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Old 01-30-2005, 05:46 AM   #1
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Distribution: Suse 9.2, kernel 2.6.8-24
Posts: 32

Rep: Reputation: 15
windows user preparing to switch


I'm so new to linux I haven't even chosen which distro to install yet. I'm still in the research/preparation stage, feeling out the exciting possibilities, and possible obstacles. I hope these questions aren't too unrelated to come together in one post on this forum...

My system is a dell inspiron 1100 with an upgraded hard disk (80GB 5400 rpm) and RAM (640 MB).

1. Hardware

I was able to see that most everything built in to my system will likely work well with the later distros. However, I have some peripherals which I have not been able to find out about:

My dvd drive is a plextor 708A in an external case, connected via firewire through my 1394 PCMCIA card. Will linux be able to use it? (I tried searching here and elsewhere to get the answer to this myself, but to no avail. I would love to know how to look this up myself for future.)
Other questionable hardware includes:
logitech wireless usb mouse;
microtek scanmaker 3840 via usb 2;
canon gl2 digital video camera via firewire through 1394 PCMCIA card;
my old (laptop) hard drive in an apricorn external case via usb 2.;
hp 1015 laser printer.

Is there such a thing as "plug and play" in linux? Are things like this automatically detected, or will I have to learn some scripting or something to get peripherals started?

2. Partitioning

Once I've set the partitions during the install, can I change them later? I anticipate that I'll gradually whittle my XP down, down, perhaps to naught, eventually.

3. Software

A. What would I use for amature-semipro video editing software and connecting a video camera and capturing video?

B. How does wine work? Do you use it to install MS software or to access it from the windows partition, or, or...?

4. File Compatability

Does linux use the common (at least to me) image file formats - jpg, tif, bmp, gif, etc.? I prepare photos and images for windows users all the time. Will there be any incompatability with images I create in linux?

When I created my profile for these forums I said I was considering between mandrake and suse. Now I'm considering gentoo also. I'm not afraid of what I'd have to learn and try, but, working where I am in India, my connections to the internet average around 26.8 kbps and are over a long-distance phone connection. Am I crazy to consider gentoo (or any linux distro for that matter)? Because the more I read, the more it seems a lot of updates and softwares will need to be downloaded, no matter which distro I choose, but especially gentoo. Have I understood rightly?
How essential is broadband to installing and maintaining/updating linux?

I look forward to your recommendations.

Sorry if I've misplaced any of my questions. I'd be happy to re-post them elsewhere, if more appropriate.


Last edited by mysticsound; 01-30-2005 at 05:48 AM.
Old 01-30-2005, 06:06 AM   #2
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jan 2005
Posts: 3

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Many of your questions exemplify life in linux. Meaning, linux users aren't afraid to figure things out, and ask questions after researching as much as possible.

If you are familiar with unix's you should be able to use those skills to determine the answers to all your questions. My experience has been that people w/o unix experience don't appreciate the non-turnkey or non-plug-n-play aspects of linux. With newer components, plug-n-play on linux lags behind M$.

There is an excellent reference, which addresses many of the subjects of your questions: LinuxJournal. They have recently had multiple articles about the practical aspects of multimedia and peripherals. It would be quite time consuming for people to troubleshoot the problems you may encounter, while working through all the topics you have listed. If you can learn to find the right references (HOW-TOs, mini HOW-TOs, newsgroups, journals, etc...) coupled with unix training, you will be able to resolve all those questions and more.

In reference to the INTERNET speed, Linux is not different then any other OS. you would have the same issue if downlaoding drivers for M$. The answer may be more related to the cost of the INTERNET access. I ran for years behind a modem with similar speeds. And, if you are content to start a download and walk away, or even do it over night, then it will get there in the end. That said, broadband is singularly enabling...

Don't worry about the distro question. Pick one and give it a try. My experience says the real enabler is the willingness to try something new and "if at first you don't succeed, try try again..."

Old 01-30-2005, 06:11 AM   #3
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: Chennai, India
Distribution: Arch Linux 0.7
Posts: 393

Rep: Reputation: 30
welcome to LQ!
im in india too, and i feel your pain.. luckily we just installed a 512 kbps connection at home so things are much better now( note: see whether airtel/touchtel delivers in ure area...if not, go for bsnl broadband...pretty inexpensive..)

in short,

-plextor dvd drive = yes
-logitech wireless = yes
-microtek scanner = yes (but u have to confirm, do a google for it)
-printer = yes
-digital camera = not sure...i guess it is posible if the camera saves movies as avi, mpeg , whatever(do a google again)
-old hdd = yes
-about resizing partitions, yes a couple of newer distro's are able to do it....however i feel safer with partition magic on windows...

-why semi pro when u can use afree professional video editing tool like cinerella (its used by a couple of hollywood studios by the way)

-but, about connecting and capturing video, im not too sure...(sorry, never used a video cam!]

-wine is installed on your linux partition makes a couple of folders and basically simulates the windows file structure so that programs *might* get installed....instead , search for crossover office and cedega btw

-yup...jpeg,tiff,bmp,whatever u can dish out...

-since ure a newbie, i would recommend against gentoo...and since you have a slow connection , and ure in india...i suggest you go for SUSE or FEDORA CORE 3....cause a lot of the local magazines (Like PC Quest, DIGIT, and especially Linux For You) include regualr updates on their cd's .....Rs. 100 for each of those magazines..
Old 01-30-2005, 06:13 AM   #4
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Tartu, Ċrhus,Nürnberg, Europe
Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu, Puppy
Posts: 619

Rep: Reputation: 45
It is definitely possible to install and use linux w/o internet. However, if you have a modem connection, you probably have to find a cd and install from it. The same is true for upgrading and maintenance. Of course, it depends how exactly you intend to use your computer. Usually you don't need upgrading unless some of the necessary programs is not working.

For newbies I would recommend Mandrace/Fedora/SUSE. Those distros are made with easiness in mind. Gentoo is rather for getting most out of your computer and may take a while before you understand how to set it up.

Hardware: In general linux supports firewire, cannot help with these particular devices though. USB mice mostly work, whether wireless or not. The same for HP printers. Look at database
Cheap, compact desktop laser printer, foldable tray for 150 sheets, A4/Letter/Legal, up to 14 pages/min. Somewhat faster than the LaserJet 1010, "Fastres 1200" resolution enhancement.

In contrary to the LaserJet 1010/1012 this printer understands the full PCL 5e and is therefore absolutely compatible to many older HP laser printers as the LaserJet 4 or LaserJet 1100. So it can not only be used with standard drivers as HPIJS, Gimp-Print, or "ljet4" but also print plain text.

Unfortunately, the new LaserJet 1010/1012/1015 series seems not to be absolutely compatible with older HP printers or it has a firmware bug. Sometimes it happens that the printer stops working and reports the error "Unsupported Personality: PCL". It only continues working when one kills the job and power-cycles the printer. So up to now it is not recommended to buy this printer.
Partitioning: I would rather recommend to make a shared partition, accessible from both, windows and linux. Later you can reformat that for working only with linux or whatever.

Standard image formats are the same in linux.




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