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  1. #1
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    CT, USA

    Getting my Feet Wet

    I have been a user of Windows my entire life.... I've seen everything from the horrors of M.E. to the unrecognizable stability of XP, but I've always been interested in the Linux OS. However, before I did something I might regret, I wanted to make sure that switching to Linux is actually the best move for me.

    I've read a lot of articles about this kind of stuff, but thought it best if I got the real opinions from the actual users of Linux. I suppose the most obvious question is what distribution should I start with? I want an OS that can perform vital functions like the use of a word processor for school work but something I can still customize and make my own.

    Also, I would like to voice some of my concerns. I have heard several drawbacks of Linux, and I just wanted to get them clarified so I know I have the full story. I've read in numerous "Stepping Into Linux" ariticles that Linux is very useful for productivity purposes, but installing a printer is very difficult. I currently own a Lexmark X125, so I would like to make sure the OS has drivers for that printer before I go ahead and install it, unless someone knows of a way to install it on Linux from an .exe because I have the Lexmark CD.

    Another thing I heard was difficult was installing programs. Now, as far as I understand, in Linux the equivilent to .exe's are .rpm's. Is this correct, because if so I think I'll be fine with installing apps onto my PC, or Box. Also, I cannot to the internet via a Linksys Wireless USB adapter. Will Linux know how to install that on my computer? Is it even compatible?

    The last and most important part of the distribution I need is the graphical interface. I know a lot of people who are really good at Linux prefer to use the command prompt, but I think I want to make this transition very slowly, so it would be imperative that the distribution be running some sort of GUI.

    Thanks for all your help, and I hope this Linux experience will work out for me.

  2. #2
    Linux Newbie
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Boston, MA
    Welcome to the wonder of Linux; I think I speak for the entire Forum when I say I'm confident you'll soon be changing your avatar to something less Windows-ambivalent.

    Now, as far as which distro to choose; you need the basic school functions like word processing, Internet research, and playing illegally downloaded mp3s, right? (For the record, just kidding about that last part. Downloading music is bad, 'mkay?) Well, whatever you want to do, chances are somebody's written an application that does it. For example, for word processing, the most popular and well-supported bundle is probably the suite. It's all open source and available free of charge. You can read all about it on their webpage.

    When it comes to customization, Linux beats Windows hands down. Since it is all open source and arranged in a very modular fashion, you can edit whatever part of a software package or the OS itself you want, while leaving the rest intact. Most GUI packages have easy-to-use desktop configuration utilities built in, and if you want to do something thats not offered by the utilities, all you usually have to have is a little knowledge of bash and a little perseverence to customize your desktop. Compare this to Windows, where if you wanted to, say, make the taskbar transparent, you'd have to get a job at Microsoft and compile the whole operating system from scratch. Hands down, no?

    Slightly bad news about your printer though: it appears there aren't yet drivers available in Linux for the built-in scanner or fax, but there is a driver for the printer. Now odds are, somebody will eventually take the initiative to code those drivers, but until then I don't know what to tell you. Many printers are compatible with Linux, as you can probably tell by reviewing that site, but yours isn't entirely. It's unfortunate.

    Installing programs in Linux can be easy or hard, depending on how you do it. Most distros come with a utility to automatically download and install software packages in one line, which is sweet when your package is in their database (usually). Redhat/Fedora, Mandrake, Debian, Gentoo, and Slackware all come with a feature like this, and others may too. When your desired program is not in the database, you can usually find an rpm for it online, which you can just download to your home directory and install by typing
    rpm -i happynoodles.rpm
    However, rpm doesn't automatically download the packages on which your program depends (to my knowledge), so it's a bit harder to install RPMs than files on your distro's package database. And finally, in the worst case scenario, which is still not that bad, you may have to compile a package from source. Now usually this process can be summed up in 5 easy lines:
    tar xzvf yourfile.tar.gz
    cd yourfile
    make install
    but sometimes it's harder. Don't let all this scare you though -- in most cases, a simple "yum yourfile" or "apt-get install yourfile" will suffice to install and set it up completely.

    Your Linksys wireless router is almost definitely supported by Linux. Linksys products have excellent Linux support.

    And as far as getting a GUI: Any distro worth its size in random bits can run XFree86, the standard GUI for UNIX and UNIX-like systems. It's a great and well-supported desktop, and some distros even come with it pre-installed!

    So, if you're looking for ease of use and newbie-friendliness, you should probably go for Mandrake, SuSE, or Redhat/Fedora. If you're looking for sheer power and don't mind getting your hands dirty, you should go for Slackware, Debian, or Gentoo. Of course, there's more to it than that, and is a superb resource for making your decision. Good luck, and I hope you come to embrace the grace and power of the majestic penguin!

    Whew, that was a mouthful.
    Situations arise because of the weather,
    And no kinds of love are better than others.

  3. #3
    I would suggest starting out with Redhat. Its the "industry standard" linux right now (i'm sure many will disagree, but, thats your opinion ) and this makes it both user-friendly, and supported.

    Now, instead of getting ISOs and burning them, i suggest buying a copy of Redhat, or which ever distro you want, and getting support. It will pay off in the end. Although there are lots and lots of great sites out there (like this one) to get help when you need it, sometimes, you just cant wait to get help, and its nice having a tech support line to call.

    Redhat also has IMO, the easiest package managment system .RPM, In most cases, its just as simple as rpm -i keekles.rpm (as dan@george) said. Other systems PkMS are good, but require a little more knowledge of linux, and the software your installing.

    Thats all i have to say...

    Good luck with Linux.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux Guru kkubasik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Lat: 39:03:51N Lon: 77:14:37W
    Yeah, most will disagree with the redhat thing, but one of the key parts of the open source movemnt is chioce, we shouldnt be forced to use something that we dont like. is a gret site to compare distros from an objective source and can be an invaluble tool in deciding on a distro. GUI's are abundant in Linux, but the rulers are KDE and Gnome. People will disscuss ad nausem the pros and cons of each, but as ive found it, KDE has a more 'windows like' feel to it, where Gnome is mroe your unix geek, functional. Like dan said, openoffice is all wordproccessing and that sort you will need(and it is compatable with all of microsofts file formats .doc etc, there are also windows emulators that will alow you to run a variety of windows programs. Ive actuly found that installing in linux can be much easer than windows if you get an automated installer (no trip to the store!, and about 3 hours less work to pay for the program) it depends hevaly on the distro you choosw, but here are a few common ones

    Mandrake Linux-urpmi
    Redhat/Fedora(the Opensource branch of redhat)-yum
    debian- apt-get

    Personaly, I use all network printers, and i have yet to have a problem printing, but its different for everyone. One of the greates advantages of linux is security, in windows, spyware is everything, linux, spyware is like gnats to MACK trucks, its just not a problem, they dont operate in a linux system.
    If you want to give one a whirl before commiting, try knoppix, you can boot it from CD, and try out the GUI and a few other apps without installing anythign on your drive.

    Finaly, comunity support for linux is incredable, just look at the forums here and at and other places, they are gneraly helpful, and very active.
    Avoid the Gates of Hell. Use Linux
    A Penny for your Thoughts

    Formerly Known as qub333

  6. #5
    Linux User Oxygen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Hartlepool, England
    yeah i disagree

    redhat isnt being worked on anymore its STOPED DEVELOPMENT

    use Fedora Core 2, thats basicly what some people continued working on once redhat stoped
    Graham - You'd better Use Linux!

    I'm registerd Linux user #397030. What about you?

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