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m_a_b 08-19-2003 09:34 PM

Help me decide what to do!!
First off, Hello everyone. I am new to the forum and just signed up today.

OK, here is the deal... I have been wanting to try out Linux for the last year or two since everyone has been making such a big deal about it! :cool: Tonight, I bought a copy of Partition Magic and am thinking about allocating some space for Linux on the drive, but I have a few questions. Please forgive my ignorance as I truely know NOTHING about linux!

First, let me tell you about my computer:

Intel Pentium 4 (1.4GHz)
Elsa Gloria III video card (NVIDIA Quadro)
Intel D850GB motherboard with integrated Audio/LAN
60GB Maxtor HD
Kenwood 52x Truex CDROM
Yamaha CDRW
Iomega Zip 100 Atapi/IDE
Logitech Cordless Mouse
Microsoft Internet Pro Keyboard
Windows 2000 Pro with NTFS file system on C: and data is stored on another partition, E: also NTFS

So, that said...
1) what distribution should I download? I am leaning towards Suse, but have also looked at Red Hat.

2) How much space should I allocate?

3) Do you see any potential hardware compatibility issues?

4) How hard is the OS to learn and what *FREE* software is available that is strongly recommended to make the OS usable?

I know these are broad stroke questions, but as I said, I am Linux ignorant and any help is appreciated!

fancypiper 08-19-2003 09:49 PM

Question 1
# Linux Distribution links:
A Beginner's Guide to Choosing a Linux Distribution
Reasons to Choose or Not Choose Linux
LWN distro list
elinux Linux Distributions

# Pre-installation guides
GNU/Linux pre-installation checklist
The Pre-Installation Help File

# Partitioning
Linux Partition HOWTO
Rute - Partitions, File Systems, Formatting, Mounting

How To Check MD5sums On A Linux Iso Image
# Cheap CDs
Discount Linux CDs
Linux Central

Question 2 depends upon your planned usage.
# Linux filesystem structure
Directory Navigation Help File
Filesystems, Directories, and Devices Help File
Proper Filesystem Layout

Question 3, see below and the hardware compatability list for your chosen distribution as well.
Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO

Question 4
:study: There is a fairly steep learning curve, I have heard. :D
Linux Newbie Administrator Guide
Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition

# Guides to software management
LNAG - How do I install a program I downloaded from the Internet?
Rute Guide's software explanation
You might want to check out CheckInstall to manage source code installations/uninstallation

# Find software here
The table of equivalents, replacements, analogs of Windows software in Linux

ranger_nemo 08-19-2003 09:56 PM

Re: Help me decide what to do!!

1) what distribution should I download?
I would suggest you start with a bootable-CD distro for a week or two. Knoppix and Demolinux come to mind. They run right off a CD, so you don't need to worry about partitioning right away. Realize it will be slower than running off a hard-drive, but still quite usable. If you still like it after that, both SuSE and RedHat are good choices.

WARNING... Do NOT play FrozenBubble on the Knoppix CD. You WILL become adicted and lose a couple days of your life. :)


2) How much space should I allocate?
If you can spare 10GB, that should be more than enough. Especially if you can store MP3s and what-not other files on a FAT-32 partition so you can access them in both OSes.


3) Do you see any potential hardware compatibility issues?
I don't, but be sure to check the hardware compatibility guide for whatever distro you choose.


4) How hard is the OS to learn and what *FREE* software is available that is strongly recommended to make the OS usable?
First part... Depends on how quick you learn and how much you are willing to put into it. Nowadays, the distros are pretty good at supplying tools to help you. If you go RedHat, be sure to look up apt-rpm . Second part... Depends on what you want to do with the computer. If it's a desktop; Mozilla, OpenOffice, XMMS, Python... Search the message boards for a number of other threads covering everybody's favorite programs.

bigjohn 08-20-2003 03:26 AM

Well m_a_b,

first things first

What distro? - well It's personal choice. Personally, I would say that go for something that is newbie/desktop oriented, well, too start with anyway. My suggestion would be mandrake, because it's relatively "newb" friendly and there is lots of help both here at LQ or here at mandrake users.

Also, for a relatively easy start, I would also suggest a genuine boxed set. If you have a reasonably fast connection, you could download it (3 disc's of about 650 megs a disc - hence the "fast" connection comment), there is also the "cheap disc" option, but this is only the download version that is copied and burned for you. Finally, the reason that I suggest the genuine boxed set is that there is some stuff on them that qualifies as commercial, but also some of the nuisance stuff is included and set up so you just do the install and ready to go e.g. the nvidia drivers.

SuSE don't offer the latest version for download, it's maybe 1 or 2 versions back - this is just their marketing policy, they would rather you pay for the most up to date version (fair enough I suppose).

Redhat is more of an "enterprise" type distro - I was reading something yesterday about that they are going to make it a more "desktop" type (well at least a version of it anyway). Mandrake is already more desktop (and originally based on redhat). Also, you can repartition with mandrake, even if you windows system is formatted as NTFS. You can't do that with a lot of distro's

Secondly, how much space?

Well, using the mandrake example, the ENTIRE 3 disc's is about 1.95 gigs so the 10 gig's suggested by ranger_nemo isn't far of the mark, that should give you plenty of "room to manoeuvre". Though it should be mentioned, that if you get really into linux, there are distro's about that are absolutely tiny and you could get away with a lot less space - it depends on what you install and run i.e. KDE is quite big (but IMO good) and uses a fair amount of resources (though not usually enough to cause a problem - judging by your spec).

Third, Hardware compatibility issues?

It's all well and good looking at compatibility lists, but the only thing that I use that actually appears on the mandrake hardware database is my soundcard (and even then, when I only had onboard sound facility, that didn't rate a mention). I have been lucky enough that the only problems that I have faced have been the AC97 audio controller (the onboard one), but I have had it configured, though it pissed me off enough to go out and spend about £50 ($70) on a soundblaster live! 5.1 digital. And the broadband modem that I had to start with, an alcatel speedtouch usb, which I also had configured (and it was a million times easier using the boxed set option, as most of the nuisance config stuff was having to use a download copy to start with), though I also changed that as well as there where a few things about the way it worked that pissed me off.

Fourth, OS learning ?

The learning curve is very steep. But I believe that in most cases this is because after someone has used windows for any length of time, you forget how "spoon fed" you have been with windows. Linux distro's on the face of it, dont do things in such a different way to windows, especially when dealing with how the applications look/feel/work.

Whereas, the actuall management of a linux system, IS very different to windows. Personally, I'm not all that interested in the actual "nuts and bolts" working of linux, I'm just a glorified desktop user and just "want it to work". Sometimes I struggle like hell with it, because I have to learn some of what's actually going on.

Again, have a look round the
mandrake site and you should be able to find a list of what is actually included in the distro. There's certainly enough to make most things work.

I would say, that whatever distro you choose, take the time to read the links that fancypiper has posted. it's definitely a case of "read, read, read" (personally I hate trying to read and comprehend large and complex docs on screen. I would rather buy a decent book, but these seem to be in short supply i.e. most of the ones that I have looked at have been written for geeks, by geeks.)

So make some space and give it a go. as long as you still have windows disc's, it doesn't really matter if you screwed it up completely. You can still re-install, and the only thing that it has then cost you, is time.

Thats my :twocents:



brew1brew 08-20-2003 05:41 AM

I've been using mandrake linux for something like 3 or 4 years, since 6.2 so my answers will be slanted that direction. Having said that I would first say the first reply to your post is excellent, read read read.


1) what distribution should I download? I am leaning towards Suse, but have also looked at Red Hat.
ok, first I don't think any one mentioned, it's a good place to compare distro's. Having said that I would say Mandrake 9.1, you can download the 3 ISO images from the website. Boot disk1 to get started. The Install utility has a great Partition tool that can repartition your hard-drive for you.


2) How much space should I allocate?
a 60 gig hard drive is fairly large. Personally I would give linux more like 20gig, we all know you will use linux more than window once you get hooked. Again Mandrake has great partition tools. I've read that you will want to defrag your HD before starting.


3) Do you see any potential hardware compatibility issues?
I would say the same thing as bigjohn. I've installed Mandrake on 5 different Desktops with various AMD and Intel CPU's a multitude of different hardware without any real issues. I've also installed it on a Dell and Compaq laptops. I run it on my work laptop.


4) How hard is the OS to learn and what *FREE* software is available that is strongly recommended to make the OS usable?

:study: read read read, but also install it and start using it, the more you use it the more you will learn new stuff.

Rather that writing a book on the software out there, lets just say you name what you want do, and in most cases there are more than few solutions in linux, Gaming is the one area that is somewhat lacking, but there are may games and winex from TransGaming lets you play many Windows games.

If there are any windows applications that you have to have and there is no linux solution there is win4lin and VMware to run windows in a virtual machine window. they don't do direct X so no gaming, but I use win4lin running windows98 in a window and it works great.

Skyline 08-20-2003 12:54 PM

Hi M_a_b

I noticed all your current Win2k partitions are formatted with NTFS - So

Just something to keep in mind regards possibly using Red Hat:

Red Hat currently doesn’t include a NTFS driver because of uncertainties surrounding the legal status of the driver

So - to READ a NTFS partition from Red Hat, you can either:
  • Download and install an RPM – or
  • Compile your kernel

Your best just getting the relevant RPM - Check out this site for an RPM

m_a_b 08-20-2003 04:34 PM

Thanks for the info. Looks like I have a lot of reading ahead of me! I think I found what I am looking for and that Bootable CD idea sounds awesome for getting my feet wet. A couple more questions, though:

Since my drives are all NTFS, will the OS be able to read it if I boot from a CD?

Also, If I go the bootable CD route, is there any chance I could screw up my windows and software installations? (other than if I go and manually screw something up!)

Last, I would think that you would need a cache/temp -type folders for the OS to be able to write to the disk, but since it is booting from the CD, it would need to write to my disk. Does it write to a specified location so I can go in and make sure it is deleted after I move on to something else?

Again, thanks for all the help!

Skyline 08-20-2003 07:30 PM

The NTFS issue is specfic to Red Hat in terms of the major distributions - Red Hat decided not to include either of the NTFS drivers due to legal issues - You wont have this issue with Mandrake for example.

I'm guessing but I'd suspect Knoppix could read NTFS filesystems - somebody else will no doubt clarify this soon.

In general - booting Knoppix off a cd-rom is pretty safe and shouldnt interfere with existing Windows installations.

ranger_nemo 08-22-2003 12:31 PM


In general - booting Knoppix off a cd-rom is pretty safe and shouldnt interfere with existing Windows installations.
Just remember... "pretty safe" != "absolutely safe" . A bootable-CD distro contains all the commands/utils of a hard-drive install. So, you could mess up your Windows if you mount the hard-drive and start deleting files, or run fdisk.

m_a_b 08-22-2003 03:21 PM

Yeah, I figured that if I did something strange to my boot disk that I COULD mess it up, but I meant that running the CD should not mess up my windows installation in itself.

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