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alternative OS

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Aspiring Hero
Posts: 12,476
Thanks: 598
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-09-2007

Re: alternative OS

If the live distro from CD connects wirelessly then wireless connection is trivial.
It all depends on the chipset in your wireless card.
You don't need any anti-virus unless you are also connected to Windows PC's.
Linux contains it's own firewall and you could configure it in special ways - but the default is normally aceptable.
You don't defrag or  empty temporary files.
Updates - are automated.
Open Office is your best option - although other (similar) packages are available.
It's always a good idea to check hardware compatibility.
As for your MFD, it should certainly work as a printer - but not sure if it will also work as a scanner. You will need to research this.
In general (unless you are paying for special software) you download from a central repository of free software supplied with your distro.
I have access to over 24,000 packages - but have only 2,000 installed (nearly all the basic distro) ones.

"In The Beginning Was The Word, And The Word Was Aardvark."

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Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: ‎11-08-2007

Re: alternative OS

juliasdream, yes, you can install to external hard drive.  you need to make sure that your bios supports booting from usb.  you also need to take care to install the bootloader to the mbr of the usb drive and NOT the internal drive.
this method will allow you to boot the externally installed os on any computer that will boot usb.  you may have to fiddle with settings on different hardware if booted on a machine different from the one used for the installation.
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Dabbler
Posts: 46
Registered: ‎12-06-2007

Re: alternative OS

Quote from: poppy
Kelly is exactly right. All the terminology above is interesting but beyond me!

I would recommend that if you want to try Linux for the first time, you use a non-destructive LiveCD on your existing Windows PC that has been mentioned here, or, better still,  actually get hold of a cheap/old/redundant PC or Laptop and install it on there.
If you don't really know what you're doing then you risk breaking your existing Windows PC which will not be great news for you.
The Linux installation process is a whole lot easier that it used to be. I remember installing Linux for the first time back in 1997 (Slackware version 3.2 if I remember correctly) and it took the best part of 2 weeks to get so far as a command prompt; actually getting the X-Windows system up and running took many more weeks Smiley
The best way to learn how it all works is through trial and error; as such, be prepared to wipe your hard drive several times along the way Smiley
Matt Grest
Head of Future Development
PlusNet
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Grafter
Posts: 1,733
Registered: ‎31-07-2007

Re: alternative OS

Linux installations are pretty good these days. As long as you stick to the major distributions they will install as a dual boot alongside Windows, or to an external drive, with minimal risk of damaging your Windows installation. As with any major change, though, you should make a good backup beforehand.
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Grafter
Posts: 543
Registered: ‎30-09-2007

Re: alternative OS

As Matt says, there's at least 3 options and I'm sure many more permutations for you to try Linux and see if it fits your needs:

  • LiveCD/DVD: like e.g. Knoppix.  If you like it some, then you can shrink your MSWindows partition using e.g. Gparted LiveCD and create a Swap partition and a permanent home partition on your drive so that your desktop, etc., settings persist between reboots.  If you really like it a lot then it's a small step to install it permanently on the hard drive and dual boot with MSWindows thereafter.  Of course, you don't have to touch your hard drive at all.  You can use a USB stick for your permanent /home files and settings.

  • Full install on the hard drive:  Here you go for the full monty after you shrink your MSWindows partition as described above.

  • Virtual Machine:  This involves installing VirtualBox, or VMWare, or any other virtual machine application on your original MSWindows OS and then installing any number of Linux distributions within it.  If you don't like one of them you delete its virtual image file and create another one.  If you decide you don't like Linux at all you delete the virtual image files, uninstall the virtual machine and you're back where you started.  This is rather more complicated than the other two options above, but it may be something you want to consider as it does not interfere with your partitions or the MBR.

Linux has a learning curve, although many newer distributions have gone out of their way to help the migration from MSWindows.  Google is your friend for all things Linux and so's the forums, Mailing Lists, and IRC channels  of your chosen distribution to help you in your first steps.  Also, you may want to have a look at Distrowatch, which regularly reviews the latest and greatest.
Good luck.  Smiley
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Community Veteran
Posts: 1,268
Thanks: 10
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: alternative OS

One of the lovely things about Linux is that for the cost of a 20p cd and a bit of bandwidth, you can have a lot of geeky fun.
I suggest you try Puppy Linux .
It allows you to boot and run from a CD (i.e. it's a "live cd") but also allows you to save your session to an "image" file on your XP filesystem (or any local drive including USB stick), so that next time you boot from CD all your settings and files are saved. It's a cheerful little distro that runs extremely quickly (in RAM) and still manages to have lots of "stuff" to play with.
It doesn't pack the punch of or look as slick as bigger distros like the *buntus and Debians of this world, but then it isn't slow and klunky either when running from CD or DVD.
I've installed (literally) dozens of Linuxes (?Linuxi) and keep coming back to Puppy
If you grow to like it you can then install more fully to co-exist with your XP, or install it to hard disk as a replacement OS.
Link: http://www.puppylinux.org/downloads
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Grafter
Posts: 235
Registered: ‎09-05-2008

Re: alternative OS

As for Anti-Virus software the one I have always used and recommend is F-Prot (http://www.f-prot.com) and guess what, the Linux version is free for personal use, there is a small charge for the Windows version.
pd
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Grafter
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎24-06-2008

Re: alternative OS

Hi all,
Saw this thread and just could not resist putting in my ten pence worth.
To anybody wishing to try out Linux I would suggest (as stated a few times in the thread)  using a LiveCD, a good LiveCD will not 'mount' your hard disk by default - inotherwords you would have to go out of your way to damage your hard drive. LiveCD's also allow you to try the Myriad of different 'distro's' available.
The word 'Distro' refers to a distribution (or type) of Linux. there are community based distros, distros that comply with the free software foundation's principle of free software then the flipside of corporate distros, and even corporate funded community distros. so there is something for everyone in all areas of life.
A good resource for the ever growing list of distributions is www.distrowatch.com
I personally use no form of windows on any of my PC's having now switched to Linux 100% and have done so for the past 2 years.
One of the strongest benefits of Linux is that there are no Linux viruses 'in the wild' and the ones that have/do exist tend to have very specific purposes (ie of no threat to the desktop user), the only real threats to a Linux environment are rootkits (and you would have to give that permission to install), and potentially that which sits between seat and keyboard Wink
After all the above I have yet to suggest a type of Linux to use. well choosing a Linux variant is a matter of finding what works for you, all the distributions available have differences some are more different than others, try looking at the LiveCD selection's or if you have the likes of VMware or Vbox installed on your Windows box and you have the ram to do so, virtualise.
If you do try a distro of Linux and decide to install, make sure you back up all that personal information and data you have on the machine - just in case - and if using Vista make sure you use Vista's own partitioning software to make room for it on the hard drive.
The distro I find works best for me is PCLinuxOS details here: www.pclinuxos.com and the community forums here http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=26 there is a wikki and a series of irc channels (I can be found on the #pclinuxos-fixme channel )
Should you need any further information take a look at the forums of the distro you choose to try.
I hope this helps
Jase
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Grafter
Posts: 734
Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: alternative OS

I'm intrigued as to why you're advising the use of Vista's partitioning software.
Regards .....
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Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: ‎18-07-2007

Re: alternative OS

Quote
I'm intrigued as to why you're advising the use of Vista's partitioning software.

Why not? If you're already using Vista it's there, it works, it means you don't need to install any other third party apps and more importantly it means you're not doing something that could potentially break your windows installation from within a new operating system that you don't know anything about.
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Grafter
Posts: 734
Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: alternative OS

From what little bit of experience I've had with Vista, I get the impression that its partitioning software is a bit limited but I could be completely wrong about that.
Regards .....
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Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: ‎11-08-2007

Re: alternative OS

people have reported serious problems if they attempt to repartition in any way but with vista's tool.  it probably falls into the same category as why microsoft invented ntfs, not as a better, more secure filesystem, but a way to inconvenience linux users.
there are reports of bios restrictions on some machines where people have tried to install linux over vista.  it has something to do with the so-called 'trusted computing platform' that seeks to lock users to a particular operating system.
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Aspiring Hero
Posts: 12,476
Thanks: 598
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-09-2007

Re: alternative OS

Linux is quite capable of repartioning (including NTFS).
What kind of PC has the defective BIOS that tries to foist a particular OS on the user?
That sounds like an invitation to repartion using fdisk.

"In The Beginning Was The Word, And The Word Was Aardvark."

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Grafter
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎24-06-2008

Re: alternative OS

Quote from: road
I'm intrigued as to why you're advising the use of Vista's partitioning software.
Regards .....

As hinted at above, when Microsoft released Vista they changed the NTFS file system, and because it is closed source the paramertes/specifications that were changed are non-too-clear. Vista doees have the tools required to release some space on the hard drive - its not a true partioner afaik - although it will not release a huge percentage of it (the maximum result  get when setting up other people machines to duel boot is about 35% or so).
linux has some of the best pationing tools out there - and there is a great LiveCD called 'partedmagic' - but great as the tools may be  If for you were to try to repartition using either drakdisk,gparted,qparted,parted,cfdisk or fdisk  you would end up getting a corrupted ntfs/windows install, you could of course wipe the disk re-partition install Linux then install windows, although there are minimum requirements for the size of the ntfs partition so that Vista is happy- although that can get problematic due to potential Vista/Bios interactions that may( or maynot) be designed to prevent that (iirc part of the 'trusted computing' messiness), its far easier (if dual booting) to allow Vista to give you the amount of space it 'allows' you. or to invest in a second dedicated hard drive.
Quote from: axisofevil
Linux is quite capable of repartioning (including NTFS).
What kind of PC has the defective BIOS that tries to foist a particular OS on the user?
That sounds like an invitation to repartion using fdisk.


Yes it would be tempting, unfortunately many PC's now are on there way to complying with that 'trusted computing platform' (or as I call it ' how we are gonna control what you use and do on your computer by locking out all other possibilities')
there is a project at the FSF called 'free bios' http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/free-bios.html that may well become very useful.
Regards
Jase