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Old 04-22-2015, 08:55 AM   #1
Another Unixnoob
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GUI Linux suggestions for complete noob.


I'm looking for a GUI version to start on. I've used Windows for many years and have gotten used to it so I would prefer something that has a feel like Windows but would allow me to learn to use Linux. Also appreciated would be a link to a good, free anti-virus app to go with it.

I tried Mandrake in the past with no success. Although it has a GIU front end, after installing programs, I could find no way to see the files that had been installed or even a list of executable programs (similar to the Windoze Start button).

It just seemed to me that it was saying told me, this is your disk data area, everything else is off limits. It's my disk, it doesn't belong to the writers of the OS, therefore, I should have access to ALL areas of it. I had that row with Windows telling me the Program Files folder was off limits to me, even when I upgraded my login profile to Administrator.

I want to to learn how to use it and how the OS structures it's own data areas so I'd want some way to access those areas of the disk as well, similar to accessing the system folders in Windows to learn how things work.

Mandrake seemed OK at first but then it was like the GUI was a door but either side of it was a completely alien landscape. The only familiar thing was the door itself. I'm looking for a windows type feel at the front end so I have familiar ground to work from with the alien landscape on the outside of the door only.

Thanks.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 09:04 AM   #2
rtmistler
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Try live distributions to see which one you prefer best, this way you don't need to install first.

I recommend either Ubuntu or Mint, but there are others.

It's all never going to be exactly like Windows.

There usually is a start menu point where you can see programs and documents and also type a bit of something like "cal" for calculator and it will then show you the reducing list of matches, as you type more closely to the finished word. I do not believe most Linux desktops will just show you all installed programs. Yeah, weird, and unhelpful. But a thing to do is open the browser and search for things like "spreadsheet program for mandrake linux" and it will show you stuff for that where you'll learn that there is one and it just has a very odd name that you weren't expecting or something. Depending on what you search for, it may be that you'd need to install something. But most full desktop distributions should have a writer, spreadsheet, editor, browser, multimedia stuff, ... most of the common things.

I agree with your blog entry comments.

Shudder, I hesitate to recommend this thread. "I" actually created it, and it's become very medium controversial. We all have opinions and my thinking was exactly your point, which is "what will it take for Linux to be the commonplace OS for desktops?"

Last edited by rtmistler; 04-22-2015 at 09:06 AM.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 09:06 AM   #3
dolphin_oracle
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I recommend MX-14.4 (see website in my signature).


The issue you have with the file system being cut off from your main user is that users in linux, by default, normally do not have "administrator" level access. In linux that is called root access. Normally those file system areas are browseable by the normal user, but only the root user/account can modify the files, and in some cases, only the root user can view the actual files.

The only areas where the standard user account has total access is in the home folder for that user. But you can always switch on the fly to the root user account to play around with things in the file system.

Some systems like MX user a root account with its own password. Some systems like ubuntu allow the regular user to have elevated privileges for an operation via the sudo command, which will ask for a password, but that password is the regular user account password.

Either way, you can generally do root-level things without logging out of your regular user account. How you do that depends on the particular system you choose.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 09:16 AM   #4
wpeckham
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Not windows

In Microsoft systems on the NT kernels (WinNT v3.5 through Win10) the gui IS the system. (OK, not really, but it tries very hard to avoid the user seeing anything else during normal operation.) Prior to the NT kernel, Dos and Windows were, at the base, an OS that was very real and (mostly) real-time with a multitasking GUI that could be dropped on top.

Linux is totally different, but between the two more like Microsoft prior to the NT kernel. Only far, FAR more advanced and free.

The whole point of a gui is to hide the niggling little details from the user and make pretty pictures possible. Perhaps unavoidable. But the REAL OS is underneath!

If you want to see all of the goodies, there are two ways to go. Any decent gui WILL show you the applications and features that have links into the menu systems, or icons on the desktop. You can find some very interesting things and spend weeks exploring just in that one domain alone. The other choice is to get to the shell (or a shell window under the gui) running an xterm program or clone, rxvt, xterm, etc. from there you can examine more folders and files the gui has never dreamed. For executables check out the utilities in (depending upon your distro) /bin, /usr/bin, /usr/local/bin, /opt/bin. For things only the superuser or systme should be using, check /sbin, /usr/sbin, /usr/local/sbin, /opt/sbin. Note that not all of these exist, in some distros one may be a clone of another, and that your distro may have other locations. (Avoid gobolinux if you want a more 'standard' view, as gobo sets a new and different standard.)

If you have a 'file manager' or 'file explorer' program you CAN get to these from the gui, but however you get there take some care. Check the man pages before you execute programs you do not understand. Going into POWER mode can be heady, and risky. You can wipe your system, destroy your networking, have a lot of fun, manage your system better, or other things totally against the natural order. ;-) The power is yours, and "with great power comes...": yeah, you know.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 09:19 AM   #5
whm1974
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Quote:
It just seemed to me that it was saying told me, this is your disk data area, everything else is off limits. It's my disk, it doesn't belong to the writers of the OS, therefore, I should have access to ALL areas of it. I had that row with Windows telling me the Program Files folder was off limits to me, even when I upgraded my login profile to Administrator.
It is a bad idea to run with administrator/root privileges all the time. You should use those
privileges only when you need to.
 
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:20 AM   #6
veerain
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Each distro has it's own way of system layout though most conform to FHS and LSB. Read FHS manual for directory and files layout in a linux filesystem.

Also directories and files are protected by unix permissions so read/write/execute priviledge can be segregated. In addition there may also be ACL(Access Control Lists). In some distro like Fedora there would be additional SeLinux(Mandatory Aceess Control).

Executables are usually placed in /bin, /usr/bin, /sbin, /usr/sbin. Most are cli commands and some are GUI type.

You can read docs of commands using 'man' and 'info' command. And usually documentation is placed in '/usr/share/doc'.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 09:40 AM   #7
yancek
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Quote:
It just seemed to me that it was saying told me, this is your disk data area, everything else is off limits.
Linux was designed from the start to be a multi-user operating system. That means each user has his/her own space for data and the system files for the operating system are separate. Modifying them requires administrative/root privileges. It would be impractical to give any/every user administrative rights to any other users files. Running as administrator and going online is problematic because it subjects your computer to being taken over by someone else and used as a "bot" to corrupt other computers which is a major problem.

If you're looking for a windows feel your best bet is to buy windows although there are some Linux systems which try to be like windows, Zorin for one example.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 09:56 AM   #8
JeremyBoden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Unixnoob View Post
It just seemed to me that it was saying told me, this is your disk data area, everything else is off limits. It's my disk, it doesn't belong to the writers of the OS, therefore, I should have access to ALL areas of it.
If you want access to everything, Linux will let you have it. It will be your fault if you damage files beyond your abilities to recover them.
Note that everything is a file (almost) so feel free to overwrite any file.

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 10:31 AM   #9
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Unixnoob View Post
I could find no way to see the files that had been installed or even a list of executable programs (similar to the Windoze Start button).

It just seemed to me that it was saying told me, this is your disk data area, everything else is off limits. It's my disk, it doesn't belong to the writers of the OS,
I think you might be conflating two different issues:

There is the access control system (in both Linux and Windows) where as owner of an individual system (as opposed to individual on a multi-user system) you have rights to all the files, but by default only if you do some extra step each time you want to exercise such rights. That is supposed to prevent you from accidentally destroying the system through careless commands or through access to malware.

The other issue is that the "desktop" (or similar component depending on distribution) in Linux is distinct from the "file browser".

One of the things I greatly prefer about Windows is that the "desktop" and "file browser" are integrated (both are explorer). But I hate the fact that the web browser is also that same program. For both security and convenience a "file browser" and "web browser" should be separate.

So far as I have experienced in Linux, the "file browser" and "web browser" might or might not be integrated, depending on which one you choose. But the "desktop" and "file browser" are not integrated, which I find very inconvenient and I think that is the reason you feel you can't "see" the files.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 11:46 AM   #10
JeremyBoden
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Except in the sense that the Desktop directory is a sub-directory of my home directory.
So I can drag and drop, copy and paste etc between my file browser and my desktop.

Therefore I regard my desktop and file browser to be quite strongly integrated...
 
Old 04-22-2015, 12:15 PM   #11
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyBoden View Post
Except in the sense that the Desktop directory is a sub-directory of my home directory.
So I can drag and drop, copy and paste etc between my file browser and my desktop.

Therefore I regard my desktop and file browser to be quite strongly integrated...
I meant the "desktop" program and GUI. I understand that "desktop" is also a directory in the file system and can be accessed as such in a file browser. But that really doesn't imply any integration of the GUI's.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 12:56 PM   #12
jlinkels
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Unixnoob View Post
(similar to the Windoze Start button)
Try Linux Mint Debian edition. It has a start button, as opposed to Windows 8!

Seriously, Mint with the Mate desktop gets you as close to the Windows experience as possible.

However, where Windows confines you to the GUI and tries to hide as many system information as possible, Linux does not.

True, your accessibility from within the GUI is about the same level. Mint does not magically provide you with GUI tools to access every system setting. The Linux way for real system administration is command line. Open a terminal window and you have full access to all system internals. If administrator rights are required, precede your command with sudo.

Program files are usually found in /bin, /usr/bin or /opt. Log files in /var/log and settings in /etc. All directories are browsable from your standard file explorer. Forgot what it is in Mint. Browsable, not editable.

Program maintenance is performed through the package manager. Installed programs show up in the Start menu. Really.

Avoid logging into the GUI as root, and avoid installing or removing programs outside the package manager.

jlinkels
 
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Old 04-22-2015, 03:10 PM   #13
JeremyBoden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsfine View Post
I meant the "desktop" program and GUI. I understand that "desktop" is also a directory in the file system and can be accessed as such in a file browser. But that really doesn't imply any integration of the GUI's.
Yes it does - it's the same program providing the layout for both - in my case "nemo".
I believe Ubuntu uses nautilus in the same way.
 
Old 04-22-2015, 03:16 PM   #14
rtmistler
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The OP cited Windows like and that's going to be all subjective. They can either work with some of them which are close and customize to mimic Windows near exactly, but I'm sure Linux adopters would be like "why bother". I think they should just live boot a few desktop distros and decide what they think is closest to their preference. But there may be nothing which might satisfy them as much as they'd like. I'm not crazy at trying distros, but I think Ubuntu and MINT are pretty good for providing desktops. The bottom line is that any Linux desktop distro is not exactly Windows and therefore it will be "different".
 
Old 04-22-2015, 03:18 PM   #15
JeremyBoden
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BTW here is a Mint screenshot of the "Start" button...
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