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Several Basic Linux Questions


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#1 333nnn

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 05:35 PM

Compaq Presario 5000 Model 5BW220, built 7/19/00, 15G master drive, 40G slave drive, 630 MHz Intel Celeron processor, 512MB RAM, Compaq 06C0 motherboard


I want to switch over to Linux from my current XP o/s. My understanding of computers is basic, so I have several simple questions. How much faster will Linux be for my system? Currently XP runs very slowly on my computer. Can I use the same programs I have now when many of them are particular to XP? Will I be able to download stuff faster? Will videos on dvds or on youtube play smoother; they don't play smoothly now on my computer. I'm having many o/s problems (pop-ups, computer runs slowly, hard drive running all the time, etc.). Will many of these be eliminated if I switch to Linux? Which Linux distro or whatever would be best for my configuration and most resemble Windows? After installing Linux can I then just delete XP? How many Gigs of HD space does Linux take up? Thanks for any replies.

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#2 BlackSpyder

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 06:51 PM

It depends on which distro you chose to answer all of your questions. try live cds Like DSL, (X/K)Ubuntu, and many more. Just check out www.distrowatch.com to find a live Cd you may like.

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#3 Specmon

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 11:13 PM

Trying a live CD is the best way to start. Firstly, not every machine will run Linux, especially older ones as the hardware drivers have mostly been "reverse engineered" by some person dedicated to Linux. Hardware compatibility is getting better, but we try to avoid "bleeding edge" new stuff, as it takes a while before the manufacturer releases Linux drivers, or someone gets around to writing drivers.

But most machines have no trouble at all, so don't be afraid to try.

A Live CD is a Linux that runs from the CD. There is no install unless you decide you want to, using the OS from a Live CD won't cause anything to be written to your hard drive, unless you purposely do so. So you can't hurt your machine or it's previously installed OS by trying it.

(All these Linux CD's that you download come as ".ISO images" They can't just be copied to a CD, you need to tell your burning software that you want to "Burn an Image." The ISO image is like a Zip file. Or an "archive." Burning the "image" involves the software (say Nero?) "opening the archive and placing it properly on the CD so it boots properly. Simple step, but very frequently overlooked)

One thing to remember while using a Live CD is that it will run much slower than if it were installed to your hard drive, as any programs you "run" are decompressed and "run" from the CD and you are limited to the read speed of your CD, which is much slower than your hard drive.

But at least you can take a look safely, with no permanent changes to your machine.

Here's a link that shows you tons of Live CD distributions of various flavors of Linux:
Live CD's

Can't go wrong with Ubuntu, it is taking the world by storm these days, and if you choose Ubuntu, the support forums are abundant.

I personally like PCLos, which is derived from Mandriva, which I also recommend. If you look at the list, SLAX seems to be the favorite, but I've not tried it and have no opinion.

Linux will run faster on your machine than XP, just because its designed to better use what hardware is available on your machine. But your XP running slow sounds like it might just be bogged down with adware, spyware, maybe malware and other nasties that steal your CPU cycles and hard drive use for their own purposes. Various free programs can clean it up, but nothing beats a clean install of XP to fix all those problems, then use the right free programs to prevent reoccurrence.

For the most part, the programs that you now use with WinXP won't run on Linux, but you'll find that there are usually at least two or more free Linux programs written to do the same thing, often doing it better. You find these programs by asking in Linux forums or googling "Linux equivalent programs" and the like.

You won't be able to download things faster, that is dependent on your ISP's package you are buying, not the operating system you are using.

Videos, DVD's and youtube things will work on Linux, although some distros get snotty about letting you play DVD's because of copyright stuff. but work arounds are easy to come by. Ubuntu I think is easier than some in this regard.

After you install Linux and are comfortable you "could" delete windows, but likely there will be an application or two that make keeping XP around worth the space on the hard drive. Especially if you are into gaming, as this is still Linux's weak spot. But if you clean up or reinstall XP, keep it. You (most likely) paid for it.

As far as space for Linux, when you install Linux you have to create a couple new partitions, (use the "custom partitioning" option when doing your install. You'll see your windows partitions there, and you can avoid overwriting them. If you just let the installer run, often it assumes you mean to use the entire hard drive, and it will overwrite your windows. Custom partitioning tools in Linux are robust, don't be afraid to use them, you'll find it not difficult to understand or accomplish.

When you are doing the custom partitioning, if will ask you want you want to do.

You need three partitions: the system files get put in what is the Linux equivalent of the "C:\" drive, called "root" and is represented by the slash: "/" You need a "swap" partition that is twice the size of your system's RAM. For you, one gig. Swap just needs created, you don't "format" it.
Then you need a place for "your" stuff. User files and downloads and things. This is called the "home" partition and looks like "/home"

Usually 4-5 gigs is enough for root, but can be 10 or so if you have lots of space. Same for the /home partition 4-5 gigs is enough, but if you have it, 30 is OK too. Once nice thing about modern Linux OS's is that they can now read and write to Window's NTFS files systems. They've been able to do that with FAT32 for a while. But today, with a Linux install, you can see and use your entire hard drive. So use some space for root, but what you do for /home can be pretty flexible.

Oh, another advantage to doing "custom partitioning" is if your Windows machine just has one big "C" drive, the partitioning tool can shrink your Windows partition to make room for Linux. Would be a good idea to defrag that windows partition before shrinking it.

One nice feature that every flavor of Linux has, is that by default, without you having to do anything, it will set up a "Boot Window" in your master boot record that will give you the choice of booting either operating system at start. It won't take much Linux experience before you learn how easy it is to manipulate the start up window and you can change the default settings if you want, so Linux starts without your intervention.

This might all sound complicated, but it's not. It's just different. After you go through this, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. And you will really like what Linux lets you do with your computer. Looks nice too, even on older hardware.

Have fun.

Tom :thumbsup:
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#4 333nnn

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 11:25 PM

Thanks for all the info!!!

#5 Specmon

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 01:03 AM

Just a note about something I missed:

When you are using the custom partitioning tool, your 15 and 40 gig hard drives will be shown as "hda" and hdb" Partitions on the drives are labeled as hda1, hda2, hdb1, hdb2, etc. The Windows partitions will be so labeled too.

So if you say have on the 15 gig drive a C drive, then a D and E on the 40 gig, they're going to be labeled as hda1, hdb1, hdb2. If that were your setup, then you might just shrink the D an E and put all three Linux partitions on the 40 gig slave drive

Edited by Specmon, 23 April 2008 - 01:10 AM.

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#6 smurfgod

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 09:52 AM

Hate to butt into your questions but i got a couple too. that WINE that's supposed to emulate winblows, does it let you play directx based games or does linux use openGL or something completely different?
Also hows the security on Linux? I know the windows firewall is basically useless, but it is still there. Do they have something like it or is security all 3rd party stuff.
And i think i understand correctly but just to be sure, especially since linux doesn't use extensions, You can make a windows OS partition, a linux OS partition then use the rest as a pool to save files from either OS? or does linux need its own designated random file space?

Edit Oh and i'm assuming that linux hardware drivers don't interfere with the ones for windows?

Edited by smurfgod, 25 April 2008 - 10:06 AM.


#7 Andrew

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 06:24 PM

WINE does allow some Windows applications to run, but not all. I believe it does reimplement the DirectX api through OpenGL, but I'm not sure. Some games can run, but others no.

Security is one of Linux (and all *nix's) great strengths. Security, for the most part, is baked into the deepest levels of the system. As such, you don't need to run anti-virus or other anti-malware applications. Most distributions I know of ship without a built-in firewall, but the latest version of Ubuntu does.

Windows and linux won't interfere with each other (Windows won't even detect that Linux is there).I have my computer set up with two smaller partitons and one huge one. The two small ones have Linux and Windows, and the third one is sahred between them (formatted in NTFS an Linux can read NTFS but Windows can't read any Linux filesystem.) Drivers for the two OS's are completely separate and will never conflict with one another.

#8 no one

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 08:29 PM

Security is one of Linux (and all *nix's) great strengths. Security, for the most part, is baked into the deepest levels of the system. As such, you don't need to run anti-virus or other anti-malware applications.

What he said :thumbsup: Most all Distros can be set up with a firewall fairly easy as almost all come with IPTables, you may need to DL a front end like Guarddog or Shorewall to access it though a GUI. I can't remember any that I've used that had any open ports upon testing and while not "stealthed" it's still closed , sorta like seeing a locked door instead of it being behind a curtian where you don't notice it. With the Firewall "turned on", I get the stealth rating.

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster"

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#9 smurfgod

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 10:24 AM

Awesome guys, thanks a bunch :thumbsup:




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