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Topic # 25388 20-Aug-2008 10:15
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I've been having this debate in my mind for a while now about whether or not to install Linux - to be honest I like the idea of trying something different to the mainstream alternative, and I've heard about some of the possible benefits. However, although my knowledge of computing is growing, it is still relatively basic. This is what I want to know:

1. Is Linux suitable for me? or is it best left for those with a high level of computing knowledge? (I keep hearing about problems with drivers etc)

2. Can I keep windows on my computer so that I can use programs that don't work on Linux? And is there an easy way to switch between the two?

3. What programs will not work on Linux?

Any help and advice would be much appreaciated.


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  Reply # 158288 20-Aug-2008 11:28
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Certainly no reason not to install Linux, I know my rough way around and I don't have a high level of computing knowledge.  Regarding keeping Windows, you can do dual booting - when your computer starts up it asks whether you want to run Windows or Linux.

You may want to start of with a Linux distribution with a GUI to make things easier, such as Ubuntu

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  Reply # 158292 20-Aug-2008 11:47
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yeah from what I had read, Ubuntu seems like a popular choice. Sorry, but what is GUI?

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Master Geek

  Reply # 158301 20-Aug-2008 12:07
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Whether GNU/Linux is suitable for you depends on what it is you want to be doing with your computer. If you are into PC gaming, then GNU/Linux is probably not the best OS, because most of the games currently are only written for Windows. But of course, that doesn't mean you couldn't keep Windows around on another partition, just for gaming, while doing your important stuff on GNU/Linux.

If you require specific applications that currently only run on Windows, such as some of the Adobe software or specific multi media software, then GNU/Linux is also not going to be the best choice. Again, not because of a shortcoming of GNU/Linux, but simply because those pieces of software have not been ported to GNU/Linux yet.

On the other hand, many of these pieces of software have excellent equivalents in the free and open software world. Photoshop? Try Gimp. MS Office? Try OpenOffice. IE? Try Firefox. And so on.

Another nice thing with GNU/Linux is that you can get complete development environments for pretty much every programming language you can image - and all completely free (open and no cost). You can look at all sources to learn and study how it works, if that is your cattle of fish.

Very important point to consider: If you use free and open software to manage your personal data (e-mails, documents, etc.) then you never will have to worry about vendor lock-in through proprietary data formats. You will have the freedom to move to different software as you see fit. Note that many of these applications run on Windows as well as GNU/Linux (and other operating systems).

Here are a few links to give you some more information:
In general, the advise has to be: Stick to one of the popular GNU/Linux distros, since you will readily find help, tutorials and forums with answers to most of your questions that way. The distro of choice tends to be Ubuntu these days, since that is very popular with a huge user community.

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Master Geek

  Reply # 158303 20-Aug-2008 12:09
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twophat: yeah from what I had read, Ubuntu seems like a popular choice. Sorry, but what is GUI?

GUI refers to 'Graphical User Interface'. Basically, you have windows on the screen (not 'Windows' the Microsoft operating system) and use a mouse. This is in contrast to a distro that doesn't provide this, and where everything is done via the command line (typed commands in a terminal window).

A pure-text distro is usually reserved for servers. If you download a popular desktop distro, such as Ubuntu, you will get a nice GUI.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 158306 20-Aug-2008 12:14
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I know that Ubuntu is the flavour of the month right now but I'd like to put a plug in for Mandriva.  I've been using Mandriva for several years now and having tried several other distros I keep coming back to it.

If you splash out and buy the PowerPack version you'll find all the stuff you normally have to install yourself is already setup, like Flash, QuickTime, Java, Media codecs etc, etc.  Even Adobe Acrobat Reader is installed.  Not that these things are particularly difficult to install and configure, but if your a newbie having this all done for you does make for a much better initial Linux experience.

It's easy to install, stable and very user friendly.  Give it a try I say.


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Master Geek

  Reply # 158307 20-Aug-2008 12:15
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Another thing for you to consider is WUBI (explanation is here). If you download the Ubuntu Live CD, you will find the WUBI executable on there. You can run that normally from within (Microsoft) Windows. It installs the entire Ubuntu operating system just like another Windows application. So, you can try out and get some experience with Ubuntu, without having to partition your harddrive.

You could also just boot from the Live CD, but with WUBI you actually can write your own files. So, you can actually USE Ubuntu, not just TRY it.

Both ways (booting from Live CD and running from WUBI) are great ways to get your feet wet in a risk free manner.

Note that when running from the Live CD performance is slower and a few functions are limited, as compared to an actual install. Some also report that WUBI may not run perfectly for them. But give it a try.

If you download the Live CD, you can then also just install the actual OS on a partition if you wish to do so. It's the same CD, so no need for two separate downloads.

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  Reply # 158952 22-Aug-2008 13:50
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ok so I had a quick go at installing Linux (Ubuntu) last night. I downloaded it using a torrent (which downloaded very fast). I burned to a disc then rebooted, changed the order to boot from CD and restarted. I got to the first install screen and then tried to install it. However it came up with a message that something to do with the time was out of sync (sorry I can't remember details, I'm at work). Did I just download a bogus version or something or is it something to do with my computer??


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Master Geek

  Reply # 158954 22-Aug-2008 13:55
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twophat: I got to the first install screen and then tried to install it. However it came up with a message that something to do with the time was out of sync (sorry I can't remember details, I'm at work). Did I just download a bogus version or something or is it something to do with my computer??

Don't know what that could be. I have not seen this message before. Maybe you have to wait until you are home and capture a bit more details about this message. What exactly does it say and when exactly during the install process is this being displayed?

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  Reply # 158956 22-Aug-2008 14:05
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wow..that was a very quick reply. Yeah will do - thanks

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 158984 22-Aug-2008 15:52
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This could be due to an error when burning your CD. When burning an OS CD it is a good idea to do a slow burn  - usually a max 4 speed. Make sure you have done an md5sum check on the files you downloaded to make sure there are no errors there - but usually torrent is a good (safe) way to download.

On the subject of linux - my distro of choice is Opensuse 11.0.
Depending on what distro you use and what you like the choices are
Gnome for simplicity
KDE 3.5.xx for a highly configurable (and very pretty) GUI
KDE 4.1.x for cutting edge (although I wouldn't recommend using KDE 4.1.x outside of Opensuse 11.0 as this is the only distro that has succeeded in releasing a stable experience with this new interface).

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  Reply # 158986 22-Aug-2008 15:59
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what is a md5sum? and how do i do it??

does it just check the files and if they are all their and working etc?

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 158990 22-Aug-2008 16:13
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In Windows you would need ot download some software to do an md5checksum - not sure what's available as I don't use windows but doing a google search brings up quite a few options.

From the same directory that you downloaded Ubuntu there should also be a md5checksum file
This contains information that compares what you have downloaded with what should actually be there to make sure there is no corruption in the file.

as you downloaded by torrent do a torrent search for an md5checksum with exactly the same name as the iso file you downloaded - alternatively - download form Ubuntu.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 158995 22-Aug-2008 16:19
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Having tried out Linux for the first time in 2 years, I'd suggest the following: try it in a virtual machine first.  That way if things go wrong you can just delete the virtual machine file and it'll be gone forever.  You won't have to deal with getting back the partitioning on your computer hard drive.

Here's how you do that:
go to and download the virualbox file for Windows x86

Download the iso file from

You don't need to burn a disk - Virtual box will read the .iso file.

As for what you get out of trying Linux - mainly just experience in another operating system.  There are no real advantages that I can see in using Linux, it is really a personal experience however.  Some people love it, others hate it.

If you come across a road block and things don't 'work' the way the should (such as wireless networking on your laptop), I'd suggest just waiting for a new version of Ubuntu.  A bad first experience in any operating system can put you off trying it, in my opinion, especially if you are a beginner.  It's better to just wait 6 months (the new version of Ubuntu is out in 2 months) than to have to fiddle endlessly with no guarantee of success.

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  Reply # 159009 22-Aug-2008 16:52
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winMd5Sum is a simple one that I use.

You just copy down the md5 hash and open up your file. It takes a while to check the file and then you just click "Compare".

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Master Geek

  Reply # 159040 22-Aug-2008 19:23
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If you have the Ubuntu install CD, you could just insert it when booted into Windows and run WUBI (a Windows executable you should be able to find on the CD). That will install Ubuntu like a Windows application, after which you can boot into it as well. See if that works...

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