A Few New User Questions
Yup, I'm a new Linux user and going from Windows to Linux (after struggling with a flash drive for a little while, I finally found a blank DVD), I, of course, have a few questions:
1. Besides costs, what are some benefits of Linux over Windows? I'm sure with some use, I'll figure some of them out myself; my main problem with Windows (err, Microsoft) is their attempt to monopolize computers. If you have Windows, you have to deal with Microsoft's attempt to keep your computer free of all non-Microsoft products.
2. How do I resize the desktop? When I start up Debian I get an 'Out of Range' message on my screen, then after I hit CTRL Alt + a few times, I'm left with an oversized GUI- it's bigger than my monitor so I have to bring the mouse to the side/bottom to scroll down to my taskbar.
3. How do I install programs? The first thing I tried installing was Google Chrome, but I get an error message "Archive not found."
I think that's all my questions for now. If anyone has any extra related or unrelated advice to give, I'd be glad to hear it.
1. Too broad question. Security, flexibility ...
Security means no unpatched security holes - and no viruses as a result. Every virus needs a security flaw to exploit (I'm saying this because lots of Windows users seem to think virus just comes and infects). Anti-virus program is a pathetic attempt to protect a broken OS. I say pathetic because it works using blacklisting, not effective against high-tech viruses that are designed not to go wild and run unnoticed.
Flexibility means it runs on different hardware platforms, it is not resource hungry, etc. In short, you are in complete control.
2. Linux does not have a GUI, thus this is kind of hard to answer. There are several Window Managers and Desktop Environments that can be run on top of Linux and other POSIX systems. Generally, you should set Xorg parameters in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Otherwise, check with documentation for your Desktop.
3. One strengths of FOSS is good documentation
This is a must reading when running Debian: Debian -- Documentation
Generic knowledge: The Linux Documentation Project
Thanks very much, I'll take a look at those. They are broad questions, but I'm not looking for any specific information, just some general information and advice that might help me get started in my transition.
Security Report: Windows vs Linux ? The Register
This is 6 years old, but not much has changed since then.
Debian is a great, but it's not the easiest starting point. Still, if you persevere with it, you'll learn a lot.
The positives are it's well tested and very stable.
The negatives are the stability is at the cost of easy access to newer software and the out of the box desktop experience is probably less polished than distros aiming to be more of an alternative to OS X or Windows. (Which can be a positive if you like tinkering with your desktop yourself.)
Google Chrome on Debian:
Linux Install Google Chrome Browser [ Ubuntu, Suse, Debian, Fedora ]
I believe this should add their repository to your sources.list and keep it updated with the stable channel automatically.
Basics of package management (installing/removing software) on Debian:
Synaptic - Debian Wiki
Aptitude - Debian Wiki
Debian Linux Complete Package Administration
The file /etc/apt/sources.list is a text file which points to where the package manager can find software online.
There is a handy online sources.list generator for Debian which can be useful if you want to add more repositories than are available in the default list. (Or need to recover a screwed up sources.list.)
Debian is fairly strict about using only free software, which I appreciate, but the reality is, most of us want to be able to want a variety of multimedia formats or commerical DVDs on our computers. The 3rd party Debian Multimedia repository contains packages for a lot of non-free software.
If you enable that, this will install the basics you'd probably want
Change w32codecs to w64codecs if you're running a 64 bit system. The gstreamer package covers gstreamer based media players like Totem or Banshee. Other media players will have different packages, though most rely to some extent of ffmpeg. The ffmpeg in the multimedia repo should be fairly inclusive, whereas the default version in the Debian repos has been stripped of some non-free components.
aptitude install gstreamer0.10-plugins-really-bad ffmpeg sox toolame vorbis-tools lame lame-extras faad w32codecs libdvdcss2
Lastly, Adobe Flash on Debian:
FlashPlayer - Debian Wiki