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Old 05-29-2004, 07:50 AM   #1
Morfedel
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Registered: May 2004
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Question Finding Right Build for Computer Saavy linux newbie.... and his unsaavy wife :)


Hi there.

I'm an ex-microsoft programmer (no booing or hissing please ), and have been curious about Linux for quite some time. Now, I was an applications programmer mostly, not a systems programmer, and I hvae almost zero experience with UNIX or LINUX, but I'd like to get some - experience, that is.

I also have a wife that can use a computer - she isn't illiterate - but if I put her on something with a high learing curve, taking out our windows XP, she will most likely kill me.

Also, I'm an avid game player. I'd love to find something that's good with games. The problem, I know, is that there are not many games out there for Linux yet.

I've heard of some kind of Windows emulator that works well with windows games, however... WineX I think it was called? A person I met once said he was playing all kinds of windows games on it.

Compatability with Microsoft Office software would be nice too.

Additionally, I've heard there are different kinds of desktops? KDE vs... other things? I'm not terribly sure about it....


So, I guess what I'm saying is, I'd like to find a distribution of Linux that is:

1) Powerful
2) Would allow me to play around with as I become more comfortable with
3) Has an easy learning curve, and is easy to use
4) Not too difficult installation for a newbie
5) Can play Windows games if possible - and be compatible with other microsoft material, such as Office files.
6) Wont get my wife killing me!
7) The best method of doing a dual boot... I am not giving up Windows until i've solidly tested this option.
8) solid security


I have a friend who swears by Mandrake, but i've heard lots of good things about Redhat, slackware, etc. I have been looking through web pages via google, and not finding any really solid-seeming comparisons between distributions. I remember once finding a web site that compared three or four in a contest-like format, but I can't find it now.

So i've come to you guys. Each of you probably has your favorite build... what i need is an objective comparison of what is best and why... or if not, perhaps pointing me to a web site that has done so?


Thanks!


James
 
Old 05-29-2004, 08:48 AM   #2
camorri
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1) Powerful
2) Would allow me to play around with as I become more comfortable with
3) Has an easy learning curve, and is easy to use
4) Not too difficult installation for a newbie
5) Can play Windows games if possible - and be compatible with other Microsoft material, such as Office files.
6) Wont get my wife killing me!
7) The best method of doing a dual boot... I am not giving up Windows until i've solidly tested this option.
8) solid security

Let me give you my opinions, I'm sure there will be more.

1. I have run several distros, and the power is there in them all. I've run Slackware, Mandrake (current) Redhat, and one called Damnsmalllinux.

2. Any one will accomplish this goal.

3. None do, notice I started with Slackware, I don't recommend this. It is harder for a noob to install, and you need good skills to configure it. This one is for the advanced user. Wait a year and then try it. Mandrake is as easy as any. Redhat has been replaced with Fedora. I jhave not installed it, you will find lots of posts from the people who have.

4. Fedora, or Mandrake, pick one.

5. There are lots of gamers out there, and lots of games for Linux. I'm not a gammer, so I'll let others answer that.
Install Open Office, it comes with most distros, and is available for Windows as well. So if you are thinking of easing the wife into Linux, sneak it on to your WIndoze partition....

6. You are on your own here.... Install one of the popular desktops, I went with KDE. One apps are installed, you launch programs form a start menu, just like windoze, or you can make desktop icons.

7. Of all the installs I've done, during the install process you can install Lilo or Grub. I put it on the MBR. You get a short list of boot-able OS's. You can set a default. If you and the wife use the same machine, leave the default set to Windoze, and shorten the timeout to say 3 seconds. You will have 3 seconds to arrow to Linux, for her it will boot to Windoze in 3 seconds.

Before you install, check out hardware compatibility, most distros have supported hardware lists. Common problem areas can be modems, printers and some USB devices. You will need some free space, and I mean free, for Linux. During the install process, you will create partitions. Mandrake makes 3 by default.

8.Security is built into Linux, all distros are more secure than windoze. You will learn that early on. File permissions, passwords etc. Lots of stuff on the forums on security.

Best of luck.
 
Old 05-29-2004, 08:48 AM   #3
proudclod
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May I suggest Mandrake 10. Whilst I don't use it personally, it seems to meet all your points. For your wife, she can either dual boot into Windows XP, or use Mandrake - it's quite newbie friendly.

Lets go through the list:

1) Powerful
Mandrake is easy to use, but not crippled like Lindows. So yes.

2) Would allow me to play around with as I become more comfortable with
Yep

3) Has an easy learning curve, and is easy to use
Probably the best distro for this.

4) Not too difficult installation for a newbie
Yes, although I would recommend fedora core 2 for this, but it's got some nasty bugs in partitioning.

5) Can play Windows games if possible - and be compatible with other microsoft material, such as Office files.
Wine and WineX are ok for windows games, I play Warcraft III, Counter Strike and other games using Wine. As for Office files, I use OpenOffice, which does a great job working with Word, Powerpoint and Excel files.

6) Wont get my wife killing me!
You can set the dual boot menu to boot into Windows XP as default after 10 seconds - she won't know the difference.

7) The best method of doing a dual boot... I am not giving up Windows until i've solidly tested this option.
Most distros install GRUB, which is a boot menu that lets you choose the OS you want to use.

8) solid security
Should be fine (keep packages up to date and use an iptables firewall), although I'm used to the awesomely easy to use yum and firewall that come with Fedora Core 2.
 
Old 05-29-2004, 08:51 AM   #4
Hangdog42
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Quote:
So i've come to you guys. Each of you probably has your favorite build... what i need is an objective comparison of what is best and why...
I hate to burst your bubble, but you're not going to get that. The simple reason is that the variety of distros out there are a reflection of the different needs/wants/desires of Linux users. Here is what I mean: You're friend is right, Mandrake is a good, solid, easy to use distro. It aims to make installation and operation as easy as possible. However, personally, I find Slackware much more understandable. And you will get a lot of people disagreeing with me on that for very valid reasons. So what you need to do is look at your needs and figure out what distro will work, and be aware that several of them may,

1&2) Here, I think you'll find Slackware would be a good choice
3 &4) Mandrake and RH are easier to set up than Slackware and come standard with graphical tools to help with system management, so if you're not going to put in the time to learn then I would go with one of these. That said, Slackware can be maintained with nothing more complicated than a text editor. That is one of the main reasons I stick with Slackware.
5) For games, stick with Windows. Winex can probably run stuff, but if you're dual booting anyway, stick with Windows.
5a) There are multiple programs that can replace Office. OpenOffice works nicely and will run on any distro.
6) Run KDE or Gnome as your wife's graphical environment. They are similar enough to Windows to be comprehensible to a Windows user (my wife hasn't killed me over KDE yet!)
7) Any distro can dual boot. Just be aware what boot manager your distro uses (usually GRUB or LILO) and read up on how to set up the configuration files. There are multiple examples here at LQO
8)Again, this is distro independant. If you don't want to mess with iptables scripts, check out some graphical firewall managers such as firestarter.


So the distro you choose should depend on which of your requirements are most important to you. And don't be afraid to make a "wrong" choice. If you don't like the distro you start with you can always blow it away and try another.
 
Old 05-29-2004, 09:05 AM   #5
lyceum
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i second *third?* the opinion that fedora or mandrake are your best bets for an easy(ish) transition. i dual boot xp and fedora core 1 on my laptop. my wife insists on having the xp on because she is basically a technophobe, while i have a computer science degree. fedora's installer, named anaconda, is the easiest that i have come across, and automates most things...you may find that this is not desirable later in your linux experience, but is nice if you have no experience.

best of luck, and if you have any questions, bring em here. this is the best place i have found for answering my many questions.
 
Old 05-29-2004, 09:16 AM   #6
Morfedel
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Wow, thanks for the prompt replies!

So it would seem that the concensus is, for my needs, Redhat or Mandrake. What are the pros and cons of each when comparing the two?

Also, when it comes to creating a dual boot, and repartitioning my HD space, will I have to reformat and reinstall my Windows xp stuff too? I'd assume yes, but it would sure be great if i could avoid the extra work!
 
Old 05-29-2004, 09:24 AM   #7
proudclod
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Quote:
Originally posted by Morfedel
Wow, thanks for the prompt replies!

So it would seem that the concensus is, for my needs, Redhat or Mandrake. What are the pros and cons of each when comparing the two?

Also, when it comes to creating a dual boot, and repartitioning my HD space, will I have to reformat and reinstall my Windows xp stuff too? I'd assume yes, but it would sure be great if i could avoid the extra work!
Right, Fedora Core 2 has a nasty habit of making a mess of the MBR, meaning that you have to fix it. it's an easy fix, and not everyone gets the problem. Note down my email - if you get the problem where you can't boot XP, then drop me a line and i'll tell you the fix.

I can't compare the two, the last mandrake I used was.... 7 i think.

As for installing, basically, your XP install is probably on an NTFS partition. You don't have to reformat, just resize the ntfs partition. Many people use the knoppix livecd to do this. So defragment in windows, then boot the knoppix cd and resize. Mandrake may be able to resize NTFS partitions itself - I don't know.

Then in the free space, you can install mandrake/fedora.
 
Old 05-29-2004, 09:35 AM   #8
Hangdog42
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Quote:
Also, when it comes to creating a dual boot, and repartitioning my HD space, will I have to reformat and reinstall my Windows xp stuff too? I'd assume yes, but it would sure be great if i could avoid the extra work!
May I HIGHLY recommend Partition Magic? If you can part with the cash, it beats everything else I've tried. If you do decide to re-install XP, be sure to do it BEFORE you install linux. XP can make a hash of things if it isn't installed first.
 
  


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