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Switching to Linux

WarMocK

I like to nuke ^^
Alright folks, since quite a few people in this forum already talked about switching to Linux (and quite a few probably consider it) I think that we should focus this discussion in this particular thread so anybody who needs some advice knows where to look for it. :D
I'm gonna fire it up by giving some generic advice for migration.

1) First of all, the most important thing you need for migrating to Linux is .... TIME! If you just wipe your XP partition and grab a random linux CD and try to install it you will fail - no exceptions. Switching to Linux requires you to do some homework first, which is VERY simple but vital if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises. ;-)
2) The first tools you will need are a pencil and a sheet of paper. write down what programs you use, then sort them into two categories: games, and non-games. Compare the two lists. If you got far more games than other tool - honestly - stick to Windows for now. While there is a chance to make your games run under linux using WINE you do not know if all of your games are supported. If you just got a few games, have a look at http://www.winehq.org/ to check out if they are supported, among with the other tools you have. If you just have "other" programs you frequently use, move on to step 3.
3) Ok so you got a list of programs you use, now you got to check out if they are either compatible with wine (http://www.winehq.org/), or if there are some alternatives for them. If there are alternatives, try to find out if they are available for Windows as well (which is quite common). Download them, install them, and test them under XP/Vista/whatever to get used to them. This is the part that is so time-consuming: you need to try to leavy your old programs behind and try to get used to the new ones if there's no chance of getting your other programs up and running under Lin.
4) When you know how to work with your new toys: CONGRATULATIONS! Now you can give it a try and finally throw you Linux Live-CD (!!!) into your drive. Boot it, and see if the distro you chose is able to detect your hardware out of the box. The older your hardware, the better chances are that your system will work with Linux. Graphics cards are not really an issue btw, they got pretty good drivers most of the time and are fairly well supported most of the time. Most problems still occur with onboard sound chips, AIO solutions (scanner + printer, printing usually does work, but scanning won't), and sometimes modems (not sure about that part, I've been using routers for ages now xD).
That would be it I guess. Good luck! :D



Oh and one more thing: Linux isn't easier or more difficult than Windows, it's DIFFERENT. ;-)
 

lilEmber

Small Dragon
Linux is awesome, only I play games that aren't supported by wine... at all... not to mention ATi drivers aren't the best for games that are supported.

So is this going to be some tutorials on things like compiling and such, or just for questions in general?
 

Jealousy

Banned
Banned
As someone who had to get used to Linux very quickly after my computer crashed, may I request that this be stickied, please?
 

WarMocK

I like to nuke ^^
Linux is awesome, only I play games that aren't supported by wine... at all... not to mention ATi drivers aren't the best for games that are supported.

So is this going to be some tutorials on things like compiling and such, or just for questions in general?
AFAIK the Ati drivers got much better since ATI was bought by AMD.
And this thread is about anything that could be useful if you want to give it a try and switch to Linux. ;-)
 

lilEmber

Small Dragon
Well actually I'm talking within a few months of using it they were bad, RuneFox's ATi HD4850 was unable to play any 3d game at all I believe.
 

ToeClaws

PEBKAC exterminator
I can add a bit more advice here too (lots of reading, but worth it)...

On point #1 - I know it sounds annoying that you have to "take time" to learn a bit about it, but honestly - you have to do this for ANY operating system that you're going to use. There was a time in the past where none of us knew anything about Windows either, so this is pretty normal. And modern Linux releases are, in fact, very easy to learn and use.

Example: An elderly neighbour couple a few houses down from me had a computer with an illegal copy of XP Pro on it (installed by the family computer "tech" guy.... yeah). After explaining some of their options, they liked the sounds of giving Linux a try, so I installed Ubuntu 9.04, and spent about 20 minutes with them explaining the basic functions of it (where stuff was, how to do general things with it, etc). I was there a couple nights a go (only about two weeks since installing it for htem) and they have it all customized now and are really enjoying it saying "This makes A LOT more sense to us than Windows did." So there ya go - if two seniors can manage the switch, so can you.

On the hardware talk though, this is where I do have to extend some caution to everyone. First off, as of early this year, Linux officially supports more hardware out of the box than ANY other OS! That's very cool and impressive, but it doesn't mean that support is 100% gaurenteed.

You can run into hardware issues if you have a piece of hardware or a proprietary system (like a laptop) that happened to be very unique or badly designed. I know the pain of this one ALL too well because I have both in my main systems:

My PC, for example, has a Radeon 3850HD AGP card. Why is this problem? Well, AMD/ATI stopped officially supporting AGP after the 2000HD series. Vendors like HIS, Saffire and so on decided to make an AGP card anyway with the 3850HD chipset, so the "official" drivers for the card don't work. You have to use special "hotfix" drivers that aren't official or supported just to make the card work on Windows XP. To my knowledge, there are no such drivers yet for Linux. I didn't know that at the time that I got the card. As a result, I cannot run OpenGL and basically all the fancy high-end video on Linux that I used to, and that really crippled my Linux install on the main PC, which I had used as the primary OS until getting that card.

Is this a common problem? Hell no - I'm one of the few idiots around the world that actually bought this card because I still have an AGP-based motherboard (and I wanted more performance). :p It's extremely rare to run into a case like this where the card won't work. In fact, it's the only case I know of where you'll hit this kind of video problem.

Second example, my laptop. I have a Compaq R3000, which is about 5 years old. In it's day, the R3000 was a monster of a machine that boasted a lot of power, which is partly what drew me to it. Unfortunately, it also used some hardware combinations that have made it one of the worst laptops in years for running anything other than what it was built for.

The video on it is an nVidia 440 Go GPU. The Go series have had long standing issues with their Linux drivers (which are unlikely to be fixed, given their age), and I can't do full screen video or DVD playback properly (which is something I use the laptop for constantly, so that's a problem). The sound card is an AC97 running on an nForce3 motherboard, and for some reason, that combo causes no lack of grief with the latest Linux releases (though oddly enough, not the older ones). The onboard Texas Instruments card reader isn't supposed in any Linux kernel and half the time even bluescreens XP when you try to use it.

I have tried Ubuntu 6.10, 7.04, 7.10, 8.04, 8.10 and 9.04 with no luck. I tried Arch Linux and Puppy Linux and those didn't work either. I also give PC-BSD (based on FreeBSD) a try, but the laptop (and I kid you not) shuts off during boot of the Live CD. Same with OpenBSD. I even, a few years back, tried putting Windows 2000 on it, which is the same major kernel revision as XP, and THAT didn't work!

So... ocassionally, you can encounter such things as cursed hardware. Understand though that these issues are not because of Linux (or BSD), rather, are because the manufacturers of the parts have produced Windows-only drivers, and kept everything closed-source for them. That makes it extremely difficult for Linux (and BSD) developers to write drivers for them. Fortunately, hardware this problematic is quite rare.

I have installed Linux and BSD onto a ton of systems in the last few years and I've only had major issues with my two main systems, and those are both because of oddball hardware issues. Just the other day, I installed it to a co-worker's brandnew and state of the art Dell Precision M4400 laptop, and Ubuntu nailed everything off the initial install.

I appologize if your eyes are bleeding at this point...

Back to trying it out - in the sticky post about Linux or Windows, not far from the top I have a part where I quickly go over some of the major options out there. Give it a read if you've not seen it yet, and also, take the time to read other stuff in that thread too - there is a ton of great information and links to good OS's and stuff in there!

The coolest thing about a lot of Linux (and BSD) distributions is that they have LiveCD's (and/or LiveDVDs), which means you can boot the entire OS off of a CD or DVD without changing your current OS. So - want to try Puppy Linux but don't want to get rid of Windows XP just yet? No problem - download the ISO, burn it to CD, and boot up your system on Puppy. You can try it out and get a feel for how it works and your Windows XP install is not touched. It's a very handy way to get a feel for whether you like that particular OS or not.

You can also do things such as dual-boot, meaning you can keep Windows on the system AND have Linux too. I do this on my work laptop - it boots to Ubuntu by default (which has most of the hard drive to itself) but I can select Windows and boot from it if something comes along where I must have Windows. You can also download a multitude of free (open source) virtual machine systems, so you can install Linux, then install Windows XP (or any other OS you want) into a virtual machine. Very handy.

In short, don't be affraid of trying something new. Working the major Linux releases is a lot easier than you think. In fact, I personally find it easier to go from Windows XP to Ubuntu than to go from XP to Vista (Vista's design and layout and functionality is much more confusing than any major Linux release). There's lots of folks around here who run it and have been running it for ages, so we're happy to offer help if you need it. :)

Okay, go put some ice on your eyes now. :mrgreen:
 

Carenath

Cynical Dragon
I suppose it might be worth noting that there is also the option of keeping Windows around on your computer, on the odd-chance that you do need to switch back because of something windows-only you cant/wont do without.

If you have a big enough hard drive, one option is to create a dual-boot by partitioning the drive, and installing windows first, then Linux afterwards. Linux's boot-loader will detect the Windows installation and create an entry, this way you can pick which system you wish to boot, at startup.

The second option available, is to install Windows as a virtual PC using VirtualBox which will let you run Windows inside a window on your desktop, handy if you need to use that one windows-only application but dont make much use of Windows other than that.

If anyone's interested I'll post up my guides/instructions on the 'perfect' dual-boot setup which should work for everyone with the least amount of hassle.
 

Irreverent

Member
If anyone's interested I'll post up my guides/instructions on the 'perfect' dual-boot setup which should work for everyone with the least amount of hassle.

Please do! Virtualization instructions for those not into WINE would be good too.

Added to the sticky list.
 

WarMocK

I like to nuke ^^
Please do! Virtualization instructions for those not into WINE would be good too.

Added to the sticky list.
Thanks Irre. :D
And another thing that definitely will help you when setting up a dual-boot system from scratch: the partition schematics of the system drive.

1st partition: the GRUB bootloader partition. Filesystem = Ext2, size approx 1 GB, set up as the booting partition
2nd partition: the SWAP. Filesystem = swap, size should be at least twice your RAM size
3rd partition: Windows. NTFS, size is your choice ;-)
4th partition: Linux. Ext3 (Ext4 and Btrfs are not officially declared stable atm so keep your hands away from it). Size should be 4-8 GB, depending on the distro. Of course you can allocate even more (or less). Most of my lin system partitions are < 4 Gigs because I use a microdistribution and my personal data is stored on another drive (some of my installations are less than 1 GB, and those containers have a load less than 50 % xD).

IMPORTANT: Install Windows first and use the built-in partition tools to create the partitions (without formatting them), otherwise the Win bootloader would kill GRUB and you would have to reinstall GRUB again.
 

yak

Site Developer
Staff member
Administrator
Virtual Machines.
Seriously, learn it, love it, live it. Play games all you want on your Windows based host PC, use Linux all you want inside the virtual machine. Best of both worlds, and no way in hell to screw anything up even if you are not technically gifted.
 

net-cat

Infernal Kitty
It should be noted that this doesn't work the other way around. 3D support within virtual machines is rudimentary at best. So you can't run Linux as the host and expect to be playing new games in a Windows VM.
 

ToeClaws

PEBKAC exterminator
It should be noted that this doesn't work the other way around. 3D support within virtual machines is rudimentary at best. So you can't run Linux as the host and expect to be playing new games in a Windows VM.

Gah... no, definitely not. Likewise, if you're doing heavy 3D stuff in Linux (via OpenGL and the appropriate nVidia or ATI driver), it doesn't work very well either.

But as already said, going dual boot is very easy too, so no worries.
 

Takun

Wof Wof Wof Wof Wof
Seeing as I have two hard drives in my laptop... I assume I can install linux onto my second hard drive to mess around with?
 

X

The Monster Under Your Bed
thanks for the info.

anyone know if tf2 works with wine? (left 4 dead, css, and hl2 work, so i am assuming it does)

because if it does, ill be able to put ubuntu x64 on my future desktop. (instead of having to drop $200 for vista x64 or $200-$350 for windows 7 x64)
 

net-cat

Infernal Kitty
Seeing as I have two hard drives in my laptop... I assume I can install linux onto my second hard drive to mess around with?
Yes.

anyone know if tf2 works with wine? (left 4 dead, css, and hl2 work, so i am assuming it does)
Yes. Games based on the Source engine work in WINE. I won't say they work perfectly, but they work well enough to play. There's a few things you have to do, though.

(a) Use Wine's repository instead of Ubuntu's. (May no longer be necessary with 9.04. I don't recall which version they have in their repository. 8.10 and 8.04 definitely, though.)

(b) Enable "Virtual Desktop" mode in the Wine config. (I'm not at my computer, so I can check where it is right now.) Note that this makes it so you can't run full screen. You can try full screen at your own peril, though.

(c) If you're using the ATI proprietary driver, turn off Compiz while you're playing games. (In Wine or native. Set "Visual Effects" to "None.") Older cards that can use the open source drivers don't have this issue.
 

Ruko

Member
I've switched to Ubuntu back in January, from running XP for years (had win95 before that). It was surprisingly very simple. I mainly use this computer for Firefox anyways, so it wasn't like a difficult decision or anything.

Steam works just fine too. The only thing I still need windows/mac for is iTunes, nothing on linux will work with my iPod Touch. I don't really think I will go back to windows. Ubuntu boots up and shuts down in seconds, which is absolutely astonishing for me. I got this laptop back in '05 and running Ubuntu makes it as speedier as it was back then, drastically lengthening the life of this comp.
 
Oh Brother!!! Speaking as someone who had used Linux for a year and a half before switching back to Windows. Don't get any idea that Linux is easier to use than Windows, in fact it about 3 times harder and a learning curve just about as big as the Gateway Arch. First off all codecs, because of legal issues they aren't free any more, unless you check out some foreign sites and unless you know how to use that crazy terminal, my guess is you won't be able to figure out how to install it. Programs, as the other posts say, you won't find all that you use. Many companies don't support Linux, the biggest one is Apple. No quicktime files will play, and NO Itunes period. As for graphic drivers I give you a no better than a equal chance that they will or won't work. If they don't it could crash your video drivers like it did with me.
 

ToeClaws

PEBKAC exterminator
Oh Brother!!! Speaking as someone who had used Linux for a year and a half before switching back to Windows. Don't get any idea that Linux is easier to use than Windows, in fact it about 3 times harder and a learning curve just about as big as the Gateway Arch. First off all codecs, because of legal issues they aren't free any more, unless you check out some foreign sites and unless you know how to use that crazy terminal, my guess is you won't be able to figure out how to install it. Programs, as the other posts say, you won't find all that you use. Many companies don't support Linux, the biggest one is Apple. No quicktime files will play, and NO Itunes period. As for graphic drivers I give you a no better than a equal chance that they will or won't work. If they don't it could crash your video drivers like it did with me.

Ouch... I think this comes down to a bad experience overall. To address some of your points:

Ease of Use: Most of the main distributions of Linux are very easy to use - Ubuntu (and it's main derivatives), Mint and Puppy are wonderfully simple to use. Are they easier than Windows? Well, I think if you put someone that doesn't know either OS in front of a computer, they'll have an easier time using those Linux distros than Windows. For someone who's never known anything but Windows, it might seem a little weird at first, but it's easy to get used to. It's just like learning anything new - there's a learning curve. We all had to learn to use Windows too.

Codecs: This is easily avoided - you just need the right repositories installed to get the codecs. Or in Puppy's case, the right .PET packages. I just went to Apple's site and watched a Quicktime trailer for the new Terminator movie just fine one my Ubuntu 9.04 system. By default, in an effort to be 100% Free and open-source, some Linux distributions (like Ubuntu) do not support all media right out of the box. You have to add additional packages to them for them to be able to do so, which takes about the same time and skill as downloading something like Quicktime (in Windows) and installing it. Or, if you get a specialized Linux distro like Mint which is deisgned to do all of this stuff out of the box, it just works to begin with. Windows doesn't support anything out of the box either - it has to fetch the codecs as well, and you also have to install several secondardy players like Quicktime, flash, real-player, etc., same as in Linux.

iTunes/iPod: First and most important thing to understand here is that there's not a problem with Linux, there's a problem with Apple being corporate ass clowns about their product! The whole iTunes, iPod, iPhone and other stuff from them are extremely proprietary, and the company themeselves are well known control freaks. I avoid their products at all costs because I want to be able to use my music and video players without restrictions or the need for a certain piece of software.

So, that said, there are ways to run iTunes within Linux, such as running it under WINE. You can also use various iPod devices with most versions of Linux pretty easily. Some of the newer ones, however, are locked because Apple are being pricks and trying to force more compliant use of YOUR hardware (which is a whole other ethical rant). There are ways around it though, such as doing the Jailbreak hack on them to get rid of Apple's death grip on them.

My primary advice there, regardless of what OS you run, is DON'T BUY APPLE PRODUCTS! There's plenty of other great media products out there that don't have all the idiotic restrictions of the Apple stuff.
 
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Eevee

Banned
Banned
Linux is not just a wine platform

please stop touting wine like it is the end-all be-all of transition problems. wine is duct tape and it should be treated as an absolute last resort, not a way to still effectively be running windows while feeling much snootier about it. the ultimate goal for wine is for it to vanish entirely.

Linux is an entirely different platform. surprise: the software is different. if you absolutely cannot stand not using specifically Microsoft Office and specifically Photoshop and specifically iTunes, then don't install Linux. don't install it, try to run everything under wine, and then complain that a colossal hack isn't perfect therefore Linux sucks. Linux was not built as a cheap replacement for the Windows API.




Don't get any idea that Linux is easier to use than Windows, in fact it about 3 times harder and a learning curve just about as big as the Gateway Arch.
ok what is hard?

First off all codecs, because of legal issues they aren't free any more, unless you check out some foreign sites and unless you know how to use that crazy terminal, my guess is you won't be able to figure out how to install it.
the first time you play an MP3, Ubuntu offers to install the codecs for you.

alternatively, you can use Synaptic to install them yourself.

or you can use Mint which has the non-free stuff out of the box.

Programs, as the other posts say, you won't find all that you use.
yes. because it is a new operating system. would you switch to a Mac without investigating whether it had all the software you needed? come on.

Many companies don't support Linux, the biggest one is Apple.
not Microsoft?

No quicktime files will play, and NO Itunes period.
QuickTime plays fine.

if having your devices not controlled solely by a single company is important to you, don't buy or use an iPod.

As for graphic drivers I give you a no better than a equal chance that they will or won't work. If they don't it could crash your video drivers like it did with me.
just use a semi-recent nvidia card, use nvidia's blob drivers, and feel very badly about yourself
 

ToeClaws

PEBKAC exterminator
Linux is not just a wine platform *snip rant*

Heh, totally agreed. I'm not touting WINE is a solution, just one of many workarounds that have been posted. MY personal advice was not to buy Apple crap.

Eevee is absolutely right though - WINE is not intended to allow Linux to run every single Windows application, rather, to provide some Windows win32 binary capabilities for Linux. Linux has it's own software to choose from, and most of the time, it's much better than the stuff you can get for Windows anyway. To see "alternate" Linux programs that do the same as Windows stuff, check this site out: http://www.linuxalt.com/
 

Carenath

Cynical Dragon
Heh, totally agreed. I'm not touting WINE is a solution, just one of many workarounds that have been posted. MY personal advice was not to buy Apple crap.

This is what I find amazing right now:
You have Linux & BSD, MacOS X and Windows.
Wine works, by translating windows API calls into Linux system calls, allowing some windows applications to run under Linux without being recompiled. This relies on reverse-engineering and debugging to acertain what API calls are being made, and what they mean, so they can be translated.

Why is it then, that no one has thought to emulate MacOS X?
MacOS X is for all intents, FreeBSD with a fancy window manager and a couple of tweaks and changes. You would think then, that with iTunes and other binaries being compiled for a BSD-compatible platform, and the relative ease at which BSD applications can be ported to Linux, and vice-versa.. that more efforts would be made to get the Mac versions of iTunes and Photoshop, running under Linux that much easier as there is less hacking and translating that needs doing.

That being said.. the main thing that stopped me moving to Linux was the inability to do EVERYTHING that I can do on Windows.
 

Zaiden

Pizza Time
When I started trying out linux (around Ubuntu 8.04) I think Ubuntu was starting to use Pulseaudio, and with my onboard audio this caused a delay in sound for everything. When I took other peoples advice and just remove it, I couldn't log on without the system freezing up after a few seconds.

Thankfully this has changed in 9.04, so now I can remove pulse without the system freezing and get no delay in audio whatsoever. This doesn't make me want to ditch windows just yet, but definitely a step closer.
 

ToeClaws

PEBKAC exterminator
Why is it then, that no one has thought to emulate MacOS X?
MacOS X is for all intents, FreeBSD with a fancy window manager and a couple of tweaks and changes. You would think then, that with iTunes and other binaries being compiled for a BSD-compatible platform, and the relative ease at which BSD applications can be ported to Linux, and vice-versa.. that more efforts would be made to get the Mac versions of iTunes and Photoshop, running under Linux that much easier as there is less hacking and translating that needs doing.

I thought the MacOS was NetBSD, but not much difference, really. Ultimately, it is BSD of some flavour. And I agree - given what it is, you think there would be a lot more stuff coming out for BSD in general, and then Linux, but I think part of the problem could be Apple's stranglehold over licensing in an effort to keep things unique to their platform. I'm very surprised no one's found a way to engineer around Apple's tinkering yet.

That being said.. the main thing that stopped me moving to Linux was the inability to do EVERYTHING that I can do on Windows.

*chuckles* Of course, that saying easily goes both ways. Every OS has its own unique perks and drawbacks. There will always be things Windows can do that Linux can't, and there will always be things Linux can do that Windows won't. Likewise, BSD will always do certain other things better (or worse) than either of them. *shrugs* In the end, it comes down to the individual user's preference, be it one of functionality, price, ethics, aesthetics, logic or madness. :)
 

Raithah

Member
Why is it then, that no one has thought to emulate MacOS X?

Not intending to derail the thread, or anything, but I thought of that a while back and put some Googling into the matter. Apparently, it's a combination of Cocoa & Quartz being complicated enough not to merit their reverse engineering (term.?) and that there isn't much interest in such a project by the general Linux community (as of ~1 year ago). For the most part you'll get disgruntled Windows users jumping on the Linux bandwagon, thus Wine; not so much from the OS X users.

That being said, if you want to reap the benefits of Mac OS X's super secure, Unix-based kernel you can check out Darwin! Or, y'know, one of those 'other' Unix-like OSes that are flying around ...
 

AlexInsane

I does what I says on the box.
Let's back up here.

Windows is Windows, Linux is Linux. Wine allows people to access Windows-based applications while running Linux, creating a sort of bridge?

And that's another thing: alternate applications. I hate the very idea of that. I love Microsoft Office, I don't want to use some shitty-looking word processor that a stoner kid in college made during free periods.

I use iTunes because the only alternatives are 1) pirate all the music I listen to off the internet or 2) buy all the music in CD form and transfer it to a MP3 player format. Both of these are unacceptable for me. I don't care if pirating supposedly doesn't make a dent in the millions of dollars musicians make; I won't steal music. But at the same time, I won't pay hundreds of dollars for CD's when I only want one or two songs off of them. iTunes is convenient; I can pick and choose the music I want without stealing or paying out the ass for it. Unless there's some Linux-compatible music program that allows me to access the internet and find the music I want at a reasonable price, I'll have to stick with Windows.
 
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