Gizmos Freeware Reviews  

Go Back   Gizmo's Freeware Forum > Freeware Forum > Linux

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12. Feb 2013, 10:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
Member
 
ZMeister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 9
Question Linux for the absolute beginner?

I've been reading bits here and there about Linux and I have to say it's a tad intimidating. Firstly, I had no idea there were about 1000 variations [distro's I think they're called?]of Linux. In a Windows and Mac dominated world, such a range of choices is dizzying.

I keep reading about bootable USB's, CD's you can burn to take it for a test drive, VM's, etc. I refuse to let all this unfamiliar terminology scare me away from a potential goldmine of freedom [as in freedom 'from,' not just freedom 'to.']

From the bits I've been reading, I'm leaning toward Mint. I have no idea what cinnamon means. Guess I have more homework cut out for me. It seems like a good starting place for someone who's never touched Linux.

I have a monolithic tower my son sent me. It needs a power supply and my hard drive. Not sure what the other specs are. I guess I'll find out when I get the power supply and download CPU-Z. I'm putting two hard drives in it: one SATA and one ATA. I'll probably use the ATA for my Linux and the SATA I'll leave as-is, with XP on it. I'm not quite ready to risk my data fooling around with partitions at this point. I'll probably use the ATA for my experiments since I have no valuable data on it. Maybe I'll even dabble with partitioning [Grabs Mike Meyers trusty AIO A+ book]

Any suggestions for an absolute Linux newbie? Would Mint [14, 'Nadia' I think, be a good starting place?

Thanks!

Christine
__________________
"I am the son, and the heir, of no one in particular." --The Smiths
ZMeister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12. Feb 2013, 11:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
Site Manager
 
MidnightCowboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: South American Banana Republic, third bunch from the left
Posts: 15,219
Default

Ah yes, Linux. Welcome to the world of freedom, choice, fanboys and frustration.

There are so many sub groups within Linux and Linux users, trying to define sense into any of it IMO only makes things worse. I find though that mainly they are split into looks and functionality. Mostly I find new users who are either moving from Windows or looking to run Linux as a secondary OS alongside Windows are more interested in what it looks like, rather than trying to analyse the components. This hasn't been lost on Zorin in particular who deliberately set out to make their Linux look like Windows.

http://zorin-os.com/

The good news is that most Linux will run quite happily on older machines so this doesn't need to be a major concern.

There is good reason why Mint is now the number one distro. IMO Cinnamon is now the "future" desktop in this group and it looks pretty cool too (even has a Windows 7 theme available).

You can run all of these as a live session to check out how they work although the experience will be slower and more restricted than if the OS was fully installed. I mostly use UNetbootin to burn the ISO to a pendrive but you can of course use DVD's although these will be slower still in live mode.

I would certainly check out Mint first having downloaded the correct version. Presumably what you have inherited will be x32 bit? I would also use the torrent option to download the ISO because a glitch with a standard downloader can result in a corrupted file and an unbootable distro.

Otherwise, you might just want to browse the Linux and general "what does my desktop look like" screenshot threads and ask here about anything that takes your fancy.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/free...hot-links.html
http://www.techsupportalert.com/free...look-like.html

Most distros look pretty bland as a default install or live session and the most frustrating task for new users is working out how to get it customized. Jojo has some great tips about Mint and/or the rest of us can soon assist if needed.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/cont...on-edition.htm

I also have custom folders with themes, icons and applets (my choices obviously) which I'll be happy to share if you want them. It would just be a matter then of pasting these into your own home directory.

The other frustration might be working out how to set up your network connection, but we can help with that too.
__________________
Buy a Hoover and prove technology sucks.
MidnightCowboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 01:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
wdhpr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The north Coast
Posts: 1,513
Default

Just to add a little to what Midnight Cowboy wrote. Since you are going to use your extra HDD for Linux you have a couple of boot options available. You can choose to install the GRUB (Boot menu) to your spare HDD during install. With my computer I can pick which HDD to boot from by tapping the F10 key during a boot-up. I prefer to install GRUB on my secondary HDD the one with Linux installed so I keep my Win XP MBR clean. This way helps from loosing the ability to boot Windows in the event something goes wrong. Either way you do it GRUB will include options for booting both Winxp and linux.

The internet is rife with tutorials on how to dual boot linux and Windows.
Here is one of them: A Beginner's Guide to Dual Booting Linux Mint and Windows XP

Last thought, have fun with it while exploring the inner workings of Linux and if you break it, no sweat its easy to reinstall
wdhpr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 01:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
Super Moderator
 
Anupam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: India
Posts: 15,296
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MidnightCowboy View Post
The good news is that most Linux will run quite happily on older machines so this doesn't need to be a major concern.
I found this to be a misleading statement actually. It makes people believe that Linux will run on all old machines without problem, but this is not the case. It depends on the configuration of the machine.

I have an old P-III system with 512 MB of RAM. I had tried Linux Mint on it, and it ran too slow, and quite heavy, even from the hard disk. Windows XP ran faster on it than Mint actually.

Most modern and latest Linux distros won't run on such old machines. They are comparable to modern Windows Vista, 7, or 8, who too won't run on such old machines. Heck, Ubuntu does not even provide support for older hardware after a short period of time.. I don't remember the time period actually, but it's not very good.

So, solution for this is to try older versions of the Linux distros, and for that, researching and reading will be required. Or, to try different versions of the same distro, but with a different desktop environment, like XFCE, which are considered lighter.

A Linux distro(distribution) can have many different desktop environments. Xfce and Cinnamon are desktop environments too. The other popular ones are KDE and Gnome. You may find this useful :

http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/30/h...ment-in-linux/

Or, also, lightweight distros like Bodhi Linux can be tried, which come with minimum of bundled software, and the required software can be chosen later on, as required. I haven't given Bodhi a try though on older machines, or don't know for sure, but if I am wrong, please correct me.

So, just check your system configuration. You can check that with Belarc Advisor, or Speccy too, besides CPU-Z.

For looking and choosing various Linux distros, you can take a look at these sites:

DistroWatch : http://distrowatch.com/

The LiveCD List : http://livecdlist.com/

It's a good idea to install Linux on a separate hard disk, if you are just starting out with it, and have concerns about double booting on same hard disk.

I have now a spare hard drive too, and I am mulling on trying out Linux distros too. Let's see. I will have to use that hard drive for testing out some Windows software at times too though, and so will have to install Windows on it, and make an image first.
__________________
Anupam
Anupam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 03:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
Site Manager
 
MidnightCowboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: South American Banana Republic, third bunch from the left
Posts: 15,219
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam View Post
I found this to be a misleading statement actually. It makes people believe that Linux will run on all old machines without problem, but this is not the case. It depends on the configuration of the machine.
This goes without saying which is why I referred to "Linux", being a general term rather than citing a specific distro. Once the specs of the machine are known in full, there will definitely be a choice but yes Mint might not be one of them. I have not yet found a machine that wouldn't run a version of Linux whereas I have come across plenty that won't run Windows 7.
__________________
Buy a Hoover and prove technology sucks.
MidnightCowboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 04:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
Super Moderator
 
Anupam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: India
Posts: 15,296
Default

Yes, you used Linux, and that is a generalization, and a generalized statement overall.

Windows 7 is like any modern OS, and so is Linux Mint/Ubuntu. I don't think either Windows Vista/7/8, or any of the modern latest Linux distro would run on an older machine such as mine. The older versions of the distros may, and so will Windows XP, an older OS.

My point is that when such a statement is made, people think that Linux in general, which may include Mint, Ubuntu, etc... all will be able to run on any kind of machine. Atleast I thought so. .. that's why I want to bring up this point, so that it maybe clear.

Of course, not many people might want to install Linux on such an old machine as P-III, etc. Install Linux on P-IV, and it might work great. Still, just wanted to put my experience out there.

But yes, if you consider fairly good enough machines, with decent configuration, then a Linux distro might work better than a Windows one.
__________________
Anupam
Anupam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 08:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
wdhpr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The north Coast
Posts: 1,513
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam
It's a good idea to install Linux on a separate hard disk, if you are just starting out with it, and have concerns about double booting on same hard disk.
I agree, which is what I mentioned in my post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam
But yes, if you consider fairly good enough machines, with decent configuration, then a Linux distro might work better than a Windows one.
There are plenty of light weight Distro's available such as Puppy and Bodhi but I would not recommend either for beginners. I agree with MC's recommendation of one the Mint distro's. I would suggest Mint Mate rather than the Cinnamon flavor but that's just my opinion.

Lastly, If the computer can run Win xp it should be able to handle Mint nicely. The only other issue my evolve around the video hardware such as with Nvidia and in that case its just a matter of picking the correct driver with Jockey.
wdhpr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 09:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
Super Moderator
 
Anupam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: India
Posts: 15,296
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wdhpr View Post
There are plenty of light weight Distro's available such as Puppy and Bodhi but I would not recommend either for beginners.
I thought many times about posting Puppy Linux here, but decided not to, since OP obviously wants to look at serious choices to install on the hard drive, and trying out Linux as an alternative OS for the system. But since you mentioned it, I will too.

While Puppy Linux might not be the right distro for serious OS usage, but I think I will recommend it to a beginner who wanted to try out Linux, or just wanted to see what it was all about, or just get a taste of it.

If anyone as a beginner just wanted to try out Linux, before going in for more serious heavyweight choices, I think Puppy is great. It is small to download, and I think it will run without problems on older machines too. To just see what's Linux like, and to get a good taste of it, Puppy Linux is a great starter.
__________________
Anupam
Anupam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 10:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
wdhpr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The north Coast
Posts: 1,513
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam
While Puppy Linux might not be the right distro for serious OS usage, but I think I will recommend it to a beginner who wanted to try out Linux, or just wanted to see what it was all about, or just get a taste of it.
Puppy linux is an outstanding distro. Its very light weight and can actually be ran straight off a USB drive and is able to save all changes to that USB drive, actually Bodhi can also be setup to do this. With that said, both are very different than what a user would experience with Mint or Zorin in fact Zorin advertises its Windows like desktop for those who are new to Linux.

What I recommend to those that are wanting to try Linux is one of the Mint distro's, that is if their hardware will support it. I tend to think Mint functions similar enough to Windows and therefore its less likely the experience will end in frustration and failure. Its also important to let people know that Linux is somewhat different than windows and that it takes a little time and patience to get the hang of it
wdhpr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13. Feb 2013, 11:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
Site Manager
 
MidnightCowboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: South American Banana Republic, third bunch from the left
Posts: 15,219
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wdhpr View Post
Puppy linux is an outstanding distro. Its very light weight and can actually be ran straight off a USB drive and is able to save all changes to that USB drive, actually Bodhi can also be setup to do this. With that said, both are very different than what a user would experience with Mint or Zorin in fact Zorin advertises its Windows like desktop for those who are new to Linux.

What I recommend to those that are wanting to try Linux is one of the Mint distro's, that is if their hardware will support it. I tend to think Mint functions similar enough to Windows and therefore its less likely the experience will end in frustration and failure. Its also important to let people know that Linux is somewhat different than windows and that it takes a little time and patience to get the hang of it
To me, probably the most important issue for new Linux users is being able to connect to the internet with it. In this case, depending on your connection type, Puppy is not the easiest to configure whereas Mint is, and also has greater support for mobile broadband.

Another great plus for the more "complete" distros such as MInt (and often a surprise to Windows users) is everything they need for daily use is already installed, just click to launch. Some even go further and come with pre-configured extras such as browser extensions. There is also a firewall included and no need for any antivirus so removing the security burden is also a big plus point. Another advantage of MInt is that every question has already been asked before so all the answers can mostly be found in a single forum rather than having to search in multiple locations. Results will generally show in the first few entries of a Google search too.
__________________
Buy a Hoover and prove technology sucks.
MidnightCowboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:43 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.