Switching to Linux??

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Jeff 152, Jun 17, 2008.

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  1. Jeff 152 Registered Senior Member

    I am running Windows XP and I am always hearing how Linux is so much better than Windows or OSX, so I downloaded a boot cd of Linux Ubuntu.

    So now when the CD is in I can choose to boot into Ubuntu without installing it, which is nice. I have been playing around in it, and while I havent really noticed a difference like performance-wise or anything, it is supposedly more secure and not prone to spyware or viruses. So I figure it may be worth installing and becoming my primary OS. Any thoughts? I don't really have any special needs or need heavy niche stuff like pictures or gaming--I am a college student and I use my laptop mainly just for browsing and office applications.

    Now if I choose to install it, I can either partition the hard drive and have a dual boot or wipe it clean and just have Linux. I definielty want to do the former and keep XP. But I don't know anything about partitioning the hard drive.

    First, is it safe? I don't really have a way to backup all of my files--I only have a 512 MB flash drive so I have backed up my really important documents. How often does doing these kind of things erase the drive? Is it even worth it?

    Will I be able to access my files and stuff saved on XP while on Ubuntu and vice versa?

    Anyone else have anything to add on the topic? I think I may wait to experiment towards the conceivable end of my laptop's life, since I will probabaly get a new one in a year or two because this one now is extremely basic and bare and lacking in many ways. That way I can destroy it no biggie.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    It's never 100% safe to start playing with drive partitions, especially if you're not sure what you're doing. Do you have a CD or DVD drive that can burn discs? If so, you should be able to back up all your documents and things without too much trouble.

    Having said that, the Ubuntu installer is pretty smart. Just make sure after you click "Install" and it asks you about partitioning that you don't click "Use whole drive". And whatever you do, do not agree to formatting of the Windows partition!

    Ubuntu needs a minimum of about 3GB for the system, but that won't leave you much room for anything else. I'd suggest at least 10GB for Linux, and probably more, especially if you have a lot of free space on your drive. But, if you're going to keep using Windows, make sure you don't take away all of Windows' drive space, or it won't even run.

    Ubuntu will be able to access all your Windows data files (although it won't run windows applications). Windows, on the other hand, won't know anything about the Linux partition on your drive - it will act as if Linux doesn't even exist, and it won't be able to access anything in the Linux partition.
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  5. Jeff 152 Registered Senior Member

    Oh ya, cds would be a good idea. Im using only about 20 gigs on this computer right now, and most of that is probably the OS and music that I can easily acquire again.

    But I don't like how windows won't be able to access any files I save in Linux. Hmm, I guess I am just not committed enough to Linux to make it that independent. I was kind of imaganing freely switching between the two.

    I think I will just wait to get a new laptop and then make this one a Linux laptop to mess around with.

    Thanks for your help though
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  7. grazzhoppa yawwn Valued Senior Member

    Every time I encounter this question I usually don't reply, but you're situation seems pretty clear cut from the info you've given.

    Don't go to Ubuntu just to try it. It's an OS - it does the same things Windows does. You already have a working system, why abandon it? You can surf the internet and do word proccessing on Windows XP just as well as on Ubuntu without the problems of setting up Flash and Java.

    Do you find pleasure in exploring computer software in your free time? Then Ubuntu might be for you, and you're a geek. Otherwise, stick with what you know.

    Programs you will be using when switching to Ubuntu are available on Windows as well.
    Open Office for word processing, spreadsheet, and slide shows.
    Firefox or Opera for internet browsing.
    Thunderbird for email management.

    Is it safe to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows XP? No.
    In the past there have been updates that change the bootloader that may erase the Windows XP option. Aftering encountering this, to be able to boot into Windows, you will have to search the internet, find other people who have the same problem, and do critical actions to your Ubuntu system files.

    Ubuntu has notorious problems with laptop support. Laptops often have specialized chips and configurations that Ubuntu developers ignore because it's too tedious to support all those configs. Search around to see other people's experience with your laptop model and Ubuntu before installing it to the harddrive.

    Ubuntu is more secure than Windows because things are denied from happening by default. This means you have to allow access for many things you normally think should be allowed to run normally. That in turn means learning how to use Ubuntu is a pain in the ass.
    You will also have to learn how to use a command line and linux commands. YES, you must learn a 40 year old UI that requires command memorization and unforgiving precision in your syntax and spelling.

    There will be constant updates to programs, at most a few each day. If you ignore them they will pile up and make discerning "important" updates frustrating. Because of the volume of updates sent your way, there are always some that produce problems, from small issues to breaking functionality.

    Unlike Microsoft's updates, updates in the linux world aren't usually "critical" to stability or security. Ubuntu releases major updates based on a fixed time schedule - they release stuff even when it's not been tested to satisfaction.
    Updates don't mean better software in the linux world. Get used to that.

    Ubuntu has more bloatware than Windows ever had. There will be programs and services that you will never need put onto your system by default.

    I wrote this based on your situation and the information you have shared.
  8. Jeff 152 Registered Senior Member

    I guess I never really thought of all that. I definitely dont want any serious undertaking or learn anything majorly new. i basically just wanted to play around, but it sounds like it would not be worth it at all. I already have a pretty non-microsoft computer--I use Opera, Firefox, OpenOffice, Thunderbird, have a nontypical skin and desktop with rocketdock and other such applications. I have enjoyed all of these programs more than the windows ones so i figured with a new OS eveything might be better but realy I have no complaints about XP so i would be trying to fix a problem that wasnt there. I dont have any poblems with viruses or losing data or XP being bloated or anything like that, so Linux wouldnt really solve anything

    well thanks for your help, i wont be switching over unless after i get a new laptop i just want to mess around.
  9. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

    I would not recomment switching from XP to anything. XP imo is the most stable OS out there. I don't have experience with Leopard, but I can say that every Linux I have dealt with has had one glitch or another.

    In the past, Macs used to be the thing to get for power computing because Windows based PCs simply could not compete with Mac hardware. In the past few years, Macs have had no hardware advantages over PCs. The only differences between Macs and PCs would be in the OS. XP has been out for so many years that it has grown into a nice stable OS. No more need to dish out for a Mac computer which really had no significant benefit over a PC in terms of hardware and OS.

    As for the various Linux distributions, I have never come accross a Linux OS that did not give me some sort of problem. People that use Linux don't seem to consider repeated troublshooting to be a problem as long as the problem can be solved. In the years since XP has been out, I have never had it crash on me to the point that I could not fix it without resintalling the OS (unless it was a hardware problem).

    I did some graphics driver tweaking with Ubuntu that caused my system to crash completely. No way to access the OS, no safe mode, no nothing. The only way was to insert the CD OS, and resintall Ubuntu from scratch. I cannot forsee a typical PC user dealing with all of the problems linux distributions cause. As much as a jackass Bill Gates is, and as crooked as Microsoft is for their unethical tyranny over source code, XP imo will give you the least amount of troublshooting.

    There is alot of screwed up software out there as well as viruses that could cause problems for XP, but as long as you have good security running, I have seen little to cause XP to go haywire.
  10. DeepThought Banned Banned

    When I first sampled RedHat a few years ago it was an endless pain. Nothing worked, every problem required the kernel to be recompiled. It took me two weeks to get it online, which I felt was a huge achievement at the time. But the whole OS was too much bother for day to day stuff, so I stayed with XP.

    Ubuntu, however, have really cracked it with Gutsy. I bought a refurbed IBM T40 and did a clean install. Everything s worked out of the box, even my wireless router.

    Not a peep out of the OS, compared to the mountain of problems accumulated under XP, and the themes far surpass windows (Beryl is quite something).

  11. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

    I'd agree about Beryl. Ubuntu has eye candy advantages over XP. However, I'd like to know what you use your Ubuntu for. I would say a typical user would be using MS Office, filesharing, internet browsing, and various media types. In my experience, Open Office is a very frustrating word processor and spread sheet for me. I find it much easier to use Word and Excel 2003. In terms of filesharing, I don't have experience on Linux. However, I have had a hard time playing various file formats that work perfectly on XP as long as the lates megacodecpack is installed. As for firefox vs IE, I don't use FF because it simply won't display some web pages. With FF, I seldom experience an intabilty to load webpage content. With IE however, I have never encountered a problem with webpage content.
  12. DeepThought Banned Banned


    So far I've used it for browsing, file sharing and watching movies. Pretty much what you said. I haven't used Open Office yet but will need to over the coming weeks. I use VLC Media Player which is available for Linux and which plays most file formats, I used that on XP though so no change there (that's one of the best bits of software I've come across).

    I'm getting good download speeds on file shares, Bittornado is a lean and efficient client, and the machine is invisible on the net even with the router set to DMZ, which is what I would expect anyway.

    My big problem with XP was IE. The browser became clogged with hijacker software and nothing would remove it, not even fine cleaning the registry. Firefox crashed repeatedly as a result of Macromedia errors and Opera, well, that's just a pile of sh*t anyway.

    All these very irritating problems have gone away with Ubuntu. However, I haven't attached my printer, scanner or digi camera to Ubuntu yet.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2008
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