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Old 12-24-2010, 03:38 PM   #1
gsd4me
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Want to make the jump - need some answers please?


Dear all,

These sort of questions have probably been answered a million times before on this site but as I am *so* new to Linux despite working in the IT industry for 30+ years, there are some technical issues that I need to clear up before I take the plunge!

I have had enough of Windows - I have Vista Home Basic on my laptop and am so fed up with it, I am seriously investigating installing one of the Linux variants on my machine - perhaps as a dual boot system so that my wife and I could revert to the dreaded "W" system if things don't go to plan, but as things stand, I shall probably make the leap across the computing divide and start to use Linux

To help me decide, I have purchased a set of 'starter' CD's from "The Linux Shop" (comprising MINT 10, Mandriva One 2010.1, PCLinuxOS 2010.1, Ubuntu 10.10, SimplyMepis 8.5 and OpenSUSE 11.3) and will try to make a decision on the flavour of Linux that I want from this selection.

All the CD's that in the package say that they can be run from the CD drive and/or RAM so that they can be tried without impinging upon the Windows Vista setup I have, which is a real bonus.

Nevertheless, in practice, not all of them DO start up on my machine - eg MINT "hangs", so I cannot see if I like that version or not - but I will try to get them all to a state where I can gauge their respective pros and cons. I *do* like Ubunto and Mepis and Mandriva so will probably go with one of these.

However, before I commit myself to taking the plunge, I need to be completely assured about certain things about Linux, which is the main reason for this posting. If any Linux and/or dual OS users out there in the ether can help me by answering some questions I would be most grateful.

(For information, I currently use OpenOffice as a default office suite, which seems to be the preferred option for the Linux community, as I refuse to pay extortionate amounts of money to re-purchase Microsoft Office, having bought it once already and then finding out that the version I had was not compatible with MS Vista OS when I purchased my laptop earlier this year. So much for backwards compatability Mr. Gates. I also use Firefox as my browser, which again seems to be the Linux preference)

(In no particular order or importance)

** Can Linux recognise Windows filing-system files? Can these be read and written to by Linux and will they then *still* afterwards be accessible/readable/writable by Windows on a dual-boot system if I decide to revert to the Windows OS, having altered some files? I would rather not have to deal with two lots of filing systems on the one machine, trying to remember which set belongs to which OS

** What about viruses/trojans/worms/etc., alongwith firewalls and spam filters? I understand that the vast majority of viruses are targetted at MS products but I can't really believe that any of the 'bad guys' out in the sewers of computing have not seriously made an attempt to target other OS types, especially as Linux markets
itself as being 'open source'. Therefore, is there an antivirus suite available for Linux? At the moment I use Bullguard, which to my mind is one of the best suites there is, as it has anti virus, firewall, spam filter as well as an automatic and schedulable online backup where my files are kept on remote (but real-time viewable) servers. Is there such a combined package for Linux or several that will do the job?

** What about Linux-based programs that mimic their MS equivalents and can they perform the same task? e.g. equivalents for Windows Media Player, Notepad, Paint etc. Again, this is probably a file-type relate inquiry regarding access and readability/writeability but I would still need access to these sort of utilities, using files that I have already got

** What about commercial software systems - do they need to have Linux-specific verions and can they be run as easily on Linux as Windows? e.g. Acrobat Reader, IDE's, development tools, etc. I use JustBasic as a development tool and would like to continue to do so if I make the switch

** Is it possible to export Windows Mail emails to the Linux equivalents? And what about 'contacts lists'? Is this an easy thing to do? I have lots of emails that I have in Windows Mail that I wish to keep but I won't contemplate making a switch if the export/import operation is such a laborious task that it is hardly worthwhile. I would guess that whatever mail system comes with the relevant version of Linux would be pretty stable and integratable with my ISP server.

** I assume that Linux supports a multiple user scenario, where I can log in to "my area" (whatever that means in Linux-speak) and my wife can do similar. Is this actually the case and is it easy to do, set up and manage? What about 'privilege' operations? I understand that there is something called 'root' in Linux - is this the 'super user' that controls/sets up things that an 'ordinary' user isn't supposed to?

** What drawbacks are there in making the switch, if any? Almost every site or discussion board says that the change is so overwhelmingly beneficial, it is wondered why everyone doesn't make the change and make it now. So, is it only many years'experience of using Windows that is holding me back?

** What about FTP tools? I need to upload files to my business website every now and again and I use a free FTP from Coffee Cup, which is very good. Will this sort of thing still work?

** What about things like bookmarks

** Does anyone have any *real* objections to Linux in their experience? If so, why?

Excuse what may seem to be extreme paranoia here but I absolutely cannot afford to lose my files, have them unavailable or unreadable or lose access to retrieving them from somewhere in the event of a crash. My wife would make my life hell if any of these scenarios occurred!

Many thanks
 
Old 12-24-2010, 04:30 PM   #2
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
** Can Linux recognise Windows filing-system files? Can these be read and written to by Linux and will they then *still* afterwards be accessible/readable/writable by Windows on a dual-boot system if I decide to revert to the Windows OS, having altered some files? I would rather not have to deal with two lots of filing systems on the one machine, trying to remember which set belongs to which OS
No idea what you mean by "Windows filing system" files. Do you mean Windows filesystems? Or files written in Windows (like word/excel/etc)?? In either case, the answer is yes.
Quote:
** What about viruses/trojans/worms/etc., alongwith firewalls and spam filters? I understand that the vast majority of viruses are targetted at MS products but I can't really believe that any of the 'bad guys' out in the sewers of computing have not seriously made an attempt to target other OS types, especially as Linux markets
itself as being 'open source'. Therefore, is there an antivirus suite available for Linux? At the moment I use Bullguard, which to my mind is one of the best suites there is, as it has anti virus, firewall, spam filter as well as an automatic and schedulable online backup where my files are kept on remote (but real-time viewable) servers. Is there such a combined package for Linux or several that will do the job?
What about them? Are there bad things for Linux? Yes...but I'm hard pressed to find any, since the way the system is designed makes it very, VERY difficult to get a virus to work under Linux, unless the systems owner helps by doing something stupid. There are Linux AV programs, but you shouldn't need one.
Quote:
** What about Linux-based programs that mimic their MS equivalents and can they perform the same task? e.g. equivalents for Windows Media Player, Notepad, Paint etc. Again, this is probably a file-type relate inquiry regarding access and readability/writeability but I would still need access to these sort of utilities, using files that I have already got
Yes, all of the above, and then some.
Quote:
** What about commercial software systems - do they need to have Linux-specific verions and can they be run as easily on Linux as Windows? e.g. Acrobat Reader, IDE's, development tools, etc. I use JustBasic as a development tool and would like to continue to do so if I make the switch
Kind of an obvious question...of course you're going to need a Linux specific version, just like you need 'Windows specific' software to run on Windows, or 'Mac specific' software to run on a Mac. This is no different. Some pieces of software have multiple platform support...check their websites.
Quote:
** Is it possible to export Windows Mail emails to the Linux equivalents? And what about 'contacts lists'? Is this an easy thing to do? I have lots of emails that I have in Windows Mail that I wish to keep but I won't contemplate making a switch if the export/import operation is such a laborious task that it is hardly worthwhile. I would guess that whatever mail system comes with the relevant version of Linux would be pretty stable and integratable with my ISP server.
Sorry, not enough information. What "Windows mail" program? What contact list program? Define "easy", also. Some programs make things a breeze, some don't. It depends on what you're using in Windows, and what you want to use in Linux.
Quote:
** I assume that Linux supports a multiple user scenario, where I can log in to "my area" (whatever that means in Linux-speak) and my wife can do similar. Is this actually the case and is it easy to do, set up and manage? What about 'privilege' operations? I understand that there is something called 'root' in Linux - is this the 'super user' that controls/sets up things that an 'ordinary' user isn't supposed to?
Yes. You set up another user, and log in as that user. Root is the super-user, like Administrator is in Windows.
Quote:
** What drawbacks are there in making the switch, if any? Almost every site or discussion board says that the change is so overwhelmingly beneficial, it is wondered why everyone doesn't make the change and make it now. So, is it only many years'experience of using Windows that is holding me back?
None, really, but there is a learning curve. If you go into it saying "I want this to look/work/feel just like Windows", you're going to be VERY disappointed. If you want to learn something new, and take the time to get used to it, then it's easy, it just takes patience. Going from a Mac to Windows isn't hard either...it's just different.
Quote:
** What about FTP tools? I need to upload files to my business website every now and again and I use a free FTP from Coffee Cup, which is very good. Will this sort of thing still work?
Easily. There are many, MANY more 'standard' tools (i.e. FTP, SSH, telnet, etc.), available for Linux than there are for Windows.
Quote:
** What about things like bookmarks
What about them?? Yes, you have them just like in Windows/Mac or any other web browser.
Quote:
** Does anyone have any *real* objections to Linux in their experience? If so, why?
No.
Quote:
Excuse what may seem to be extreme paranoia here but I absolutely cannot afford to lose my files, have them unavailable or unreadable or lose access to retrieving them from somewhere in the event of a crash. My wife would make my life hell if any of these scenarios occurred!
Many thanks
If you're paranoid about losing your files, and you've been in IT for 30 years, you know enough to make backups, so that shouldn't be a problem. Very paranoid? Then yank out your old hard drive, shove it into an external USB enclosure, and load Linux on a blank disk...disks are cheap, and you'll be able to copy your files over, without touching your existing drive or Windows installation in any way.
 
Old 12-24-2010, 04:42 PM   #3
XavierP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(In no particular order or importance)

** Can Linux recognise Windows filing-system files? Can these be read and written to by Linux and will they then *still* afterwards be accessible/readable/writable by Windows on a dual-boot system if I decide to revert to the Windows OS, having altered some files? I would rather not have to deal with two lots of filing systems on the one machine, trying to remember which set belongs to which OS
NTFS and FAT32 can be written to and read by Linux fairly easily. I would suggest creating a partition system: one partition for Windows, one for all your user data and then space for Linux. That way, even if you reinstall your OS (whether Windows or Linux), your data will be preserved. For Windows to read and write Linux drives, you may need to install extra software to Windows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** What about viruses/trojans/worms/etc., alongwith firewalls and spam filters? I understand that the vast majority of viruses are targetted at MS products but I can't really believe that any of the 'bad guys' out in the sewers of computing have not seriously made an attempt to target other OS types, especially as Linux markets itself as being 'open source'. Therefore, is there an antivirus suite available for Linux? At the moment I use Bullguard, which to my mind is one of the best suites there is, as it has anti virus, firewall, spam filter as well as an automatic and schedulable online backup where my files are kept on remote (but real-time viewable) servers. Is there such a combined package for Linux or several that will do the job?
There are a small handful of viruses, etc aimed at Linux. Because Linux does not let users run as administrator (or "root") by default, any virus or other attack will only have a limited effect on your system. As well, whereas Windows let's things run as soon as you open them, Linux makes you think first and in some cases will require you to elevate your permissions first. Have a look in our Security forum for other views on this. There are anti-virus programs for Linux (KlamAV, F-Prot and others) and they are definitely advised if you are sending files to Windows clients.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** What about Linux-based programs that mimic their MS equivalents and can they perform the same task? e.g. equivalents for Windows Media Player, Notepad, Paint etc. Again, this is probably a file-type relate inquiry regarding access and readability/writeability but I would still need access to these sort of utilities, using files that I have already got
There are equivalents to most programs, or you can see if they work under Wine or run them in a virtual machine. As they are not the same programs as the Windows equivalent, you will have to tinker for a while to get the hang of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** What about commercial software systems - do they need to have Linux-specific verions and can they be run as easily on Linux as Windows? e.g. Acrobat Reader, IDE's, development tools, etc. I use JustBasic as a development tool and would like to continue to do so if I make the switch
You would have to check the website of the software for this. Many pieces of software do have a Linux version, but it depends on the software house. Flash and Java, as examples, do have Linux versions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** Is it possible to export Windows Mail emails to the Linux equivalents? And what about 'contacts lists'? Is this an easy thing to do? I have lots of emails that I have in Windows Mail that I wish to keep but I won't contemplate making a switch if the export/import operation is such a laborious task that it is hardly worthwhile. I would guess that whatever mail system comes with the relevant version of Linux would be pretty stable and integratable with my ISP server.
Investigate the different Linux mail clients available to see how you would transfer the data. It does vary per client (both Windows and Linux). Ideally you would use a client that has both Windows and Linux versions such as Thunderbird.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** I assume that Linux supports a multiple user scenario, where I can log in to "my area" (whatever that means in Linux-speak) and my wife can do similar. Is this actually the case and is it easy to do, set up and manage? What about 'privilege' operations? I understand that there is something called 'root' in Linux - is this the 'super user' that controls/sets up things that an 'ordinary' user isn't supposed to?
Linux is in use on servers and desktops worldwide, the separation between users is much much better than that in use in Windows. In short, yes you have separation and yes, the root account is also separate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** What drawbacks are there in making the switch, if any? Almost every site or discussion board says that the change is so overwhelmingly beneficial, it is wondered why everyone doesn't make the change and make it now. So, is it only many years'experience of using Windows that is holding me back?
The switch is very beneficial to most people. It really depends on your needs. My needs are email, office and browsing so I switched years ago. If you need specialised software, like AutoCAD, you will need either a Windows solution or a mix of Windows and Linux. Windows and Linux are also very very different, so some retraining is required.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** What about FTP tools? I need to upload files to my business website every now and again and I use a free FTP from Coffee Cup, which is very good. Will this sort of thing still work?
Not sure about CoffeeCup, but Linux has a huge number of FTP tools available. There should definitely be one that has a similar look and feel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** What about things like bookmarks
Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
(** Does anyone have any *real* objections to Linux in their experience? If so, why?
Not applicable for me!

I would strongly suggest that you check out your live CDs. For the ones that don't run, go to the website for that distro as there is likely to be a cheat sheet or Wiki entry which will point you in the right direction for additional commands. And, of course, we're here to help.
 
Old 12-24-2010, 04:58 PM   #4
wpeckham
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some more

Quote:
** What about commercial software systems - do they need to have Linux-specific verions and can they be run as easily on Linux as Windows? e.g. Acrobat Reader, IDE's, development tools, etc. I use JustBasic as a development tool and would like to continue to do so if I make the switch
Most software systems that are any good have either Linux versions or Linux equivalences. The glaring exceptions are those sponsored or owned by owners of another OS that are required to support that OS only. (MS)

Quote:
** Is it possible to export Windows Mail emails to the Linux equivalents? And what about 'contacts lists'? Is this an easy thing to do? I have lots of emails that I have in Windows Mail that I wish to keep but I won't contemplate making a switch if the export/import operation is such a laborious task that it is hardly worthwhile. I would guess that whatever mail system comes with the relevant version of Linux would be pretty stable and integratable with my ISP server.
You may want to integrate your email client with a site such as google and sync your mail and contacts prior to the migration. That way you can sync again after the migration to load your new email client. If you have outlook email saved, you may have to save the messages to disk in a portable format (NOT msg).
Linux has more kinds of mail clients than anything else I know (and that is a LOT). Most can work using pop and smtp either simple or encrypted, IMAP, and some now drive the HTML interface for you in the backend (so you can use some web mail sites from within your client, transparently).

------------------
NOTES:
1. Those CDs you purchased could have been downloaded as ISO and burned for the price of the time and media. Just a FYI.
2. What distributions you prefer will depend on many factors, but one is the focus of your use. A distribution created by people who work the same way you work is most likely to be a "good fit". Ubuntu is fine for most people who never wanted to know what lies under the hood, and mostly want to do what everyone else wants to do (email, browse, chat). If you program, work with multimedia files often (meaning work, not just play), or have another focus (CAD/CAM or CADD, serious networking, bible studies, electronics design, etc) there are likely to be distributions that will fit you better.
If you add some detail about what things matter most to you, I bet you will get a deluge of suggestions! This crowd is nice that way. ;-)


Quote:
** What about things like bookmarks
Check into lastpass and FireFox Sync. Your bookmarks should go with you from desktop to desktop, machine to machine, and OS to OS, but you have to do a little work to make it that way. lastpass is a secure way to make your password cache portable, FireFox Sync will sync your bookmarks (and optionally your passwords) between all of your FireFox instances on all machines. Both are free addons available via the firefox addon site. (Just make sure you never forget your security key or passphrase: being a secure system it has no way to recover or decrypt that information!)

Last edited by wpeckham; 12-24-2010 at 05:06 PM.
 
Old 12-24-2010, 05:07 PM   #5
inspiron_Droid
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I would highle recommend that you go to a company like red hat who provides not only the software but also provide the support contract. The indiivdual package for 1 year will run about $ 50 USD and with that you get use of the Red Hat enterprise linux Client side os on one machine, unlimitesd instalation support and unlimited access to the redhat Network which is a vast knowledge base of support informatio and unlimited udates and security patches.



Before you start drraw out a partition scheeme on a shhet of paper, my personal desktop an lap top both have seperate /home partitions.

Here is the lay out for my desktop


Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/hda1 * 1 13 104391 83 Linux /boot
/dev/hda2 14 274 2096482+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/hda3 275 10011 78212452+ 83 Linux /

/dev/hdb1 * 1 10011 80413326 83 Linux /home

The rule of thumb for a sap partition is at minimum of 2GB on most modern linux distributions.

There is ana nativirus program aviliable for linux called clam av and avg also provides a free linux antivirus software package. As forr the back up component i would recommend a minimum of a 1tb desktop hard drive and a copy of norton Ghost.


Check all of yoour windows software for compatibility under wine

Adobe Reader for linux
 
Old 12-24-2010, 05:24 PM   #6
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
** Can Linux recognise Windows filing-system files? Can these be read and written to by Linux and will they then *still* afterwards be accessible/readable/writable by Windows on a dual-boot system if I decide to revert to the Windows OS, having altered some files?
Yes to all that.

Quote:
I would rather not have to deal with two lots of filing systems on the one machine, trying to remember which set belongs to which OS
But you probably will have Linux using partitions that Windows won't understand. So you will have two file systems and it won't be hard to remember which is which.

You can install Linux using on the Windows file system (probably not with the CDs you have) but it is likely not a good idea. Or, you can get Windows to access Linux file systems, but it is not easy.

The usual dual boot approach is to keep your documents on the Windows partitions where both OS's can easily use them. On the Linux partitions (that you can't use from Windows) you have Linux software and config files and other things that wouldn't be useful on Windows anyway.

Quote:
I can't really believe that any of the 'bad guys' out in the sewers of computing have not seriously made an attempt to target other OS types, especially as Linux markets
itself as being 'open source'.
I use Linux and Windows about equally, both at home and at work. Windows malware is a constant threat, frequently getting past anti virus and firewalls and other protection. I have never experienced any Linux malware. I know it exists, but I've done near zero to defend against it and never been hit.

Quote:
Therefore, is there an antivirus suite available for Linux?
Some Linux antivirus programs run on Linux but are designed to defend against Windows viruses. That is very useful when you use a Linux Samba server as a file server for Windows, and in various other situations where a Linux server (email, web, whatever) is part of your Windows infrastructure. It is even more valuable when you have a badly infected Windows workstation and you need to boot something to do repairs and/or data retrieval.

When reading about Linux anti virus programs, I'm generally annoyed at how hard it is to figure out which kind they are: Run on Linux to detect Linux viruses or run on Linux to detect Linux viruses or both. Usually you want a specific one or the other.

Quote:
What about Linux-based programs that mimic their MS equivalents and can they perform the same task? e.g. equivalents for Windows Media Player, Notepad, Paint etc.
Most of those fill the same role, but in a different (usually better) way. So if you want something that "mimics" Windows Media Player, etc. you might be disappointed. If you want something that does the same job, no problem.

Quote:
I assume that Linux supports a multiple user scenario, where I can log in to "my area" (whatever that means in Linux-speak) and my wife can do similar.
Linux supports that a LOT better than Windows does. A lot of Windows multi user support is intentionally crippled to keep people who are supposed to buy server versions from getting the job done with a home version. Not needing to enforce complicated license restrictions has made it much easier for Linux developers to make multi user features developed for larger systems work well on home systems.

Some of the good multi user features I like in a home Linux system are actually part of an older version KDE (in Mepis 8.0 and earlier) rather than directly part of Linux. I'm not sure those things are there yet in Mepis 8.5 and I think they aren't in Gnome (that the main variant of Ubuntu uses). Different people have different opinions, but I think Mepis 8.0 is enough better than either other distributions or Mepis 8.5 to select Mepis 8.0 despite its being off of any currently obvious forward path.

Quote:
What about 'privilege' operations? I understand that there is something called 'root' in Linux - is this the 'super user' that controls/sets up things that an 'ordinary' user isn't supposed to?
Ubuntu and some other Linux distributions make heavy use of the sudo command that tells Linux to run one specific operation as root. There is a sudoers file that configures which users are allowed to do what with the sudo command. On a typical one user system, you set sudo to let you do anything (but require you type your password each time). So you always explicitly know when you are doing something that requires root rights.

I personally prefer to log in as root when I want to do any significant sequence of root activities, because I tend to know whether I'm doing the right things. Because Linux multi user support is much better, I can have sessions logged in as my usual ID and as root at the same time and safely switch between then (web browse to online documentation while working through a root activity, even though I don't use a web browser as root). Unlike Windows, Linux makes it easy to use root access for exactly the activities that need it, while using an ordinary account for everything else.

Last edited by johnsfine; 12-24-2010 at 05:26 PM.
 
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Old 12-24-2010, 06:39 PM   #7
markush
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsd4me View Post
... What drawbacks are there in making the switch, if any? Almost every site or discussion board says that the change is so overwhelmingly beneficial, it is wondered why everyone doesn't make the change and make it now. So, is it only many years'experience of using Windows that is holding me back?...
My occupation is as a system administrator in the Windows world. My experience with computers dates back to the times when there was no Linux and no Windows but Unix.

A drawback when trying to convert from Windows to Linux is the learning curve. People who only expect a cheap substitution for Windows may be very disappointed when becoming aware that Linux is very different to Windows.

As you know Linux has it's roots in Unix which was designed for completely different purposes than Windows. You may read this: http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

But here we are, Linux comes with much extremely powerful tools like the shell (bash), sed (the stream editor), and vi/vim (the editor) and many others. I often use this tools in order to prepare my work in Windows-networks, for example creating batchfiles. More than often I have my Linuxlaptop (Slackware and Gentoo in my case) with me. Apart from that I was familiar with Linux long before I got my job in Windows networks, I feel that I'm missing my toolbox when working on a pure Windows computer.

Once familiar with Linux you'll find many things which make Windows a really bad operatingsystem. For example, now your accustomed to restart a computer after you installed a new program or managed some updates. Once you use Linux and your Windowsmachine is again and again asking for a reboot you'll ask yourself why M$ take money for this $&*%!@.

Otherwise there are programs for Windows like MS-Visio or Excel which hardly have an compareable equivalent with Linux.

Last but not least, at home I'm exclusively using Linux. It is the far more interesting system compared with Windows and I like the Idea of Open Source which in my opinion is the better way to bring things forward.

Markus

EDIT: for bookmarks you may take a look at Xmarks, I'm using it to syncronize my bookmarks with firefox, but as far as I know they have as well versions for IE and Opera.

Last edited by markush; 12-24-2010 at 06:45 PM. Reason: added some text
 
Old 12-24-2010, 07:56 PM   #8
barriehie
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You might find this link helpful, regards which distro might be best for you, side by side comparisions, etc. http://polishlinux.org/ No mention is made in your post of stability so that might be something to consider also.

HTH
 
Old 12-24-2010, 09:52 PM   #9
frankbell
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I'm not going to plough the same ground that the previous posters have.

I can also understand your caution. I was afraid to try Linux because I didn't want to take a chance with the family computer; then someone gave me a surplus computer and I was off and running and haven't looked back.

If you go to YouTube and search for "[distro name] Linux," you will find lots of videos which may answer some of your questions. (I've even got a couple up there but they aren't very good.) Seeing a picture might be worth a 100 LQ posts.

As regards email, an email is an email. I trade emails with Windows users, even users of Windows Lookout, almost daily with no problems.

I always run an AV and a firewall on any box I connect to the internet. There are currently no *nix viruses in the wild (I follow that kind of stuff), but I believe in practicing safe hex. That's just me.

The multiplicity of Linux distros can be daunting. I would suggest picking one of the big ones (Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, well maybe not Slackware--although I started with Slack and it is still my favorite), taking the plunge, and learning it.

Another option might be to get Virtual Box for Windows. You can install a distro inside of Virtual Box and explore it, then try another one. When you are ready, you can just delete it and poof! it's gone.

If you wish to do this, expect that Windows will complain that the Virtual Box software might make Windows unstable. Windows really doesn't like Virtual Box, at least my XP didn't, but VB ran okay. (Windows is already already unstable. It is to laugh.)

Here's a good site on Linux written with new users in mind. It's oriented towards Ubuntu, but the information is sound.
 
Old 12-24-2010, 09:58 PM   #10
lupusarcanus
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It's important to remember that Linux is not Windows, doesn't look like Windows, doesn't act like Windows, isn't susceptible to Windows problems, has it's own set of problems, has a differing ideology from Windows, etc...

Linux is completely different and free. No, malicious software is not hardly a threat at all. No, none of your programs that you run on Windows will run on Linux (though there are some ways to do this, it isn't recommended). Yes, it is very easy to setup many users (the Linux core -- UNIX -- was the first system to implement the idea). Yes, there are fantastic alternatives to nearly every Windows program you use (excluding games). Yes, Linux supports all kinds of file systems and will read and write to many (including NTFS).

Linux is NOT Windows. At all. Once this is understood and old habits are dropped (like rebooting all the F**King time), Linux becomes easy to use and easy to understand.

Keep in mind this is a short summary -- the incredibly intelligent and wise answers above should be read and reread.

P.S. The Linux community is NOT a hacker (as in cracker) community. There are all kinds of people here, many are simply brilliant. In my experience, the Linux community are usually very kind -- a great group. The community of Linux and the power of the command line is what made me join here -- and I have loved every nanosecond of LQ. We simply like to know our systems, know what's going on, and customize and tweak everything the way we like it.

P.P.S. Linux users are resourceful. Google your Yahoo until your Wolfram|Alpha says bing.

Last edited by lupusarcanus; 12-24-2010 at 10:05 PM.
 
Old 12-24-2010, 10:30 PM   #11
Noway2
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I made the switch about 4-5 years ago and have no regrets. As was mentioned, there are a few things that you may give up, commercial games being a big one, but also development tools like Autocad or other commercial applications, such as (engineering) development tools if you use them. On the flip side, there is an absolute boatload of free software for just about any application you can think of available to you on Linux. Most of it works better than the Windows counterpart.

One of the biggest culture difference will be in the support mentality. The truth is, more often than not in Windows quality support really isn't available. When things don't work, it is a virtual nightmare to get them to work and a call to tech support usually gets you a call center in a foreign country where a guy who barely speaks your language is reading a flip chart that says "Call your computer manufacturer for an updated driver". Error messages in Windows consist of "the operation failed". Linux is very different in this regard, but it is also a self-serve environment. Information is available, the software is available, and help is available. Along with the capability comes the responsibility to try and solve your own problems. This can be daunting to new users and hence places like LQ are invaluable and I don't expect to be told to contact the manufacturer for an updated driver!

The other thing I would like to mention is that dual booting has been brought up in several of the other posts. This is a great way to keep ties to your old system as you migrate and still be able to go back to Windows when you really want to. I still find that I do so once every 3-4 months, usually to run a program that is Windows only. If you decided to do this, make a back up of your important data. Then use a CD version to shrink down the Windows partition on your hard drive or install a second drive. Then you can install Linux into the free space. I haven't had problems with this process, but things can and occasionally do go wrong, so back up your data.

P.S. - I am planning on setting up a dual boot with Linux on my almost 70 year old mother's PC this weekend. She has used it on my machines and finds it quite easy to use compared to Windows.

Last edited by Noway2; 12-24-2010 at 10:31 PM. Reason: added p.s.
 
Old 12-27-2010, 07:45 AM   #12
gsd4me
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Registered: Dec 2010
Posts: 8

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Dear all,

thanks for all the suggestions and pointers, will contemplate, peruse and investigate all of them.
Will (hopefully) get back to you ASAP on what I have decided

Regards
ADB
 
  


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