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Why Linux?

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staffordian
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Why Linux?

#2394

Postby staffordian » November 8th, 2016, 7:26 pm

I know several well known posters here use Linux either instead of or as well as Windows (or Apple OS?) and I've wondered from time to time whether to try it.

As I see it, the main benefits are a reduced chance of getting a virus and satisfaction from not being beholden to Mr Gates.

Is there more to it than this?

As an aside I had a quick play with Ubuntu last night and was not immediately impressed with it.

So, a secondary question, if it is worth trying, which is the best version to choose for a general user who is reasonably computer literate but by no means a techie, and does anyone recommend a good site which covers the basics? There seems so much out there it's hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.

And finally (for now, at least!) how does a dual boot work. I tried easyBCD which I read would do the trick, but it would not allow me to add the Linux option, it was all greyed out as though there was no Linux on the machine. I do have some control as I've changed the BIOS to boot from the Linux partition and that seems to give an option to boot Linux or to boot Windows, but it does not seem to proceed without me making a selection, I'd prefer (for now, at least), Windows to boot by default after a delay, during which time I can select Linux if I so wish.

Many thanks for any advice.

Staffordian

kiloran
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Re: Why Linux?

#2402

Postby kiloran » November 8th, 2016, 7:39 pm

staffordian wrote:I know several well known posters here use Linux either instead of or as well as Windows (or Apple OS?) and I've wondered from time to time whether to try it.

As I see it, the main benefits are a reduced chance of getting a virus and satisfaction from not being beholden to Mr Gates.

Is there more to it than this?

Staffordian


Well, here are my reasons.....
  1. Linux is a new toy to play with
  2. I find it way quicker than Windows, especially when booting up or shutting down
  3. It's free, and lots of other free applications
  4. It probably is less prone to getting a virus. I tend to browse only safe sites (hopefully)
I use Windows (7) mainly because it supports Excel

I use a mixture of Ubuntu and Linux Mint. The Mint desktop is probably closer to Windows than Ubuntu. Ubuntu does seem a bit strange initially but I grew to like many of its features.

For dual-booting, just install Ubuntu or Mint and follow the instructions..... you should have the choice of replacing your existing OS or adding the new one as dual boot. And once installed you can configure the dual-boot (normally Grub) so that the OS of your choice boots as default after x seconds (you can define x). Within x seconds, you can select a non-default OS.

Hope this helps

--kiloran

staffordian
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Re: Why Linux?

#2408

Postby staffordian » November 8th, 2016, 7:44 pm

Thanks Kiloran.

If I'm honest, I think your reason 1 is why I'm looking at it.

I'll have another play with the settings, once I've worked out what Grub is, it sounds like the options are there to do just what I want.

Staffordian

Breelander
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Re: Why Linux?

#2412

Postby Breelander » November 8th, 2016, 7:50 pm

kiloran wrote: Well, here are my reasons.....
  1. Linux is a new toy to play with
  2. I find it way quicker than Windows, especially when booting up or shutting down
  3. It's free, and lots of other free applications
  4. It probably is less prone to getting a virus. I tend to browse only safe sites (hopefully)


One more you can add to that list (and probably a good place to start if you just want to have a play) - you can run Linux from a bootable Live USB. Very useful for getting into a system that won't boot to make repairs and/or recover files. I have several Live USBs (Linux Mint, Knoppix) but haven't (yet) taken the 'dual boot' path.

0x3F
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Re: Why Linux?

#2438

Postby 0x3F » November 8th, 2016, 8:15 pm

I'd suggest linux Mint too as is more Windows like. Previous versions of linux used to require a bit of tinkering with, but Mint seemed good to go straight away. If it's an older machine you could opt for XFCE version of Mint.

From memory, before installing you need to shrink your windows partition - to create some empty space to install linux onto. I'd run a defrag from windows first, in case you have files spread across the hard disk (it'll bunch them up nearer the beginning, so you can shrink without issues). The linux live CD will have a utility to shrink it (maybe you can do this at install time these days)

Editing grub. If you don't fancy editing text files that, if done incorrectly, could break things, there's a graphical utility called grub-customzer you could install and use instead.

kiloran
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Re: Why Linux?

#2443

Postby kiloran » November 8th, 2016, 8:23 pm

0x3F wrote:
From memory, before installing you need to shrink your windows partition - to create some empty space to install linux onto. I'd run a defrag from windows first, in case you have files spread across the hard disk (it'll bunch them up nearer the beginning, so you can shrink without issues). The linux live CD will have a utility to shrink it (maybe you can do this at install time these days)


Yes, when I installed Ubuntu from a DVD, it asked if I wanted to dual-boot and then led me through the repartitioning as part of the installation process.
And yesterday I replaced Ubuntu on a spare laptop with Linux Mint, and the Mint Installation process was smart enough to ask me if I wanted to replace the Ubuntu partition with Mint.
The old Linux reputation of being very arcane and needing lots of work done on the command line is now way out of date. And my wife is more than happy to browse using Firefox on Ubuntu or Mint and doesn't care (or even know!) that it's not windows. And she's the ultimate technophobe.

--kiloran

kiloran
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Re: Why Linux?

#2445

Postby kiloran » November 8th, 2016, 8:26 pm

Yay!!!!!!!
That was my 50th post and I got an instant crown. Shows that quantity beats quality every time!

--kiloran

Midsmartin
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Re: Why Linux?

#2447

Postby Midsmartin » November 8th, 2016, 8:27 pm

If you only want to play with linux, consider running it inside a virtual machine inside Windows before trying dual boot:
Professional versions of Windows 8/10 include Hyper-V for free
Or Virtualbox is a free download:
https://www.virtualbox.org/

Your computer may struggle if it's very short of memory.. though linux doesn't tend to use too much.

Whenever I've tried linux I've always run up against insurmountable (given that I wasn't willing to put *that* much effort in) problems, most recently trying to make my printer work. So I keep it there in a VM but never use it in anger.

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Re: Why Linux?

#2450

Postby 0x3F » November 8th, 2016, 8:33 pm

One other thing.....

I set my machine up to have a shared partition, visible from windows and linux eg to store films/music etc. So if you had a 500Gb hdd you might:

    - Shrink windows partition to 100Gb
    - Create a new 300Gb partition which will be shared (type fat32 or ntfs)
    - Leave 100Gb free for linux to install on

Worth noting that the linux hard drive format is ext3/4 and when using windows, you won't be able to see files on it. Linux will be able to view files on the windows partition.

Anyway, worth thinking about how you want to set it up before installing.

staffordian
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Re: Why Linux?

#2453

Postby staffordian » November 8th, 2016, 8:35 pm

Thanks all for the information and advice folks.

Plenty to think about already :)

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Re: Why Linux?

#2501

Postby dragnips » November 8th, 2016, 9:51 pm

I've replied twice to this post now and both replies seem to have disappeared - unless anyone knows otherwise

staffordian
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Re: Why Linux?

#2510

Postby staffordian » November 8th, 2016, 10:13 pm

dragnips wrote:I've replied twice to this post now and both replies seem to have disappeared - unless anyone knows otherwise


On another thread I found the same, but have realised that for whatever reason, I must have not properly clicked the submit button. I thought I had, but like you, there was no post.

It's not something I've seen on other forums (fora?) but what seems to happen here is that when I think I've clicked it, all I've done is highlight it. Done it a few times now...

Edit: Thanks for your contribution, even if I've not been able to read it :)

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Re: Why Linux?

#2513

Postby 0x3F » November 8th, 2016, 10:15 pm

1nv35t wrote: Personally I prefer a lighter desktop and I run LXDE (which is very similar to XFCE).


I use i3 window manager, sounds like you might like it too as is ultra lightweight. It's great. It's a different concept, a tiling window manager which is super flexable. Mainly keyboard based, though you can use a mouse - it's really quick to switch between windows/workspaces. Takes a bit of getting used to, but I hate going back to traditional floating windows now. Some pics, if you're interested:

https://i3wm.org/screenshots/#

staffordian
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Re: Why Linux?

#2514

Postby staffordian » November 8th, 2016, 10:17 pm

1nv35t wrote:
staffordian wrote:which is the best version to choose for a general user who is reasonably computer literate but by no means a techie, and does anyone recommend a good site which covers the basics? There seems so much out there it's hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.

The range of options is absolutely massive https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1b/Linux_Distribution_Timeline.svg/2620px-Linux_Distribution_Timeline.svg.png

If for instance you opt to look at Debian then their wiki is a good a starting point as any https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian. I would suggest looking for any version that includes non-free firmware as Debian is a stickler for 'free'. Such as from the web page located at cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-including-firmware/current-live/ (I couldn't enable that as a link as lemonfool currently limits a single post to just three links maximum). Select the i386 branch if your PC is 32 bit, or amd64 if its 64 bit. Then select the iso-hybrid folder and then download a .iso file for your preferred choice of desktop (either KDE, XFCE, MATE, GNOME ...etc). KDE is nice, more Windows like. Personally I prefer a lighter desktop and I run LXDE (which is very similar to XFCE). Cinnamon and Mate are quite similar to each other. Gnome is more 'portable' like ... similar sort of layout as per a phone, but personally I found it to be a little too quirky for me (my preference of lxde is more like older Windows XP type layout).

Armed with a iso that also includes non-free firmware you can use the same as per the normal livecd https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/installmanual


Thanks 1nv3st. Plenty to look at and think about there, which I will, but to be honest, the more I read of it, the less keen I am on trying it. It all looks rather too much like going back to MS DOS, which I was never too happy using :-)

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Re: Why Linux?

#2732

Postby andycowl » November 9th, 2016, 11:16 am

Interesting thread. I've used Unix systems for many years and use Fedora 25 (and Linux servers) at work and Debian, Linux Mint on home computers. I think there's a misconception that Linux is purely for technically minded people but that's not always the case.

Years ago, I got so fed up with Windows degrading slowly over time, commercial anti-virus products consuming CPU, eradicating bundled vendor software and providing an ever increasing amount of technical support, I installed Linux Mint (Mate) on my wife's laptop. It was quite a brave decision at the time as she was studying and writing essays so we had the odd 'This Word Document doesn't look right' issue but now she uses Libreoffice, Thunderbird and Firefox quite happily. In fact, she won't even let me upgrade it to the latest release.

Performance is undoubtedly better, it boot fasts, it shuts down fast and, more importantly, it just works and you get security updates seamlessly. All my devices (wireless, graphics, USB devices, bluetooth) are all detected and work fine under very Linux distro I have used.

As for not being initially impressed by Ubuntu, nor am I but IMHO that's Linux's biggest strength. The sheer variety of distributions, desktop environments and window managers to choose from and freely evaluate. For example, I use Gnome 3 - it's very different from Windoze and Ubuntu/Unity and Mint/Mate or Cinnamon and Gnome can run on Ubuntu (replacing Unity).

Debian based distros (Ubuntu, Mint) are great for a new Linux user as they tend to carry the latest version of software packages in the repositories and there's load of help (forums, Google) available.

ten0rman
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Re: Why Linux?

#2735

Postby ten0rman » November 9th, 2016, 11:24 am

I have used a number of versions of Windows up to and including XP with which I was satisfied. That is, until Microsoft withdrew support. Now, in the past I have used Windows 2000 (W2K), and again was satisfied with that until support was removed whereupon I kept on using it only to find that programs like SAS, MalwareBytes etc gradually became slower and slower when dealing with W2K. As a result, I was concerned that the same would apply to XP.

I already new that some of the software and hardware I used was not fully compatible with Windows 7, and didn't fancy having to fork out loads of dosh just to support Microsoft's bottom line so I took the plunge and converted to Linux.

I actually have two very similar laptops, one used for main working and the other for backup so it was reasonably easy to use the backup laptop for experimentation. In addition, I already used Firefox, Thunderbird, Libre Office Writer and Libre Office Calc so it was easy for these programs, basically download the Linux version, transfer the existing data and job done. I was left with four other programs for which there was no exact Linux equivalent. Ultimately, one, Paint Shop Pro, was replaced by The Gimp, another, TaxCalc, was replaced by the HMRC equivalent, whilst I eventually got Design Cad working via Wine. That left Mpro, a DOS based relational database. For this I have tried Windows XP in a virtual machine (works ok, but prone to stuttering under certain circumstances) and finally DOSemu for which I was assisted by someone on the old TMF forum.

Initially I tried Suse v12.x along with the KDE desktop. This I found to be absolutely atrocious - I simply could not set up KDE for a decent desktop. Next I tried Ubuntu which had ginormous ugly looking icons and which managed to crash the machine. Finally I tried Mint which worked out of the box as it were. Which was strange really because Mint is based on Ubuntu, although the desktop I used, Mate, is different. Anyway, I quickly got it to look something similar to the so-called Windows Classic look which I quite like.

Currently I'm on Mint v.13 which loses support next year at which point I will either move to v17.3 or perhaps v.18.1, both of which have support to 2021.

I have to say that have no regrets whatsoever of moving to Linux, and having seen (read) some of the things that Microsoft is apparently now doing in respect of Windows 10, I'm extremely glad to have made the move.

I strongly recommend making the move.

Regards,

ten0rman

ten0rman
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Re: Why Linux?

#2738

Postby ten0rman » November 9th, 2016, 11:30 am

Staffordian,

There is next to no need to use the command line. Mint can be used quite satisfactorily with a graphical user interface such as Mate, Cinnamon etc. I used Mate because that was what the User Guide recommended and covered.

You will have to set it up as you like it, but in reality, it's no different to Windows which also can be personalized as you wish.

Go for it man, go for it.

Regards,

ten0rman

Infrasonic
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Re: Why Linux?

#2778

Postby Infrasonic » November 9th, 2016, 12:45 pm

dragnips wrote:I've replied twice to this post now and both replies seem to have disappeared - unless anyone knows otherwise


If others have posted in the meantime it will alert you to the fact when you hit submit so you can review the new post and alter any of your own text accordingly. Caught me out too, although it does make sense. Hit submit again and it should post OK. Unless you mean it was posted and then disappeared?

Linux Mint has many of the drivers for printers and other bits and bobs as part of the download / install, so for the first timers is probably one of the best flavours to try. Once you are comfortable with Mint try another distro.

addycres
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Re: Why Linux?

#2811

Postby addycres » November 9th, 2016, 2:00 pm

I have used Linux for nearly 20 years. Early versions were a bit crude and needed tinkering 'under the bonnet', but now much more user friendly.

Tried a couple of distributions, but for the last 15 years used SUSE exclusively.

Like anything new, it takes some getting used to. It does 'things' differently to Windows, and that is one of the things that I like about it. I am not being told all the time what I 'should' be doing, it lets me decide. I very occasionally use a Windows machine and I absolutely hate it - slow and bloated.

All the applications are there - office (Libre Office has everything that MS Office has and more - the equivalent of PowerPoint is included - and can handle all MS Office files), Thunderbird for email, Firefox or Opera for web browsing, GIMP for photo editing, and loads of others. All free, and updated frequently.

All these applications are available in Windows versions. My advice to the OP is to load them on your Windows machine, get used to using them. Then the transition to a Linux system will be much less painful. All the setup files and data that will be on the Windows machine can be transferred to the Linux machine, so you will not loose anything (emails, bookmarks...).

dragnips
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Re: Why Linux?

#2819

Postby dragnips » November 9th, 2016, 2:13 pm

Infrasonic wrote:
dragnips wrote:I've replied twice to this post now and both replies seem to have disappeared - unless anyone knows otherwise


If others have posted in the meantime it will alert you to the fact when you hit submit so you can review the new post and alter any of your own text accordingly. Caught me out too, although it does make sense. Hit submit again and it should post OK. Unless you mean it was posted and then disappeared?

Linux Mint has many of the drivers for printers and other bits and bobs as part of the download / install, so for the first timers is probably one of the best flavours to try. Once you are comfortable with Mint try another distro.


Thanks for that, I'll know next time. Have to admit that I just assumed that when I hit 'submit' it would automatically do that.


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