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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 190798  
Subject: Linux intro for users Date: 1/26/2013 9:55 PM
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Any suggestions for a good intro to Linux for regular users who would like to just turn on the computer and use it for internet/word-processing/spreadsheet/pictures. So far, what I have found includes a lot of programming/computer science type instructions.

I would like short explanations about the various distributions and desktops, file organization, linux equivalents to Windows control panel and other elements.

I am playing around with Puppy because I don't have to set up a dual-boot situation. I want to learn about Linux to decide what to use to keep my EeePC running. It had been running WinXP, but it got messed up and I have been unable to get a clean re-install of XP on it.

Thanks.

Barbara
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Author: mmrmnhrm Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183533 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 12:10 AM
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Fair warning... you're walking (blindly stumbling?) into Holy War(tm) territory. What one person says/suggests will be vehemently flamed, derided, and labeled as heresy by another, based solely on whether or not they like version 2 or 3 of Gnome, or if they have philosophical issues with OpenOffice that made them switch to LibreOffice.

So, understanding that whatever I tell you will almost certainly be labeled as the ramblings of a no-nothing, I suggest you seek out "newbie friendly" distros which do a lot of assuming and hand-holding. Ubuntu comes to mind, though I've been using OpenSuSE for about 4 years now.

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Author: JimP102 One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183534 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 1:20 AM
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I have no experience with any Linux OS other than Puppy. I happened on to it after an XP HD OS crash. After replacing the bad drive I was able to boot from a DVD with it and retrieve all of my data from the bad drive. I was impressed with the friendly interface and ease of use. Never really played with it much after that but I keep a copy around just in case.

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Author: JeanDavid Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183535 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 2:00 AM
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Any suggestions for a good intro to Linux for regular users who would like to just turn on the computer and use it for internet/word-processing/spreadsheet/pictures. So far, what I have found includes a lot of programming/computer science type instructions.

I would like short explanations about the various distributions and desktops, file organization, linux equivalents to Windows control panel and other elements.

I am playing around with Puppy because I don't have to set up a dual-boot situation. I want to learn about Linux to decide what to use to keep my EeePC running. It had been running WinXP, but it got messed up and I have been unable to get a clean re-install of XP on it.


I wrote my first computer program around 1956, in straight binary, punched it into cards, and ran it on an IBM 704 with no operating system. Tricky. Imagine a current PC but with no BIOS. Try to figure how to bootstrap your program into it and run it...

When first exposed to the UNIX operating system, I absolutely hated it; it was completely unsuited to real-time moving image processing which is what I had to do at the time. So why do I run Linux now? Well, I am no longer in the real-time moving image processing business, computers are 2000x faster, etc. And now, the main alternatives are Windows OS's that I hate even more than I hated UNIX, or something of the UNIX flavor (Linux, FreeBSD, etc.) or Apple stuff (that I have never tried).

Now about what distro to use. When I first got my own home computer, it came with Windows 95, and it was hate at first sight. After about a year I could not stand it anymore, and I got Red Hat Linux 5.0. That was so much better that I have run Red Hat ever since. I am currently running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 on this, my main machine. That costs about $1/day and I would not suggest it for a beginner. If you wanted to try something like it, get the CentOS 6 that is almost identical and is free. I believe they now accept financial contributions again, but you are not obliged to pay them.

I do not think picking any particular distro will make much difference. One friend of mine tried a very large number of them, and never got any one to work well. But he tried a different one each week, and never got to understand any of them. Actually, he did later when he got a job working for Dell doing technical support. He than ran Dell Unix until that was discontinued, and then some flavor of Red Hat. The main reason I do not get excited about which distro to run is that deep down they are all pretty much the same, and I never wanted to set up a test lab and try them all out. I just wanted one that would run my machines rather efficiently and be easy to program. Which Windows was not. Perhaps it still is not; I would not know. And since Red Hat was fine in 1998, I never switched, other than a brief try with Fedora (that is Red Hat with a different philosopny).

My friends now mostly run apple, but a couple also run Ubuntu or one of its children. I tried Fedora once, but that was long ago, and it was OK, but did not work well when I networked two machines together. That was version 2 or so, so by now those problems must have been solved. But I never cared enough to switch.

My advice for picking a Linux distribution is to find out what distro most of your friends use and pick that. That way you can get help. Alternatively, join a local computer user's group and get what they recommend, for the same reason. There are groups on UseNet that provide a lot of help for Linux. There is even one here at TMF that is not very active. My impression is that TMF users do not seem to need a lot of help.

You could look here too: http://distrowatch.com/ but that might be overwhelming.

The advantage of trying first with a Ubuntu version is you can try it out without actually installing it. You stick the CD in your CD drive and boot it. It runs without messing up your existing OS. If you really like it, you can then install it.

As far as books are concerned, I have about 7 feet of the things, and most would not help you. Check out the Linux books published by O'Reilly. Check the publication dates. Older ones may get you into trouble. There is one about SELinux, for example, that is too old to use, but the author has not written a newer version.

This book might actually help: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596007607.do

The applications are all somewhat different. Instead of Photoshop, there is the GIMP. Instead of Microsoft Office, there is Libre Office. Instead of Microsoft Access, you can choose postgreSQL or MySQL. I prefer the former. The only thing I use Windows (7) for is my TaxAct program.

Firefox and Thunderbird run just fine in Linux.

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Author: Kurtv Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183537 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 6:44 AM
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Any suggestions for a good intro to Linux for regular users who would like to just turn on the computer and use it for internet/word-processing/spreadsheet/pictures.

Ubuntu. Preferably version 12.04.1LTS which is extremely stable.

I am playing around with Puppy because I don't have to set up a dual-boot situation. I want to learn about Linux to decide what to use to keep my EeePC running.

The easiest way to run Ubuntu is to install it while running Windows using the Wubi installer. This allows you to add and remove Ubuntu just like it was any other program in Windows. However, when you are actually using it the computer acts the same as a dual boot setup, meaning you will see the boot loader screen and have the option of booting Windows or Linux at startup. This is the setup I am using on my Acer netbook. Linux boots in a third of the time Windows 7 Starter does and every thing about it runs faster and smoother.

http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/windows-installer

I use Chromium, Firefox, Libre Office (mostly just the word processor and sometimes the spreadsheet programs) and Dropbox. I haven't installed an email client since I've been moving to Gmail but Thunderbird is available. I've used OpenOffice in the past but switched to Libre because that is what now comes with the distribution and it works fine. I keep my documents in Dropbox which syncs to my desktop for backup.

If you dislike the Unity interface/desktop which is optimized for touch & small screens and which comes standard now in Ubuntu, you can install your choice of desktop. I'm currently running the Gnome desktop and prefer it. With Linux you have plenty of options.

The biggest reason I like Ubuntu is the user interface. If you like and are comfortable using the command line, you can. If not, you can do most common tasks via the mouse, menus and dialogs and there is plenty of help online. Of course often the command line is the quickest way, but once again you have options.

http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/take-the-tour

It had been running WinXP, but it got messed up and I have been unable to get a clean re-install of XP on it.

So does Windows boot at all or has it just been acting up occasionally? Have you tried the repair console? How are you trying to reinstall XP? Do you have the system disc? Did it come with a recovery partition?

Kurt

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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183541 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 5:28 PM
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Jean,

Thanks for the distrowatch link. I read that over and decided to try Ubuntu. HOWEVER! it needs 4.4 gig to install and my little EeePC only has 2 gig. I found that out after playing around with it trying to the installation program to work for about three hours. When I finally got it to run the installation, that's when it said it needed 4.4gig. No mention of that anywhere else before that!!!

Oh well. Will probably try it on my little Sony Vaio netbook someday when the Win7 starter gives out.

I live in a small town, in the middle of nowhere. Yes, the computer geeks in town have heard of Linux and some have even played with it, but, there is no money in it here. Everyone I have talked to and who have talked to others say they just don't have the time to "play" with it. Windows is what the businesses run on and that is what they spend their time on.

Barbara

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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183542 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 5:33 PM
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Hi Kurt,

I had some problems with the original XP in 2009. I decided to reinstall to see if that would take care of the problems (don't remember now what they were). Since I had to do that, I decided to try nLite to make more space on my little 2 gig machine. That worked until sometime in late 2011 when the wireless stopped working. I haven't been able to get a good installation of XP since, so that is why I am looking into Linux.

As I mentioned above, I tried Ubuntu today, but it is too big for my netbook.

Barbara

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Author: Kurtv Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183543 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 6:43 PM
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Wow, I guess you have one of the very early models.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asus_Eee_PC

My Acer netbook is the 10" variety with 160GB HDD and I upgraded it to 2 gigs of RAM. Puppy only needs 512MB of space and is definitely worth a try. I've played with it some but preferred Ubuntu. Sounds like you have little to lose by installing it.

http://www.puppylinuxfaq.org/first-steps-in-puppy-linux/9-in...

Good luck and you might find more help on the Linux Users Board found here:

http://boards.fool.com/linux-users-group-112966.aspx?mid=304...

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Author: JeanDavid Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183544 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 9:10 PM
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Thanks for the distrowatch link. I read that over and decided to try Ubuntu. HOWEVER! it needs 4.4 gig to install and my little EeePC only has 2 gig.

Are they talking about RAM size or hard drive space? (I do not know.) I have a version of Ubuntu that fits just fine on a single cd-rom that surely holds less than one GBytes.
I run CentOS 5 on a machine that has 2 Pentium 3 550 MHz processors and 512 Meg of RAM and that runs fine. I find it difficult to believe Ubuntu takes more than CentOS 5. Do you have less than 2 GBytes spare hard drive space?

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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183547 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 9:51 PM
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Wow, I guess you have one of the very early models.

Yep. The only time I have been an early adapter. It has a 4Gig solid state drive, 1G of RAM, and a 7"screen.

It takes some getting used to for typing, but I can do it. It has gone to England with me twice and I love the thing. Just found out that a replacement battery is under $20. I think I paid over $60 for an extra battery before my 2009 trip to England. Maybe I will stock up on batteries.

Barbara

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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183548 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/27/2013 9:58 PM
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Thanks for the distrowatch link. I read that over and decided to try Ubuntu. HOWEVER! it needs 4.4 gig to install and my little EeePC only has 2 gig.

Are they talking about RAM size or hard drive space? (I do not know.) I have a version of Ubuntu that fits just fine on a single cd-rom that surely holds less than one GBytes.
--------------------------------------------
Jean,

Ooops, meant to type that I only have 4 gig solid state drive.

I was very surprised to see that it required 4.4 Gigs, and disappointed.

Oh well, I have Puppy installed on the solid state drive now and will see how that goes. I am still confused about the file organization. Took me forever to find the drive under the /mnt directory. I definitely have a steep learning curve ahead of me.

Barbara

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Author: JeanDavid Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183550 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/28/2013 9:26 AM
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Took me forever to find the drive under the /mnt directory.

Are you sure you installed it? If it is your only "hard drive", I would expect it to be mounted a just plain / . It would be mounted under /mnt only if you were running from the CD-ROM. At least that is what happens with my regular linux. I screwed up a hard drive (wrote over the partition label) and it would not mount, and the system would not even boot. It was not even a drive I needed, just some pictures, mp3s, and videos. I had to do a crash recovery, where it mounted things under /mnt, and I could comment out the appropriate line from /etc/fstab, and get everything working again.

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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183558 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/29/2013 12:16 AM
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Took me forever to find the drive under the /mnt directory.

Are you sure you installed it? If it is your only "hard drive", I would expect it to be mounted a just plain / . It would be mounted under /mnt only if you were running from the CD-ROM.

-----------------------------
Ahhhh, so I thought also, until I tried downloading a large file a couple times and "ran out of space"after only 450 or so megs had downloaded, which totally screwed up my system.

I THINK it has to do with the fact that Puppy loads everything into RAM and the default file viewer shows the file folders that are loaded into RAM, so I was running out of RAM when downloading. It takes me a while poking around to actually find the drive or other media. And I have been able to download a couple large files now that I know what I am looking for. In Windows I am used to downloading to the desktop. Now the "desktop" folder is in RAM, so I can't just use desktop as the default.

I'll get the hang of this yet.

Barbara

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Author: JeanDavid Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 183560 of 190798
Subject: Re: Linux intro for users Date: 1/29/2013 8:52 AM
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I THINK it has to do with the fact that Puppy loads everything into RAM

I ran Ubuntu for a week on a spare computer loaned me by a friend after my main computer blew up. Possibly Sandy-related.

In any case, that ran as you describe, because I never bothered to install it; I just ran it from disk.

It is my understanding that if I actually installed it, it would install Ubuntu on the hard drive, and then things would be mounted as expected and not under /mnt. Of course, if you do that, you are committed. I suppose you could still dual boot. But this presumes you have enough hard drive space, and that is the question.

I run Red Hat Enterprise Linux on this machine, but I have so much hard drive space it is ridiculous. But a one terabyte SATA hard drive is less than $70, so ...
I remember when a 40 Megabit hard drive, 2400 rpm, three phase power, was $40,000. And that was great compared to no hard drive at all.

Here is the disk usage of my little machine. It is running CentOS 5. It has 512 Megabytes RAM. It has an 80 GByte 7200 rpm regular had drive and two 10 GByte 10,000 rpm SCSI hard drives.

/dev/hda6 (/scratch) should not be counted. It contains the full backup of my old (now junked) system. And if you do not run BOINC, do not count /dev/sda1 either.

# df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda2 19840924 3192028 15624756 17% /
/dev/sdb2 6704268 284796 6073412 5% /var
/dev/sdb1 1983808 41272 1840140 3% /tmp
/dev/hda5 19840892 479208 18337544 3% /home
/dev/sda1 8688160 900544 7339156 11% /home/boinc
/dev/hda1 505604 27818 451682 6% /boot
/dev/hda6 29601556 221892 27875984 1% /scratch
tmpfs 257444 0 257444 0% /dev/shm

So maybe I should present it like this:

# df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda2 19840924 3192028 15624756 17% /
/dev/sdb2 6704268 284796 6073412 5% /var
/dev/sdb1 1983808 41272 1840140 3% /tmp
/dev/hda5 19840892 479208 18337544 3% /home
/dev/hda1 505604 27818 451682 6% /boot

About 4 Gigibytes. But you might not need as much stuff as I have in /home. It is difficult for me to imagine Ubuntu would take more disk space than RHEL 5 (or its brother, CentOS 5).

But I have been wrong before.

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