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Say you need to plunge your family from Winsuck to [anything else]; which distro is the best evangelist?

Sante Fe Linux
- 0 (0%)
Red Hat Desktop
- 1 (3.6%)
SUSE Linux
- 5 (17.9%)
MEPIS Linux
- 3 (10.7%)
Slackware Linux
- 1 (3.6%)
Debian GNU/Linux
- 3 (10.7%)
Gentoo Linux
- 0 (0%)
Mandriva Linux
- 3 (10.7%)
Yellow Dog Linux
- 1 (3.6%)
Ubantu
- 11 (39.3%)

Total Members Voted: 12


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Author Topic: Best Linux for converting newbs  (Read 11585 times)

Jac

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2006, 11:34:27 am »

1. Independence. You're not tied down to Micro$oft or Apple.

To expand on this a little bit, Microsoft is moving toward a model where you don't actually own your software or documents or even your computer if you use their software.  They are moving toward a model where you rent all your software from them, your documents no longer are accessible if you fail to keep paying your rent, and even your computer can be cause to no longer function if you stop paying.

Yeah, I heard about that. But to avoid that all I have to do is retrogade to Win 98 (which I never had a problem with).

A more specific q: Is there a Linux build that substantially reduces RAM requirements?
All of 'em, if you're geeky enough. :P

Bill St. Clair likes Puppy Linux I think; there's also Damn Small Linux.
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I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.
--PSM

Kirsten

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2006, 11:38:02 am »

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« Last Edit: March 16, 2007, 07:53:34 pm by Kirsten »
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Jac

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2006, 11:40:24 am »

Yeah, I heard about that. But to avoid that all I have to do is retrogade to Win 98 (which I never had a problem with).

That's one way to go, and it's probably fine for many people.  However, you're then kind of locked into whatever software you have at the time (which, as I said, is probably fine for many people) as new software will at some point no longer be compatible with that version of Windows 98.  And, of course, you're stuck with whatever security vulnerabilities it might have one Microsoft stops supporting that version with security updates (which may already have happened, I'm not sure).
They ended support for 98 just this year, in fact.
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I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.
--PSM

Jac

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2006, 11:41:05 am »

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I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.
--PSM

Lazarus Long

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2006, 11:54:24 am »

I voted for SuSE & Ubuntu, having found both of those to be pretty newb-friendly. But where's Puppy Linux on your list?

Newbs, like non-technical-types, just want something that works without a lot of futzing. Migrating to Linux with any distro, you're going to have to set it up, put it through its paces, and work out the bugs with your hardware, and then introduce it to the family, if you want to make a good impression.

If all you're doing with the computer is basic stuff like email, web browsing, word processing, listening to music, etc. I highly recommend Puppy Linux. It's not as slick as some of the bigger distros, but it's just as user-friendly, and it's screamin' fast, even on older hardware. Puppy is an engineering marvel, and my favorite distro for day-in-day-out use.

I've had the same reaction as scarmig did to everything I've heard about Windows Vista. Ain't buyin' it. I used to be a WinBlows XP power-user, and even did the occasional virus-removal housecall when my main line of work was slow. I've been fooling with Linux for about 3 years now, and using it almost exclusively for 1. The hard drive on my only Windows computer bit the dust last month, so for now my home is happily Gates-free.

I really just need to get my computers running and serving their purpose. So, I pick distros that have a good package management system and a large, active user/developer community behind them. SuSE and Ubuntu fit this bill, Fedora doesn't anymore. Haven't tried Mandriva, but as of late I've heard much that is negative.

You mention Windows games on your list of apps you'd like to run on your future Linux box. I've never even messed with WINE (a program that lets you run some windows apps under Linux with reportedly mixed results). I've always had trouble getting one computer to do everything, if nothing else because when you tinker with one part of it, you can easily break something else. Linux has definitely got a learning curve, and dual-booting creates even more potential problems. I prefer to have several machines, each for dedicated tasks. Then if I break one machine, the rest of my life still goes on. Doesn't have to be expensive if you use some older, possibly free hardware combined with minimalist Linux distros like Puppy.

I would just keep whatever version of Windows you have now, and migrate to a Linux box for anything you need to do online (Puppy!). Do a clean install of Windows once you're done using it for anything online. If you only use it for limited tasks and keep it off the internet, it won't get gummed up as fast. Maybe pull the modem / NIC out of it entirely, just to be safe.

Great thing about Linux is that it hardly gets gummed up at all. It'll take some fooling around to find out what works for you on a particular box, but once you get it dialed, you should be able to keep on using it till the hardware gives out.

If you don't want to waste a whole computer on Windows, partition the drive and dual-boot with Linux, or better yet, get a second HD and a removable drive caddy. One drive for each OS, and you avoid the whole Windows-Linux dual-boot problem. Which is, when you inevitably have to wipe your Windows partition and reinstall, it wipes out your MBR and you have to figure out how to use a live CD to fix it before you can boot back into Linux normally. (Killed my first Ubuntu install this way).

Removable drive caddies are also good for privacy - they're much easier to hide than a whole desktop computer.

Hardware is always the kicker with Linux. I like to tinker, but with limited time, I tend to give up and try another distro after a day or two of tearing my hair out. The Debian installer failed miserably to detect or configure my old laptop's wildcat 1400x1050 screen resolution, but Ubuntu had no problems. Tried Fedora Core 4 when I got my ThinkPad, but switched to SuSE 10.0 after I found that I could get both my USB wifi card and power management working just by installing the right packages. I'm about to try Ubuntu again - actually I'm going to try it's new stripped-down, low-fat offshoot, Xubuntu.

Half the reason I got into Linux was just because I wanted to escape the vicious cycle of upgrades. A computer that was state-of-the-art seven or eight years ago has more than enough power to let you do most quotidian tasks - you just need an OS that's not bloated. Even in my Windows days, I always sought out the simplest, fastest application that would handle the job at hand. Distros like Puppy and Xubuntu are just what the doctor ordered.

The non-technical-types in my family who just browse the web or whatever couldn't care less whether it was Windows or Puppy Linux, or whatever, so long as it works. In fact, since I put Firefox on everybody's computers (including relatives'), their experience is just about the same. I guess what you choose depends on whether you are going to administrate the systems and the rest of the family will just use them, or if you expect the others to be installing programs and hardware.

Windows 98? It's less bloated than XP, but on computers with multiple users it always seemed to get gummed up in a big hurry.

Just my two cents' worth - hope you can find a useful idea or two in there.

Lazarus Long (Winded)
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"Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is... a sort of mental revolution." - Orwell

Mr. Bill

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2006, 12:03:35 pm »

(Gak!  6 new replies just while I've been typing this!  Posting it anyway even though others have already said some of what I wrote.)

When we became a 2-computer family, I put Ubuntu on my new machine so that I'd have lots of time to learn Linux before we have to drop Windows entirely.  (And also because I didn't feel like paying for an operating system when I could get one for free!)

But Windows XP (on my wife's laptop) isn't going to suddenly stop running the moment that Microsoft releases Vista.  I don't know what Microsoft's official plans are, but I'm figuring they will continue support and security updates for XP for a couple of years at least -- and even after that, XP will still run (although it might become insecure for Internet use).

I'd like to reiterate that the question was for "the easiest transition for typical home-family use..."

Not what someone that is a computer guru would like, but would be best for a reasonably computer literate family.

This is where Linux is a problem, at least in the "setting it up" stage.  As long as one person in the family is willing to become a novice-guru, he/she can go to the effort of selecting which Linux to use, which GUI to use, etc., and then actually get it installed and working on several different pieces of hardware.  As of 2006, that still means a lot of study and work.  It's too much to expect that everyone in the family will want to share in this.

Once it's running, though, I don't think the switchover will be too hard for most people.  I've only used the Gnome GUI, but one windows+icons+mouse interface is much like another.  Click to select, double-click to open, click on the X to close a window, etc.  They'll need to know a bit about Linux directory structure, but this doesn't really have to be much more than "Fred, all your files are in /home/fred, and the CD-ROM is at /mnt/cdrom, and leave everything else alone."

If they're running Firefox or Opera on their Windows machines, they can switch to Firefox or Opera on Linux and never notice the difference.  Switching from Microsoft Word to OpenOffice.org Writer is easy for simple documents, still something of a pain for complex page layouts but not impossible.

So my suggestion would be to pick a Linux version that you, the novice-guru, are comfortable with, since you will be doing all the difficult stuff, and it probably won't really matter to the rest of your family which one you pick.
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Lazarus Long

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2006, 12:13:54 pm »

Hear, Hear.

Nicely put, Mr. Bill.
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"Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is... a sort of mental revolution." - Orwell

Erin

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2006, 01:09:45 pm »

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« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 07:29:55 pm by Erin »
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Erin

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2006, 01:17:17 pm »

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« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 07:29:59 pm by Erin »
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Bill St. Clair

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2006, 01:20:02 pm »

I voted for Ubuntu, though Puppy is definitely a close second. The only drawback to Puppy is that it's single-user. It's definitely more fun than Ubuntu, though, which is pretty, but comparatively slow and staid.
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Jac

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2006, 01:29:51 pm »

Erin,
I can't get the article right now (I'm away from my computer), bu from what I've read, the latest version of OpenOffice.org is *really* nipping at M$ Office's heels.
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I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.
--PSM

Erin

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2006, 02:00:01 pm »

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« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 07:30:03 pm by Erin »
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Plinker-MS

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #27 on: November 01, 2006, 02:09:18 pm »

Here are the things that, for now, are keeping me with Windows (although it's 2000 Pro - I'd never buy Vista or XP).

- VPN.  I must be able to VPN into my XP machine at work, and I'm not prepared to deal with the hassle of finding and learning a Linux-to-Windows VPN client.  I'm also not sure how much support our IT department would be willing or able to provide if I have problems during setup or operation.

The solution to this depends on what kind of VPN you use at work.  A standard IPSEC VPN connection (or even VNC or Remote Desktop) will be no problem, something more proprietary might either be a hassle or impossible.

Quote
- MS Office.  Sure, Linux software development is moving in that direction, but from the reviews I've read, nothing has been developed that compares to Excel for spreadsheet work.  And because it wouldn't be efficient to keep moving documents between the two, I'd be stuck using Excel through my VPN rather than on my machine at home, which is a much slower and more painful process.

OpenOffice spreadsheet works just fine for me, and has no problem reading and writing Excel spreadsheets.   I suggest you download the Windows version from http://www.openoffice.org/ and see if it does everything you need it to do.
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Jac

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #28 on: November 01, 2006, 02:32:18 pm »

If you could post it when you do get back to your machine, I'd be ever so grateful.  I WANT to get away from Windows and Microsoft at home, so anything that moves me closer helps.
My pleasure...

PC Pro reviews OpenOffice.org v.2 (Jan. '06) From the article:
Quote
Overall, we're both surprised and impressed at just how closely OpenOffice is tracking Microsoft here. It has always been a good alternative for anyone with limited funds or an aversion to the market leader, but more often than not you'd have to work hard to justify to an IT department why they should go down this route. In this latest release, with its close-to-seamless recognition of native Microsoft files and integrated PDF creation, the tables have turned, and it's Microsoft Office that should require the more serious justification where budgets are concerned.

For personal use, there are even fewer reasons to choose Microsoft. OpenOffice certainly doesn't lack features compared to the market leader, and most of its ease-of-use issues stem from people's familiarity with Microsoft Office rather than an inherent problem with the program itself. As such, you should certainly try OpenOffice's offering before donating another £100 or more to Microsoft's coffers. After all, it's free.

That was the main article I was thinking of, and if you go here, you'll find more.
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I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.
--PSM

securitysix

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Re: Best Linux for converting newbs
« Reply #29 on: November 01, 2006, 03:04:09 pm »

1. Independence. You're not tied down to Micro$oft or Apple.

To expand on this a little bit, Microsoft is moving toward a model where you don't actually own your software or documents or even your computer if you use their software.  They are moving toward a model where you rent all your software from them, your documents no longer are accessible if you fail to keep paying your rent, and even your computer can be cause to no longer function if you stop paying.

Yeah, I heard about that. But to avoid that all I have to do is retrogade to Win 98 (which I never had a problem with).

A more specific q: Is there a Linux build that substantially reduces RAM requirements?
All of 'em, if you're geeky enough. :P

Bill St. Clair likes Puppy Linux I think; there's also Damn Small Linux.

I'll +1 DamnSmall for being able to run on low memory.  I've actually booted DSL on a Pentium 166 laptop with 16 meg of RAM and a quad speed CD-ROM drive.  It was slower to boot than Windows 98 on that same machine (Windows 98 lives on the hard drive of that one) but once loaded, it ran at least as fast, and slightly faster in some cases.

I've never tried Puppy, and my one and only experience with Ubuntu hasn't been positive (tried to boot, seemed like it loaded everything, then dumped me at a black screen of nothingness).  I didn't try booting into "Safe Graphics Mode" with it and it may have just hated my SLI video card setup, but I just don't know.  It could also be that the 64-bit version that I downloaded doesn't work or doesn't like dual core processors, which is what I have in my desktop.  I'd have tried it again over the weekend, but I spent my entire weekend downloading a 120 meg update patch (over dial-up, no fun, believe me) for a game I bought that wouldn't run without it.  Haven't tried again since.  I'll have to burn the 32-bit version I downloaded and try it on my laptop to see how that goes.
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