, many do not.

4. Almost every device supported by Linux has it's drivers included with the kernel. For all other devices, they either don't work or you will need to find the drivers online with Google. Windows drivers can be used for some devices (mainly just WiFi cards) through ndiswrapper.

5. Windows software does not natively run under Linux, but WINE aims to add a Windows compatibility layer to Linux which allows it to run some software with varying degrees of success. But mainly you will use software from the repositories for your distribution. In many "modern" distributions this is just a matter of clicking on it's name from a list and waiting for it to automatically install.

6. Depends on the distribution.
Old 03-13-2007, 04:13 AM   #3
Simon Bridge
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Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Waiheke NZ
Distribution: Ubuntu
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Cool - If I were you I'd start at:
... this site features a very large collection of reviews and info on free distributions. Including where to get them from.

... this is a short quiz which attempts to match you with a linux distribution.

You should also find a good local bookshop and browse their compuetrs section: there is usually a selection of books on linux (usually out of date) which you can browse. Similarly for the library. Also look out for linux magazines - these will often feature cover disks of distributions you can install.

Some linux tutorials...

But, as soon as you can, install something or at least run a live distribution.
Have fun.
Old 03-13-2007, 04:16 AM   #4
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Registered: Aug 2003
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You can start getting Linux distributions (there are multiple of those) from here (at LQ) for example. On the right is "main menu", there is a link "download linux", see that. You'll need an empty cd or an empty dvd to burn the iso image (as image, not as regular data) onto, and before burning an installation disc I suggest you grab one of the Live distributions/discs that you can boot and try Linux with before actually installing the operating system.

Other answers:

- there are multiple different kinds of Linux' (called 'distributions'). Basically they have a Linux kernel and some software (mostly GNU software), but the kernel and program versions may differ, they may have different sets of software installed out-of-the-box, they may be tuned in different ways etc. Basically "Linux" means the kernel, which is quite the same in all of them (but patched, for example, so not exactly the same), but generally if you learn to use one Linux distribution you can quite easily learn to use the rest (and Unix systems as well) because they are so similar.
- usually you get more programs using a package manager program of the Linux distribution you install. It's a program that has a list of available programs that you can simply point&click-install (or something as easy as that). Or you can download a suitable format binary package for that distribution from the web and install that, often by double-clicking on it or running a command to install it (documentation is found for each distribution on how this is done), or if you can't find anything else, you can always compile programs from source code if you have compilers etc. installed.
- updating programs is usually also done by the package manager program; on some systems (like Fedora or Ubuntu for example) you have a nice little icon on the menu bar that blinks when you have updates available and asks you if you would like to install them. A little like in Windows.
- device drivers, or many of them, come with the distribution (usually compiled into the kernel or as modules that are loaded when needed). In some cases you don't have them so you might need to manually install them (or compile into the kernel), and in some cases if there exists no driver (for Linux) for your device, you may be able to use the Windows driver (for example with wireless ethernet cards you can use ndiswrapper program to use Windows .inf driver files, if native drivers don't exist)
- system requirements depend a lot on what you want and choose. A Linux system, if you want to make it that way, can mean you get a web server installed in less than 8MB. On the other hand if you don't like to do a lot of work but just grab one of the most 'famous' distributions you'll probably end up using 2-5GB of disk space for a whole range of programs and stuff. Linux can run on very low memory and with slow processors, but if you want to have a "modern desktop", I suggest you have 256MB of RAM or more and a decent cpu. If your Windows runs on some hardware, then Linux runs on that too -- but not necessarily vice versa

Take a look at distrowatch website also.

EDIT: nowadays if you choose to use a "desktop Linux distribution" you can live with graphical desktop and often don't need to take a look at the console if you don't want to. Nearly every task can be done using graphical user interfaces (like you do in Windows), but if you want to, you can take advantage of the console; after all, X (The graphical server) is just a program of one kind, and not the only way of using Linux. Look at the website for a start-off with console commands; sooner or later you probably will want to know how it works, so it doesn't harm you to know the basics -- removing and moving files, editing files and so on. If you get into it, you can do more with your console than with your X programs.

Last edited by b0uncer; 03-13-2007 at 04:18 AM.
Old 03-13-2007, 05:46 AM   #5
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i gotta say a big thanks to you guys for the quick and informative reponses.

The questions were very open ended (ignorance on the OS from my part) but your answers MS3FGX were great..THANKS!

The quiz Simon was very helpful and pointed me towards some companies to look into!!!

Finally thanks b0uncer for the long reply. It is very very much appreciated!!!

You have given me loads to look into and believe me when im say im in the process of turning! lol
Old 03-13-2007, 10:22 PM   #6
Registered: Oct 2004
Distribution: Debian Testing
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MS3FGX, that was the first test I have done that actually worked for me. I have taken similar ones that pointed to distros that I won't use, but this one came up with the one I use.

For the original poster, All the different distros, kernel, Desktop environments, windows managers, etc. This can be confusing for a newbie, but eventually, you will find what you want. I can not tell you which distro to use, because what I like might not be what you like.

Different distros have different philosophies. Some want to use the latest and greatest, some look for security, some look at stability, others for user determination of what they want, others for automatic configuration of your hardware. I love the distro I use. It has a very easy way to install almost all the software I want, it has a good update manager to tell me that updates are available. But what I want, might not be what you want. That is part of the linux community, the choice is yours.

If your experience is anything like mine, you will go through a few distros until you find the one that fits you.

To answer a couple of your questions... You can download and install programs. But depending on your distro, this might not be the best way. Unlinke Windows, a lot of distros have repositories of software to download. It is usually best to use your distro's package manager to install software, unless you have a need to compile and install yourself.

As for system requirements, that will depend on your distro. But let me assure you, your computer is fine as requirements go. If you have the newest hardware, you might find that you can't find a driver to run it, but that is very rare. Some companies don't like to disclose what is needed for their hardware to run in linux, but thanks to some very helpful people there are solutions to this. Typically, if your hardware is a year old or older, someone has figured a way to get it to work. But this is not always the case, but in general, you should be fine.

If you really want to learn and use linux, just don't get frustrated. It is a different OS than the one you are used to using. You will have questions, this forum is great at finding answers.

Best of luck, please let us know how things are going.


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