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Old 08-08-2016, 01:52 PM   #1
johnhannibalsmith
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Linux Advice For a New User

Technically, that's not entirely true as I used it briefly in the 90's and became somewhat familiar with basic terminal commands and the file structures. But, clearly a lot has changed and most of what I remember is more a result of spending the last few days reading and watching videos - mainly on the various popular new distributions, installations, and dealing with drivers.

The scenario boils down to a longstanding claim/gripe/whine of mine to at least try to not deal with Windows. Without beating a dead horse mercilessly, it isn't so much the software itself, though I still pretend to this day that I would prefer to still be running DOS over Win. The problem for me has been the trajectory of the company behind the software since the days of DOS and the sense that I increasingly need permission from Windows to do anything the way that I want to do it as opposed to the way that they want to, even when it comes to 3rd party executables.

I finally went ahead and decided to order components to piece together a replacement for what is a perfectly fine computer that I use now. But it is getting old by contemporary standards in terms of lifespan, not so much technology since I tend to try to buy what I hope will last. My goal here is to build the new computer and load a Linux distro from the outset and be able to work through getting it running to satisfaction without the pressure of needing to use that computer. I will still have this Win7 computer alongside to do what I need to do without interruption or pressure to get my shit together with Linux.

I've read a bunch of threads here at Pace Advantage (notably this among my favorites with good back and forth with Tupper, Delta, Sosa, Dave S, and DJofSD: http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/s...ighlight=linux ) and since a few years have elapsed since that thread I'm hoping that some of the same guys or others that frequent this forum and have an opinion can chime in with pretty much any insight.

My main and most simple question revolves around selecting a distro. At the moment I am leaning towards Ubuntu. I have looked at a few of the derivatives (Mint, Zorin, etc.) and I think I'd rather not have it too easy making a transition from Windows. Mint and Zorin seem geared to make it as simple as possible with many things included in the distro and a familiar appearance. I think that I want a few growing pains and a need to interact with the terminal and hunt for some basic applications and don't really see any need to ditch windows in favor of an OS that resembles Windows.

But these are rudimentary conclusions. There are so many things to consider and so many various distros to investigate that I find myself spending hours looking at one of the most popular before making it to the next and then needing a break. So my progress is slow learning. I'm hoping that maybe others have recommendations or opinions or even some good reference sources to throw my way to facilitate a lot of these choices.

For the record, I'm not a 'power user' by any real definition. Most of my computer use these days is basic stuff. Browser running 200 open tabs and admittedly, even the occasional game. No, I'm not a hardcore Call of Duty type guy, but I do like to spin out with some strategy and simulator type games once in a while (Civ and the like mainly) so would probably install Steam. I've read where GPU driver support can be messy and am contemplating swapping my old GPU into the new build and using the new GPU in this computer for the time being if for no other reason than to be sure to test the new one on a stable system that I can run and be forced to eventually tinker with Nvidia drivers on Linux twice.

Alright, I'm all over the place with this thread and post. I had an idea what I wanted to ask about and then digressed so many times that I suppose it is more of a free-form advice solicitation for a new Linux tranny with some margin for error and some basic understanding of the principles.

Any comments, even ones calling me an idiot for making a political statement with an OS are appreciated.
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Old 08-08-2016, 04:19 PM   #2
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I dumped microsoft completely about a year ago and never regret it. I use Xubuntu, has the right look and feel for me along with performance. I would like to find a better file manager but that's it.
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Old 08-08-2016, 05:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xtb
...I use Xubuntu, has the right look and feel for me along with performance...


Thanks. That's among the next things I really want to look into - the various *buntu distributions to see if I should go with the flagship or one of the other ones like X. I will start there now that it has an endorsement.
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Old 08-08-2016, 08:01 PM   #4
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I have been using PCLinuxOS with the LXDE desktop for years. The menu/layout is very windows like and it is easy on the resources.

At distrowatch and you can see all the latest flavors of Linux.

You can always download ANY iso. and burn it to DVD or USB Stick.

If you change your bios so that the first boot device is the DVD or USB, you can run the whole distro for a test drive before installing it. Go buy a 10 pack of DVD's and give it a try.

I have tried at least 50 of the top distos and like PCLinuxOS the best because of the computer configuration center. This gives you more control over your hardware and settings.

Most distro's just set the configs once at install and your left trying to figure out what to change to tweak or fix something.

I also tried and liked:

Peppermint/Manjaro/Mageia/Solus and Puppy (installed on my old P4 laptop)

Ken
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Old 08-08-2016, 08:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michiken
...

At distrowatch and you can see all the latest flavors of Linux.

...

Ken


That's one of the 200 tabs that I've had open for days now trying to work my way down the list and learn about each.

I will definitely skip a few and get to PCLinuxOS - then the others recommended.

Thanks also for seconding the idea of running off of a USB to sample. As it will be a fresh format of the SSD once assembled and running (and the fact that I wasn't planning on installing an optical drive though i have one disconnected in this computer I could swap if needed) I had investigated the USB boots/installs as heavily as I could figuring that was my best option. I was rather pleased to learn along the way that I could do exactly what you describe as well. I'm thinking that my best option is to pick one off of advice and available resources for now and install just to get the system set up and then do exactly what you suggest once I'm sure that hardware is functional and I have half a clue what I am doing.

Thanks!!
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Old 08-09-2016, 12:14 AM   #6
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Found your thoughts quite interesting as I also went totally Linux about 18 months ago, first because Microsoft stopped supporting my great old Dell 2400 desktop with Windows XP, and then, later, I was constantly feeling harangued with a new laptop I had bought with Win 8.1 installed. I still get emails about upgrading to the 'free' Windows 10 system.

I also installed Linux on a now 13 year old Acer laptop.

I earlier tried many distros and all of them had some plusses and minuses, as usual.

I decided on Linux Mint 17 Qiana for mythen 'new' HP laptop, and it is still great! I haven't felt a need to upgrade and it is loaded to the gills with many applications we non-power users require and want.

My laptop has Linux Lite 2.4 installed and it is smaller, faster and equally loaded with all the applications I need and desire. The Linux Lite variant is the best alternative to install for older machines, IMHO.

When I was fiddling with Ubuntu, I got the feeling that the Ubuntu people are beginning to play the same game as those being played at Apple and Microsoft. It seems to me that they eventually want to totally lock users into their echo-system.

All in all, I am happy with my decision to go all Linux all the time, but I do wish that I hadn't wiped my hard drive clean off my Windows XP box. It was the best system ever and I never had a security problem, no blue screen, no lockups, nothing. Ahh, c'est le vie.
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Old 08-09-2016, 12:38 AM   #7
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Thanks Reckless!

I spent some time early on checking out Mint but as I kind of mentioned, it almost seemed too easy to transition when I first looked it over. However, in some of the hours since posting this thread, one of my study topics has been to try to get a gauge on which distro plays best with my GPU (as long as I bought a new one, might as well factor that reasonably heavily into the decision I suppose) and seems like Mint is a pretty common one with those users. Of course, that could just be that Mint is pretty damn popular in general apparently - and it's hard at times to distinguish between good advice in a specific context and merely distro fandom that seems prevalent - but I haven't read much to suggest that it is a bad combo aside from some of the pitfalls with the packaged drivers in lieu of the proprietary ones.

Short version I guess is that I had already decided to take a second pass at Mint just based on all of the positive endorsements it gets on a number of topics from a broad array of users. Given your similar transition from Windows and sentiments, I think I will definitely go farther than the skin deep look I gave it originally.
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Old 08-09-2016, 12:43 AM   #8
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I've been using Linux on my home system, at least part time, since 1999. Started out with Suse CDs bought at Fry's, back when downloading from the net took forever. With Linux Mint, about 8 years ago, Linux finally moved past a lot of the post-install tweaks for media, graphics and other hardware. It also seemed to pass a threshold of stability, and I've been full-time on the platform since then.

Built a new system last year, and Ubuntu Studio was one of the few flavors I could find that would work with the newer Skylake chip, but I think Mint has caught back up.

I don't think it matters much now what flavor you use - my preference for Ubuntu and Mint is simply because the access to the rest of the Linux software is relatively painless. If you're hardcore about security, then FreeBSD and custom built distros seem to be the way to go, though I've never had any issues with Linux - can't say the same for Windows for sure.

If your new hardware has the horsepower, you can look at running virtual machines under Virtualbox. It's slowly getting better, and will allow you to run other distros or even Windows flavors without affecting your "base" install of Linux.

There's only a couple of software applications I still prefer on Windows, but I'm not the heaviest user of apps either. I've always hoped that having all the free tools on hand would help motivate me a bit for more programming, but that's been a very slow process.
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Old 08-09-2016, 01:41 AM   #9
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Excellent, thanks PP.

I can't remember which one it was now for sure, dammit, but it wasn't long ago so guessing it was PCLinuxOS Mate Deluxe since I was checking that theme out after michiken's post... but I noticed it had VirtualBox installed in the distribution and thought maybe that would be at least one good reason to start there and just test some of the others out using that.

But, another semi-vote for Mint means that I know how the next few hours before bed will be spent.

Thanks!!
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:35 AM   #10
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@michiken made a great suggestion regarding test-driving liveOS versions. Booting from USB will generally run snappier than from DVD, as will using a liveOS that loads completely into ram.

If you decide to go with an Ubuntu or Mint (or Debian) derivative, try to pick an LTS (Long Term Support) version that is early in its life. Then, you won't need to reinstall after 6 months (which probably takes around 20 minutes) because the developers stopped updating packages.

I think that other major distros also have their versions of "LTS."
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:43 PM   #11
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Thanks Tupper. When I look on the Distrowatch it doesn't list the downloads for versions 17.x and 18 as LTS in the download descriptions but the 17.3 version is listed as based on Ubuntu LTS and in release notes it describes it as an LTS. The 18 notes from 6/30 basically do the same. If I do go with Mint, I was figuring that was probably my safest bet mainly for the reasons you mentioned but wasn't sure if I'd be better off going with the older 17.3 or 18 which doesn't appear to be out of beta for all that long. It's enough of a challenge differentiating the various distros but then parsing the pluses and minuses of the releases within each is a whole 'nother ball of wax. Not that it's a bad thing by any means. Having an actual choice is beyond refreshing. Just a lot to digest when you're more or less totally clueless and piecing it together on the fly.
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:46 PM   #12
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It appears that Linux Mint 18 (Sarah) is currently a "distribution" release, being out of beta as of 6/30/16. However, that doesn't mean that all the bugs have been eliminated (as with any OS release). There is an "End Of Life" row on the chart of the various releases, and Mint 18 shows an end of life of April, 2021.

By the way, the XFCE desktop version of Mint 18 was evidently released a few days ago.

It might be best not to agonize too much about it and try a few live versions and just go ahead and pick the one you like best. If your choice happens to be a new release, just update often in the beginning as bugs are fixed. Furthermore, if you change your mind after install, it usually only takes about 10-20 minutes to install another distro, if you already have all of your data backed up.

On the other hand, you could go with a rolling release distro, but sometimes those are cutting edge.

Last edited by tupper; 08-09-2016 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 08-09-2016, 05:27 PM   #13
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Please I need a quick overview of the hardware you will be using, before making any recommends!...I like Ubuntu very much, indeed, for my own use, but perhaps you have very old equipment?


For example, will you be using an nvidia graphics card, and will you have plenty of memory, and what will your hard drive be?



Quote:
Originally Posted by johnhannibalsmith
Technically, that's not entirely true as I used it briefly in the 90's and became somewhat familiar with basic terminal commands and the file structures. But, clearly a lot has changed and most of what I remember is more a result of spending the last few days reading and watching videos - mainly on the various popular new distributions, installations, and dealing with drivers.

The scenario boils down to a longstanding claim/gripe/whine of mine to at least try to not deal with Windows. Without beating a dead horse mercilessly, it isn't so much the software itself, though I still pretend to this day that I would prefer to still be running DOS over Win. The problem for me has been the trajectory of the company behind the software since the days of DOS and the sense that I increasingly need permission from Windows to do anything the way that I want to do it as opposed to the way that they want to, even when it comes to 3rd party executables.

I finally went ahead and decided to order components to piece together a replacement for what is a perfectly fine computer that I use now. But it is getting old by contemporary standards in terms of lifespan, not so much technology since I tend to try to buy what I hope will last. My goal here is to build the new computer and load a Linux distro from the outset and be able to work through getting it running to satisfaction without the pressure of needing to use that computer. I will still have this Win7 computer alongside to do what I need to do without interruption or pressure to get my shit together with Linux.

I've read a bunch of threads here at Pace Advantage (notably this among my favorites with good back and forth with Tupper, Delta, Sosa, Dave S, and DJofSD: http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/s...ighlight=linux ) and since a few years have elapsed since that thread I'm hoping that some of the same guys or others that frequent this forum and have an opinion can chime in with pretty much any insight.

My main and most simple question revolves around selecting a distro. At the moment I am leaning towards Ubuntu. I have looked at a few of the derivatives (Mint, Zorin, etc.) and I think I'd rather not have it too easy making a transition from Windows. Mint and Zorin seem geared to make it as simple as possible with many things included in the distro and a familiar appearance. I think that I want a few growing pains and a need to interact with the terminal and hunt for some basic applications and don't really see any need to ditch windows in favor of an OS that resembles Windows.

But these are rudimentary conclusions. There are so many things to consider and so many various distros to investigate that I find myself spending hours looking at one of the most popular before making it to the next and then needing a break. So my progress is slow learning. I'm hoping that maybe others have recommendations or opinions or even some good reference sources to throw my way to facilitate a lot of these choices.

For the record, I'm not a 'power user' by any real definition. Most of my computer use these days is basic stuff. Browser running 200 open tabs and admittedly, even the occasional game. No, I'm not a hardcore Call of Duty type guy, but I do like to spin out with some strategy and simulator type games once in a while (Civ and the like mainly) so would probably install Steam. I've read where GPU driver support can be messy and am contemplating swapping my old GPU into the new build and using the new GPU in this computer for the time being if for no other reason than to be sure to test the new one on a stable system that I can run and be forced to eventually tinker with Nvidia drivers on Linux twice.

Alright, I'm all over the place with this thread and post. I had an idea what I wanted to ask about and then digressed so many times that I suppose it is more of a free-form advice solicitation for a new Linux tranny with some margin for error and some basic understanding of the principles.

Any comments, even ones calling me an idiot for making a political statement with an OS are appreciated.
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senortout
Please I need a quick overview of the hardware you will be using, before making any recommends!...I like Ubuntu very much, indeed, for my own use, but perhaps you have very old equipment?


For example, will you be using an nvidia graphics card, and will you have plenty of memory, and what will your hard drive be?
I try to go all out with a fresh build and piece together something that should last under most scenarios for quite a while and require only minimal upgrades along the way. I want to put it to the test running Linux right away and keep all that Microsoft crap off the new build from the outset (as much as a person can anyway), so, long story short, I'll be working with something quite capable (overkill for my needs right now but that generally means a half-dozen years from now I will be thanking myself):

i7-6700 4.0Ghz processor
CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO cooler
Gigabyte Z170XUD5 mobo
GSkill TridentZ 16GB DDR4 3000 mem
Crucial MX300 750GB SSD
WD Blue 1TB HDD
EVGA (Nvidia) GTX1070 GPU
EVGA 750W 80+ Gold modular PSU

Thanks for any insight! The case for this damn thing is the only piece holding up progress so I'm narrowing things down on the OS front bit by bit, moving like a semi-functional machine.
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tupper
...

It might be best not to agonize too much about it and try a few live versions and just go ahead and pick the one you like best. If your choice happens to be a new release, just update often in the beginning as bugs are fixed. Furthermore, if you change your mind after install, it usually only takes about 10-20 minutes to install another distro, if you already have all of your data backed up.

...
I appreciate it. More and more I'm realizing that this is probably the best advice. And as posted, part of the reason I'm doing it the way that I'm doing it - on fresh build with a perfectly fine Win7 machine running alongside - is so that I have plenty of margin for error and time to get things just right. Other than needing to test the fresh hardware before return periods expire, I can dink around with something new constantly and be under no real pressure to settle in or worry about data loss since anything critical will remain on this computer at least for the time being.

Thanks again.
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