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Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?

Acme 09 Aug 10 - 01:30 PM
Acme 09 Aug 10 - 01:56 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Aug 10 - 02:35 PM
treewind 09 Aug 10 - 03:13 PM
treewind 09 Aug 10 - 03:21 PM
Acme 09 Aug 10 - 03:43 PM
Newport Boy 09 Aug 10 - 05:40 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Aug 10 - 07:26 PM
JohnInKansas 09 Aug 10 - 07:26 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Aug 10 - 07:45 PM
Acme 09 Aug 10 - 08:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Aug 10 - 11:43 PM
Acme 10 Aug 10 - 12:19 AM
SteveMansfield 10 Aug 10 - 02:58 AM
Acme 10 Aug 10 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Xavier Sythe 10 Aug 10 - 01:50 PM
Tootler 10 Aug 10 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer 12 Aug 10 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer 12 Aug 10 - 03:43 PM
Gurney 12 Aug 10 - 03:53 PM
treewind 12 Aug 10 - 04:44 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Aug 10 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer 12 Aug 10 - 08:11 PM
Acme 12 Aug 10 - 08:44 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Aug 10 - 10:12 PM
treewind 13 Aug 10 - 12:06 PM
Geoff the Duck 13 Aug 10 - 12:46 PM
Acme 13 Aug 10 - 01:19 PM
John J 13 Aug 10 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer 13 Aug 10 - 07:09 PM
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Subject: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 01:30 PM

I'm starting a new thread because these systems change so quickly that I don't want the confusion of older answers and previous versions.

My son just built the computer he will take the the university this fall. It isn't running yet because we're still addressing the operating system questions. And we have a few. My university where I work makes copies of Microsoft software available to enrolled students for a very modest fee. His has selective agreements with departments, and as an incoming freshman, it looks like he won't be eligible to download the free or inexpensive version of Win 7 and the MS productivity software.

I've used Open Office, it isn't the same but it is pretty good. But the question about using Linux now comes up.

He could set up Linux only and later on put in Win 7, but he'd have to reinstall everything he was using with Linux, right? He could set up a dual platform with Linux on one side and an inexpensive version of Windows, maybe an XP-Pro with SP 2 (Didn't I download SP 3?) since it is two systems back now, and upgrade that side later.

For those of you who use Linux and keep up to date on this, is it a reasonable strategy to download a most current version of Linux and get the computer up and running, with plans to change later? Does Linux run any of the Windows software, or is he relegated to a completely Linux environment? And since he has a lot of sophisticated computer games he wants to put on this new computer, does this type of thing by default run in the Windows environment or does Linux even go there?

There are lots more parts to this question, of course. In the dialog more would come out, but for now, if he decides to try Linux, would you recommend downloading and burning to a disk, or going somewhere and buying it on a disk. In a search I see RedHat, I see Linux.org, linux.com, linuxsoftware.org, linux.softpedia.com etc.

Bill D and others who stay on top of this, what are your suggestions?

One gray area question - having the backup OS disk for the XP-Pro from an older computer (Dell) doesn't let you install that software on a new computer if you have the previous key, does it? Or if you used it, you'd have to go to MS and pay for a new license/key?

Thanks!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 01:56 PM

New Egg has an OEM version of Win 7 Ultimate for $179. OEM has no MS support. Does this make any difference to any of you? (Can I ever remember getting MS support? Not really.)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 02:35 PM

I can answer part of that. Dell restore disks usually do NOT run on anything but the same model Dell they came with. I have tried. Licence keys are not usually disc-specific (which is why licence key generators often work, although they are of course illegal). However, a Windoze OS licence (even OEM I think) lets you install the licensed program on a new computer so long as it has been taken off the old one (but it is probably illegal to do so using a licence key generated by a licence key generator).


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: treewind
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 03:13 PM

"is it a reasonable strategy to download a most current version of Linux and get the computer up and running, with plans to change later?"

If you're definitely going to make a dual boot system, it's better to install Windows first, on a partition sized such that you have spare disk space for Linux later. When you install Linux it will detect and identify Windows partitions, install itself on the unused space (unless you actually tell it otherwise) and install a boot menu that lets you choose which OS to boot. Windows doesn't want to know about other systems previously installed and won't make any attempt to be friendly if you install it over a Linux system (unless recent versions like Win7 are very different)

"Does Linux run any of the Windows software"
If you are lucky you might get some of it to work under WINE, and there are many applications (usually free) that are multi platform - for example I use GIMP (graphics editor), Open Office, Pan (newsreader) Chrome and Firefox (web browsers), Audacity (sound editor) in versions for both platforms.

"since he has a lot of sophisticated computer games he wants to put on this new computer, does this type of thing by default run in the Windows environment or does Linux even go there?"

Games for Windows may work on Wine, or VMWare or one of the other Virtual machine systems. There are also some games written for Linux.
What you can't ever do is simply install a Windows application on Linux.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: treewind
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 03:21 PM

"if he decides to try Linux, would you recommend downloading and burning to a disk, or going somewhere and buying it on a disk. In a search I see RedHat, I see Linux.org, linux.com, linuxsoftware.org, linux.softpedia.com etc."

I'd recommend downloading Ubuntu and burning a CD. When you install it, it will set up an update link to an Ubuntu repository on the web, and via that you will be able to install updates and lots more software not on the CD.

Other distributions do this too, but Ubuntu (a) uses Debians's packaging system which is better than most of the others and (b) is pretty strong on hardware detection and user-friendliness.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 03:43 PM

Thanks!

I have in the past had a dual partition system set up, running the Win ME crap that came on the machine I wanted, and the Win NT that was the much more powerful OS at the time. Until HP made the drivers available to simply use NT as the stand alone OS, it was the only way I could use some of my machine's hardware. The bad old days.

I have used Partition Magic successfully in the past, such as the occasion mentioned above. If it were me, I'd try just Linux at first and see how I liked it, but I suspect the kid is going to want to have his games in first, not as an afterthought.

Thanks also for the Ubuntu info. I couldn't remember it's name as the system that others here have recommended.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 05:40 PM

I second all of Anahata's recommendations. You might look at
SimplyMepis which is another Debian-based distribution. Burn the download to a CD and try it out as a Live CD on your own computer - it's a little slow to load, but operates at near normal speed, without touching your hard disk. I marginally prefer it to Ubuntu for its stability.

It is possible to install Windows after Linux, but you will have to edit the boot files to get the dual boot. It's easier with Windows first.

I dual boot Mepis with WinXP, but rebooting is a pain and I only boot XP when I want to use my GPS or rapid film scanner (which only come with Windows drivers). For actually working with a few Windows programs, I also have XP running in VirtualBox on Mepis, so I can switch between Windows and Linux applications.

Can't help with games, but there's fairly active discussion at mepislovers.org and they seem to have a lot of Windows games running one way or the other.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 07:26 PM

My old Win box won't run higher than Win98 - I have just changed a friends desktop from Fedora to Ubuntu - I just finally gave up - upgrades were becoming a total nightmare - Ubuntu worked much better - but there are tiny different glitches.

I just bought a new AMD V120 style Tosihba Win 7 laptop - it was just as cheap at about AUD$700 as buying a new desktop, and a secondhand laptop at about the same price is 5 years old and doesn't have Win 7 - which is the most useful/workable Win system for several years.... Still looking at Linuxing it - one big hassle is fighting things like the 'autoindexing' crap, etc - which makes the system think that you NEED 150 Gb - not the 30 Gb really needed to keep Win 7 as some stupid hidden INDEX.DAT file is probably not wanting to be shifted/deleted!

""since he has a lot of sophisticated computer games he wants to put on this new computer, does this type of thing by default run in the Windows environment or does Linux even go there?""

"sophisticated computer games" -> means most likely cannot work fully/reliably under WINE - if you have Windows Games (especially the latest ones with massive graphical capabilities), you almost always MUST run them under Windows - given up trying to run under WINE many old games that I loved under DOS/versions up to Win 98.

If he is 'committed to running windows' due to needing compatibility with the educational institution, then we need to work out WHY his desire/need to run a Linux system - but only because there are so many possible choices of systems, sizes, and capabilities.

Frankly Firefox is the best browser I have used - for far too many reasons to list here - and there are so many plugins (many thousands!) to do so many things, that there is really no choice for me. You can run it on either Win or Linux, so that's not a reason to 'need' Linux, actually - as indeed the many other useful Open System apps others mention mostly will be available to work on Windows too.

If he 'needs' Linux for particular courses - then one would expect that help/advice would be readily available (within the course at least!) on how to set up the dual boots, wht style of Linux, etc, what HW is useful, etc.

One is not 'restricted' to 'needing' 'full versions' such as Ubuntu if one 'needs' some sort of Linux - there are versions that will boot off optical disks and/or USB sticks - even the tiny 'business card CDs' or the good old floppy disk! Many of these do not even need to be installed to the Hard Disk. There are also very small foot print versions designed to be minimal some are called 'Tiny Linux', now there are even "Micro Linux' systems - some only need as little as 10 Mb - that's Mb - of RAM to run. There are even special versions designed to run off those tiny 'notebooks'. One can also often keep a Linux on a thumb drive' that will allow a cold boot on any PC you plug in to taking your fixed data with you too.

Sad as I am to say it - if you buy a system that bundles Win - especially 7 - then the later addition of Linux capabilities is no problem at all, really - from a technical viewpoint! :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 07:26 PM

Although it varies from one school to the next, quite a few schools have very specific requirements for the computers students are allowed to use to connect to school servers.

It appears that you have some information about what students at the son's school are using, but a direct contact with the computer support people at the school may give you more specific information than anyone here can offer.

A requirement by the school that students have specific software (and sometimes a specific computer) doesn't, of course, mean that you can't dual boot and/or have other programs; and it should be obvious that students are unlikely to follow all the rules; but making sure that the required stuff is included in planning, from the beginning, likely will make things a lot easier on the kid later.

A couple of schools I've blundered across have posted lists of prohibited software, or prohibited kinds of programs; and although I think this probably is quite rare, asking specifically if there are any restrictions shouldn't offend anyone at the school.

Making points with the school IT people by asking for advice, as long as questions are serious and not just trivia (and then at least pretending to have followed the advice) shouldn't hurt.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 07:45 PM

"download a most current version of Linux and get the computer up and running, with plans to change later?"

Quite frankly - since Linux has so many changes and updates - including often daily security fixes, there is little point in the idea of 'setting it up now and updating it later'. Version changes will usually require to you to delete/overwrite the previous Linux version anyway... also they keep playing with the WAY the drive is formatted with 'new' filesystem structures such as ext4, and others ... one reason why I had so many hassles with the latest aborted Fedora upgrade attempt that ended up taking several DAYS to fight thru it before deciding on Ubuntu!

It will add on to Windows boxes later easily enough when you want to use it - a few suggestions above I also agree with such as setting up the system, such as separate partitions that reserve space for whatever Linux wanted later.

For example - I set up Ubuntu 10 - it is a LTS - Long Term Support release - other versions such as version 9 will phase out and be unsupported after a short time, whereas 10 will be supported for a few years. This was another reason why I tired of Fedora, as if you installed version X - it was unsupported after version X+2 came out - and they were planning on releasing versions every 6 months or so. The nightmares I have gone thru with versions 'upgrading' and wiping out stuff like whole HD FAT tables they were not supposed to touch on drives that Linux was not supposed to even KNOW about because the 'testing' was only done on single drive systems and nobody noticed that this new version would treat any number of drives as just the one.... sigh... you can see why I tossed it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 08:18 PM

The operating system choice is up to him for what he wants to run on it, but I did hear from the IT lab folks, and in computer science department (his major) they run the Ubuntu software and OpenOffice.

Son is not happy that I've been doing this research, but I don't want to buy an operating system he won't use, or could have updated to for next to nothing after a little while. As long as my pocketbook is involved, I need to have more information than the brief conversations with an often surly 18-year-old can provide. :-/

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 11:43 PM

If you acquire a Desktop PC unbundled - can be difficult without a self build, or a few shops that specialise in that, then you can save the cost of Windows. Some such shops may even do the initial Linux install for a fee - actually most of them USE the Linux utils on the Linux boot disk to sort out the HW, and even do a 'live install boot' nowadays just to do a quick check anyway. :-)

All new laptops seem to come bundled, except from a few special suppliers who (not talking about Dell!) can provide a fully setup system - they provide a service of making sure that the hardware and drivers are all properly setup with Linux - Usually Ubuntu these days - I know that there are a few around from the ads in some very limited specialised magazines (high level security and anti-hacking penetration) I get from time to time.

If as you say it looks like Windows is not 'needed' then the setting up of the HW/SW 'is a good exercise for the student' ... :-)

The only point really worth noting for the (your) pocket book is that the VERY latest hardware MAY have a few minor driver hassles for Linux, but you can end up in that nightmare with just trying to get printers, etc to work too... :-)

"Son is not happy that I've been doing this research"

Haha! Tough! Tell him that the research is ALSO (he's not the centre of the Universe - might be centre of YOUR universe for the moment - :-) - won't hurt the teenage ego to learn that there are things HE never thought of!) for 'self education' !!!! You need to buy new systems for yourself occasionally, too, you know! :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 12:19 AM

Turns out he wasn't happy because we were both contacting the same professor. :)

I was very tired last night when he asked if I'd called the school, but since it was Sunday, I hadn't. He apparently said something more that didn't register (taking me off the case, but I didn't hear him), so this morning I set out (while he was still sleeping) to get the answer to his question. And in the early afternoon while I was at work I finished my end of things by sending an email to the professor he must have also contacted.

He shared his concern with me that his professors might remember him "because his mom called or emailed them about something he was doing." I told him I was sure they'd just be impressed that he was getting such a head start on his computer work, and since this was the only time they'd hear from me, they'll know him for his scholarship and good work.

We went over to Fry's tonight and picked up a mouse (high end gaming mouse - amazing how kids can spend money fast) and a few cables. Seems I'm always running out of cables these days. Anyway, he has one of my barely used keyboards (it's tough for a touch typist finding a good keyboard - I now use an IBM Selectric clone, complete with their spring buckle key functions, made by Unicomp out of Kentucky. They literally bought the rights to the IBM Selectric keyboard and produce it now for computers.)

He's working on it now installing Ubuntu, and we'll have to research things like printers before we buy them. I think he'll eventually end up with a dual platform.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 02:58 AM

I'm guessing the OP is in the USA given the phraseology, but PC Pro magazine here in the UK has an interesting W7 / Ubuntu comparison article in its current issue.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 01:20 PM

What is the article called? I didn't see it in scanning the title page. Thanks!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: GUEST,Xavier Sythe
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 01:50 PM

I recommend Linux Mint. It's an easy-to-use derivative of Ubuntu.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 06:18 PM

I use Ubuntu. I installed it about 18 months ago because I was getting fed up with WinXP which was getting distinctly arthritic.

I found it fairly straightforward to set up, but it took time to learn the OS as Linux does things differently from Windows. There were some initial glitches, mainly with sound but the help forum was a mine of useful information and provided all the info I needed.

I have recently upgraded to 10.04 and have found that things now generally run better.
I have a dual boot system and have kept WinXP with a fairly small partition as there are a few things that I find Windows useful for. I have managed to sort out much of the clutter that was slowing the boot times down and it is now relatively quick to reboot to Windows when I need it. I have a small number of Windows applications running with Wine. Wine maintain an applications database with information on how well (or otherwise) a whole range of Windows apps run with Wine, including a fair number of games. You do really need to check this if you want to use Windows apps with Wine. The url for wine is www.winehq.org

I was already using Open Office and Firefox, so that aspect of Linux did not need learning.

If you want info on the various "flavours" of Linux, then check distrowatch.com It has info on the various distributions. The home page is a little messy, but there is a link to "Major Distributions" at the top of the home page.

Overall I am very satisfied with Ubuntu and I would not go back to Windows as my main OS. It runs well on my 8 year old computer in spite of relatively modest resources. I expect to replace my computer in the near future, probably before the end of the year as the UK govt has increased VAT, so I will get one before the tax rise kicks in in January. In the UK computers normally come with Windows pre-installed (Unless you get a Mac) but it is relatively easy to partition the disk by downloading GParted and installing it on a CD. GParted does the same job as Partition Magic, but is free. It is Linux based and comes with a minmimal Linux OS so is self contained - it doesn't matter what OS you have on your computer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 03:33 PM

Hi,
I use Gentoo Linux quite successfully for both my personal and school work. The biggest issue with Linux is when professors want specific software, but you can usually fake it, Linux provides literally thousands of free software alternatives. Wine will run some games, like Mist III, with absolutely no problem and others, like Empire Earth, will give you hours of pain and still not work.If the games you want to run are Windows 7 compatible, then Win 7 will run them better than wine. If not, wine might be the only way to run them. Microsoft changes there system to break old software.

Some definitions are in order about Linux. Linux is a small kernel that does not do much, it just provides a solid base. On that, you need a boot loader, like grub or lilo, to boot; a system logger; and most users like the X server for a gui, dressed with gnome or KDE. A distro will include all this by default, but it is not Linux, it is a collection of applications. This means that separate programs have their own tasks, making the system more stable. for example, wireless driver stops, you can kill it and restart it without restarting the computer. Windows integrates stuff and conflicts are more souse and bug fixes are much slower.
Windows is also its gui. Windows itself is, well, sloppy. I cannot explain more without going into programing practices.

Viruses are a very important issue in computing. in Linux, there are three permissions, root, user, and world. Root can mess the system up. User can use their files. World can look at files (usually another user's files). Execute privileges must be given to a program. This means that viruses can be downloaded and stored harmlessly on the computer, as long as YOU don't allow them to run. You would have to change their permissions, which is a pain. Virus software should NEVER be run in Linux, so you save some money there. The reason is the anti-malware stuff needs root access, which is permission to wreck to computer.The memory freed for not running virus software can be very significant! Windows allows executions by default, so web page downloads stuff, computer automatically runs it. Microsoft refuses to change this because they claim it works better for their consumers. A firewall is a good idea and a free one, called iptables, is provided by default on most distros.

This brings us to distros. As I said, I like Gentoo. Gentoo is very "geeky" because you build it up from scratch, so it is NOT a good starting distro. I recommend Sabayon Linux because it is relatively stable and well supported. Ubuntu and Mint are derivatives of Debian, so they are the same thing more or less. Debian restricts you to *.deb packages, while Sabayon can support *.deb and *.rpm (Red Hat Packages) with the native package manager. Debian also hides to root user. This weakens the security. Distros are packages of grouped software, and support forums, not different systems. Gentoo is total geek, as is Slackware, so I would not recommend them to a novice. The two major choices you have are gnome and KDE. KDE, or the K Desktop Environment, looks and feels more like windows, and can be customized easily to your needs. Gnome is smaller and feels more Unix like. Try them both, it just costs a CD.

I double booting REQUIRES windows to be the first system installed. You can fake it, but it will take of work. Memory management is also better in linux, and the new Ext4 file system is lightning fast, and the software is free! Check it out, install it, and if you don't like it, Windows will happy overtire your disks. There is never any need to buy linux, so unless you have a very slow connection, don't!

Linux is easy to use, free, capable of running most software or a replacement for that software, very resistant to virus, very secure. I would recommend installing it and testing to see of Linux fills all of your MS Windows needs.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 03:43 PM

Oh, I almost forgot. Live CDs allow you to test without installing. You can use check Linux out with them, and if you like it, install from the same CD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 03:53 PM

A bit of a sideways step.

When I had a motherboard which would support two HDs, I WAS going to have two, but separated by a double-on switch in the front of the case.

The idea was, XP on one HD, Linux on the other, one for work, one for fun and the web.

It would take some soldering to the power connection, and on course, a shutdown to change, but no-one told me it was unfeasible.
The switch is a three-circuit double-on, and was available readily at a local electronics house.
My motherboard died before I got around to trying it, and the new one won't support two HDs.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: treewind
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 04:44 PM

"Debian restricts you to *.deb packages, while Sabayon can support *.deb and *.rpm"

That's not as bad as it might sound to the uninitiated:
(1) Most packages are available in both .deb and .rpm forms.
(2) Debian has a program for installing from .RPM files.
The latter is useful because sometimes more recent versions of a program are available as .rpm before they turn up as .deb.

"Root can mess the system up. User can use their files. World can look at files (usually another user's files)."
Hmm...
That's a bit muddled, but the conclusion is right: that ordinary users do not have privileges for overwriting system files, and that means any file they download and try to run doesn't have those privileges either, and without the root password they can't acquire that privilege. In order to install any software (or if your web browser is tricked into trying to install something) you have to give the system a password so it can't happen by accident.

Something that Windows users don't often appreciate is that it is VERY rare that you ever want to install a program on a Linux system by any means except the distribution's repository (i.e. the official Ubuntu/Debian/Red Hat/whatever web site). These repositories are huge and contain just about every Linux package known to man and they are all checked for safety. This contrasts with Windows where you are positively encouraged to download and install anything from anywhere without having any guarantee of its provenance or content (and usually you don't get to see the source code either...)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 06:50 PM

Ext4 - a different opinion - the latest Fedora upgrade caused me days of nightmares in changing from Ext3 to the only allowable ext4 format for the main partitions - I just gave up and went to Ubuntu 10.04 - a long term supported release.

Many distributions, including Gentoo need total replacement every 6 months or so - that's why I gave up on Fedora - while supposedly the best (Linus T - the guy who started off the Linux development stream) uses it... :-) it churned out a new version every 6 months or so. The kernel and applications that run on it are rebuilt with new 'support data' - the underlying data that is referenced by those pieces of SW - so you cannot run say a version X of an app built with version X of those support files, if the kernel uses the version X-1 of those support files, and so on...

"Distros are packages of grouped software, and support forums, not different systems"

Actually - all such distros rely on only a very few slightly differing families of those 'support files' I mentioned - and even those families can all be upgraded rapidly when one of the common core 'support files' is given a security patch - eg the Office writing etc package needs to refer to the correct version of those 'support files' to define things like data streams, etc - if one of those 'support files' has a 'fencepost error' in defining the length of something - fixing it in that underlying 'support file' will not only fix it in that application, but right throughout the whole system, including the kernel. This contrasts with Windows, where fixing that sort of critical error in Vista means that XP is now totally incompatible and the apps written for XP will not work on Vista, etc.

"ordinary users do not have privileges for overwriting system files, and that means any file they download and try to run doesn't have those privileges either, and without the root password they can't acquire that privilege"

Well, that's mostly true too - BUT there always ARE ways around that too - and that is the reason that you get a large number of Linux 'security fix' upgrade downloads - those support files I mentioned may often have security holes that get patched as rapidly as they can - Windows does such patches far less often - not that there are fewer such holes, but that's just they way they work - some Windows security holes may remain for months. I get a fairly restricted availability (just because not very many people want to get it!) security magazine that always is revealing new ideas of how to crack thru these holes... (HACKIN9) - no typo... :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 08:11 PM

For a computer science major, you might really consider learning Linux. If you son is serous about Computer science, Ubuntu is NOT a good system because the configuration files are a mess. This might not sound bad but if he wants to really get into the os, it is a nightmare. It can take 30 minutes to sort out a simple file. For someone in his position, it might be fun to install Gentoo to learn about Linux. Gentoo is source based, so most programs are available earlier, the package management is much better than Ubuntu. It takes a lot of time to install, but if he just built the box...
Because it is source based, you get long compile times with minimal time savings running software, but you only get the software you want. This means faster boot up. If you have time to spend on working with the computer to get it to boot up is acceptable, you will get a very nice system AND know Linux. If you install something else, you won't. The handbook can be found here . Read it CAREFULLY and you should be ok, but this is major geek land, so watch you step. You cannot break you computer this way, so at worst you will lose some time.

If you just want something simple, Sabayon is very nice for less work, but is a bit excessive with pre-loaded packages.

          I would recomed looking at the distros in this order:
          
  1. Gentoo (if you can spare the time to learn it)
          
  2. Sabayon (easy to install, package management a little weird)
          
  3. Ubuntu (protected form the user. Not good for people who want to mess with their computer.)
       


Since you are not upgrading, go for the ext4 file system. It is faster that ext3. If you want to try a different distro, be careful! DSL works well, but it is only supposed to be run from the CD drive. Some distros may be poorly supported. Others might be targeted specifically to a group and not support other uses easily. Sabayon is derived from Gentoo so it may be a good alternative if you do not want to try Gentoo directly. The weirdness in package management comes from having a "cute" gui that, well, does not work well on 1G of ram.
THERE IS NOTHING BAD ABOUT LEARNING A COMMAND LINE, ALL LINUX USERS SHOULD KNOW HOW!
As for exactly what permissions and distros are precisely, it does not matter. You can worry about that after you learn the basics. Just remember, as Linus Torvalds said, ""Regression testing"? What's that? If it compiles, it is good; if it boots up, it is perfect."
Happy compiling! uh, I mean installing!


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 08:44 PM

I'll forward this information to my son - he is a beginner with Ubuntu, having gone through various versions of Windows operating systems on his computers so far. I suspect as he proceeds this will make more and more sense to him.

This conversation is bringing back memories of writing little DOS batch files and remembering how to get functionality out of that system.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 10:12 PM

Fedora was more "pure" than Ubuntu - it refused to have any files as a party of the basic build that were not 'open source' which means that you could not just get many music files, etc to play without lots of mucking about with locating and downloading codecs, etc- which WAS a learning experience, but Ubuntu tends to work more 'out of the box' with less hassle. Perfect for the person for whom I provide 'pro bono tech support' :-)

There is something called 'the little baby yellow duck syndrome' - the first system you learn becomes the ruler against which all other systems are measured - just as the baby duck imprints on the first thing sit sees.... :-)

Actually there are far more 'smaller footprint' systems than even Gentoo - there are systems designed to work in only a few Mb - that's Mb of RAM, as I have said before (and specially for the minimalist netbook style laptops) - you tend to do far more 'learning' with them, as you have to keep 'building stuff' all the time.... as someone who started with a Tandy TRS80 and worked up thru minis, and mainframes, as well as micros (more OSes and programming languages - including many assembly languages and microcoding - than letters of the alphabet!), these days I just want an 'atomic typewriter' that works - I know a lot of 'theory' but they keep changing the physical practicalities - reinventing the wheel - and being in an endless learning curve like a sheer wall just gets a bit tedious when you just want to play a midi file...

If one needed to go thru all that 'constant relearning' when just driving a car to go shopping, I'd probably eventually just give up and start walking! :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: treewind
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 12:06 PM

"If you son is serous about Computer science, Ubuntu is NOT a good system"

I didn't see any indication that SRS's son was actually studying computer science. All he's used until now is Windows, apparently. Ubuntu is a good way of getting into Linux if you don't want to be a geek.

If you do want to get into the nuts and bolts of Linux and edit your own configuration files, Gentoo is great if you want really low level, and Debian is good if you think actually compiling all your applications from source is a step too far. Also Debian is strict about proper free software licenses, though it has a separate "non-free" section in the repository. (that doesn't mean you have to pay for anything, it just means the license terms aren't compatible with GPL)

I use Debian on my main machine at home and on a server, my wife uses Ubuntu and I run a Debian server on the office network as a small part of my job. I recently bought a 5 year old thinkpad and installed Ubuntu on that because laptops can be tricky and Ubuntu has good hardware compatibility. Horses for courses...


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 12:46 PM

Stepson of The Joe - some of your posting seems to have been typed at speed without spell checking or proof reading. Not criticising, but it sometimes throws up unintentional meanings.
I loved :-
"Windows will happy overtire your disks."
It says it all!!!
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 01:19 PM

His major is Computer Science, but he is an entering freshman this fall and hasn't had any classes yet. I'm sure that if he stays a CS major and gets into those classes after finishing a few university requirements that the curriculum will guide some of his choices and experience will guide others.

The reviews and experience expressed here by different users are helpful. They provide directions of inquiry.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: John J
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 01:41 PM

I've just upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu 9.10 - and it won't connect to the internet any more.......aaargh!

Up until this point I've been very happy with earlier versions of Ubuntu.

It will probably be something simple, but as I have very limited computer knowledge it's going to be a long and hard road.

JJ


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: GUEST,Stepson of The Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 07:09 PM

If your laptop is running KDE or Gnome, Network Manager is the default network connection. This application has known bugs in KDE, the worst are with wireless. I would recommend using wicd. It installs very easily and just works, most of the time (wireless can require manual configuration, but they are getting much better at auto detecting). Also, try plunging a cable in if you are wireless.

Back to the topic, Linux is Linux and the what distro is pretty much which package manager you like best. Even with Gentoo, you don't see much difference once you are set up. Gentoo's Portage is very efficient, Slackware's pkgtools is completely manual, Ubuntu's Synaptic is a friendly gui, and Sabayon's Entropy miss manages quite a few dependency. It is mostly personal choice. The packages provided are also important. Slackware and, to some extend, Debian provide older software that is extensively tested. Ubuntu is faster, which is why they split from Debian, but they are still slow. Gentoo is on the edge, which can cause minor stability problems. Sabayon tries to be right on the bleeding edge, but they tend to have minor testing issues. Recently, they mixed there testing and stable branches up, but it was rather minor.
Most "upgrades" provided by distros like Ubuntu are just new versions of the gui and a bunch of minor files. The kernel is updated frequently. Gentoo constantly updates its software, so it has no version. You just update files as they become available.

The final question is what style you like: slow and proven stable, or new and stable. I like new and stable because newer software has bug fixes, more features, and its the one the developers expect to generate bug reports. My experience is that a computer geek would want a system that is stable, but allows tinkering to perfect the performance, ease of setting up your own scripts (like my firewall), etc.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 08:55 PM

John J - actually Ubuntu 10 is a more stable development line than 9, IME.

"won't connect to the internet"

A wired connection is more likely to work 'out of the box' - and allows you to debug the wireless hassles. ... KISS mate! ... :-)

Also KDE is much touted, but I have found that Gnome is less breakable ... :-) And there are many more minimal interfaces, if you want things to place less load on the machines ... XFCE etc ...

I am not only a computer geek, but in all 'technical fields' as well from the 60s - I just want an Atomic Typewriter' that works without needing a Degree in Atomic Physics ... if I wanna 'play', I'll do that on a separate box - been there, done that, thanks... :-)

"Most "upgrades" provided by distros like Ubuntu are just new versions of the gui and a bunch of minor files. The kernel is updated frequently."

... to fix security and other bugs ... Which is exactly what the user of an "Atomic Typewriter" needs and wants ... :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: olddude
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 09:09 PM

Ok Here was the deal for me. I put three daughters through college, my last one graduated 4 years ago. I was a tenured full professor of Computer Science for over 12 years.

I used ubuntu linux on all of their notebooks. Why because I got sick of virus software expiring or they not downloading the updates when I told them to ... or the tons of malware and other such nonsense a college kid deals with. Now once I got them to use linux and the open office programs, and to save their files in open office as either PDF or microsoft word docs as required by their professors, my kids found it easy to use, and 100% reliable. Now did they do all kinds of games on it, No .. could they do 100% of their needed course work yup .. That is the path I took ... worked great for me.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: olddude
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 09:51 PM

I should also say, some version of Linux on all of theirs. ubuntu first release I believe was 2004 prior to that I had some other version of the many flavors of linux but all worked well for me and my kids. Only issues my youngest complained about was printing on other printers not hers .. Like network ones in a lab


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Subject: RE: Tech: 2010 Linux vs Win 7 - strengths?
From: Acme
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 10:53 PM

Thanks!


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