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  1. #1
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    I have never used Linux, not through a lack of wanting to but just never got round to it.

    I am keen to try it out now though but I have a few questions

    • Which distro would you recommend? I am looking towards Ubuntu but I am open to suggestions.
    • Do all linux distros come with a command line interface AND a GUI? This is where my knowledge is limited, I know (from other threads on wdf and other forums) that linux has a CLI, such as Windows cmd prompt. Can someone clarify/expand?
    • I plan to have the Linux OS on a laptop with an Intel Pentium Processor, 1.90 GHz. Is this acceptable? Not so much the speed but can Linux be used on Intel based computers? Again, my knowledge is weak here.
    • Currently on that laptop I have a version of Windows XP. Can I continue to use both? Such as when I turn the system on I choose which I want to boot (Linux or XP). Or will I have to one and not the other?
    • What browsers does Linux support? What is the "default" browser on Linux based systems?
    • What programming languages can I develop Linux based software for? I have heard of Mono?


    I will probably have lots more questions based on your (forthcoming) replies but thats it for now.

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    • Ubuntu. Red Hat (and by extension, Fedora and CentOS) suck hard. Ubuntu has very easy system administration and, more importantly, package management. Our live servers at work use Red Hat Enterprise and I loathe it. My netbook dual-boots XP and Ubuntu and I only use Ubuntu on it. My home server uses it without a GUI installed. My work desktop dual-boots Ubuntu and Vista. Even Mediawiki uses Ubuntu on some of their servers. Alas, my desktop dual-boots Vista and Ubuntu but Ubuntu is not suitable for me for desktop use.
    • The overwhelming majority have both. Ubuntu does, provided you get the normal CD for it. Ubuntu Server doesn't install X (the graphical environment) by default so don't use that if you're starting. However, any Linux distribution will give you access to the excellent terminal interface (usually bash).
    • It should be fine. Ubuntu is running on my netbook which is an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz and therefore slower than a Pentium 4 1.9 GHz, but is completely smooth. It does like having RAM, though; my server and netbook has 1 GB and my work machine just got upgraded from 2 GB to 4 GB.
    • Yes; most distributions will install a boot menu so you can dual-boot. Make sure you install Windows first and then Linux, not vice versa, or it can be difficult to get dual-booting working right. Ubuntu installs grub by default.
    • Nearly anything but IE, and it's even possible to (sort of) run IE. Firefox is most common. Konqueror is there too but why you'd use it, I have no idea. I use Opera on Ubuntu but Firefox runs fine too and is usually installed by default on a modern distribution.
    • Nearly anything again. Mono is .NET for Linux. C++ seems to be the most common for Linux programs still, but you can use C, Python, C# (with Mono), Perl, PHP, or even straight-up bash scripts if you're adventurous.


    I sound like an Ubuntu fantard but I am one. I've used a lot of Linux distributions but this is the first one I can actually live with.

    I have never, ever, not once, had any Ubuntu installation lock up on me, even when a program goes haywire and eats up all my RAM and swap space.

    To give you an idea of what I can do on Ubuntu:

    My home server:
    • Has a software-managed 2.5 TB RAID 5 array, spanning six 500 GB drives.
    • Accepts decrypted DVDs (admittedly decrypted on Windows first) and converts them into 1.6 GB MPEG-4 videos, preserving the Dolby Digital surround sound.
    • Shares its files over Samba, which is the same protocol Windows uses. Ironically, Windows file sharing is easier on Linux than Windows, at least as I've found it.
    • Can be woken up remotely if I log into my router.
    • Runs MySQL and PostgreSQL.
    • Has a custom dashboard written in PHP giving me the system load, hard drive temperatures, the status of various services, the status and charge of my UPS, and a listing of what's on my TiVo.
    • Runs Azureus headless but using a web interface so I can start torrents easily, and remotely if I want.
    • In something only I would ever find useful, downloads the weather of a local airport (I'm a student pilot), parses it, and tells me details about the conditions and predictions about cloud cover and such.


    My work computer:
    • Runs Opera just fine and syncs bookmarks, speed dial, etc. back to Opera's servers and across every other installation of Opera that I have.
    • Runs Zend Studio for Eclipse.
    • Can run Office 2007 programs thanks to CrossOver Office (a paid program but based on a free program called Wine).
    • Has a custom wallpaper that automatically updates every five minutes showing the local radar and aviation weather.


    So why don't I use it on my desktop?
    • I have an iPhone and there aren't any programs I'm aware of that sync the iPhone reliably, without hacking the phone, and including applications, podcasts, etc.
    • I have an ATI video card and the ATI drivers are just horrible. Compounding the problem, I have dual monitors. I do at work also and they are fine there, but at home, I have a 17" LCD and a 20" LCD, and mismatched sizes don't get along well.
    • I couldn't get all my mouse buttons working reliably, including the back and forward buttons which I rely on.


    And finally, Ubuntu (or moreover, Linux in general) is not for you if:
    • You use Photoshop constantly. The GIMP is not even close to a suitable substitute. It's buggy, lacks a lot of features, has a cluttered interface, and doesn't support as many file formats.
    • You're unwilling to learn or be patient. Linux is extremely powerful, but if you run commands without thinking about what they do and you're a superuser, you can break your computer pretty easily and not know how to recover from it.
    • You play games.
    • You have a lot of unique hardware that few others have.


    In the case of laptops, the biggest problem I've had so far with Ubuntu is power management. In the several laptops I've tried to put Ubuntu on, only my netbook (an Acer Aspire One) is the first one to sleep and more importantly wake up properly and reliably.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    Ubuntu. Red Hat (and by extension, Fedora and CentOS) suck hard. Ubuntu has very easy system administration and, more importantly, package management.
    Our live servers at work use Red Hat Enterprise and I loathe it. My netbook dual-boots XP and Ubuntu and I only use Ubuntu on it.
    My home server uses it without a GUI installed. My work desktop dual-boots Ubuntu and Vista. Even Mediawiki uses Ubuntu on some of their servers.
    Alas, my desktop dual-boots Vista and Ubuntu but Ubuntu is not suitable for me for desktop use.
    Noted. This may be too specific for a definitive answer, but last night I went to http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download and downloaded the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition. Am I right in saying that I now have to burn the files that were shipped in that download to a CD and then insert the cd to begin installation?

    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    The overwhelming majority have both. Ubuntu does, provided you get the normal CD for it. Ubuntu Server doesn't install X (the graphical environment) by default so don't use that if you're starting. However, any Linux distribution will give you access to the excellent terminal interface (usually bash).
    Again, this may be too specific for an answer but will/does the download I got last night have a CLI?

    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    It should be fine. Ubuntu is running on my netbook which is an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz and therefore slower than a Pentium 4 1.9 GHz, but is completely smooth. It does like having RAM, though; my server and netbook has 1 GB and my work machine just got upgraded from 2 GB to 4 GB.
    Noted, Although I was on an IRC Linux chat room and one of the members told me to ensure my hardware is supported, particularly the Wireless chip set?

    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    Yes; most distributions will install a boot menu so you can dual-boot. Make sure you install Windows first and then Linux, not vice versa, or it can be difficult to get dual-booting working right. Ubuntu installs grub by default.
    You say install Windows first, but it is already installed and running. Do you mean I have to remove Windows, then re-install windows then install Linux? And what is grub?

    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    Nearly anything but IE, and it's even possible to (sort of) run IE. Firefox is most common. Konqueror is there too but why you'd use it, I have no idea. I use Opera on Ubuntu but Firefox runs fine too and is usually installed by default on a modern distribution.
    Noted. Any love for Safari out there? Just curious, I primarily use FF or Opera anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    Nearly anything again. Mono is .NET for Linux. C++ seems to be the most common for Linux programs still, but you can use C, Python, C# (with Mono), Perl, PHP, or even straight-up bash scripts if you're adventurous.
    Noted. Python it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by filburt1
    And finally, Ubuntu (or moreover, Linux in general) is not for you if:
    • You use Photoshop constantly. The GIMP is not even close to a suitable substitute. It's buggy, lacks a lot of features, has a cluttered interface, and doesn't support as many file formats.
    • You're unwilling to learn or be patient. Linux is extremely powerful, but if you run commands without thinking about what they do and you're a superuser, you can break your computer pretty easily and not know how to recover from it.
    • You play games.
    • You have a lot of unique hardware that few others have.
    I never use PhotoShop, I love to learn (I'm the type of guy who would google the command before I used it, to try and match up expected and actual results), I hardly play games, and if I do then it will be games I play on Windows, No unique hardware here!

    Cheers for the input, if you could address the points I have raised I would be grateful.

  5. #4
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    Noted. This may be too specific for a definitive answer, but last night I went to http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download and downloaded the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition. Am I right in saying that I now have to burn the files that were shipped in that download to a CD and then insert the cd to begin installation?
    It's not 100% necessary but you should.

    Again, this may be too specific for an answer but will/does the download I got last night have a CLI?
    Yes but it loads a GUI by default. You can still access a CLI inside the GUI.

    Noted, Although I was on an IRC Linux chat room and one of the members told me to ensure my hardware is supported, particularly the Wireless chip set?
    Wifi can be one of the trickier things to set up for laptops if it doesn't work right after installation, but it's almost always possible. There's a large community behind Ubuntu so somebody else has probably had your problem and fixed it.

    You say install Windows first, but it is already installed and running. Do you mean I have to remove Windows, then re-install windows then install Linux? And what is grub?
    The point is don't run the Windows installer as the last step for dual-booting. Your setup is fine. grub is the boot menu you'll see when you turn on your computer that asks whether you want to start up Windows or Ubuntu.

    Noted. Any love for Safari out there? Just curious, I primarily use FF or Opera anyway.
    No, but you can possibly run it in Wine, and Knoqueror uses a similar rendering engine.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
    Site of the Month contest: submit your site or vote for the winner!

  6. #5
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    Man I am so excited.

    Okay, so just burn the files to disk and stick that bad boy in the drive and that should be me.

    If things do go "wrong" (whatever wrong is) what steps should or indeed can I take? For instance lets say the install fails, I presume theres a chance the Windows OS may well be corrupt?

  7. #6
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    Yes...you might have to tell your BIOS to boot off the optical drive but not likely.

    If the install fails it's very unlikely that Windows would be broken too, but obviously back up anything important. The partition editor in the Ubuntu installer is non-destructive.

    I recommend partitioning like this. Say you're starting with a 60 GB drive which therefore looks like:

    Partition 1: 60 GB, NTFS

    Make it:

    Partition 1: 30 GB, NTFS
    Partition 2: 28 GB, ext3, mounted at /
    Partition 3: 2 GB, swap

    Or more generally, give Ubuntu about a 30 GB partition even though it doesn't need anything close to that with about a 2 GB swap partition. The installer can do this for you automatically although I never trust automatic partitioners.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
    Site of the Month contest: submit your site or vote for the winner!

  8. #7
    Senior Member Eddy Bones's Avatar
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    I'm not a linux expert and generally know very little, but I can tell my experience when I tried dual booting a few years ago..

    I started with Windows just like you, and I tried repartitioning my drive. Looking back I think right off the bat that's not a good thing. So at least defrag your drive before you try it. I don't know, maybe they've made the partitioner a lot better since then.

    I installed Ubuntu and it worked just fine, but I realized I could not boot into Windows anymore. I found out that somehow my master boot record got toasted. That goes way beyond my knowledge to fix since I can hardly explain to someone what it is. I ended up nuking everything and going back to Windows. I eventually put Xubuntu on a dedicated laptop instead (crappy laptop, hence that distro).

    So just be sure to back up your data - I was too stupid to do that. I effectively rid the world of my first two years of web development experience... Which may not necessarily be a bad thing

  9. #8
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    Do you think that linux is the best for school teaching?

  10. #9
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    Eddy I did the same on my Mac... was a really dumb move on my part.

    The best platform for teaching is the one which people know how to use. Would be silly to force windows users to use Linux to learn. it would be counter productive.


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