TechSpot

Looking for an alternative OS

By Lunny
May 20, 2010
  1. I've always used Windows OS, XP being my favorite. I think it's time to change and try out a free OS (it's not like i paid for Windows, ever).

    I'd like to install it on this computer:

    C2D E4700, 2.6GHz,
    2GB DDR2 800MHz
    GF 8400GS

    I use this computer at home, mainly for playing games like HoN, WoW, CS etc. Also use Ecliplse IDE on it for Java training and to watch a movie once in a while.

    What OS do you recommend to use?
     
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,474   +329

    You can download several version of Linux; eg Knoppix which can be burned to a CD
    which will run w/o it being installed :) you get to try linux to see if you like it :wave:
     
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +99

    The answer to this question depends on how much your willing to put into your change of operating system. Are you prepared to spend time getting used to something you've likely never encountered or used before?

    If your prepared to put work into it, then Linux is highly recommended. It will reward you well, is unbelieveably flexible, powerful, and free to the masses.

    Whether you move away from Microsoft OS is solely dependant on you. I was an avid fan of XP, but the arrival of Vista saw me looking for alternatives for OS'. I found Ubuntu linux, and despite a learning curve, and retraining my thoughts to a more logical way of doing things, have never looked back. We have 10 computers/laptops in our house, and 9 use Ubuntu. 1 of those 9 also dual boots W7 Ultimate, and the remaining computer runs Mac OSX.

    Linux is outstanding, and pretty much everything you could want in software (and millions you've never even considered!) are free, and open source. Try it, costs you nothing to play around with it. :)
     
  4. Lunny

    Lunny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the replies. Was considering Linux from the start tbh. I know that there are different types of Linux like Gnome, Suse, Ubuntu etc. Are they all the same? Do you know any links where i can read between their differences, pros and cons etc?
     
  5. Asha

    Asha TS Rookie

    It should be easy to find more information since you already are aware of the names of distributions and/or components used in certain distributions. I have put some links below but if you google some of the terms: linux, gnome, gnu, ubuntu, debian, red hat, suse, mint, KDE, ... then you'll find lots of information and likely more links and/or ideas for a next search.

    The OS is actually called GNU/Linux and Linux is only the kernel of the OS. Gnome and KDE are desktop environments and you will find one of them or both bundled together with most distributions. Ubuntu and Debian use Gnome as default. Suse, Mint, Mandriva use KDE as default. Ubuntu can be downloaded in different flavours: Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (Xfce), ... I have a personal preference for Gnome but it's up to you to try them out and chose the one you like most.

    I'd recommend to download a copy of Ubuntu. You can find those on the Ubuntu address listed below. Based on your system specs I'd go for the 64-bit desktop version. You can burn the desktop version to a cd and run the OS from CD before you install it. That will make immediately clear if all your hardware is recognized.

    Ubuntu will offer proprietary drivers for your videocard and you can chose to install them but the open source drivers should work fine if you don't want fancy desktop enhancements (like wobbly windows, desktop cube, ...). Debian is Ubuntu's 'parent' distribution. Debian is full open source, very robust and 'parent' to many other distributions. I have used Suse, Mandriva and Ubuntu. I am considering giving Debian a try but for now I am satisfied with Ubuntu.

    Some links:
    Since I have not made 5 posts I wasn't allowed to leave the links here... pity.

    On wikipedia you can see screenshots of Gnome, KDE, Xfce, ... and there are plenty of links to more information.

    Remember: you can try all of them, it will cost you nothing (if you use a usb stick for the install :p). You can install them as often as you like and on all the PC's that you have. It's great to have that freedom. You will probably end up at the command line sooner or later even though Ubuntu, for example, offers a very nice desktop. You'll find lots of help online, most of it will direct you to the command line.

    If you find that you like a Linux distribution and want to get to know the system better then I can also recommend the book "Running Linux" (O'Reilly Media).

    "Discover the power of the command line!!! ^^"
     
  6. Asha

    Asha TS Rookie

    One more thing. Free when used to refer to open source software doesn't just mean free as in gratis, free of charge, .... Free used in that way means: free as in freedom. Once more you can find more on wikipedia, just search for "Free and open source software - Wikipedia" and they'll explain exactly what free stands for.

    (I do have a dual boot machine as I use Windows 7 for games and some specific work-related software and I can honestly say that Windows 7 is a decent OS and, at least for me, worth the money of an OEM copy. I wouldn't want to buy a retail copy though.)
     
  7. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +99

    Some links to help you in your search:

    http://www.linux.co.uk/
    http://www.linux.org/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux

    If you need more, google "linux" and he'll be your friend. :)

    The pro's and con's can be a little harder to work out. Mostly it boils down to which one "fits" you best. I'm an avid fan of Ubuntu and wouldnt use anything else - But you might like something completely different.

    Personally, I would download Live ISO's for Knoppix, Suse, Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Fedora (the links to these distributions are in the above links), run them as live CD's on your computer and have a play.

    If you want to try before you buy, then I would recommend a 2GB memory stick, downloading this program (click me) and then installing it to the memory stick with live persistance so you can edit, create and delete etc system settings and files, and perform updates and install software. You can get a real feel for how it all works then, all before touching your hard drive. :D

    In regards to data:

    You will likely need a plugin to install mp-3 support (easy to do), and maybe some DVD codecs, but all your images, documents etc will be supported natively in linux. Only .wmv files tend to be awkward, but plugins can handle these as well.
     
  8. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 2,062   +8

    Learning curve aside, be prepared to handle driver support problems for your sound card, printer, scanner etc.

    Make sure you can connect to the internet, before you even consider abandoning MS windows.

    Don't rush it. Learning a new os isn't a walk in the park.
     
  9. Lunny

    Lunny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So a little update:

    I installed Ubuntu with Wubi installer through WinXP just a couple of hours ago. Tested it for a while, it needed to DL lots of drivers. I didn't have much time to let it go as i had something else scheduled but i managed to try Youtube and it didn't work, Flash was missing. I went to the link provided in youtube for Adobe Flash but i didn't know which (or what type of) file to download. In XP i usually download .exe or .rar/zip files. Here, there were some totally different types of files.

    Which one do i DL and how to install them? Do they auto install?

    Also having trouble with my Razer Deathadder mouse, it needs it's software to be able to control the sensitivity and other settings that i'm used to. Went to razerzone.com but they didn't have any drivers for Linux, only Windows. Googled some and most results sent me to 1 site (busch.de or something) that was no longer available. If any of you uses Deathadder on Linux let me know if u found some software for it.

    Thanks for all the help guys.
     
  10. fastco

    fastco TS Rookie Posts: 1,511

  11. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +99

    The easiest way to handle these problems are to install the extra packages to handle stuff like this. The package is called Ubuntu restricted extras. It includes mp3 support, java runtime, flash, dvd codecs, and basically extra packages they arent allowed to ship with Ubuntu due to differences in international laws.

    First, we need to check your repository to see what software sources you have access to. The first thing I do on a new build is edit this.

    To do that:

    click Applications, > accessories > terminal.

    Terminal will open up.

    enter the following into terminal:

    Code:
    sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
    Enter your username password when asked, and it will then open up gedit with the sources list file.

    You should be greeted by a file showing information identical (or thereabouts to this:

    Code:
    # deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 10.04 LTS _Lucid Lynx_ - Release i386 (20100429)]/ lucid main restricted
    # See http://help.ubuntu.com/community/UpgradeNotes for how to upgrade to
    # newer versions of the distribution.
    
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid main restricted
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid main restricted
    
    ## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
    ## distribution.
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-updates main restricted
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-updates main restricted
    
    ## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
    ## team. Also, please note that software in universe WILL NOT receive any
    ## review or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid universe
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid universe
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-updates universe
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-updates universe
    
    ## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu 
    ## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to 
    ## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in 
    ## multiverse WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu
    ## security team.
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid multiverse
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid multiverse
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-updates multiverse
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-updates multiverse
    
    ## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from the 'backports'
    ## repository.
    ## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
    ## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
    ## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
    ## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
    ## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-backports main restricted universe multiverse
    deb-src http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-backports main restricted universe multiverse
    
    ## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical's
    ## 'partner' repository.
    ## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the
    ## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
    deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu lucid partner
    deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu lucid partner
    
    deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu lucid-security main restricted
    deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu lucid-security main restricted
    deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu lucid-security universe
    deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu lucid-security universe
    deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu lucid-security multiverse
    deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ lucid-proposed restricted main multiverse universe
    deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu lucid-security multiverse
    
    All lines beginning with # are commented out, and ignored by the system. lines starting deb will be read. You'll see around 4 lines with deb in them, but commented out by # near the bottom of the text. Remove the # from them, so the deb is then the starting line. Just to be clear, your changing the line from this:

    Code:
    #deb http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com...... the lines will differ...
    to this:

    Code:
    deb http://gb.arc.......
    If your unsure, copy my entire sources list file above, and replace mine with yours.

    Once you have done this to the 4 lines that need the #'s removing, click save and then exit gedit.

    In the terminal window type the following to refresh your sources list and update your software database.

    Code:
    sudo apt-get update
    This will update your sources list and pull in all the newly available software lists.

    Then in terminal again, type the following:

    Code:
    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
    Enter your password, and then press y when it has listed the software to install.

    It will now download, and install everything needed and configure them all. Once it has completed it will return to the terminal.

    Restart your computer, and then log back into your username and you should now be fine. :)


    Click System > Preferences > Mouse and the mouse control panel will open. You can change the sensitivity, and other options in this window. This will solve your problem with an overly sensitive mouse.

    I think thats everything. lol.

    By the way, I deliberately used terminal so you can get a feel for how it operates.
     
     
  12. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 2,062   +8

    Yes. There is tons of information there.

    Information overload is a real danger.

    Lunny
    1. Download documentation/help on Synaptic.
    2. Understand what a Repository is.
    3. Learn how to use Synaptic to download & install from the Repositories.
     
  13. Lunny

    Lunny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    @ Leeky

    Did everything as you said but when i type the last command i get: E: Couldn't find package ubuntu-restricted-extras

    Any idea what's wrong?

    edit: Nvm figured it out.
     
  14. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +99

    Sorry mate, was at a wedding yesterday, and out all day today. I'm glad you figured it out. :)

    Was it anything major in the end? How are you getting on with Ubuntu then? :D
     
  15. Lunny

    Lunny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hope you had a good time at the wedding :D

    It's good and i like it. Still getting familiar with it though. Most of the things are working except my mouse. I am having issues with sites that require Flash like Youtube. Can't play the video from lets say 0:10 etc, i hope you get my point. Mouse 4 and 5 also don't work sometimes.

    It's really weird, i had 2 tabs open and 1 worked perfectly fine the other was causing problems. I need to try it with an other mouse, maybe it's because this mouse needs it Software or something.

    I am also trying to get used with the terminal, how to install things etc. It seemed really complicated but in fact it isn't.

    Thanks for all the help.
     
  16. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +99

    Yeah it was brilliant thank you. :) Was 27'c and perfect sunshine. The couple couldnt have asked for better weather for the wedding!

    Have you tried looking at the settings panel for the mouse to adjust settings?

    Flash should be installed as part of the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. It might be a firefox problem though, as these will also need add-ons to support flash in some cases. The flash package is (I think!) flash-non-free but a quick look on the Ubuntu forums will find it if I'm wrong.

    Terminal is really easy once the perception of it is behind you. I use it pretty often as I find using the graphical display too much labour when I can type away and do everything from one window. lol.

    But both methods work, and work well. :)
     
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