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im a complete noob when it comes to linux. im buying a new hp laptop and want to have dual OS's. which distro is best for this?...
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  1. #1
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    dual os laptop (distro?)


    im a complete noob when it comes to linux. im buying a new hp laptop and want to have dual OS's. which distro is best for this?

  2. #2
    oz
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    Welcome to the forums!

    Unfortunately, there really isn't a best because different users like different things in a Linux distribution. I'd recommend trying any of the top five distros at DistroWatch.com to begin with. If you find yourself not liking something about what you try first, move on to another one in the top five. All of them are fully capable of working in a dual boot system.

    Check the link in my signature for lots of good information on getting started with Linux. You'll find a couple of quizzes there that might help you to pick your first distribution, as well.

    Hope you will enjoy running Linux!
    oz

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    The problem I have is I haven't bought a laptop yet because l'm trying to decide on specs because I've read a couple manuals on install linux as a second OS and all of them go into great detail on making sure for proper space for the three partitons I'll need to create.

    Any general amount of hd space I should be aiming for, and any other min specs I should aiming for?

    By the way, thanks for the advice, noobs like me would be lost without it.

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    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger View Post
    Any general amount of hd space I should be aiming for, and any other min specs I should aiming for?
    20 GB should be more than enough HD space for Linux, and any laptop with specs high enough to run WinXP should be fine for Linux as well.
    oz

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    Some general advice (good practices), and a suggestion to take a look at Mint.

    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger View Post
    im a complete noob when it comes to linux. im buying a new hp laptop and want to have dual OS's. which distro is best for this?
    from one experienced computer user but 1-year Linux newbie to another LInux Newbie:

    You haven't mentioned what you are going to do with it... some applications use lots of disk space, but without knowing that, and taking into account that the latest laptops come with more than enough HDD space for about anything, allow me to give you some general recommendations:

    MOST popular Linux distributions have a utility that allows you to manually assign partition space. This is an important detail you must not skip (it usually defaults to automatic to take the entire disk).
    With this graphical utility, I would split up the hard disk into 4 partitions, this is the maximum. Leave the factory-installed windows partition as it is, don't move it. BUT you can shorten it. If you move the beginning, it will take forever, and you may as well reinstall, which would be faster. So, shorten the end, to about 1/3 of the total space available. If you see a hidden partition (not C Drive, but a small percentage of total size, like 3GB, 4GB, or so), that's the SWAP area, and don't touch it. some laptops may use it for rescue functions or whatever (more IBM's domain, but others have implemented it as well)). You will designate THAT small partition as the Linux SWAP area, and both Windows and Linux will use it to write their temporary swap file (I do this and it works fine). If you don't have one of these small hidden partitions, create one, about the 2 x RAM size to be safe (so if you have 3GB of RAM, make the swap area 6). Designate this as the Linux SWAP area. Then partition the remainder into 2 equal parts. One will be used for all your data files, D: in Windows, and the other will become your Linux partition. The data area can be shared by both operating systems, resolving the problem of sharing data. Make it NTFS so both Operating Systems can read and write to it. (if you don't see it right away in Linux, don't panic, you need to "mount" it once Linux is booted). A side benefit of this, is if your windows partition gets wiped out by a virus, malfunction, or whatever, you can just wipe out and reinstall your windows partition without touching your data. Or Linux for that matter, although that is less likely. I've been working like this for over a year now, and have reinstalled both a few times, and am quite happy.
    Just don't make the mistake I did, and install in the wrong partition... I lost my data once doing that and had to reload my backups... so yes, you still need to make backups to protect against crashes and dummy mistakes.

    As for the OS, there are a few tools on the web that allow you to select a good Linux for your needs. Going through the questionnaire, I got several recommendations, and settled on Linux Mint. It is a customized version of Ubuntu (a user friendly version of Debian), and targeted at Windows users, where everything works out of the box, including drievrs, codecs, etc. Mint Install even allows you to view lists of thousands of software packages, and see descriptions and reviews of them, and have them installed along with any required dependencies (prerequisite utilities etc), in a simple fashion, easy for any user. The downside to Mint is that updates have a lag time, because they wait for Ubuntu to be updated before they implement their customizations on the new version.

    No one will argue the excellence of Debian, and it's derivative Ubuntu. And it's difficult not to like Mint. That would be my recommendation. You can also download what is called a "Live CD", that lets you run it off your DVD player, and if you like, you can select to launch install.

    Here is the link to the online I was referring to:
    tiny.cc/LinuxSelection

    I've tried a few. Settled on Mint. Then was unhappy with my laptop's autonomy and went to Ubuntu, but it was no better. Debian 5 which this is all derived from now supports clockspeed scaling, which will allow Linux laptops to finally get a better battery autonomy similar to under windows. So despair not... in aligning with Mint you'll eventually get the Debian5 implementations filter up and benefit your release as well.

    Also, you can visit the site distrowatch com as it has information on just about every Linux distribution under the sun. There's a link to the top-10 (which includes Ubuntu, but make sure you read up on Mint, and the pros and cons of the ones you consider. Some pros may not be pertinent to you, as some cons may not either (some stuff is more for advanced users interfacing with development) and you'll learn why you don't want Debian, but rather a derivative).

    Don't be afraid... with a fresh laptop, you don't have the same worries installing as someone with a laptop that has 30 gigs of their precious data on it. So go ahead, try the self-explanatory partition and install routine, and jsut try it out. In my case, to my surprise, I eventually forgot I had a windows partition and stopped booting windows altogether.

    Good luck, have fun.

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    Linux Newbie sarlacii's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger View Post
    The problem I have is I haven't bought a laptop yet because l'm trying to decide on specs because I've read a couple manuals on install linux as a second OS and all of them go into great detail on making sure for proper space for the three partitons I'll need to create.

    Any general amount of hd space I should be aiming for, and any other min specs I should aiming for?

    By the way, thanks for the advice, noobs like me would be lost without it.
    Hey there! Welcome... .

    Most new laptops will have HDD's more than big enough for what you want. I wouldn't get bogged down in the partition arguement for now... it's almost as bad as the arguement over which Linux distro is "best". LOL

    Something to rather consider is the compatibility of your laptop's hardware with Linux in general. Check for support for extra function keys, sound card, wifi etc. No good getting a laptop that has a peripheral that has limited driver support. Your experience will be ruined regardless of how you partition the drive.

    Check out sites like Linux on Laptops for info on support (and google it).

    Then pop back here for help on how to set it all up (including partitions)!

    Good luck.
    Last edited by sarlacii; 08-03-2009 at 08:48 PM. Reason: better wording...
    Respectfully... Sarlac II
    ~~
    The moving clock K' appears to K to run slow by the factor (1-v^2/c^2)^(1/2).
    This is the phenomenon of time dilation.
    The faster you run, the younger you look, to everyone but yourself.

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    Power Management developments in Debian5... _Ubuntu... Mint

    I think the user isn't quite ready for Linux-only, hence my advice on partitioning.
    We aren't disagreeing on anything here. Allow me to add, to my previous post, that I've noticed in Linux Mint that pretty much everything works out of the box. I went back to Ubuntu for a few days, and it reminded me why I had choses Mint in the first place, long ago: everything just works. All dependencies are taken care of, media playing works, everything. No question marks as to "why isn't this feature working".
    One thing however, is I've uncovered some third party utilities for Linux, to control power management, and as the previous post says, not all laptops will have good Linux support. Allow me to add that a good place to start is the manufacturer's own website, not google: in their search box, search for something like "linux drivers" or "linux support".
    I think IBM and a couple other large ones will have good support, with others lagging.
    Microsoft, Intel, Computer Makers live in symbiosis. MS only makes revenues if they help laptop manufacturers sell new laptops, creating every bigger operating systems that require ever more memory and speed, and more laptop sales mean new operating systems sales to those computer makers. I think for this reason, and that of the monopolistic licensing practices at MS, most manufacturers are probably lagging in support for Linux.

    HOWEVER, with the release of Debian5 that happenned at the end of July '09, there is processor clockspeed scaling incorporated into the operating system. This will filter up into Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Mint.

    In other words: if you get a laptop with standard, not obscure chipset (such as an Intel Centrino chipset), you are putting all your chances on your side to be able to benefit from these developments. You are pretty much CERTAIN that you'll get good power management on it.
    Unlike what I'm getting now, under Mint, Ubuntu, and other Linuxes I've tried, 20 minutes instead of 3.5 hours under Windows XP or Vista.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timmi View Post
    I think the user isn't quite ready for Linux-only,
    Yes, you're correct. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with Linux (know it sounds stupid) which is why I am leaning toward fedora (multi-purpose). I also am look at Ubuntu though. Any ideas?

    Also what does "free as in freedom" mean as oppossed to "free as in free"

    And thanks for all the help, I know I probably sound like the biggest newbie ever.

  10. #9
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    Good choices...
    bear in mind that Mint is a Ubuntu with more wrinkles worked out. Please consider it. If you go with anything built on Debian, Mint is the highest level of polish and troublefree you can go.

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    I've never tried Mint, but Ubuntu and Fedora have both been painless installs - even if a bit bloated (they are complete desktop distros afterall). I prefer Arch Linux myself, but have been running Ubuntu and Fedora on laptops for a while now.

    A quick note on battery power:
    *GNU/Linux is less battery efficient than Windows which has more power saving options available. Despite this, GNU/Linux can get decent life.*

    1. If you do not care about hibernate and have sufficient RAM you can completely forgo a swap partition. This will save some battery power - not a lot, but every minute counts.

    2. If you care to learn how, use a non-journalled ext3/ext4 filesystem or maybe use ext2.

    3. Again, if you care to learn, use a light-weight desktop environment. It would be akin to disabling Windows Vista Aero effects and such. It's less intensive and saves power.
    * An alternative would be to install Xbuntu. It is Ubuntu that comes with a light-weight desktop environment by default (XFCE - hence the X instead of U).*

    4. Install the 'powertop' program as it suggests powersaving tips after monitoring your computer.

    5. Don't give up! I've messed up more installs than I care to mention. Everytime I do, I learn something new and come to enjoy GNU/Linux just a little bit more.

    6. NVidia over ATI... that is all. :P

    === EDIT ===

    Also what does "free as in freedom" mean as oppossed to "free as in free"
    Free as in Freedom: You have the right to obtain, alter, redistrubute (with many checks first), ect. Think of artistic freedom.

    Free as in Free (Beer): Someone from Microsoft gives you a free copy of Office. It didn't cost you anything (other than your soul ), but they control HOW you can use it. You can't alter anything and you'll get sued if you redistrubute.

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