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alternative OS

juliasdream
Grafter
Posts: 260
Registered: 09-06-2007

alternative OS

I'm quite happy using XP but would like to try out Linux
I was wondering if theres a way to run it from an external hard drive and having the choice
Is it possible?
Has anyone made the experience?
28 REPLIES
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 5,267
Thanks: 573
Fixes: 5
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: alternative OS

If you get version of Ubuntu, you can run it straight from the CD without installing it to try it out.
Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 2,875
Thanks: 576
Fixes: 5
Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: alternative OS

I've run linux from CD before now.  I even modified the image before burning the cd, so that it was running a webserver with mysql with a site I develop ready to go.  We where demoing it at a school in a room where we wouldn't have internet access.  It worked a treat.  I'm sure similar things will work with usb hard drives and pen drives if you bios will support booting from the devices.
Phil
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: alternative OS

pclinuxos was designed to make the transition from windows to linux as painless as possible.  it comes as a livecd.  livecds allow you to run the operating system from your cdrom drive, without altering your existing system in any way.  you can see what the os looks like, whether or not it picks up all your hardware and how it feels compared to what you're used to.  if you have enough ram, you can use the copy2ram feature and it will then run much faster.
it needs to be borne in mind that there is a learning curve.  it takes the average migrant six months to become truly comfortable with linux, to the extent that they no longer boot windows.
dual-boot with windows is recommended as this gives the user a 'safety blanket' for those tasks the user has yet to learn in linux.
the best approach is to visit several linux forums, pclinuxos.com, ubuntu, suse, mandriva, and others, read what the members are saying, see what issues crop up and look at lots of screenshots to see which of the many  distributions grabs your fancy.
when you're ready to take the plunge, look for the downloadable .iso of the distribution of your choice and burn it as an 'image' to cd/dvd.  rewritable media are good for this as you can overwrite them.
google will help in your search.
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: alternative OS

I would second Ubuntu.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,985
Thanks: 5
Fixes: 3
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: alternative OS

and I would 3rd it!!!... Used SUSE 10.2 and ubuntu, and ubuntu appears more user friendly to the novice.
Computer shopper usually have some form of linux on their cover DVDs
alanb
Grafter
Posts: 459
Registered: 24-05-2007

Re: alternative OS

Quote from: penfold
and I would 3rd it!!!... Used SUSE 10.2 and ubuntu, and ubuntu appears more user friendly to the novice.
Computer shopper usually have some form of linux on their cover DVDs

I agree. If you have a laptop computer, Suse is an especially good choice. But Ubuntu is a really good all-rounder with masses of online documentation available via the Ubuntu support forums.
Juliasdream - unlike Windows, which has just one desktop environment with lots of different decorations, Linux offers dozens of different desktops. Make sure that you try more than one. At minimum Gnome and KDE. You can install more than one and switch between them each time you log-in to your computer
Prod_Man
Grafter
Posts: 286
Registered: 04-08-2007

Re: alternative OS

SuSE is the better in my opinion, I'm sure there will be those who disagree...
SuSE has the least faff arounds for me as a desktop user after having tried the likes of:
Debian, Gentoo, RedHat, CentOS, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, NetBSD and all sorts of Micro Distros for USB Pens and Live CD's.
I settled on SuSE when I downloaded Version 10 after in 5 CD's (i386) after previously using 9.1 Personal on a PII Laptop which was running very well. I found SuSE a joy to use, and clicked with me naturally for using a Linux OS, it has and does everything thay I expect.
I never liked KDE myself, some like it's organisation of the Menus, but I think it's far too bloated and have stuck with Gnome and lighter Window Managers such as XFCE and FluxBox (on a NetBSD box).
Not everything has a Linux equivilant - I am thinking primarily in Games, and some utilities which are Commercial and aimed at Windows only.
but Linux doesn't do all bad in Emulation of native Windows applications, nor too bad in its own equivilants of Commercial software...
it just depends what the Windows program utilises, just copy over necessary DLL's and Fonts into your "Wine" folder,
and you can play the likes of Steam games in OpenGL mode, almost as good as it is on Windows with "wine".
At the end of the day, it depends what you want to do with your Computer, note down what you want,
check weather there is an equivilant or way of doing it on Linux and find which Distro does it for you.
Keep it a Dual Boot machine, I find it particularly useful from time to time when needing to upload native linux binaries for running the Games Servers.
Jim,
naps
Newbie
Posts: 4
Registered: 22-11-2007

Re: alternative OS

I use Ubuntu. Some thoughts; Linux has evolved tremendously in the last few years from a desktop user perspective. I like Ubuntu because of its support (hardware support is as good as any other distro I would guess, long term security updates and it is relatively easy to get advice as it is quite mainstream now). Ubuntu has what they call WUBI, which lets you install it as a program to run under Windows (I understand) if you just want to try it out.
But there are now other (exciting) alternatives. Current (June) edition of Custom PC describes setting up a "virtual Ubuntu Linux Machine) running under Windows. "It's seperate from the host machine so anything that goes wrong won't affect your main OS.....If you don't like it, you can just delete the virtual hard drive image". They rate tis on the bottom rung on their ladder of difficulty and they certainly make it look easy (pages 100 &101).
If you are into experiencing different distros of Linux you needn't stick with Ubuntu if you go down this route. One that you might look at is Linux Mint in its latest version (Daryna). It is derived from Ubuntu (or perhaps Debian from which Ubuntu came) but apparently include most proprietary stuff that you might need (unlike Ubuntu). It has an even easier installation method than Ubuntu for new software (I haven't tried it myself)
As the SuSE command prompt that you had to drop to when in trouble used to say "Have a lot of fun". Wink




0
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,976
Thanks: 265
Fixes: 11
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: alternative OS

For my first proper install of Ubuntu, I added an extra disk (actually an external SCSI disk) - but anything that is decently quick would be fine.
During the install, I was careful to put the linux boot loader on the new disk.
I then amended the Windows boot loader to give me a choice of Windows or Linux. (A chained boot).
All this was totally unnecessary - but super-safe.
I never use Windows any more - but it still lurks in the guts of an old PC.

Prod_Man
Grafter
Posts: 286
Registered: 04-08-2007

Re: alternative OS

Quote from: naps
Ubuntu has what they call WUBI, which lets you install it as a program to run under Windows (I understand) if you just want to try it out.

Yeah, or alternatively setup QEMU, Download your Ubuntu ISO, create the Batch File and away you go - just it will be pretty slow on the Graphical Front, as it can't utilise the CPU to the full nor Graphics as such.
Quote from: naps
As the SuSE command prompt that you had to drop to when in trouble used to say "Have a lot of fun". Wink

It still does if you execute a new session of BASH / Login ;-)
@axisofevil: I think that was super-sensible to make sure the MBR, Boot Sector etc was put in the right place Roll eyes
Jim,
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,976
Thanks: 265
Fixes: 11
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: alternative OS

Quote from: Prod_Man
@axisofevil: I think that was super-sensible to make sure the MBR, Boot Sector etc was put in the right place Roll eyes

Well since the PC in question is a Triple-boot Windows 98/Windows NT/Linux setup I'm faced with two choices:-
a) Carry on running the bits of Windows (just so I can switch to the Linux bootloader)
b) Re-Install Linux after switching the external drive back into the case (the PC has a primitive BIOS).
I will probably have to replace it soon - latest Linux upgrade is a bit slow (only 384MB main memory) - it doesn't do too badly for an 8 year old PC!

Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 5,267
Thanks: 573
Fixes: 5
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: alternative OS

None of the processes you guys are describing is particularly easy for a new to linux user though.  So many assumptions!
Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
naps
Newbie
Posts: 4
Registered: 22-11-2007

Re: alternative OS

Quote from: Kelly
None of the processes you guys are describing is particularly easy for a new to linux user though. 

Yes this post was bound to get opinions flowing.. like others I thought "hey I know something here"! Choices are something that ironically puts people off Linux...
Perhaps the Original Poster might say what he (or she) would like to do? Just try Linux? Build a serious stand-alone installation? Put some old equipment to use?
If we haven't scared him/her off ...
Not applicable

Re: alternative OS

Kelly is exactly right. All the terminology above is interesting but beyond me!
For some time I have been wondering if I should have a go with Linux but it has to be simple. I therefore checked on the Dell site which retails a basic laptop with Ubuntu for just short of £300 but I would really like to spend a bit less than that in case I don't like it.
I only use my computer for basic things so don't want anything over the top.
The questions that I have are:
Anti-virus, spyware and firewall requirements
Updates
Does it require cleaning up temp files etc like Windows?
Will my Epson DX3850 all-in-one work?
How easy is it to set up wirelessly (I use a Linksys router)?
Would I need to use Open Office?
I know that I could trawl the forums for information but I am certain that you experts can handle this in seconds.
Undecided