linux for beginners - Hardware

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  1. linux for beginners

    Hi ya all!!!

    I'd like to install linux for the first time!

    Which one to take? What to be careful about?
    What about hardware support? What about the software that comes with the
    distribution?

    Tnx!



  2. Re: linux for beginners

    Marlock wrote:

    > Hi ya all!!!
    >
    > I'd like to install linux for the first time!


    Congratulations!

    > Which one to take?


    http://www.distrowatch.com

    .... is a good place to start... ;-)

    > What to be careful about?


    First and foremost, you need to be careful about realizing that you'd no
    longer be working on Windows. Not that GNU/Linux is so user-unfriendly -
    it isn't, it just wants the user to be a little more computer-friendly :-)
    - but most people coming from the Windows world tend to take certain things
    about computers for granted that really only apply to Windows, such as the
    frequent reboots, the need for frequent filesystem defragmentation, running
    everything with system administrator privileges, etc.

    GNU/Linux is a de facto UNIX system. It's multi-user, multi-tasking,
    secure, robust, scalable, flexible, portable, transparently configurable
    and very powerful.

    I recommend that you would buy a shrinkwrapped, boxed GNU/Linux distribution
    - I would by the same token also recommend the Mandriva PowerPack - since
    it's your first time on the block.

    The benefit of purchasing such a shrinkwrapped box is that you get a printed
    manual, limited support via fax, e-mail or phone, and all the proprietary
    software extensions that might be free of charge but still may not be
    distributed with the freely downloadable distributions because of their
    licenses, e.g. proprietary nVidia drivers, Adobe Flashplayer and plugins,
    Sun's Java Runtime Environment. With a freely downloadable distribution,
    you would have to download and install those tools yourself.

    If however you decide to download a distribution and burn the CDs or DVDs
    yourself, then you should make sure that you check the /md5sums/
    or /sha1sums/ on the downloaded /.iso/ files before burning them to CD/DVD
    media, and that you use quality media and a low burning speed.

    > What about hardware support?


    Wireless ethernet is problematic with a lot of chipsets. Anything with an
    Orinoco or Atheros chipset will work. Winmodems - i.e. most PCI modems -
    won't work, except for a few models. These devices are not real modems;
    they have all the modem work done via software and simply offer a connector
    for a phone cable. Avoid those.

    Just about everything else is supported in a recent distribution. Linux is
    the only kernel that runs on just about every CPU platform in existence,
    from IBM mainframes and supercomputers over renderfarms down to
    wristwatches, satnav systems and smartphones.

    Any standard hardware will work. Any "designed for Windows XP/designed for
    Vista" stuff is to be mistrusted, because nowadays hardware vendors are
    building their hardware around the software instead of the other way
    around, as it should be.

    Either way, GNU/Linux supports more hardware out-of-the-box than Windows
    does, and all available approved and GPL'ed driver modules will installed
    on your hard disk, so there is no juggling with driver disks afterwards if
    you plan on adding new hardware or changing something.

    > What about the software that comes with the distribution?


    Freely downloadable distributions come with a fairly complete load of
    software for an average desktop experience and loads of different software
    that does the same thing. Commercially sold distributions come with the
    proprietary drivers needed to get the most out of your nVidia card, all the
    right browser en mediaplayer plug-ins, etc.

    I would definitely not recommend Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu/Edubuntu for a first
    distribution, because although you can technically install whatever you
    want on those distros, in their base form, they only support one desktop
    environment.

    So for instance, Kubuntu is the Ubuntu distribution with KDE as the desktop
    environment, and will - alongside the normal commandline utilities - only
    come with software that makes use of the Qt widgetset and runs fully
    integrated with KDE. Likewise, Ubuntu itself uses Gnome as the desktop
    environment and will only come with graphical applications that use the GTK
    widgetset and are integrated within Gnome.

    However, it is perfectly possible to run KDE applications inside Gnome or to
    run Gnome applications inside KDE, as long as you have the base libraries
    of "the other" environment installed. This is something Ubuntu/Kubuntu
    does not offer you by default, so you would need to download and install
    those packages yourself.

    A distribution like PCLinuxOS or Mandriva on the other hand goes out of its
    way to integrate the various applications very well, regardless of what
    desktop environment you're going to use. It'll just install them both -
    along with some other desktop environments, if that is what you've marked
    during installation - and allows you to choose what you will be using. As
    such, different users of the same machine could each run a different
    desktop environment and still have all the applications they need.

    Lastly some technical advice...:

    (1) GNU/Linux requires a bootloader. If you're going to be using Windows
    alongside GNU/Linux, install Windows first, and then GNU/Linux, and tell it
    to put the bootloader in the master boot record. You will then get the
    option of booting either Windows or GNU/Linux.

    (2) You will need enough diskspace for at least two partitions for
    GNU/Linux, i.e. one for the system itself - we call this the root
    filesystem - and one for swap. The Linux kernel uses a dedicated swap
    partition, which is not formatted like regular partitions, and which should
    be about 1-2 GB in size max, depending on how much RAM you have in your
    machine.

    It may also be advisable to create a third partition for your personal
    configuration files and your daily work. GNU/Linux does not use drive
    letters, it uses /mountpoints,/ i.e. a directory - Windows users
    erroneously call those "folders" - onto which another filesystem is
    mounted. As such, with an additional partition for */home,* the contents
    of your home directory - e.g. */home/marlock* - would not be sitting on
    your root filesystem, and thus they would be safe from an eventual reformat
    if you want to install a newer or different distribution, and in turn they
    cannot foul up the filesystem of your operating system itself.

    (3) GNU/Linux is case-sensitive. The file /letter.txt/ is not the same
    thing as /Letter.txt/ or /LETTER.TXT./ They can all exist side by side in
    the same directory.

    (4) Reboots are seldom required. GNU/Linux is a layered operating system.
    The GUI (graphical user interface) is just another layer on top of the
    operating system and is not even mandatory, very much akin to how Windows
    3.x ran on top of MS-DOS. Most graphical utilities are in fact only GUI
    frontends to commandline utilities.

    (5) The root user is the equivalent of the Administrator in Windows.
    However, unlike in Windows, the idea is that you do all your normal, daily
    work from within an unprivileged user account. Only use the root account
    for system maintenance tasks. The root user has all access rights to the
    machine and can easily damage the system if you're not being careful.

    (6) Unless you're on a high-profile internet connection, there is little or
    no need to run a firewall. In Windows, firewalling is handled by a user
    program, and Windows tends to be rather promiscuous by default in terms of
    connections. In GNU/Linux, the firewalling is handled by the Linux kernel
    directly, and unless you specifically have some service listening on a
    certain port, that port will not be available to the outside world.

    (7) There is no need for anti-virus software in GNU/Linux. Such software
    does exist, but it only scans for _Windows_ viruses, e.g. if your GNU/Linux
    machine is a mailserver for Windows client machines, or if you have a
    dual-boot machine with Windows and GNU/Linux and you want to scan your
    Windows partition(s) for viruses from within GNU/Linux.

    Likewise, there is no need for anti-spyware in GNU/Linux, if that even
    exists. GNU/Linux works entirely differently from Windows and being a de
    facto UNIX, it was designed from the ground up with security and stability
    in mind, unlike Windows, which is rather like the proverbial chick who'll
    sleep with anyone just because she's afraid of becoming an old maid if she
    doesn't.

    (8) You may want to bookmark the following URLs...:

    http://www.linuxnewbies.org

    http://www.tldp.org (The Linux Documentation Project)

    (9) Don't fear the Penguin! While every desktop-oriented distribution comes
    with a nice graphical user interface - which as I've explained basically
    runs as an application on top of the system - the commandline is a very
    powerful tool and may get certain tasks done a lot faster than if you were
    to do the equivalent operations via a set of "point & click" operations in
    a GUI. ;-)

    That all said, have fun, and welcome to the club!

    --
    Aragorn
    (registered GNU/Linux user #223157)

  3. Re: linux for beginners


    "Aragorn"

    THANK YOU!!!!



  4. Re: linux for beginners

    On Sat, 19 Apr 2008 13:05:13 +0200, Marlock wrote:

    > Hi ya all!!!
    >
    > I'd like to install linux for the first time!
    >
    > Which one to take? What to be careful about? What about hardware
    > support? What about the software that comes with the distribution?
    >
    > Tnx!


    Desktop systems are very compatible, laptops can have problems with WiFi
    if you have the wrong brand of WiFi chip, Intel always works so if you
    have a choice that's what to get.

    Ubuntu is probably the best choice for you, it's very Windows like (which
    is one of the things that I hate about it, but you'll probably see that
    as a feature). I personally prefer Fedora but I don't think it's
    appropriate for a beginner because it's not as stable as Ubuntu because
    it's a permanent beta.

    All major Linux distros come with more software than you can imagine, is
    there some kind of application that you are looking for? BTW if there is
    something that's only available for Windows the solution is to run a
    Windows virtual machine on top of Linux. VMware Server is free and easily
    installed. VirtualBox and Xen are also available and easily installed.



  5. Re: linux for beginners

    General Schvantzkopf wrote:

    > [...] BTW if there is something that's only available for Windows the
    > solution is to run a Windows virtual machine on top of Linux.


    Another approach would be to use /wine,/ which works for a lot of "simple"
    Windows programs, or any of its variants such as Cedega - which is intended
    for playing Windows games on GNU/Linux - or Crossover Office, which is
    intended to make use of MS-Office on GNU/Linux, for those who want it -
    you'd be better off using OpenOffice, though. ;-)

    > VMware Server is free and easily installed. VirtualBox and Xen are also
    > available and easily installed.


    I have no experience with VMware, nor with VirtualBox. On account of Xen
    however, if you want to use Xen to run a virtual Windows machine, you'll
    need to have hardware virtualization support.

    Without hardware that supports virtualization, you can only use
    paravirtualization on Xen, which requires the kernel of the "guest"
    operating system to be ported to paravirtualization technology, and this is
    currently only available in GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD. (I
    don't know about DragonflyBSD or PCBSD.)

    Xen currently also only supports either GNU/Linux or NetBSD as the "host"
    operating system. The namesakes "host" and "guest" are in fact incorrect
    with Xen, since Xen is only a hypervisor and runs various operating systems
    simultaneously in virtual machines.

    In a Xen set-up, the "host" is the virtual machine that offers hardware
    access to the "guests" and has full access to their memory. Therefore,
    with Xen, we normally speak of privileged and unprivileged virtual
    machines. The privileged virtual machine is called "domain 0" or "dom0",
    and the unprivileged virtual machines are called "domain U" or "domU". As
    such, we also speak of a "driver domain" or "management domain" when
    referring to "domain 0".

    --
    Aragorn
    (registered GNU/Linux user #223157)

  6. Re: linux for beginners

    General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    > Ubuntu is probably the best choice for you, it's very Windows like (which
    > is one of the things that I hate about it, but you'll probably see that
    > as a feature). I personally prefer Fedora


    I probably shouldn't bother, but I am curious. What the hell is really
    the difference between Ubuntu and Fedora with Gnome? To a newbie, they'd
    appear to look and work almost exactly the same. And yes, Ubuntu
    slightly easier to install restricted codecs, etc. But Windows-like?
    Surely you're joking.

    --
    As we enjoy great advantages from inventions of others, we should be
    glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours;
    and this we should do freely and generously.
    --Benjamin Franklin

  7. Re: linux for beginners

    johnny bobby bee wrote:

    > I probably shouldn't bother, but I am curious. What the hell is really
    > the difference between Ubuntu and Fedora with Gnome? To a newbie, they'd
    > appear to look and work almost exactly the same.


    Desktop-wise, there shouldn't be much difference, but AFAIK the various
    configuration files are slightly different and I would also expect any
    Graphical UI to them to be different, too.

  8. Re: linux for beginners

    On Sat, 19 Apr 2008 21:40:45 +0000, johnny bobby bee wrote:

    > General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    >> Ubuntu is probably the best choice for you, it's very Windows like
    >> (which is one of the things that I hate about it, but you'll probably
    >> see that as a feature). I personally prefer Fedora

    >
    > I probably shouldn't bother, but I am curious. What the hell is really
    > the difference between Ubuntu and Fedora with Gnome? To a newbie, they'd
    > appear to look and work almost exactly the same. And yes, Ubuntu
    > slightly easier to install restricted codecs, etc. But Windows-like?
    > Surely you're joking.


    Linux components are constantly being improved, the kernel has major
    releases every few months and bug fix releases every few weeks. Gnome and
    KDE have major releases twice a year and bug fixes between those. This is
    true for everything in Linux. So one of the major differentiators between
    distros is where do they drive the stake in the ground with respect to
    all of these components. Redhat has distros at both ends of the spectrum.
    Their bread and butter product, RHEL uses very old versions of everything
    while everything in Fedora is still warm from the oven. As a result RHEL
    is very stable but it's missing all of the latest features. Fedora has
    everything you want but at the expense of reliability. Ubuntu runs a
    little behind Fedora so it has most of the latest features but it's also
    a little more stable.

    Another differentiator is the available themes. Gnome and KDE are
    customizable so the distros build themes which alter the looks of Gnome
    and KDE. These are purely cosmetic, the underlying functionality is the
    same and you can easily change the theme yourself. However the default
    theme is what you'll see on a fresh install so it's your first impression
    of the distro. In my opinion Ubuntu's turd brown theme is hideous and
    Fedora's is very pleasant. However beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    A major differentiator is the package manager which is how Linux distros
    install and update software. There are two major systems, Redhat Package
    Manager (RPM) and Debian's (DEB). Fedora uses RPM and Ubuntu uses DEB.
    Ubuntu's handling of packages is significantly better than Fedora's. I'm
    not sure how much of this is due to the underlying technology and how
    much is due to the diligence of the repository maintainers. Updates on
    Ubuntu just work, in Fedora it's hit or miss. Every few weeks there will
    be an update on Fedora that doesn't work because of dependency problem.
    Experienced users can get around this by uninstalling and reinstalling
    the offending packages but it's a pain. My suspicion is that Fedora's
    maintainers are cavalier about adding untested packages to the
    repository. I've never seen a problem with CentOS (which is the free
    version of RHEL) which is why I think the problem is due to people rather
    than to the RPM system. Never the less I can't imagine a better way to
    turn someone off to Linux then to have an update break his system, that's
    why I'm recommending Ubuntu to new user rather than Fedora even though I
    personally like Fedora a whole lot better than Ubuntu.

    Another way that distros are different is the GUI configuration tools. I
    like Fedoras better than Ubuntu's. However the tool that I mostly use is
    webmin, http://www.webmin.com. Webmin is a browser based configuration
    tool. It's light years ahead of anything that the distros provide and
    best of all it works on almost every Linux and Unix distro so you can use
    the same tool even if you switch distros or if you are running different
    distros on different machines. Also because it's browser based you can
    admin your machines from any system on your network.

  9. Re: linux for beginners

    General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    > Linux components are constantly being improved




    I appreciate all that, I really do, but I was just curious how you could
    actually say Ubuntu was Windows-like? Especially if you're using Gnome
    on both Fedora and Ubuntu? Cosmetically, they'd look identical to a
    newbie. And if you thought Ubuntu was Windows-like, then surely, Fedora
    would be Windows-like.

    I've heard say Ubuntu, and thus Gnome, was very Mac-like, but never
    once, Windows-like.

    --
    As we enjoy great advantages from inventions of others, we should be
    glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours;
    and this we should do freely and generously.
    --Benjamin Franklin

  10. Re: linux for beginners

    General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    > However the tool that I mostly use is
    > webmin, http://www.webmin.com.


    I'm quite surprised at your endorsement of webmin. Isn't it taken out of
    Debian and Ubuntu repos due to security issues?

    --
    As we enjoy great advantages from inventions of others, we should be
    glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours;
    and this we should do freely and generously.
    --Benjamin Franklin

  11. Re: linux for beginners

    On Sun, 20 Apr 2008 23:47:30 +0000, johnny bobby bee wrote:

    > General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    >> However the tool that I mostly use is webmin, http://www.webmin.com.

    >
    > I'm quite surprised at your endorsement of webmin. Isn't it taken out of
    > Debian and Ubuntu repos due to security issues?


    It's a fantastic tool. What sort of security issue does it present?. As
    long as it's only accessible from your own LAN I don't see how it could
    be a problem. If someone has broken into one of your systems all bets are
    off anyway.

  12. Re: linux for beginners

    On Sun, 20 Apr 2008 23:43:29 +0000, johnny bobby bee wrote:

    > General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    >> Linux components are constantly being improved

    >
    >
    >
    > I appreciate all that, I really do, but I was just curious how you could
    > actually say Ubuntu was Windows-like? Especially if you're using Gnome
    > on both Fedora and Ubuntu? Cosmetically, they'd look identical to a
    > newbie. And if you thought Ubuntu was Windows-like, then surely, Fedora
    > would be Windows-like.
    >
    > I've heard say Ubuntu, and thus Gnome, was very Mac-like, but never
    > once, Windows-like.


    It's Ubuntu's control panels that remind me of Windows. It may be a small
    thing but I really dislike anything that's reminiscent of Windows.



  13. Re: linux for beginners

    On Sun, 20 Apr 2008 21:07:54 -0500, General Schvantzkopf wrote:


    >> I'm quite surprised at your endorsement of webmin. Isn't it taken out
    >> of Debian and Ubuntu repos due to security issues?

    >
    > It's a fantastic tool. What sort of security issue does it present?. As
    > long as it's only accessible from your own LAN I don't see how it could
    > be a problem. If someone has broken into one of your systems all bets
    > are off anyway.


    It uses a browser, doesn't it? Now your security is dependent on
    Webmin's security, *and* the browser's, with potential root access.
    Leave Webmin open in a tab, while browsing the internet, and protecting
    your security becomes quite a bit more complex. You don't have IE
    installed on any of your machines, do you? ;-)

    Seriously, I don't know enough about Webmin to offer an educated
    opinion. I'm just trying to point out, it's added complexity over ssh
    also adds potential security issues.

  14. Re: linux for beginners

    On Mon, 21 Apr 2008 03:04:21 -0500, thunder wrote:

    > On Sun, 20 Apr 2008 21:07:54 -0500, General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    >
    >
    >>> I'm quite surprised at your endorsement of webmin. Isn't it taken out
    >>> of Debian and Ubuntu repos due to security issues?

    >>
    >> It's a fantastic tool. What sort of security issue does it present?. As
    >> long as it's only accessible from your own LAN I don't see how it could
    >> be a problem. If someone has broken into one of your systems all bets
    >> are off anyway.

    >
    > It uses a browser, doesn't it? Now your security is dependent on
    > Webmin's security, *and* the browser's, with potential root access.
    > Leave Webmin open in a tab, while browsing the internet, and protecting
    > your security becomes quite a bit more complex. You don't have IE
    > installed on any of your machines, do you? ;-)
    >
    > Seriously, I don't know enough about Webmin to offer an educated
    > opinion. I'm just trying to point out, it's added complexity over ssh
    > also adds potential security issues.


    I think the risks are minimal and it's a vastly better tool then anything
    Redhat, Ubuntu or SuSE offers. Give it a try and see how easy it is to
    set up SAMBA or to configure ssh.

  15. Re: linux for beginners

    General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    > I think the risks are minimal and it's a vastly better tool then anything
    > Redhat, Ubuntu or SuSE offers. Give it a try and see how easy it is to
    > set up SAMBA or to configure ssh.


    Have you tried ebox? Apparently, It's replacing Webmin on Ubuntu.
    http://ebox-platform.com/

    --
    As we enjoy great advantages from inventions of others, we should be
    glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours;
    and this we should do freely and generously.
    --Benjamin Franklin

  16. Re: linux for beginners

    On Tue, 22 Apr 2008 07:47:32 +0000, johnny bobby bee wrote:

    > General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    >> I think the risks are minimal and it's a vastly better tool then
    >> anything Redhat, Ubuntu or SuSE offers. Give it a try and see how easy
    >> it is to set up SAMBA or to configure ssh.

    >
    > Have you tried ebox? Apparently, It's replacing Webmin on Ubuntu.
    > http://ebox-platform.com/


    Never heard of it but it looks like it only works on Debian systems,
    webmin works on everything.

  17. Re: linux for beginners

    thank you all for the tips!!!

    "Marlock" wrote in message
    news:66u26cF2ltqhiU4@mid.uni-berlin.de...
    > Hi ya all!!!
    >
    > I'd like to install linux for the first time!
    >
    > Which one to take? What to be careful about?
    > What about hardware support? What about the software that comes with the
    > distribution?
    >
    > Tnx!
    >




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