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To Linux or not to Linux

By Vehementi ยท 31 replies
Mar 9, 2002
  1. I just got reading that gargantuan 81 reply post about Linux...

    Now my question is, should I install Linux?

    I've heard so much about it, and so many possibilities exist, but should I or shouldn't I?
    Plus there's the whole Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, Caldera, Turbolinux, Gnome, Lycoris, Debian and Slackware versions....Ugh! Which one?

    What are it's advantages over Windows? (I'm running ME right now.)

    I have 2 hard drives, one is 20 GB and the other is 10. I can install Linux on the 10 GB.

    Also, how big is the download? I have dial up :dead:

    I was thinking of dual booting w/ Windows and Linux, and playing all my games in Windows and everything else in Linux.

    I'm really curious. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    I regularly visit the 3DSpotlight IRC channel, so you could meet me there.
  2. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    To take your questions one by one:

    I recommend that anyone interested in how computers work install Linux. Its a Hacker's operating system (Hacker in the sense of a techie who likes to take things part, not break into other people's computers which is cracking....) and as such you will learn a lot about programming, kernels, scripts, compiling, how operating systems and programs are made up, etc, when you install Linux. Its a lot easier to install these days than it used to be.

    Well, all Linux heads tend to have their favourate (mine being Red Hat) but the best thing I can say generally is just pick one and get started. Probably that one will wind up being your fav. The industry standards are probably closer to Red Hat and Mandrake. My posted instructions ( http://www.3dspotlight.com/vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=214 ) refer to Red Hat install, but could be adapted for others as well.

    Well, that's something that we could go on about all night (its late here already) but let's just say firstly that its free (more or less), other users can be VERY friendly and supportive, it has a LOT of powerful tools bundled with it and it has some very powerful capabilities. Windows limits the user in many ways (which again we could go on about all night) but Linux does not have such limitations. You can make it look like whatever you want. You can make it behave in a whole variety of ways that you can't with Windows. And it has some VERY powerful commands that Windows just doesn't even touch on.

    For example, there are built in capabilities in Linux to burn CDs from the command line, write your hard drive with zeros, and so forth, all expressable in UNIX commands and executables. Any good Linux distro comes loaded with programs for doing just about anything that you can imagine, without the need to buy any more. And it does not suffer from the Microsoft syndrome (i.e. make the browser and the media player part of the operating system just to stick the foot into the groin of the competition.....)

    Yes. It would be best if the drive you install it on is on the primary IDE controller (either master or slave) and not the secondary, again for reasons I can't be bothered going into right now.

    In that case, you can forget about downloading Linux pretty much, if you want the real experience. Redhat is 2 full CDs and Mandrake is 3 if I remember. But you can buy it for a fraction of the cost of Windows (any version) from any good computing store. The money you are paying mainly goes into the cost of the media itself, the printed manuals and the technical support you will be entitled to if you buy a boxed copy.

    Your best bet is to take the plunge and see where it leads you. Maybe Linux is not for you. On the other hand, maybe you will unlock a door that will change your computing experience. I would not be ready to adandon Windows completely albeit for games at this early stage, but certainly an installation of it on some free hard disk space will do no harm. If you decide you think its rubbish, too hard to get into, or too hard to work with then you can dump it. If you are the sort of person who likes to click buttons a lot then you are going to have to get into editing some scripts here and there to do things, which is NOT to everyone's liking.

    As I said, I would recommend that any computer enthusiast, either amateur or professional to look into Linux. I know computing people who WORSHIP it. I also know Windows gurus who call it the work of the Devil.

    Either way, politically, economically and morally its a much nicer place to be than MS land, which is all about profit and money. The Linux world is more about sharing, helping each other and giving things to others for the sake of helping them, a bit like the way some people post here to help others expecting nothing in return.

    I typically run anywhere between 5 and 10 different operating systems on my computer, which include both Microsoft and Linux operating systems. I use all of them for different tasks (even if that task is playing about) and each has its strengths and its weaknesses. Often I am in Windows trying to do something and think "I should be in Linux right now" whereas other times I have rebooted Linux in disgust about how totally hard its been to accomplish something that should be really easy and is in Windows. Windows main strength is its user friendliness and in the Linux world, at least at the moment, you will sacrifice a little of that in order to be able to do things that are very powerful.

    Its a very different world. Installing software in Linux is accomplished in a variety of different ways.... its not just like double clicking on some setup.exe file and having some wizard do everything for you. In Linux, sometimes you have to download the source code and compile the application yourself, and if there is something wrong then there may be a very technical reason why, which you shall have to solve with or without the help of others.

    And as its a different world, its very interesting. Its like the OS equivalent of going on holiday to a foreign country. There are things that are so similar (i.e. its still got the internet, zip files, etc, etc....) but there are also many things that will be alien to you at first. But that makes it interesting. I'd say you are in for some fun, but also some frustration. But then nothing that is worthwhile in this life does not contain some element of frustration, otherwise it would not be worth doing.

    I'd say, all in all, go for it. All you have to loose is a few $$$ and a couple of afternoons to start. If you hate it you can wipe the partition, give the disks away to someone else and forget all about it. Or, as I said, you can open a rather interesting door.
  3. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    Can I jump in here with a Question?

    I am just starting to try Linux again> I last tried it with RH 5 and since have been stuck in MS kland.

    I wanted to try Lycoris and downloaded their ISO image, burned it to CD and there I am. Can't get anything. I can't start it from whithin windows and cant start it as fresh install to a newly formatted or fdisked HD.

    What an I missing? I know it must be something simple, as I read of everyone just downloading, installint it and being ticklet to death.
  4. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    You should be able to just boot up from the CD (setting boot order in BIOS) and then you should be good to go.
  5. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    That is exactly what I thought too. I tried it on a Win 98 se machine, a freshly fdisked machine and one that had a new dos partition formatted with FAT 32.

    I set the CD as the only boot option and nothing. I booted from a floppy (win 98 with CD support). Nothing.

    Just says no bootable medium.
    From the Win explorer it shows the ISO image but asks for me to select the program to open it with.

    On the same machine I tried booting the CD and still a dead end.

    When I downloaded the ISO image I saved it to a temp directory then burned it to CD using Roxio 5. Could there be something in that process I am missing. I have looked for instructions to see if tehr were any special things I needed to do in that process but have found none.

    I weent back to Lycoris site and found a file BootCD.? tried that too. Nothing.

    I know it can't be that hard!

    I appreciate any help.

  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    No, you don't burn the ISO file to the disk.

    You use the ISO file as an image, which when used to burn a CD, creates a CD full of files.

    You just have a CD with the .iso file on it.

    You need to use CD writing software to convert the .iso file into a CD that's got lots of files, is bootable, etc.
  7. filthy_mcnasty

    filthy_mcnasty TS Rookie Posts: 78

    as Phantasm said, the ISO file is a zip file of sorts, use burning software such as nero (roxio should support this too) or search for an "ISOBuster" sort of program.

    ISOs contain the whole cd but not in their regular, on cd, format. think of it as a zip file for the contents of a cd
  8. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    I see the option now I beleive. On the roxio File menu it has an option "Record CD from CD image". I'll try that and see.

    Thanks for the help!!
  9. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    If your curious, the best thing to do is install it and quench that curiosity :p. It is not that hard to install, especially if you have two hard drives.

    If you're not sure I would say make a backup of any files you on your hard drive just in case.

    Like they say, "Just do it!"
  10. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    I have a test machine that I recently acquired and several hard drives to tinker with. So that isn't an issue.

    I did get the ISO to transfer the files in an installable format. Looked great and I was so excited. Then the install hung at the [Prepare this disk for 'Desktop/LX'] point. I was impressed with the install up to that point and I'm sure it will go that way to completion after I get the problem resolved.

    The HD I have in the machine at present is 2.5 GB that is totally dedicated to this test. 64 MB RAM, and a 500MHz celeron processor.

  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Try passing the following at the first command prompt that appears at the start, asking you for options:

    linux text

    That should start the installer in text mode. Its a little harder to operate (with no mouse) but if you use TAB, space, arrow keys, etc it should be fine.

    Or.... download another linux. why not try

    fedora core 1

    which is basically the new Red Hat Linux.
  12. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    I have a set of RH Linux disks from version 9. I understand that was the last public release from RH.

    Is fedora better?

  13. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Fedora is essentially Red Hat 10.
  14. wicka_wicka

    wicka_wicka Banned Posts: 125

    Red Hat ended support for Red Hat <9 and they are only working on Enterprise Linux now. Phantasm is right, Fedora is pretty much Red Hat 10.

    Vehementi, I have a 2cds of Mandrake (the third CD is just international crap) that I can burn and send to ya if you want me to (since you have 56k and all). PM me if ya want it ;)
  15. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Actually I think he has 28.8.
  16. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    I want to thank all of you [Phantasm66, acidosmosis, wicka_wicka, filthy_mcnasty] for the help! It has been nice getting real answers.

    I did go to the fedora site several times and have not found a mirror that will serve up the files. Must be really popular.

    I do have a new question. How do I run the checksum thing [on the ISO disks]?

    I have made CDs of the HR 9 and when I install it says I have a problem with the CD. I managed to get the install to run in text mode to the point where it is installing "various utilities" (Just after the "Open Office" install) and it stopped.

    Also: Neither Lycoris nor RH9 would resize the Fat32 partition already on the drive.

    I really just wanted to get some idea of what is really going on in the Linux world, so thought I would start getting familiar with the process again.

    I have been trying to follow along and watch the development over the last several years. I haven't had enough time to just jump in with both feet as I would like because I work full time with Win products. [Gerrrr]

    I do want to eventually set up a Linux / Samba print and File_Server that will integrate into the Win 2000_Server domain under the Active_Directory. But all that takes time and education. And I really appreciate any help I can get to cut the curve down a bit. As you might imagine, I have to do any development on this side at home, or after hours.

    Anyway, again Thanks!

    PS: Phantasm66 I just found your Install instructions in the other thread. I'll try following that. I did notice there the answer to the Partition problem.

    Also: I noticed you said HR or Mandrake are your favorites. I have been looking at SuSe and like the overall offering but don't know what the real issues are yet as to the overall usability and options. And the fact that SuSe is selling out to Novel makes me wonder if they will be going to the Profit first side like it seems everyone else is doing and will lead us to dependency on them and do a MS story on us.
  17. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Keep looking. ;)

    In Linux, you could try

    md5sum filename.iso

    To get the MD5 checksum of filename.iso. If you look on the internet, you will find a similar utility for Windows.

    Basically, this verifies the integrity of the file, because this checksumming algorithm always produces the same hash (the string of numbers and letters, which is almost certainly Hex) for the same block of data, and ONLY that block. Its a very useful technology that has a number of very useful applications, not just this.

    Keep trying Linux. Don't give up. Its pretty hard to crack into (although that is getting easier) but once you're in its a whole new dimension.
  18. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    If you can't find the download links on the distro's site, you can always try http://www.linuxiso.org/

    I think this link has been provided many times on these forums.:)
  19. wicka_wicka

    wicka_wicka Banned Posts: 125

    Yeah, Jason from EOC tells me that Fedora's servers are REALLY slow (a lot of traffic I guess), so even if you did get a download started it'd probably max out at 20kb/s.
  20. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    I am not surprised because from my first look, Fedora is EXCELLENT. Its getting very close to a genuine competitor to XP - if only we got more commercial applications for Linux.
  21. cwy2000

    cwy2000 TS Rookie

    I have to tell you that I finally broke down and went out and bought the whole thing.

    I mean I bought SuSe 9 right off the shelf at Best Buy. I am going to go through the book and try to do it right. I'll let you know how things are going ( and probably have more questions ) when I have time to get started on the actual install.

    I did this because as I said I have been looking at it for some time and after I found the checksum prog you told me about, I ran it on the Lycoris disk and it showed things were perfect. I tried that disk again (after allowing RH to format the drive for Linux)(I thought that if it had a Linux disk already set up that it would work??!!) and still hangs at "setup disk for Linux".

    Any way I'll try this with disks that should have no question about "did I copy them correctly" hanging over them.
  22. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Certainly getting a printed manual is a good idea. Due to the nature of their business model, a lot of the printed media you get with Linux distributions is excellent, not just as a guide to the OS but as a general and helpful introduction to UNIX overall.
  23. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    To Linux or not to Linux..

    I'm using it less and less, I like it less and less.


    The biggest reason are dependency things. You want an application A version 1.1, it requires libraries B version 1.1, C version 1.2 and so on. You don't have library C version 1.2 - ok, download the source and try to compile. ./configure , make, make install, blah blah.. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Even compiling might require a specific compiler, which in turn requires libraries, ad infinitum.

    Now, most of the time things go well, with, say, precompiled distributions ready to be installed on a CD image. But what if you want to add your own apps or update some already included apps? You could use distribution provider's updating tools, if they exist. I tried Red Hat's whatsitcalled daemon that's supposed to get the latest updates. That didn't work too well - actually it didn't work at all, didn't even connect to send my registration information. Networking worked otherwise, however.

    I can admit I did learn a lot when I compiled the whole Linux from source code, including XFree86 and KDE (see Linux from scratch), but the way I see it now, well.. let's just say I'm not that enthusiastic about it anymore.

    Another reason is stability. I just installed RH 7.3 today (I know it's old), this time with Gnome. The first time I go to graphical mode - Gnome panel crashes. A second after it had started. Needless to say, I got a very nice impression about it.

    One more reason: speed. Linux with XFree86 feels slow, even with the latest kernel and its new scheduler which really improves system responsiveness under some CPU load (I say some because I don't think compiling an application while browsing TS forums, for example, would be "heavy load"). However, speed is relative, so I should say slow when compared to what but I won't this time.

    You might not run into dependency problems, applications might not crash when you're using them, you might say the computer is fast (or is it the software?). It just depends on a lot of things. All in all, I'm not writing this in Linux.
  24. filthy_mcnasty

    filthy_mcnasty TS Rookie Posts: 78

    i agree w/ a lot of what mictlantecuhtli says.

    i'm a software developer and i can see why a lot of people like linux. obviously it's free and it's simply just easier to use in labs at school to connect to / run stuff from remote computers.

    however, it also assumes that the user knows a lot about what they're doing and let's face it, for the most part they dont. speed, as mict said, is another issue. on my computer everything takes about twice as long under Mandrake 9.2 *their newest release* as it does under XP Pro.

    another problem is the applications. while it's certainly true that you can do anything in linux that you can in windows it's usually not as nice. i cant give precise numbers but i am willing to bet that for every 1 linux program there are well over 100 windows ones. when i write a program i definately have windows users in mind.

    i'm by no means a linux expert and i AM impressed by it as an alternative. but i cannot see anytime in the immediate future where it will be my main OS.

    all that said, give it a try. it's worth learning even though i dont find it as nice or convienent as windows but maybe i'm biased =).
  25. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Linux is STILL an OS for computer geeks, either to install in their homes or to make work on some huge server at work. Its not for ordinary mortal users, nor is it going to be for some time.

    Yes, there are problems with dependencies. Big problems. And bugs. And lots of other things.

    But think about what it really is... its a FREE OPERATING SYSTEM, that can teach you ALL ABOUT UNIX.

    I am now poised to go and become a well paid Solaris analysis, or something, and I would never have been able to get to this stage without Linux.
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