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Old 08-21-2005, 10:44 AM   #1
Sindaaran
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First things first: Which version?


Ive used Windows 98/NT/XP all my life, and Im considering switching to linux (ive heard it is better at everything than Windows, but then, fanboys will say anything). The magic word was 'free'.

I will be installing it on a fresh partition, with windows running on another partition. I will be using Linux as an office machine, that is, running spreadsheets, databases and so on.

I am confused by all the versions. So far, I'm likening the Linux name to Microsoft (purely for example sake) and the different distributions (SuSE, Red Hat etc.) to be the equivalent of 98/XP.

So which distibution is best for me? I really do not know what the pros/cons are of any particular one.

Should I just sod off back to windows, and shut the door behind me?

Thanks,
Chris

EDIT: I realise this question mustve been asked a thousand times before, so a one-word answer will do

Last edited by Sindaaran; 08-21-2005 at 10:47 AM.
 
Old 08-21-2005, 10:50 AM   #2
craigevil
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Do a search of the forum. It depends on how much you want to learn.

Google is your friend. There are some very good books available for learning, although anything you need to learn can be found on the net.

A little tip: learning to really use the power of Linux involves reading, trial and error. Keep at it until you get things to work they way you want them to. Tweaking is half the fun.

Linux is not Windows. Please get that part firmly embedded in your mind right away. Once you come to accept that simple fact it becomes much easier to learn how to use Linux.

Now if you really want to learn Linux, here's a little advice:
1. Start off with a LIVECD like Knoppix to get a feel for things.
2. When you are ready install a reasonably newbie friendly distro. Mepis, PCLinuxOS, Xandros, SUSE, Mandriva, and Ubuntu are all good choices.
3. Set up a dual-boot. That way you can boot into Windows when you want and use Linux when you want.
4. Forget everything you ever thought you knew about Windows.
5. Start with a clean slate and an open mind.
6. Accept the fact that the CLI is far more flexible and powerful than a GUI. Learn how to use it. LinuxCommand.org: Learn the Linux command line. Write shell scripts.
7. Read the man pages for the various programs.
8. Read ALL of the documentation available for the distro you choose.
9. Accept the fact that it takes time to learn a new system.
10. When trying to address a problem or figure something out: a) search the forums. b) google c) How to ask smart questions d) Read Getting Linux Help HOWTO
11. Stick with a single distro for a while until you've actually learned how to use it.
12. Do not get discouraged if things don't always work. If something isn't working correctly learn WHY it isn't.
13. Always remember Linux doesn't assume you're stupid, unlike windows.
14. Read rute The Linux Documentation Project
 
Old 08-21-2005, 10:51 AM   #3
boxerboy
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well for starters most distros if not all come with open office so ur set there. 2nd forget everything u ever leaned about windows its no help to linux. god i wish that was a joke. i guess it all depends on what u like or what all u need. and all depends on how experinced u are in say command lines. i would and did start out with lets say fedora core 4 and just went threw them till i found ones i liked and im still trying out distros i didnt try b4. someday maybe ill find the linux of my dreams lol
 
Old 08-21-2005, 10:53 AM   #4
boxerboy
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ok craig hit everything on the nose.
 
Old 08-21-2005, 10:58 AM   #5
synaptical
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the analogy is not bad, but ultimately a little flawed for reasons that aren't really important.

as for what distro, go for something relatively easy with good package management like mepis, ubuntu, or even arch. rpm distros are also supposedly newbie friendly: fedora, mandriva, etc. personally i have found the non-rpm distros easier to deal with, but everyone's preferences are different. whatever you choose, if you put in a little time in the beginning to *read the documentation* and get up to speed, you will be rewarded later with a robust system that's easy to upgrade and maintain.

but definitely don't just give up on the idea and go back to windows without giving linux a fair trial (meaning you might have to do a little work -- just like learning windows is work, too, people sometimes forget ). when longhorn or whatever is next comes out, you'll be shelling out a whole lot *more* money, and you'll have to learn a bunch of "new" things anyway, e.g., there's always new configuration and reg hacks, etc. not to mention interface stuff you have to "re-learn" whenever MS ships out a new version for the masses to consume ( sorry, no offense). you might as well just learn linux once and more or less be done with it.


>> a little surprised at how similar all the answers are. craigevil gives excellent advice, study that post and you will be well on your way.

Last edited by synaptical; 08-21-2005 at 11:03 AM.
 
Old 08-21-2005, 11:03 AM   #6
Sindaaran
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k

right, ive got 5% of 700mb of Mepis 3.1.1.1.insert digit here.

Thanks for your help, ill be around asking how i compile a floppy disk and mount a kernel.

Chris
 
Old 08-21-2005, 11:16 AM   #7
sundialsvcs
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As for me, I would find some other entirely separate machine and first install Linux there. No dual-booting, no partitioning. Just wipe the sucker clean and use it as a pure test-bed. Nothing of importance is on it, so you can wipe 'er clean as many times as you wish. That is key in really learning an OS. You need to be able to do that learning "at your convenience," and to do so without de-stabilizing or risking the system that presently earns you money. It's also very helpful to be able to compare the two systems side-by-side.

A "cast-off" (sic) system (that is to say, one about three years old ) is perfectly suitable. They can be had for a song, even at places like a Goodwill store. If it doesn't have a CD-ROM and network-card, pop one in. If it doesn't have "oodles of RAM" (why not?), the local computer repair store probably has a box-full of the right parts... they can't give 'em away.

Start with a commercial-distro of your choice and sign-up for their updates service for a year. Start with package-based maintenance, and configure the package service to keep copies of the downloaded packages so that you can inspect them.

When you "dive in" to Linux, realize fully that you will be doing all of the maintenance ... of a system that is basically unlike what you have seen before. Your will experience an exquisite brand of headache, not once but many times. (Picture what happens in Lemmings when you push the "Nuke" button! ) This is perfectly normal.

After the initial thermonuclear explosions subside, you'll notice that this "very strange new system that is unlike anything you've seen before" is actually very much like what you're used-to, only completely different. You'll begin to connect the dots between the two environments by watching them side-by-side, and your depth of knowledge in both systems will grow tremendously.

After you become comfortable with Linux, and after you've gotten a nice pocket-sized USB disk drive to back everything up, dive into the next level .. figuring out how Linux really works. Start installing software, and the kernel itself, without using packages. The computer is yours, and so is all the source-code. Dive in. Slowly.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 08-21-2005 at 11:20 AM.
 
Old 08-21-2005, 11:24 AM   #8
sundialsvcs
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Re: k

Quote:
Originally posted by Sindaaran
Thanks for your help, ill be around asking how i compile a floppy disk and mount a kernel.
Big hint here: don't!

Forget about floppy-disks. Ignore the parts, still found in every distro's instruction-manuals, about "emergency boot-disks." Lots of computers these days don't even have floppy-drives, and no one needs them. If your computer cannot boot from the hard-drive, it can still boot from CD-ROM. And on that CD-ROM you can have 700MB of stuff... even a complete ROM-only Linux system such as Knoppix. You can (and should) burn a backup-image of all the stuff from your current distribution, so that known-good copies of files can be replaced just by copying them.

When your Linux system is "working just fine," it's an excellent time to boot up that CD-ROM and practice recovery-procedures.
 
  


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