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System 76 and Dell Home Desktop Setups for Newbies


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#1 Ubiq

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 03:40 PM

Hello! :hello:
I'm considering the idea of purchasing a new computer in the next year or two.

-IF I decide to buy a preloaded linux desktop for home use only, it seems Dell and System76 are my two best choices. Do they provide anything at all like Best buy's Geek Squad in case I have hardware issues? Sorry if I should have posted this in a hardware section, it just seems to FIT here and it means just the one post and not two.

-Also, I'm pretty sure I would be able to partition and then dual-boot from (a potential) Window's side if needed, but I guess I need to double check that as well?  Do these companies block the user's ability to change the hd partitioning in any way?

Thank you for any info you can provide this newbie! My beloved lappie is getting on a bit, and I just don't like anything I'm seeing at Best Buy. Also, my linux love crush isn't going away, partly due to the fact that I'm interacting with it everyday at work because it runs our new projectors. I love watching it kill everything when I shut it down - so honest!
:love4u: :flowers:
 


Edited by Ubiq, 31 July 2015 - 03:41 PM.

Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


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#2 DeimosChaos

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 05:08 PM

Hi Ubiq! You can purchase extra protection plans on both Dell and System76. I personally have never opted for one of those... they are typically over priced in my opinion, and a lot of the times never used. It is all up to you as the individual buyer though to way your cons and pros as to whether or not extra protection plan is worth it to you.


OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
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#3 Ubiq

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Posted 01 August 2015 - 01:26 AM

DeimosChaos, thank you! :hugs:

I have been reading nothing but good things about System76 lately. If their hardware is as sturdy as people are claiming then maybe I won't have many problems. There is just nothing that interests me at Best Buy anymore, so I think I might actually do this linux thing and just plan on upgrading higher quality equipment every few years.
Meanwhile, I'm going to test this machine to see if it will boot from a usb drive so I can try running linux that way for practice. I feel like it would have to be a very big usb drive for me to realistically do my daily thing that way. Still fuzzy on how all this will go down. :blink:  What happens if I mess up my system BIOS?? :o  


Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


#4 Ubiq

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Posted 01 August 2015 - 02:03 PM

So I'm re-posting here to round out this topic because I find old topics to be most helpful when the OP lets everyone know how things went.
I had a most embarrassing time trying to access my bios to change the boot order. I have read in other recent threads that I'm not the only one with this problem. However, since I'm certainly not certified to help anyone with the computers, I'm posting about all this here. Also, there may well be better tutorials on this site that I don't know about and I don't want to offer inferior help that makes anyone's job here more annoying. /end diclaimer
This list of BIOS Access Keys for major manufacturers worked for me. :woot:  I was trying to use the access key for my work pc when my old lappie needed something totally different. This tutorial addresses how different the BIOS instructions can be, and indeed, my Toshiba Portege was very mysterious indeed as Boot Order was NOT mentioned at all so I kept missing it. I would actually be willing to take screenshots of this but I don't know how to do that in BIOS. I guess I could take old timey photos? :scratchhead:  I will if someone asks for it. For science.

Now, I want to read more about which linux distro I can put on a usb stick and exactly what size usb stick would be good for this since I still don't understand how I'm going to fit Ubuntu on a stick. I know, I need to get out more! :lmao: Please feel free to offer advice on these topics as I would be most grateful. :flowers:


Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


#5 DeimosChaos

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Posted 01 August 2015 - 11:27 PM

DeimosChaos, thank you! :hugs:

I have been reading nothing but good things about System76 lately. If their hardware is as sturdy as people are claiming then maybe I won't have many problems. There is just nothing that interests me at Best Buy anymore, so I think I might actually do this linux thing and just plan on upgrading higher quality equipment every few years.
Meanwhile, I'm going to test this machine to see if it will boot from a usb drive so I can try running linux that way for practice. I feel like it would have to be a very big usb drive for me to realistically do my daily thing that way. Still fuzzy on how all this will go down. :blink:  What happens if I mess up my system BIOS?? :o  

You really can't do much to the bios, if you accidentally change something there is a reset option. I see from the next post you got in! Great!

I have a friend who has had two laptops from System76. He has liked them both! I plan on getting my next laptop from there when I am in the market for one!

 

So I'm re-posting here to round out this topic because I find old topics to be most helpful when the OP lets everyone know how things went.
I had a most embarrassing time trying to access my bios to change the boot order. I have read in other recent threads that I'm not the only one with this problem. However, since I'm certainly not certified to help anyone with the computers, I'm posting about all this here. Also, there may well be better tutorials on this site that I don't know about and I don't want to offer inferior help that makes anyone's job here more annoying. /end diclaimer
This list of BIOS Access Keys for major manufacturers worked for me. :woot:  I was trying to use the access key for my work pc when my old lappie needed something totally different. This tutorial addresses how different the BIOS instructions can be, and indeed, my Toshiba Portege was very mysterious indeed as Boot Order was NOT mentioned at all so I kept missing it. I would actually be willing to take screenshots of this but I don't know how to do that in BIOS. I guess I could take old timey photos? :scratchhead:  I will if someone asks for it. For science.

Now, I want to read more about which linux distro I can put on a usb stick and exactly what size usb stick would be good for this since I still don't understand how I'm going to fit Ubuntu on a stick. I know, I need to get out more! :lmao: Please feel free to offer advice on these topics as I would be most grateful. :flowers:

I will post later on instructions for installing Ubuntu to usb drive. It's pretty late here and I just got back from the beach!


OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
_____________________________________________________
Bachelor of Science in Computing Security from Drexel University
Security +


#6 DeimosChaos

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 09:32 AM

Here is how to create a USB Ubuntu drive. Let me know if you have any issues!


OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
_____________________________________________________
Bachelor of Science in Computing Security from Drexel University
Security +


#7 Ubiq

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 01:43 PM

Here is how to create a USB Ubuntu drive. Let me know if you have any issues!

 Thank you!!
I do have three questions, prompted by the Pendrive Linux instructions. I have numbered my questions in case my post is tl;dr:bubbles:

 

From the link Ubuntu gives for Pendrive:

"*Fat16, Fat32, or NTFS Formatted Flash Drive. MBR partition only GPT will not work!"

 

Since I don't have a flash drive I need to buy one. And it appears that I need to pay attention to the formatting! I've been working all weekend and haven't been able to go to Best Buy but I will have a chance tonight. I have chosen two from Bestbuy.com to look at. I'm going to try and wait until you answer my two questions before buying, but I tell you, I'm really itching to buy and try this tonight!!  :warrior:

 

:step1: Please tell me if you think the following two usb drives are properly formatted or can be properly formatted? This may be information they assume everyone knows because formatting is not mentioned in the specs for any flash drives or external usb hard drives I looked at this weekend. So how do I know if I can use them for this project?

 

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/sandisk-ultra-32gb-usb-3-0-flash-drive-black/9211069.p?id=1219002587175&skuId=9211069

This little guy is usb 3.0. and I have no idea how that relates to formatting, if it does at all? It's $34.99, which is something I regrettably need to pay attention because I need to buy two since I've been neglecting backups.

 

 

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/seagate-backup-plus-slim-1tb-external-usb-3-0-2-0-portable-hard-drive-black/3138005.p?id=1219088030742&skuId=3138005

I'm really leaning toward this guy because I have this idea that I can partition him and then use one side for my windows Cobian Backup and the other side for linux. This would save me so many dollars! However...

 

:step2:Will the partitions be recognized as separate drives at boot? I feel like this is another instance where my attempts to save money will not actually save me any money.

 

:step3: Can I treat the Seagate external hard drive like a normal usb drive for pendrive if I decide to buy a separate stick for the windows backup? It seems to have some sort of software already on it and I'm wondering if that will confound Pendrive or Ubuntu or Mint.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my questions and thank you so much for your willingness to help people move to linux! :flowers: :guitar:


Edited by Ubiq, 03 August 2015 - 01:47 PM.

Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


#8 DeimosChaos

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 02:12 PM

(1): Most drives are typically formatted in NTFS. In case it is not (assuming you are on Windows) go to My Computer -> Right Click on your USB drive -> click on "Format..." -> go to the drop down that has "File System" and change it to NTFS -> Click Start.

That should get you to NTFS. Probably a good idea to do this before anyway.

 

(2): Either one will do, the actual 1TB drive you could partition into multiple sectors and use one as your Linux boot. The computer should find it as boot-able and allow you to boot from it even though it has multiple partitions, if it doesn't we can go from there. Here is the catch though, to partition the large drive you would need to boot into a Live CD (Ubuntu would work) and use gparted to partition the drive. You need to be careful with this cause you do not want to erase your Windows partition on your main drive. If you aren't comfortable with this, get a smaller USB drive for booting with Linux and then get your backup hard drive later (or at the same time). Its honestly a better idea to keep them separate. If you need the larger drive for backup purposes you don't want to accidentally erase data anyway.

 

(3): I think I understand this question... yes you can treat it like a normal drive in pendrive.

*Edit I should read more carefully! If you do the formatting of the drive it will erase all the pre-installed stuff on the drives so that won't matter. You then can just treat it normally in pendrive.


Edited by DeimosChaos, 03 August 2015 - 02:23 PM.

OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
_____________________________________________________
Bachelor of Science in Computing Security from Drexel University
Security +


#9 Ubiq

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 03:45 PM

Nice!!! Thanks DeimosChaos!  :bowdown:

I will let you know what the results of my shopping spree are tonight. Hopefully I will have enough cash to buy two drives.  :tophat:


Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


#10 DeimosChaos

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 06:05 PM

Nice!!! Thanks DeimosChaos!  :bowdown:

I will let you know what the results of my shopping spree are tonight. Hopefully I will have enough cash to buy two drives.  :tophat:

 

You are welcome! Enjoy your shopping spree!


OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
_____________________________________________________
Bachelor of Science in Computing Security from Drexel University
Security +


#11 Ubiq

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 02:19 PM

Okay, DeimosChaos, I think I've done it...unless I'm missing something or my cpu is quietly burning up without alerting me. :thumbup2:  So far this is suspiciously easy. I got it all burned and installed with just a bit of point and clicking. I had a weird issue burning the iso, but I think that was a windows/Toshiba Disk Creator/Firefox downloads thing. After booting from usb, I chose to do a test run. I forget the wording, but it was the first option. There was also an option to install Ubuntu. :step1: If I had clicked that would it have created a partition using grub and then installed with the option to dual boot or would it have written over windows??

Anyway, I'm using teh linux usb version to post this and its so easy. I really didn't think I would be able to get online because I don't remember what I had to go through to set up my isp. I feel like there were passwords or something? :step2: So is windows running in the background somehow?
Anyway, I'm kind of in shock that this has worked. A guy at Best Buy last night mentioned that I should either run "vmware" or buy a craigslist computer to load linux on. I like the second option, but :step3: I'm wondering if one of those $59 Seagate external hard drives would also work? As long as I choose the right drive letter I should be okay, right?

Then my SO doesn't have to worry about choosing between windows and linux at startup, since that is scary for him, and I don't have to putz with figuring out the drivers and stuff I need for whatever craigslist rustbucket I end up with. 

Also, I set up the maximum amount of persistence allowed by the little slider in Pendrive. :step4: Do I have to do anything special to save things? If I tried to install a theme, for example, would Ubuntu automatically save it there?


Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


#12 DeimosChaos

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 02:45 PM

So a couple things. You are basically running Ubuntu Live CD version (trying before buying in a sense). Its just the .iso file on the USB and it isn't psychically installed to the drive (like a normal OS would be installed to a hard drive). You can run it this way... I don't think you will actually be able to save anything that you do, it will start over fresh every time you run it. This could be good and bad, if you are using it for doing banking or any kind of financial type things it is a nice secure system since nothing gets saved. But if you want to be able to save things you will need to install Ubuntu to the drive itself. Also yes, if you chose to install it would have asked you to either wipe out the entire drive and install Ubuntu, or install it next to Windows (as long as you aren't running Windows 10).

 

So the above answers question 1. It would have depended if you chose to erase the disk entirely or chose to run along side windows (dual boot).

 

2. Windows isn't running in the background, it is shut off and not doing anything what so ever!

 

3. Yes you could get the Toshiba drive and install Ubuntu on it like it is an internal drive. You can either use the USB drive to install it to the other external, or create a DVD version of it so you don't have multiple things plugged in (I have never actually installed from a USB to another external device before, don't know if any issues will arise because of it). I would unplug your internal drive before doing this, just so you don't overwrite any data on there by accident.

 

4. If you physically install Ubuntu to the drive it will act like a normal OS. Anything you download, modify, delete, etc. will stay that way upon reboot.


OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
_____________________________________________________
Bachelor of Science in Computing Security from Drexel University
Security +


#13 Ubiq

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 03:00 PM

So a couple things. You are basically running Ubuntu Live CD version (trying before buying in a sense). Its just the .iso file on the USB and it isn't psychically installed to the drive (like a normal OS would be installed to a hard drive). You can run it this way... I don't think you will actually be able to save anything that you do, it will start over fresh every time you run it.

Thank you!! :love4u:

:step1: So where is this "persistence" I set up when Pendrive installed on the usb? Isn't that a file folder to save changes? Was it just to get my hopes up? :lmao:

It's really weird that this "live" version runs as fast as windows. I guess I need to defrag or something. B)

Last, and most important question:

:step2: How on earth will I disconnect my lappie's internal hd? I'm getting scared just thinking about it. :( Isn't backing up with DriveImage XML good enough? I'm doing that on the external hd I bought last night especially for windows backups. I've got Cobian and DriveImage. Just in case.


Machine: Toshiba Portege r705-P41, Dual Boot: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Ubuntu 15.04
CPU: Intel Core i5 460M @ 2.53GHz Arrandale 32nm Technology,
RAM: 4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz (7-7-7-20), Motherboard: TOSHIBA Portable PC (rBGA1288 Socket)
Video Card: Intel HD Graphics Revision 2 1720 MBytes

Speccy


#14 DeimosChaos

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 03:22 PM

1. Honestly, I am not sure. I haven't done a whole lot with pendrive. You may be able to write to the drive using the "Live CD" mode of Ubuntu. You'll have to try and let me know! Edit a file, reboot and see if it stays!

It runs as fast as Windows.... shew... you really must need to clean out Windows! I find the live version to be pretty slow!

 

2. Ahh, laptop. Sorry I hand't noticed that. Depending on the laptop it can be really easy to disconnect the hard drive. Others... not so much. But yes, just make sure you back up important data/have a recovery CD handy before you attempt to install Ubuntu. When you choose the "other" option when installing Ubuntu, you should see a list of the different drives. Just stay away from the one that has anything to do with Windows and you should be good to go!


OS - Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 & Windows 10
Custom Desktop PC / Lenovo Y580 / Sager NP8258 / Dell XPS 13 (9350)
_____________________________________________________
Bachelor of Science in Computing Security from Drexel University
Security +





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