thinking of moving to linux


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dreamz

i've been considering migrating over to linux for a while now, for a number of reasons. for one thing, i'm still on xp, and there are some quirks that are beginning to annoy me. also, i saw some linux videos on youtube, and i have to say, i'm quite intrigued by the system. but as i know nothing about it, i wanted to see first whether or not it would be worthwhile to move to it.

1. drivers. i use an lg e300 laptop. will drivers be an issue? i noticed that there are no linux drivers on the lg site.

2. light and minimal. i dislike having unnecessary programs, components, features, etc. i've nlited my xp installation heavily, removing services, programs, files, etc. that i don't need. is it possible to do the same with linux, or at least to begin with the smallest foundation possible and add in only what i need?

3. personal data. will i have any problems with my personal files, e.g., music, pictures, documents. how about with the file system?

4. are applications portable? by this i mean: no installation, completely self-contained (in a directory, i.e., so files aren't scattered all over the place or, better, as a single exe file), no writing to various folders, etc. i prefer to have all my programs be portable and kept on my d:\ drive. that way, i don't need to install them whenever i reformat my main partition. also, i love the simplicity and cleanliness of having my programs self-contained.

5. i've grown fond of the programs that i use on xp (in particular, miranda for instant messaging, k-meleon for browsing, 7-zip, foobar2000, and virtualbox). i like these because they're small, light, and portable. are there good equivalent programs for linux with these features?

6. is there anything like win + r?

7. i use bblean as my shell in windows. will it be difficult to set up in linux something similar to what i'm using right now?

is there anything else i should be aware of, e.g., good linux features that i won't find in xp?

thanks! :)

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-Vivicidal-
2. light and minimal. i dislike having unnecessary programs, components, features, etc. i've nlited my xp installation heavily, removing services, programs, files, etc. that i don't need. is it possible to do the same with linux, or at least to begin with the smallest foundation possible and add in only what i need?

You can, but the smaller you want it, the deeper you have to jump in.

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Kami-

try a "live cd" first, this should give you a good idea of if it's for you or not.

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dreamz

i don't even know where to begin. how does fedora compare to the other distros? is it lighter and faster?

You can, but the smaller you want it, the deeper you have to jump in.

i have no problem with that. if the advantages are considerable (e.g., if i can make it lighter and faster than xp), i'll put in the effort. considering how i already try to tweak as much as i can in windows, i think i'd like to do the same in linux.

try a "live cd" first, this should give you a good idea of if it's for you or not.

of course. i was thinking about installing it in a virtual machine first, anyway.

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DavidM

Head over to Ubuntu's site and grab a live cd. Kubuntu uses KDE and looks the most line windows, Ubuntu uses Gnome and lastly Xubuntu uses XFCE. X- is the lightest, followed by U- and then K-, They all have livecds so you can try with out installing anything, they also have Wubi, which will install it onto a windows partition. Installing onto Windows partition with Wubi will give you closer to "real" speed of the Distro.

This would probably the easiest way to test out Linux. HowtoForge has a series called the "Perfect Desktop" and they take you through how to basically replace/substitute your window apps for Linux ones. Search for your chosen distro and scroll until you find the X-, K-, Ubuntu and go from there.

Wireless driver right now seem to be the biggest problem, but I haven't used Linux my laptop so I don't know how good or bad it is at the moment.

You could also try Linux Mint, it's based on Ubuntu and has all of the codecs for mp3, xvid and divx and so on. It also has Wubi so you can either run it live or install it to your windows partition and it will insert itself into your boot manager and then remove itself with no problems if you decide it isn;t for you.

Hope this helps a little, remember you've got nothing to lose Linux is free. :)

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dreamz

thanks, i'll have to check out those links. is ubuntu generally considered to be easier to use than other distros?

i do have something to lose, though. i don't want to be trying out 20 or 30 different variations to find the smallest or fastest one. :p

also, does anyone have any answers to some of the other questions?

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brentaal
2. light and minimal. i dislike having unnecessary programs, components, features, etc. i've nlited my xp installation heavily, removing services, programs, files, etc. that i don't need. is it possible to do the same with linux, or at least to begin with the smallest foundation possible and add in only what i need?

Linux is a lot better when it comes to lightweight/minimal setups. I know where you're coming from, I always used nLited Win XP installations both because I want to have control over what's on my PC and because it can really make a system run faster.

Pretty much every Linux distro should offer a CLI installation. With a CLI install you get only the bare necessities (no desktop environment, no applications, only a terminal and package-manager + a few other things), and then you choose what to install on top of it. You get to choose which window manager/desktop environment you want (look at this site to find themes for window managers that closely resemble bblean), what file manager, panel, system utilities, and so on.

3. personal data. will i have any problems with my personal files, e.g., music, pictures, documents. how about with the file system?

Playing/viewing them? Shouldn't be a problem. Linux supports NTFS and FAT32 so all the files you got now should be accessible within Linux.

5. i've grown fond of the programs that i use on xp (in particular, miranda for instant messaging, k-meleon for browsing, 7-zip, foobar2000, and virtualbox). i like these because they're small, light, and portable. are there good equivalent programs for linux with these features?

I don't think there's K-Meleon for Linux distros, but there's another lightweight Gecko browser called Kazehakase. 7zip can be replaced with Xarchiver or some other archiver. Instead of foobar2000 you can use mpd (console-based player). In short, there's a Linux counterpart for every Windows app. Except for Photoshop. :cry:

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dreamz
Linux is a lot better when it comes to lightweight/minimal setups. I know where you're coming from, I always used nLited Win XP installations both because I want to have control over what's on my PC and because it can really make a system run faster.

Pretty much every Linux distro should offer a CLI installation. With a CLI install you get only the bare necessities (no desktop environment, no applications, only a terminal and package-manager + a few other things), and then you choose what to install on top of it. You get to choose which window manager/desktop environment you want (look at this site to find themes for window managers that closely resemble bblean), what file manager, panel, system utilities, and so on.

awesome. thanks. is it better to do this minimal installation and then add what i need later on? how do i know what i need?

Playing/viewing them? Shouldn't be a problem. Linux supports NTFS and FAT32 so all the files you got now should be accessible within Linux.

is it more efficient to redo my d:\ drive with the linux file system (i have my data backed up on an external drive). if i do reformat my d:\ drive, how would i transfer my data back over from the external drive? is it as simple as copying and pasting?

I don't think there's K-Meleon for Linux distros, but there's another lightweight Gecko browser called Kazehakase. 7zip can be replaced with Xarchiver or some other archiver. Instead of foobar2000 you can use mpd (console-based player). In short, there's a Linux counterpart for every Windows app. Except for Photoshop. :cry:

great! are these in some sense portable? i have no idea what applications in linux are like. do they install files all over the system?

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Lechio

2. You can tweak a Linux box right down to the kernel. You can even recompile it specially for your system if you wish. Everything can be customized. You can remove everything you don't have use for.

3. Music, pictures, documents, all work the same way in Linux. No problem there, you can access FAT32/NTFS partitions under Linux.

4. You can run and install applications in your home directory without making a system wide install. But Linux works differently from Windows, when it comes to installing software. It's done using a package manager.

If you want self-contained applications and portability maybe this is something that can interest you: http://klik.atekon.de/

5. You have many equivalents to those programs in Linux. foobar2000 you can run it using WINE (but there are many media players that look and work similar to foobar2000). virtualbox is cross-platform.

6. Yes. You can assign that key combination to execute any task/command. You can even add an applet to the panel where you type the name of the program and it gets executed.

7. No. bblean is in fact blackbox:

http://fvwm-themes.sourceforge.net/screens...ll/blackbox.gif

You'll be right at home using a *box WM.:)

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tsupersonic

ALT + F2 = Win + R

I would recommend Ubuntu for a starting distro (actually Xubuntu - since it uses XFCE; XFCE is lean and minimalistic). You can add another environment such as Gnome or KDE. You can try out live CD's to see which environment you like the best.

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markjensen
awesome. thanks. is it better to do this minimal installation and then add what i need later on? how do i know what i need?

is it more efficient to redo my d:\ drive with the linux file system (i have my data backed up on an external drive). if i do reformat my d:\ drive, how would i transfer my data back over from the external drive? is it as simple as copying and pasting?

great! are these in some sense portable? i have no idea what applications in linux are like. do they install files all over the system?

How do you know what you need? Well, you would know better than we would :p

On the serious side, give a popular distro a try and see what you like and what you want changed. We can help with those kinds of specifics more that "what would I like?" types of things. :yes:

I see you mentioned using bblean in Windows. Well, bblean is just a Windows port of blackbox from the *nix world. It sounds like you would be most comfortable with one of the *boxes (fluxbox, openbox, or blackbox - LXDE is a popular openbox collection).

As for installation, files are stored in a way that is sensible to Unix. Binaries are in one area for user-accessible binaries, a different are protected by permissions for system level binaries. The "man" files (manual files, containing documentation or help) are all in another area. But I assume you are coming from the Windows world where you think your files are all in one area. Actually, you have libraries put into the "C:" Windows areas anyhow, plus let's not even get into what gets stuffed into the registry and cannot be transferred over (and without that data, the program will not run).

I don't think you are going to run into problems with apps. They install via a package manager and can be installed/removed from a command line, from a nice GUI, or even from a script to re-do all your favorite apps on one system to be installed onto a new one, if you so choose.

And, as usual, there are plenty of people here to help with advice and alternatives to things you run into that make you scratch your head.

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Iian K

Let's put something in perspective here.

You don't have to give up Windows compleately, for many reasons.

1. Virtual Machine tools, such as VirtualBox and VMware are available for you to use on your system.

2. Not all applications are available on Linux, no matter what distro you use.

3. Linux is a bit complex, and if you don't anticipate installing firmware for devices (in the terminal) like Wireless, Linux isn't for you.

4. Although there is 3rd party support for MP3, most distros don't include it up-front because of copyright restraints. You have to enable them via terminal by adding a link to the respitory.

Lastly, 5. Having a "little" programming experience is a plus, especially when some applications require you to compile the source. Although make doesn't show you code, it is still recommended to have.

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Barney T.
Let's put something in perspective here.

You don't have to give up Windows compleately, for many reasons.

1. Virtual Machine tools, such as VirtualBox and VMware are available for you to use on your system.

2. Not all applications are available on Linux, no matter what distro you use.

3. Linux is a bit complex, and if you don't anticipate installing firmware for devices (in the terminal) like Wireless, Linux isn't for you.

4. Although there is 3rd party support for MP3, most distros don't include it up-front because of copyright restraints. You have to enable them via terminal by adding a link to the respitory.

Lastly, 5. Having a "little" programming experience is a plus, especially when some applications require you to compile the source. Although make doesn't show you code, it is still recommended to have.

IMHO, I have to disagree with most of this. Any application that you need has some form in OSS. For the average user, Linux is no more complicated than Windows. Ubuntu is as easy as point and click.

In Ubuntu, to add MP3 or other support, it is as easy as clicking a box in Synaptic. No adding special lines to the repository list. If you have programming skills, that is fine, but only if you are into Linux apps development, or writing scripts and things.

The downside.... wireless is hit-or-miss. Also, if you are a gamer, Linux is probably not the OS for you.

I use Debian and it is as enjoyable, if not more so, than any other OS I have ever tried (and I have tried most). All newly tried operating systems have a learning curve, but today's Linux is not the same as years gone by.

I suggest that you try one of the many Live CDs. Ubuntu is easy to use. So is Mandriva and SuSE as well as a whole host of others. Just pop in the CD and boot it up. The CD writes to memory. You can test the distro, then reboot with the CD out. No harm to the hard drive at all. Easy as pie!

http://www.livecdlist.com/

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sanctified

whatever you do, dont try xubuntu :no: worst linux experience I have ever had.

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spd21

I would recommend Linux Mint over Ubuntu, it's build on the same foundations with a few more friendly features built in, i was going to switch to *buntu but Mint seriously impressed me.

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markjensen
whatever you do, dont try xubuntu :no: worst linux experience I have ever had.

Wow.

Actually, it was Xubuntu that lured me away from 4 1/2 solid years of RedHat/Fedora. :unsure:

For me, Xubuntu offered the immediately configured from first boot that Fedora did not (MP3, Java, Flash, nVidia all had to be manually installed in Fedora).

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fix-this!
Wow.

Actually, it was Xubuntu that lured me away from 4 1/2 solid years of RedHat/Fedora. :unsure:

For me, Xubuntu offered the immediately configured from first boot that Fedora did not (MP3, Java, Flash, nVidia all had to be manually installed in Fedora).

i have to agree here, go with xubuntu. i don't use it anymore but it was the friendliest, fastest ubuntu distro ive used.

I would recommend Linux Mint over Ubuntu, it's build on the same foundations with a few more friendly features built in, i was going to switch to *buntu but Mint seriously impressed me.

mint is very nice too.

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Evolution

You could try this Linux Distro Recommendation quiz ;)

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Lechio
Let's put something in perspective here.

You don't have to give up Windows compleately, for many reasons.

1. Virtual Machine tools, such as VirtualBox and VMware are available for you to use on your system.

2. Not all applications are available on Linux, no matter what distro you use.

3. Linux is a bit complex, and if you don't anticipate installing firmware for devices (in the terminal) like Wireless, Linux isn't for you.

4. Although there is 3rd party support for MP3, most distros don't include it up-front because of copyright restraints. You have to enable them via terminal by adding a link to the respitory.

Lastly, 5. Having a "little" programming experience is a plus, especially when some applications require you to compile the source. Although make doesn't show you code, it is still recommended to have.

  • 1. Those same tools allow you to run Windows on Linux.
  • 2. What?
  • 3. No... You do not need to be messing with the firmware from a device so it works on Linux. :huh:
  • 4. You don't need to touch the terminal to add a repository. For MP3 support Ubuntu handles the install automatically, or you can just use a package manager like synaptic and install it from there. How complicated is that?
  • 5. No. You are very mistaken, you do not need to have a "little programming experience" to use Linux, you don't even need to compile any software (although the option is there if you wish to do so). The package manager was already referred, it installs your software.

What was that, an attempt to give an advice to someone? Have you ever tried Linux?

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sanctified
Wow.

Actually, it was Xubuntu that lured me away from 4 1/2 solid years of RedHat/Fedora. :unsure:

For me, Xubuntu offered the immediately configured from first boot that Fedora did not (MP3, Java, Flash, nVidia all had to be manually installed in Fedora).

It was hell to configure my wireless mouse and wireless connection. HELL!!!

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dreamz

ok, i just tried xubuntu in a virtual machine, and based on my rather short experience with it, it's quite usable. i didn't really try to do anything (it was in a vm, after all), but it was pretty nice.

but it looks like A LOT of things are installed, e.g., firefox, thunderbird, games, etc., programs i have no interest in, either because i don't want them (e.g., games) or because i want other programs (e.g., a different browser). is there a way to select what i want and don't want during the installation process?

also, how are the operating system settings saved? for instance, in windows, there's a registry. i'm guessing there's nothing like that in linux. is there a way to create a slipstreamed installation iso with all my settings? or better yet, is there a way to keep my settings separate (e.g., on another partition)? i'm trying to minimize the amount of work i'd need to do after an installation.

i'm currently downloading puppy linux and linux mint to try them out in my vm. i'll report back on my experiences.

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NienorGT
7. i use bblean as my shell in windows. will it be difficult to set up in linux something similar to what i'm using right now?

I found it funny, bblean stand for BlackBox Lean, and BlackBox is a Linux Shell. So you will feel at home lol.

Knowing how minimalistic you are, thrust me, Linux can be more minimalistic.

You can even start with a text only distro and build your system from there, and not the inverse as picking XP and remove stuff lol.

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Lechio
ok, i just tried xubuntu in a virtual machine, and based on my rather short experience with it, it's quite usable. i didn't really try to do anything (it was in a vm, after all), but it was pretty nice.

but it looks like A LOT of things are installed, e.g., firefox, thunderbird, games, etc., programs i have no interest in, either because i don't want them (e.g., games) or because i want other programs (e.g., a different browser). is there a way to select what i want and don't want during the installation process?

With the Ubuntu Live install no, but you can remove what you wish later. Or you can choose a distro like Fedora, openSUSE, (...) that allows to choose what you wish to install.

also, how are the operating system settings saved? for instance, in windows, there's a registry. i'm guessing there's nothing like that in linux.

Linux does not use a registry. The settings from a program are saved in your home directory. In you file manager choose to "show hidden files and folders". There resides the settings for the software you run.

is there a way to create a slipstreamed installation iso with all my settings? or better yet, is there a way to keep my settings separate (e.g., on another partition)? i'm trying to minimize the amount of work i'd need to do after an installation.

Yes, you create a separate partition for your home directory.

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dreamz
I found it funny, bblean stand for BlackBox Lean, and BlackBox is a Linux Shell. So you will feel at home lol.

i know that bblean is based on blackbox. i love bblean, so it'd be nice to use one of the *box window managers in linux.

Knowing how minimalistic you are, thrust me, Linux can be more minimalistic.

You can even start with a text only distro and build your system from there, and not the inverse as picking XP and remove stuff lol.

that's my hope! but i don't know how to do this.

With the Ubuntu Live install no, but you can remove what you wish later. Or you can choose a distro like Fedora, openSUSE, (...) that allows to choose what you wish to install.

what do you mean by 'live install'? i loaded the iso and selected 'install'.

Linux does not use a registry. The settings from a program are saved in your home directory. In you file manager choose to "show hidden files and folders". There resides the settings for the software you run.

Yes, you create a separate partition for your home directory.

that's fantastic. this may be what gets me to switch.

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