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Author Topic: Switching to Linux  (Read 9121 times)

Thunder

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Switching to Linux
« on: January 05, 2006, 09:29:39 pm »

Well, I'm about an RCH away from converting over to Linux.  In fact, I'm currently posting this running a LiveCD of Knoppix.  My only drawbacks have been my need to run certain Winblows programs, but I've discovered that even they should be compatible using WINE.

I've got several different versions to choose from: Fedora Core 3, Fedora Core 4, Knoppix, SUSE, Debian, and Xandros.  Since Knoppix is the only distro with a LiveCD, it's the only one I've seen and actually been able to use so far.  My questions are:

  • Are there issues between the distros that are major?  For instance, will one recognize my hardware and the other may not?
  • Are there really any big differences in general that I should be aware of before I take the plunge or should I just go for it and worry about changing distros later?

P.S.  My internet speed seems much faster on Linux.  ;) 
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velojym

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2006, 10:13:25 pm »

Linux is native to the 'net  :mellow:

You can get free CDs from Ubuntu, I've tried it and liked it, though I haven't really delved too deeply into that particular distro. I have Fedora Core 4 on two computers and don't have any issues other than the fact that my DLink wireless card on the laptop doesn't have any Linux drivers. (Yeah, STILL haven't gotten to it yet), though I'm gonna try ndiswrapper sooner or later.
There are some other live distros, though the only ones I've booted are Knoppix and Ubuntu, which also comes with a hard drive install version. They'll want to ship you at least ten pairs of CDs, so you can share 'em and stuff.

http://www.ubuntulinux.org/
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ZooT_aLLures

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2006, 11:58:35 pm »

You're internet access will seem faster because linux speaks native TCP/IP whereas with windows it's a protocol overlay.

And yes.....you very well could have hardware that's detected by one distribution but not by another....it all depends on what they compiled either into the kernel or as modules.......and every distribution seems to have it's own recipe concerning what the developers think is desireable and undesireable.

Wish I could have given you better news than that....but in reality what better news can I give than the truth?
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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2006, 12:34:09 am »

Well, I'm about an RCH away from converting over to Linux.  In fact, I'm currently posting this running a LiveCD of Knoppix.  My only drawbacks have been my need to run certain Winblows programs, but I've discovered that even they should be compatible using WINE.

That's one thing I haven't messed with yet,  have you tried it?

Quote
I've got several different versions to choose from: Fedora Core 3, Fedora Core 4, Knoppix, SUSE, Debian, and Xandros.  Since Knoppix is the only distro with a LiveCD, it's the only one I've seen and actually been able to use so far.

I've never tried Xandros nor do I know much of anything else about it.  I'm not particularly enthused about Fedora any version or RH in general.  When I looked at my brother's first install of 5.2 way back when (he picked it up at some flea market) I was running Slackware 4.0 and it was *different* in terms of how some of the system initialization and other stuff was done.  The next one I heard good things about was RH 6.2,  but I never got a hold of a copy.  Tnen somebody sent me 7.1,  and I couldn't install it because I didn't have enough memory on my test fixture,  a 486 board w/ 16M of ram that was happy to run Slackware, SuSE, and Debian,  although they were all admittedly older versions.  Later on I found out that even if I'd maxed that board out to the 64M it could hold I still wasn't gonna be able to proceed with the install unless I told it certain things that would force a textmode-only install,  which they didn't tell you about.  So it's a bit of a resource pig,  or aimed at a later segment of what machines are out there.  Then they did that whole thing where they split Fedora off from RH.  I can understand the company giving away their software and charging for support,  that almost makes sense as a business model,  but that particular move smelled more like "we'll get folks to do all our testing for us but keep the good stuff for our customers" or something like that.  So I'm not too terribly inclined toward the use of their stuff.  In fact xmas before last my other brother gave me a whole stack of CDs that were supposed to be RH9 (?) and I've never even looked at what all was on them,  even though dealing with rpm files on a non-rpm system really isn't much of an issue with me.

Quote
My questions are:

  • Are there issues between the distros that are major?  For instance, will one recognize my hardware and the other may not?
  • Are there really any big differences in general that I should be aware of before I take the plunge or should I just go for it and worry about changing distros later?

P.S.  My internet speed seems much faster on Linux.  ;) 

There are definitely differences in the hardware detection capabilities of different distros,  and Knoppix is supposed to be pretty good at that sort of thing from what I hear,  though I haven't really had much of an issue with that kind of thing -- first install I did I didn't have a sound card in my machine at the time,  and installed one later on.  I don't really know if Slackware 4.0 would've detected it or not,  but I managed to go through the stuff you needed to do to make an ISA sound card work, and it did,  until that card died,  and now the next one is in that machine and working,  even though I don't have anything hooked up to it (it's my server :-).  Worst that will happen is that some bit of your hardware won't be recognized and that you might have something either not working at all or not working to its potential,  and either way as long as you have a good install there's a lot of helpful folks out there that'll get you going with the right stuff to try.

Other differences between distros are in things like package management.  RH and SuSE (and probably a number of others) use "rpm" files,  stands for Redhat Package Manager.  Debian uses "deb" files,  which are fairly similar.  Slack and others use "tarballs" (something.tar.z or .tar.gz or .tgz files),  which are pretty unix-traditional kinds of things.  The main thing with the first two are the issue of dealing with dependencies,  where you go to install something and it expects to have something else in the system that it uses.  Paying attention to those details and having the right library files on your system (linux software pages are often pretty good about listing stuff like this) more often than not takes care of the problem,  and the automated software for rpm and deb files sometimes gets into downloading a whole *mess* of stuff where each thing depends on something else which depends on something else and so on,  making the whole process way more complicated than it needs to be.  This is something I've seen referred to as "dependency hell".  :-)  Anyhow,  it hasn't been an issue with me for the most part.

I _have_ downloaded some binaries that flat-out didn't work.  Then I got the source code,  compiled it against the libraries that were already on my system,  and things worked just fine.

Another thing I should probably point out is how once you get past the basic system stuff it's all _very_ modular.  For example most of what I did when I started out was in textmode,  because I didn't have X working.  I eventually got it working,  and later revisions of the software took care of a lot of that drudgework detail stuff for me.  It's really all getting better at that all the time. We have a lot of folks all over the planet working on this stuff,  because they want to,  and because they want to make it better,  and we don't have a problem with BS like marketing targets,  product release cycles,  bug denials,  poor choices in design that still need to be supported,  and so forth.  Anyhow,  Knoppix is using KDE for a GUI,  which is what I'm using right now as well.  If you're interested in taking a look at gnome,  the other major contender,  I'll be happy to send you one of those many Ubuntu disc sets I have sitting around here.  That set also includes a live try-it-out disc and an install disc.  (BTW,  this is also open to anybody else that wants one -- just email me and tell me where to send it.)

Most machines these days don't suffer from a lack of HD space,  though I run a lot of older gear here.  Most distros will install darn near everything,  given the opportunity,  though some give you some rough configuration choices like "workstation" and "server" and such.  I like the fact that I could choose individual packages with my Slackware install,  and I did,  which explains how I could fit a whole installation on to an 80M drive,  and still have room left over when I was done.  And there's tons of software out there,  and all sorts of tools for those folks that want to make more.

Whether you end up wanting to change distros later on and how much of a PITA that turns out to be kinda depends.  Don't let system-specific tools that come with one of them fool you,  nor superficial differences.  This stuff is endlessly tweakable,  and if for some reason I wanted it to look like w95 I could make it do so,  though heaven only knows why I'd want to.  You've got your basic system,  and how that's managed,  and packages and such.  You've got your window manager,  the "front end" that you see and deal with,  I guess a GUI in many cases (though it doesn't have to be) and that's something you can change to other packages too,  or pick something like KDE and tweak and customize it to your liking.  Anyhow,  switching can be done without losing too much if you can keep the new one from wiping out what's there altogether,  and using some of the stuff you've already got,  like in your home directory and maybe in /etc (for config stuff),  perhaps.  That may be harder or not,  depending on the differences between distros.

Oh,   and _my_ internet speed is noticeably faster on linux,  too.  But then most of the 'net is built on linux,  not on some OS that had to have that stuff patched in afterwards.  :-D

Good move,  in any case,  and do feel free to drop me some email if there's anything I can do to help out.
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snokrash257

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2006, 07:35:37 am »

There are definitely differences in hardware detection between distros.
Knoppix isn't the only distro with a live cd (of the ones you named--I thought that suse had one) Ubuntu has one, and simplyMepis, and several others, also.
I've been running Ubuntu on my laptop (my main computer) for about a year, and love it.  My biggest problem is my wireless card, because it's a broadcom, but, it works very well using ndiswrapper.My second biggest beef about it is that if I want the newest version of some software, then many times I have to compile it myself (or wait 6 months), because of Ubuntus 6 month between releases policy.
But they have a great support forum, and a backports project which gets many people the cutting edge sofware they want. I really can't say enough good things about Ubuntu (esp. for Linux beginners), and I know I sound like a shill--sorry.  If you've got money Xandros may be a good bet, also.  One of the pay versions comes with Crossover Office (an implementation of wine, that supposedly runs things like MS Office better than wine itself), and you can try Xandros for free, and I think install a trial version of Crossover to see if it works for you.

As far as wine, I've tried it a couple of times, and never really liked it.  Programs run slower, and most aren't fully compatible with it.
What windows-centric software do you need to run?  There may be Linux equivalents.

I, personally, stay away from RedHat as much as posssible (hard to do with servers though). I liked Mandriva before ~version 9, when it seemed to go all to shit on me.  Since I've started using apt-based distros, I've come to love them, for the ease of installing stuff (mostly) and come to hate rpm based distros for the dependency hell they put you through (yes I know about yum, etc.--never seems to work right for me.)

« Last Edit: January 06, 2006, 07:40:17 am by snokrash257 »
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Leonidas the Younger

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2006, 10:56:49 am »

Thunder -

Welcome to the world of 'nix :)

There are plenty of people here to help you with all sorts of issues and or trouble shooting, so if/when you get into a tight spot, don't panic.

Quote
    * Are there issues between the distros that are major?  For instance, will one recognize my hardware and the other may not?

In terms of default setup? Yes, some distros may not recognize hardware other distros natively will.

However, if one linux can do it, any other ought to be able to. More than likely a question of how, not if.

But depending on the specifics, it could also be a big pain in the ass .. yeah, I've had those days.

Quote
    * Are there really any big differences in general that I should be aware of before I take the plunge or should I just go for it and worry about changing distros later?

In essence, all distros are the same thing. However, that being said, some are better than others at various things.

I personally stay away from RedHat/Fedora - others have reported great success and hapiness with them.

The biggest difference between distros is package management, and then defaults. (Init scripts and the like.)

I have yet to try Ubuntu, but I'll recomend it based on two factors: 1) It's Debian based and Debian is rock solid and damn easy to install new software on 2) I've heard tons of good reviews on it from experienced linux users I know and trust.

My second recomendation would be Debian itself.

Another general recomendation I would make is - to make it easier for you to switch distro's later - is to partition your hard drive such that you have (say), 10-20 gigs for the system itself, and the rest for your /home directory and other persistent user data.

That way, down the line when you want to try NewShinyDistro(TM) you don't have to go through the pain of moving your stuff off the hard drive and then back on it again.

Good luck and don't hessitate to ask anything about anything :) A major resource you'll get to enjoy is tldp.org - the linux documentation project.

-- Leonidas
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Thunder

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2006, 02:38:47 pm »

I'm seriously thinking of buying a cheap hard drive and making it a dual boot machine.  If I need the Windows stuff, I'll boot on C:  If I need Linux, I'll boot on E:

I like the Knoppix that I've been able to try so far.  I believe its Debian based.  I'm tempted to install it just because I'm familiar with it, but I'm not sure I should just jump on it without trying the others first.  Granted, so far it's worked perfectly. (except for turning some quotation marks on webpages into little boxes, but that's a font problem, not a Linux problem)
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There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders.  -Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Wars will cease when people start loving their children more than they love the government.

People use the term 'chaos' only when they can't see far enough to view the big picture.   -Deepak Chopra

There are no illegal guns, only illegal gun laws.

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2006, 10:52:38 pm »

I am a Linux newbie. I went with Ubuntu (after a little research), and I've been happy with it. I'd caution that getting Ubuntu installed is not as simple and user-friendly as installing Windows, but you probably realize that already.

Ubuntu has a live-CD version, an install-CD version, and a giant-size download (about 3GB) that works as both a live and an install disk (and needs a DVD to fit on).

Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop. If you want KDE instead, get Kubuntu.

I only have experience with this one distro, so I can't really offer comparisons. It works for me, it recognized all my (pretty common and mundane) hardware, and I got through the installation glitches with a bit of effort. But it was very convenient to have a second, Internet-connected, computer available so that I could research problems while doing the install.
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ZooT_aLLures

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2006, 11:37:00 pm »

From what I've seen there's only three branches on the linux tree, the RedHat branch, the debian branch, and the slackware branch(the corel branch which was a real clusterfuck whithered and died long ago)........everything else is just limbs off of one of those branches.....and from what I've seen the three branches are VERY different whereas once you learn one branch, any limb on that branch is very simple to figure out, but to hop to another branch takes some reeducation as to what's where.....
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Roy J. Tellason

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2006, 12:46:44 am »

I am a Linux newbie. I went with Ubuntu (after a little research), and I've been happy with it. I'd caution that getting Ubuntu installed is not as simple and user-friendly as installing Windows, but you probably realize that already.

Ubuntu has a live-CD version, an install-CD version, and a giant-size download (about 3GB) that works as both a live and an install disk (and needs a DVD to fit on).

Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop. If you want KDE instead, get Kubuntu.

I only have experience with this one distro, so I can't really offer comparisons. It works for me, it recognized all my (pretty common and mundane) hardware, and I got through the installation glitches with a bit of effort. But it was very convenient to have a second, Internet-connected, computer available so that I could research problems while doing the install.

I've heard that Kubuntu has some real rough edges,  that it doesn't work nearly as well as Ubuntu does in a number of ways...
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Thunder

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2006, 08:19:46 am »

...the corel branch which was a real clusterfuck whithered and died long ago...

Actually, it's still around and now known as Xandros.  Xandros is a commercial version of Linux.
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There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders.  -Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Wars will cease when people start loving their children more than they love the government.

People use the term 'chaos' only when they can't see far enough to view the big picture.   -Deepak Chopra

There are no illegal guns, only illegal gun laws.

snokrash257

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2006, 04:39:14 pm »

...the corel branch which was a real clusterfuck whithered and died long ago...

Actually, it's still around and now known as Xandros.  Xandros is a commercial version of Linux.
Actually Xandros is a much better distro than Corel-Linux ever was. It was based on C-L, but I think that it has been vastly improved.  RedHat, Mandriva, Suse, and Linspire are all commercial versions of Linux, too.
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standard issue

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2006, 11:51:30 pm »

I, for one, have been having nothing but good luck using Fedora Core 4 thus far.

Linux in general has a bit of a steep learning curve, but if you just apply some
critical thinking skills to it, research, and ask questions, it all really starts coming
together. It's only the first couple of days that are tough, as you kind of go though
"Windows withdrawls"...but you get over it, and when you break on though to the
other side, it's much clearer and nicer.

I also got a good book from the library on linux, and that has helped me as well,
even though I mostly do graphical shit, sometimes there's just no replacement
for a plain old command prompt.

If you get a second hard drive, try to keep it cheap so it doesnt turn into this big,
stressful, expensive project. I would say try and at least get a <10gb one though,
so you have some room to grow. Unless you're like Roy, and only want to run lynx
on your dusty old 486!  ^_^

You should be able to pick up a suitable, older HDD with plenty of room for cheap if you
look around a little. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be huge.
To maybe give you some perspective, I'm running a full install of FC4 64-bit over here
with all kinds of goodies installed on top of that, and I'm still only using up 3.7gb out
of a 40gb drive. (for system files, anyway...all my music and movies and other crap
spans several other  drives.)

For real though Thunder, you really have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
I was nervous at first, but here I am 2 weeks later, and I've got a good handle on
what's goin down, and I'm comfortable with things, and happy as a clam.

Also, I like Fedora because it's got the YUM extender, which is a graphical auto
installer program for various packages. Some of you old linux heads might think
that's trivial or weak, but believe me, it's not. Difficulty installing things and decending
into package dependency hell really kills the whole linux experience for most people.

K.I.S.S. applies to many things, user interfaces not the least among them.

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alauchlan

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2006, 01:17:39 am »

I installed Knoppix onto my harddrive, it is working fine right now.  I have had Debian and Suse also installed previously (as a dual install with my windows OS that came with my laptop).

Knoppix is a debian based distro, supposedly I can use any debian flavored program.  The Knoppix has most of the laptop functional.  (The power control doesn't work quite rite, but it doesn't any better with the windowsOS it came with (WinME rather sucks for that))

Also, I havn't figured out how to work the DVD player to play movies, or to make my wireless wifi card to work under linux.

otherwise, all seems to work as good or better under Knoppix.  Debian was about the same, but more things didn't work right out (The Knoppix config works pretty good).  Didn't care much for Suse.

Allan
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Roy J. Tellason

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Re: Switching to Linux
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2006, 01:33:45 am »

Also, I havn't figured out how to work the DVD player to play movies, or to make my wireless wifi card to work under linux.

Have you looked at xine (under multimedia in the menu here) for movies?  I was amazed when I tried it and it worked,  particularly since I don't have a dvd drive in any of my machines here.  Tried it with downloaded short clips,  and also with a cdrom somebody sent me that has an mp3 movie file on it.

For wireless cards,  they seem to be a PITA for a lot of people.  Not having one of those either I can't say much more about it except that I've seen a bunch of messaging about them in the linux user group mailing lists that I carry here,  so know that you're not alone in this.
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