Making the switch to Linux.

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Making the switch to Linux.

Post by Dude » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:31 pm

I have a couple older computers that just can't run windows, so I have been thinking about trying to get Linux to work on them.
Also my main computer with Windows Visa has been getting worse and worse about just grinding away with the hard drive running and not doing what I want for 15 or 20 seconds at a time. This gets really annoying, so I am thinking about trying out Linux on that computer too.

I have not looked at Linux for many many years, what I remember from decades ago was that it was complicated and difficult to install.

Well that has changed,
the first thing that surprised me is that it is not just Linux any more, some site said there are over 1000 different distributions of Linux.

Distributions or distro is what they call it when someone comes out with a new or different version of Linux. So there does appear to be a lot of choice.

If your new to Linux and want to run software, then you want to stick to more popular distros they will have more support and more people working on them.

The two most popular versions that people seem to recommend for newbies are Mint and Ubuntu, they are both larger than what will fit on a CD so they must be installed from a DVD so they will only run on my newer computer, my older ones do not have DVD players on them only CD players.

Unfortunately I ran both of these from the DVD's I created and they both made my computer randomly reboot, which is not good. No idea what the problem is, but it's nice that I have over 1000 other options to choose from.

Live CD version is what they call it when you can create a CD (or DVD) and then boot and run it from that disk, that way you can test it out and see what you think about Linux without messing up your hard drive or your old operating system.
This is a really handy feature.

I downloaded Linux Puppy, and it seems to run ok on my computer, no random reboot problems yet.

I wanted to try out a few different things that I usually use the computer to do, like print a document.
Unfortunately the Dell printer I have is not supported so I basically can not use it. I looked through some of the Dell printers and it looked like around half of the printers I randomly selected were supported by Dell and had Linux drivers.
I tried the generic driver and several others and I could not get anything at all to print on my printer.
So that was a strike against Linux, and if your thinking about printing make sure you buy one of the printers that are supported and have Linux drivers.

I wanted to download another operating system and burn it on a DVD. I loaded in my Linux Puppy and got on the internet with no problems, but when I tried to down load a file it said that he could not do that, my guess is that the drive it was trying to save to was not mounted. (that is just a guess).
So some versions are definitely more complicated than windows.

If you have an old computer, or an old laptop and you just want to get on the internet, then I think one of the older versions of Linux could work well for you.

I am going to play around with it some more and maybe look at a few more distros before I give up.

If you wanted to spend a little time, and you had a printer what was supported I think it would be possible to replace your windows and do many if not all of the things that windows does, unless you just want to run windows software then your probably out of luck.

It does appear that you can set your computer up so that it will dual boot with either windows or Linux, that is what I am hoping to do at some point.
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Making the switch to Linux.

Post by Webscout » Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:10 am

Interesting.

I gather all of this is VERY time consuming.....and a fun learning experience.
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Post by Dude » Sat Mar 07, 2015 10:29 am

I have been spending a lot more time that I thought I would, but you really don't have to.

There are a couple of versions that are similar to windows, you can download and burn onto a DVD, boot your computer and your running Linux from your DVD drive.
then you can try a few things and see how it works, this could be done in less than 10 or 15 minutes.

I would suggest that you start with Linux Mint if your a PC user and you have a newer computer, the three little buttons are in the upper right corner like windows.

with Ubuntu the three little buttons are in the upper left corner, I guess that is what Apple does, so try that one if your a Mac user, or if you want to strain your brain just a little each time you close a window.

From there you will probably be able to do most of the things you do on windows (other than run windows software).

If you go to some of the smaller versions or older ones, then sometimes you will end up doing a little more work and may need to learn some unix commands depending what your trying to do.
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Making the switch to Linux.

Post by Dude » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:48 pm

Debian Linux

I downloaded Debian and burned a DVD because it was suppose to be more stable than the other versions that keep rebooting. I tried to boot the disk and nothing. I did some more research and found out that while all most all versions of Linux will run off a disk, Debian has several different disks that it is distributed on, and from all the different disks only one can you boot from and run from your DVD drive.
So I downloaded the right version and it booted just fine, it appears graphically like an old windows machine, everything seems to work except the printer which I expected.
I liked the speed it runs and loaded a couple of documents and did a few other simple tasks, this look good and runs faster than windows, so it seem this would be a very good choice for a replacement.
I picked the KDE desktop because you have a choice when you download which desktop you want, it seemed to work great and looks a lot like windows so everything is easy to use.

Then I decided to try and burn a DVD disk, it has software to do this, but when I ran the software I got a black screen and my computer froze. So much for the ultra stable version of Linux. It's not look so good when you actually start trying to do stuff, at least on my Acer computer.

openSUSE

downloaded openSUSE and booted the disk, this one is suppose to be stable also, but it loads in a boot loader and it only gives you options to run from your hard disk drive, or to install on your hard disk drive, neither of which I wanted to do. So it looks like that one is out also. With all the versions out there I am not wasting a lot of time on ones that don't work.

CentOS

This version is based on Red Hat Linux, I downloaded and burned a disk, it boots up and says do you want to Install or do you want to Test and Install?
it is very similar to openSUSE in that it does not appear to run off the disk at all.

next is:

PCLinuxOS

downloaded and burned a disk, boots and gives you the first option as Live CD, very good start compared to CentOS.
it is based on Mandriva Linux, which is new to me.
it is a little slow to boot, but I like the background it shows you.

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it's been booting for over 5 minutes so I am going to assume it crashed, the computer is hung and I have to unplug it.
2nd boot it has a LiveCD No Boot Splash option.
it is very slow booting up, even by windows standards, a little of that can be blamed on running from a DVD drive, but even with that it's still very slow.
I have the KDE4 Full Monty version,

ok, I just got a message that the DVD is compressed and everything it does it first needs to decompress the files on the DVD, so that is why everything is taking so long, if it were installed on a hard disk and not compressed then obviously the performance would be much better.

It has a dark blue background which looks nice, and more important it uses a white font so, unlike many others, I can actually read everything pretty easy.

Some of the linux file systems are difficult to use, this seems to be one of them, it partly that I am used to windows, but also that unix has some complicated ways of keeping track of your files from the old mainframe days, and for example before you can use a disk drive you must mount it. Sometimes this is done for you, and other times it is not.

I was able to find an application that is for burning DVD disks by typing in "burn" into the search and running Kb3 disk burning software, the only problem is that I was never able to find my file I wanted burned. I knew the name of the C: drive but was never able to get to the point where I could see any files on it.

Searched around a long time in the different files, there is some prefix you need to know and it changes with the different types of Linux, but basically you need to find a directory that says something like
/dev/sda1
/dev/
/mnt/

it sometimes called /drive/ and they also use a few other names,
I got lucky and recognized the name of my partition on a tab at the bottom and that took me to the c: drive.
I found my file but after that it would not burn, it just hangs and my DVD drive will not open, it did let me cancel out of it program and put me back on the desktop so it didn't crash the whole system, just the burner does not work.

Just found the Dolphin file manager, it has the names of your drives listed at the bottom and they are easily accessible from there.
over all I like the version and it has been running for a hour without crashing, so that's pretty good relative to the other ones.
If I could find applications that worked, I could easily see using this in place of windows.

Edit
after I tried to burn the DVD, I tried to open the player several times, but I could not, the DVD player was locked up until after I shut the system down, so there is a very good chance that's why it would not burn a DVD, so assuming that the system locked up the DVD player and it can not be used because the system is running off it, I have used PCLinuxOS for around 3 hours now and everything else has worked properly.
I would need to get a printer that has a linux driver, but other than that it appears that it would do most if not all the things I use Windows for.

Zorin

Zorin is based on Ubuntu linux, I downloaded it from the new download.com and burned a DVD disk, it booted right up and it has a very familiar windows desktop. The desktop is kind of cool in that the windows will stretch when you go to move them or something, the top will move first then the bottom will follow, also when you close a window it will kind of fall backward before it disappears, it's a nice little touch. I have been running it for several hours and no problems, I can find and delete files on my windows drive, it has the drives listed in the file access program so as long as you know the names of your drives they are easy to find and use.

It does not have firefox, but comes with chrome installed.
The tool bar has a lot of music stuff which I don't use too much.
When you want to delete files you move them to the trash, I had to look around for a while because I couldn't find delete, but these are very minor differences that any windows user can over come in a few minutes.
Zorin is much smaller than PCLinuxOS, and comes with much less software installed.
Libre Office is installed, so it has all the basics.

Damn Small Linux

This one is really cute, it loads up fast and has statistics about how much memory is used and how much disk space, right in a little box on the desktop.

Unfortunately the browser is pretty out dated, it would not display craigslist.com or ebay.com correctly, it looks like it shows you all the text and about half of the graphics, it is pretty fast.

It has printer capability (sort of) when you try to add a printer it dumps you into some type of unix prompt program that you kind of need to really really know what you are doing, I guessed a few times because I know a few words of unix then I gave up.
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Post by Hobbyist » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:01 am

I have found there are a variety of "Debian based" variations so learning one gets you a head start on a bunch (Ubuntu for example).. The program maintenance stuff (Aptitude, etc) and the system config stuff (like the helper program that adds and removes symbolic links to user friendly autostart config directories) are common across most Debian variants whereas that stuff gets very different in other distros.

If you are going to run a raspberry Pi there's a popular (i.e. well maintained) version of Debian called Wheezy that will run on a $35 Pi. I've stayed away from proprietary variations like Red Hat and Guru versions like Slackware, etc.

I've "tried" linux a dozen times and it wasn't till I started sticking to _one_ distro (Debian Wheezy) for a while that I started feeling comfortable.

I.M.H.O.! If you are looking for an O.S. where you never have to type anything at a command prompt (i.e. you use nothing but a desktop interface) then just stick to Windows. (It's desktop blows away anything you will ever find for a Linux machine)
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Post by Webscout » Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:31 am

I have considered getting a Pi Kit...but so far I have let the feeling pass.
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Post by Neo » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:11 am

I think if you're going to want to run all kinds of different software then you're going to want to stick to Windows. But if you have specific things you're doing with your computer like word processing, database, and Internet, and that's how you use your computer most of the time then Linux can be a good option.
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Post by Webscout » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:00 am

I have always wanted to develop an OS...I would call it Panes. Developing it would be Pain for sure.
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Post by Dude » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:41 am

you could add some things to it later and then people could upgrade to "Major Pane".

and if you want to use lots of different software, or your not sure what hardware your going to want to use next week, and you like to change things up and try out new printers sometimes. Then Windows is the way to go.

If you have more of a set group of things you use on your computer, and your hardware and software you use is compatible with Linux, then it is not a bad option, and they have some versions that look very similar to windows so they are very easy to use.

There is one more case, last week my cousin called and they have an old laptop that they can't use anymore because windows XT keeps grinding to a halt, I am going to get a version of Linux that run entirely in memory and that should speed up their old computer significantly.
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Post by Webscout » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:58 am

For what PC's cost these days....and what they give you ..WHY?.

You get great deals on EBay...why not get him one of those.?

Now if you REALLY enjoy tinkering ...a challenge...well that is a different story..:)

I have a couple of older DEll laptops I got cheap..or cheap back then. I might tinker with them....IF I HAVE TIME....after online..the markets ..baking....cleaning...Utopia...etc. etc....and watching all the stuff I d/l. I have a life you know :D
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Post by Dude » Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:27 am

For an older computer I would recommend starting with Linux Puppy, that seems to run pretty good on a lot of older machines, you can burn it to a disk and then run it from there to get an idea how it will perform on your computer before you install it.

you could probably do this while your waiting for something to finish baking. :D
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Post by Hobbyist » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:25 pm

[QUOTE=Webscout;891930]... I have a life you know[/QUOTE]
Bull....
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Post by Webscout » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:00 pm

[QUOTE=Hobbyist;891945]Bull....[/QUOTE]


Bullfrog? Were you aware that I was born in Quebec? Good guess Hobby. You must know a few 'frogs' in Manitoba.
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Post by Dude » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:01 am

ok, yesterday I figured out that when picking your favorite Linux version, you need to know

1. what the system requirements are
2. is it stable, will it run with out crashing.
3. does it have the software you want
4. support

I didn't really realize this, but each different version requires it's own software unless it is based very closely on another version.
then you have the problem of finding the software, many of them will include software in the install disk, from what I have seen Tiny Core looks like one of the only ones that has it's own download app so you can go there and download new software.
Then you have to look at the support of the development team, do they continue to come out with new versions and new software? if there have been no updates in 5 years then it's probably not going to work with most stuff out there.

But what got me started is that I want a small fast operating system that will run a modern browser on an old computer and render pages correctly (not an old text browser) I want flash and java to work properly, so that is going to mean that it must have been released in the last couple years to have any chance of working.
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Post by Webscout » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:02 pm

I love a challenge.…...(sent via tablet)
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